The heart of the matter

As the hapless Bush administration again attempts to broker “peace” in the Middle East – perhaps Condi Rice would like to pressure Israel to stop expanding the occupation, though that’s about as likely as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressing independence from Washington – Gideon Levy reminds the world of a few facts of life:

It is hard to understand how once again Israel manages to coerce the international community to dance to its tune. After it dragged the world into a futile boycott of Yasser Arafat, it now drags them into a boycott of Haniyeh, and thus only serves the desired aim of the government, which holds the key to ending the conflict: to reject any negotiations.

Europe and the United States must understand that the Palestinian unity government has created a partner. They must also understand that it is impossible to make peace with half the leadership and that it is precisely the presence of Hamas in the government that will ensure that every solution reached can be implemented.

Boycotting the elected prime minister only because this is what the rejectionist front in Israel and Washington want is an act of folly. A visit to the Palestinian Authority while boycotting the prime minister is pointless.

Democracy is an exalted value for the United States. Yet, when the PA became the only place in the Arab world in which free elections were held, the rest of the world turned its back on it. What does the world wish to signal to the Palestinians? That elections are a just mechanism, but only if the results are predetermined? This is a blatantly anti-democratic message for the budding Palestinian democracy. It is also a negative message with respect to nonviolence: Hamas, which adopted a cease-fire, is not receiving any political return.

Of course, if you’re a tired old Zionist who longs for the days of unreported Israeli brutality against the Palestinians, you’ll keep telling yourself that “alternative” Jewish voices – such as Independent Australian Jewish Voices – are threatening the Jewish state. It’s our dear friend, Isi Leibler:

Throughout the Diaspora there are alienated Jews on the fringe whose primary involvement in Jewish life is centered on undermining the Jewish state.

Now they are seeking to establish themselves as a respectable alternative Jewish voice. This is the price we are paying for having long buried our heads in the sand, failing to isolate from the mainstream Jews who dedicate themselves to delegitimizing and demonizing Israel.

The potential damage they are capable of inflicting upon us cannot be underestimated. Jews defaming their own people is hardly a new phenomenon. Their presence is evident throughout history from the age of antiquity on. In the Middle Ages, the most virulent promoters of anti-Semitism were Jewish converts. During the Emancipation period, Jews committed to universalism, socialism and other “isms” were inciting hatred against their kinsmen, as exemplified in the anti-Semitic outbursts of Karl Marx and the late 19th-century Russian Jewish social revolutionaries, who justified pogroms as a necessary lubricant to create a revolutionary climate.

Jewish self-haters were silent during the Holocaust era because the Nazis targeted all Jews. After the war, Jewish communists and their “progressive” fellow travelers reemerged as the most fervent apologists of Stalinist crimes. During the campaign to liberate Soviet Jewry, they denied Soviet anti-Semitism and defended – even applauded – state-sponsored anti-Semitic show-trials and executions of their kinsmen.

Like their contemporary successors, their effectiveness as spokesmen for our enemies was linked to the fact that they paraded their Jewish origins. However in contrast to today’s Jews who demonize Zion, they were considered pariahs by mainstream Jews and clearly perceived by non-Jews as outcasts from their own people.

Today those delegitimizing the Jewish state are frequently indulged in respectable Jewish circles. Some Jewish leaders have even suggested that a “pluralistic” community should not discriminate against anti-Israel “dissidents.”

Always remember, dear reader: no matter what Israel does to the Palestinians, no matter how much the settlements are expanding, and no matter how many Lebanese civilians were killed in last year’s war, “dissident” Jews are the real problem for Israeli PR. After all, playing the victim is so effective, isn’t it?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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