The recent terrorist attacks in London have clearly brought about a renewed sense of fear throughout the Western world, followed by an invigorated security effort. SWAT teams patrol the Washington metro, nervous government officials fiddle with alert levels, and NYPD officers have begun spot checking the bags of mass transit passengers (including cane-wielding grandmothers, let’s keep the inconvenience equal opportunity here folks).
Also reenergized, regrettably, by the London attacks has been that familiar coterie of leftist activists, conspiracy theorists, and plain old cranks who observe the pernicious influence of Israel behind every negative development in world affairs. Their business has been a bit moribund lately. After all, how many different ways can you blame Israel for the Iraq war, September 11th, and the Yankees slow start this season?
The opening of this latest “blame Israel” race predated the removal of all of the bodies from the London tunnels by a good 24 hours. The starting gunshot was provided by the impresario of online anti-Semitic ranting, Justin Raimondo, who penned a July 7th editorial subtitled “What did Bibi know – and when did he know it?” This clever tag referred to initial reports – eventually identified as erroneous and unsubstantiated – that former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in London at the time, possessed “prior warning” of the coming attacks. These stories, carried on the AP wire, came as a result of the misinterpretation of comments made by an Israeli official. Israeli and Scotland Yard officials later denied the early confused reports.
Not content with actually waiting for these slow developing facts, Raimondo posed a rhetorical cui bono on his antiwar.com based blog, suggesting that Israel was the real political beneficiary of the July 7th bombing, implying at least foreknowledge on the part of Israeli intelligence.
The clarion call went out, and the usual suspects faithfully parroted the conspiracy line. Little Streichers on popular leftist sites such as “Indymedia” and “whatreallyhappened.com” picked up where Raimondo left off, posting vague accusations against Israel on their respective front pages. Stories of Israel’s hidden and nefarious intentions were posted rapidly as gleeful responders hailed the new information, going even further than Raimondo was inclined to go.
Foreknowledge transformed into intent, as writers for Indymedia and other leftist blogs deemed the attacks as “false flags,” stating “Israel knows because Israel does.” This frenzy of hardly suppressed anti-Semitic poison quickly spread to Nazi-lite sites such as “Liberty Forum,” which ran articles suggesting the ever-present “Jewish money” had something to do with the London bombings. Other more extreme leftist sites abandoned simple suspicion, declaring, along with “photographic” evidence, “Israeli Terror Teams Behind London Attacks.” These same sites have not slowed in their promotion of this abhorrent line of thought, with new conspiracy articles appearing almost daily.
The insane prattling of internet savvy anti-Semitism quickly made its way to its low tech but no less hateful cousin, the Middle Eastern press. Dr. Sami Sa'id Habib, a Saudi newspaper columnist, wrote in an editorial that Al-Qaeda had nothing to gain from the bombing, so more attention should be paid to possible “Israeli involvement in the affair.” Other regional papers such as Joumhour-ye Eslami in Tehran blamed the “Zionist” secret services for the attacks. Such fierce anti-Semitic innuendo is hardly new to the Arab world and continues unabated, with many Arab “security experts” blaming Israel for the bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh on Egyptian state-run television.
These caustic and inane theories may strike the level-headed among us as a bothersome internet-borne lunacy that can be comfortably ignored. Right thinkers should be cautioned however, as the inclination to avoid and discount was our first response to the initial 9/11 conspiracies. Now, these fanciful theories are the catalysts for French best-sellers, the circus-like hearings of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and Howard Dean radio interviews.
Even worse, the Der Sturmer-esque internet furor over Israel’s supposed foreknowledge provides a convenient cover for the more “polite” forms of anti-Israel fanaticism that have appeared in the wake of the London bombings. London Mayor Ken Livingston - known as “Red Ken” by detractors and crimson-tinged supporters – apparently found time in his busy schedule to engage in his favorite pastime of blaming Israel for the world’s problems. In a recent BBC radio interview, Livingston explained the motivation of Islamic fundamentalists, cataloguing their complaints against Israel, "Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations.” The London based newspaper Sunday Express recently warned its readers of covert Israeli “death squads” (their words, not mine) which had been dispatched to Britain to assassinate enemies of Israel. These hysterical pronouncements come on the heels of the shameful attempt by the Association of University Teachers, a British academic union, to intellectually “divest” from Israel through boycott and embargo. These groundless fears of Israel and all things related is clearly not the sole domain of internet-based lunatics.
While anti-Semitic canards in the Arab press are nothing new, one should question why similar lies are increasingly embraced by the international left and their supposedly well-educated adherents. This “respectable,” intellectual anti-Semitism is undoubtedly playing an increasing role in the acceptance of dangerous and baseless assertions by the European public at large. While the effects of such hateful rhetoric and writing are difficult to quantify, it would be folly to suggest that they have no influence on the growing amount of worldwide anti-Semitic violence and the development of an acute sense of animus towards Israel on the part of the European political community.