Jews out of Palestine
By Amnon Rubinstein, November 26, 2003.
According to Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim, Jew hatred has three
stages. In the first stage, the message is you can’t live among us as Jews; in
the second, it’s you can’t live among us; and in the third, it’s you can’t live.
The first stage is coerced conversion, the second is expulsion and the third is
The message of the fourth stage is you can’t live in your own country. In the
1930s, the streets of Germany filled with two kinds of graffiti: “Jews Out” and
“Jews to Palestine.”
The call of the new anti-Semitism of our age is “Jews out of Palestine.”
It characterized not only the traditional Israel haters but also – and mostly –
circles dubbed the left nowadays, in Israel, Europe and among “liberal”
The absurd thing is that negating Israel’s right to exist, which provides the
intellectual backing for the threats of its destruction, is being done in the name
of the most supreme doctrines of human rights and equality. In other words, all
nations have the right to self-determination – except the Jews.
There is no substantial difference between that and the first stage of
traditional anti-Semitism according to Fackenheim: “You can’t live among us as
a member of the family of nations.”
The fact that the extremist intellectual left is now carrying the banner once
hefted by the fascist right in Europe is as traumatic for many contemporary
Jews as it was in the late 19th century.
True, there are no pogroms and no Dreyfus trial, but the chief rabbi of
France, Joseph Sitruk, goes on radio to tell Jews to avoid wearing a skullcap in
public – a call that should have shocked the most secular Jews to their core.
The European Social Forum, meanwhile, invites anti-Semitic Muslim
intellectual Tarek Ramadan to join its ranks, and the left in general inspires only
deep disappointment when it does not demonstrate alongside Jews who are
afraid to wear a skullcap and are killed at prayers in synagogues.
Those not tainted with fashionable academic ignorance who read Moshe
Lilienblum and Yehuda Pinsker nowadays cannot help but feel deep
identification with those two writers. It’s not only Jews who are hurt by the
combination of extremist Muslims and anti-Semitic leftists.
The French press – including the media very critical of Israel – was shocked by
what has happened. On November 18, Le Monde justifiably praised the rapid
response by President Jacques Chirac, who called a special session of his
cabinet after arsonists struck a Jewish school in Paris on November 15. The
newspaper warns of the combination of violent Islamic anti-Semitism and
traditional French anti-Semitism.
Le Figaro, on November 17, drew a connection between the events in
Istanbul and Paris and the public opinion poll in which Europeans ranked Israel
as the leading country endangering world peace. The newspaper added that the
greatest success of the new anti-Semitism is its very banalization.
Gerard Dupuy, writing in Liberation on November 17, opens an editorial on the
Turkish bombings with this stunning statement: “In 2003, a person can be
killed simply for being Jewish – in Istanbul, Jerba, and Casablanca.”
He adds that anyone trying to explain the anti-Semitism, if not justify it,
in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is making a moral mistake,
because it is a murderous trend, rooted in Muslim society, and the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just an excuse for it.
French-Jewish jurist Robert Badinter, a former justice minister and now a
socialist senator, was bitter in an interview with a Catholic publication about
how the new anti-Semitism is guised in anti-Zionism.
And German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced a special session of the
European Council on Peace and Security to discuss the issue of the new
anti-Semitism in the spring.