Harold Behr

The Palestinian flag: A new symbol of antisemitism

In the wake of the worst massacre of the Jews since the Holocaust, fans of the Scottish football team Celtic have seen fit to produce a sea of Palestinian flags at one of their matches. This is simply one instance among many of the eruption of Palestinian flag-waving by crowds of demonstrators who have decided that now is the time to display their partisan involvement in this deeply entrenched, bitter and complex conflict which has tested Israel since its emergence into statehood in 1948.

Irrational hatred of the Jewish people preceded the establishment of the State of Israel by many centuries. Its current manifestation has merely given antisemitism a new lease of life by transmuting it into a vituperative assault on Israel. The protesters now thronging the streets in their hundreds of thousands are able to dodge accusations of racism and at the same time justify their protests with a veneer of self-righteousness. They wave the Palestinian flag and vilify Israel for daring to hunt down the criminals who have massacred their people and whose openly stated intention is to kill Jews and dismantle the State of Israel. Hence the flocking of the gullible, the crypto-antisemites and those who openly preach the destruction of Israel to the same banner – the unifying symbol of the Palestinian flag.

By the same token, the political leaders now calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza are a mixed bag of the short-sighted and the malign. If their calls were to be heeded, it would mean that Hamas, the criminal organization responsible for so many deaths, will have won. Hamas have already succeeded in polarizing world opinion and if there is to be a reversal of this trend, Israel must be seen for what it is: the only democracy in a benighted region of tyrannies. And Hamas must be seen for what it is, an organization driven by a fanatical ideology and the perpetrators of crimes against humanity. It took a world war to defeat the Nazis. We can only hope that humanity has advanced enough since then to see reality shorn of its symbolic obfuscations.

About the Author
I was born in South Africa in 1940 and emigrated to the U.K. in 1970 after qualifying in medicine. I held a post as Consultant Psychiatrist in London until my retirement in 2013. I am the author of two books: one on group analytic psychotherapy, one on the psychology of the French Revolution. I have written many articles on group psychology published in peer-reviewed journals. From 1979 to 1985 I was editor of the journal ‘Group Analysis’; I have contributed short pieces to psychology newsletters over the years.
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