Jews are being attacked as the root of all Western evil.
Dr. Persico I think you've articulated something that is very important. It is obvious to me that Jews have always been the object of projection from Western civilization, often the scapegoat. As we Jews stand as a symbol of difference, and at the core of Western thought and ideas about freedom and the value of individual life, we symbolize and receive the resentment of others. When you describe a "damning introspective critique", the logic follows that someone has to be blamed for that uncomfortable introspection - The Jews, as always. Dara Horn, in People Love Dead Jews, says it well: "Since ancient times, in every place they have lived, Jews have represented the frightening prospect of freedom.” Sartre articulates something similar in "Antisemite and Jew." All of this is remarkable for a country of 9 million, with only 16 million Jews globally. And we get 2/3 of all UN resolutions since 2015. We clearly represent something big, and your thesis is powerful. I have a perhaps naive hope that when the scapegoat (Israel/Jews) is able to stand in their full power, acting reasonably and in their interests, this would cause antisemitism to fade. After all, we haven't had the kind of visible power that Israel has for 2000 years prior to 1948. Your thesis is scary in that antisemitism just mutates as you say. The skeptical readers of your essay should remember that "what starts with the Jews, doesn't end with the Jews." Thank you for this, even though it depresses me.
Very interesting, though the stuff about the "occupation" is balderdash. Israel is not "occupying" millions of Palestinians in any meaningful way; it's taking steps to keep those Palestinians from doing what we just saw Hamas do. And one can argue about what the ultimate disposition of Jews and Arabs should be in the land, but the '67 borders have nothing going for them except that they allow the Arabs to pretend that they didn't lose the war. If Dr. Persico wants to believe that we've stolen Arab lands and that "the settlers" -- as if the small rabble represents 500,000 people and as if their violence wouldn't be tame compared to a slow Monday night in Chicago -- are somehow the Jews' version of Hamas, he can flatter his conscience as he likes, but he's not describing reality.
There is a great book published 2010, The King's Jews, by Robin Mundill. https://reviews.history.ac.uk/review/1077 Jews have consistently been used by the powerful to do their bidding and we have suffered for it. We had no land of our own, and as a diasporic people we did what we could to live on the land of other nations. The Magna Carta was to a large degree a proclamation that the gentry did not have to pay back the loans the King's Jewish money lenders were owed. https://www.thejc.com/news/all/magna-carta-s-three-jewish-clauses-1.56652 Fifty years later, we were useless to the King and expelled from England. The problem we face as a people is we have been forced to look to the rulers of other nations for our security and they have betrayed us consistently. Jews run continuously to Clifford's Tower hoping the King of some other nation will save us, but the they never do. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/cliffords-tower-york/history-and-stories/massacre-of-the-jews/ Land is life and Israel is our land now. We receive the vitriol of the world because we refuse to run again to Clifford's Tower. It is true the world loves dead Jews, the world loves their sacrificial victims. They want us to be like Jesus, a good Jew who submitted to the cross. But hopefully we have learned our lessons from generation after generation of pogroms. The Palestinians have fallen to their own life-negating cult of Jew hatred and Janna for martyrs. We need not help them hate us. They could have a nation too, but they define themselves as refugees instead. They have defined themselves by their resentment rather than by embracing a good life. And the world applauds them for this. The world, as we have seen for two thousand years, only loves the Jews after we have been ritualistically killed: father, mother and child. Oh those poor suffering wandering Jews. Dead to the last. Never Again means never again.
Thank you for deconstructing the distorted logic that has been so vexing. I – like you and so many Jews – oppose the “morally deplorable and politically indefensible and untenable” way that the Israeli State and specifically the Netanyahu government, has dispossessed the Palestinian people. I am someone who has always advocated for a sovereign and viable Palestinian State. And yet, I couldn't help wondering why Israel continues to be portrayed as the archetypal villain, the stand-in for colonialism and State violence everywhere. Particularly, when violence and oppression of Muslim populations in other places, (the Uighurs in China, Rohingya in Myanmar, the devastating cruelty against civilians in Yemen) reflects greater violence against Muslim populations and as much of a humanitarian crisis as what’s happening in the occupied territories of Israel. Why have there been no mass demonstrations against these atrocities, no worldwide calls for the boycott of Saudi Oil or of cell phones manufactured in China.
If Israel is seen merely as a “colonial occupation” – the tacit assumption that the state of Israel is, per se, illegitimate with no right to exist – what then is the outcome? That all Jews in Israel be repatriated back to the lands from which they came, leaving the entire territory “from the river to the sea” to the Palestinians? If that is the endgame, then logic would dictate that millions of English ‘settlers’ in Australia and Canada be repatriated back to the U.K. That anyone who isn’t indigenous to the U.S., return to the lands of their forebears and cede the land back to the original inhabitants. And so on, and so on...But no one is calling for this. For the hundreds of thousands of protestors who have been out on the streets in solidarity with the Palestinian cause - “End the Israeli Occupation” has been a ubiquitous slogan. No doubt it’s easier to vilify a single State actor half-way around the world, than to reflect on our own enmeshment with State violence and the displacement of indigenous peoples. But, as you point out, the moral double standard lays bare something troubling: a mutated form of antisemitism. And many of us who’ve found solidarity in Progressive circles, and who support the formation of a Palestinian State, feel gut-wrenching sadness and fear, as we watch the Jewish State being vilified “as the single most malevolent country in the world. As the root of all evil.”
In general excellent piece, most welcome, though I agree with Michael Berkowitz that “occupation” is odd way to describe Israel’s attempt to secure defensible borders
The old Protocols anti-semitism lingers, as in Sunday New York Times snarky coupling of “crypto currency “ - today’s Rothschilds - with AIPAC in funding primary opposition to the Squad
I have known every kind of advocate for the Palestinians under the sun, and I've never known anyone who remotely thinks this way
Really good piece. Doesn't, however, speak to the anti-semitism coming from the right. Which, while perhaps less energized than that from the left, would seem nonetheless still in force. Indeed, as with the military situation Israel finds itself in, the phenomenon of anti-semitism would seem a multi-front affair.
If the new antisemitism is a "mutation", then hopefully it is maladaptive and does not spread further through the cultural genome of the body politic. However, remove the new antisemitism and there is the conundrum of the older versions of antisemitism. Are we as a species programed culturally and/or genetically to persecute the "other" because somehow that is adaptive? If that is true and you are the ones being persecuted, then perhaps it is better to go down "swingin' like Sonny Liston".
I believe that the nation-state is the only guarantor of liberty. And also that, despite the distaste of the sophisticated set, ethno-nationalism is often useful and vital, even necessary.
Accordingly, I don't experience any cognitive dissonance in fully supporting Israel. Unlike the EU-lovers we often get around here.
Thank you for the thoughtful and insightful article; it has given me lots of threads to follow.