Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bibi wins, anti-Semitism thrives

The election results in Israel are crappy and demoralizing, with long-term negative consequences just about inevitable.

And then there are posts like this, from France, re anti-Semitism there: 

Finding themselves left to their own devices, each Jew, or at least the most conscientious amongst them, underwent a process of growing isolation from French society. Many of us began avoiding non-Jewish friends—no more dinner parties in the city in order to avoid the anger of friends who no longer wanted to hear us out. *

A couple of decades back a friend and I agreed that anti-Semitism in Europe had been reduced to a trope. How wrong we were.

The novelist Howard Jacobson, as quoted in Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in the Atlantic, says:

“It will never go away, this hatred of Jews … and the proof of this is that barely 50 years after the Holocaust, the desire for Jewish bloodletting isn’t over. Couldn’t they have given us a bit longer? Give us 100 years and we’ll return to it.”

He adds:

“I know this is a dangerous thing to say … but the Holocaust didn’t satisfy.”

I have never been one to think that anti-Semitism of all sorts — from the English drawing room variety through the Dreyfus Affair onto the gas chambers — was eternal. That always seemed a self-serving Zionist myth.

Now, though I am not in Paris, Toulouse  or Brussels, and though no one has attacked my children or grandchildren  or me — me, that is, for sporting a yarmulke (which I don't, anyway, though I've always enjoyed caps) — I am not so sure.

Please don't tell me that European anti-Semitism, including the deadly kind, is all a reaction to Israel's heinous policy toward Palestinians, which will certainly, under Netanyahu, go on being heinous and yet more heinous.,

The paramount thing to be said is that Israel is far from the cause. It equally needs to be said that for Jews, Israel is far from a solution.

Israel is neither the main cause of today's anti-Semitism nor its proud solution.

There, now I've said it.

I anticipate the kind of reaction Netanyahu's re-re-re-election will trigger from the left, and dread it. Its intemperate anti-Zionism will shade even more than it has already into anti-Semitism, in which it will discover and draw on a seemingly inexhaustible  fund of mythic energy.

* see Shmuel Trigano, "A Journey Through French Anti-Semitism," Jewish Review of Books Spring 2015)


  1. Although Judeophobia may not prove eternal -- we won't live long enough to test the theory -- it has certainly proved to be long-lasting. Like other viruses, it mutates and changes shape. Rightwing anti-Semites blamed the Jews for communism while leftwing anti-Semites blamed the Jews for capitalism. Israel today plays the useful role of substituting for "the interenational Jew" as the cause of all evil, so the left focuses its ire on Israel's perceived sins (of which there are not a few) while ignoring such violations of human rights as infanticide, female genital mutilation, wholesale slaughters of religious minorities, and jihadi fascist terrorism generally.

    1. All very true. But let's not forget the Jews did know about 9/11 in advance, right, though somehow I did not get that memo.