Alex Rose

The evil of antisemitism

“No race has done better out of the fidelity with which the Allies redeemed their promises to the oppressed races than the Arabs. Owing to the tremendous sacrifices of the Allied Nations, and more particularly of Britain and her Empire, the Arabs have already won independence in Iraq, Arabia, Syria, and Trans-Jordania, although most of the Arab races fought [ for Turkey ] – The Palestinian Arabs fought for Turkish rule.” [Lloyd George].

Balfour said the same thing even before the British decided to shrink the Jewish National Home, expressing the hope that the Arabs, “will not grudge that small notch – in what are now Arab territories being given to the [Jewish] people, who for all these hundreds of years have been separated from it.”

Apparently, not then, nor now. In fact, what followed subsequently is best described in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’, “The face of Evil.” Commencing after 9/11, when the horror and trauma had subsided, Americans found themselves asking what had happened and why.

Was it a disaster? A tragedy? A crime? An act of war? It did not seem to fit the pre-existing paradigms. And why had it happened? The question most often asked about Al Qaeda was “Why do they hate us?”

Rabbi Sacks recalls the works of Lee Hariss, “Civilization and its Enemies” and “The Suicide of Reason” who answered that we had “forgotten the concept of an enemy.” In such a world there are no enemies, merely conflicts of interest. As to why they hate us, it is “because we are their enemy.” He commenced the first book with the words, “The subject of this book is forgetfulness” and ends with a question, “Can the West overcome the forgetfulness that is the nemesis of every successful civilization.”

Rabbi Sack’s conclusion, “Freedom depends on our ability to remember and whenever necessary, ‘confront the eternal gang of ruthless men.’” Sometimes there may be no alternative but to fight evil and defeat it. This maybe the only path to peace. Is this not what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing in spite of worldwide opposition?

David Pryce-Jones is a courageous man – especially in the age of Salman Rushdie. Why? He has written about the Arabs and Islam that is devastatingly critical. His argument is disarmingly simple: Since the Arabs threw off the yoke of colonialism after Second 2nd World War, they were expected to create democratic regimes which would exemplify the best in Islamic and Western political traditions.

In his 1989 book, “The Closed Circle,” Pryce-Jones examined what he considered to be the reasons for the backward state of the Arab World. In his book, “Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews,” he has accused the French government of being antisemitic and pro-Arab and of consistently siding against Israel in the hope of winning the favor of the Islamic world. The book’s premise has been likened to Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia theory, which has been praised by Pryce-Jones as “prophetic.”

David Pryce-Jones has lived an interesting life, with adventurous periods that qualify him to speak out on the psyche of the Muslim. He was born in Vienna. His mother was a Springer, a prominent and well-off Jewish family, whose name is remembered as donors to the community. His father was English.

Says Pryce-Jones: “Instead of construction, destruction, instead of creativity, wastefulness, instead of a body politic, atrocities.” The shame-honor polarity is at the base, he argues, of the current profile of Arab behavioral pattern. It is the most important motif in the Arab culture; it makes a mockery of the concept of equality under the law, the cornerstone of Western democracy. It was in the 464 pages of well researched and polished pose that Yizhak Shamir said in a remark to President Bush during his trip to Washington: “We have to remember what kind of neighborhood we live in.”

One example of many insightful and wise columns posted by Price-Jones appeared in the June 2, 2011 edition of the National Review under the title, “La Rafle.” It reads, as follows:

“There is a journalist in London, quite a well-known figure and author of several books, who once began an article in a leading magazine with the sentence, ‘Now is the time for all good men to come to the destruction of Israel.’ This is exactly what the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad likes to repeat whenever he gets the chance. At a literary occasion—-I happened to run into this English journalist, and the very next day, by coincidence, I was invited to a press showing of La Rafle, or ‘The Round up’, a French feature film dramatizing the German campaign to destroy the Jews in wartime France.”

If our journalist and the Ayatollahs had their way, then there would be more atrocious scenes of the kind shown in this very sobering film. Of course, one cannot help wondering what the would-be Iranian mass-murderers owe emotionally or ideologically to the actual European mass-murderers of the Second World War.

For a long time the French have been unable or unwilling to face their collaboration with the occupying Nazis. Macel Opus’ pioneering film Le Chagrin ET la Pitied was for years virtually boycotted. The film Au revoir les Enfant and Lucien Lacombe broke the taboo, and French historians at last began to research occupation and collaboration.

The Round Up is based on the reality of the first mass arrest of Jews in Paris in July, 1942. The Germans did not have the manpower or the desk-work intelligence for this, but relied on the French authorities, the police and the transport systems, to do it for them.

The Vichy politicians, Marshal Petain and Prime Minister Laval, are depicted in this film as the deliberate accomplices in crime that they were. Jean Leguay was a civil servant who organized the eventual deportations to Auschwitz, and he too is portrayed here truthfully. He was the sole Frenchman ever accused of crimes against humanity, but he managed to escape justice. When Pryce-Jones interviewed him for his book, “Paris in the Third Reich,” he was still trying to excuse and justifying himself.

Annette Monod was a heroic and devoted nurse, a Protestant assigned by the Red Cross to help the Jews. Her eye-witness account of that July round up and deportation is a moving document in itself, and serves as the peg for the film – Melanie Laurent impersonates her beautifully and the well-known actor Jean Reno magisterially plays the part of the Jewish doctor with whom she works. In the film, as in real life, children were separated from their parents, and deported by themselves, some too young to know their names. This horror could not be hidden completely.

Pastor Boegner, head of the Protestant church, protested to Laval who knowingly lied that the children were to be agricultural workers in Poland. Boegner left a rebuke which should be remembered, “Je lui parlais meurtre, il me repondait jardinage,” that is, “I was speaking to him of murder, he answered about gardening.”

And here they go again, speaking as though the destruction of this whole people were a perfectly normal process that anyone might anticipate.

What was the reason for 9/11? In bin Laden’s November 2002 “letter to the American people,” he explicitly stated that al-Qaeda’s motives for the attacks included: US support of Israel. Bin Laden’s strategy to support and globally expand the Al-Aqua Intifada. Attacks against Muslims by US-led coalition in Somalia.[“Not in G-d’s Name” by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks].

In this powerful and timely book, Jonathan Sacks explores the roots of violence and its relationship to religion. Drawing on arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and theology, Sacks shows how a tendency to violence can subvert even the most compassionate of religions. Through a close reading of key biblical texts at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths, Sacks then challenges those who claim that religion is intrinsically a cause of violence, and argues that theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem.

His book is a rebuke to all those who kill in the name of the G-d of love, and practice cruelty in the name of the G-d of compassion.

The horrors of religious violence must be confronted with a comprehensive theology, one that can delve into the underlying motivation of this lethal poison and respond to it – Rabbi Sacks, whom I believe to be one of the great Jewish intellectuals of our generation, has taken on this task. [Reuven {Rubi} Rivlin].

Sacks believes that Islamic violence, like Jewish and Christian violence, flows from a misunderstanding of sacred text. In “Not in G-d’s Name” he illuminates a wiser faith and a gender G-d. It’s a perceptive, poignant and beautifully written book. [The Wall Street Journal].

Daniel K. Eisenbud was a news reporter for the Jerusalem Post. In his words, “As a new immigrant to Israel, and the only grandson of two Holocaust survivors, whose history is steeped in profound tragedy, I understand the juxtaposition of pleasure and pain all too well.”

His “Evil: Beyond banality” published on October 21, 2011 is a gem and addition to this paper makes it all the more meaningful. “The term ‘the banality of evil, largely popularized by the contemporary media following the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers ten years ago to describe al-Qaeda, was coined by political theorist Hannah Arendt, in her 1963 tome about the trial of Adolf Eichmann.”

Eichmann’s appeal to his conviction rested on the infamous refrain: “I was just following orders.” In Arendt’s morbidly fascinating, eponymously titled final chapter of her book, she concluded that genocide is not carried out by sociopaths and extremists, but rather by normal “men and women, much like Eichmann, who rationalize their behavior based on the premise that such acts are therefore normal, as well.”

Eisenbud, during the 70th anniversary of the massacre at Babi Yar, noted sadly, still a largely unknown catastrophe – considered the largest single mass murder of the Holocaust. At a ravine near the Ukrainian city of Kiev, is where within 48 hours during September 1941, the Germans systematically executed 33,771 Jewish men, women and children with machine guns. As for the punishment? Nonexistent.

As edited by the famous quote from Martin Niemoller, a German Protestant pastor who spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps, the outcome of passivity by German society during the Nazi occupation ultimately came full circle. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade Unionist. Then they came for me, and there was no one to speak for me.”

The outcome my mother writes, was the following: “In Auschwitz, my mother bore witness to the unspeakable, while others closed their eyes. By the time she was liberated in May 1945, she was the sole survivor of a family that had once numbered 65.

Clearly, the number of “righteous” non-Jewish men and women are absurdly dwarfed by the millions of “normal” men and women who “followed orders, “but they will always serve as a beautiful –albeit barely visible – constellation of hope in the face of overwhelming darkness.

“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”

As a conclusion, wisdom from Edmund Burke. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.