Facing the real cause of the long Arab war

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Video: Haim Goldberg

The time has come for Israel to stop giving a pass to Arab Jew hatred.

In his book From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel, the late historian Robert Wistrich documented how before, during and after the Nazi period scholars from the political left disregarded and denied the ideological power anti-Semitism held over the Germans and their collaborators. The cause of their blindness was Marxism.

Marxism has long been the theoretical prism through which the left sees the world. Marxism is hateful and contemptuous of Judaism because Judaism is fundamentally opposed to the obedient universality Communism demands. Karl Marx and his followers sought to eradicate Judaism through a world Communist revolution that Jews could only join if they first abandoned their national, cultural and religious identities.

One of the ways Marxism derides Judaism is by presenting it as an archaic dogma fundamentally irrelevant and counterproductive to the modern world. Since Marxists belittle Judaism, in the Nazi period they were incapable of recognizing that anti-Semitism was Nazism’s central organizing principle.

Leftist scholars of Nazism insisted that Nazis didn’t hated Jews because they were Jewish. They hated Jews because many Jews were Communists and Nazis were anti-Communist. By this reasoning, it was the Jews’ fault that the Nazis hated them and in due course, annihilated them. For scholars of the left, the Holocaust itself was a mere biproduct of Jewish membership in Communist parties.

Much of the same doctrinaire thinking has long informed – or misinformed – leftist understanding of the Arab war against the Jewish state. Immediately after the UN General Assembly adopted the partition plan to divide the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine into two separate states – one Arab and one Jewish on November 29, 1947—the Arab war against the Jewish state began. Until Israel declared independence six months later, the war was waged by local Arab militias. The local Arabs were joined by five invading armies the day Israel declared independence. The declared goal of all the Arabs was to eradicate the newborn State of Israel and throw the Jews into the sea to “finish Hitler’s work.” The rhetoric and actions of the Arabs left no room for doubt. Their aim was genocidal and it was driven by Jew hatred.

In 1949 – just four years after the gas chambers were shut down – the Soviets used the Marxist model to legitimize the Arab war against the Jews to a world still embarrassed by the Holocaust. That year, the KGB invented a new term, “anti-Zionism.” The Arabs weren’t anti-Semites. They only hated Jews who wanted to live as free Jews in their sovereign homeland. Notably, as the KGB laundered Jew hatred to suit post-war sensibilities, the Soviet regime was outlawing the practice of Judaism and purging Jews from public life in the Soviet Union.

Outside the Soviet bloc, anti-Zionism was a hard sell early on. It was given a big push forward though in the wake of the Six Day War. Israel’s victory in that defensive war placed it in control of the Golan Heights, Sinai, the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria and enabled it to unify Jerusalem. Despite the fact that Israel had a right to incorporate these areas into its sovereign territory both under the laws of war and the borders of the Jewish state as set out in the League of Nations Mandate, the Soviets and leftists in Western Europe used Israel’s control over these territories to build a new, counterfactual narrative to justify the Arab war against the Jewish state.

If the Jews were responsible for the Nazis’ genocidal anti-Semitism because some Jews were Communists, then Israel was responsible for the Arab aggression because it “stole” Arab land and refused to give up land for “peace.”

Setting aside the obvious logical fallacy – putting the cart before the horse – this narrative made no sense practically speaking. If the problem was Israel’s size rather than its existence, then why did the Soviets and the Arabs ram through UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 in 1975 which said Zionism is a form of racism, and so proclaimed Israel’s very existence illegitimate and immoral? Why do the Palestinians demand the so-called “right of return” of Arab who left Israel in 1948 and their descendants to Israel rather than a future Palestinian state? And why did both Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas refuse Israeli peace offers that gave in to nearly all of their territorial demands?

All of these things occurred because the post-1967 leftist narrative of Israeli avariciousness for “Arab” land, like the 1949 Soviet narrative of anti-Zionism is entirely wrong. Yet despite its obvious absurdity, the left’s land-for-peace/two-state solution narrative dominated the international and domestic Israeli discourse on the Arab—Israeli and Palestinian-Israel conflict for the past half century.

This week it disintegrated.

The dominant – indeed leading – role Israeli Arabs are playing in the current round of the Palestinian war against Israel puts paid the notion that the Palestinian war on the Jews has something to do with specific territories Israel controls. Israeli Arabs are not burning synagogues, schools, yeshivot, Jewish owned stores, cars and homes because of the so-called “occupation.” They are not lynching Jews that fall in their paths because of the so-called “settlements.” They are assaulting the citizens and institutions and symbols of the Jewish state because they seek to destroy the Jewish state.

Timing is everything in war and in life. And the Israeli Arabs and Palestinians clearly believe that the time is ripe for them to discard the nonsense about “the occupation.”

The Biden administration is on their side. Not only did President Joe Biden restore U.S. funding to the PA despite its funding of terrorism. Over the past month of escalating Palestinian violence against Jews in Jerusalem and other cities around Israel, the Biden administration has embraced the Fatah narrative that Israel is “provoking” the Palestinians to attack Jews because Israel deployed police to the Temple Mount to restore the peace after the Palestinians attacked Jews. The Biden administration has also adopted Fatah’s anti-Semitic claim that Jews have no right to assert their property rights in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem because they are Jews.

For their part, Congressional leaders of the Democrat Party’s dominant hard left faction – Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Betty McCollum and their comrades — are pushing Hamas’s PR line. Like Hamas, they project the Palestinians’ crimes onto their victims. Israel, they slander, murders Palestinian children in cold blood. Obviously, a state that kills children on purpose is a criminal state that must be given no place in the community of nations.

The anti-Semitic disposition of both the administration and prominent Democrats serves as a tailwind for the Palestinians today. This state of affairs makes things more difficult for Israel to defeat its enemies. But at the end of the day, the Americans are not the ones who will decide Israel’s fate. That is the responsibility of the people of Israel.

The Palestinian war, now joined by Israel’s Arabs and supported by the ruling party in America presents Zionism with its supreme test: Will Israel protect its Jewish national identity or will it crumble under pressure?

Israel must do two things to persevere. First, it must quell the Israeli Arab violence and confiscate all illegal weapons now in the hands of the Arabs. Over the past two decades, reports of thefts from IDF bases of everything from small arms to automatic rifles to shoulder launched missiles have surfaced with some regularity. Nearly all of the theft was the work of Israeli Arabs and few and far between have been the instances where stolen weapons were located and returned to the army.

Israel’s security forces must use all necessary force to locate and seize those weapons. The Arab pogromists marauding through mixed Jewish-Arab towns lynching Jews and torching their synagogues and their property prove incontrovertibly that so long as huge caches of illegal weapons remain in the hands of Israeli Arabs, Israel’s future is imperiled. 

More fundamentally, after 75 years of making excuses and denying the plain fact that anti-Semitism is the root and the branch of the Arab conflict with Israel, Israelis of all walks of life and across the political spectrum need to accept this truth. As a society, we must demand that Israel’s Arab citizens and their leaders recognize the legitimacy and justice of the existence of the State of Israel. And we must not accept no for an answer any more.

When discussions began several weeks ago about the possibility of forming a governing coalition based on the direct or indirect support of Arab Knesset members from the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated United Arab List, Islamic scholar Daniel Pipes wrote an article considering the issue. Pipes explained that just as there are Judeophobic and philosemitic versions of Christianity, so the Koran includes two approaches to Judaism and Jews. The first, and most familiar approach is the jihadist approach. The jihadist approach rejects the Jews, the Torah and Jewish rights to Israel. The second approach embraces all three. Pipes said that the only way to include the United Arab List in a government, or to base a government on its support is by first demanding that the party’s members publicly declare that they uphold the Koranic approach which celebrates Jews and the Torah and recognizes that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews.

For the past 75 years, Israelis across the political spectrum have passively accepted Arab Jew hatred. The left believed Jews earned the Arabs’ hatred by defeating them in successive wars. To appease their hate, the left has pushed policies that restrain public expressions of Jewish pride and holds Arabs to lower standards than they hold Jews – forgiving their anti-Semitism while condemning rare expressions of Jewish anti-Arab racism with all the passion and urgency they can muster.

The Israeli right also has taken Arab Jew hatred for granted. Its members have argued that the way to defuse or mitigate the hatred is to integrate Arab citizens into all walks of public life, never asking that they first accept the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

The time has come to end this state of affairs. The Israeli Arab pogroms of 2021 together with the Western left’s adoption of narratives legitimizing Arab Jew hatred give Israel no option of continuing to pretend away or excuse this reality. Just as anti-Semitism was the central animating ideology of Nazism so it is the central ideology of the Arab war against the Jewish state. To put an end to these pogroms now, and to prevent them from recurring, Israel must end its tolerance for Arab Jew hatred and must stop making apologies for Zionism and Jewish peoplehood. Israel must assert its national rights to all areas of this country without apology. It must do so consistently. Israel’s future, and the possibility that coexistence between Jews and Arabs will ever be restored depend on our willingness to forthrightly demand that Arab Israelis abandon their hatred of this country.

Originally published in Israel Hayom.

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