Anti-Semitism Part 1
"The Jews and the bicycle riders" the old man answers.
"Why the bicycle riders?"
"Why the Jews?"
Last night I watched most of the PBS documentary "Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence."
Verdict: Thumbs up - with some caveats.
Andrew Goldberg did a great job of this and Judy Woodruff was an excellent presenter. It was well organized, thoughtful and balanced. When they talked about European and Islamic anti-Semitism they backed it up with videoquotes, facts and figures. More importantly, they sampled a wide range of opinions, not just the most extreme. And they didn't shy away from what Israel has done that Arabs have a legitimate right to resent.
Nonetheless, the conclusion that Islamic hatred of Jews is way out of proportion to their grievances is well-supported. They examine the role of state propaganda in fostering this hatred and the motives of Middle Eastern elites in using Israel and Jews in general as scapegoats for their failed states.
Given that there was a lot of Jewish financial support for this project, which they put right up front in the credits, Goldberg must have known that he was going to have to do a really good job supporting his conclusion, since it was likely to be attacked as Zionist propaganda. (We'll see, perhaps it'll simply be militantly ignored.) However in attempting to be fair and balanced he did something questionable at the beginning.
The documentary attributed Islamic anti-Semitism to something they learned from Christian Europe. After reviewing the Islamic-Nazi alliance during WWII (something a European friend of mine dismissed as "that old chestnut" as if it were trivial) they seemed to attribute modern Islamic hatred of Jews as somehow starting at this period.
This is historically unsupportable. Muslim anti-Semitism has existed for a long time, is supported by the Koran, and existed long before the establishment of the state of Israel.
European anti-Semitism at times may have been more extreme and violent during the Middle Ages, though the image presented herein of the golden age of tolerance for Jews and Christians in the Muslim lands during the Middle Ages has recently been questioned by some historians.
Judy Woodruff commented on her participation in the project, “We live in a time of growing intolerance, especially religious intolerance, and it is unsettling to see anti-Semitism on the rise once again. As a journalist, I am proud to be associated with this documentary, which sheds light on a particularly troubling form of hateful behavior.”
With respect to Ms Woodruff, this is misleading at best. We do not live in a time of growing religious intolerance, we live in a time of rising Jew-hatred.
Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and cultists of all kind flourish in Europe and America, where a Mormon politician is regarded as having a pretty good shot at the presidency. Muslims live unmolested in the lands of the West, maintaining their own communities, places of worship, modes of dress - and increasingly making demands for their own laws. No one is defacing their cemetaries or spraypainting swastikas on their properties. And none go in constant fear of assault.
I will deal with the origins of anti-Semitism and the question of Israel in later parts, but for now I'd like to throw out some observations and questions to consider:
*Does anybody doubt that anti-Semitism is getting worse, both in the West and the Muslim lands?
The documentary cited figures on vandalism and assaults. Personally, I remember when the accusation of anti-Semitism was a career wrecker in academia, just as "racism" is now. Nowadays it's a respectable position once again, as long as you make it out to be "anti-Zionism".
*And speaking of which, does anybody see a difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism anymore?
I remember a generation back, when my Arab friends on campus tended to be religiously relaxed and made it plain that they didn't hate Jews but just weren't crazy about Zionists. (A Saudi friend thought it was scandalous that some Christians still believed that the Jews killed Christ - and could quote the Pope on the subject.) Many expressed profound sympathy for the sufferings of the Holocaust and didn't deny the right of Jews to settle in Palestine as members of a Palestinian state.
You don't hear that now. The Holocaust is either actively denied (or "exaggerated" a Jordanian colleague told me) or actively excused, and sometimes denied while promising a real one in the near future.
*Does it seem as plain as the proverbial nose on the face that the Left is in the process of selling out the Jews?
Jewish intellectuals have long been the brain trust of the Left, from moderate Democrats to the hard Left. Now the Democratic Party leadership has taken in minority leaders with strong anti-Semitic feelings and they are finding that in a democracy, votes delivered outweigh brains and money. And... within the past few decades, the number of American voters of Middle Eastern origin has approached parity with the number of Jewish voters.
On the Hard Left, they have discovered the plight of the Palestinians and the nobility of the Jihadist hatred of Western civilization.
*Does anyone doubt that the first war Israel loses will be the last one it ever fights? Because they'll be dead. All of them.
*The Iranians have stated publicly what many of us have considered privately. That in an age of nuclear weapons, a geographically small country is at an inherent disadvantage compared with larger countries, i.e. it takes fewer nukes to blow it all up.
So... when contemplating the nuking of Israel, have the freakin' Palestinians noticed that they and the Israelis are living in each others laps? Are they so consumed with hatred that they haven't noticed that when it's bye-bye Israel they get it from the blast and fallout too? Have we heard a single expression of concern from the Palestinians about Iran's nuclear program and openly stated intention of using nukes when they get them - on THEM?
And in the rest of the Islamic world, does concern for the plight of the Palestinians go out the window when they see a chance to turn the Jews into radioactive ash?