Over the past few decades, there has been a seismic shift in rhetorical and intellectual honesty within the western media, academia, as well as in various public intellectual circles across the world. The most common assertion among these groups is based upon the so-called grotesque occupation and prejudiced history before the founding of Israel. In truth, what has been coined by scholars as the “anti-Zionist” movement is nothing more than a disingenuous, ahistorical attempt to castigate the State of Israel as “illegitimate.” Therefore, all criticisms and condemnations of Israel are not only valid but fundamentally necessary to ensure and promote the moral responsibility of all countries on the global stage. Such arguments are historically inaccurate, cloaked in anti-Semitic language, and typically utilized to justify horrendously violent and gruesome acts aimed at the civilian populace of Israel by way of various terrorist entities, networks, and states. And while this is a very sensitive issue, in which ethnic and religious backgrounds collide, one must not deliberately engage themselves in intellectual dishonesty. Such actions served to undermine the very importance and factual history of the matter.
Many people would like to believe, unfortunately, the vast swaths of history revisionism regarding the origins of the land that is now commonly known as Israel. However, history tells us that, “The Diaspora” (Jewish) signifies the historic exile of the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland, Israel, by all available historical data. However, a common misperception, sometimes deliberately constructed, is centered around the claim that the Jewish people were solely driven from the land by the Romans, at the time of 70 A.D, when the second temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. However, this is simply untrue, as the Jewish connection to the state of Israel remains well-documented and accounts for nearly 4,000 years of history.
The most common pushback that Jews, Israelis, some historians, and generally Pro-Israel activists face, at least consistently, is the common assertion that if Jews are truly indigenous to the land that constitutes the state of Israel, then “why is there evidence that the land was known as Palestine before the founding of Israel?” Such points are valid on paper but usually debunked when looking underneath the surface. The term “Palestine” was originated, based on all available evidence, from the Philistines, an Aegean people who settled in 12th Century B.C. along with the territories of what is now known as Israel and the Gaza Strip. Come second century A.D., the Romans, just shortly after fighting off the last Jewish revolt, applied the name “Palestine” to Judea, which encompasses the southern portion of what is now called the “West Bank.”
One may reasonably ask themselves, “why was this done?” There is one core reason: to dispel and minimize the notion that there was ever any Jewish identification with the land of Israel. The commonly used Arabic word, “Filastin,” is derived from this Latin word. Moreover, one may still believe that Israel is an occupied territory, invaded by European Jewry. This entire claim is antithetical to the idea that anti-Semitism has no connection to anti-Zionism. When Jews began to immigrate to “Palestine” in large numbers in 1882, fewer than 250,000 Arabs lived there, and many of them had arrived in recent decades. While nefarious reasons continue to be deployed to refute the right for Israel to exist, ultimately it is quite clear that Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country. Even the distinguished Arab-American historian, Phillip Hitti, a Princeton University professor, stated that “there is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history.” Even before the Romans dispersed the Hebrew inhabitants from their Homeland, there is a great deal of evidence that the Diaspora existed far before the Romans ever encountered or thought of Judea. When the Assyrian people conquered Israel in 722 BCE, the Hebrew nation was scattered all over the Middle East; signifying the first dispersion of the Hebrew people from the native homeland of Israel.
There are many reasons why the Israeli-Palestine conflict is a global issue, apart from the unfortunate history revisionism discussed previously. The conflict has given energy to newer forms of antisemitism, particularly those masquerading from within the anti-Zionism movement. Unfortunately, hate crimes against Jews in the United States and on the global stage continue to rise on a year-to-year basis. This is not an attempt to imply that all criticisms of the state of Israel are anti-Semitic. Of course, there are, and should be, legitimate criticisms of any state. The issue is where we choose to draw the line between valid and useful criticisms of the Israeli government and anti-Semitic tropes, strategies, and behavior, which as one may see, is a very slippery slope to define not only on a domestic basis but an International one as well.
This contemporary wave of anti-Semitism is unique in that it positions its ideology under a formalized outline undergirded by the main motives that constitute the ideology. According to Steven Windmueller, this sophisticated and newly developed form of antisemitism typically consists of four phases. The first phase involves the portrayal of The United States as subservient to Zionist interests, particularly in benefiting the state of Israel as well as providing support to Jewish “international goals.” The second phase is typically wielded by the postmodernist left, as well as the neo-Nazi right. This entails the castigation of Jews as so-called defenders of the “status quo,” or, better put, contemporary Western values. And while these two groups converge in their overall disdain and goals of stigmatizing Israel and the Jewish people, the third phase is almost exclusively wielded and utilized by the postmodernist left in that it accuses Israel of implementing Nazi-like practices and creating an association of Israel’s leaders with the leader of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler. Lastly, and the most obvious of all, is the effort of linking Jews to international businesses and banking, most notably to create the illusion of a cause and effect relationship between international practices and Jewish interests.
In achieving these four goals, such factions, as well as the Islamic Jihad, employ specific tactics. These tactics are not limited to but include the boycott and divestment campaign directed at Israel, introducing one-sided international solutions that seek to single out Israel, efforts to target and remove the presence of Israeli faculty from research projects and academic boards, And the labeling of specific hate messages against Israel, Jews, and Judaism as examples of freedom of the press and academia at large. As a result of such efforts, Jews were victims in 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2018. There was also a 105% increase in physical assaults on Jews over the previous year.
Even as we operationally define newer sources of anti-Semitism and the threat this poses to the international Jewish community at large, there remains a great deal of cultural and political concerns when discussing the role of American institutions and organizations in the facilitation of cooperation and a common interest of battling this threat, especially amongst European countries.
One current point of global contention is how American Jewish action is perceived in the context of foreign diplomacy, regardless of the United States’ standing with the other nation or nations involved. America’s European counterparts may express concerns, which may be valid, regarding the political domineering behavior of the United States. These countries, may indeed, only seek solutions that they consider to be a European approach. Regardless of the relationship status amongst European states and the United States, such condescending demeanor will almost always be treated combatively by the European countries involved in such affairs, who may deem that the United States is sufficiently overstepping its boundaries and insensitive to the cultural differences in addressing such issues between European Jewry and American Jewry. And while American concern may be valid, the rhetoric employed by the Jewish organizations typically involves threatening terms that imply a failure on behalf of European governments to adequately and effectively address antisemitism.
Not only is this conflict important to amend but also a difficult challenge to address head-on due to many different variables. Although unfortunate, addressing the underlying issues that have catapulted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a very dire possibility. As it turns out, many different states have a vested interest in spreading anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments, with an ultimate goal similar to the ones outlined within the four phases. If one examines, for example, the Hamas covenant of 1988, which outlines the ideological basis for continuing its jihad to annihilate Israel, the complexity of solving the issue becomes more complex by the minute. The covenant states, “the day of judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees.” However, more influential than Hamas is certainly Iran.
When Khomeini overthrew the Shah in 1979, Iran’s close ties with Israel ceased to exist. Khomeini’s anti-Semitism, as a whole, is very much aligned with the second phase under the contemporary wave of anti-Semitism, driven by an anti-Western hatred for Israel, America, and the Shah. Shortly following the rise of Khomeini, Iran begins to give birth and vast amounts of funding to Hamas and Hezbollah, both recognized terrorist entities by vast swaths of the western world. Without Iran’s financial and military backing, it’s quite evident that neither Hezbollah nor Hamas would have gained the capabilities to acquire the weaponry and resources that have turned them into fierce adversaries of Israel and its neighbors and allies.
For Islamists today, many claim that it is the Prophet who guides them toward an apocalyptic genocidal resolution of the conflict with the Jews. In their view, the conflict is not between Palestinians and Zionists, but Muslims and Jews in which there is no room for compromise. The Islamic State (ISIS) now controls large swaths of northern Syria and Iraq, accounting for a great deal of influence. This has led to a growing desire for the cleansing of Judeo-Christian presence within the “Muslim Middle East.” And if that wasn’t enough of a challenge for Israel and the western world, Egypt is also responsible for the promotion of various anti-Semitic entities and tropes. In November 2002, during Ramadan, various programs based on the myths of the protocols of Zion were shown on Egyptian TV, and then across the Arab world, reaching at the very least 200 million Muslim viewers. Also, the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has referred to Israel as, “the Jewish-Zionist tumor,” historically reaps one of the most influential political organizations know within the Middle East at large.
While it may be nearly impossible to address this issue head-on, Western States remain capable of battling against these dangerous ideologies by providing support, when possible, or appropriate, for Israel, as well as formalized Holocaust education in public school settings. Schools may also provide educational programs to identify various forms of anti-Semitic behavior while also ensuring that free speech is still promoted and permitted. States may also ensure that their legal systems provide a safe environment for Jews, free from the experience of Anti-Semitic violence or discrimination. Lastly, states must collect and maintain reliable information and statistics about anti-Semitic crimes and other hate crimes, thus, simultaneously ensuring that the public is well informed on these matters.