In writing recent articles on anti-Semitism, I felt as if I were forced to swim through a river of filth: the new blood libels in the Egyptian, Saudi and Syrian press; "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," coming back to life again and again; the final scene of the Egyptian television series "Horseman Without a Horse," which calls for the murder of Jews (but not babies); old-time anti-Semitic writings reappearing under the new guise of anti-Zionism; hysterically irrational articles against Israel, such as the report in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, under the headline "Israel against the Palestinians - three years of walls of shame," that Israeli soldiers carved a Star of David on an Arab's arms, or the reports in the Spanish-language El Pais of an Arab girl who "died of fear" because of the Israel Defense Forces and of an Arab "activist," as it calls him, who killed a nameless Jewish baby near Hebron; newspapers that totally ignore Palestinian terror as the reason for the construction of the fence; an exhibition in Athens devoted to female Palestinian suicide bombers, exhibiting an explosive belt made of macrame.
While having to deal with this filth, I asked myself: How did this happen? How did it happen that the hatred for Jews - the oldest and longest-lived hatred in the world - has remained unchanged? How is it that there is such a great similarity between what the Roman Emperor Julian said about the Jews two thousand years ago ("a cruel and arrogant people") and what De Gaulle said 40 years ago and Mikis Theodorakis just four weeks ago? Is there something about us, as author A.B Yehoshua has said, that drives other people mad?
After all, Zionism arose in order to do away with all that - to provide the Jews with a safe asylum in Zion as well as to enable them to live in dignity throughout the Diaspora. And now we are seeing just the opposite happening, and we are once forced to grasp at the consolation that Ahad Ha'am drew from the blood libels at the end of the 19th century - that by their very spuriousness, they counter the suspicion that there could be anything to the accusations against the Jews. When I read the groundless accusations about Israeli society in the Belgian Le Soir, I took consolation in Ahad Ha'am, but I was unable to find the consolation that Zionism had put an end to this kind of hatred.
True, a different policy in the territories would mitigate the hostility, but who is gullible enough to believe that it would completely eradicate it?
I was, however, able to find one small comfort. About a year ago, when attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in Britain surged, when the mendacious propaganda regarding the so-called Jenin massacre caused a number of British newspapers to come out with groundless attacks on Israel, a delegation of Jewish leaders, among them some of England's leading Jewish judges, met with Prime Minister Tony Blair in order to persuade him to quell the spread of the wave of anti-Semitism. It was a delegation in the best tradition of the Diaspora Jewish community from pre-Emancipation times. At least in Israel, we are spared delegations of that stripe.
It is true that Zionism sought to save the Jews from the great evils that befell them in the Diaspora - and in that, in the creation of a world "without evils," it did not succeed. But at least for the Jews in Israel, it managed to create a life "without favors."
True, Israel needs international support, and without the West's support it would find itself in genuine existential danger. But despite that, and despite the daily dangers posed to our lives, we do not need the favors of strangers, and we do not live in the constant fear of what they will say about us behind our backs or of the way the waiter/ salesperson/ newspaper editor/ president will respond if our behavior does not meet with his or her approval.
The claims that cruelty and arrogance are characteristics of the Jews are nonsense and lies, but it is true that we are a stubborn people. With all the faults of our government, and they are many and intolerable, with all the internal dissent, and despite the wave of Islamo-fascist-leftist hatred, we will continue to cling to the idea of a Jewish state - with all the evils of other countries, but without their favors.
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