Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Melanie Phillips writes about the casual antisemitism and anti-Zionism of the British press -- and, increasingly, of British society -- which, once again, is rising to a fever pitch.
(As I have explained before, and no doubt will need to explain again many times, not all criticism of Jews is antisemitism, nor is all criticism of Israel anti-Zionism, not by a long shot. If you think the policies of Ariel Sharon's government are misguided or wrongheaded or even evil, it's not anti-Zionist for you to say so. If you long for the day when a Palestinian State will peacefully coexist alongside Israel, that's emphatically not anti-Zionist. But if you expect that Palestinian State to include Jerusalem, and Jaffa, and Haifa -- to essentially take over all of Israel -- then yes, you are anti-Zionist, for you have declared your willingness to see the State of Israel destroyed.
(Similarly, there's nothing wrong with criticizing the State of Israel, in the UN or elsewhere. But criticizing only Israel -- and ignoring the very real horrors perpetrated by other states, far in excess of what Israel merely stands accused of -- that is anti-Zionism. And if you deny the importance of a Jewish state -- while finding nothing wrong in the world's many Muslim states, and Christian states, and Buddhist states, and so on -- then your anti-Zionism creeps across the boundary into antisemitism, for you deny the Jewish people rights that you freely accord to other peoples.)
I've quoted this before, but it's worth repeating. As the Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim once wrote:
"For Christians, the first priority may be theological self-understanding. For Jews it is, and after Auschwitz must be, simple safety for their children. In pursuit of this goal, Jews seek -- are morally required to seek -- independence of other people's charity. They therefore seek safety -- are morally required to seek it -- through the existence of a Jewish state. Except among the theologically or humanly perverse, Zionism -- the commitment to the safety and genuine sovereignty of the State of Israel -- is not negotiable."Now, with that in mind, read what Ms. Phillips has to say about life for British Jews these days. As she points out, it's not just that British Muslims are spouting the vilest antisemitic libels -- but that no one cares enough to disagree. Ms. Phillips reminds us that Israel has always safeguarded the holy places of many religions, even in the face of blatant disregard of Jewish holy places at the hands of others. And yet, when Israel pleads with the Palestinian Authority not to destroy synagogues left behind in Gaza, and Palestinian police stand idly by while those synagogues are torched and bulldozed... the BBC covers the destruction and blames Israel.
How a British news organization can accuse Israel of racism and ethnic violence, when it is British clerics calling for the destruction of Israel, and British universities refusing to accomodate Israeli academics, surpasses all understanding.
Britannia, it's well past time to clean your own house. No one else can do it for you.
And it is true for you now, as it has often been true for other societies and cultures in the past two thousand years -- your Jewish subjects are the canaries in the coal mine. If you fail to protect British Jews from their enemies, those enemies will come after you next. (Indeed, they already have.)