Today In Ha’arez Amira Hass argues that the exposure of Palestinian anti-Semitism in the recent, highly extensive, Anti Defamation League report into anti-Semitism means nothing. In doing so she has exposed the elephant in the room when it comes to left wing ideology.
According to Hass it’s all Israel’s fault. She quotes her father, saying that;
“Israel is retroactively justifying what anti-Semites have been saying about us for 2,000 years.”
In the ADL report Palestinians came out top in the anti-Semitic conspiracy competition which saw 1 billion people (represented by 53,000 respondents) competing to see who hates Jews the most. Or at least who has the most anti-Semitic misconceptions about Jews.
But actually Amira isn’t alone in wishing to brush aside Palestinian anti-Semitism. This is something that we come across often in Left wing circles. An unwillingness to tackle the fact that anti-Semitism is rampant in the Arab world. So rampant that it flies in the face of logic. In the quest to explain this the only point of view that seems to make sense is that Palestinian anti-Semitism is obviously motivated by the occupation. So much so that they are exempt from judgment for it.
Israel, the Jewish state, is occupying Palestinian territory, has done for decades and there is no end in sight. As Amira points out in her op-ed it is Jewish soldiers (largely) who are making the arrests, manning the checkpoints and overseeing the occupation. What Palestinian wouldn’t be anti-Semitic in such an environment? So the argument goes.
This view was trumpeted in The Guardian’s Comment is Free the day after the report came out. You can read CiF Watch’s take on that article here. But the article notwithstanding there is a truth here. Israel is occupying Palestinians therefore it follows that Palestinians would be the most anti-Semitic people. Right?
One could also assume that were Israel no longer occupying Palestinians then anti-Semitism would drop significantly. The simple rules of cause and effect coming into play.
This is a comfortable way of looking at anti-Semitism. It assures us that if we were to just take certain measures then anti-Semitism would drop massively. For some people this certainty turns to frustration. They can’t understand why Israel isn’t doing the things it needs to do in order to prevent the growth of anti-Semitism and the continuation of pain on all sides.
Those such as Amira have essentially taken the responsibility off the shoulders of Palestinian anti-Semites and placed it onto the shoulders of Israel. For her it has become the responsibility of Jews to do certain things that would stop anti-Semites from hating us so much. Rather than the responsibility of anti-Semites to stop their baseless hatred of Jews.
This assumes that there is a logic to anti-Semitism where there is none. Nor is there anything logical about the assumption that Palestinians would be more anti-Semitic than anyone else because of the history of the region and because of the occupation. These factors don’t explain for example why 88% of Palestinians think Jews have too much control over the United States government. They don’t explain why 88% think that Jews have too much control over global media. They don’t explain why 78% think Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.
But other things do.
Hatred exists in the Arab world in spades. There’s no point denying it. Anti-Semitism is broadcast on television and printed in the mainstream media for all to see. Hatred of Jews is a fact of life. One that it is incumbent upon Arabs society to deal with (along with a lot of other things). In a way it’s easy for those such as Amira Hass to argue that it is all Israel’s fault. Doing so allows her to believe that it is in Israel’s power to destroy anti-Semitism. Even if it means Israel destroying herself. But anti-Semitism is older than Israel. Were Israel to disappear it would merely be easier for anti-Semites to attack Jews.
Israel was envisioned as a response to anti-Semitism. A retreat from a hostile world. It is ironic that Amira is now blaming Israel for anti-Semitism. In her piece Amira talks about the effect of occupation on Palestinians. What she doesn’t do is explain why it follows that so many Palestinians believe that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars, or why 89% think Jews have too much power in international markets.
It’s time for Amira and others on the left to consider why it is that they are fighting the occupation and excusing anti-Semitism. When they should be fighting both.
While you’re pondering that watch the latest from Egyptian TV arguing that the Simpsons is a Jew conspiracy. Or something.