August 23, 2003
The new anti-Semitism
By MICHAEL COREN -- Sun Media
Oh Israel. Why have the media and the left deserted you?
Many reasons. Some to do with fashion, others convenience, others pure and time-honoured hatred. Hey, man, it's hip to hate the Zionist entity, even if we're not sure exactly why.
The country has been in existence for a little over 50 years, and in that time has introduced concepts of democracy, civil rights, pluralism, religious freedom, gender equality, the rule of law, the separation of powers, a free press and the right to protest into a region that largely still does not know or accept them.
I'm always amused by western journalists who claim Israel no longer gives them free access into combat zones and sensitive areas. There is, indeed, a slight limitation now, after so many suicide bombings and so much biased reporting. But the limits are minor. And in comparison to any Arab state, Israel allows foreign reporters absolute freedom. Why so little complaint about this?
Yet if we read many newspapers and listen to so much television and radio, this tiny strip of land in an ocean of dictatorship, murderous oligarchy and religious despotism, is responsible for almost every evil in the world, including baldness, bad breath and the rain.
If only these shock hacks knew their history. The Jewish people never left Israel, even though the majority were driven out by the Romans, a genuinely cruel colonial power. Many managed to stay, and simply because Arab and Islamic imperialists eventually conquered the near east and Israel does not make this an Arab land.
Of course, some of the Arabs who had lived in Israel - known by some in those days of hiatus as Palestine - were moved out. Often because of Arab propaganda, sometimes by Jewish actions. This is undeniable. There were brutal actions on both sides. But let us remember that some years before the official formation of modern Israel, the Jews of Hebron faced a genocidal pogrom at the hands of the Arabs.
These men, women and children had lived in this city since Biblical times, long before any Arab moved into the region. But they were massacred, simply for being Jews. In the name, I suppose, of freedom and the struggle for dignity. Hard to know what a Jewish child was doing wrong when his throat was slit by an Arab gangster.
There were 600 Jews living in Hebron in 1929, most of them not even Zionists. Highly orthodox and peaceful, they refused the protection of the Jewish defence organizations and trusted their Arab neighbours would not harm them. How wrong they were. That Jews now want to return to Hebron is seen by some as being immoral.
Oh, I see. Jews should get used to being slaughtered and merely walk away.
I always find it ironic that the hysterical left, self-loathing Jews and anti-Semites scream about Zionism, when all the Jews are doing is taking back what always belonged to them in the first place. Self-loathing Jew? Oh, yes. I didn't believe it in the past, but now know it to be so. People who are shamed by their identity. Freud may have been wrong on many things, but not all.
Then there is the anti-Semitism issue. Not every anti-Zionist is a Jew-hater. But every Jew-hater is an anti-Zionist. In some ways, Israel has become the new Jew - an entity one can despise in polite company and get away with it. I meet critics of Israel all the time who are not anti-Semitic. But when one asks them why they are not more angry at any of the numerous Latin American, African or Asian states that murder, torture and rape they remain silent.
This may not be Jew-hatred, but it is at the very least lazy and selective criticism.
There are valid objections to be made of some Israeli actions and of some Israeli leaders. But if the Arab world would affirm the absolute right to existence of the Jewish state in a sea of increasingly violent and paranoid Islam, most of these problems could be dealt with.
Jews were so much easier to criticize and beat up when they lived in a diaspora, had no army and, well, knew their place. But times change. And so do people. Thank God for that.