Anti-Semitismís latest refugeBARBARA KAY
A new strain of the old cancer of anti-Semitism is metastasizing throughout Western countries.
That’s the kind of joke the birth of the State of Israel 60 years ago was to have rendered obsolescent. A literal phoenix risen from the ashes, Israel was a source of pride to all Jews, and widely accepted throughout the West as the nail in the coffin of systematic anti-Semitism.
We mistakenly took a brief remission for a cure. A new strain of the old cancer is metastasizing throughout Western countries with large, alienated Muslim populations. The new international, Israel-focused anti-Semitism — the 2001 Durban Conference was a classic manifestation — joins fascist Muslims and left-wing ideologues in common cause.
The new Jew-hatred isn’t characterized by brutal government-sponsored Kristallnachts. It is covert and “respectable.” Indeed, wearing the fig leaf of anti-Zionism, Israel hatred in Europe is more than respectable; it is fashionable.
But make no mistake: Organized and aggressive anti-Zionism is, effectively, anti-Semitism filtered through an ideological spellcheck. Scapegoating Jews for the world’s ills, once a tactic of the right, is today a global left-wing phenomenon.
It should go without saying that criticism of Israel is, in itself, not tantamount to anti-Semitism. Clearheaded critics treat Israel as a country like any other, including their own. They judge Israel’s actions by the single standard they apply to everyone else, and speak of Israel in language appropriate to truthful exchange.
But you know Israel critics have become Israel haters when: they are obsessed with Israel’s moral failures and ignore others’; they respond compassionately to Arab war victims, but not to Israel’s terror victims; they deny Jews’ ancestral roots and continued habitation of Israel; and they employ code words, such as “neoconservatives” or “Israel Lobby,” as a euphemism for Jews.
Most importantly, Israel haters maliciously appropriate the discourse of Jewish victimhood to promote hate in others through outright historical lies. They label Israel an apartheid state, call Israeli soldiers Nazis, portray Ariel Sharon eating babies (the oldest anti-Semitic blood libel), compare Gaza to Buchenwald and in short seek to normalize the idea that support for Israel is support for racism, today’s ultimate taboo.
In Canada, one rarely sees open manifestations of anti-Semitism. But the noxious creed is not extinct — as we learned during the 2006 Israel Hezbollah war, when various leftwing dupes — including, shamefully, a handful of labour leaders and politicians — marched in solidarity alongside Hezbollah supporters carrying placards urging “Death to the Jews.”
The new anti-Semitism is also very much in evidence on university campuses, where Israel-hatred has become an efficient industry run by professional, Islamist-funded activists posing as students, supported by a significant number of faculty sympathizers.
Defending Israel on campus is an act of courage for Jewish students, who run frequent gamuts of abuse directed at Israel through a shrill barrage of agitprop, Israeli apartheid “conferences,” boycott attempts, divestment campaigns and threatened or real violence directed at Israel’s advocates, as in two notable cases five years ago involving Middle Eastern scholar Daniel Pipes at York University in Toronto, and former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Concordia University in Montreal.
Jewish students can choose to ignore the unremitting attacks on Israel — most do; unlike Israel-hating activists, they are there for an education — or combat it as best they can. Which is to say, on the whole, badly or half-heartedly. Intimidated by the slick professionalism of these full-time militants, and ill-equipped to challenge strategic lying, Jewish students on most North American campuses have ceded ideological hegemony to the insurgents.Determined to reverse this demoralizing scenario, Montreal’s Canadian Institute of Jewish Research, an independent pro-Israel think-tank (full disclosure: I sit on the board of advisors), has launched a pilot program to “take back the campus.” Next week, I’ ll introduce you to some Jewish students and their mentors who once felt “alone” and now feel “together.”
Barbara Kay "Anti-Semitism’s latest refuge." National Post, (Canada) 21 November, 2007.
Reprinted with permission of the author, Barbara Kay, and the National Post.
Barbara Kay is a Montreal-based writer. She has been a Comment page columnist (Wednesdays) in the National Post since September, 2003. She may be reached here.
Copyright © 2007 National Post
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