The Jerusalem Post May, 17 2001


By Berel Wein

The unabating violence of the Palestinian terror groups and leaders against Israel, and Israel's response, militarily and otherwise, has shaken world Jewry to the core.

But in spite of all of the facts and problems that apparently should be clear to all, there is a basic lesson that the Jewish people, whether in Israel or in the Diaspora, has not yet faced up to. And that is, that anti-Semitism - dangerous, militant, violent, pre-Holocaust-style anti-Semitism - is in vogue in large sections of the modern world.

It has been a long time since Arab leaders have allowed themselves to utter the foul anti-Semitic words that Syrian President Bashar Assad spoke in front of the monarchs of Spain and later in the presence of the pope. The anti-Semites must have gained great comfort from the fact that neither the monarchs of Spain nor the pope of Rome found it necessary to contradict or even comment on Assad's incendiary hatred.

The Muslim world, even countries that are thousands of kilometers away from the Arab-Israeli struggle, are educating their young to hate and even to kill Jews. Not Israelis - Jews. All of the ancient canards and lies have been revived in the public arena of communication and education. The cultivation of hatred of Jews in the Muslim world is enormously worrying.

Pulling the blanket over our heads and avoiding the bitter truths that are now so apparent will only lead to greater danger, not only to Israel, but to Jews everywhere. The battle for Jewish survival is now on in earnest, even if the political, organizational and religious leaders of Israel have not yet come to terms with its reality.

Listen to the pronouncements and comments coming from Europe. The newly found European sympathy for the Palestinians is couched in vaguely disguised anti-Jewish phrases. The young Socialists in Norway speak again of Israeli (read Jewish) "intransigence," "excesses," "exploitation." The vocabulary of 19th- and 20th-century anti-Semitism resonates again in Europe. To the Left we are "exploiters" and "settlers" and to the Right we are again "violent" people. To the Arab papers and media we are "atheistic" and "occupiers," while to the Europeans we are "ultra-religious" and "chauvinist messianics."

Much of this criticism simply reeks of hypocrisy. Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, whose regime is justly suspected of anti-Jewish activity in Russia and elsewhere, sharply condemned Israel for the use of "excessive force." This from a man whose army in Chechnya has killed tens of thousands of civilians, and who brands all Chechnyans as terrorists. Russia has deflected all world criticism and condemnation over its brutal war against the civilian population in Chechnya. And now it piously lectures us about "excessive force." For shame!

There are those Jews who still prefer to turn a blind eye to all this. They still speak in terms of "partners" and "settlements" and the "third withdrawal." They somehow believe that all of the lasting damage done by the barrage of anti-Semitic invective that is part of the Arab war against Israel - the suicide bombers, the mortar firers, the child stoners - all will disappear if only the Israelis will make more concessions.

Thus there are the dutiful visits to Arafat, the pious platitudes about the peace process and the deeply, almost fanatically held hope that somehow the mirage of the Oslo Accords will yet turn into reality. One is almost tempted to say that this is a repeat of the weak and misguided Jewish response to the anti-Semitism that raged in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, and that created the public climate that facilitated the Holocaust.

Then too, Jews blamed other Jews for the hatred and venom poured out against them. Except that today they are our own politicians and should by now have learned better.

It certainly appears that there are no magic formulas that will extricate us quickly from our present situation. Firmness, judicial silence and wise response, determination and a balanced hand are the requirements of the government and people of Israel.

The real danger lies in our somehow believing the lies directed against us. Anti-Semitism should be seen and identified for what it really is, and not smoothed over with diplomatic niceties.

It should be answered and fought against with all the means at our disposal.

We should do so for our benefit and for that of the world as well.

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