Haaretz’s editorial of May 19 was entitled “Harnessing anti-Semitism.” Its main assertion was that like “the last of the demagogues,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was using the statistics of the Anti-Defamation League’s global survey on anti-Semitism to conclude that the Palestinian Authority was the leader in anti-Semitism, with 93 percent of adults there holding anti-Jewish opinions. The editorial claimed, “Of course that finding can, and should, be explained in the context of the Israeli occupation that’s going on for 47 years.” The implication is that the occupation, not incitement to Jew-hatred, is what causes anti-Semitic views among the Palestinians.
- Harnessing anti-Semitism
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This failure of logic stems from the disregard of Jew-hatred as a destructive and active force that has existed throughout the world for the past 3,500 years — in populations whose members had never seen a Jew in their lives, in countries where the Jews were a large minority, in places that were ruled by Jews, in states where Jews were given equal rights, and in countries where Jews were forced into inferior status, humiliated and made a target for blood libels, burned at the stake and massacred.
The writer of the Haaretz editorial may be compared to one who knows that the Black Death is raging throughout the world — millions of people are suffering from fever, chills and red spots turning black all over their bodies, and will die within days — but is certain that those who have fallen ill in the Land of Israel, and are suffering exactly the same symptoms, have not been infected by the plague bacillus. Rather, they are suffering from a completely different disease: Palestinian anti-Semitism caused by the occupation.
Even during the time of the Black Death, there were many people in Europe who accused the Jews of having poisoned the wells. But we know of no Jews from that period who took that groundless charge upon themselves. The Haaretz editorial is typical of those Jews who blame themselves for anti-Semitism. There were quite a few such Jews in Europe in the late 19th century who could find no good explanation for Jew-hatred, so they blamed the Jews themselves for it. That was also when the concept known as “self-hatred” was coined.
Thousands of studies and books have been written attempting to explain anti-Semitism. What made Pharaoh’s advisers suggest genocide in the form of “Every boy born shall be thrown into the Nile”? What made Haman come up with his anti-Semitic manifesto, “There is a people scattered among the nations in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate and do not obey the king’s customs, so it is not in the king’s interest to tolerate them”? What made the pluralistic Seleucid empire enact its decrees of persecution? What made the Spaniards, Britons, Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and Germans persecute the Jews as they did? No single, global “scientific” explanation has ever been found that might explain the fact that exactly the same phenomenon exists in cultures and societies that are utterly different.
How does Haaretz explain hatred of Jews in Muslim lands before the “occupation” ever existed? Solidarity with the Palestinians? Sunnis have murdered tens of thousands of Shi’ites, and vice versa, all over the Arab world, and there is no solidarity that prevents them from killing each other. Yet despite that, 92 percent of the Arabs in Iraq hold strong stances of Jew-hatred, as do 87 percent of people in Libya and Tunisia and Algeria and Yemen. What caused Jew-hatred in the 1929 riots in Hebron? This was before there was an “occupation” and before there was a State of Israel, and not even the concept of Zionism could explain the massacre of Jews in the Old Yishuv. Only ancient hatred, fueled by unending incitement. So Netanyahu may be a demagogue, but Haaretz, whose slogan is “The newspaper for thinking people,” is not treating its readers as people who think.