The world is rising against Israel. From all corners of the world, in every major city, in every country, protestors take to the streets, boycotts begin, hate crimes are committed – all assailing Israel and the Jews.
Israel has become the world’s Jew – condemned to relentless hatred and persecution from a few, ignored through indifference from the rest. Israel has become the focal point of worldwide anti-Semitism, and criticism of Israel has become a mask of legitimacy for darker feelings.
In France and the rest of Europe, expressions of hatred take the form of beatings, stabbings and fire bombings. In the Middle East, it takes the form of unremitting strings of homicide bombings and other terror attacks, unabashed anti-Semitism and incessant exhortations for the blood of Jews.
Many, unwilling to acknowledge the true motivations of those who lead the charge against Israel, join in the chorus. The unholy result is spectacles where those holding hateful signs equating Stars of David to Swastikas march side by side with groups named “Jews for Peace and Justice,” something I saw firsthand this weekend in Washington, D.C.
Legitimate criticism is overwhelmed and eventually silenced by virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric. Especially in the Arab world, media treatment of Jews is often indistinguishable from that of the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. Mein Kampf, Hitler’s treatise on what to do with the Jews, is a bestseller. Hitler’s ideas were able to seize an entire civilized people. Could not the same be possible in the poor, tyrannical Arab states?
The Jews are the cause of all problems, they tell us, a cancer in the world, the sons of pigs and monkeys, a force of cosmic evil that must be eradicated. In the most appalling case, an article published in an Egyptian government daily praised Hitler for this Holocaust, though complaining that his “revenge on them was not enough.” The author was awarded the top honor in journalism by the Egyptian Press Syndicate a year ago. Arabs have attempted to physically annihilate Israel at least three times already. Who’s to say the motivation that compelled them to attack in 1948, 1967 and 1973 has somehow changed? Everything suggests the opposite.
Once again in the history of the Jewish people, existential threat casts its ominous shadow. Israel, the world’s Jew, remains a tiny island in a vast sea of hatred and aggression – isolated, terrified, alone. Israelis watch in horror as their neighbors march in the streets in the thousands chanting, “Death to Israel. Death to the Jews.” The March 25 issue of Newsweek featured a cover special on “The Future of Israel: How Will It Survive?”. Last week, a poll from the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper, asked: “In light of recent events, do you agree with talks that Israel’s future is at risk?” How many countries do you know of that ask this of its people?
How odd it is that in the same century we would see two competing solutions to the ancient “Jewish Problem,” the situation where Jews always exist as a people apart. The first was to simply rid the world of Jews – a final solution, if you will, an evil embodied by the Holocaust. Having failed, the opposite was tried: let the Jews have a homeland of their own. Now it seems like this solution, too, is a failure in the eyes of many. Ironically, the solution to the suffering of the Jews has now become the cause.
Make no mistake: I do not anticipate another Holocaust or the fall of Israel. Israel is too strong, too determined and too aware of its own past to return to powerlessness and subjugation. In the end, it’s not the hatred of the anti-Semites that scares me; it’s the indifference of everyone else.
Joey Tartakovsky is a sophomore global studies major and president of American Students for Israel.