Thursday, November 03, 2022

By Daled Amos

I can still remember when it was frowned upon for Jews to publicly criticize Israel.

Clearly, we have long passed that point.

To paraphrase Leon Wieseltier in his 2003 critique of Tony Judt, there are Jews who

have crossed the line from the criticism of Israel's policy to the criticism of Israel's existence

There are Jews today who separate themselves from the vast majority of Jews who, according to polls, consider Israel and Zionism as important to their Jewish identity. Instead, those Jews echo Paul O’Brien, the US director of Amnesty International, who lectured a Jewish group back in March that he rejected that poll indicating a Jewish cultural, historical bond with Israel:

“I actually don’t believe that to be true,” O’Brien said regarding those figures. “I believe my gut tells me that what Jewish people in this country want is to know that there’s a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people can call home.”

Rather than a Jewish state, American Jews want “a safe Jewish space,” O’Brien continued. “I think they can be convinced over time that the key to sustainability is to adhere to what I see as core Jewish values, which are to be principled and fair and just in creating that space.” [emphasis added; h/t Elder of Ziyon]

Was O'Brien talking about the survival of the Jewish people or maintaining a forest of trees?

Yet this is what a vocal minority of Jews today advocate--that Jews should be distancing themselves from Israel. If anything, we have already reached the next level, where anti-Israel groups are now advocating distancing themselves from the Jews who openly support, or even show, a connection or bond with Israel.

These young anti-Zionist Jews are more than just vocal. They claim to speak for a growing number of young Jews today in rejecting Israel altogether. Yet oddly enough, these self-proclaimed progressive young Jews do not defend Jews and Jewish rights. Instead, they defend anti-Zionism against accusations of antisemitism. An article in Tablet Magazine notes:

Thus, the ironically named “Jewish Voice for Peace” has partnered with an array of anti-Semites posturing as mere anti-Zionists, from Miko Peled, who dubbed Jews “sleazy thieves,” to Alison Weir of “If Americans Knew,” who complained about there being too many Jews on the Supreme Court, championed the medieval blood libel, and repeatedly partnered with white supremacists and Holocaust deniers like Southern Poverty Law Center-designated Clayton Douglas. (JVP briefly distanced itself from Weir, only to reinvite her to events soon after.)

Such is the company they keep.

More importantly, these Jews who make a point of openly condemning Israel have a historical pedigree. Just as anti-Zionist attacks on Israel follow in the footsteps of many centuries of antisemitic attacks on Jews, so too do these Jews leading the attack on Israel reflect the Jews who led attacks on Jewish communities.

Doron Ben-Atar contributed a chapter to the book Deciphering The New Antisemitism, where he writes:

In each generation, some Jews opt out of their communities for full-fledged participation in surrounding cultures. These converts sometimes turn on their coreligionists with great passion. The apostate becomes a crucial informer—the intimate insider who has seen the light and takes on the mission of exposing the alleged vileness of Jews to the unsuspecting world. Sometimes apostates officially sever their ties to Jews and Judaism, and at other times they take on the mantle of the “good” Jew or “right kind” of Jew—the “credit to the race.” Their anti-Jewish campaigns and denunciations give credibility, authenticity, and legitimacy to anti-Judaism. [emphasis added; p. 112]  

For example:

The first known blood libel—the 1144 killing of William of Norwich--did not get off the ground until 30 years later, when a minister in 1173 wrote a book accusing the Jewish community of having crucified the boy. For proof, the minister relied on Theobald, a converted Jew. Theobald claimed the Jews performed such ritual murders on a regular, yearly basis.

o  When Louis IX of France held a trial in the 13th century to establish the blasphemy of the Talmud, he was helped by Nicholas Donin, a former yeshiva student. Thanks to his help, the court ordered the burning and banning of the Talmud.

o  Pablo Christiani was successful on multiple levels. He persuaded King James I of Aragon to force Jews to attend his proselytizing sermons. In addition, he convinced Pope Clement IV to destroy any surviving volumes of the Talmud in Europe and he was able to get King Louis IX to require Jews to wear identifying badges in public. [p. 112-113]

These are some of the more well-known examples. There are other, lesser-known, former Jews who contributed to expulsions, riots, forced conversions, and the destruction of Jewish learning. 

Later, with the advent of the Enlightenment, the tactics changed as the Jewish critics tried to convince Jews to abandon Judaism and embrace assimilation instead of holding on to their backward traditions.

That attempt to sever the bonds of Jews with Judaism in order to dilute Jewish identity if not eradicate it entirely is being repurposed today by young Jewish progressives who want to sever the bonds of Jews with Israel

Cynthia Ozick finds a comparison between today's progressive Jewish critics with their earlier forbears:

The Nicholas Donins and Pablo Christianis of ages past ran to abandon their Jewish ties even as they subverted them. The Nicholas Donins and Pablo Christianis of our own time run to embrace their Jewish ties even as they besmirch them. So it is as self-declared Jews, as loyal and honorable Jews, as Jews in the line of the prophets, as Jews who speak out for the sake of the integrity of Jews and Judaism, that we nowadays hear arguments against the survival, or the necessity, or the legitimacy, of the State of Israel.

This is not to say that criticism of Israel is off-limits, a claim that critics are fond of making. As Ben-Atar writes:

Anti-Zionists kosherize antisemitism only when they endorse the destruction of Israel, when they employ old antisemitic tropes to describe Israel’s relationship with the world, and when they conflate Zionism and Nazism. [p. 115-116]

Another tactic of these "anti-Zionist kosherizers," is one that Jewish Voice For Peace uses, not unlike what Paul O'Brien referred to:  

They invent an aestheticized Judaism—a psychological and intellectual state of mind—that is divorced from the actual Jewish collective and from the experience of Jews as individuals and as a people. [p. 125]

It is tempting to try to pinpoint the motivation for the Jewish critics, whether it be out of self-hatred, currying favor among other progressives or even gaining power. But more to the point is the question as to whether they see the results of their actions.

Those "Nicholas Donins and Pablo Christianis of ages past" certainly did and clearly did not care. But what about those of today? Do they see the results of what they are doing? Do they even care?

Edward Alexander writes:

The BDSers may be obtuse, craven, morally bankrupt; but they would also have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to recognize the link between their efforts and the murderous intentions of those who regret the Holocaust only because—for a time—it gave antisemitism a bad name.

Those attacks on Israel, where the world's largest concentration of Jews lives, is by their very nature antisemitic. Those attacks are not mere criticisms. They are “an anti-Semitic campaign to transform the pariah people into the pariah state.” 

Proof, once again, that Jews are perfectly capable of being their own worst enemies.

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

Read all about it here!



EoZ Book:"Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism"


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