Zoe Strimpel

Anti-Israel Jews are worse than just antisemitic

To me, now, they are in the enemy camp, working against all who believe ‘never again’


Members of the Jewish Bloc for Palestine march in central London, on April 27, 2024, in support of the Palestinian people. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP) (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL/AFP via Getty Images)

April 26, 2024 15:15

One of the most irritating things an anti-Israel progressive can say is that this or that Jew, Israeli or otherwise, says such and such nasty thing about Israel, and so it must not be antisemitic or beyond the pale. The idea that Jews or Israelis can’t be antisemitic is plain stupid. Of course they can. Just like Christians throughout the ages have preached the Bible while murdering or cheating or giving way to homosexual passions, Jews are people, and people can be nasty and dangerous – even to their own.

One boyfriend, a historian who had spent quite a bit of time in East Jerusalem and Ramallah, used to point to the spine-chilling work of Israel’s deranged “New Historians”, a troupe obsessed with depicting Israel’s founding and existence as primarily an inhuman and illegitimate attack on Palestinians. Chief among this vile crew is the celebrated Ilan Pappé, now a professor at Exeter, who has written such books as The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and the essay The Boycott Will Work: An Israeli perspective plus much more based on mendacious interpretations of the Jewish state’s existence and conduct.

Then there’s Pappé’s collaborator, the linguist Noam Chomsky, one of the  worst “anti-Zionist” intellectuals this side of the Second World War. Both of these, plus the likes of Avi Shlaim, “non-Zionist” Shlomo Sand and others, are frequently used by anti-Israel progressives to lend hideous legitimacy to a terribly immoral set of views.

Long before American campuses became the sewers of open antisemitism we are seeing now, it had become clear that the traditionally progressive Jews of North America are part of the problem. A 2021 poll of Jewish voters found that a quarter of respondents agreed that Israel is an apartheid state. Other surveys show that more young American Jews feel that Israel has nothing to do with them since the current war. For many, the age-old excuse for anti-Israel rhetoric – “the government” – is deployed.

One might have thought that with matters coming to their present grim pass, these complacent Jews – many of whom are in academia, politics, the arts and law – would have woken up, having seen that if Nazi Europe is far away in time and space, its worst teachings, fused with those of theocratic Islamism, are on their doorstep.

But no. I have looked with queasy horror at some of the behaviour of our north American brethren. Naomi Klein, the Canadian Marxist fan-girl and activist writer – always an avowed anti-Zionist – is galvanised by current events. Klein took the opportunity of Passover and worldwide pro-Hamas rallies to write in the Guardian last week that Zionism is a “false idol” that Jews ought to jettison like so much mouldy cheese. Jacqueline Rose, the author, academic and psychoanalytical theorist, is her UK equivalent – a passionate anti-Zionist who has written for years about Israel’s “apartheid” and “oppression” of Palestinians.

The nest of vipers includes Stanley Cohen, a New York lawyer who, raised an Orthodox Jew, now wears a keffiyah like a tallit, draped over his shoulders. Terribly excited about the Columbia protests, he has represented members of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah and brags about having “Hamas on the phone”: “I speak with representatives of Hamas on an as-needed basis for legal advice and in matters pending in international courts,” he said this week.

And then there are those who rally around anti-Israel Jew-in-chief Bernie Sanders, who – after a brief moment of acknowledging Israel’s right to self-defence – has been occupying himself decrying the “illegal” war and Israel’s “horrendous humanitarian record”. I have read about New York Jews skipping Seder to join the Columbia protesters, while many Seders on the US coasts have been hijacked for the cause of attacking Israel and expressing “solidarity” with Gaza.

Everyone has the right to say or do what they like within the law, but that doesn’t change my conviction – which is considered as extreme as it is obvious to me – that anti-Israel Jews are worse than antisemitic: they are traitors. If their lives were at stake, and Israel was the one place in the world they might be safe, Israel’s duty would be to take them in because they are Jews.

But to me, now, whatever rituals they perform, they are useless Jews. Superfluous. In the enemy camp, working against all who believe “never again”.

Klein, Rose, Pappé, Chomsky and co may keep advocating for boycott and disinvestment. I extend the same desire to boycott them, their poisonous spewing and the “false idol” of their version of Judaism.

April 26, 2024 15:15

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