by Jerry Gordon (September 2013)
Demonizing Israel and the Jews
By Manfred Gerstenfeld
RVP Press ISBN 978-1-61861-336-3
A new book, Demonizing Israel and Jews, elucidates anti-Semitism which originated over 2,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. The earliest known instance is a different version Exodus story told by an Egyptian priest named Manetho in the Third Century BCE, who reverses the Biblical Exodus account and instead depicts the Jews being ejected as “unclean people.” A pogrom against Jews in Alexandria was witnessed by Philo in the First Century CE. That strain of violent anti-Semitism subsequently found fertile ground in both Christianity and Islam. Both doctrines accused Jews of deicide and blood libel. The Prophet Mohammed taught the rejection of Jews for their not seeing the merits in his status as prophet nor in his doctrine of jihad. In Medieval Europe violent anti-Semitism led to episodic pogroms, expulsions, and formation of ghettos. Even in Nineteenth Century Europe, Socialists opposed Jews for their religious and later national Zionism that raised in Germany the Juden Frage, the question of dual loyalties. In France, anti-Semitic elements of the French General Staff connived to pin the charge of treason on Jewish Capt. Henri Dreyfus. He was disgraced by being publicly stripped of his rank and his saber broken on the Champs de Mars to screams of “death to the Jews.” The creation by the Czarist secret police of the forgery The Protocols of Elders of Zion only provided fodder for anti-Semites in Russia to perpetrate pogroms by the Black Hundreds in Kishinev in 1903. The Protocols also had a brief foliation in the US and became an underlying theme of world Jewish control in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitlerian doctrine was adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder, Hassan al Banna, was an early devotee of Nazi Jew hatred. The theme of ancient blood libel was evident in the Al Dura video hoax at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. That gave rise to accusations by Palestinian Arabs and even the late Usama bin Laden that Israelis and Jews were “child killers.” Blood libels and World Jewish control are standard fare today for video serials on Arab TV during the month long observances of Ramadan.
Demonizing Israel and the Jews, authored by Manfred Gerstenfeld, published by the RVP Press with support from Simon Wiesenthal Center, analyzes the rise of anti-Israelism as the Twenty-first Century version of global Jew hatred. Gerstenfeld, former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and current member of its board, knew anti-Semitism firsthand as a hidden child survivor of the Shoah in Holland during World War Two. See our interview with Gerstenfeld in this edition of the New English Review.
Rabbi Hier of the SWC noted in the book’s foreword:
Anti-Semitism driven by hatred of the Jewish State too often goes unrecognized and unchallenged by European leaders, intellectuals, and the media. That is why this collection of essays is so important.
Demonizing Israel and the Jews is a concise, encyclopedic compendium of 57 interviews with various experts on the religious, ethnic/nationalistic themes that undergird hatred of Israel – hatred emanating from Palestinian and Islamic organizations and media. But also it derives from anti-Israel positions of international mainstream Christian NGOs and churches, European extremist left and neo-fascist political parties, biased Western media, academia and even self-hating Jews.
Gerstenfeld has put forward the stunning estimate of 150 million Europeans who dislike Israel and Jews. This figure is based on survey responses to questions about Israel’s alleged genocidal behavior towards Palestinian Arabs conducted in major EU member countries. According to the data and methodology he used, on average nearly 40% of respondents agreed that Israel was conducting genocidal warfare against Palestinians. In Poland the aggregate response to that question was over 63%. This despite that Jewish presence in Poland had been vastly diminished after the Holocaust from a prewar community of over three million to less than 6,000 currently.
In his introductory essay based on the book’s title, Gerstenfeld articulates the background for his disclosure about pervasive hatred towards Israel and Jews. He illustrates this latest mutation of traditional Jew hatred exemplified by the parliamentary presence of the Hungarian Jobbik, neo-fascist and anti-Semitic party, the third largest. In Greece there is the Golden Dawn, a political party with a neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim agenda. He doesn’t absolve radical right wing parties, save the Freedom Party in The Netherlands that while pro-Israel heedlessly opposes Jewish ritual slaughter, Shechita.
Gerstenfeld is acutely aware of what he deems non-selective Muslim immigration to Europe that has resulted in inflaming Jew hatred. He notes the murders of French Jews committed by Muslims in France chronicled by Nidra Poller, a New English Review contributor. He has particularly disdain for Scandinavian, Labor Party figures in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, who have fostered Anti-Israelism and intimidation of their Jewish communities. Intimidation brought about by tolerance of Muslim émigré anti-Semitic hatred. The most flagrant example is the Swedish City of Malmo that Gerstenfeld considers “the capital of European anti-Semitism.“ He derides the anti-Semitic statements by Malmo’s Mayor, Ilmar Reepalu. A US State Department expert on world anti-Semitism has called such attitudes “anti-Israel sentiment serv[ing] as a guise for Jew hatred.”
Gerstenfeld also identifies the underlying hate motifs of anti-Israelism that he considers a 21st Century mutation of classic religious and ethnic/nationalistic anti-Semitism. Consider the assertion that Israel doesn’t comport itself as a democracy given its “treatment” of Palestinian Arabs resulting in moral inversion: Israel is the new Nazi state. That sentiment was reflected in a poll of 2,500 Germans conducted by the University of Bielefeld where 51% agreed with a statement that treatment of Palestinians was no different than what the Nazis did to Jews during the Third Reich. A report by the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities in Norway had a response to a similar question of 38%.
The “very negative picture” of Israel is also portrayed in surveys of leading countries regarding threats to world peace. Israel received the most approbation as a world threat by fully 59% who responded in a 2003 Eurobarometer survey. A 2013 BBC country ratings poll showed Israel has having a 52% negative influence compared to Iran’s 59%.
The SWC ranking of top slurs against Israel puts the Muslim Brotherhood first, followed by the Iranian Islamic regime. However, the SWC ranking of anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs has six out of the top ten that originate from Europe.
Gerstenfeld denotes the conjunction of traditional anti-Semitic and anti-Israel themes such as “absolute evil,” or in other words, deicide, “vermin and bacteria” an allusion to extermination, “inferior beings,” the Qur’anic declaration that Jews are no better than animals along with “sons of apes and pigs,” and that Israel is a “Nazi state.” He notes sub motifs and the artless use of verbal demonization through lies, accusations, exaggerations and fallacies. One of more significant categories is what Gerstenfeld has coined, “humanitarian racism.” He defines this as:
Attributing intrinsically reduced responsibility to people of certain ethnic or national groups regarding their criminal acts and intentions, even if they are major.
Thus, as he notes:
Israelis are blamed for whatever measures they take to defend themselves. Palestinian responsibility for suicide bombings, murderous missile attacks, glorification of murderers of civilians, and promoting genocide is reduced, at best.
The ultimate expression of this demonization of Israel Gerstenfeld believes can be found in the International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. This campaign is promoted by the Palestinians and left academics in both Israel and the West. This “cocktail of hate” as he calls it can also be found in anti-Israel declarations at the UN and the EU, such as the recent attempt by the latter to deny funding of programs in Israel located across the Green Line in Judea and Samaria, the disputed territories.
The perpetrators Gerstenfeld identifies are first and foremost Islamic extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic regime in Iran, with its espousal of Holocaust denial and intention to wipe Israel off the map of the World via its nuclear threat. Next in line are Muslim extremists preachers in the West inflaming immigrants with Qur’anic imperatives of “death to the Jews.”
Gerstenfeld is concerned about Israel organizing itself to combat anti-Israelism. He notes that while Israel has fought many brilliant military campaigns and developed a highly respected cyber warfare capability, it has failed in the media war. He urges the Jewish nation to become better trained in getting equally brilliantly conceived positive messaging to combat anti-Israelism.
We have selected from among the 57 interviews in Demonizing Israel and the Jews illustrations of virulent anti-Israelism prevalent in European and global anti-Semitism.
Professor Pieter van der Horst former Professor of Jewish studies at Utrecht University and Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences on Ancient Egyptian origins of anti-Semtism:
The initial indication of a negative attitude towards Jews is found at the beginning of the Third century BCE in the writings of a Greek-speaking Priest called Manetho. Manetho turns the story of the Exodus upside down. In Manetho’s anti-biblical history, it is an expulsion of the Jews from Egypt at the command of the Egyptian gods, because their country had to be purified of an unclean people.
Dr. Els Borst-Eilers, former Minister for Public Health and Deputy Prime Minister in the Netherlands on why Holland should apologize to the Jewish community:
If I had been prime minister, I would have offered apologies to the Dutch Jewish community without hesitation. This would refer both to our government’s attitude during the Second World War and to the very late postwar discovery that the restitution process had been poorly conceived.
Former EU Commissioner, Dutch political figure and public intellectual Frits Bolkestein on the bleak future for Europe’s Jews given unchecked Muslim immigration:
“Jews have to realize that there is no future for them in the Netherlands and they best advise their children to leave for the United States or Israel.” He foresaw problems in the Netherlands resulting from the unsuccessful integration of Muslim immigrants and the difficulties for “observant” Jews.
Andrei S. Markovits, Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan on the convergence of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism:
Anti-Semitism in Europe goes back a thousand years. Anti-Americanism emerged more than 200 years ago among European Elites. America and Jews are seen by many Europeans as paragons of modernity they dislike and distrust… Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are the only major icons shared by European extreme Left and Right, including neo-Nazis.
David R. Parsons is media director for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem on Christian friends and foes:
The Holocaust brought about a major change in thinking about the Jewish people in many Christian circles. It was a huge moral shock that in the heart of Christian Europe, genocide had taken place that aimed to annihilate the Jews. . . Many would still have said: “The Shoah is yet one more example that Jews are forever cursed.”
Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee on Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) and a New English Review contributor on the Anti-Israel Policies of the World Council of Churches:
The World Council of Churches, an umbrella organization [of] 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches founded in 1948, has been largely hostile to Israel, particularly during times of conflict. WCC institutions demonize Israel, use a double standard to assess its actions and . . .delegitimize the Jewish state. They have also persistently denied the intents of Israel’s adversaries to deprive the Jewish people of their right to a sovereign state.
Professor Hans Jansen, author of Christian Theology after Auschwitz on The Kairos Document and Israel:
One important occasion. . .was at the debate concerning . . . the Kairos Document. It was published in 2009 by Palestinian Christians. The central argument of the Kairos document is that only Israel is responsible for the problems of the region. .. The Kairos document is based on the so-called replacement theology which teaches that God’s promise to the Jews has been passed on to the Christians. Kairos debate proves that when hatred of Judaism is propagated by Christians, there is also Christian opposition.
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist, historian and author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege and a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School on the psychology of Jews who embrace their enemies:
A number of Jews and Israelis embrace criticism coming from anti-Semites and extreme anti-Israelis. . . In the last sixty years, the American Jewish community at large has energetically embraced support for Israel. This has been made easier by the fact that the wider American public has traditionally been sympathetic towards the Jewish State. Those segments of the Jewish community who live and work in environments hostile to Israel, commonly embrace the anti-Israel bias around them. They often insist they are virtuous by doing so.
Elhanan Yakira, Schulman Professor of Philosophy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Holocaust denial and Jewish anti-Zionists:
The self appointed Israeli true Left takes positions that are commonly referred to as post-Zionist. They are in fact anti-Zionist. This ideology refuses to grant the Jewish people the right of self determination and thus Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. This means that it also denies that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic. Leading intellectuals, both Jewish and non-Jewish play a major role in this new mutation of anti-Semitism.
Andrea Levin, executive director of Boston-Based CAMERA on fighting distorted media coverage of Israel:
Media coverage of the Middle East is often distorted. There are no enforceable codes of professional conduct which apply to the media. One can thus obtain change only in two ways. One is through private appeals for accuracy, balance and fair play. The other is through public exposure of journalistic misconduct.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles on anti-Semitism and terrorism on the Internet:
The explosive rise in Internet usage in the present century has brought with it a new way of transmitting a wide range of classic anti-Semitic images and messages. Terrorist, racist, bigoted, and anti-Semitic sites have emerged in large numbers and are often linked to each other. The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital terrorism and Hate Project . . .currently monitors over 15,000 hate and terror related sites.
Ronald Eissens is general director and cofounder of the Dutch NGO Magenta foundation and co-founder of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH):
INACH fights discrimination and other forms of cyber hate on an international level. The network has 20 member organizations from 19 countries. There are major problems with Facebook concerning hate postings. . . . In a difficult conversation we had with the European director of Facebook he said: “We remove most of the postings on Holocaust denial.” We said: “You should remove all of them.“ He replied: “There is also Holocaust denial which is not considered hatred.” We laughed in his face and said, “The essence of Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism.” Finally he said: “I’m sorry, but these are the instructions from my American Boss Mr. Zuckerberg.”
Nidra Poller, American ex-pat and Paris-based contributor to the New English Review on French anti-Israel bias:
The left wing, Third world-ist, anti-Zionist bias has spread throughout the free world. It is fueled by ill-concealed personal convictions of journalists, and with rare exceptions, their lack of integrity. The sustained support [by French journalism] for Charles Enderlin, 12 years after he produced the hoax that Palestinian youth Mohammed al-Dura was killed in front of the camera, allegedly by the IDF is a significant indication of the dire consequences of unscrupulous journalism.
Wim Kortenoeven, a Dutch former Parliamentarian with the PVV (Freedom Party) exposes Israel’s Dutch enemies:
Many Dutch media outlets have a negative influence on Israel’s image: sensationalism and Arab manipulation of the media vis a vis the openness of Israeli society. Political parties have a growing interest in the views of the Muslim minority, which now represents one million people among the sixteen million-plus general population. In the Labor Party, the situation is very bad. A variety of its officials are Muslim. Muslims are in control of various local branches. The extreme Left Socialist Party and Green Left Party are even more dangerous for Israel. Many influential members see an ideological bond between international socialism and Islamism.
Ilya Meyer, vice chair of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association on Swedish politicians against Israel:
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt who belongs to the moderates (Conservatives), the coalition’s largest party, has exhibited a consistent rabid anti-Israel position. Bildt often serves the interests of Arab and other Muslim countries. Gunilla Carlsson, minister for international development and cooperation, claimed that “Israel destroys EU-funded Palestinian infrastructure.” Carlsson’s approach …whatever the Arabs do, Israel’s foremost obligation is to protect Palestinians from the consequences of their own criminal actions. The Labor Party’s gray eminence Pierre Schori was a protégé of Israel bashing Prime Minister Olaf Palme.
Hanne Nabintu Herland is a Norwegian academic, historian of religion and author of Respect:
The current Labor/radical Left Norwegian government is promoting an extreme one-sided and negative distance toward Israel. It is responsible for creating a politically–correct hatred of Israel among many people in the country. This has made Norway, in my view, the most anti-Semitic country in the West.
Demonizing Israel and the Jews issues an emphatic warning to the World that anti-Israelism is pervasive across the political spectrum in Europe. Intimidated by the burgeoning Muslim presence there it has vaulted global Jew-hatred to a level of concern unimagined just a few years ago.
Also see Jerry Gordon's collection of interviews, The West Speaks.
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