Israelophobia

I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. (Carl Jung)

 

I recently came across a rather strange letter from a man called Philip Sandland. The letter was sent to a parochial English newspaper called The Sentinel, which usually deals with minor concerns like the local cricket scores and the quality of care in the local hospital. Here it is:

“MAY I be allowed to say a few words in answer to Margaret Browns letter on June 19? She says that Sunni and Shia Muslims have been fighting for more than 1,000 years. This is only partly true. When strong leaders such as President Assad or Saddam Hussein were in control, peace usually was the norm – minorities like Christians and Druze were left pretty much in peace. I believe that the fly in the ointment is Israel. The West has allowed the Zionist Jews to establish a state in Palestine, which enraged much of the Muslim world, and this is understandably so! How would the average British citizen feel to be thrown out of his rightful home and sent packing? The violent attacks by certain Muslims on Western targets is I believe due to a servile approach by the U.S. and sadly Great Britain to the misdeeds of the Israeli state, which invariably go unchallenged.”

There are many things that I could say about this letter and none of them would be complimentary. According to Mr Sandland, Muslim-on-Muslim killings in Syria are the fault of “Zionist Jews.” Why the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 has any bearing on centuries-old hatred between Sunnis and Shias is unexplained. But of course, Mr Sandland doesn’t need to explain his reasoning. He just needs to blame Israel.

This letter is a typical indication of the level of political discourse in Britain. And it is also typical of a highly unpleasant mental condition called Israelophobia, which is quite simply a political variant of anti-Semitism. Israelophobia, like anti-Semitism in general, is a mental illness, quite possibly a neurosis or morbid fear, although it some cases it takes on the characteristics of psychosis – paranoia, delusions, denial and the loss of contact with reality. I’m only half joking.

Whether it is neurotic or psychotic, Israelophobia can be defined as the hysterical, spiteful, hyperbolic and irrational fear or hatred of Israel. The unhealthy fixation with the State of Israel and Zionism is sometimes referred to as the “new anti-Semitism.” The “new anti-Semites” have merely substituted the word “Jew” with the word “Israel.” This is why Israel is sometimes called the “Jew of the nations.” All the old religious, economic and nationalist prejudices about “the Jew” are reinterpreted for a modern audience. Israel-bashing is merely a way of expressing and legitimizing irrational feelings about Jews. This can be seen in Mr Sandland’s bizarre letter.

As with all irrational prejudices, Israelophobia is intolerant and obsessional. The fact that Israelophobia attracts people from across the ideological, cultural and political divide is a good indication that it is unreasonable and confused.

In any other circumstance you would be hard pressed to find a situation in which Islamists, neo-Nazis, socialists, liberals, radical Islamists, Quakers and people who believe in shape-shifting aliens agree on anything. But when it comes to Israel and “the Jews,” all these factions share the same demented prejudice. Moreover, the disproportionate focus on Israel by the UN, the media and university campuses clearly indicate that Israelophobia is an obsession. And an obsession is a neurosis.

Even after the horrors of the Holocaust and the several attempts by Arab nations to annihilate the Jewish state, otherwise sensible and intelligent people are not immune to Israelophobia. It is amazing how many people fetishize the Palestinians and make unpleasant and ill-informed references to Jews and/or Israel but deny they are anti-Semitic.

Many people hide their anti-Semitism (even from themselves) by accusing Israel of outrageous things such as war crimes, apartheid and imperialism. This is no different from accusing Jews of poisoning wells or using the blood of Christian children to make Passover brad. To any sane mind, accusations of well-poising and apartheid are entirely devoid of truth-content.

Sadly, Israel-bashers are completely immune to facts and statistics. I could mention the fact that the 1920 San Remo Conference and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine endorse the creation of a Jewish homeland in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). I could point out that Israeli Arabs have the vote and can represent their constituents in the Knesset. I could present a dazzling assortment of photographs of Gaza’s five-star hotel, its luxury shopping mall and beautiful beaches, as well as jeeps and refrigerators supplied by Israel. But Israelophobes would still insist that Gaza is a prison camp.

But as Orwell said, “If you dislike somebody, you dislike him and there is an end of it: your feelings are not made any better by a recital of his virtues.”

You can always spot an Israelophobe when he is ready to jump to conclusions. So when a Palestinian child is killed by a stray Hamas bullet but it is repeated all over the internet that Israel was responsible, then this will confirm the Israelophobe’s suspicion that the Jewish state is evil. Even when the truth comes out and the newspapers reluctantly bury the correction on page 12, the people who believed the misinformation will still cling to their anti-Israel prejudices.

Why? It is because Israelophobes are anti-Semitic. They are not anti-Semitic because of Israel’s perceived wrong-doings. They are Israelophobes because they hate Jews. In short, Israelophobia is a symptom of anti-Semitism and not the other way round. In fact, I would go far as to argue that Israel-bashers do not want a political solution in the Middle East because that would remove their excuse to demonize the Jewish people.

This may explain why the Arabs have rejected a two-state solution on several occasions. Demonizing Israel and advancing the Palestinian cause without ever solving it is politically useful to Arab regimes and Islamic fundamentalists who are inspired by the Quran to hate and kill Jews.

In the end, there is no reasoning with these people because they don’t want to be reasoned with. Such people persistently deny they have a problem by refusing to admit they are anti-Semitic. But denial is just another sign of their madness. If these people weren’t so dangerous, I would pity them.

Islam: a fraudulent ideology

[This is a piece I wrote a few years ago but it is still relevant, especially in today's climate of Islamist supremacism and anti-Semitism]
 
 
There is nothing legitimate about Islam’s claim to be the original faith. Similarly, there is nothing legitimate about the Palestinian aspiration for nationhood.
 
The Islamic desire to eradicate the Jewish people can perhaps be explained by the following proposition: Muslims subconsciously recognize that Islam is an inferior and destructive imitation of Judaism.
 
Rather than seeking to emulate the goodness of the Torah, Muslims have instead subverted and sabotaged the Jewish faith, and this has had dire consequences for Jews.
 
The towering figures of the Tanakh, which include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Aaron and David, have all been claimed by Muslims to suit their own agenda. Indeed, Muslims downplay the importance of Isaac by claiming it was Ishmael who was taken up to Mount Moriah. Ishmael, of course, is considered to be the ancestor of the Arabs.
 
Examples of imitation abound. Islamic dietary laws mimic Kashrut. Muslims circumcise their children, just like Jews do. The Temple Mount, revered by Jews as the place where God chose to rest the Divine Presence, is  now home to the Dome of the Rock, a caricature of the Jewish temple.  And it is because of the Dome of the Rock that Jews are unable to build the Third Temple.
 
Muslims claim the Quran is the word of God recited by an angel to Mohammed, despite the fact that it is merely a mishmash of stories from both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. The Torah, however, is revered by Jews because it was/is the ultimate manifestation of God’s will. And unlike the Quran, the Torah is the bedrock of Judeo-Christian civilisation.
 
Although the Christian New Testament does contain some anti-Judaic statements, the Quran is far worse. Islam is mired in anti-Semitism because of its ambiguous relationship with Judaism.  Several verses in the Quran describe the transformation of Jews into apes and pigs as punishment for breaking the Sabbath or “worshipping evil.” Before ordering that every adult male of a particular Jewish tribe be killed, Mohammed referred to the Jews as “brothers of monkeys.” So it is no surprise that today’s Islamists refer to Jews as the “descendants of apes and swine,” or why Hamas says that Jews are sub-human.
 
What’s also pernicious about Islam is its claim to be the original faith of Adam and Abraham, and that the Jews (and Christians) perverted God’s true intentions for mankind. All the major figures in the Tanakh (e.g. Noah, David, Solomon etc) are appropriated by Islam and turned into Muslim prophets. From the very beginning, Islam was an ideology designed to delegitimize Judaism. So it is hardly surprising that Muslims today seek to delegitimize the State of Israel by claiming the land is part of the Islamic caliphate.
 
This habit of appropriating Jewish identity and then seeking to destroy it perhaps explains why Palestinian nationalism is so unstable. The Palestinian Arabs did not seek to establish a homeland until after the formation of the State of Israel, and even then they were more concerned with destroying the Jewish state than actually focusing on how to build their own democratic institutions.
 
Once it was clear that the Arab states could not defeat Israel, the Palestinians had no choice but to invent their own nationalism, which is quite obviously a parody of Zionism. Palestinian nationalism came into being because the Jews did it first.
 
Indeed, some Palestinians go further by claiming they are descendants of the biblical Jebusites and Canaanites. According to this narrative, the Palestinians have been occupied and usurped twice – first, by the Israelites and then by the Zionists.
 
But this is wishful thinking. Arabs are not indigenous to Eretz Israel. They are ethnically and culturally identical to Arabs living in Jordan, Syria, Egypt etc.
 
Arabs occupied Eretz Israel in the 7th century during the Muslim conquests. In contrast, Jews have lived on the land for the past 3,300 years. Jerusalem has always been considered the focus of Judaism and Jewish identity. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity.
 
Likewise, Jerusalem is mentioned at least 700 times in the Jewish scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. It is unlikely that Muhammad ever went to Jerusalem. Moreover, Jews pray facing Jerusalem, while Muslims pray with their backsides toward Jerusalem. This is surely a tasteless caricature of Judaism.
 
The Palestinian desire to appropriate the land of Israel is simply the latest manifestation of the ongoing attempt to emulate Judaism by subverting and ultimately destroying Jewish identity. Therefore, it is important to keep reminding the world that the Jewish people have a much stronger claim to Judea and Samaria. There are many political and legal reasons why the State of Israel is entitled to the “West Bank.” But at the heart of the matter is the Jewish right to fulfil Israel’s destiny as keeper of the land, which was, after all, promised in the Torah.

Palestine – it’s not worth it

One of the most alarming experiences as a European is to see how our politicians and the media continue to criticize Israel but not the Palestinians, whose pseudo-national aspirations garner more attention than Syrian war casualties, Chinese human rights abuses and the plight of women and girls enslaved by Islamic terrorists.

It is strange that the Palestinians – who have no historical, cultural or legal rights to the land of Israel – are endowed with international and economic patronage by the US, the EU and the UN. How did the Palestinians and their Arabist-Islamist backers manage to achieve such a feat?

Firstly, the Palestinians have learnt that violence is rewarded. Acts of terror against Israelis have only strengthened the West’s belief that a Palestinian state is of paramount importance. The latest round of fighting in Gaza confirms this.

Secondly, the Palestinians have managed to convince most of the world that they are a landless and suffering people, whose plight is equal to that of the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. This is has to be one of history’s biggest hoaxes. And it is a very dangerous hoax indeed. Why? Because the “Palestinian issue” has enabled Europe to reconnect with its Jew-hating past by blurring the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

The fact that Jewish businesses across the world are being boycotted is testament to the perverse success of the Palestinian movement. Jews in France have been murdered. Synagogues in Belfast and London have been vandalized. Anti-Semitic chants and references to the Holocaust are commonplace in Europe’s cities. Countries that pride themselves on their enlightened and liberal societies – such as Sweden, Germany and Norway – are all places where Jews no longer feel safe.

At last, the shocking rise in anti-Semitism in Europe is garnering some media attention. But the issue is still not taken seriously by the liberal-left, the police and most politicians. This is because much of the anti-Semitic abuse is carried out by Muslims who claim it is retribution for their “brothers” in Gaza. And the liberal elite either agrees or looks the other way.

The situation cannot continue. It is incomprehensible that Jews are suffering the same hatred as they did during the 1930s and 1940s. The curse of anti-Semitism is once again strangling Europe’s hard-won freedoms. The post-1945 consensus that Jews will never again be made to suffer at the hands of fascists is falling apart.

Perhaps Europe’s leaders should be asking themselves one simple question: is the creation of a Palestinian state really worth the aggravation? After all, the people who call themselves Palestinians have had at least seven opportunities since 1937 to establish a state alongside Israel and each time they have refused. Since it is clear that the Palestinians are not interested in peaceful co-existence, it is surely incumbent on the international community to focus on more important matters (such as the liberation of the Kurds from Islamist imperialism).

Will Europe listen? Or will it continue to advance the Palestinian issue until not a single Jew is left in Europe? Only time will tell. But in the meantime don’t be surprised if the number of Jews making Aliyah continues to rise.

 

 

 

Broken Britain: UK Jews suffer anti-Semitic backlash

In a fascinating article for The Tower Magazine Benjamin Kerstein convincingly argues that a global pogrom against Israel and the Jewish diaspora is being conducted by an alliance of anti-Semitic Islamists and Far Left agitators.

In recent weeks the Jewish community in Britain has seen its fair share of alarming hatred from this obscene Islamist-communist alliance. In the UK there has been a 36 per cent rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents since the start of Operation Protective Edge. Businesses in Manchester, Whitechapel, Brixton, Brighton and Birmingham have been attacked and/or forced to close because of pro-Palestinian protestors. Jews have been attacked in the street and the windows of a Belfast synagogue have been smashed.

But it is in Greater Manchester and London – home to Britain’s two largest Jewish communities – where Jews are experiencing the worst and most sustained anti-Semitic hatred. Protestors have barricaded businesses, thrown eggs and drink cans at Jewish pedestrians, and hurled torrents of racist abuse. Jews (and non-Jewish supporters of Israel) are regularly subjected to accusations of bloodletting and baby-killing, thus recalling the detested medieval blood libel.

Events in Manchester have come to symbolise the plight of British Jewry. The city centre has witnessed an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism since the start of the Israeli-Hamas war. Pro-Palestinian protestors make Nazi salutes and make obscene comments about Jewish suffering under the Nazis. Zionism is routinely equated with genocide and Nazism. Shoppers are prevented from entering shops that sell Israeli products because they apparently “fund the Israeli war machine in Gaza.”

It is not just Jews who are suffering. Stores which have nothing to do with Israel have have pulled down the shutters because of the chaos. Shop workers who have no connection with the Middle East are intimidated and harassed by the marauders. The local economy is suffering and Manchester’s reputation as a multicultural and commercial powerhouse is under threat. Not surprisingly, the city council has had furious rows with the police who are blamed for not doing enough to prevent public disorder.

To be fair, the police have done their best to maintain a balance between the legal right to protest and the right for shops to trade freely. But they have been overwhelmed by the size and the persistence of the pro-Palestinian mob. A leading police chief has said the ongoing stand-off between pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis could be the start of a breakdown in community cohesion. In my view, the ethnic and religious divide between Muslims and Jews in Manchester is now beyond repair.

The situation in London is just as bad. For the third time in a month, tens of thousands of anti-Semites have brought the capital to a standstill. Pro-Palestinian protestors have bullied their way through London’s streets, intimidating passers-by and verbally abusing Jews and anyone else who gets in their way. Douglas Murray, writing for The Spectator, has described these rallies as “disgusting” and “anti-Semitic.” These protestors, he says, are nowhere to be seen when Isis ravages Iraq or Boko Haram commits atrocities in Africa.

A new and disturbing development is the flying of the Islamic State flag in Britain. The black flag of jihad has been spotted in Manchester and London. The fact that Asian youths feel free to fly the Isis flag on an east London housing estate is one more sign that nothing substantial is being done to prevent the radicalisation of British Muslims. This, of course, spells disaster for the Jewish community, which is in no position to withstand the growing presence of Islamic State sympathisers. (Christians in the UK should not be complacent either. Church buildings and Christian culture are hardly immune from the threat of radical Islam.)

Meanwhile, the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is in full swing. As well as calling for an end to arms exports to Israel, the BDS campaigners want an economic and cultural blockade on all things Israeli (including Israeli people). Shops, banks, universities, theatres and even entire towns are being targeted by BDS bullies.

A London theatre is refusing to host the UK Jewish Film Festival because it is sponsored by the Israeli embassy, while the National Union of Students wants a boycott of Israeli products on British campuses. Several town halls in England and Scotland are flying the Palestinian flag in a “gesture of solidarity.” And the ridiculous (but dangerous) George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, has unilaterally declared Bradford (a town in northern England) an Israel-free zone:

“We don’t want any Israeli goods; we don’t want any Israeli services; we don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford even if any of them had thought of doing so.”

Galloway’s incendiary words came after a Jewish man in Bradford was repeatedly called a “f**king Jewish bastard” by men collecting money for Gaza.

A number of Westminster politicians have also thrown their weight behind the delegitimization campaign. Baroness Warsi chose to resign her job as Foreign Office minister the day after a ceasefire came into place. She claims that her government’s even-handed approach to the Israeli-Gaza crisis is “morally indefensible and not in Britain’s interests.” It’s a pity she didn’t resign when the government failed to act over Syria.

On the Labour side, Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary during the Iraq war in which more than 100,000 people were killed, has referred to Israel’s war in Gaza as an “unspeakable horror.”  And in a transparent attempt to shore up the left-wing and Muslim vote, Labour leader Ed Miliband has condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza as “wrong and unjustifiable.” Miliband claims to speak on behalf of the British people but it is quite clear that he is an opportunist trying to outmanoeuvre Prime Minister David Cameron.

The British media must also accept a large share of the blame for the anti-Semitic upsurge. Apart from The Telegraph, newspapers and other news outlets have spewed anti-Israel vitriol. It is quite clear that most of the British media are offended by Israel’s strength of purpose – which is to protect its citizens.

The BBC, Channel 4 and Sky have consistently failed to report the facts, preferring to take Hamas statements as gospel truth. Plus, the macabre obsession with the death toll in Gaza – combined with the media’s inability to explain why the Israeli death toll is comparatively low – has fuelled the irrational belief that Israelis and Jews are genocidal maniacs.

If Israel is demonized, Hamas is exempt from criticism. For example, The Times newspaper refuses to run an advert that criticises Hamas’ use of children as human shields. Why? Because “the opinion being expressed is too strong […] and will cause concern among a significant number of Times readers.”

Back in Manchester, the mood is pessimistic. Despite a feeling of comradery, a sense of insecurity and foreboding hangs in the air. Some people are openly talking about emigrating to Israel. Others are prepared to stay in Britain and fight the BDS movement but are unsure how to proceed. Stay or go, many people share the belief that Britain and Europe are on the verge of a Kristallnacht-style scenario.

If the media is not capable of telling the truth and politicians are too afraid to stand up for Israel and the police are incapable of protecting the most vulnerable minority, then the UK should no longer consider itself to be a beacon of liberal democracy. If anything, Britain is broken. And there is no indication that anyone is prepared to fix this ailing country.

 

 

 

Intimidation on the streets of Manchester

The British city of Manchester is currently under siege from a pro-Palestinian mob protesting the existence of an Anglo-Israeli shop on one of the city’s most upmarket streets.

The shop under siege is Kedem, a store that sells cosmetics made from minerals extracted from the Israeli side of the Dead Sea. Kedem is not a political shop. It is a registered British company, paying British taxes. Nonetheless, Kedem is now the focus of the malignant boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The pro-Palestinians have declared Kedem an “easy target.”

For two weeks Kedem has been subjected to a daily eight-hour-long siege. But Kedem’s products have nothing to do with Gaza or even with the “settlements” in the so-called West Bank. It is just a shop selling soap and exfoliating cream. When the protests first started, the shop was forced to shut for four days. But a large contingent of Israel supporters has come to the rescue. Day after day, Manchester’s Jewish community have turned out to support the shop and to oppose the pro-Palestinian protesters.

The pro-Palestinian contingent is mixed. There are Islamic fundamentalists (including one man who claims to be Hamas’ leader in Britain), anarchists, hardcore leftists, self-styled peace activists, Pakistani gangsters, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and even Druids. Many of these people are already known to Greater Manchester Police, who have seen the same faces at anti-fracking demonstrations.

The protesters love to chant anti-Israel slogans. “One, two, three, four, occupation no more” is a particular favourite. “Palestine will be free, from the river to sea” is another. Pro-Israel supporters are regularly subjected to accusations of murder, baby killing, genocide, ethnic cleansing. One of my Jewish friends was told he was “not a Jew but a Nazi.”

Insults like “dirty Jewish pig” and “ZioNazi thugs” are commonplace. And yet the protesters continue to insist they are not anti-Semitic.

According to the BDS fanatics, it is not anti-Semitic to boycott a Jewish-owned shop. But we remind them that Jewish shops were targeted in the 1930s. But they don’t listen. They don’t care that Jews in Britain are genuinely afraid of where this situation is heading. For example, five cars full of men drove through a Jewish residential district in Manchester waving Palestinian banners and shouting anti-Semitic remarks including “Heil Hitler.”

Despite the hatred emanating from the pro-Palestinians, the Jewish community has been galvanized. Jews of all creeds – from atheists to Hasids – have come together to support Kedem and the State of Israel. On some days we have managed to outnumber the opposition. Plus, our speakers are much more eloquent (and often louder). Many Jews and non-Jews have stepped up to the microphone to make the case for Israel. Our arguments are cogent, intelligent and respectful. On many occasions we have drowned out the opposition. Indeed, the pro-Palestinian side seems to have been taken aback by the strength of Jewish support for both Kedem and Israel.

A former film maker from Canada is lending his support to the Israeli contingent. His name is David Semple and he is currently writing a book about Jerusalem. David is a righteous gentile. He is passionate about Israel, Judaism and the Jewish people. He has a thorough knowledge of Middle East affairs and history. David’s speeches are utterly brilliant and they seem to have had a demoralising effect on the opposition.  One policewoman told me she had learnt a lot about Israel’s history thanks to David.

Another encouraging factor is the support of the public. I’ve had Jews and gentiles who work and/or shop in Manchester offering their support. American tourists have congratulated us for our efforts. On the other hand, some members of the public have accused us of “having blood on our hands.” One man called us “animals” and “scum.”

As well as making the case for Israel, we try very hard to highlight the hypocrisy of the boycotters. It is all too easy to boycott an innocent shop that sells soap but why don’t the protestors discard their USB flash drives and instant messaging software which were both invented in Israel? Why don’t they throw away their laptops and computers which are powered by Israeli Intel processors? Why continue to use Microsoft Office, Windows XP and Windows Vista when they were invented by Microsoft Israel? We tell them to stop using Google because Google uses an advanced text search algorithm invented by an Israeli student.

We remind them that mobile phones, voice mail and the mobile camera function were all invented in Israel. But the BDS fanatics either don’t believe us or don’t care. One protester said he didn’t want to throw away his Smart phone because he needed it to ring his mum and dad. Do such people know the meaning of the word hypocrisy?

We ask them why they single out Israel for criticism whilst ignoring the fact that Israel is a democracy where one in five citizens are Arabs who have the right to vote and sit in the Israeli parliament. We ask them why they support Hamas when they use their own people as human shields and spend millions of dollars of aid money building terror tunnels. Their response: outright denial.

We admit that Israel isn’t perfect, just like the UK or France isn’t perfect. But constantly demonizing Israel –whilst ignoring the massacres in Iraq and Syria or the exploitation of workers in India and China – isn’t constructive criticism. It is racism.

Kedem is tired of being an easy target. The Jewish people are sick of being intimidated and abused. But after thousands of years of persecution, Jews are no longer prepared to be led like lambs to the slaughter. And as long as this horrible situation continues we will do all we can to support Kedem and the State of Israel, even if it means standing outside a soap shop for eight hours a day.

 

 

 

UK visit to Iran only emboldens Tehran

The decision by a group of British parliamentarians to meet with top Iranian officials is another sign that London is foolishly attempting to restore diplomatic relations with Tehran.

Earlier this week, Jack Straw, who was British Foreign Secretary when the UK invaded Iraq in 2003, met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. He was joined by three other British MPs, including Norman Lamont, who held the post of Chancellor in Margaret Thatcher’s government during the early 1990s. It is likely that a reciprocal visit to London by Iranian MPs will take place in the near future.

The visit comes a month after the UK’s newly appointed chargé d’affaires, Ajay Sharma, journeyed to Iran in a first diplomatic visit by a British envoy since London extracted staff from Tehran after the storming of its embassy in November 2011. Sharma is on record as saying he is “very much looking forward to renewing direct UK contact with the Iranian Government.”

All of which confirms the view that Britain and the West are trying to rehabilitate Iran in the wake of an international agreement regarding Tehran’s nuclear policy. In addition to America’s diplomatic work, the British delegation is the fourth visit by European politicians since Hassan Rouhani took office in August. In November, David Cameron and Rouhani spoke on the phone. The last time a British prime minister had direct contact with an Iranian leader was a decade ago.

The Tehran trip can hardly be compared to the enthusiastic overtures made by London towards Beijing in recent months. David Cameron and other top UK politicians have been wooing China for some time in a desperate attempt to attract Chinese money into Britain’s ailing economy. Still, the all-party parliamentary expedition to Tehran and the diplomatic desire to restore relations is yet another sign that London is willing to work with regimes that have bad human rights records.

Iran is a dangerous country – not just to its Jewish and Arab neighbors but to the world at large. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies see the West’s rapprochement with Iran as a deliberate political and diplomatic realignment. Iran’s gradual rehabilitation should be seen in the broader context of the West’s inability to deal with Tehran’s genocidal intentions towards Israel, as well as its vicious proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. It’s beginning to look like a case of “if you can’t beat them, join them.” First, Bashar al-Assad is let off the hook after attacking his own people with chemical weapons. Then sanctions against Iran are relieved. And if a report in the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai is to be believed, there is now a diplomatic backchannel between the UK and Hezbollah.

The West’s appeasement of Iran and her proxies has obvious echoes of Britain’s misplaced appeasement of Hitler at the end of the 1930s. Neville Chamberlain has gone down in history as the man who was duped by the Fuhrer. Will Obama and Cameron be castigated by future historians for failing to stop the world’s most dangerous regime? In all likelihood, the answer is yes. Indeed, the West’s leaders already look weak and silly. Russia, Iran and Syria have successfully wrongfooted the West and have changed the political and diplomatic climate in a surprisingly short space of time. Britain and the US, on the other hand, have been on the backfoot and are now trying to save face by reformulating relations with Tehran.

The rehabilitation of Iran has echoes of Britain’s reconciliation with Libya, a pariah state since the end of the 1960s. But in the 1990s the relationship between the UK and Libya improved, with events culminating in Tony Blair’s declaration of a “new relationship” with Colonel Gaddafi in December 2003. The fact that Gaddafi was behind one of the worst terrorist attacks ever perpetrated against the West (the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988) was conveniently forgotten. I can foresee a time when Iran is similarly reconciled to the West.

Should Israel be worried? Yes, because the budding Iran-West rapprochement not only isolates Israel, it actually makes war in the Middle East far more likely. Iran will be emboldened by the US and UK’s overtures and (in all probability) will continue its nuclear program. Meanwhile an exhausted West will relax sanctions in the full knowledge that a nuclear Iran is inevitable.

Israel, though, is hardly likely to allow Iran to go nuclear and will take military action against Iran’s nuclear sites (possibly with Saudi Arabia’s tacit blessing) This may happen next year; perhaps 2016 or 2017. Binyamin Netanyahu has already promised that Israel “will act against [Iran] in time if need be.”

If attacked, Tehran will play the role of victim and appeal to the West. Having made their peace with Iran, the UK and the US will find themselves in the absurd position of condemning Israel for making the world a safer place. In the long run, however, Israel’s actions might be viewed more positively. The Jewish state was widely criticized by the international community after it destroyed a nuclear reactor south of Baghdad in 1981. But fast forward two decades and Operation Babylon is viewed in a better light. Bill Clinton, for example, used an interview in 2005 to express his support for the attack, describing it as “a really good thing.”

Israel must view the Iran situation with a long lens and act accordingly. As a Brit I can only apologize for my country’s inability to see Iran for the dangerous bully that it really is.

 

 

The real danger facing Jews

In a new op-ed for Arutz Sheva, Moshe Kempinski warns of the creeping tide of Hellenism (non-Jewish practices) or a “sea of political correctness” which threatens to overwhelm Jewish identity.

He has a point, although I think the situation is more complicated. Plus, there is a far more dangerous threat to Jewishness than the “new Hellenism.”

It’s true that diaspora Jews face a struggle to retain their religious and cultural identities due to legal rulings and cultural prejudices. Only recently, the Council of Europe described circumcision as a “violation” of children’s human rights. In Switzerland, a Geneva city councilman warned his municipality against allowing a public Hanukkah event, which he said would infringe Swiss law. In Poland, ritual slaughter has been suspended on the grounds that Jews (and Muslims) are not exempt from animal protection laws.  And in Britain, some Jews are being denied unemployment benefits because they refuse to work on the Sabbath.

Throughout their long and painful history, Jews have struggled hard to maintain their religion and cultural practices. Anti-Semitic attitudes, pogroms, terrorism, assimilation, forced conversions and legal restrictions have all frayed the tapestry of Jewish identity.

However, the dividing lines between Jewishness and non-Jewishness are not always easy to define. Scholars believe that the Sadducees and even some Pharisees (two of the Jewish sects active in Judea in the Second Temple period) were willing to incorporate Hellenism into their lives. The most notable product of Hellenistic influence was the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Philo and Josephus considered the Septuagint to be as reliable as the Hebrew Masoretic text. Interestingly, Septuagint manuscripts have been discovered among the Qumran Scrolls in the Dead Sea.

Jewish places of worship owe much to Hellenism. The word “synagogue” comes from Koine Greek, a language spoken by Hellenized Jews in southeast Europe, the Middle East and north Africa after the 3rd century BCE. Many synagogues were built by the so-called Hellenistai. These were adherents of a type of Hellenistic Judaism in the Greek Isles, Syria and northern Israel in the first century BCE.

And let’s not forget that there are many good things about Hellenistic culture. The world would be a poorer place without the writings of Homer, Aristotle and Plato or the mathematical discoveries of Pythagoras and Euclid.

On the flip side of the coin, non-Jewish cultures have absorbed many Hebraic ideas. Thanks to Judaism, westerners experience time as linear rather than cyclical. This has fostered a belief in material and social progress. The notion of a monotheistic personal God is thoroughly Hebraic, of course. Ethical imperatives such as justice for the oppressed and sustenance for the poor are derived from the Hebrew prophets. Yes, some of these ideas have been propagated by Christianity and Islam, but neither of these religions would exist without the parent religion of Judaism.

Hebraism and Hellenism are not enemies. The problem when arises when one culture tries to force its beliefs on another as when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (174–163 BCE) tried to impose Hellenic cults on Judea.

I completely understand the concerns of Jews who are afraid that assimilation or modern-day Hellenism will swallow up Jewish identity, particularly in America. And I sympathize with Jews who are pained by the banning of ritual slaughter and the attack on circumcision in Europe. But the real problem facing Jews today is not Hellenism. The real problem is actually something far more pernicious and life-threatening. It is Palestinianism.

II

In Europe, physical attacks on Jews receive little attention in the media because much of the abuse is carried out by Arabs who are under the political protection of some liberals who accuse critics of Islamophobia or racism. Given the European media’s irrational hatred or suspicion of Israel, this is not surprising. You only have to look at the biased news coverage and the vitriolic editorials in publications like The Guardian.

The Palestinianist ideology is particularly dangerous because it draws strength from a range of sources. You don’t have to be an Arab or a Muslim to be a Palestinianist. A large number of western socialists, liberals, conservatives and even neo-Nazis can be described as Palestinianists. Many Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, university academics, trade unions, NGOs and charities also deserve the epithet. All share an irrational hatred or distrust of Israel and/or Jews.

What is disturbing about Palestinianism is that it comprises many stripes of anti-Semitism. Christian and Muslim Palestinianists believe in replacement theology in which their respective faiths supersede or make obsolete the Jewish faith. Liberal Palestinianists dislike Israel because they perceive the Jewish state as exclusivist. Socialist Palestinianists abhor Israel because it is a military power with close links to the US.

The totalizing effect of this confluence of prejudices is the fetishization of Arab revolutionary violence (“We are all Hamas now”) and the denial/falsification of the Jewish people’s historical, legal and cultural ties to the land of Israel. This approach involves the appropriation of Jewish identity. Hence, Israel is recast as ‘occupied Palestine’ and Jerusalem is al-Quds. Judea and Samaria – an ancient geographical term for the land west of River Jordan – is now the West Bank. The Palestinians are the ‘new Jews’ and the Shoah is sidelined to make way for the Nakba.

Some Palestinianists hold the strange belief that the Temple in Jerusalem never existed. Others use the Bible or the Quran to ‘prove’ that God has rejected Judaism in favor of Christianity or Islam. Some Palestinianists deny the Holocaust or are calling for another one. And of course, many Palestinianists simply use violence to inflict physical and psychological damage on Jews – not just in Israel, but also in France, Sweden, Bulgaria, the UK and elsewhere.

I respect Moshe Kempinski’s concerns about assimilation and “Hellenistic” political correctness. He is certainly right to highlight these issues. But I would offer the view that Palestinianism – not Hellenism – poses the more immediate threat to contemporary Jews. Today’s challenge is not about the survival of Judaism as a religion or cultural tradition but about the survival of Jews and of Israel. This challenge does not come from Athens but from Mecca, Tehran, Brussels and Moscow.

Or to put it another way: if the Maccabees were alive today, they would be fighting Hezbollah, not the Greeks.

 

Moshe Kempinski’s article can be read here: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/14178#.UpySp8RSixJ