Category: English

Israel, antisemitism and anti-Zionism

The worst racism in Europe has always been antisemitism when for hundreds of years, Jews suffered all types of discrimination: theft of their property, expulsion from homes and countries, violence, pogroms (‘devastation’ in Russian, but in reality massacres) and ultimately an industrial style genocide of about 6 million people in the 1930/40s.

(Arabs being Semites, etymologically ‘antisemitism’ could also refer to them, but since the word ‘Antisemitismus’ was created in German in the 19th century, it has always specifically referred to anti-Jewish racism.)

Antisemitism has both political and religious origins. Politically, extreme right fascists consider Jews as not ‘real’ French or Russians or whatever, thereby ‘polluting’ national purity with Nazi racial laws classifying Jews as Untermenschen or ‘sub-humans.’ Since some Jews were prominent in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik Revolution (Marx, Trotsky etc) they were all said to be communists, but at the same time controlled international banks like the Rothschilds. The mix of Jewish-communist-capitalists supposedly menacing civilisation was a constant theme in Hitler’s speeches; Stalin took out the communist aspect and made similar speeches.

A regular prejudice from the political right, left or middle is that Jews are only interested in money, but in Europe at least, for centuries Jews had almost no choice of jobs except those connected to money. Jews were forbidden from owning land so rarely became farmers; they were banned from universities so did not become doctors, lawyers etc; they were refused entry into craft guilds so rarely became artisans and almost never became military officers being considered potentially disloyal. The few permitted jobs included selling 2nd hand goods such as clothes no doubt accompanied by price haggling, collecting taxes for Christian monarchs who did not want the unpopularity or lending money, an activity forbidden to Christians. Contrary to racist clichés, Jews are not always rich, but being a tiny minority suffering endless discrimination and placing a high emphasis on education, they developed a tradition of working hard to improve their situation whether in Europe or when emigrating to escape persecution and arriving in the USA, Australia, South Africa, Palestine later Israel and so on. However, some other minorities do the same so the richest ethnic UK minority today is Hindu Indians, in France probably the Lebanese Christians, both being about 20% richer than the average with Jews probably second in both countries. As a historical fact, given the severe limits in what they could do before 19th century emancipation, Jews were often excessively poor in Europe and confined to ghettos, or separate districts where they were locked up at night away from the majority Christian populations who did not have to mix with them. In the Russian Empire and elsewhere, Jews were only allowed to live in certain regions and often in villages or small town ‘shtetls’ rarely or never frequented by Christians.

In respect of antisemitism, in reality as opposed to theory, both political extremes of right and left say the same thing. The Nazi Party full name was the ‘National Socialist Party of German Workers’ and many political fascists like Mussolini started political life as socialists. Theoretical communists like Lenin or Stalin acted like fascists when discriminating between those in favour of communism (or their version of it) while killing, torturing or imprisoning those against or suspected of so being. Communist ideology has led to millions more deaths even than fascism, the only difference being that it starts with an agreeable theory that everyone is equal whereas fascism starts with the disagreeable theory that they are not.

Today, extreme right antisemitism still exists, but is now relatively marginal compared to that from extreme left whose political philosophy includes detesting Western civilisation, historically based on a Judeo-Christian heritage. Antisemitism is widespread in the UK Labour Party, in European Socialist/Communist/Green Parties and now even in the US Democrat Party. All these political groups have alliances with Western Islamists as seen by their joint-participation in endless anti-Israel demonstrations. Of course, the anti-Israel left categorically refuse being described as anti-Semitic, loudly proclaiming that they cannot possibly be racist believing in absolute equality for everyone. However, in respect of Jews, some people are clearly “more equal than others” (Orwell) so they claim to be merely anti-Zionist. Jews unlike other peoples, apparently do not have the right to their own country and Israel should be destroyed as an evil and illegitimate colonial regime created by Europeans and which involved stealing the country from Palestinian Arabs.

This is an absurd rewriting of history, but to quote Orwell again, “he who controls the past controls the future; he who controls the present controls the past.” If historical events are completely rewritten, those doing so justify their views because of a false historical narrative. In historical fact as opposed to rewritten myth, as the Bible relates and as archaeologists have proven, Jews have lived for about 3500 years in the Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea. These ancient lands correspond almost exactly to what is now the modern State of Israel, a country absolutely legal under international law, being explicitly recreated by the UN as a Jewish homeland in 1947. Recreating Israel was rejected by Arab neighbours at the time, is still rejected today by some Arab countries as well as by Western Islamist-left political parties.

Arabs come from Arabia and Jews come from Judea, it’s not complicated and the real history is that the Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea became provinces of the Roman Empire by conquest. Jesus (or Christ for Christians) along with many other Jews were executed for rebellion when refusing to pray to pagan gods such as Roman Emperors. This Jewish revolt against the Romans from 66 to 70 CE led to all Jews being expelled from the region thus starting a 2000 year Jewish ‘diaspora’ or dispersion. In 135 CE the Romans renamed Israel and Judea as ‘Syria Palaestina’ trying to remove the historical Jewish connotations. (The origin of ‘Palestine’ being the Philistines, literally a ‘migrating’ people originally from Crete.) ‘P’ as in Palestine does not even exist in Arabic, Palestine is never mentioned in the Koran and Arabs living there are ethnically Egyptian, Syrian or Arabian. Palestine as a distinct country has never existed, nor has the so-called ‘Palestinian people.’

The fiction that the Palestinians constitute a distinct Arab and Muslim people was invented after the Israel-Arab war in 1967 by the Soviet Union and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) for 2 reasons: 1) the Arab countries still rejecting Israel as well as the PLO both realised that it had become unrealistic to defeat Israel in any conventional war so Israel as a concept had to become illegitimate, and 2) Israel’s principal ally was (and still is) the USA and Soviet policy during the cold war was to oppose US influence in the Middle East and elsewhere by denying Israel’s existence, thus attracting support from both Arab and ‘non-aligned’ countries. This was a complete ‘volte face’ by the Soviet Union which had been the first country to recognise Israel officially only 3 days after Israel declared her independence. This new Soviet policy continued until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and was imposed on satellite communist countries in Central/Eastern Europe. Replacing the Soviet Union, Russia changed policy, the newly independent former Soviet bloc countries also and all of them now have diplomatic relations with Israel and are among Israel’s best friends and allies.

2 events influenced what became the modern State of Israel and the Palestine region: 

1) the defeat of Germany and her allies after World War 1 in 1918 led to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Much of this former Empire became modern Turkey and elsewhere Christianity was re-established in Romania and Bulgaria. The League of Nations mandated the British and French governments to administer previous Ottoman regions where nation states were inexistent and in 1920, Britain was given various territories including Palestine, a very poor and undeveloped desert with small populations of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Immediately and probably illegally, the British gave 72% of this Palestine mandate territory to Arab Hashemite family tribes to thank them for their support during World War 1. This territory became the Kingdom of Jordan in 1921 where most Palestinian Arabs now live.

2) the emigration of (mostly) European Jews to Palestine from about 1880 to 1940 with the double objectives of recreating a Jewish homeland and escaping persecution at home. This emigration was encouraged by the Balfour declaration in 1917, named after the British Foreign Minister, promising Jews the right to recreate their national home in (all of) Palestine. However, many Arabs in Palestine objected, attacking and sometimes massacring the arriving Jewish immigrants. Realpolitik led the British to change policy, the quota of Jews allowed into Palestine was reduced successively to almost zero by the 1930s with many unable to emigrate becoming victims of the Nazi genocide. (Ironically, economic development coinciding with the arrival of the Jews who did manage to escape led to an Arab immigration from surrounding countries into Palestine to work.) Exhausted by World War 2, the British abandoned their mandate in 1947 and the new United Nations (UN) agreed to partition the remaining 28% of Palestine not given to Jordan into Jewish and Arab sections. This idea was very reluctantly accepted by the Jews who pointed out that all of Palestine should constitute the new Jewish homeland as agreed by the previous and unmodified League of Nations San Remo agreement of 1923 as set out in the Balfour Declaration. (Under international law, agreements were automatically transferred from the League of Nations to the new UN unless modified or cancelled.)

Despite this, the UN’s 1947 ideas were not accepted by the Arabs and seeing no possible agreement after years of violence, the Jews declared their independence unilaterally in May 1948 on the 28% of Palestine remaining outside Jordan and chose the biblical name of Israel. 5 surrounding Arab countries invaded literally the next day with the intention of “driving the Jews into the sea.” Palestinian refugees today are descendants of these Palestinian Arabs who left during this 1948 war and also contrary to rewritten history, these Arabs mostly chose to do so and were not obliged to leave. The invading Arab countries being so sure of victory that Palestinian Arabs living in the area were told to get out of the way of the invading armies and return home later. Unexpectedly, Israel was not destroyed at birth although it lost much of the 28% of Palestinian territory that it claimed and 700 000 Arabs who did leave found themselves homeless around the ceasefire lines. 150 000 of them stayed during this war proving the point that they were not all obliged to leave and their descendants are now Arab citizens of Israel, numbering about 1,9 million and representing just over 20% of Israelis.

The obvious question is that if Israel is so bad, why didn’t these Israeli Arabs emigrate to any of the 22 surrounding Muslim countries after 1948? The true, if politically incorrect answer is that they don’t want to as they live better in Israel than elsewhere. As far as the Palestinian Arabs who did leave and became refugees, no Muslim country has ever seriously helped them and they suffer enormous discrimination living in Jordan and Lebanon where they are prohibited from many jobs, unable to buy land and usually refused nationality. When they protested too much and created militias threatening Hashemite power, they were massacred by the Jordanian army in 1970 and were partly responsible for the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s.

Arab-Muslim solidarity is as much a myth as European solidarity before 1945 and the situation of Palestinian Arabs should be compared to that of 900,000 Jews who lived in Muslim countries in 1948 when Israel was created. These Jews were either genuinely thrown out or left in circumstances where they had no choice like German Jews in the 1930s. They have restarted their lives elsewhere, usually in Israel or France. Jews today living in Muslim countries are insignificantly few, Christians not numerous either and in declining numbers and both risk daily humiliation with the Dhimmi status under Sharia legal code paying extra taxes, (the ‘Jizya,’) and are restricted as to where they live, prohibited from certain jobs etc.)

The pro-Palestinian Arab view claims a supposed ‘genocide of Palestinians,’ an odious allegation against Jews who have suffered a real genocide in living memory and a statistical absurdity in view of the vast increase of the Palestinian Arab population since Israel was recreated. The other argument is that Israel ‘illegally occupies Palestinian territories,’ but this is also completely untrue despite the endlessly repetitive mainstream narrative. Following the refusal of the Arabs to accept a division with the Jews of the 28% of Palestine that was left after 72% became the Arab Kingdom of Jordan, the so-called occupied territory in question has always been legally disputed, so by definition it cannot be illegally occupied. Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 led to the invasion by surrounding Arab countries and the territory in dispute was first occupied by Jordanians until 1967 and the Israelis since. International law allows any country to take measures to defend itself including occupying territory and Israeli presence beyond the 1948 ceasefire lines began precisely when Israel was threatened yet again with destruction in 1967. Various UN resolutions do indeed demand an Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied after the 1967 Arab-Israel war, but only and specifically on condition that secure and permanent borders are established and Israel is recognised by all its neighbours which has never happened. Some of Israel’s neighbours still consider themselves at war with Israel and do not recognise its existence; others have come to the conclusion that they must recognise Israel like Jordan and Egypt where permanent borders have been established and a (cold) peace exists.

Palestinian Arab politicians say in English and French for Western audiences that a peace deal with Israel is possible based on the pre-1967 borders, but as seen there were no borders pre-1967, simply ceasefire lines from the previous war in 1948 and another in 1956. Palestinian Arab politicians also demand that their new state will be judenfrei (no Jews) to the quote (real) Nazis when Israel has a 20% Muslim population. Palestinian Arab politicians say in Arabic that their real objective is to destroy Israel completely and those disbelieving this should consider why Palestinian Arabs not only refused the 1947 UN proposal for the division of the remaining 28% of Palestine, but have also refused several similar offers since. Those still unconvinced can look at the PLO logo showing a new State of Palestine where Israel does not appear; they can read geography textbooks in Palestinian Authority schools where Israel does not exist on the maps; they can think about the slogan “from the Jordan to the sea, Palestine will be free” and decide whether the Jewish state of Israel will still exist afterwards. (For Hamas in Gaza and for Iran and their proxy allies, they do not even pretend that Israel should exist. Israel should be dismantled, by force if necessary and all Jews massacred, either in the region or the whole world according to the Hamas Charter.)

The religious origin of antisemitism was historically Christian starting with the invention that Jews killed Jesus and that the whole Jewish people are guilty of deicide since they never accepted the divine nature of Jesus as the Christ (Messiah in Greek.) They were supposed to have killed Christian children for their blood to make bread during Passover (!) and poisoned wells to kill everyone, this last lie being repeated at the European Parliament in 2016 by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas with reference to poisoning Muslims. After going viral, the claim was withdrawn with half-hearted apologies 2 days later, but almost as bad was the applause from some Members of the European Parliament. (Mahmoud Abbas’ Doctoral thesis in Moscow in 1982 was the hypothesis that Zionists wanting to re-establish the modern State of Israel worked with Nazis in the planning and carrying out of the Jewish genocide.) Anyway, Anti-Semitic dogma was officially abandoned by the Catholic church in 1962 and is only believed today by an infinitesimally small number of Christians of any denomination.

For Muslims there are 2 issues: firstly, some Koranic texts call for the murder of Jews specifically or of infidels generally including Christians, apostates and non-believers. Fortunately, the vast majority of Muslims choose not to kill infidels, but some Islamists do and precisely quote Koranic texts as their justification. (Violent texts also exist in the Bible, but are related to self-defence and wars and obviously not against other non-existing religions at the time.) It should be said that some Koranic texts are contradictory since there are also texts allowing Jews, Christians and other ‘people of the book’ to practice their religion in for the ‘Dhimmi’ status just mentioned. In fact, Jews were often historically rather better treated by Muslims than by Christians and they were accepted in Muslim territories after being expelled from most countries in Christian Europe in the Middle Ages.

The second problem which explains Islamic hostility to Israel relates to one of the fundamental bases of Islamic faith according to which the world is divided into Dar al-Islam or ‘territory of submission to Allah’ and Dar al-Harb ‘territory of war.’ The objective is that the whole world becomes Dar al-Islam by ‘jihad,’ not necessarily by violence, but better defined as a ‘struggle’ or ‘striving’ that can be spiritual, by persuasion or indeed by military conquest. Islamic doctrine also says that once a territory becomes Dar al-Islam by one of the methods just mentioned, it can never be given back to the previous rulers. Therefore, Muslims must deny the existence of the modern Jewish State of Israel since what is now Israel had already been conquered by Muslims in the 7th century. The same logic applies to Spain, Portugal, regions in South-West France and South-East Europe, also historically conquered by Muslims, but realpolitik applies. These countries and regions are not in the spotlight like Israel, being further from Islam’s origin in Arabia and not containing Jerusalem, considered by Muslims as the city of Mohammed’s ascension to heaven and the 3rd most important city after Mecca and Medina.

The question now is where do we go from here? The theoretical State of Palestine is recognized by 138 countries, almost all dictatorships of various kinds; the Israeli position against this idea is supported by 50 countries, almost all Western style democracies. This is an unsurprising division and legally Palestine does not exist since unlike Israel, it has never been recognized by the UN. EU Member States do not recognise Palestine either except Sweden who decided to break ranks with the official EU policy being that any second Palestinian Arab state (after Jordan) comes into existence only following negotiations and agreement with Israel. There have been no serious negotiations for years despite the promises made during the Oslo accords in the 1990s that were supposed to set the path for a mutual and comprehensive peace between all sides. More resolutions criticise Israel at the UN than all other countries in the world together, but dictatorships get little criticism and the 56 Member Countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, (OIC) none of which could be called democracies, gets no criticism at all. The UN’s so-called Human Rights Commission’s current 47 Member States includes perhaps 10 democracies, with the majority being shining examples of Human Rights such as Pakistan, Eritrea, Somalia, China and Cuba. The UN is now an excellent example of realpolitik not morality.

Of course, it is not anti-Semitic to criticise specific policies of Israeli governments and Israelis themselves with their own open media do that perfectly well all the time and not only during election campaigns; however, it is anti-Semitic to apply discriminatory and racist opinions only applying to Jews or Israel that are not applied elsewhere. This includes agreeing with genocidal governments or movements (Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas etc) wishing to destroy Israel or to kill all Jews anywhere. It is anti-Semitic to claim that Israel is a racist and fascist state practicing apartheid when the Muslim minority population have identical legal rights as the Jewish majority, have absolute freedom of religion, access to all universities, to all professions and become military generals, Supreme Court Judges or less seriously Miss Israel. Israeli Arabs have representatives who are Members of Parliament and an Israeli Islamist party joined the recent Israeli coalition government. It is playing with words to pretend not to be anti-Semitic, but simply anti-Zionist when promoting a Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) agenda targeting Israel alone in the world. Israel is not a perfect country, nor is any other, but it is a functioning Western style democracy as proved by the Muslim (and Christian) minorities happy to stay and by large numbers of illegal immigrants trying to get in, something again ignored or unknown by most media.

Despite this, those on the extreme left pro BDS often describe Israelis as Nazis, a deplorable description with reference to Jews. but regrettably often used in Western liberal-left academic circles where anti-Israel or blatant anti-Semitic sentiment has become ‘fashionable.’ This is not new. Academic institutions and so-called intellectuals are often among the most anti-Semitic as was seen in German Universities in the 1920s before Hitler and the Nazis even came to power. This continues today in American and other Western universities where pro-Israel speakers are simply de-platformed by virtue-signalling university authorities for reasons of anti-Semitism dressed up as a fear of public disturbance. Sometimes pro-Israel speakers are invited and actually allowed to give their opinion, (big deal!) but their speeches are either boycotted or violently disrupted. Israel is a soft target as a minuscule country that defends its culture and commits another unpardonable sin for the liberal-left as being an important ally of the USA. For obvious reasons of realpolitik, a BDS campaign is unlikely against China about Tibet, Hong Kong, the illegal occupation of islands in the South China sea, the creation of new islands for military bases, the re-education camps for political prisoners or the dreadful treatment of Uighur Muslims.

Finally, although there have been about 80 000 victims in various Arab-Israeli wars since 1947 (about 25 000 Jews and 55 000 Arabs), about 5 million Muslims have been killed by other Muslims in endless regional conflicts during the same time, something little reported by the Western media. The Syrian civil war has claimed over 500 000 victims in the last 10 years and another ongoing war attracting little attention is between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. There is also the long list of terrorist movements (Islamic State, Al-Qaïda, Boko Harem, Taliban, Moudjahidin, Front al-Nosra, Muslim Brotherhood and so on) waging wars against official governments. The Israeli-Palestinian issue is largely irrelevant compared to all of this, but attracts disproportionate attention, partly because the media is free to report from Israel and partly for realpolitik reasons, it is easy to blame all of the regional problems on one issue which is then often presented as being the fault of Israel with the pretexts as explained. In reality, there is no possibility of an agreement on the Israel-Palestinian dispute when Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is not recognised, nor is this issue the “key to peace in the Middle East.” The inconvenient truth remains that even if a solution could be found, it would make no difference to all the other conflicts in the region. These other conflicts are precisely between Muslims since there are almost no other religious groups present: blaming Jews or indeed Christians when Muslims kill each other is like blaming Jews or Muslims when Christians killed each other as they did in European religious wars for centuries.

As is known, geopolitics concerns defending interests and realpolitik requires being realistic and considering what is practical to achieve objectives. If politicians find it in their interests to blame Israel for all the problems in the Middle East, then they will continue to do so. In purely electoral terms, how important is the Jewish population in the Western world compared to its Muslim population? This is cynical realpolitik at its worst leading many people to feel that politics is indeed a dirty game. It always was so, as anyone who has read about political manoeuvring in Ancient Greece or Rome or anywhere can confirm. Machiavel did not discover much new when writing in the 15th century. The USA and UK chose political and military alliances with the unspeakably evil Stalin in their attempt to defeat Nazism in World War 2, but at least it was in a good cause. Quite what is the good cause in allying with Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah as some do in the West today is more difficult to understand.

Someone once said, “if Israel had oil and the Arabs had oranges, the Middle East would be a different place” and in the 1960/70s, pressure from the Arab led OPEC oil cartel meant that (West) European countries led by France followed a strongly pro-Arab foreign policy. (European countries in the Soviet bloc had no choice except to follow the anti-Zionist line from Moscow that Israel had no right to exist.) During the 1973 ‘Yom Kippur’ war, (launched on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar) West European governments claiming to be neutral decided to freeze the sales of weapons to Israel despite the fact they had already been paid for and about to be delivered. They then refused the US the right to fly over European airspace when airlifting weapons to their Israeli allies. Fortunately for Israel, Portugal broke ranks and allowed the planes to refuel in the Azores, the Portuguese islands off the African coast. This airlift changed the course of the war and the Arab armies were defeated again.

(At the start of the Yom Kippur war Israel was completely unprepared, not believing intelligence reports about the probable Arab attack and with most politicians and military generals praying in synagogues. After 2 days it looked as if Israel would be destroyed so Israel then informed the Americans that if necessary, they would defend themselves using nuclear weapons. This has never been confirmed, but it is considered an open secret like the Israeli nuclear defence capacity itself which was originally provided by France in the 1950s when French foreign policy was pro-Israel. Despite Soviet pressure at the height of the cold war in the 1970s, the US decided on a military airlift to help Israel.)

Today, OPEC is less important as new technology means less demand for oil in some cases and various oil producers are not members of the organisation. Israel has found natural gas offshore and exports it to Jordan and Egypt despite theoretical trade boycotts by Arab countries. Israel also exports water to Arab countries having a surplus by desalinating sea water, an obvious, but very high-tech solution to water shortages. Tel Aviv has more start-ups per capita than any other city in the world and Israel is an international leader in high technology research used in agriculture, telecommunications, military equipment and the pharmaceutical/medical research/health equipment sectors. Boycotting Israel is unrealistic now even for Arab countries who pretend to do so, but use other counties as intermediaries.

The other issue is the Iran nuclear programme, (denied by the Iranians, but believed by Sunni Muslim states) that has led to Saudi Arabia and some Gulf States discussing defence issues quite openly with Israel; to put it bluntly, they prefer Jews in Israel to Shi’ite Muslims in Iran on the purely realpolitik basis of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend; the friend of my enemy is my enemy.” Israel is a major ally of the USA and knows perfectly where its interests lie (as do the Americans) and is one of very few countries with good relations both with the USA and Russia. (Whether relations with Russia change in view of Ukraine remains to be seen.)

The ‘Abraham Accords’ means that Israel has established diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrein, Sudan, Morocco (and Kosovo in Europe) adding to previous agreements with Jordan and Egypt. Last year’s 11 day war in Gaza was a double war crime by Hamas terrorists launching attacks on civilians and using civilians as human shields, but as usual, the ‘progressive left’ in the West became hysterical in their denunciation of Israel defending itself. Interestingly, the Arab street was much quieter than usual and no Arab country broke off diplomatic relations with Israel contrary to what happened in previous wars involving attacks from Gaza. The UN, the OIC and the self-hating political left in the West can complain endlessly and uselessly about Israel; realpolitik means the real world continues behind the headlines of the mainstream media.