We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews.
For the first decades after Israel’s founding, this war was conventional in nature. The goal was straightforward: to use military force to overrun Israel. Well before the Berlin Wall came down, that approach had clearly failed.
Then came phase two: terrorism.
Terrorists targeted Israelis both home and abroad – from the massacre of Israeli athletes at Munich to the second intifada.
The terrorists continue to target Jews across the world. But they have not succeeded in bringing down the Israeli government – and they have not weakened Israeli resolve.
Now the war has entered a new phase. This is the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it. The battleground is everywhere: the media multinational organizations NGOs.
In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah.
The result is the curious situation we have today: Israel becomes increasingly ostracized, while Iran – a nation that has made no secret of wishing Israel’s destruction – pursues nuclear weapons loudly, proudly, and without apparent fear of rebuke.
For me, this ongoing war is a fairly obvious fact of life.
Every day, the citizens of the Jewish homeland defend themselves against armies of terrorists whose maps spell out the goal they have in mind: a Middle East without Israel.
In Europe, Jewish populations increasingly find themselves targeted by people who share that goal.
And in the United States, I fear that our foreign policy only emboldens these extremists.
When Americans think of anti-Semitism, we tend to think of the vulgar caricatures and attacks of the first part of the 20th century. Now it seems that the most virulent strains come from the Left. Often this new anti-Semitism dresses itself up as legitimate disagreement with Israel.
Far from being dismissed out of hand, anti-Semitism today enjoys support at both the highest and lowest reaches of European society – from its most elite politicians to its largely Muslim ghettoes. European Jews find themselves caught in this pincer.
We saw a recent outbreak when a European Commission trade minister declared that peace in the Middle East is impossible because of the Jewish lobby in America. Here’s how he put it:
“There is indeed a belief – it’s difficult to describe it otherwise – among most Jews that they are right. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.”
This minister did not suggest the problem was any specific Israeli policy. The problem, as he defined it, is the nature of the Jews.
Adding to the absurdity, this man then responded to his critics this way: Anti-Semitism, he asserted, “has no place in today’s world and is fundamentally against our European values.”
Of course, he has kept his job.
Unfortunately, we see examples like this one all across Europe.
Sweden, for example, has long been a synonym for liberal tolerance. Yet in one of Sweden’s largest cities, Jews report increasing examples of harassment. When an Israeli tennis team visited for a competition, it was greeted with riots.
So how did the mayor respond? By equating Zionism with anti-Semitism – and suggesting that Swedish Jews would be safer in his town if they distanced themselves from Israeli actions in Gaza.
You don’t have to look far for other danger signs:
● The Norwegian government forbids a Norwegian-based, German shipbuilder from using its waters to test a submarine being built for the Israeli navy.
● Britain and Spain are boycotting an OECD tourism meeting in Jerusalem.
● In the Netherlands, police report a 50 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by these things. According to one infamous European poll a few years back, Europeans listed Israel ahead of Iran and North Korea as the greatest threat to world peace.
In Europe today, many of the most egregious attacks on Jewish people, Jewish symbols, and Jewish houses of worship have come from the Muslim population.
Unfortunately, far from making clear that such behavior will not be tolerated, too often the official response is what we’ve seen from the Swedish mayor – who suggested Jews and Israel were partly to blame themselves.