In the mid-1990s, Europe discovered the Holocaust. Germany established an official memorial day: the day of the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz (not the day Hitler rose to power, for example, or the day the Nuremberg Laws took effect). Western countries and the United Nations followed in Germany’s footsteps.
You might say this is because the Nazi generation had died out, and finally it was possible to see all the horrors, (20 million Soviets, for example). But this sudden memory didn’t appear only in Germany.
Even Italy was swept away by it. As opposed to Germany, Italy had a tradition of remembrance; this wasn’t only the struggle against fascism. (Do you remember the partisans’ song “Bella Ciao,” the poetry of Cesare Pavese, the cinema from neorealism to the Taviani brothers?) The fate of the Jews also was never missing from its culture (the novel “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” by Giorgio Bassani, the works of Primo Levi).
Still, all at once the Holocaust became a foundation stone for Italy too, with the end of the Cold War, when the differences between right and left disappeared, as in all of Western Europe.
I wrote about this at length in my book “The Myths of Liberal Zionism”: Not the Jews and not Israel slanted the new narrative in which the Holocaust replaced the abyss between the collaborators and the opposition during the Nazi occupation. “The communist evil” disappeared (there is no more communism), and there is no “capitalist evil” (capitalism won and it only needs regulators).
Instead of the tension between left and right, a new ideology of agreement about every ideology’s relationship to necessary “evil” was formed; Nazism was dead and gone. Anti-Semitism was replaced by the hatred of foreigners. It was easy to identify with dead Jews. The remembrance of the Holocaust gave birth to a sort of “Judeo-Christian history.” Africa never went through any Holocaust at the hands of the Europeans. Islam remains on the outside, of course.
Israel found a broad space for action here, public relations (hasbara), and while it was crushing the Palestinians in the occupied territories it began to push – with enormous propaganda machines and the help of the Jewish communities – the “adoption of the international definition of anti-Semitism,” which is nothing but an equation of “criticism of the occupation is the new anti-Semitism.”
It did this without accounting for what will happen to the Jews when the neoliberal order collapses. After all, the outbreaks of anti-Semitism will prove what’s desired, and the abandonment of the Jews into the hands of anti-Semites is an old Zionist sin. Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu combined its propaganda against the Palestinians with the West’s hatred of Islam.
Israel has never been frightened by the love for Israel of those who hate Jews – from the reconciliation with Germany, where Hans Globke, an author of the Nuremberg Laws, still served as chief of staff of the Chancellery, to our good friend, the Hungarian racist Viktor Orbán.
This is the context for the slanderous campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, the only serious leader of the left in the West. The national director of the New Israel Fund, Mickey Gitzin, tweeted: “Corbyn strikes again. The redivision of the world between the populist (and anti-Semitic) right and the populist (and anti-Semitic) left reminds us of very unsympathetic periods. We must oppose both of them; it doesn’t matter from which ideological side you come from.”
This ignorance and crudity from the patron of left-wing nonprofit groups isn’t interesting, but maybe the time has come to inquire who in Brussels is cooperating in the campaign against Corbyn, and also tell the leaders of those left-wing nonprofits: You weren’t elected, you were appointed, like the heads of corporations. Just because the right slanders you, it doesn’t justify the Israeli left’s malice and interference in British politics “in the name of the Jewish people.”
The intervention in the class struggle in Britain, the only place in the West where mass recruitment of activists on the ground from the working class and minorities has succeeded, will also harm British Jews. More importantly, it’s a lie. To be pro-Palestinian means to be anti-Israeli. The effort to dictate the “anti-Semitism definition” to the West is so horrifying in light of the shattering of the Palestinian entity. Persecuted Cossacks.
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