Call It for What it Is: Anti-Semitism
The late Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the United States Congress, frequently would comment that “The veneer of civilization is paper thin.”
During the war in Gaza, we have witnessed this flimsy veneer ripped to shreds. The façade of a policy disagreement with Israel’s operations in Gaza quickly evaporated and revealed the familiar old virus of anti-Semitism, a virus which has endured for centuries and for which there is not, any known antidote.
Within the past few weeks, we have seen Jews locked in synagogues in France, as an anti-Israel demonstration dissolved into an anti-Semitic demonstration. We have witnessed a brick being thrown through the window of a kosher butcher store in France, another kosher store was burned to the ground, and three other synagogues have been attacked. In Frankfurt, Germany, an anonymous caller to a rabbi threatened that he and 30 other Jewish families will be listed and stricken. In the Netherlands, a rabbi’s home was attacked with stones, twice in one week. Also in Germany, which should know better), demonstrators were given a policeman’s megaphone and were allowed to shout, Jews, to the gas chambers.”
Concomitant with this hatred comes a very selective memory.
The signs and chants of “Free, Free Palestine”, and “End the Occupation of Gaza” which are being robotically shouted in front of the White House as I am writing this, seem to ignore the vexing fact that there is no longer any occupation of Gaza.
I was in Israel in 2005, when every remnant of a Jewish presence was eradicated from Gaza when Israel withdrew its forces from there.This was a gut-wrenching and internally divisive decision for the state of Israel to make. Israeli soldiers were taught not to feel the pain, as they were instructed to uproot Jews from their homes. Jewish millionaires bought the greenhouses to give to the Palestinians, because they reasoned the nascent Palestinian state would need some sort of economic infrastructure. Some rabbis wanted to keep the synagogues, so that they would be turned into mosques. “After all”, they argued, “We all pray to the same God”. The moment the blue and white flag of the IDF was lowered, and the last soldier left Gaza, those greenhouses and synagogues were destroyed in a frenzied carnival of hate-infested anarchy.
Prior to the Gaza withdrawal my friends from the left told me, “This will finally prove to the world once and for all how far we are willing to go for the sake of peace.”
Do you think the world remembers any of this today?
In the beginning of Oslo, some of these same friends argued , “It’s only Gaza and Jericho first. If it doesn’t work, we can always go in and reclaim it.”
“But that will take Jewish blood,” I responded. At which they looked at me like I was citing an irrelevant fact, and shooed me off as though I was an irritating fly.
Could they now speak so confidently of “always being able to go in and reclaim it” today to Simcha and Leah Goldin as they bury their son, Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin? Or to any of the parents of the other 63 young IDF soldiers fallen, to date, in “Operation Protective Edge”?
For over two decades, Israel and America’s foreign policy had been predicated on some premises that were based more on a combination of a projection of our own Western values onto the rest of the world and on wishful thinking that on the hard realities of the Middle East.
“Land for peace” is a lovely concept in theory, that might work well with Canadians or Mexicans. In “Operation Protective Edge”, we have learned through the most painful way that is does not work at all with a people who believe that either the state of Israel and Jews everywhere must be eradicated immediately, as it says in the Hamas charter, or that they must be eradicated in stages, as it says in the Fatah charter
The question remains: how does Israel continue to survive when she is surrounded by people who are determined to destroy her and who use every bit of land ceded to them to launch a war to eradicate her?
For starters, we must begin with an open and honest re-examination of some of the premises of Oslo and to see whether or not they actually work in the Middle East. We have to acknowledge that Oslo was a huge foreign policy failure, and that it is time to go back to the drawing board. And secondly: we must stop doing things to prove to the world how far we are willing to go for the sake of peace. Not if it means a continuous wave of rockets onto Israeli cities and tunnels into their communities.
We must ask our liberal friends how much land they would cede to Boko Haram for the sake of peace, if they were firing rockets onto our cities, and burrowing tunnels under our daughters’ bedrooms, so that they could be kidnapped and murdered.
One look at a map tells you that Israel stands in the front lines between Western civilization and the world of radical Islam. And one look at a newspaper tells you that radical Islam is the scourge that is confronting the entire free world. By taking on Hamas, the brave soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces are fighting a war for the entire free, Western world.
The fact that people are not able to acknowledge this, and apply a double standard that they would never apply if they were under similar threats, to their own nations, speaks volumes to the virulence and intractability of the age-old virus of anti-Semitism. And it is time that we called it for what it is.
Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, EMET, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy shop in Washington, DC.