By Barry Rubin
Times have changed.
Yet the hysterical hatred for Israel in the Arabic-speaking world and among Muslims in general has only increased; the philosophy of rejectionism is as strong as ever or, put another way, even stronger. Indeed, it is no longer safe, and certainly isn’t comfortable, for Jews in much of Europe and even, for those who support Israel, on American college campuses.
Two examples of how the lynch mobs are out in force in places where formerly they were least present.
In previously moderate Tunisia, now under Muslim Brotherhood rule, thousands of Salafists paraded, chanting to kill the Jews in order to enter paradise. The new Tunisian constitution contains a provision that the country could never recognize Israel. Almost a half-century ago, Tunisia’s then leader was the first Arab politician to call for recognizing Israel. We’re still waiting.
In Morocco, perhaps the overall most moderate country in the Arabic-speaking world, a meeting of the Mediterranean Parliamentary Union was held. Israel, which has a parliamentary system and is on the Mediterranean (I can see the sea from my roof), is a member of this group. Consequently one Israeli attended the meeting. The result was a riot in which thousands of Moroccans assaulted the building and the leader of the ruling Islamist party complained at how the country’s soil had been tainted.
I won’t bother citing a thousand other examples. But with the triumph of revolutionary Islamists and the throwing down the memory hole of decades of disastrous Arab anti-Israel policies, the Arabic-speaking world is becoming more radical on this issue. It is now joined by Turkey and Iran.
They hate us; they despise us; they want to kill us.
In this situation there is a strong temptation for Westerners to say that if only Israel didn’t exist (radical version) or if it made huge concessions (liberal version) then all of the problems in the Middle East would go away and all the region’s conflicts with the West would go away, too.
And in this situation there is a strong temptation for Western Jews to say that if only Israel made more concessions on territory or tore down the settlements there would be peace; hate would turn into love or at least benign indifference, and all the problems of the Jews would go away.
And in this situation there is a total temptation for Western leftists—including a disproportionate number of Jews among them—that if only Israel disappeared or made huge concessions than socialist utopia would come speedily in our time.
In fact, for the first time in history we are seeing a concerted, well-funded campaign to destroy the base of support for Israel among American Jews. It is rather ironic that this is happening in 2012.
After all, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and parts of the West Bank. Since 1993, Israel has not established a single new settlement nor expanded the geographic size of existing settlements. Israeli governments offered (twelve years ago!) to accept a Palestinian state in all of the Gaza Strip, almost all of the West Bank, and in much of east Jerusalem.
And so on.
Now we are told by the highly publicized and very smug that if only there is an economic boycott of settlements, Israel will be saved.
We are not told that if only there is a willingness among Arabs and Muslims to make peace, plus the total defeat of the revolutionary Islamists, peace is far more likely to be achieved.
That real solution has two differences from the first one:
- There is literally nothing we can do, no concession or risk, which will bring about that outcome.
- Thus, we do not have the power in our hands to resolve this conflict. We can stand up, sit down, walk by the way, or return to the 1967 borders and it won’t matter.
About 25 years ago, I was convulsed with laughter when covering a Palestine National Council meeting in Algeria while watching a young American Jewish Peace Now kid try to explain to a group of Fatah guys that they really did just want a state of their own to live alongside Israel. They kept explaining to him that this wasn’t the way they thought at all. They wanted “all of Palestine from the river to the sea.”
This well-meaning boob thought he knew better than the Palestinians what was their actual political stance.
It is not comforting to acknowledge that there simply isn’t going to be any formal peace agreement or end of the conflict. I won’t say “never” but I’m pretty sure for the next 30 to 50 years, and somewhat less certain for the rest of this century.
But, of course, in time antisemitism in Europe went away—oops! It didn’t, but you know what I mean.
Does saying these things make me “right-wing”? Not at all. It is also the consensus position of the great majority of left-of-center Israelis and it should be the position of liberal Jews in other countries. The whole point is that this is not a matter of our will or preference or program but something that is being forced upon us.
Sure, I want a two-state solution, but not as a launching pad for the next round of would-be genocide. I want the ideal solution of peace and good neighborhood but I don’t expect that is going to happen. Not my fault; not our fault.
Let’s face reality, stop blaming ourselves, and get on with our lives. Let us improve Israel’s society, economy, and culture. Of course, let’s also defend ourselves. Let us try to preserve as much as possible of the rapidly disappearing Jewish people. And if you want to boycott someone, why not start with those who insist on remaining our enemies and who would like to murder us?
Makes sense to me.
PS: In this sermon Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch says all these things in a very articulate and persuasive manner. You can also read my more detailed assessment of the blame-Israel-pretending-to-support-it-while-trying to subvert-its-existence crowd and those innocent and well-meaning people fooled by them.
Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs
(GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International
Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.