Friday, December 15, 2023

By Daled Amos

Following October 7, the media's anti-Israel bias is again a topic -- not that it ever stops. Journalists keep jumping on the topic of Israeli retaliation against Hamas, magnifying claims of indiscriminate bombing and accepting Hamas's number of casualties.

In a recent article for Haaretz, Laurel Leff takes another angle and examines how the media omits the history behind the founding of the State of Israel:

For Jews, the six million murdered in the Holocaust and the 500,000 survivors without a home helped spur the state's creation...[But] when Israel's origins are evoked in contemporaneous press accounts of the Israel-Hamas War, and it happens often, the Holocaust is almost never mentioned.

Leff's concern is that the omission of the Holocaust from the story leaves a gap in the history of the re-establishment of the State of Israel, "a blank that can be filled by motivations such as settler colonialism or white supremacy." To establish the existence of this pattern of omission, Leff sifted through over 500 news articles and opinion pieces in the top US newspapers following October 7.

One example is the Boston Globe, where an article explains that the slogan "From the river to the sea" generates fears that

touch on memories of genocide and displacement instilled in Jewish communities by Nazi Germany’s eradication of some 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.

Leff argues that while the article recognizes the Holocaust, it fails to connect it with the establishment of Israel.

In another example, an article in the Washington Post runs the headline: "Israeli operations uprooted Palestinians in 1948. Many fear a repeat," but when it refers to "Jewish immigration" increasing "under decades of British authority" there is no reference to where those Jews were coming from or why.

New York Times article refers to "the young state's triumph against its Arab neighbors in 1948," as "a cherished national story." Leff criticizes the article for failing to connect the dots: the triumph is not revered because of some kind of joy in warfare, but rather because this victory comes against the background of the Holocaust. 

Her argument is that because the media glosses over the connection between the Holocaust and the State of Israel, it creates a faulty narrative about Israel:
A powerful state controlled by Jews emerges out of nowhere and immediately persecutes and displaces Arabs living in its midst. Who the Jews are, why they are there, what they hope to create is never explicated. Into the void flows more noxious accounts, of colonial settlers who migrated to the region only to pillage and exploit, of white supremacists whose sole interest is in subjugating an indigenous population.
But is Leff right -- is knowledge of the Holocaust key to presenting a proper history and understanding of the re-establishment of the modern Jewish State?

After all, the Holocaust seems to be an important component in presenting Israel's case. It is an emotional argument -- and one of the criticisms of Hasbarah is that it is too focused on dry facts and numbers instead of making a visceral, emotional argument.

But the genocide of Jews under Nazi Germany does not resonate the same way that it did in the past. Just as importantly, historically the Holocaust only supports the case for the re-creation of Israel from 1948 forward, not for anything before.

Holocaust history is important, but it does not generate Jewish pride in the same way that the 3,000+ year indigenous history of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel does. Knowledge of Jewish history, language, culture, and religion plants the seeds for Jewish pride in a way that knowledge about the Holocaust alone does not.

I remember being told as a child that it was important to maintain one's Jewishness so as not to give Hitler a victory. Today, that argument will not fly.

This long historical Jewish bond to the land is something that Palestinian Arabs can never have, no matter how many times they claim to be descended from the Jebusites. That may explain in part why they are looked down upon by other Arabs. Rafael Patai writes in his book, The Seeds of Abraham:
Sentiments in French mandatory, and later independent, Syria were thus related back to the great days when Syria, with Damascus as its splendid capital, was the center of the great Umayyad caliphate, while the newly reestablished Iraq saw herself as heir to the Abbasid empire whose center was the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. However, no other Arab country had as solid a basis for priding itself of its glorious past as Egypt, which, although its greatest age lay far back in the millennia of the jahiliyya [Arabia before the advent of Islam], nevertheless came to view that early Pharaonic period as part of its national history.
However, Palestinian Arabs lack that rich Arab heritage.
In Palestine, such attempts at establishing a great Arab national past ran into a vexing problem. Since Palestine had never been an independent Arab country, its period of pride had to be sought in the biblical Israelite age.
And their claims of a rival connection to the land are periodically contradicted by archaeological discoveries.

Thus the resort to the Nakba.

Leff sees the Holocaust as both an argument for the Jewish right to Israel as well as a defense against the claim that Jews are not sufficiently woke:
But without mention of the then fresh Jewish trauma of the Holocaust, Jews' reasons for wanting, perhaps needing, a state, are absent, leaving a blank that can be filled by motivations such as settler colonialism or white supremacy.
But Jewish indigeneity and our uninterrupted presence on the land for over 3,000 years is just as effective in making our case. It is a source of pride and of Jewish identity in the fight against assimilation that Holocaust studies cannot match.

The media may not remind their readers of the historical Jewish bond to Israel, but we cannot afford to fail in passing on this heritage to future generations.

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

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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