The Jew, and the ‘Jew among nations’

Scene from Berlin, 1933, as Nazis call for boycott of Jewish shops.

Scene from Berlin, 1933, as Nazis call for boycott of Jewish shops.

Barry Rubin has a well-targeted piece today about the all-too-frequent incompetence of the press, especially in matters relating to Israel or Jews. It’s illustrated in part by a 1935 article from, where else, the NY Times:

After [describing how] Hitler excluded Jews from German citizenship and prohibited marriages between Jews and “Aryans,” (known in history as the Nuremberg laws) the article continued:

“The new laws, while in line with the anti-Semitism which has been a large part of the Fuhrer’s inspiration from the beginning are no doubt to be taken as encouragement to the Radical wing of the party….The best to be said of the new laws is that they may offer German Jewry the process of law in place of arbitrary bullying and local tyranny.”

So there you have it: Hitler was trying to appease the radical Nazis and the Nuremberg laws offered Jews some legal recourse.

This made me think about the remarkable parallelism between the antisemites’ treatment of Jews and the way the anti-Zionist world (that’s most of it today) relates to Israel, not by accident called the “Jew among nations.”

How many times have you heard that Israel should preemptively surrender to Arab demands lest ‘extremists’ disrupt the ‘peace process’? Or that ‘the world is getting tired’ of the endless conflict, and so Israel must hurry up and give up some aspect of its sovereignty before the world does it for them? President Obama played on this theme in his May 19 speech (“The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome.”)

Former CIA agent Robert Grenier made the following argument recently for Israel to immediately end construction east of the Green Line :

…the longer Israeli delay and obfuscation persisted, the more Palestinian willingness and political cover to engage in the process would be undermined, reinforcing the popular Palestinian conviction that the point of any process was to mute their resistance and play them for dupes, in an effort to gain time for their complete dispossession.

Permanently stop the settlements, however, and the whole negotiating dynamic changes. Rather than being motivated to delay, the Israelis suddenly become motivated to agree on permanent borders, so that they can continue building where it is legitimate to do so.

This is almost precisely the same argument as that in the Times of 1935! Give up your rights — then at least you’ll know what’s permitted you.

The delegitimization and isolation of Israel today is similar to that experienced German Jews in the 1930’s. One of the first anti-Jewish acts of the new Nazi government in 1933 was a boycott of Jewish shops and professionals. Jewish academics soon lost their jobs. Jews were constantly vilified in the official and unofficial media, blamed for every failure and problem in Germany. Jews were described as vermin (and what do you do to vermin?) When they were persecuted, they were blamed for their own persecution; when they defended themselves they were attacked even more furiously. Incidents were created (think of the Mavi Marmara) to serve as excuses for further victimization. Finally, Jews were expelled from their homes and forced to live in ghettos. Everyone knows the rest.

Replace ‘Jews’ by ‘Israel’ and ‘Germany’ by ‘the Middle East’ in the above, and every word resonates today.

The analogy of antisemitism to a virus can be overdone. But here it can be useful: the horrors of the Holocaust served to immunize the world, to some extent, against classical antisemitism. There are even laws against antisemitic expression in some countries; antibodies, if you will. But viruses mutate in order to neutralize the effect of antibodies. So if calling Jews ‘vermin’ is no longer acceptable, anything at all can be said about Israel. Antisemitism mutated into anti-Zionism, and now it is multiplying unchecked.

But don’t be fooled: the objective of the delegitimization campaign has not changed since the 1930’s. It isn’t about getting rights for Palestinian Arabs. It’s about getting rid of Israel, and the Jewish people.

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