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Blaming the Jihad on the Jews By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, November 20, 2006

On Friday French anti-aircraft units in southern Lebanon readied themselves to shoot down Israeli planes that were flying reconnaissance missions above them. Israel is continuing its overflights of Lebanon to monitor the ongoing influx of weapons to Hizbullah, about which the vaunted, beefed-up UNIFIL force is doing nothing at all. Instead the French contingent, backed by UNIFIL commander Gen. Alain Pellegrini, is warning Israel to stop the overflights or face grave consequences.

Also on Friday France led a different kind of anti-Israeli assault in the UN General Assembly, which voted 156-7 with six abstentions to condemn Israel for the accidental killings in a Gaza artillery strike last November 8.


Haaretz said Israel’s UN ambassador Dan Gillerman told the paper that France “was particularly active in raising the majority at the UN vote, pressuring European nations that considered abstention to support the resolution.” Haaretz quoted Gillerman directly as saying “the French demonstrated excessive eagerness to understand terror while exhibiting utter insensitivity to the pain of [Israeli] terror victims.”


As it worked out, the only Western democracies that voted against were the United States, Israel, and Australia. Canada abstained, and all EU members voted aye to what is essentially a genocidal resolution proclaiming, in effect, that an accident by the Israeli military requires condemnation but hundreds of rocket firings by Palestinians deliberately targeting Israeli civilians do not.


France also got into the act last week—along with Spain and Italy, the two other largest European contributors to the enhanced UNIFIL force—in pushing a new plan for “Israeli-Palestinian peace.” It posits talks between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, mentions nothing about Hamas or the other Palestinian terror organizations changing their goals, and calls for international monitors in Gaza who would presumably treat Israeli military activity the way France now treats it in Lebanon.


But it is not only actors traditionally unfriendly to Israel who are reverting to the old idea that the Jews are really the crux of the problem. Last week British prime minister Tony Blair, who is considered friendly to Israel and not known to show it overt animus, said in several venues—a foreign policy address in London, a closed-door video conference with President Bush’s Iraq Study Group, an interview to the Washington Post, an interview to the new English Al Jazeera TV channel—that the “Israel/Palestine conflict” is indeed the key to what’s wrong in the turbulent Middle East.


Many, of course, believe the Iraq Study Group itself will take a similar stance when it makes its recommendations to President Bush in December.


Reliably, the degree to which someone takes that position is inversely proportional to their ability to assess real threats accurately. Blair, in the same week he kept saying “Israel/Palestine” was the heart of the problem, also said “a new partnership is possible” with Iran. The French and other continental West Europeans have a long history of vilifying Israel while situating themselves ambivalently between the Western and jihadist sides, and last July 31 in Beirut French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said: “In the region there is of course a country such as Iran—a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region.” The Iraq Study Group is also, of course, famously believed to see virtue in engaging Iran and Syria as stabilizing actors.


The revamped focus on Israel comes at a time when the West is doing badly in the Middle East. Iran keeps building its nuclear capacity and no one is stopping it. The insurgency keeps frustrating U.S. aims in Iraq. Hizbullah, with Iran and Syria behind it, is making moves to dismantle the relatively moderate Siniora government and finally capture Lebanon as part of the radical camp. The big win by the Democrats in the U.S. has further inflamed the jihadists.


At such a time, it is no less ominous that Western leaders and analysts are again, like incurable addicts, resorting to the notion that it’s all because Israel still partly controls the West Bank and still sends troops into Gaza.


The utter irrationality of this view of things is evident. For one thing, it ignores the fact that—whatever one thinks of the previous Arafat/Abbas/Fatah government, not a paragon of moderacy in most Israelis’ eyes—the Palestinian Authority is now ruled by Hamas. At most there is talk of a “unity” government in which Hamas ministers would share power with Fatah ministers most or all of whom are no less committed to Israel’s destruction.


Yet talk of “reviving the diplomatic process”—and not just among loopy lefties but also among supposedly more level-headed British and American figures, not to mention obsequious Israeli ones—goes on as if the ferociously anti-Israeli nature of the Palestinian Authority, with its woman and child suicide bombers, was just a small hitch, a negligible matter.


But even more breathtaking is the tenacity of the view that the anti-Western jihad is really fueled by “Israel/Palestine” and can be defused by shrinking (or scuttling) the former and enlarging the latter. The idea, if one can call it that, is that when jihadists kill a nun in Somalia, or slaughter Hindus and other Indians on the evening commuter trains in Bombay, or behead Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia, or proclaim their unwavering hatred of the United States and determination to destroy it—and the list could obviously go on and on—it boils down to a protest over “Palestinian rights.”


Maintaining this view also requires actual or willful ignorance of the profoundly anti-Western, anti-Christian ideology of the modern jihadist movement going at least as far back as the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt two decades before the present-day state of Israel was established.


The fact that the West—whether in the nakedly hostile French variant or the ostensibly rational, peace-mongering British and American form—is succumbing to the old “blame the Jews” impulse is a worrisome sign of deep distress. It didn’t help in stopping the Black Death or the Nazis, and pressuring, further truncating, and even eventually destroying Israel will be similarly useless, indeed counterproductive, in stopping today’s jihad. Much depends on whether George W. Bush will keep his head on his shoulders or succumb as well.


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P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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