US Political News and Analysis
Redacted from an article by the brilliant, prescient Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan (2006)
The real cause of the descent into anti-Zionism and hatred of Jews is secular liberalism, and the cultural fissure that has opened up along fault lines going back to the 18th-century Enlightenment.
Jewish News Service (JNS) February 27, 2020
The annual parade in Aalst, Belgium, last Sunday turned into a carnival of monstrous Jew-hatred. Participants portrayed Jews as insects topped with fur shtreimel (tall ethnic hats) and peyot (side hair locks). Others were dressed in Nazi uniforms, among other vicious Jewish caricatures, libels and insults.
The mayor of Aalst defended the carnival on the basis that it mocked Christians and Asians, too. He thus showed no understanding of the difference between vulgar mockery and the murderously dehumanizing, historical phenomenon of anti-Semitism.
On Monday, the European Jewish Association revealed the results of a survey of 16,000 Europeans from 16 countries. One-fifth of them believed that a secret network of Jews influences global political and economic affairs. The same number agreed that “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own needs,” and one-quarter agreed that Israel’s policies make them understand why some people hate Jews.
In the United States, more than 50 Jewish community centers in 23 states have received emailed bomb threats within the past week.
There have been repeated attacks on ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. There have been synagogue murders in Pittsburgh and Poway, and widespread bullying of Jewish students on college campuses. Members of “the Squad” of freshman congresswomen have made venomously anti-Israel or anti-Jewish statements.
Bernie Sanders (along with many other far Left Democrats) who is currently the frontrunner to secure the Democratic presidential nomination, purposely did not attend the AIPAC conference because he claims it provides a platform for leaders expressing “bigotry” and opposition to “basic Palestinian rights.”
In Britain, anti-Semitic incidents rose last year to an unprecedented high, marking the fourth successive year of record-breaking figures. In France, 12 Jews have been murdered since 2003 just because they were Jews, while anti-Semitic attacks soared by more than 75 percent last year and the year before. In Germany, anti-Semitic incidents are similarly rising with a murderous attack last Yom Kippur on the synagogue in Halle.
While anti-Jewish attacks are coming from the far-right, the left and the Muslim community, the greatest threat comes from the “progressive” (It is always amazing to me the way the Left has found a way to distort word definitions) side of politics.
This is because its worldview overwhelmingly dominates Western cultural and political institutions; it harbors profound anti-Jewish views within its own ranks; and its cultural reach means that its own anti-Jewish incitement legitimizes and encourages far-right anti-Semitic attitudes that were once treated as beyond the pale.
And this is all inextricably tied up with hatred of Israel, and the entirely false but widespread belief that the Jews have displaced the indigenous people of the land and behave illegally and with wanton cruelty towards the Palestinian remnant.
From these lies and libels flows the surreal irrationality of the anti-Israel discourse that has so shockingly become the signature cause of the Western progressive.
The obvious reasons for this include the takeover of progressivism by Marxism, the collapse of education into anti-Western propaganda, and the rise of identity politics and intersectionality. This has created an ignorant and brainwashed cohort of young people who have provided the groundswell for Sanders or Britain’s (now defeated) Jeremy Corbyn.
This week, the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs published a book of essays called Israelophobia and the West: the Hijacking of Civil Discourse on Israel and How to Rescue It. The book provides a thoughtful analysis of the nexus between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, where legitimate criticism of Israel stops and demonization starts, and the fundamental challenge to Israel from the left.
It assumes that the lies can and should be countered by a better application of reason. This, though, misses the critical point: that both anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism constitute an irrational belief, akin to a cult, and are therefore impervious to facts and argument.
This is understood by French sociology professor Shmuel Trigano. In the most astute essay in the JCPA’s book, he correctly says we are “entering a new age of Jew-hatred,” which cannot be argued with but must instead be fought.
The onslaught against Israel and Zionism, French sociology professor Shmuel Trigano points out, is part of the left’s broader reconfiguration of the West. Anti-Zionism, he says, is the creature of post-modernism and its satellite orthodoxies: post-colonialism, multiculturalism and gender doctrine, all of which are involved in “deconstructing” Western society.
As he writes, criminalizing the identity of the Jews as a people in the State of Israel is part of the European postmodernists’ war against their own cultures and nation-states. But even that still doesn’t explain this eruption of obsessive, primitive Jew-hatred.
For it’s not just that anti-Zionism is the contemporary mutation of anti-Semitism. The old, un-mutated anti-Semitism is still there: the open hatred of Jews as Jews. The question is why this has been allowed to roar once again into a cultural conflagration.
Populism is not in itself an extremist movement (although some bits undoubtedly are). It is rather a response to the extremism that has overtaken the entire progressive movement, and which represents the idea of the West as intrinsically evil and sinful.
Bernie Sanders and Brit Corbyn, who are both undoubtedly extreme, are not the cause of the phenomenon, but the product of a broad cultural shift. When Bernie Sanders called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a reactionary racist” in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, the audience broke into applause.
The real cause of the descent into anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist hatred is secular liberalism, and the cultural fissure that has opened up along fault lines stretching back to the 18th-century Enlightenment.
This proclaimed the death of God and the enthronement instead of the autonomous individual freed from biblical moral codes. This led to the destruction of hierarchies of values without which there can be no morality, the replacement of duty by man-made and highly contingent human rights, and the collapse of truth and reason.
Better advocacy for Israel, necessary as that is, will not address this anti-Jewish derangement syndrome, That’s because what is driving it is the repudiation of the Jewish precepts of morality and justice that are at the heart of the Christian West.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy,” in 2018. Her work can be found at: www.melaniephillips.com.
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