West's Goliath psychosis

Once again, we are living through the hallucinatory, sickening experience of seeing Israel's morally-elevated defence against murderous fanatics provoke a global explosion, of Israel-bashing and naked anti-Jewish hatred, especially in demonstrations across Europe.

For sure, the current war in Gaza has engendered more sympathy than previous such Israeli military campaigns. More and more people understand that Israel alone is fighting a murderous Islamic aggression which threatens themselves, too. People are less inclined to blame Israel or believe media reports that are often not far off inflammatory incitement against Israel and the Jewish people.

Many in the intelligentsia frame this conflict as if Israelis are the war criminals and genocidal Hamas the victims. They uncritically swallow the Hamas death count, even though it orders all casualties to be described as "civilians" whereas untold numbers are armed killers.

The Hamas strategy is to maximise civilian deaths and give the widest circulation to horrific pictures of mutilated children in order to turn Western opinion against Israel.

What is it that leads so many to demonise Israel?

It works, with commentators spitting venom at Israel as "out of control", guilty of indiscriminate slaughter and even - obscenely - "genocide".

Why did the West turn against Israel? The conventional explanation is that, with the post-1967 "occupation", David turned into Goliath.

But as Joshua Muravchik points out in his new book, Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel, China's oppression of Tibet didn't produce the same reaction.

Muravchik presents an illuminating analysis to try to explain the inexplicable. In a nutshell, the Arab and Muslim world set out to bend the Western mind - and succeeded.

Muravchik records how, in the '60s, the newly-formed PLO terrorist group learned from Algeria to present the enemy as not only Israel but also "world imperialism," and the Palestinian cause as a struggle for liberation. The conflict was redefined from Arabs v Israel to Israel v Palestinians. The former Arab collaborators of Hitler and Goebbels were transformed into the comrades of such romanticised figures as Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara. Annihilatory Palestinian terrorism became chic. Giving the Palestinians a state became the holy grail of enlightened opinion.

The role played by terrorism and the oil weapon, the hijacking of the UN by the Arab bloc, the malign influence of such figures as the academic rewriter of Islamic history Edward Said, not to mention the appalling growth of the Israel-hating Israeli left, all this and more is part of the story.

I would add the prevailing climate of consequentialism, which means all that matters is outcomes, regardless of the motivation of those producing those outcomes. As a result, people look at the imbalance of casualties between Israel and Gaza and conclude that Israel's actions must therefore be disproportionate.

And yet, and yet. More than 200,000 have been killed in Syria, some 700 last week alone, not to mention hundreds in Iraq and elsewhere. So what is it that drives so many to demonise Israel's army - described by Britain's former commander in Afghanistan Richard Kemp as "the most moral amy in the history of warfare" - as monstrous and deliberate child killers?

This thing ultimately defies rational explanation. As Islamist savagery spreads, the moral depravity of the Western animus against Israel and the Jews can only be described as a metaphysical psychosis.

Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times

    Last updated: 2:00pm, July 24 2014