Hatred of Israel cannot be distinguished from hatred of the Jewish people. Incontestably now, anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews. When the Jew will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’?” —The Hamas Charter
“The conventional war of conquest was to be waged parallel to, and was also to camouflage, the ideological war against the Jews.” —Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933–1945
It wasn’t the rallies with “Keep the World Clean” posters and chants of “gas the Jews.” Nor was it the glorification of Hamas paragliders by the Chicago branch of Black Lives Matter or, in New York and London, the tearing down of posters with the faces of Israeli children held hostage by Hamas. Not even the off-the-charts uptick in antisemitic incidents in Germany (240 percent), the United States (nearly 400 percent), and London (1,353 percent) convinced me.
It was, rather, one of those realizations that so many generations of Jews before me have experienced. A realization that they, like me, surely tried to push out of their minds until the reality became unmistakeable.
This war is not simply between Hamas terrorists and Israelis. It is a war against the Jews.
The insight began with the international media’s coverage of the conflict. Again, it wasn’t the press’s insistence on calling mass murderers “militants” or citing Hamas and its “Health Ministry” as a reliable source. For close to fifty years—as a student activist, a diplomat, a soldier, a government and military spokesman, and above all, as a historian—I’ve grappled with the media’s bias against Israel. I’ve long known that the terrorists are “militants” solely because their victims are Jews, and only in a conflict with Israel are terrorists considered credible.
Instead, it was the media’s predictable switch from an Israel-empathetic to an Israel-demonizing narrative as the image of Palestinian suffering supplanted that of Israelis beheaded, dismembered, and burnt. It was the gnawing awareness that dead Jews buy us only so much sympathy.
In fact, there is probably a formula. Six million dead in the Holocaust procured us roughly 25 years of grace before the Europeans refused to refuel the U.S. planes bringing lifesaving munitions to Israel during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Fourteen hundred butchered Jews bought us a little less than two weeks’ worth of positive coverage.
Europeans, it’s long been said, never forgave the Jews for the Holocaust. Their guilt was collective and their antisemitism no longer socially acceptable. What a relief many of them felt when it became de rigueur to call Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians Nazi-like. Similarly, haters of Israelis can’t forgive them for being massacred by Hamas terrorists on October 7, and were relieved when, on October 17, they could go back to vilifying the “colonial apartheid state.”
October 17—that was the date of the al-Ahli Arab Hospital incident. Hamas claimed that an Israeli bomb hit the hospital and killed 500 civilians. Again, there was nothing new about Hamas blaming Israel for atrocities that never happened and counting as dead the many who didn’t die. What was unprecedented was the speed at which the world accepted this triple lie—not a hospital but its parking lot was struck by a Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli bomb, killing far fewer than 500. Nevertheless, reflexively, the world imputed evil to Israel.
Within hours of the al-Ahli bombing, both Israel and the United States revealed the truth behind it. Still, almost no one in the media apologized. A full week after the explosion, The New York Times was still bringing in “experts” to intimate Israel’s guilt. After all, the paper was subtly telling us, Israel is perfectly capable of bombing hospitals and, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, possibly bombed this one as well.
What was previously an inkling became, October 17, an epiphany. It marked the moment when I finally peered behind the headlines and recognized their ancient, vicious, core.
For many centuries, the term “innocent Jew” was an oxymoron. Jews were guilty by birth, by belief, and by ancestry. There is a religious tenet of Judaism, reenacted each year at Passover, that all Jews were present at the exodus from Egypt and when God gave the laws to Moses at Sinai. Twisting this is a Christian belief that all Jews were present at, and responsible for, the crucifixion. More than Pilate, more than Judas—a name not chosen randomly—the Jews were damned for deicide.
But killing God is only one of the sins for which Israelis—read: Jews—are being demonized in this war. Behind the reports of the deliberate Israeli bombing of Palestinian neighborhoods—reports that meticulously stress the number of children killed—lies the 144,000 children mythically massacred by the Judean King Herod.
Though understandably feeling vengeful toward Hamas and their allies in Gaza, the vast majority of Israelis do not want innocent Palestinians to die. Hamas, however, places its bunkers, rocket launchers, and headquarters in civilian areas. Though Israel warns these noncombatants to evacuate, Hamas tries to prevent their flight, sometimes at gunpoint. The goal is twofold: to kill as many Israelis as possible, and to kill Palestinians to win the sympathy of the world and so that Israel can be denounced internationally for war crimes.
Hamas’s strategy is clear. Yet much of the press prefers to ignore it. Instead, it repeatedly accuses Israel of seeking to inflict the maximum number of civilian deaths and especially of children. In the media’s rendering, Israel is the new Herod butchering Palestinian innocents.
Forgotten are the thousands of Gazans who followed Hamas terrorists through the ruptured fence into Israel where they joined in the mutilations and raping. Forgotten are the Gazans who beat and spat at a nineteen-year-old Israeli woman who was raped and paraded through their streets. Gone were Gazans who gave out candy and celebrated the slaughter of 1,400 civilians who were truly innocent.