Paul Mirbach

‘Like termites coming out of the woodwork’

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him”. (Hamas Charter, Article 7).

This is exactly what transpired on October 7. To the letter, right down to seeking out and killing Jews hiding behind “stones and trees” in the orchards of Reim, and the eight-hour massacre and rape, that seemed to go on for an eternity, in the kibbutzim and settlements; Be’eri, Kfar Aza, Nir Oz, Nahal Oz, Nirim, Zikim, Kissufim, Netiv Ha’Asara, Ein Haslosha, Erez, and in Sderot and Ofakim. Jews, as is written in their Charter. Not Israelis. Not Zionists. Jews.

A children’s room, after the massacre at Nir Oz. (Courtesy of Times of Israel, (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

I have always been wary of using the term “antisemitism.” The frivolous overuse to the accusation of antisemitism to further a political agenda, has dulled the sting. None are more responsible for this than those in the Settler movement, who cynically use of the term, against anyone critical of their settlements in the West Bank — including Jews and left-wing Zionists like myself (the meaning of the slur “self-hating Jew” is a Jewish anti-Semite, in case you didn’t know). By branding as anti-Semitic all opposition to the illegal settlements and any justified criticism of Israel, because of its oppression of the Palestinians and because of its policies in the West Bank, they played a crucial part in relegating the prejudice to a cheap pejorative.

The result is that the perception of antisemitism has become blurred, making it hard to separate the real antisemitism, from the gas-lighted antisemitism, that the ultra-nationalist Right employs to shut down any debate, and to dismiss any legitimate criticism of the Occupation.

Now, we are being confronted by a tidal wave of antisemitism — the pure, distilled form — in America and throughout Europe, and like the boy who cried wolf, we are paying the price for devaluing the moral obscenity that is and always has been, antisemitism.

But make no mistake; this is antisemitism. The real deal. Antisemitism has always been present. We had hoped -and wanted to believe – that the horrors of The Holocaust, and the conscience (or contrition) of the world for its part in it, would foster a sense of responsibility among the nations of the world to suppress it (at least for the most part). But more likely, it was Israel’s existence as protector of the Jewish people that kept the rabid wolves at bay. And as long as Israel was strong, except for isolated cases of Jew hatred (mainly among Right-wing and fringe neo-Nazi movements), the anti-Semites remained out of sight, veiling their prejudice, while they were active in social justice causes and human rights. Perhaps they really believe that they are good people of good conscience, and maybe they have convinced themselves of their righteousness – but it stops when it comes to Israel and Jews.

But, all it took was for Israel’s vulnerability to be exposed, and for there to be a hint of doubt about its ability to protect its inhabitants, and all the anti-Semites came streaming out of the woodwork, like an army of termites, and flooded the streets of Washington and London, Madrid and Cape Town, spouting their vitriol against Israel and Jews alike..

You, who call yourselves the “Progressive Left”. When Muslims were being targeted because of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, you fought against the notion that all Muslims are potential fundamentalist terrorists, delegitimizing it by calling it Islamophobia, a phobia that is a pathological and illogical fear of the other. What about Judeophobia? It’s not pathological and illogical?
You say you are against prejudice, but not when it comes to Israel. Then, all Jews are culpable and fair game for you to direct your rage. You, who pride yourselves on moral consistency and intellectual integrity. You claim that you fight against injustice, that you fight for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and human dignity – except when the women are Jewish and the atrocities and indignities are being committed against Israeli citizens.

When such atrocities had been committed against anyone else, the Bosnians, or the Rohingya for example, (both of whom are Muslim by the way), you were the champions of humanitarianism. Where were you on October 7, when Israeli civilians were butchered, raped and burned alive?

Instead, upon witnessing the merciless massacre of 1,200 Jews, perpetrated with gluttonous glee, your response was to “whatabout” it, and pivot to Palestinian suffering, as if these innocent civilians deserved what they got.

Suddenly, upon hearing about the brutal gang rapes of women while their legs were dislocated their legs from their hips in the brutal frenzy, you demand proof; where did “I believe her” disappear to?
When the extent of the savagery was revealed to the world, the beheadings of babies and the mutilation and dismemberment of men, women and children, the unrecognizable charred remains of victims burned alive that X-Rays show two spines, telling a story of a father hugging his child as they were devoured by the flames, and the abduction of 240 civilians, your callous, dispassionate response was, “what did you think decolonization would look like”? This, from you, the self-appointed banner bearers of truth and morality. Humaneness is the right of all people, except the Jewish Israelis.

Even before the shock of what happened had time to register, you condoned the actions of the Hamas, declaring it a “legitimate resistance” of the Palestinian people. When hundreds of Palestinian civilians joined in the slaughter-fest, and streamed into the kibbutzim, participating in the rapes and the looting, unconcerned about having to step over the bloody corpses lying on the floor of their homes to do so, you explained it away as an understandable release of their frustration.

Until Israel retaliated. Then, suddenly, you say that the people of Gaza are not involved. That they are innocent, even when they can be seen in the streets, ecstatically celebrating the news of the slaughter. That they are not responsible for what Hamas did. Then, you denounce us saying “Israel is targeting innocent civilians” (were the people massacred in the kibbutzim and Sderot not innocent civilians too?). “Collective punishment!”, and “War crimes!” you decry. But when your hordes of protesters attack Jews on the streets and on campuses in America, Europe, or South Africa, reflexively assuming that because they are Jewish, they are complicit in Israel’s actions, even from thousands of miles away, it is you who are guilty of  collective punishment! But apparently, you are too far down the rabbit hole of you own self-righteousness (or is it a Hamas tunnel) to see it, or care.

I’ll tell you what it is: it’s unfiltered, classic antisemitism. The same kind of antisemitism that plagued our predecessors in Europe for centuries. And in doing so, you yourselves expose the canard of your hypocrisy, your assertions that being anti-Israel is not being anti-Semitic; you prove that it is. And while you take to the streets and chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, ironically you make the case for Israel’s necessity for the Jewish people, for us.

Demonstrators in support of Palestinians during a protest in New York on October 9, 2023, after the Hamas terror group launched a devastating attack on Israel. Courtesy Times of Israel, (Adam GRAY / AFP)

When hundreds of thousands of you march and chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”, you are calling for the genocide of Jews in Israel, while in typical Orwellian gas-lighting, you accuse Israel of genocide.

*The meaning of genocide is the annihilation of a race; for Palestine to be free, Israel as a sovereign state would have to cease to exist. What would be the fate of the 7 million Jews currently living in Israel, today? We no longer need to speculate, we now know. October 7 was a preview. It will be a genocide.

*As for the accusation that Israel is committing genocide, I will leave you with the facts. In 2007, when Israel withdrew from Gaza, the Palestinian population in Gaza was 1,416,543. Today, there are 2,226,544 inhabitants, a whopping 57% population growth in only 16 years? It seems to me that if Israel, with the strongest army in the Middle East and with a reputation of being so efficient and clinical, intended to commit genocide, we are doing a piss-poor job of it. Unless our intention is not genocide.

One can only consternate how a movement to which I used to believe I belonged, a movement that fought against injustices and for freedoms and rights, a movement of conscience and progressiveness, has not only allied itself, but has become a hostage, indentured, to an illiberal, racist movement whose religion, values and ideology are antithetical to everything your movement originally stood for, with regard to women’s rights, gay rights and tolerance – (until it comes to Jews).

There is one concept that is uniquely and abidingly anti-Semitic: the blood libel. And  anti-Semitic blood libels never die, they just change form. In 17th and 18th century Europe, the libel was that the Jews would kill Christian children to use their blood to make matzah. Today, you, the so-called “progressive”, enlightened paragons of morality and social justice unconscionably promulgate the “modern” blood libel, that Israel is harvesting organs from Palestinian prisoners for transplants! Despite the lack of evidence, and that there have been no reports of prisoners having undergone surgery to remove organs, you still spread the lie. “Progressive”, indeed!

Blood libel; a depiction of Simon of Trent’s alleged ritual murder, 1475 (public domain) Courtesy Times of Israel.

There are many things about Israel and this government with which I don’t agree. I have just spent nine months fighting to preserve our democracy. I have spent the better part of 40 years protesting and opposing the occupation. I have been an advocate for peace and co-existence since the day I made my home on Kibbutz Tuval. I have been a proud socialist and left-wing Zionist since I was 20. But there is one thing that has been constant and unchanged; the belief in our right to a homeland and the absolute necessity for its existence, warts and all.

After 2000 years as a people without a homeland, dependent on the grudging hospitality of host countries when things were good, and pogroms, inquisitions, persecutions and a Holocaust when they weren’t, it was made abundantly clear to us that we were not wanted among you, our “hosts”. That was when we decided we need a homeland of our own. And the place of that homeland is Israel, where the heart of our heritage beats, and where irrefutable archaeological evidence proves that it has always been our home. Not exclusively ours, because over the 2000 years of our absence, others also made their home here. But also ours.

And now, you, the so-called “Progressive” Left, want to deny us our right to self-determination, even that. So where are we to go? That is antisemitism.

I will always hold onto my beliefs and my values. With my conscience I sleep. But you are not the banner bearers of what is right and just, anymore. By qualifying your selective application of morality, and by your prejudice, you have lost that right.

About the Author
Paul Mirbach (PEM), made Aliya from South Africa to kibbutz Tuval in 1982 with a garin of Habonim members. Together they built a new kibbutz, transforming rocks and mud into a green oasis in the Gallilee. Paul still lives on Tuval. He calls it his little corner of Paradise.