That anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment is now reaching fever pitch is clear. It is becoming less and less safe for Jews to live normal lives in many Western cities, and as usual Israel is being demonised by our elites, much of the media and the secular Left.

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That the only free and democratic nation in the Middle East is seen as a pariah state, and is denied the right to simply exist and defend itself shows us the animus, hatred and bias that so many have against this small, beleaguered nation. The history of antisemitism is of course as old as the Jews, but we had hoped after the last century we had learned our lessons.

We were not supposed to forget. But we have, and massively. And now we see history repeating itself. As but one example, a meme I just spotted reminded us that Nazis prevented Jewish students from entering universities in Vienna, Austria in 1938. Incredibly, we are starting to witness similar things taking place at American, Australian and other Western universities.

Consider just one campus: Columbia University in New York, where anti-Israel protestors have occupied a main part of the university, demonising Israel and screaming ‘Kill all the Jews’. Many Jewish students have left the school, fearing for their safety.

Much has been written on this hatred of the modern state of Israel. One of the more recent volumes is that by Jake Wallis Simons, Israelophobia: The Newest Version of the Oldest Hatred & What To Do About It. Early on the British journalist and novelist describes his theme:

As you might expect from a post-colonial democracy in a turbulent and hostile region, Israel doesn’t get everything right. But the level of opprobrium it receives goes way beyond its faults. It is slandered online, singled out for hatred at the UN, subjected to international boycott, and attacked in every conceivable way, from digital propaganda to guerrilla poster campaigns to university campus rallies.

 

The hostility heaped on the Middle East’s only democratic state, and the only Jewish country on Earth, dwarfs that directed at the cruellest autocracies. It is held to standards expected of no other state. It is smeared in the most lurid terms, accused of everything from ethnic cleansing to white supremacy, colonialism, infanticide and mass murder. When it takes surgical military action to defend itself from terrorists who fire thousands of missiles at its population centres, mobs take to the streets in cities all over the world; when neighbouring countries carpet bomb civilians, the protesters stay at home.

 

Indeed, in July 2023, when Israel responded to a wave of deadly attacks by taking out a terrorist cell in Jenin – without killing a single civilian – it received a tsunami of the most venomous hatred, with the BBC forced to apologise after a presenter insisted that ‘Israeli forces are happy to kill children’. (pp. 6-7)

He continues:

A dislike for Israel has become a core part of a suite of views held by the progressives who set the tenor of much of our culture. These ‘luxury beliefs’,’ which relate to fashionable issues like race, transgenderism, decolonisation and slavery, are used as a way of signalling social status as class differences flatten, the American academic Professor Elizabeth Currid-Halkett has suggested. This blend of patrician liberalism, globalism and old-fashioned socialism often comes with the kind of focus on race that is normally seen only on the far right. (p. 7)

In six detailed and well-documented chapters Simons shows just what Israel is having to put up with – something no other modern nation has to endure. Bear in mind that this book appeared just before the bloody and horrific October 7 genocidal attacks on innocent Israelis by Hamas terrorists. He of course could pen an entire book on that demonic assault as well.

Modern haters of Israel try to pretend that Israel is a recent nation, with no historical right to its current home. Simons reminds us of a few inconvenient historical truths:

People often forget that Judaism is two millennia older than Islam and 1,500 years older than Christianity. Israel was the cradle of Jewish civilisation. At least a thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Jerusalem’s most famous Jew, King David, made the city the capital of the Land of Israel. It has been home to greater or lesser numbers of Jews – the very word ‘Jew’ is a shortening of Judea, the ancient kingdom radiating from Jerusalem in the Iron Age – in Jerusalem ever since. (p. 45)

Simons keeps reiterating that Israel is not without its faults. But what is sadly lacking is any sense of perspective from most politicians, media outlets and even universities today. He writes:

Israel’s track record since its establishment compares respectably to those of other liberal democracies, even though it exists in a far tougher neighbourhood. (p. 62)

He looks at some obvious major blemishes on nations like Britain and America, and then says this:

It is hard to overstate the demonisation that surrounds the Jewish state and colours public perception of it. It stands condemned for failing to observe the rules-based international order at a time when it was not followed by any country. It is doubly condemned for falling below standards that are upheld by nobody today, least of all those in the Middle East.

 

Like any other nation, Israel has a positive and negative side to its ledger. And as with any other nation, some people will tend to judge it kindlier than others. Yet unlike other nations, it is targeted with exceptional levels of hatred. (p. 67)

He then examines the usual accusations being thrown around, including the charge that Israel is an ‘apartheid’ state. He looks at what real racial discrimination has looked like, as in South Africa last century or even in America and its Jim Crow laws which were enforced until the 1960s. Israel however has had nothing like this.

He does note the controversial 2018 Nation State Law, but points out how much more free and equal various minorities are in Israel compared to anywhere else in the surrounding nations. And he reminds us about just who is doing the discriminating, and engaging in apartheid measures:

The original UN partition proposal of 1947 allowed a number of Jews to live in a Palestinian state, just as some Arabs became citizens of Israel. Yet the modern Palestinian government bans Jews from obtaining residency, with harsh penalties for any Arab found guilty of selling land to Jews. Throughout the West, modern liberals support this racist policy.

They would not be in favour of laws that ban Hindus from Pakistan, say, or Muslims from Britain, or Mexicans from the United States. How can banning Jews from Palestinian areas be justified, especially given their ancestral links to the area? (p. 120)

The Unlucky Country - Zimmermann & Moens

Simons spends some time on noting how the Nazis knew they must make inroads into the Arab world in its efforts to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. Some Muslim leaders were more than happy to cooperate with Hitler in this. Let me share just one passage as an example of this. It is worth quoting from at length:

The power of Nazi falsification stemmed from its ingenuity. Berlin knew that it would not be enough simply to pump its existing material into the Middle East. Even seminal antisemitic texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which had already been translated into Arabic, were felt to be tailored to European culture and sensibilities (though sections of Mein Kampf were serialised in Arab newspapers). Hitler’s planners knew that if Arabs were to fully assimilate the ideology of the Third Reich, it would need to be presented in a context that felt authentic.

 

In this spirit, a team of prominent Islamists were recruited to collaborate with Nazi propagandists. Leader of the pack was the peacockish Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haij Amin al-Husseini, a known extremist who had led a gangster war against Palestinian moderates. Recognised as the founding father of the Palestinian Arab national movement, Husseini was rather like a proto-Yasser Arafat…

 

The German diplomat Irwin Ettel was Husseini’s handler. As Hitler’s ambassador to Iran from 1939 until the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia in 1941, Ettel had already piloted the harnessing of Muslim antisemitism as a means of curbing British influence in the Middle East. ‘One way to promote [anti-British sentiment] would be to clearly connect the struggle of Mohammed against the Jews in old times and that of the Fuhrer are in recent times,’ Ettel wrote. ‘If you combine this with connecting the British and the Jews, it becomes extremely effective.’

 

He and Husseini worked closely together in Berlin, exchanging memos. In one of these, dated 26 June 1942, the Mufti assured his opposite number that Arab and German goals were ‘completely overlapping’, emphasising that ‘the Arabs felt closely bound to the Germans in this struggle against world Jewry’. A victory for the Allies would mean the end of Arab nationalist aspirations he wrote, whereas an Axis triumph would assure Arab freedom and independence. (pp. 136-137)

Much more Israelophobia is carefully documented here, including that of the Russians. But he finishes his book with ways in which all this can be dealt with. He first looks at eight ways you can spot it:

1. The old antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the financial markets, media and politics are presented again, only now with Israel or the Mossad pulling the strings.

2. Soviet propaganda is regurgitated, featuring tropes like: Israel is a racist or fascist state; Zionism is colonialism; Israelis are as bad as the Nazis; Israel practises apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide; the Holocaust was exaggerated and is exploited to win sympathy; and diaspora Jews are a fifth column serving Israeli interests.

3. Persecution suffered by the Jewish people is rehashed and blamed on the Jews themselves; for example, accusing Israel of conducting the Holocaust on the Palestinians.

4. Israel is portrayed as the worst country on Earth and the crimes of other countries, even those that are far worse, and even those nearby in the region, are ignored.

5. Israel’s flaws are used to undermine its very legitimacy rather than assigning blame to those responsible.

6. The history of the Jewish people in the land of Israel is denied.

7. Israel is accused of having ‘no right to exist’, based on erroneous allegations of illegality, colonialism, white supremacy and racism.

8. The Jewish state is held to moral standards that no other country upholds or has ever upheld. (pp. 184-185)

He then goes on to mention “five pressure points”.

Let me just mention in outline form the first three, and then spell out the last two:

1. What has it got to do with you?
2. Can you accept that Israel has many admirable qualities, especially when compared to the other states in the region? If not, why not?
3. Are you able to articulate your criticism without repeating long-discredited Soviet lies and other falsifications?
4. There are far worse injustices and human rights abuses all over the world, particularly in the Middle East. Right?
From the Ukraine maelstrom to the civil wars in Yemen and Myanmar – the latter alone claimed about 20,000 lives in 2022, compared to 255 deaths in the Israel-Palestinian conflict – the plight of the Palestinians is sadly dwarfed by examples of suffering and dispossession all over the world. Free from the influence of prejudice, this should be an easy enough fact to acknowledge; after all, it need not detract from sympathy for the Palestinians. However, Israelophobia, as we have seen, rests on demonisation. If that is your worldview, accepting the true scale of the conflict is hard.
5. What country has a better moral record than Israel?
Due to the influence of demonisation, the idea that Israel has a decent moral record seems outrageous. Compared to Britain and the United States, for example, with their history of empire, overseas meddling, racial oppression and foreign wars, and the case becomes less clear-cut. Compared to its neighbours and there’s simply no contest. Moreover, the Jewish state faces the most intense security challenges of any democracy. Given the track record of the others – British forces in Ireland or the RAF and Dresden, the American LED invasion of Iraq – would any of them do any better? Why is Israel always held to a standard of behaviour that no country in history has ever achieved? (pp. 186-188)

The latest round of anti-Jewish hatred may be some of the worst we have seen since last century. And it only appears to be getting worse. One part of how we deal with this is to try to share facts and evidence. Sure, the Israelophobes will have nothing to do with that, but open-minded and fair-minded people hopefully will.

Sharing with them a book like this is one way that this can take place.

This article was first published here.

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Bill Muehlenberg teaches ethics, apologetics and theology at several Melbourne Bible Colleges. His independent blog, Culture Watch, has over 5,000 articles commenting on the major cultural, social and political issues of the day.

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