Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
I arrived in New York at the beginning of February, just in time to enjoy the brutal chill and snow of winter, something we rarely have in Israel. I had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of our brethren who are as up to date as ever on Israel and the latest developments in the Jewish world.
From the warm confines of their heated offices and homes, things don’t look so bad, and for those who fled to Florida, things look even better. At times it seemed as if Israel and the modern-day Islamic crusade against the Jews were light years away. Many people I met seemed to express a subtle smugness. The underlying attitude was: “As much as I care about Israel, and as much as I am concerned about the unprecedented anti-Semitism and murderous attacks on Jews in Paris and Copenhagen, here in America we have a different reality; we don’t have to prepare our suitcases as many are doing in most European countries. All we have to do is simply mind our own business and the current wave of Jew-hatred will pass over us.”
My brethren in America fail to comprehend that the latest wave of hatred of Israel and of Jews is not related whatsoever to Israel, to the settlements, or even to the so-called occupation. It is not because of the war this past summer against Hamas; it is not because of what the Jews do, but because of who we are and what we represent in the minds of those who hate us.
As Matt Friedman, a former AP reporter, recently wrote, scholars of Western history have explained that at times of confusion and external dangers, and when society is unable to provide answers that make these threats go away, negative sentiment tends to revolve around Jews. Discussions of issues of the time often end up as discussions about Jews.
In the late 1800s, French society was riven by the clash between the old France of the church and army, and the new France of liberalism and the rule of law. These sentiments erupted around the figure of a Jew, Alfred Dreyfus, accused of betraying France as a spy for Germany. His accusers knew he was innocent, but that didn’t matter; he was a symbol of everything they wanted to condemn.
During the 1920s and ’30s, Germans were preoccupied with their humiliation at the end of World War I. This morphed into a discussion of Jewish traitors who had stabbed Germany in the back. Germans were preoccupied as well with the woes of their economy—this of course revolved around Jewish wealth and Jewish bankers.
In the years of the rise of communism and the Cold War, communists, concerned with their ideological opponents, talked about Jewish capitalists and cosmopolitans or Jewish doctors plotting against the state. At the very same time, in capitalist societies threatened by communism, people condemned Jewish Bolsheviks.
This is the face of this recurring obsession. As the journalist Charles Maurras wrote approvingly in 1911, “Everything seems impossible, or frighteningly difficult, without the providential arrival of anti-Semitism, through which all things fall into place and are simplified.”
Despite Israel’s being the smallest nation in the Middle East, never knowing a moment of acceptance and peace since her inception, she has become a symbol of the ills of the West—colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism. This is not because of the Jewish settlers or the mighty IDF, but rather it is because Israel and today’s Jews are the heirs to the “Jewish banker” of the past. When moral failure raises its head in the Western imagination, the head tends to wear a skullcap.
Today’s current epidemic of primal hatred of Israel and of the Jews by Islamic organizations and the Western liberal intelligentsia stems from a concept known as redemptive anti-Semitism. For example, a Nazi directive of 1943 states: “The extermination of Jewry throughout the world is the precondition for an enduring peace.” Such a statement is remarkably similar, if not identical, to that of the hated past leader of Iran, Ahmadinejad, who proclaimed at every opportunity that “the Zionist regime will be wiped out and humanity liberated.”
The common thread unifying the desire for the total destruction of Jews is shared by Islamic terror and Nazism. It is not a coincidence that both German Nazism and modern Islamism arose in the 1920s. The Nazis spoke of redemptive anti-Semitism, a form of anti-Semitism that explains everything in the world and offers a form of “redemption” by exterminating all the Jews. Modern radical Islamism provides the same rationale for murdering Jews, and Israelis in particular.
Palestinian Arab anti-Semitism has long been recognized as the Arab world’s prominent vehicle for the hatred of the Jews. From academics teaching that Judaism permits murder and rape of non-Jews, to religious leaders teaching that Islam demands the extermination of Jews, Palestinian anti-Semitism is a compelling force driving hatred and terror. The Palestinian Authority depicts Jews as the archetypal force of evil throughout history. Jews are said to be responsible for all the world’s problems: wars, financial crises, even the spread of AIDS. Jews are a danger to humanity.
Whereas this paradigm has been used before by Nazis, the Palestinians take it a step further, turning demonization of Jews into the basis for Palestinian denial of Israel’s right to exist and a central component of Palestinian national identity. The anti-Semitic oppression, persecution, and expulsions suffered by Jews throughout history are presented as the legitimate self-defense responses of the nations of the world, an idea that has been adopted wholly by Western intellectuals.
Palestinian Arabs, in ways similar to the Nazis in the past, have created a deceptive reality that will implode. Over the past three years, we have all witnessed how quickly Arab leaders throughout the Middle East have had to flee from their own people due to the eruption of rage and hatred among Arab mobs. The true narrative of the Middle East is that no Arab state genuinely respects human rights. No Arab state hosts a responsible media network. No Arab society fully respects the rights of women or minorities, and no Arab government has ever accepted public responsibility for its own shortcomings.
Blame has become the opium of the Arabs, and the greatest blame for their failures is that directed at Israel—thus the obsessive campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel, the home of the Jewish nation.
Only by spreading the word and exposing the historically lethal link between Islamic terror and Nazism, the modern torchbearers of “redemptive anti-Semitism,” can we regain the moral high ground in defending Israel against the global tsunami of ever-growing anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.