The state that cried antisemitism

B. Michael | Jul. 27, 2021 | 11:51 PM |  6

Everyone condemned it, competing with one another in volume, flashing angry looks and going overboard with their castigation. They were responding to that malicious Vermont plot to deprive those masses of abominable war criminals pining for a taste of ice cream of their freedom of dessert. Foreign Minister Lapid cried “antisemitism,” while his honor President Isaac Herzog went even further, calling it “terrorism.”

This tirade also marks a turning point. Not a moment too soon, Israel’s hasbara machine went from farce to the grotesque. Just seconds elapse from the moment that a bit of criticism against Israel is voiced and there is already resort to claims of antisemitism, terrorism, a cast of enemies and the memory of the Holocaust – in the service of public diplomacy and mudslinging. The number of Holocaust survivors among us is dwindling, but we have learned that exploitation of the Holocaust is flourishing.

Frustratingly, the luster of the Holocaust is fading – the inevitable result of overuse. I have no doubt that somewhere out there, a panel of Israeli experts is laboring away on a plan to refresh the memory of the horrors, perhaps along with a tempting merchandising campaign to restore the youth to classic Jew-hatred. These are, after all, essential accessories to the proper functioning of the country’s foreign policy.

In the height of grotesqueness, this is neither a joke nor a figment of wild imagination. Israel is currently the world’s largest antisemitism accelerator. That’s mainly due to its own evil, its actions and its policies, but also due to its having the chutzpah to declare itself the state of the “Jewish people” as a whole.

In the process, it has made everyone who wears a kippa in New York, everyone who owns a kosher restaurant in Paris and everyone who attends synagogue in London an accomplice in every killing of a Palestinian child, bombing of a neighborhood in the Gaza Strip, pogrom in a Palestinian village and theft of land from its owners. All of these are convenient and ready excuses for the world’s genuine antisemites to come out of their hiding places, to assault Jews and feel righteous about it.

If there were a smidgen of decency in this country, the state would have gone out of its way as soon as it was founded to make a clear distinction between the state of the Israelis and Diaspora Jews, so that everyone would know that only we are responsible for our actions – and not them. But Israel, or so it appears, has an interest in measured doses of useful antisemitism, since without it, what would become of hasbara and Jewish immigration?

The absurdity is so great that one could say that the support Israel is currently receiving is itself a particularly cunning form of antisemitism. And another somewhat embarrassing question looms out there: Why for God’s sake does Israel expect anyone to like it? Where does it get the arrogance and lack of self-awareness to be so certain that it is deserves to be a member of the community of properly run states? Doesn’t Israel know what it really is?

Here’s a partial and short reminder: the millions under occupation who are deprived of basic rights; the apartheid regime in its colonies; the shameful ghetto in the Gaza State; Israel’s collection of laws that discriminate and disinherit, based on religion and ethnicity; the sale of tools of destruction to the highest bidder and despicable surveillance technology to any despot; the routine airstrikes on innocent people; the sanction of violence to and land theft from the people living under its occupation; the nurturing of pogromists and religious crazies; a ludicrous democracy, an eroded judiciary, a state whose best friends are the lowest of the low among the world’s leaders: Victor Orban in Hungary, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, a motley crew of Persian Gulf sheikhs, Narendra Modi in India, Vladimir Putin in Russia and, until just recently, Donald Trump in the United States. That is the place Israel chose for itself. That is where it is.

So why should a decent human like Israel, respect it, admire it? Simply on account of the Holocaust?