by Nikos Akritas (December 2023)
Let’s be blunt. Recent events in the Middle East, from the October 7 attacks on innocent civilians of all ages to demonstrations around the world to Israel’s response, illustrate one thing very clearly. The lack of sympathy for Israeli casualties (because there are no innocent Jews) is in stark contrast to the outpouring of sympathy for Palestinian ones. The Left’s support for Hamas and other terrorist groups exists, they claim, because they see Israel as an occupying, imperialist power.
Well, let’s take a closer look at this claim. Imperialism is the act of conquering other territories in order to extend one’s own power and influence. Yet, prior to 1948, Jews had no territory of their own to speak of, making them vulnerable to the antisemitism of Christian Europe for two millennia, which found its ultimate expression in the Holocaust.
Vehement Jew-hatred, with tropes of miserliness, greed, dishonesty, depravity and far more sinister canards, is also part of the Muslim cultural inheritance, not Christianity’s alone. But whereas Europe had its Holocaust, the Middle East still looks forward to one. The annihilation of the state of Israel, and of Jews, is a widespread desire, sanctioned by Islam. Even those who pretend this is about Israel, not Jews, are disingenuous. If this were about the illegal occupation of a people’s land, what of Western Sahara, Cyprus, Tibet and Xinjiang? These are but a few lands under foreign occupation. These do not attract the support and passions witnessed against Israel. Why is that?
Those who demand “no Jewish state in the Middle East” are purely antisemites. Jews have existed in the eastern Mediterranean for at least 3000 years, so why are they denied a state? Because they have appropriated others’ lands? Before the creation of Israel, the area referred to as Palestine contained Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze. Regardless of one’s views of the Zionist movement and any ‘right to return,’ the reason Israel has its present borders is due to Arab aggression, not Jewish.
The Jewish state proposed by the 1937 Peel Commission was just twenty per cent of the Palestine Mandate, and a fraction of the present state of Israel. But even this was not acceptable to the Arabs of the region. For them, there was no place for a Jewish state. Only because of attempts by the tiny state’s neighbours to “drive the Jews into the sea” did the latter, in an act of self-preservation without support from the West, expand beyond the original borders of 1948. This was repeated in 1967. On both occasions, the aim of the invaders was not to establish a Palestinian state (which they explicitly denied legitimacy to) but to expand their own lands at the expense of those already living there—genuine imperialism.
Prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there may have been legitimate reasons for opposing the creation of a Jewish state in Mandatory Palestine, or at least one in the manner proposed by the British and United Nations. But the question remains: what is the solution to the Middle East conflict? For many Muslims, the answer is obvious: annihilation. (Note the democratic election of both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Had democracy come to the Middle East in the wake of the Iraq War, the West would become far more aware of the virulent antisemitism in Muslim countries). Jews can exist for some, but only as second class citizens or somewhere else. They must know their place, which is not as equals of Muslims. And the solution for the Left? The same as that of the two organizations just mentioned.
Given the inherent antisemitism of both Islam and Christianity, what is the realistic option for Jews? As they have known since at least 1942 (and Zionists since the end of the 19th century), the only realistic options are: fight for survival or roll over and die quietly.
The Left’s Marxist rhetoric of the evils of capitalism are imbued with the belief, in common with Nazism and Islam, in a Jewish worldwide conspiracy. As far removed from capitalism and Western imperialism the Left believes itself to be, it shares with them a common European intellectual inheritance and part of that is the antisemitism of their Christian ancestry.
This common theme finds expression in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fake document claiming to provide genuine evidence of a Jewish conspiracy for worldwide domination. The text was popular and widespread throughout Europe in the first half of the twentieth century; the Nazis using it as justification for their beliefs. It is now a best seller, along with Mein Kampf, in the Middle East and until 2017 was cited by Hamas in their Charter as proof of a Jewish cabal.
In order to look beyond the stereotypes and shallow intellect displayed by much of the media, one really needs to understand Islamic doctrine, Nazi beliefs and those of the Left relating to Jews. All three harbour a rabid hatred of Jews, which precludes any rational discussion. In much the same way Christian antisemitism perceived Jews over the last two millennia; these groups carry that torch today. As dangerous as the Nazis were, when one considers the numbers and territorial spread of Islam and the Left, Jews have perfectly valid reason to fear annihilation.
Cultures do not change overnight. Antisemitic stereotypes are widespread in former communist countries. They still exist, especially amongst the Left, in Western countries. In Muslim countries they are just the norm. Jews are the eternal bogeyman of societies of Christian and Islamic heritage – Christian hostility originating with claims of deicide (although it could be argued even this is a legacy of earlier antisemitism); Muslim hostility originating with a belief in the betrayal of their prophet (when in truth, according to Islamic tradition, it arose as a response to Jewish rejection of Muhammad as a prophet). Yet, in both cases, these younger religions twisted the Jewish faith and discriminated against Jews as a result of this cultural appropriation (Wokists take note). Because these first followers of an Abrahamic faith would not, stubbornly, abandon their beliefs in favour of the newer religions, annihilation became the preferred option—given expression in the eschatological beliefs of both Christianity and Islam.
When I ask Leftists and Muslims for a solution to the plight of the Jewish people, “Where can they go to feel safe?” the response is usually evasive or, more often, there is no response at all. Because, let’s face it, Who cares? So long as they go away. And so, the stereotype of Jews as sub-humans remains, even amongst those crying ‘justice.’
Nikos Akritas has worked as a teacher in Britain, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast