Anti-Semitism: History Happens

Text: “Freedom Flotilla” Al-Quds al-'Arabi (United Kingdom), June 3, 2010

Excellent essay by terrific Australian writer Clive James, an excerpt:

For the Israelis, anti-Semitism is merely a nightmare. For the Palestinians, it’s a catastrophe. If you believe, as I do, that the Palestinians’ cause is just, nothing could be more depressing than to hear them spout the very stuff that guarantees they will never get an even break. The mad idea that the Jews have no right to exist is a potent intensifier of the almost equally mad idea that the State of Israel can somehow be eliminated. I say “almost” because a friend of mine in Australia recently presented me with a plausible case that the Middle East would probably be a more peaceful area if the State of Israel had never been founded. Like her argument that the Aborigines would have been a lot happier if the Europeans had never shown up, this contention was hard to rebut, except by rudely pointing out that we were both sitting in an Italian restaurant in Melbourne, history having happened.

But history might have happened otherwise, although in the case of the Jewish presence in Palestine you would have to go back beyond the 1850s (when the Jews were already a majority in Jerusalem) to somewhere near the beginning of the Old Testament, and equip the Canaanites with grenade launchers…

If Israel, between 1967 and 1973, was fatally slow to realise that the Palestinians had fair nationalist aspirations, one of the reasons was that they seemed to be doing fairly well. Arabs in the Occupied Territories, as Arabs have always done within Israel itself, prospered economically to an extent that might have made the leaders of the Arab nations wonder why their own poor were quite so destitute. Luckily the anomaly could be put down to the continuing efficacy of the infinitely subtle international Zionist plot. Israel came so near to losing the 1973 war that Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan both had to resign in apology. It was the end of the old Labour Alignment’s preponderance in government. Begin was at last allowed into the Knesset from which he had previously been excluded as if infected — which indeed he was — and the inexorable rise of the hardliners began. But even then, the settlement movement might have been slower to start if a bunch of PLO “moderates” had not attacked a defenceless school containing nobody except 22 Jewish religious students and murdered them all.

It was a crime encouraged by bad literature. The crime has gone on until this day, and it will continue to be a crime even if the Jews prepare a counter-crime of their own. Some would say they already have. On one occasion, a single Jew walked into a mosque and killed thirty helpless Arabs before his weapons could be disentangled from his ultra-orthodox beard. But no Israeli government, however keen on reprisals against terror, has yet proclaimed the desirability of killing any Arab it can reach. Hezbollah and Hamas both proclaim the desirability of killing any Jew, and there is nothing novel in the proclamation. For a quarter of a century before 1988, when Yasser Arafat finally recognized the state of Israel, it was the founding objective of the PLO to “liquidate” it. Losing people at a crippling rate for a country with such a small population, the Israelis had no reason to doubt that the word “liquidate” was meant in the Stalinist sense. In the last five years of suicidal attacks, Israel has lost almost half the number of people that died in the World Trade Centre. To inflict proportionate damage, Al Qa’eda would have had to burn down Brooklyn. Nearly all of the dead Jews were non-combatants going about their everyday lives, and no doubt that was what made them targets. Any Jew, anywhere. Hezbollah has killed Jews in that well-known centre of the world Zionist conspiracy, Buenos Aires. Where next? Reykjavik?…

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