The claim that the alleged danger of Judeophobia is an excuse to “silence anti-Israel criticism,” signifies a total shut down of warning systems against this worrying phenomenon.
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz recently published an article composed of six (as usual) left-leaning opinions all contending that Europe is not against either the Jewish people or the Jewish state, but rather that anti-Israel hostility is a consequence of Israel’s behavior. The article came out two days before I presented the diametrically opposite view at the OU Israel Center. Adi Ophir’s claim that the alleged danger of Judeophobia is an excuse to "silence anti-Israel criticism," signifies a total shut down of warning systems against this worrying phenomenon. That Israel is far more criticized than any other country in the world seemed to escape the reasoning of all the interviewed, particularly Zev Sternhall, who goes so far as to contend that we are less criticized than we should be, precisely because we are so liked by European governments. Similarly absurd is the position of Yosef Paritzky, that European Israel-bashing stems from the fact that they consider us to be European. In refutation, suffice it to say, firstly, that European officials and media never claim such a shared destiny when discussing Israel among themselves or with the outside world. They raise it only when addressing Jews, especially those Jews desperate to avoid Jewishness and to whitewash Israel bashing, such as those interviewed by Ha’aretz. Secondly, we would have no friction with Europe if their moral demands of us paralleled their own standards. Finally, all of those interviewed attribute ethical motivation to the European governments’ attitude vis a vis the Middle East. This assumption is, to put it mildly, naïve.
What's in a Name
Hatred against Jews remained nameless up until 1897 despite the destruction it had wrecked to hundreds of communities and thousands of lives. In that year the term anti-Semitism was coined in Hamburg by Wilhelm Marr, whose aim was to disassociate his hatred from any religious stance such as that utilized by Christian Judeophobes. Marr’s pamphlet soon numbered many editions. The religious component was replaced by racism, and the words Jews and Judaism by Semite and Semitism.
Widely accepted as it is, this term is flawed and misleading. Firstly, Semites do not exist -nor did they during Marr’s time. The word Semite may be useful in either anthropological or paleographical studies. There are Semitic languages, but to imply that today there is a racial group that is comprised of Jews from Holland, Ethiopia and Yemen, together with a Muslims from Morocco, is simply absurd.
The second reason to reject the word anti-Semitism is even stronger. While Semites do not exist now, anti-Semites never existed. There never was a person, political party, publication or group that aimed to combat Semites. Of course, there were many against Jews. But it is misleading to call them anti-Semites. Many hide their hatred against Jews or Judaism behind semantic fuzziness. This year the president of Syria replied to an accusation by stating: "I could not be anti-Semitic because I am a Semite."
This semantic flaw led many researchers to seek another term. James Parkes and Emil Fackenheim proposed to drop the hyphen: by calling it antisemitism we avoid the wrong implication that there is an entity called Semites of which the anti is its foe. While it is a step in the right direction, dehyphenation is inadequate.
Regrettably we have not adopted a term found in Zionist philosophy. Three years after Wilhelm Marr coined his neologism, Leo Pinsker described the phenomenon with a more precise, if less utilized term. In his Autoemancipation (1882) Pinsker uses Judeophobia, of twofold exactitude: It is explicit about the object of hatred, and through its suffix it stresses the irrationality of the phenomenon. As Jean Paul Sartre suggests in his book on the subject, let us not allow the Judeophobes to dress up their hatred as ideology.
The objection that phobia is the Greek for fear, and not for hatred may be valid in psychology where we name different fears by this suffix: ailurophobia (fear of cats), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places), nyctophobia (fear of night), etc. But in the Social Sciences, the suffix phobia means hatred rather than fear, as in xenophobia, hatred of foreigners.
Judeophobia is not of the genre of xenophobia. It is a unique type of hatred that deserves separate study. It is the longest hatred, and the most general one, the deepest and most lethal ever.
No people on earth has been persecuted, tortured, converted by force, expelled and discriminated against during two thousand uninterrupted years, due to the most ludicrous accusations including as being ass-worshipers, deicides, well-poisoners, witches, Christian-blood suckers, host-desecrators, world comploters, infectious vermin, or more recently, racists, Holocaust-fabricators and the dispossessors of a millenary and peaceful nation.
Judeophobic myths have been so diverse and profound that Jews have been hated even when absent. Chaucer depicts them as murderers in his Canterbury Tales after Jews had long been expelled from his country. Shakespeare creates the stereotype of Shylock after more than two hundred years of Jewish absence from England. Today's Japan produces Judeophobia although it hosts virtually no Jews. Moreover, no hatred has been able to recruit such a spectrum of important movements like Anarchism, Marxism, the New Left, most nationalisms (including the Palestinian Arab, initially an open ally of Hitler), religious fundamentalisms, the Russian superpower, and the United Nations, where "the Jew of the countries" suffers more attacks than any other nation. Even movements which ideologically should support Israel against the Arab regimes, such as feminism and ecological groups, usually tend to be inexplicably anti-Zionist.
No other phobia has gained the public and enthusiastic support of such a variety of admired and rational people as Luther, Fichte, Marx, Toynbee, Dostoevski and Henry Ford. Judeophobia became a virus in European culture to such an extent that Count Joseph Eotvosz wittily defined an anti-Semite as one who hates the Jews more than necessary. Two millennia of "teaching contempt" as Jules Isaac puts it, cannot be easily neutralized.
Many Jews, Israelis and politicians, tend to deny Judeophobia. In their wishful thinking, Jews are no more hated than others. But universalizing it does not lead to better understanding, only to false conclusions.
Voltaire fought to purge Europe of medieval prejudices, but was himself defeated by one. Over one quarter of the entries in his Philosophical Dictionary attack "the most imbecile people on the face of the earth, enemies of humanity, obtuse, cruel, absurd..." The longest entry is about (against) the Jews, who made up barely one percent of the population.
19th century France failed to atone for its 18th century. Even its socialist literature belies no compassion for the persecuted Jews, who during this period endured six hundred pogroms. Concerning the Dreyfus case, the then minister Gaston de Galliffet explained that "the great majority of his country" was Judeophobic. This is still the case today; synagogues do not go up in flames without a context conducive to conflagration.
This year two French ambassadors spoke their hearts: Jacques Huntzinger justified terrorism against Israel, while Daniel Bernard called Israel "the shitty little country," source of the world’s evils. These poisoned European hearts suffer from an age-old social disease, highly resistant to remedy.
During many centuries Jews were perceived to be diabolical, bloodthirsty and damned by God. Judaism, the religion of vengeance, was "surpassed by the religion of love". Today, these atavistic prejudices are projected onto "the Jew-country," the only one whose right to exist is under fire. All countries owe their beginnings to nationalistic movements, but in the eyes of Europe, only Zionism is illegitimate. This is what ancient Judeophobia has in common with current anti-Zionism. This small state, established in order to rescue millions of lives from the claws of Europe, is the state which has aroused Europe’s most sustained hostility. The only democracy in the Middle East, whose territory fits 500 times into that of the Arab countries, is under constant attack.
A delegation of European journalists recently traveled to Israel to express their solidarity with Arafat. Upon leaving his offices in Ramallah, hidden among them were thirteen wanted terrorists. No one has ever apologized. Europe took naturally the fact that two presenters during the Eurovision song festival openly requested the public to repel Israel’s song.
The European Union gave the Palestinian Authority 50 million euros in compensation for destruction caused by Israel. Will any Israeli merit European reparations for the deaths caused by the terrorism unleashed by Arafat, generously aided and abetted by Europe?
The European Union calls for ceasefires only when Israel defends itself; attacks against Israeli citizens go unnoticed. Today Syria’s protégés are shelling us from the North, but Europe is silent. Tomorrow they will protest our reaction.
Of all the oppressed peoples in the world, the writer José Saramago has chosen to support the Palestinians, comparing their situation to that of the Jews under Nazism. No other country is labeled "Nazi," only Israel.
The "occupied territories" of 1967 are the excuse, not the crux of the matter. In 1965 the Soviet delegates to the UN opposed the inclusion of a condemnation of Judeophobia in the Declaration of Human Rights. Worse still, they called for the text to denounce such racial crimes as "Zionism, Nazism and Neonazism" (in that order). Israel’s only "aggression" at that time was that it dared to exist. The Arab attacks, however, were incessant. Arafat and his PLO were already killing to "free" the territories… that Israel did not possess. Europe has forgotten that "the occupation" was a consequence of Arab aggression, not its cause.
Europe has forgotten that Israel repeatedly proposed an end to occupation and the peaceful establishment of a Palestinian State. Their response has been a bloodbath.
Our Real Enemies
Israel’s enemy is not the Arabs. Not even the Palestinians. The Arab nations are subjects of monolithic and violent regimes, under which free expression is prohibited. We will only discover the true Arab voice once free expression is permitted, including desires to end violence and war. Only then will there be lasting peace. After all, there are never wars between democracies. The Israeli people has no enmity towards the Arab nations; the Arab regimes are our adversaries.
Profound Judeophobic hatred stems from Europe. Its own nations may express themselves by means of parliaments, demonstrations and free press. They could insist that their representatives stop criticizing Israel who is struggling to survive in the midst of tyrannical governments. But no, for most of Europe, the villain is the tiny nation who transformed the desert into fertile orchards; a nation who has always been willing to make concessions to build peace with its neighbors.
The Holocaust was perpetrated specifically by the Nazis, to a lesser extent by the Germans and in general terms by the Europeans. The alliance of active Judeophobes and silent Europeans allowed the assassination -through unspeakable suffering- of one in every three Jews in the world during a period of less than five years. German lands, British seas, French betrayal, Swiss banks and Vatican silence.
Almost imperceptibly, the Holocaust alliance is reemerging. Synagogues in flames is a portent, but more perilous, the European Community is killing us here in Israel by legitimizing the vilest actions of those who have pledged to destroy us. The guise they employ constitutes the greatest hypocrisy of the 20th century: humanistic solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Palestinians matter very little to Europeans. They have made no special efforts on their behalf. The only country that has ever provided Palestinians with universities and services is Israel. When Jordan killed thousands of Palestinians, and when Kuwait expelled tens of thousands more, there were no European voices of solidarity. Europe’s motivation is not the well being of the Palestinians, but rather the dubious pleasure found in punishing Israel.
Nor are the Europeans concerned by the statelessness of Kushmirans, Tamils, Corsicans, Tibetans, Kurds, New Caledonians, Ibos, Basques, Aymaras, Sioux, Laplanders or Kelpers. Of the hundreds of stateless nations, only the Palestinians have awakened Europe’s unconditional solidarity.
And the blame for the Palestinians statelessness always falls on Israel. Yet Israeli governments, including that of the demonized Sharon, have repeatedly asked the Palestinians to abandon their bombs and devote themselves, once and for all, to the establishment of their state in peace. But in vain: Europe encourages the Palestinians to believe that only by violent means will they achieve a state. They deem insignificant that all they have obtained up to now has been through negotiations, not terror.
They fight to gain from Israel through violence, what Israel wants to give them in peace. Any means is par for the course: bombs in pizzerias, at birthday parties, religious ceremonies, discos and schools. What would normally be unconscionable must be understood if the victim is the Jew-country.
Medieval Judeophobia sought to remove the Jew from society; the contemporary version aspires to isolate the Jewish state from the family of nations.
While the leaders of hundreds of peoples remain anonymous, Arafat has had the sinister luck to choose the perfect enemy, one that has catapulted him to media stardom, and even to a Nobel Peace Prize. Who would have heard of Arafat if it were not for Europe? Why should he stop killing us, when Europe applauds?
Europe knows that in five peace treaties with Israel the Palestinian ringleaders promised to renounce terrorism and to fight for their demands only at the negotiating table. However their most gracious gesture to Israel has been condemnation of "the violence" from both parties, the aggressor and the aggrieved. A bomb explodes in a nightclub in Tel Aviv, but the BBC investigates a war fought twenty years ago, demanding that a trial for "war crimes" (the slaughter of Christians by Muslims) be initiated against… the Israeli Prime Minister. Israelis are shot at, day after day, and the Norwegian minister announces that it is permissible to kill them. Norway boycotts only Israeli products and regrets having awarded the Peace Prize… to Shimon Peres! A church in Bethlehem is used as a shelter by terrorists and the Pope asks that Arafat not be humiliated.
Judeophobia alone may not account for the gestalt of the Middle East conflict, but to deny it as a factor is, at the very least, willfully candid. Europe could make immense contributions to peace: by demanding an end to the incitement to violence in the Palestinian media, and to the indiscriminate violence that has taken the place of negotiations; they could demand that Israel appear on the Arab maps; that Palestinian school curriculums should delete the destruction of Israel; that schools should not teach that a human bomb on a civilian bus is a model of a "sacred martyr."
The objective of Israeli military actions is to dismantle the infrastructure of death, to disband the terrorist groups that act with impunity in the Palestinian territory. In compliance with the Oslo Accords, Israel brought into its land Palestinian leaders from Tunisia. Israel gave them territory, autonomy, money, weapons and prestige. Their answer was not to disarm the terrorist apparatus but rather to build it, train it, and glorify it. But it is the Israeli offensive that offends Europe, which continues its matricide against the Hebrew nation, an act that transcends sociological and economic explanations. For thousands of years Europe has killed Jews, forgiven those who killed them, and in the current version, criticizes Jews who do not allow themselves to be killed.
Just a tiny push for the democratization of Arab states (remember the huge push for the democratization of Latin America, South Africa and the communist world?) together with insistence on the legitimation of the Jewish State and respect for human values, would be real advancement towards peace. But Europe has a different agenda