Aaron T. Walter

Dark Days

It is not a good time for the State of Israel or for Jews in general. While, in previous periods of high stress, with overt and covert aggression against the nation state and the tribe, Jews and Israeli politicians took small solace in its friends. These were world politicians, specific European nations and the United States; the inclusion of journalists and academics helped in offering comfort too. However, it is difficult to see where comfort can be found nowadays. The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, open hostility in the UN, a complete breakdown of trust in the Israeli-American partnership, increased Palestinian acts of terror, all provide the context of both a siege mentality and a need for relief.

Not since the years prior to the start of World War II in Germany have such open prejudice, discrimination bundled together as anti-Semitism been seen in Europe. The current unsettling fact is that it is not country specific, but continental. There is hate. In a report based on 10 European countries released last week Wednesday by the International Network Against Cyber Hate and the Paris-based International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, INACH and LICRA respectively, saw a rise in both hate speech and comments promoting violence. This mirrors what the Complaints Bureau Discrimination Internet, or MDI, in the Netherlands recorded. They reported more instances of online hate speech against Jews during the two-month conflict than during the previous six months. Whereas in previous decades large scale demonstrations against Israel occurred, and stretching further back, Nazi state-sponsored acts of terror, now expression of hate towards Jews and Israel increasingly occurs on social media. Indeed, three quarters of the complaints documented in the period of July and August documented by MDI occurred on social media with more than half of the 143 expressions defined as anti-Semitic.

The Community Security Trust tallied 140 anti-Semitic incidents on social media from January to August, in Britain, more than half occurring in July alone, during the height of the Gazan War. It has been suggested to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE by the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, to adopt the “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism” that sadly was enacted in 2005 by the European Union’s agency for combating xenophobia but later was quietly dropped. It is significant that the definition includes references to the demonization of Israel.

The international probes in possible Israeli misconduct in Gaza during the summer war highlights this sense of ‘being under siege’ and a concentrated campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel. In the United Nations Human Rights Council, anti-Israel statements made by inquiry head William Schabas offer both the idea of hostility towards Israel and a one-sided mandate. Rockets and other weapons discovered at UN sites in Gaza have been returned to Hamas. Efforts made in the UN body actively demonize Israel. In the U.K.’s House of Commons non-binding vote in October recognizing a State of Palestine to Sweden’s monarch declaring this week that a State of Palestine would be recognized based upon Arafat’s 1988 declaration is sobering. Where can Israel seek support? In previous decades this was found in the United States.

Yes, bilateral relations between the U.S and Israel have continued since the Obama administration took office in 2009, military and various trade agreements has not slowed, but the personal relationships between the American president, Secretary of State and Israel’s prime minister with other ministers has become acrimonious. With Iran pursuing a nuclear program, the Islamic State in control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria, the latter being consumed by a civil war, means a united front amongst allies is required. Private and public statements indicate otherwise. A breakdown of trust has occurred and the potential consequences are dire. No more is this seen than in the current increase of terror attacks in Israel.

What may have been assumed in previous decades as random acts of violence is in fact a concentrated campaign of terror against the Israeli populace. Stabbings, vehicular homicide, and protests incited by Hamas with tacit support of Fatah coupled with little international condemnation both gives merit to the Palestinian acts of terrorism and legitimizing acts of hate. The recent attacks in a Jerusalem synagogue and confusing international reporting of the attack offer no respite.

It is ironic that the creation of Israel, based on a U.N. partition plan, agreed and supported by Europe and the U.S., yet opposed by the Arab states, and those Arabs living in Palestine now experiences such hostility from the very states who had shown friendship and support. These are dark days for Israel and Jews and it difficult to see a change of fortune.

About the Author
Dr. Aaron Walter teaches International Relations. He writes on American foreign policy towards Israel. In addition to topics directly related to U.S.-Israeli politics, he has written on the presidency and security studies as linked to U.S., Europe, and Israeli studies
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