Friday, July 01, 2005
On Passover, we remember that "in every age, tyrants have risen up against us to destroy us". But for a while, we forgot just how easy it all was.
Hillel Halkin points out that, no, the attempts to destroy Judaism -- and Jews -- did not go away; they just lay low for awhile. Now they are resurfacing.
The most common defense is to say that one is not antisemitic, but is merely opposed to the senseless violence and hatred perpetrated by Israel against the poor Palestinians. (And yes, this point of view makes a certain amount of sense, although it requires myopia verging on legal blindness. Are the excesses of the Palestinians themselves -- which make Israelis look positively saintly by comparison -- not worthy of condemnation as well?)
Criticism of Israel is legitimate, certainly. But criticism of only Israel -- while ignoring the many countries and regimes that do the very things Israel is (falsely) accused of -- is either dangerously naive or willfully antisemitic. (Take your pick.)
The same applies for cries of "anti-Zionism". Down to brass tacks, people -- Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people, the movement that first established a Jewish state, and since then has been committed to keeping the Jewish state alive and thriving. (Yes, I said the Jewish state; there is no other. I'm not aware of any other major religion that can say that -- we have examples aplenty of Muslim states, Catholic states, Protestant states, Buddhist states, and so on. Nor is any other state on constant trial for its life the way Israel is.)
So. If you don't think the Jewish state has a right to continue as such -- but are perfectly willing for Saudi Arabia to exist as a Muslim state, for Britain to exist as an Anglican state, and so forth -- then why are you singling out Jews for special treatment? Yep, we're back to antisemitism again.
Mr. Halkin makes these points, and more... and points to recent examples, disturbingly evocative of the dark past:
[Russian State] Prosecutor Ustinov has already summoned Moscow rabbi Zinovy Kogan, chairman of the Congress of Jewish Organizations, for questioning in order to determine whether the Shulhan Arukh should be banned for "racist incitement." He took this action after receiving a letter last January, signed by 500 patriotic Russians, calling the Jewish religion "anti-Christian and inhumane" and demanding that the Shulhan Arukh be banned.As Halkin points out, there is precedent for this -- in 1240, Pope Gregory IX ordered an investigation of the Talmud. The result was a confiscation of Talmuds, and a massive book-burning ceremony in Paris. (Yes, this was nearly eight hundred years ago; we Jews have long memories for this sort of thing.)
There are other signs -- the calls to divest from Israel (from the American Presbyterian Church to the British Anglican Church); the refusal of British scholarly journals to publish the work of Israeli academics; the increasing antisemitic attacks against European synagogues and cemetaries; the UN's insistence that Israel must not defend itself against terrorism; and so on.
By all means, read the whole thing.