Israel and Antisemitism

By Rodney Mazinter

Throughout history antisemitism to succeed invariably had to hide its motives. It did so in the Middle Ages by accusing Jews of killing Christian children and spreading the plague. In Nazi Germany it cited medical terms by saying Jews were the cancer in the midst of the Aryan population. Today it does so by blaming Israel or Jews invoking the classic Blood Libel and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Jews are accused of controlling America and Europe, manipulating the world’s economy, owning the media, perpetrating 9/11 and all terrorist attacks, responsibility for all wars, creating AIDS, Covid, the 2004 tsunami and global warming. 

In the Middle ages Jews were hated for their religion, in the 19th and 20th centuries for their race and today for Israel. Of late, especially in Western countries, antisemitism is usually disguised as anti-Zionism. Arabs are not so coy speaking openly of Jews when involved in Islamist terror, for example when they attack a synagogue guard in Copenhagen, Jewish men and women in London, Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris, visitors to a Jewish museum in Brussels; these victims were Jewish, not Israeli.

The reason is simple: a scapegoat is someone you can kill without risk of reprisal. Israel can respond, Jews in the diaspora cannot. This is the one compelling reason why Israel exists; it is the only thing protecting Jews from being the scapegoat victims of the world since 1948 and for another thousand years.

The significance of antisemitism by its practitioners is its effect not on Jews but on antisemites. It conveniently casts them in the role of victims and allows them to eschew moral responsibility. After all, ”Jews control the world.”

“Those who hate Jews, hate freedom. Those who seek to eradicate Jews, seek to eradicate freedom. History teaches us that while hate harms the hated, it destroys the hater. Martyrdom means being willing to die for your faith. It does not mean being willing to kill for your faith.” (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks)

Phyllis Chessler on the New Antisemitism
…[W]e have now entered a new era of global anti-Semitism. The continued scapegoating of Israel and of European Jews by multiple groups simultaneously, the systematic shedding of Jewish-Israeli blood, has reached a dangerous, contagious level. Even as civilian Israel is attacked literally every day, anti-Zionist and anti-Semites deny that this is so and falsely accuse Israel of atrocities it has not committed.
“Let me be clear: the war against Jews is being waged on many fronts militarily, politically, economically, and through propaganda - and on all continents. In my opinion, anyone who denies this, or who blames the Jews for provoking the attacks, is an anti-Semite. Anyone who falsely accuses Israel of committing atrocities and massacres it has not committed is an anti-Semite. Anyone who cannot talk about Israel’s mistakes, failures and imperfections without demonizing Israel is an anti-Semite.
“… I am forced to conclude…that the new anti-Semite is an anti-Zionist…someone who is willing to deny a national refuge to only one group in the world: the long-oppressed Jews. They assume that every other group on Earth deserves its own nation, no matter how barbaric its leaders and citizens may be.”

(Phyllis Chesler – The New Anti-Semitism – 2003 Jossey-Bass, pgs. 178-179)

"When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride. But in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance."

(Winston Churchill British Secretary of State for the Colonies June 1922)

Israel – A Personal View

Flying home from Israel to South Africa I had time to ponder Phyllis Chesler and Churchill’s words in the book I was reading. Coupled with the rise of anti-Semitism in the world against the backdrop of my life growing up in a secular environment in South Africa and what I had experienced on this visit to the Holy Land.

In the row in front of my seat sat a middle-aged Israeli couple who, while he wore a kippah, did not require a special kosher meal on El Al. The family across the aisle, comprising father, mother and two children did order a special kosher meal and spent the entire flight reading from religious books and praying.

Behind them sat my travelling companion, Elad, a 30-year-old native Israeli now a permanent resident in South Africa and displaying all the fine leadership qualities of Israeli youth who have graduated through the hard-knock school of a 3-year army service emerging as independent thinkers set to improve through hard work the wealth and growth of the country that enjoys their talents. Alongside me sat a pretty young Israeli woman, modern, self-assured, with a stud protruding from her nose, listening to music on her iPod. Towards the back of the plane was a group of excited, youthful, South African Jews returning home after a year in Israel under the auspices of Bnei Akiva.

To my mind you could not find a more interesting and inoffensive representation of humanity anywhere, yet these are the people that the world has grown to hate. I had arrived at Ben Gurion airport just ten days previously to attend the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism that was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem. It was my first time back in Israel after eighteen years. My taxi sped along the main traffic artery between Tel Aviv and the capital. A few kilometres from the airport at the Shar Ha Gay Interchange we came across deeply forested slopes that stretched away on either side and ahead, unbroken as far as the Hemed Interchange where the road started its assent to Jerusalem. A few days later as I retraced my steps on my way to Tel Aviv, I would have the distinct pleasure of forgoing the highway and driving through those forests punctuated by fields of intense cultivation.

I might just as well have been driving through the Knysna forests back home in the Southern Cape; there was that same feeling of tranquillity and peace. The difference being that the Forests in South Africa took thousands of years to establish themselves and were now under threat because of human encroachment, while those in tiny, crowded Israel sprang from the “infertile” desert just sixty years ago. I am not an observant Jew, but I nevertheless could not prevent the thought that here indeed was God’s work carried out by the inspired and loving hand of man.

Growing Up Jewish In South Africa After WW ll

I was born just ten years prior to the founding of Israel. I was raised and educated in South Africa. My father served in the South African army. I grew up in a period that was one of unprecedented worldwide sympathy for Jews far removed from the killing fields of Europe. The details of the Holocaust and tiny Israel’s struggle to survive the early days of its existence, saw global public opinion shifting in favour of Jews as innocent victims of an unrelenting and unreasoning hatred. This natural tolerance impacted on my life and formed my opinions.

My formative and adult years led me to believe that at long last, Antisemitism was a thing of the past - a bad memory. I remember reading Thomas Friedman’s book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, and what an impression it made on me. If memory serves, it so beautifully and compellingly put both sides of the question, found justification in each, and concluded that Israel was in the most favourable position because of its superior military advantage, to accommodate the most important demands of the Palestinians and thereby bring about peace. A truly liberal, humanitarian concept that resonated at the time with my feelings of justice being served for all.

Then a sequence of events occurred starting with the Camp David-Taba debacle in 2000-01. Prime minister Ehud Barak’s unprecedented offer of giving Arafat virtually everything the Palestinians had been demanding was inexplicably rejected and the World watched in horror as Arafat took his people down the slippery slope to poverty, disease and death simply because in his mind there was simply no compromise when dealing with the Jews - it was everything or nothing. But, inexplicably to me, instead of world sympathy remaining with Israel’s position for having made such a generous offer in the name of peace, international public opinion soon, equally incomprehensible and with a vengeance, once more shifted away from Israel and towards the Palestinians.

The world’s brief flirtation with the Israeli position soon reverted to what can only be described, although by the name that could not be mentioned at the time, as a paroxysm of hatred not seen since the 1930s. Antisemitism was stalking the university campuses and academic circles of the so-called civilised countries of the West once more.


Those of us still hopeful of the wisdom of the silent majority easily being able to see through the slander, distortions and lies, were quickly disabused by the excesses of Durban 1 and subsequently Durban 2, the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and its infamous Goldstone Report and its continuing biased infatuation with Israel, and myriads of op-eds written by journalists and media commentators on Israel in particular, and Jews in general.

There was the resurfacing of the vile and totally discredited anti-Semitic Russian fraud, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, its publication banned in many countries in the West.

The one single matter that Thomas Friedman does not explain in his book is how to counter the hatred that is the driving force of the Arabs. This is enshrined in the Hamas charter - a model tract for those intent on lies, distortions, vilification, delegitimisation and antisemitism for the sole purpose of killing Jews.

The fast spread of antisemitism has as much to do with the easy availability of information, true and false, over the Internet, as with the commensurate lack of interest among the general population to concern itself with the issue. The truth is no match for lies. To invent a lie is easy and to spread it around even simpler. All one need do is repeat it often enough for it to take hold. Churchill famously said:

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Countering untruths with a riposte: “that’s a lie”, is no argument. To put the facts requires much reading and many hours in the library, firstly to educate oneself about the general situation and then to research the lie in order to rebut and then counter it with the verifiable truth. By that time the lie is “halfway around the world” and has secured a limpet-like hold aided and abetted by a hostile Western Press.

People as a rule have come to rely uncritically on the media so that when newspapers, TV, radio and websites support a lie about the Jews and Israel or are even complicit in a lie’s invention as is too often the case today, that is antisemitism pure and simple. Too many Western intellectuals and academics, who pride themselves on being non-racist, do not make a stand against the orgy of racism against Jews. On the contrary, they are traitors to their own non-racist principles when it comes to the Jews and Israel and are often found to be leading the racist mob. They have deserted the path of objectivity, neutrality and sanity.

Today you find antisemitism not only among the illiterate, indoctrinated or unemployed, but also among the intelligentsia and in Muslim immigrants to Europe, the USA and the United Kingdom.

The new antisemite is also, as described by Phyllis Chesler,

…an Egyptian physician or journalist, a Saudi Arabian prince, an Iranian cleric, a North American college student or his esteemed professor, or an Islamic terrorist in Indonesia, Africa, Chechnya, Lebanon, Iraq or Syria. The new antisemite can also be a Nobel Prize winner, an international scholar, an activist, a journalist, or a poet.”

It is those who claim to be the very pinnacle of enlightened opinion who are often among the most prejudiced. The power of reason offers no protection against bigotry: quite the reverse. And today it is once again among the most progressive and enlightened people in Britain, Europe and America, the secular rationalists and the most liberal Christians, who march behind the banners of human rights and high-minded conscience, that one finds the most virulent hatred of Israel and medieval prejudice against the Jews.

They feel justified in trying to stifle any disagreement with their agenda on the grounds that the people they are trying to stifle are “fascists,” a term they employ without irony. Never engaging with the actual arguments of their opponents, they demonise them instead through gratuitous insults designed to turn them into pariahs, while they themselves characterise all reasoned arguments against them as outrageous “insults”.

The Hate Industry

In his 1950 diatribe “Our Struggle with the Jews,” Syed Qutb declared that the Jews were the adversary of God, and “the enemies of the Muslim community from the first day.... This bitter war which the Jews launched against Islam . . is a war which has not been extinguished, even for one moment, for close on fourteen centuries, and which continues until this moment, its blaze raging in all corners of the earth.” Qutb then descends from opinion to ridiculous, puerile, fabricated insult when he claims that the Jews were conspiring to penetrate governments all over the world so as to “perpetuate their evil designs."

Boycotts of Israeli goods and academics are neither logical nor morally based. Their oxygen can be found in demonstrable lies and distortions. They can only be explained by being based on conditioning; feeding on a dormant hatred that confounds reason and rational thinking.

When the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, all accuse Israel of purposely targeting innocents, the West should recognise immediately that this Jew hatred is based on lies. When their countries are endorsed as members of the UN Human Rights Council while the new president of Iran ”The Butcher of Teheran” who sentenced thousands of people to death said in his first speech: “I have always defended human rights;” when the terrorists of the PLO who slaughtered Israeli children sleeping in their beds, claimed to be freedom fighters; when Hezbollah active in the slaughter of 500,000 civilians in Syria, speak of tolerance; this gives emphasis to the fact that not all statements of such a nature are worthy of respect.

If someone claiming religious endorsement requires them to hang gay people from cranes, the ordinary people of the world must demand that all statements and actions by such people are lies and should be labeled as such. And. If someone tells us as the Iranians, Hamas and Hezbollah do, that it is acceptable to kill children because in their distorted interpretation of Islam they claim it is OK to kill Jewish children, they must be made to know that rational people will not allow it to happen. This is the face of rabid antisemitism.

However, as we are aware, lies, if repeated often enough, come to be accepted as truth. This fact is exploited by people, especially Europeans and the political Left, with a malevolent agenda targeting Jews and Israel. That is the tragedy facing both America and Israel today--the two most moral nations of the modern world. In short: virulent anti-Semitism.

In March 2014 - French Interior Minister Manuel Valls called anti-Zionism “an invitation to anti-Semitism” at a Paris memorial remembering four Jews who were murdered in Toulouse in 2012. Valls made his remarks on the two-year anniversary of the fatal shootings at a Jewish day school of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler; his two sons, Arieh, 6, and Gabriel, 3; and Miriam Monsenego, 8.

The old anti-Semitism of the French extreme right “is renewed,” Valls said. “It feeds off hate for Israel. It feeds off anti-Zionism. Because anti-Zionism is an invitation to antisemitism.”

Antisemitism has been around for a long time and did not just disappear with the end of World War II so, like most Jews, we got used to having ugly things said about us from time to time. Mostly. We were lucky and grateful for the many Christian friends who stood up for us and found complete acceptance in their company. But nothing prepared us for today’s misinformation and demonisation of Israel, and the gut-wrenching, anti-Israel, antisemitic hostility expressed by many students, professors, church members, and even erstwhile “liberal” newspapers – and now, even Jews who act and pronounce their anti-Israel stance for God knows what reason.

I was shocked by how unaware the Jewish community is and how little they are actually doing to counter this rising antisemitism in the guise of anti-Zionism.

This new form of bigotry against Israel is called the “new antisemitism,” with “Israel” replacing “Jew” in traditional antisemitic imagery and canards, singling out and discriminating against the Jewish state, and denying the Jewish people alone the right to self-determination. The new antisemitism is packaged in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS), which claims to champion Palestinian rights though its real goal is to erode support for Israel, discredit Jews who support Israel, and pave the way for eliminating the Jewish state.

The BDS Movement

Many anti-Israel advocates deny that they belong to or support the BDS movement; this despite the documented fact that they on many occasions speak in support of boycotting Israel, divesting from Israel and implementing sanctions against Israel. They use subtle language that if pursued to its logical end would mean the end of Israel as the Jewish homeland because it would turn Israel into a Palestinian/Arab majority state. For Israel to retreat to the lines demanded, that as a border would make Israel completely exposed and almost impossible to defend, would be national suicide.

It is surprising that an extremist group like BDS is ever taken seriously, but BDS advocates have found receptive audiences in some circles. Their campaigns are well organised and, in many cases, well financed. They have lobbied parliamentarians, universities, corporations, food co-ops, churches, performing artists, labour unions, and other organisations to boycott Israel and companies that do business with Israel. But even if some of the latter to their credit don’t agree to treat Israel as a pariah state, the BDS activists manage to spread their anti-Israel misinformation, lies and prejudice simply by the tactic of forcing a debate based on their false claims about Israel. Those who fall for this in the spirit of hearing the other side find themselves in a trap of having to debate a lie thereby lending credibility to it.

To give you a taste of the viciousness of the BDS attacks, let me cite just a few of the many shocking examples. At a BDS event in Portland, USA, a professor from a Seattle University told the assembled crowd that the Jews of Israel have no national rights and should be forced out of the country. When asked, “Where do you want them to go?” she calmly answered, “I don’t care. I don’t care if they don’t have any place else to go. They should not be there.” When it was pointed out that she was calling for ethnic cleansing, both she and her supporters denied it. A woman in her 60’s stood up and yelled at the questioners, “You are worse than the Nazis. You are just like the Nazi youth!” On other BDS occasions Jews were repeatedly accused of being killers, while at others, anti-Israel activists called Jews rapists.

In my own experience, at the BDS anti-Apartheid week at UCT in 2011, I heard members of a panel declaim against Israel in the most offensive way. The empty rhetoric goes beyond being absurd – in one case, a very courageous young woman who defended Israel was asked by one of the panelists if she knew how many Palestinians have been raped by IDF forces. She answered that as far as she knew, none. The panelist triumphantly responded, “Israeli soldiers don’t rape Palestinians because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them that they won’t touch them.”

Such irrational argument is symptomatic of dangerous antisemitism. Yet, alarmingly, many Jews living in South Africa and elsewhere are completely oblivious of this ugly movement and the threat it poses. They seem to be asleep, unaware that this anti-Jewish bigotry is peddled not only on campuses, but also by speakers in high schools, churches, and communities, and is often deceptively camouflaged in the rhetoric of human rights.

Jews Are The Perennial Scapegoats
With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the globe.... They stood behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we hear about.... With their money they formed secret organisations—such as the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and the Lions—which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests.... They stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate . . . and formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains.... They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their intermediary. There is no war going on anywhere without them having their fingerprints on it.”

(Hamas Charter)

Thus, when the West attempts to defend itself against an onslaught fuelled by a conviction that the Jews must be destroyed, it reinforces the belief that Islam is under attack and that the Jews are behind it. In this bizarre circular argument, war upon the Jews becomes the overwhelming driver of the jihad. To halt the threat from modernity, Western civilisation has to be overthrown and the perceived puppeteers of progress, the Jews, have to be destroyed everywhere.

Genocidal Jew-Hatred

On and on it goes, the hysterical lies and calumnies building one on top of another in fantastic pyramids, all with the same fundamental motif: that the Jews are the enemies of God and therefore must be destroyed. This is the driving impulse behind the Islamists’ war against the West.

No such excuse can apply to the equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. Israel is patently not committing genocide. There is no persecution, there are no concentration camps, there is no extermination of the Arabs; there is merely an attempt by Israel to defend itself against attack by them. To equate Israel with Nazi Germany is not merely to perpetrate a cruel and grotesque collective libel against Israeli Jews; it is also effectively to deny the Holocaust by redefining it. Equating the Nazis with Israeli Jews—whose behaviour towards the Arabs accords with the rule of law, human rights and democracy—is effectively to deny that Jews were the victims of anything malevolent under the Nazis.

Awareness and Morality

Jews in the diaspora have a moral duty to defend Israel that for decades has pursued peace with the Palestinians, and who consistently appeal for cooperation and negotiation despite rebuffs leading to murderous attacks being launched against them by an enemy whose sole motivation is the destruction of Israel and the murder of its citizens.

There is much more that can be said on the subject but that must be left to more competent and learned writers than I. The final point I wish to make is, I believe that this whole edifice of hatred has been tackled in entirely the wrong way. Yes, I agree that when the Arabs, supported by the international Press, tell lies they should be corrected, but not in a manner that makes the entire issue one of “how many were killed?” Whether it is a thousand Arabs who died or a hundred Israelis, or that the large majority were combatants and not civilians as is mostly claimed, you are still talking about dead people.

That is the Arab’s game, not the Israeli’s. We are constantly giving those who would pillory us home ground advantage. David Ben Gurion said:

“Jews did not take readily to bearing arms. As a people we have an ingrained abhorrence to violence…. Our weapons were intellectual, based upon reason and persuasion. …for Jews to take rifles and defend that which they had sown seemed at first as going too far.”

To effectively combat anti-Semitism why emphasise death when Jews can promote what they are best at doing: celebrate life? Israel and Jews worldwide have by any standard an enormous amount of moral capital, and yet we hide it in a display of false modesty. We should be telling the world about how many lives we have saved. The thousands of Palestinians and others who are today walking and living with their families who, but for the medical genius and humanity of Israel would be dead or too severely ill to function normally.

As just one such example: There is an organisation in Israel called Save a Childs Heart (SACH) that has saved over 3,000 Palestinian children and an equal number from other countries. SACH is an Israeli-based international humanitarian project, whose mission is to improve the quality of paediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease and to create centres of competence in those countries.

This is wholly humanitarian, and the operations do not cost the recipients anything. To Date SACH has: Conducted numerous teaching missions in developing countries treating children in Ethiopia, China, Mauritania, Moldova, Tanzania and Ukraine. Provided onsite training to hundreds of medical personnel in Ethiopia, China, Mauritania, Moldova, Tanzania and Ukraine. Conducted more than one hundred cardiology clinics, examining over 12,000 children in Angola, China, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan (Iraqi children), Mauritania, Moldova, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ukraine and Zanzibar.

While surgeries are restricted in countries without medical infrastructures that can support the required surgical conditions, SACH is consistently working to bring awareness about the importance of improving medical facilities in places where they do not exist. Children in need of surgery from poorly served countries are brought to Israel for their surgery.

As well as screening local children to see whether they are candidates for life-saving heart surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center, SACH cardiology clinics also provide essential follow-up care for children who were previously treated by SACH.

These are the numbers we should be displaying on billboards and shouting to the heavens, not how many have been killed, even though in self-defence. Let us tell the world what tiny Israel has given, and is still giving, to all people in medical research, medical care in natural disaster areas, succour and medical help in war zones, water security and technological genius.

Venture capital is pouring into the country, and the business world, the engine of growth, education and prosperity, votes with its feet to seek investments in the only reliable country that consistently points the way for the future of humanity. The hate mongers and liars will not be able to withstand the bright light of truth. Let them skulk back into their corners confronted by a vigorous presentation of the facts.

It is already starting to happen. In a remarkable and well-balanced article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Tom Gross underlines the assistance that Israel is giving to the West Bank and Gaza that has had a positive and beneficial effect on the economies in the area. People are starting to listen and to discount the ravings of the haters. More recently with the advent of the Abraham accords ever more Arab countries see their future wealth, health and growth in cooperation with Israel.

Spanish journalist, Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez, wrote in late 2009:

I walked down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a terrible truth - Europe died in Auschwitz. We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million [Middle Eastern Terrorists]. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.
Under the pretence of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.
They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime. Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts. And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition.
We have exchanged the pursuit of the peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for hoping for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.
What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe.“

The future may look bleak. Hatred, jealousy, power-broking, bloodshed and significantly, antisemitism are still abroad on Earth. The world’s redemption lies through Israel and the effective combating of antisemitism. It won’t be easily done, and by combat alone, no matter how much Israel’s qualitative superiority of arms and men may be. This only retains the semblance of balance. The countries of the world must be brought around to face the truth and to face up to their responsibilities in combating antisemitism. Our only hope of doing that is to emphasise what Israel really stands for and what it can bring to the world.

Israel is a legitimate country. It is also a moral country that can hold its head high in the company of the most moral in the international community. It has tried for peace and has failed only because of the recalcitrance of the Palestinian leadership , who have no wish for peace or show no care for their own people. There is really only one question that needs to be asked and answered:

What more must Israel still do that it has not already done, to bring about peace?

Read more articles on