Michael Totten has posted an interview with Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist, who recently published a book entitled A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism. The book documents the impact on Israeli society of terrorism by telling the stories of thousands of Israelis murdered by Arab terrorists. Meotti’s choice of title does not seek to compare the quantitative loss of life to terrorism in Israel with that of the catastrophic loss to European Jewry in the Shoah, but rather to draw a legitimate comparison between the two events in which Jews have been killed for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish. (Here is the link to Totten’s interview with Meotti.)
One of the issues Totten and Meotti discuss is the resurgence of open anti-Semitism in Europe. Meotti defines “[t]he current European anti-Semitism [as] a powerful mix of Islamist pressure on Europe by large Muslim communities in its midst and a leftist-progressive ideology.” Students of history will note that for decades (even before the foundation of the State of Israel), European powers such as England, Germany, and Italy were sympathetic (and sometimes more than that) to Middle Eastern Arabs, always at the expense of the Jewish population, and this attitude has not changed significantly in recent years. Not surprisingly, the charge of anti-Semitism (which modern liberal sensibilities like to reformulate as the much more politically-correct anti-Zionism) rankles with some readers.
Nearly as interesting as Totten’s blog posts are the comments which follow the articles. Some nut jobs get on and leave absurd comments, but most readers have something legitimate to say. I was struck by the comment and counter-comment of two readers in particular. Read what “Craig S” has to say in response to the interview:
Very interesting article, and sounds like a very sobering book but it’s very frustrating to read about Sweetish and Norwegian prime ministers ‘hating’ Israel. And no I’m not anti-Semitic, I have Jewish grandparents, Judaism is part of my history. I’m also not anti-Israel, but to read any criticism of Israel’s governments policy as being hatred is just so frustrating. The Swedish and Norwegian governments don’t hate Israel, by stating International law, as accepted by the UN, the International criminal Court and the vast majority of states in the world. Calling for a withdrawal from the West bank and East Jerusalem is not hatred, it’s not anti-Semitic! Yes I’m sure there is a fringe in the British trade union movement that is anti-Israel, probably even a few individuals that are anti-Semitic, but calling for boycott of what I believe was settlement goods not Israeli goods is not anti-Semitic its a legitimate tool to try to pressure the state of Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories…
I’m sorry to rant but defining criticism of Israel as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic takes away from the real anti-Semitism we see, the desecration of Jewish graves in France and other parts of Europe that is anti Semitism, not criticism of the occupation and a boycott of (illegal) settlement goods. ‘Hatred’ shouldn’t be banded about to delegitimize policies and statements which criticise Israel and call for the creation of Palestine on its national homeland, side by side with Israel on her national homeland. There is no hierarchy of national aspirations; the Palestinians have the same rights as the Jewish people or any other national group seeking the right to self determination.
Craig S’s is the voice of Western liberalism, the type of person who defends the right of free speech for those who criticize Israel, champions the Palestinian right to self-determination, and resents the label “anti-Semite” being applied to those who use the BSD movement as a “legitimate tool to try to pressure the state of Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.” (And as an added bonus, Craig S has Jewish grandparents, which gives his words—like those of Richard Goldstone—the added legitimacy it needs.) I can read Craig S and think to myself, “Yeah, it’s all just a misunderstanding. All this criticism of Israel around the world is completely legitimate, and any pro-Israel voices who cry foul are just stifling debate. All Israel needs to do is clear out of Judea and Samaria, give the Arabs back their land, and all will be well.” It’s enticing, and it sounds reasonable. What’s the big deal?
And then “Daniel in Brookline” logs on and takes on Craig S’s points one by one. Check out his response:
to read any criticism of Israel’s governments policy as being hatred is just so frustrating.
Why does this issue keep coming up? Criticism of Israeli government policies is not the problem; Israelis do it all day, every day. (Read any Israeli newspaper, and I do mean any Israeli newspaper.)
If you think that Israelis should not settle in the West Bank, for example, you’re entitled to that opinion, but let’s explore the connotations of what that means. Presumably you don’t think any nation is entitled to use land it captured in a war, and as such you also advocate America’s evacuation of Texas, New Mexico, and California. If you don’t feel that way, then, to make your point, you must also explain why you think Israel is different.
The Swedish and Norwegian governments don’t hate Israel, by stating International law, as accepted by the UN, the International criminal Court and the vast majority of states in the world.
“The law is an ass.” Please don’t tell me what the majority says; Israel is not up for election by the combined population of the world. Tell me, instead, what is right and what is wrong.
Calling for a withdrawal from the West bank and East Jerusalem is not hatred, it’s not anti-Semitic!
See above. Is there any other nation you’d advise to cut its national capital in half, and hand over much of its territory (and all of its strategic depth, such as it is) to its sworn enemies, who are on record promising that they’d use that territory to start a new war?
If you advocate such policies for Israel only, then you should be prepared to explain why only Israel deserves such treatment. Because believe me, Israel’s situation is not unique in this regard; if anything, Israel is exceptional for its generosity, compared to other countries.
None of this is antisemitic, unless it’s Israel’s character as the world’s only Jewish state that bothers you.
Yes I’m sure there is a fringe in the British trade union movement that is anti-Israel, probably even a few individuals that are anti-Semitic, but calling for boycott of what I believe was settlement goods not Israeli goods is not anti-Semitic its a legitimate tool to try to pressure the state of Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
Would you care to explain why this is ‘legitimate’? Would you refuse to buy goods from one American state but not another? (With Arizona attracting a lot of attention lately, this might be closer to reality than we think.) Would you expect the United States to jettison one of its states in response to your actions?
There is no hierarchy of national aspirations; the Palestinians have the same rights as the Jewish people or any other national group seeking the right to self determination.
Israel has no obligation to commit suicide, and she does not have to honor the yearnings of self-determination of those pledged to destroy her.
As far as I’m concerned, if the Palestinians really want a state of their own, let them prove that they can, and will, be good neighbors. Let them prove by their actions that Israel can vacate territory, as she did with Gaza, without the response being a daily rocket barrage, as it was in Gaza.
And let’s not forget that the West Bank was offered to the Palestinians, by Ehud Barak in 1999 and again by Ehud Olmert a few years ago. The offer was rejected both times. What have the Palestinians offered? Have they offered, for example, to stop killing Israelis for a time?
I don’t know where you live, Craig. But I guarantee you that, if the Palestinian territories were only a few miles away from you, and treated you the way Israelis have been treated, your country would respond at least as harshly as Israel has.
All those facile notions, those calm, rational, democratically sound opinions get blown out of the water. The double standards applied to Israel, the irrelevance of “international law” (as though such laws were truly applicable or binding) to Israeli settlements, the absurdity of establishing an enemy state on one’s borders, the madness of splitting one’s capital with a sworn enemy, the total ignorance of past offers of land for a state in the last 10 years, and the naïveté of those who think that the Palestinian Arabs only want “self-determination” instead of Israel’s destruction—all rendered dust.
The only thing I would add that Daniel in Brookline didn’t write is the fact that this IS the homeland of the Jews, and NOT the homeland of the Arabs. The Green Line does not delineate the line between two distinct homelands; it’s the line marking the 1949 Armistice between Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Hebron is NOT part of any Arab homeland, nor is Shilo, Jericho, or the Old City of Jerusalem. This whole thing is the Jewish homeland, and the Arabs are recent arrivals, with a handful going back to an Arab colonization effort in the 7th century, and most having come from neighboring countries as a result of Jewish immigration in the 19th century to avail themselves of the new economic opportunities that opened up. Jewish offers of land on which to build an Arab Palestinian state are gifts, and certainly not within the Arabs’ “rights.” Those offers are based on over 2500 years of Jews being driven from our own homes and being packed off to exile or death, and serve as an acknowledgment that however they got here, the Arabs are here now and to uproot and expel them would be cruel (though certainly not unprecedented in world history), expensive, and assuredly violent. If the Arabs were really only interested in “self-determination,” they would have embraced one of these offers and gotten underway building themselves a state years ago. The fact that they haven’t should raise eyebrows, including those of Craig S and others like him.
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