As an example of what the insightful commentator Melanie Phillips referred to as a “dialogue of the demented” in her book, The World Turned Upside Down, since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge some three weeks ago, the streets of American and European cities have been crammed with activists intent on expressing their collective indignation for Israel’s perceived crime of defending its citizens from slaughter from the genocidal thugocracy of Hamas.
Rowdy and sometimes violent demonstrations have taken place in Berlin, Paris, Toronto, London, and Madrid, where blatantly anti-Semitic chants of “Death to Jews!,” “Hitler was right!,” “Gaza is the real Holocaust,” “end Israeli apartheid,” and “Jew, Jew, cowardly swine, come out and fight on your own!” could be heard, with similar events taking place in such U.S. cities as Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
Joined with Muslim supporters of those wishing to destroy Israel and murder Jews were the usual suspects of peace activists, Israel-haters, social justice advocates, and labor unionists who decried Israel’s “genocide” against Gaza as well as the militarism, oppression, imperialism, and brutality imbued in Zionism itself. These radical, Israel-loathing groups include, among others, the corrosive, ubiquitous ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Students for Justice in Palestine.
What was particularly revealing, and chilling, about the hate-filled rallies was the virulence of the chants and messages on the placards, much of it seeming to suggest that more sinister hatreds and feelings—over and above concern for the current military operations—were simmering slightly below the surface. Several of the morally self-righteous protestors, for instance, shrieked out, to the accompaniment of drumbeats, “Long live Intifada,” a grotesque and murderous reference to the Second Intifada, during which Arab terrorists murdered some 1000 Israelis and wounded more than 14,000 others.
That pro-Palestinian student activists, those who purport to be motivated by a desire to bring “justice” to the Middle East, could publicly call for the renewed slaughter of Jews in the name of Palestinian self-determination demonstrates quite clearly how ideologically debased the human rights movement has become. Activists on and off U.S. campuses, who never have to face a physical threat more serious than getting jostled while waiting in line for a latte at Starbucks, are quick to denounce Israel’s very real existential threats and the necessity of the Jewish state to take counter measures to thwart terrorism. And quick to label the killing of Hamas terrorists by the IDF as “genocide,” these well-meaning but morally-blind individuals see no contradiction in their calls for the renewed murder of Jews for their own sanctimonious cause.
Other protestors were less overt in their angry chants, carrying signs and shouting out the oft-heard slogan, “Free, Free Palestine,” or, as they eventually screamed out, “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea.” That phrase suggests the same situation that a rekindled Intifada would help bring about, namely that if the fictive nation of “Palestine” is “liberated,” is free, there will, of course, be no Israel between the Jordan River and Mediterranean—and no Jews.
Another deadly chorus emanated from protestors during the rally: “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.” That is an oft-repeated, but disingenuous and false notion that stateless terrorists have some recognized human right to murder civilians whose government has purportedly occupied their territory. That is clearly not any longer the case in Gaza, where every Jew was removed in 2005 and where there is a blockade in effect to prevent the influx of weapons, but clearly no occupation or, as commonly referred to, a “siege.” It may be comforting for Israel’s ideological foes to rationalize the murder of Jews by claiming some international right to do it with impunity and a sense of righteousness. Unfortunately, however, as legal experts have inconveniently pointed out, the rally participants and their terror-appeasing apologists elsewhere are completely wrong about the legitimacy of murder as part of “resistance” to an occupying force. Article IV of the Third Geneva Convention, the statute which defines combatants and legitimate targets in warfare, is very specific about who may kill and who may be killed, and it does not allow for the murder of either Israeli civilians—or soldiers—by Palestinian suicide bombers who wear no identifying military uniforms and do not follow the accepted rules of wars.
So when pro-Palestinian activists and critics of Israel repeat the claim that Palestinians somehow have an internationally-recognized legal “right” to resist occupation through violent means, they are both legitimizing that terror and helping to insure that its lethal use by Israel’s enemies will continue unabated. Those who lend their moral support to terrorism, and who continually see the existence of “grievance-based violence” as a justifiable tool of the oppressed, have helped introduce a sick moral relativism into discussions about radical Islam and Palestinianism, not to mention Israel’s right to protect its citizens from being slaughtered. And the notion that Israel cannot, or should not, retaliate against these rocket attacks until a sufficient number of Israelis has been murdered is equally grotesque.
The fact that so many demonstrators feel comfortable with openly supporting a terrorist group with the single purpose of murdering Jews, that they publicly proclaim that “We are all Hamas now,” indicates quite dramatically how prevalent, and acceptable, genocidal Jew-hatred has become, both in the streets and on campuses in America and Europe. This is clearly not, as it is regularly asserted, merely “criticism” of the Israeli government’s policies; this is what many define as a new permutation of anti-Semitism—an irrational, seething animus against the Jew of nations, Israel.
These fatuous, morally self-righteous activists, many of whom are from the hard Left or the pro-Islamic Right, are, without any expertise in military affairs, eager to advise Israeli officials on the rules of war and denounce the lack of “proportionality” in Israel’s attempts to defend its population from jihadist murderers. And so eager are they to publicly assert their righteousness as defenders of the Palestinian cause, they embrace and “eroticize” terroristic violence and willingly align themselves with Israel’s deadly foes who seek its annihilation, catering, as essayist David Solway lyrically put it, “to the ammoniac hatred of the current brood of crypto-antisemites posing as anti-Zionists.”
In fact, the continual pattern of violence in the Arab world against Israel agitates liberals greatly, and makes them condemn Israel, not its foes, for having inspired Arab rage, with the assumption that only peoples with justifiable grievances are moved to violent ends to solve their woes. This explains why the Left has regularly glossed over terroristic behavior on the part of Islamists—Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, the Al Aqsa Brigades, or others—and has romanticized this violence as “resistance.” This rationalization, that violence is an acceptable, if not expected, component of seeking social justice—that is, that the inherent “violence” of imperialism, colonialism, or capitalism will be met by the same violence as the oppressed attempt to throw off their oppressors—is exactly the style of self-defeating rationality that in this age has proven to be an intractable part of the so-called War on Terror.
Abetted by the Arab world, which has also perennially defined Israelis as European interlopers with no legitimate connection to the Levant, Israel-haters are now willing to sacrifice the very survival of the Jewish state because they feel that false charge of racism and apartheid against Israel is more incompatible with their fervent belief in a perfectible world than the rejectionist and genocidal efforts of the Arab world which, in fact have necessitated Israeli security measures—the separation wall, indeed, the occupation itself—all of which, ironically, are pointed to as indications of exactly how racist Israel’s behavior actually is against the Palestinians.
In fact, observed Harvard’s Ruth Wisse, the more hostile the Arab foes of Israel became, the more difficult it has become for liberals to absolve Israel for creating the very violent urges that emerged to eliminate it. “By blaming Israel for Arab complaints,” she wrote, “liberals anticipate a reasonable, pacific solution to the conflict . . . The democratic Jewish state is subject to ‘rational’ persuasion; not so the Arabs. The more determinedly, and by Western standards, irrationally, Arab governments and their agents pursue their anti-Israel campaign . . . the more desperately the liberal imagination tries to blame the Jews for incurring Arab displeasure.”
The language of multiculturalism that animates the hate-Israel crowd is sprinkled with the code words of oppression, and radicals in newly-identified victim groups frequently see themselves as deserving of protection and special political, racial, and cultural recognition. Thus, the decades-old emphasis on enshrining multiculturalism has meant that activists have been seeped in an ideology which refuses to demarcate any differences between a democratic state struggling to protect itself and aggressive, genocidal foes who wish to destroy it with their unending assaults. For the multiculturalist left, the moral strengths of the two parties are equivalent, even though the jihadist foes of Israel, for example, have waged an unending struggle with the stated aim of obliterating the Jewish state through the murder of Jews.
There is no other explanation for why educated, well-intentioned and humane individuals, experiencing paroxysms of moral self-righteousness in which they are compelled to speak out for the perennial victim, can loudly and publicly advocate for the murder of Jews—who already have created and live in a viable sovereign state—on behalf a group of genocidal enemies of Israel whose tragic condition may well be their own doing, and, at any rate, is the not the sole fault of Israel’s. That these activists are willing, and ready, to sacrifice the Jewish state, and Jewish lives, in the name of social justice and a specious campaign of self-determination by Palestinian Arabs, shows how morally corrupt and deadly the conversation about human rights has become.
And its lethal nature and intent should frighten us all.