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Jew-Hatred: the New "In-Thing" By: George Jonas
National Post | Wednesday, October 29, 2003


Suicide bombers aren't the big problem. The big problem is that a majority of Palestinians support them. The numbers were 73% in a poll conducted by Bir Zeit University in Ramallah in 2000 and 75% in a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. This poll was taken in relation to the Oct. 4 suicide bombing in Haifa, in which 21 people lost their lives, including four children. Three Palestinians out of four approved.

Mark Steyn, writing in The Jerusalem Post, describes the syndrome as a Palestinian death cult. "You walk down a street named after a suicide bomber to drop your child in a school that celebrates suicide-bombing and then pick up some groceries in a corner store whose walls are plastered with portraits of suicide bombers." It's the photos in the grocery store that do it. An individual suicide bomber is a tragic nuisance. A death cult is a calamity. It has no cure except death. Like a conflagration in a forest, it may only be contained by a counter-fire.

The crudely anti-Semitic remarks of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad aren't the big problem. The big problem is that 57 world leaders applauded him. A politician making inane remarks about Jews at an international summit is a man with a bee in his bonnet. Fifty-seven world leaders applauding him is a clash of civilizations. It presages a catastrophe.

Another kind of problem is that Canada's Prime Minister -- in whose country people have been prosecuted for expressing similar sentiments -- shook Dr. Mahathir's hand after his speech without a hint of censure. At first blush this seems puzzling. Mr. Chrétien no doubt supports legislation in Canada that prosecutes people who make remarks like Dr. Mahathir's. In this he's different from me, for I don't think that people like the schoolteacher James Keegstra, the Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel or the late journalist Doug Collins should be hauled before courts or human rights tribunals for their vapid and venomous sentiments. I'd just draw the line at shaking hands with them. Mr. Chrétien's ethics seem to be more situational. Lock up one, shake hands with the other.

Situational ethics lead directly to the next point.

Terrorists aren't the big problem. The big problem is that leading news organizations, from Reuters to the BBC, refuse to call them terrorists. An even bigger problem is that when news people use weasel words like "militants" to describe bestial fanatics who blow up bus riders or wedding guests in Israel, it doesn't merely reflect their fear, which would be understandable, but their moral confusion. It's not just that Reuters and the BBC assume a façade of neutrality because they don't want their own reporters targeted (the excuse offered sometimes) but that Reuters and the BBC can no longer tell the difference. Neither can the CBC, which also uses "militant" for terrorist, even if not exclusively. It's not cowardice, or not just cowardice; it's that many news people have lost the moral capacity to distinguish between patriots and terrorists. Or good and evil.

The need to build a security fence between Israel and the West Bank isn't the big problem. The big problem is that Israel is condemned for it in the United Nations. An even bigger problem is Canada joining in the condemnation. Canada, supposedly a defender of peace and the rule of law, joins the chorus of the apologists for terror who blame the victim for taking some measures to defend itself.

Peaceful measures, one might add, for unlike a helicopter gunship targeting bomb-makers, a fence kills no one. A fence isn't like rockets fired into terrorist quarters that can (and have) hurt bystanders. A fence hurts only those who try to breach it in order to blow up another bus in Israel. All a fence does to innocent Palestinians (i.e., the 75% who only applaud suicide bombing, but don't actually do it) is to oblige them to stand in line at checkpoints; inconvenient, but hardly fatal.

It's undoubtedly sad to need a fence between people, and it may prove to be less effective than expected, but condemning a country for trying to protect its commuters, shoppers, or restaurant patrons from being ambushed, maimed, and murdered is standing morality on its head. Which country wouldn't take preventive measures against bombers and snipers? We don't have to ask what Canada would do, because we know. The War Measures Act of 1970, with tanks roaming the streets in Montreal, was this country's response to one kidnapping (James Cross) one murder (Pierre Laporte) and one maiming (Walter Leja.) Israel has endured 50 years of terrorism, with thousands of casualties. Condemning it for erecting a fence in the hope that it might save some innocent lives can only be explained by one thing.

It would be tempting to say that it's anti-Semitism, but it's not, or not quite. Heartfelt anti-Semitism, noxious as it may be, is at least a genuine condition. I doubt if Mr. Chrétien and his Cabinet suffer from it. What they suffer from is pragmatic anti-Semitism: A recognition that anti-Semitism is blowin' in the wind again, it's applauded at international gatherings, carried by majorities at the United Nations -- in short, that it has become the in-thing, a must for trendy people at the leading edge of political fashion, just as it was in the 1930s.

Pragmatic anti-Semitism can also be described as demographic realism. Muslim voters outnumber Jewish voters in Canada. Ditto for the world. As Dr. Mahathir helpfully pointed out, there are more than a billion Muslims and only a few million Jews.

So Canada isn't governed by a bunch of anti-Semites, only by a bunch of demographic realists. This isn't the big problem. The big problem is that demographic realism holds sway in most other countries as well. Only the English-speaking civilizations of the United States, Britain and Australia resist it -- or, to be precise, only George W. Bush's, Tony Blair's and John Howard's administrations do. Talk about a thin red line. Three men aren't much to stand between a death cult and the next holocaust. That, in the end, is the biggest problem.




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