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The Beginning of the Night By: David Solway
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Be none of these, my sons
My sons, be none of these
Be gunners in the Israeli Air Force
Irving Layton, For My Sons, Max and David

National officials, press barons, journalists, Internetians, “Human Rights” agencies, public intellectuals and a growing segment of the vox populi are tapping increasingly into the poisoned aquifer of anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist feeling. Yet what is perhaps even more disconcerting is the comparable attitude of many in the Jewish community today, mainly of the Left, who have made common cause with their enemies, defamers and traducers.

There is not much question that what we are observing is a pathology of the first magnitude, what the Talmudic sages called sin’at akhim, or brotherly hatred, an element of Jewish life sufficiently pronounced to merit a name of its own. From Amalek, the grandson of Ezra, who sired the Israelites’ most implacable tribal foe, to Johannes Pfefferkorn who partnered Martin Luther’s anti-Jewish ravings, to the Russian Jew Jacob Brafmann who furthered the career of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to the present moment which sees a swelling brigade of influential Israel-bashing Jews—from way back then to right up to now, the travesty persists.

It is almost as if our “non-Jewish Jews,” in Isaac Deutscher’s telling phrase, have taken their marching orders from the Muslim and Christian scriptures, internalizing Koranic surah 5:64 which says of Jews that “They spread evil and corruption in the land,” or concurring with Saint Paul who wrote in I Thessalonians 2:15 that “they please not God, and are contrary to all men.”

This degree of self-abhorrence must be nearly unprecedented, for rarely, if ever, has an ethnic or national collective turned against an entire nation made up of people with whom it shares an ancestral tradition and a millennial archive. History furnishes many examples of a social or intellectual group targeting a particular class of a society with which it is in one way or another associated or identified. But to defame an entire country with whose inhabitants one shares a cultural or genealogical relation, to dispute its founding principles, to cast suspicion upon its moral character, to support its enemies and to question its right to existence is surely a unique phenomenon. Even those Germans horrified by the abominations of the Nazis, or Russians sickened by the excesses of the Communists, rarely went to the extremes of repudiation evinced by the truants of the Jewish faith.

The late Harold Pinter won a Nobel Prize, not for his over-rated plays, but for his anti-Israeli (and anti-American) posturing. Equally influential are fellow Jewish anti-Zionists like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Naomi Klein, Joel Kovel, Tony Judt, Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev, Sara Roy, Henry Siegman, Avrum Burg, Jaqueline Rose and Richard Falk, to mention only a sparse handful, whose denunciation of Israel is so extreme and untextured as to be scarcely distinguishable from antisemitism.

Such apostates do not scruple to trade in apocrypha when indulging their animus against their own people, even when they can be readily exposed. In Fabricating Israeli History, Efraim Karsh has abundantly demonstrated how left-wing Israeli “New Historians” have cooked the documents they work with. The lamentable Naomi Klein falsely accuses Israel of having cynically profited from “endless war” and calls for academic and economic boycotts. Noam Chomsky’s gross fabrications have been outed by Peter Collier. The list goes on.

The recent example of Jacqueline Rose is an especially salient one in this respect. Reputable scholars like Walter Laqueur (TLS, April 21, 2006), Paul Bogdanor (FrontPageMagazine, September 4, 2006) and Alvin Rosenfeld (American Jewish Committee, December 2006) have exposed Rose’s attempt in her The Question of Zionism (hardback edition) to establish an ideological kinship between Adolf Hitler and the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, by placing them in the same Paris audience attending a performance of Wagner’s Lohengrin in 1895.

Apart from the fact that this would prove nothing anyway, Hitler, who was born in 1889 and would have been only six years old at the time, did not enter Paris until 1940 with the conquering German army. The trouble is that such Jewish anti-Zionist propagandists, bigots who traffic in all kinds of outright libels and distortions, are by no means in short supply and their names are practically interchangeable. A Rose by any other name would smell as foul.

What these Jewish quislings have not understood is that Jews, as Primo Levi insisted, are not permitted to forget. Survival demands that contemporary Jews retrieve the Maccabean strain in their heritage, eschew the myopia of complacency, and take the necessary measures—starting with memory and awareness—to combat a menace that remains perennial. But countering the dissimulation and calumnies of the anti-Zionists is not easy. We know that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth. But it seems that a truth repeated a thousand times becomes an irritation.

Given the virulent anti-Zionist advocacy of so many prominent Jewish self-haters, one remains skeptical of ever achieving collective assent or reasonable consensus. Masking the syndrome of self-contempt as a quest for “justice,” these Jewish turncoats seek redemption in a denial of both history and genealogy. Diagnostically speaking, it is not so much a mental illness or clinical aberration we are witnessing, but a sickness in the soul supple enough to contort itself into a spurious idealism, a simulacrum of ideological nobility.

Few of these people, I suspect, have ever been viciously targeted and physically assaulted merely for being Jewish. Very few have ever lived under the constant threat of military invasion, of suicide bombers wreaking carnage in their public spaces and of randomly incoming missiles on their towns and cities as a matter of everyday existence. They hail largely from among the privileged who have been spared the traumatic experience of confronting the bloody and unflinching enmity of their antagonists. They have jobs, salaries, leisure, prestige, comfort and security. They are bubbled in their groups and organizations. Their children do not live in Sderot where an entire generation of Israeli youngsters, growing up amidst the relentless shelling of their homes and playgrounds, suffers from acute PTSD and severe psychological regression.

This state of fortunate exemption has allowed them the luxury of sanctimonious censure of those who are on the receiving end of all they have managed to avoid. Our renegades would do well to read George Steiner’s Language and Silence. Steiner writes: “If Israel were to be destroyed, no Jew would escape unscathed. The shock of failure, the need and harrying of those seeking refuge, would reach out to implicate even the most indifferent, the most anti-Zionist.”

But of course, it is not only a question of Israel. “Somewhere the determination to kill Jews,” Steiner continues, “to harass them from the earth simply because they are, is always alive.” Those Jews who affect otherwise are living in a fool’s paradise. Just as many Hasidic and Haredi Jews, who reject the existence of Israel and seek asylum in their sacred texts, will one day discover there is no safety in Numbers, so will Jewish anti-Zionists—or their children—eventually learn the hard way that they too will be targeted and cast out when their useful idiocy is no longer needed.

At the end of the day, it really is that simple. And the end of the day, let us also remember, is the beginning of the night.


David Solway is the award-winning author of over twenty-five books of poetry, criticism, educational theory, and travel. He is a contributor to magazines as varied as the Atlantic, the Sewanee Review, Books in Canada, and the Partisan Review. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity. A new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, will be released by CanadianValuesPress this fall.


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