BRUSSELS -- Is anti-Semitism, abhorred in the West, less reprehensible when it comes from the East? This is the question we Europeans ask ourselves as we watch the news on TV or scan the European newspapers, and find no acknowledgment of the anti-Semitic ideology underyling the terrorism of Hezbollah and Hamas.
There are definitely European journalists who call a terrorist a terrorist, and who denounce the anti-Semitism which the Islamists of the Middle East exalt. But many of their colleagues have given up doing so in order to resort to words like “militants” and “political movement,” or even “resistance” and “social organization”. The Hitlerjugend, one recalls, also had a social function.
The analogy is relevant. To a far greater extent than the skinheads we see here in Europe and the United States, it is the bearded Lebanese and Palestinians – these men whom we see proudly giving the Nazi salute during military parades in Gaza or Lebanon -- who have taken over the role of the Third Reich. And the war they are fighting against Israel is an anti-Semitic war, targeting Israeli Jews and all Jews worldwide.
Since an accusation this serious cannot be taken lightly, let’s hear what the leader of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, who has a reputation for doing what he says, has to say about it. On July 19, a Katyusha rocket struck the Israeli city of Nazareth, killing two brothers aged 3 and 7, Ravia and Mahmoud Taluzi. The next day, on Al Jazeera, Nasrallah apologized to the family of the two boys. Not because he was suddenly struck with remorse after seeing the pictures of dozens of lives annihilated by his missiles, but because the two Israeli boys, Ravia and Mahmoud, were not Jewish! Here the Islamist leader gives us a contemporary application of the selection which took place during World War II among other children who had to prove their “Aryan” lineage to save their lives. For Nasrallah, as for Hitler, only Jewish children must die.
Indeed, all Jews must die. The words of Hassan Nasrallah in 2002 couldn’t be any more explicit: “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”. This didn’t stop him, whilst waiting for a hypothetical mass immigration, from acting on his words in 1994, when Hizbullah terrorists blew up the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 87 people.
We find the same ingredients in the charter of Hamas, which, should it be pointed out, is the party in power in Palestine:
With their money, they [Jews] took control of the world media (…). With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world (…). They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies (…). With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there. (…) There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.
Barely aware of this rhetoric of sinister memories, the European general public would doubtless take offence at such ideas and would probably see the conflict that opposes Tsahal and the spiritual sons of Adolf Hitler from another perspective. So why this silence from some journalists who are not at a loss for words when it comes to criticizing Israel?
In itself, criticizing Israeli policy is certainly not reprehensible, neither legally nor morally. What is questionable is the singling out, the exceptional treatment to which the Jewish state is subjected. How can we explain that a nation covering a tiny fraction of the planet’s surface, whose inhabitants make up one thousandth of the world’s population, and which, according to the annual report by Freedom House, is one of the most democratic states in the world, has attracted so much critical media attention, whereas Darfur – but we could equally refer to Tibet, Chechnya, Burma and other graveyards of human rights – is all but ignored.
There are several explanations for this. The first is a persistent tendency to romanticize terrorism. A wealth of ideological reasons motivate some journalists who, well aware of the miserable conditions of the populations in the Middle-East, see fit to opt for the camp of the enemies of Israel, which in their eyes is a symbol of neo-colonialism and imperialism -- a perspective hard to understand when we consider the surface area of Israel, equal to that of New Jersey, is faced with an Arab bloc 676 times larger. For these media professionals, taking part in the fight justifies silencing or dressing up a certain number of painful truths. The death of Mohammed Al-Dura is one example; the “fauxtography”  by Reuters and the Associated Press during this summer's war in Lebanon are the latest manifestations of this.
The second explanation is anti-Semitism. For some, anti-Zionism is an accommodating cover-up for shameful anti-Semitism. The latter is a crime in many European countries, so they substitute the individual (the Jew) with the state (Israel). They will of course forcefully deny these allegations and it is not uncommon to see them pouring out their hearts over the victims of the Shoah with tears in their eyes. But the very idea of seeing the children of those who escaped death in World War II defending themselves with weapons against this same genocidal project is unbearable to them. There is an old joke about anti-Semites: “I am not anti-Semitic, some of my best friends are Jewish”. The new anti-Semite has six million Jewish friends.
The third explanation is conformism. For reasons of simplicity, ignorance or cowardice, many journalists, without sharing in any way the commitment of the former or the unhealthy passions of the latter, are content with obediently following the trail made by the “shepherds”.
These three attitudes are appalling. But while it may seem unrealistic to try reasoning with apologists for terrorism and anti-Semites, it is definitely worth trying to enlighten the conformists. Here we must call them to order, appeal to their conscience, invoke the professional code of ethics. Or, more simply, invite them to google the Hamas charter.