Zionism was supposed to protect Jews from anti-Semitism by removing them from their minority and vulnerable positions within gentile nations. It is one of the great ironies of Jewish history that this distancing from anti-Semitism has actually played an important role in creating the threat of the destruction of Israel; through allowing the formation of a movement for national suicide in Israel, the Oslo "peace process". By distancing Jews from anti-Semitism, Zionism has allowed Jews to develop misconceptions about the nature of aggression towards, criticism of and hostility towards Israel and Jews.
Israelis have no concept of the depth of the hatred of Jews in the world. If they did, they could not possibly attribute the legitimizing of Arab atrocities by the entire world to mere misinformation by the nations about the nature of the Middle East conflict. No one who had any familiarity with anti-Semitism could respond to the attacks on Israel by calling for more Jewish introspection and evaluating the sins and misdeeds of the Jews. No one who had experienced Diaspora anti-Semitism could believe that media bellicosity towards Israel has something to do with compassion towards the Palestinians. The Palestinians understand perfectly that anti-Semitism is the root of pro-Palestinianism; there is not a Nazi or anti-Semitic organization, movement or web site on the planet that they have not courted.
The ordinary Israeli has no personal experience with traditional anti-Semitism, other than in the form of Palestinian violence. He does not understand languages and so cannot read what anti-Semites say and write. He has no awareness of how common it is to find hate sites and Holocaust deniers and other expressions of gutter anti-Semitism or that it is rare to find chat lists discussing the Middle East that are NOT immediately hijacked by neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. He does not realize that all anti-Zionism is based on simple hatred of Jews. He thinks it has something to do with settlements or income distribution.
Such a delusion is - ironically - the byproduct of the success of Zionism. When I first moved to Israel, I was astounded one day to hear a colleague speaking about some anti-Semite he had run across, who hated Jews and thought they were evil and miserly and so on. The colleague shrugged his shoulders and referred to the hatred as "that guy´s problem". It never occurred to him that it might be the Jews´ problem. He saw it not as a threat to his existence, but as a minor neurosis.
In Israel, the bulk of Diaspora Jews who have moved to the country, and almost all who have moved from the ex-Soviet Union, are hostile to Oslo and to the "Peace Cult” of the Israeli Left. The reason is simple. They have experienced anti-Semitism. They recognize it when they see it. They realize it cannot be appeased through Jewish niceness. Yet, because native Israelis do not recognize anti-Semitism when it murders their children, they have adopted the "peace process" with its axioms, namely, that moderation and goodwill gestures can neutralize hostility to Jews. Instead, of course, such things embolden anti-Semitism and enflame anti-Jewish violence. As Woody Allen said in the movie Manhattan, the only way to reason with anti-Semites is with a large baseball bat.
The government of Israel has lived in a make-pretend parallel universe these many years, where anti-Semites may be disarmed through reason and demonstrations of humaneness, where the world consists of reasonable, decent humans who misunderstand Jews, but do not hate them. Where progress and comfort are the only things people care about.
All of this overlooks some simple facts of life. These facts of life may be unpleasant, but they are real and they need be repeated regularly lest they be forgotten:
1. The only reason people challenge the legitimacy of Israel, rationalize aggression against Israel and justify Arab atrocities, is that they hate Jews.
2. The media campaign against Israel is based on the fact that the Western TV stations, newspapers and radio stations involved are anti-Semitic.
3. Those who support the Palestinians do not care at all about the Palestinians, they simply hate Jews.
4. Anti-Zionists are anti-Semites.
5. The Jewish Left is the main threat to Jewish survival and Jewish existence, both in the Diaspora and in Israel. It is the Jewish Left that prevents Israel from being able to deal with the attacks upon the nation. It is the Jewish Left that rationalizes and legitimizes anti-Semitism and implicitly joins the anti-Semites by blaming everything on the Jews.
6. Every concession or goodwill gesture to Arabs not only encourages Arab violence and aggression, but it also encourages more open manifestation of anti-Semitism among the public in the West and in their media.
7. The anti-Israel lobbies will attack and attempt to de-legitimize Israel no matter what it does and no matter who rules the country.
8. Killing Arab terrorists reduces Arab violence and aggression; dialogue with Arab terrorists encourages Arab violence and aggression (Just witness the sharp drop in attacks on Jewish cars these days after the half-hearted measures against the PLO in the West Bank last week and the disappearance of mob violence after Arab regimes conduct a massacre or two of their own citizens).
9. Nothing has changed. If the Arabs were to perpetrate a new genocide against the Jews, the Western world would explain it as having been caused by Jewish shortcomings and sins.Dr. Steven Plaut teaches at the Graduate School of Business, University of Haifa, Israel.
©2001 - Ha'aretz