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Thursday, December 16, 2010

"The Oral Historian of Israel’s Terror War" (Totten)

Michael Totten scores with another great interview, with the author of a new book about Israel's victims of terrorism, Giulio Meotti. Here are some excerpts where this non-Jewish author talks about the book, and about European anti-semitism and anti-Zionism:

Giulio Meotti: What’s the difference between a Western democracy, such as France or the United States, and Israel’s democracy? It’s not the start-up nation, the job opportunities, the scientific progress, or the number of Nobel laureates. The most important difference between Israel and the other Western countries lies in the young men and women killed for what they are: Israelis living as free human beings in their historical homeland.
The Jewish state is the only member of the United Nations condemned to death. Its existence is the only one widely considered temporary by a large number of countries in the world. In 2003 I decided to investigate the great black hole that in the last fifteen years has snuffed out thousands of lives, Jews killed because they are Jews.
The book is the result of many years of research inside the painful heart and soul of Israel. There were no books devoted to this single dramatic question. I give a voice to dozens of families and survivors of terrorism who have been neglected by an arrogant media industry. I think the blood spilled by terrorism is the most precious and fragile story that Israel has today, a story that even Israeli writers have neglected.
MJT: Why do you suppose the Western media, especially European media, are so biased against Israel? And why are you different?
Giulio Meotti: Europe is an anti-Semitic continent. The wave of hatred from the European and American ruling classes, the “mainstream” international press with its headlines that repeat diabolical condemnations without appeal, and the satisfied hate of academics is like a pile of straw that waits only for the match to be struck before it will burst into flames.
In Italy the National Order of Journalists, which is a state funded institution, is hosting the presentation of the “Freedom Flotilla 2,” the so-called “humanitarian” ship that will be sent to break the Israeli siege of Hamas in Gaza. Among the speakers are Turkish militants of the IHH group, which is now on Germany’s black list of terrorist organizations. A few weeks ago hundreds of writers and personalities from Norway promoted a massive boycott of Israel. Spain decided to ban the homosexual Israeli movement. Israeli politicians are afraid to land in London’s airports because they might be arrested for “war crimes.” In Sweden the popular newspaper Aftonbladet wrote that Israeli soldiers ripped out the organs of Palestinians in order to sell them.
In the Netherlands the former European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein just invited the Dutch Jews to emigrate to Israel or the United States. There is no future for them in Netherlands due to Islamic anti-Semitism. The Netherlands is hosting the United Nations International Court of Justice. Its condemnation of the Israeli security barrier in 2004 and the Goldstone Report against Israel in 2009 simply forbids Israel to defend itself. The most important Dutch writer, Leon de Winter, who is also of Jewish descent, recently explained in a magnificent essay forStandpoint magazine why he decided to move to the United States. It’s much better to live in California, a place without history, than in a country where the synagogues are protected by the police and Jews can not wear their religious symbols in public. The beautiful Holland of Galileo, Spinoza, and Descartes, the shelter of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews fleeing the Inquisition, is dying. In its place there is fear, intimidation, and subjugation. There is so much darkness in Europe and in its newspapers and books.
...We have an indifferent majority of people about the fate of Israel and the Jews and a very powerful minority in the newspapers, political parties, universities, televisions and public arena that is extremely hostile.
America has historical, religious, cultural, political, and economic links with Israel. It’s sad to say, but Europe is probably lost to Israel.
Think about Spain. It has a very small Jewish community and its ancient synagogues are empty monuments, but it has a virulent anti-Israel ideology. In Norway and Sweden the anti-Israel hatred has become mainstream among prime ministers and best-selling writers such as Jostein Gaardner. He is the author of the global literary phenomenon Sophie’s World and he wrote an article in the Aftenposten newspaper where he said, “We no longer recognize the State of Israel… Do not worry, Israel will go to exile again.”
For the commemoration of the Nazi’s Kristallnacht, the city of Frankfurt has just chosen as speaker the Jewish essayist Alfred Grosser, author of the violent anti-Israeli pamphlet Von Auschwitz nach Jerusalem. Grosser compared what the Nazis did to the Jews to what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians. I agree with the great American writer Cynthia Ozick when she says it would be best to abolish Holocaust memorial days in Europe.
As you can see, Michael, the anti-Israel ideology is now mainstream, fashionable, and even sexy all over Europe. Israel is overwhelmed by a tsunami of delegitimization. A group of Israeli tennis players was only allowed to play behind closed doors in a Swedish stadium. In Hanover an Israeli dance group was stoned by demonstrators shouting “Juden Raus.” The British Trade Union has called to boycott Israel. European supermarkets, even in Italy this year, have more than once decided to boycott Israeli goods. Israeli movies are ousted from international festivals, as in Edinburgh. Israeli academics are expelled from European universities and conferences.
Karel De Gucht, the European Union’s trade commissioner and a former foreign minister of Belgium, said in an interview in October that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were sure to founder on two accounts; first, because Jews are excessively influential in the U.S., and second because they are not the sorts to be reasoned with. If this isn’t anti-Semitism, the term has no meaning.

MJT: You’re not Jewish. (Neither am I, by the way.) What is it that draws you to Israel and the tragedy of the Jewish experience in this world?

Giulio Meotti: If some day Israel were to fall into the hands of its enemies, the West as we know it would cease to exist. The West is what it is thanks to Rome, Jerusalem, and Athens–Rome’s rule of law, the Bible’s morality, and Greek democracy. If the Jewish part of those roots is overturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Israel is a lighthouse of life at a time when life is our most endangered value. A New Shoah is an affirmation of life in the kingdom of death.

A special friend of mine said the book is the Dead Sea Scrolls of modern Israel. It may take some years before the book’s stories have an effect, and for me the most important would be to change the world’s conscience about Israel. It’s a hard task, but one worth attempting. My enduring consolation will be to give an everlasting name and voice to those who have been murdered.
Read the whole thing.

(h/t Silke)