We Are Entering a New Era of Jew Hatred
In the West, we are seeing the beginning of a new phase of discrimination against Jews. Many cannot openly identify as Jews without fear of being assaulted, which is happening all too often in Europe, the United States, and now Canada.
Much of the animosity is related to the support of Jews for Israel and its historical/philosophical foundation, Zionism — the national liberation movement of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland.
The very word “Jew” comes from membership in the tribe of Judah, which, about 3,000 years ago, became a kingdom, with Jerusalem as its capital, under David and Solomon.
Many Jews today grow up proudly learning about this astonishing history that uniquely binds the past to the present. However, Jews are now increasingly assailed by hostile, mania-driven campaigns, foremost at universities, bent on erasing this history altogether.
There are ever-mounting efforts underway, including by people who consider themselves part of a “progressive” movement asserting human rights for minorities — a noble aim in principle — to single out only one country, Israel, and its national movement, Zionism, for vilification.
Delegitimizing rhetoric seeking to portray Israel as a “settler-colonialist” enterprise imbued with “white supremacy” is hurled with feverish abandon — but is unhinged from fact and history.
We’re in the realm here not of reason, but of a quasi-religious cult of incantation.
Almost 100 years ago, writing at another moment of great danger in Jewish history, Albert Einstein saw the re-creation of a Jewish homeland as “the embodiment of the reawakening corporate spirit of the whole Jewish nation.”
In his day, Einstein was a progressive who abhorred violence and cared deeply about the human rights of the Palestinian Arabs. Nonetheless, he recognized the great moral need for Zionism.
Einstein urged that “we Jews should once more become conscious of our existence as a nationality and regain the self-respect that is necessary to a healthy existence. We must learn once more to glory in our ancestors and in our history.” To that end he called for “reconstruction of our native land.”
One doesn’t “colonize” one’s native land. One returns home.
The broader reality presents us with a bitter irony. While developments in the Middle East are substantially moving in the direction of peaceful reconciliation between Israel and many of its Arab neighbors (the recent conflict between Iranian-backed Hamas and Israel being an exception), the obsessive anti-Israel crowd abroad is doubling down on its determination — delusional as it may be — to see things move in the opposite direction: the imposition of discriminatory, hostile measures, leading to the destruction of Israel.
As to this crowd’s ludicrous linking of Zionism with “white supremacy,” consider this — the majority of Jewish Israelis come from the Arab and Muslim Middle East.
In the years immediately following Israel’s establishment in 1948, nearly a million Jews became refugees when they were forced out of or fled from countries where their ancestors had lived for hundreds and in some cases for thousands of years: Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Iran, to name some in the Middle East.
Jews of many colors have come “home” from these and other lands, including India and Ethiopia.
In the period immediately preceding Israel’s establishment, the United Nations itself called for the creation of a “Jewish State” and an “Arab State” — the principle of two states for two peoples — in what had been Ottoman-ruled Palestine.
The Jewish leadership at the time said yes, but the Arab leadership said no. It is this refusal to compromise — to accept a Jewish state — that remains at the core of the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. This refusal to accept Jewish indigeneity led the Palestinian leadership to reject several Israeli offers (in 2000, 2001, and 2008) for the creation of a Palestinian state.
In the spring of 2008, when talks were proceeding between Israel and the Palestinians, The Economist — known for being anything but soft on Israel — made this astute observation: “It is ironic that the fundamental disagreement between Jews and Palestinians today is not whether there should be a Palestinian state; most Israeli Jews accepted that long ago. It’s about whether there should be a Jewish one.”
The challenge to those social justice warriors who are intent on sweeping up others in their anti-Israel mania is this: How, in the name of justice and human rights, can you deny that Jews are a people with the right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland? What is that refusal other than bigotry and hatred?
Michael Mostyn is the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada.