Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The New Anti-Semitism
Why We Need To Fight It
With All Our Strength

There was a long article on "The New Anti-Semitism" recently, in the left-wing Jewish magazine Tikkun. As the name of this blog, CUANAS, is an acronym for Christians United Against the New Anti-Semitism, I will excerpt parts of it, and post it on a day to day basis. Here's part one:

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is forced to say he is a Jew who comes from a Zionist family before he is decapitated on video by Pakistani Muslim terrorists, his head held aloft as a warning to Jews everywhere. Signs at peace rallies scream: "Death to Jews" and posters in college dorms read "Jews=Nazis." The official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority declares that the Holocaust is a myth which the Jews have exploited to get sympathy. Jordanian children learn that the Torah is "perverted" and that Jews have only "their own evil practices" to blame for the Holocaust. Egyptian television viewers watch forty serialized installments of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Academics spearhead a campaign to shun Israeli professors simply on the basis of their nationality. An anti-Israel rally on an American campus shows a photo of an eviscerated baby with the tag: "slaughtered according to Jewish Rites." A Jewish student wearing a yarmulke at Yale University is attacked by a Palestinian in his dormitory. Neo-Nazi violence against Jewish people and institutions escalates throughout Europe. Millions of Muslims, indoctrinated by state-sponsored propaganda, believe that Israel is responsible for September 11.

Anti-Semitism has been called "the longest hatred" and, judging from events like these, it has retained its extraordinary durability. In recent years, it has morphed and globalized into an ugly mix of neo-Nazi violence; Islamist religious and racial Jew-hating; Palestinian terrorism; ultra-Left anti-Zionism; and the demonization of Israel throughout the world, particularly in the Arab and Muslim nations and in Palestine.
The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It, by Phyllis Chesler, is a vital contribution to understanding the resurgence of this virulent new strain of anti-Semitism in our time, which Chesler aptly describes as "more threatening and dangerous to Jews than anything that has occurred since World War II."

Chesler thoroughly documents not only the potent rise of neo-Nazi hatred against Jews in Germany, Austria, Russia, Poland, France, and other European countries, but also the religious and racial anti-Semitism that is daily fare in Arab and Muslim nations. The most vicious propaganda in the media since Hitler described Jews as a race of vermin to be exterminated is now widely disseminated in the Middle East, including Palestine. Depictions of Jews as rats, lice, snakes, demons, parasites, hook-nosed liars who made up the Holocaust, evil Nazis, and treacherous conspirators who plot to take over the world, are injecting whole populations with anti-Semitic toxins on a scale that is historically unprecedented.

The crucial contribution of Chesler's book is her detailed presentation of the confluence of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism—the complex hybrid of bigotry that is emerging today. "The anti-racist anti-Zionist," says Chesler, "has a lot in common with the old-fashioned racist anti-Semite." Israel has become "the Jew of the world—scorned, scapegoated, demonized, and attacked." The core of her argument is that Jew-hatred, Holocaust denial, and violence against Jews in the Arab and Muslim nations, as well as in Europe, Asia, and the United States, are "symbiotically" nourished by a dogmatic form of anti-Zionism promulgated by students, intellectuals, academics, and progressives. The Palestinian Intifada is suffused with this new anti-Semitism and its supporters around the world are infected with it. In short, the new anti-Semitism is "the last acceptable prejudice" on both the Left and the Right.

The confluence of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is present, according to Chesler, when Jews in the Diaspora are held responsible for Israeli policy and targeted for verbal and physical attack. When it is held that all groups are entitled to nationalist aspirations except for Jews; that Israel doesn't deserve to exist while the racism or oppressiveness of any other nation doesn't call for its wholesale elimination. When acts of violence against Israeli civilians and Jews throughout the Diaspora are justified as political strategy. And when Israel is held to a higher standard than any other country and demonized in the family of nations (for example, when the UN recurrently condemns the Occupation while out-and-out genocides escape criticism).
Increasingly, Holocaust-denial or worse—blaming the Jews for the Holocaust—is a strong feature of the anti-Zionist onslaught in the Arab and Muslim world, as is the invidious equation of Zionism and Nazism. And most disheartening of all, the confluence of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is present in the Palestinian uprising, which is riddled with organized Jew-hatred pumped into the population on a daily basis in schools, mosques, and on the streets.

... While reading it (the book), I experienced two incidents that vividly illustrate two prominent aspects of the new anti-Semitism: Holocaust hostility and anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism. The first occurred the day I learned that my elderly father had just had a massive heart attack and was lying in a hospital in Queens. Speaking to the I.C.U. nurse, I wanted to let her know that my father would need to be sedated, since being hospitalized caused him to relive his Holocaust trauma. I got as far as "You need to know that my father is a Holocaust survivor …" before she interrupted me, screaming: "So what? Don't talk to me about being a victim and don't expect that you people are going to get any special treatment here."
The next day, addressing a group of graduate students about grief, fear, and despair in an age of global threat, I cited Israel/Palestine as an area in which repeated cycles of traumatic grief turned to rageful acts of vengeance that undermined the prospects of peace. A woman approached me at the end of my talk, a palpable hatred radiating from her eyes, and launched into an anti-Israel rant. "The Holocaust justifies absolutely nothing," she spat out (though I hadn't mentioned the Holocaust). "The Jews are not entitled to anger or grief. Only the Palestinians are justified in their anger." Her vaguely threatening last words were: "I hope you get what you deserve for what you're saying." I wondered how a call for mutual compassion could arouse such hate.

Both the nurse and the student were enraged by the idea of Jews as Holocaust victims. While the nurse's hostility was a frontal assault, the student's rage erupted in a pseudo-rational political argument, couched in an anti-Zionist "position." I was struck, in both cases, by what Chesler calls the new "permissibility" for remarks of this kind. Increasingly, Jews in the popular imagination have jumped the divide, from post-Holocaust Victims to Jewish/Zionist Villains. And that jump has everything to do with Israel.

I mentioned the fact that Tikkun is a "left-wing Jewish magazine" because I believe that people who come to this site might often think of me as a right-wing conservative Christian Zionist. While it is true that I am a Christian, and I am a Zionist (Zionism to me, means the Jews have a right to the homeland which was granted to them by the UN in 1948), it is not true that I have been a Conservative right-winger during my life time.

I am very much bothered by the fact that the Democratic Party has become the home of those who would villanize Israel and the Jews. Such hatred used to find it's home on the extreme (Pat Buchanan) right. But, it has migrated left and, at the same time, it has become marginalized on the right. When is the last time you've seen Buchanan given any credence by the Republican Party.

I say that I am "bothered" by this state of affairs, because I am a kind of "social liberal" who is more likely to agree with, what used to be, the Democratic Party on issues such as gay marriage, "faith-based initiatives", free speech and the FCC, etc. Those are big, big issues to me. I am not represented by the voice of those who would call homosexuality "deviant". I am not represented by those who would tear down the wall, which I think is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, between Church and State, by instituting the governmental funding of "faith-based inititiatives". And I am not represented by those "Conservatives" at the FCC who believe that perhaps the FCC should be regulating speech in non-choice communications mediums such as cable and satellite TV, or the internet. In fact, I am so unrepresented, and I think those three issues are so important, that I am frightened by the lack of representation.

But, I am more frightened by those who would deny the reality of international state-sponsored terrorism, and by those who would instead lay the responsibility for the problems of the world on the tiny state of Israel.

As the Democratic Party has become the party of Michael Moore , and of those who would tolerate anti-Semitism, I find I have no one to represent my beliefs. I have come to a place where a "Conservative" like George Bush represents me best, because he is focused on the issues which I consider to be the most important of our time. It is with reluctance that I say that I guess gays, and free speech, and the separation of Church and State, will just have to wait.

I go into all this because I would imagine that I am not the only person who feels like this. It is hard to change your paradigm. It is frightening and painful. But, here's how I comfort myself. America has a very long tradition of liberalism on church-state issues, and on free speech. For well over 200 years, the momentum of American history has been in the direction of the advancement of civil rights. Therefore, I conclude that I can afford to wait on such issues, because the most important issue is that America needs to exist as a strong bulwark against the forces of insanity which would tolerate and/or promote anti-Semitism and Islamofascism as reasonable.

If such forces are permitted to gain strength in our world, issues of free-speech, church-state separation, and the rights of homosexuals will be the least of our worries. History has shown that Rome can turn into a medieval nightmare over time. We need to heed that lesson and make sure that Rome stays strong, so that the forces of ignorance and chaos are not given a chance to gain power.