Perhaps the most revealing aspect of Judt’s essay was his rationale for abolishing the freest country in the Middle East. “Today,” he wrote, “non-Israeli Jews feel themselves once again exposed to criticism and vulnerable to attack for things they didn’t do,” and so Israel must disappear.
Thus the legitimacy of a Jewish state is determined by the attitudes of anti-Semites: “Israel today is bad for the Jews.” Critics were not slow to point out that the extinction of the Jewish state, along with its army, might also turn out to be “bad for the Jews,” inasmuch as it would endanger the lives of several million Israelis. To this rather important objection, Judt gave a two-word response: “Things change.”
As this example suggests, one of the salient traits of today’s anti-Zionists – especially the academics among them – is their blatant intellectual dishonesty. British professor Jacqueline Rose, in her book explaining why Israel should be wiped off the map, concocts the claim that Herzl and Hitler were inspired by the same Paris performance of Wagner’s music. Illan Pappe, a communist historian at Haifa University, writes learned essays documenting a fictitious Israeli massacre at the village of Tantura in 1948. Norman Finkelstein has revived the old Soviet hoax that Israel was poised to invade Syria before the 1967 war.
Ever since the Israeli theologian Yeshayahu Leibowitz branded his country “Judeo-Nazi,” the equation of the victims and the perpetrators of the Holocaust has evolved into a malignant orthodoxy in opinion pieces, editorial cartoons, effete dinner discussions and Jew-baiting websites. The reason for its appeal – and for the popularity of alienated Jews who espouse it – is transparent: anyone who convinces himself that the horrors of Nazism have been reborn in its victims can invoke the fate of the dead Jews to justify his hatred of living Jews. Anti-Zionists – always quick to provide an alibi for anti-Semites – are well aware of that fact.
So it is that Noam Chomsky can compare Israel’s wars of self-defense with “Hitler’s moves to bunt the Czech dagger pointed at the heart of Germany Hitler’s conceptions have struck a responsive chord in current Zionist commentary.”
And so it is that Norman Finkelstein can avow that Jewish supporters of Israel are actually worse than the perpetrators of the Holocaust: “the Germans,” he writes, “could point in extenuation to the severity of penalties for speaking out against the crimes of state. What excuse do we have?”
Perhaps he aspires to compete with the late Israel Shahak – for years a fixture on the PLO lecture circuit – who revealed to the world that “there are Nazi-like tendencies in Judaism.”
But even these worthies would find it hard to outdo the London-based Gilad Atzmon, who recently imparted this insight: “To regard Hitler as the ultimate evil is nothing but surrendering to the Ziocentric discourse [Israel’s] vulgar biblical barbarism on the verge of cannibalism is wickedness with no comparison.” Atzmon is heavily promoted by radical leftists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Although they lose no opportunity to equate their fellow Jews with Nazis, anti-Zionists readily lend a helping hand to actual Nazis. At one time the ne plus ultra of Jewish collaboration with anti-Semites was the infamous Alfred Lilienthal, who insisted that the Diary of Anne Frank was a fake. Then the baton passed to Noam Chomsky, who explicitly praised Holocaust deniers, allowed them to publish his books and essays, collaborated in their propaganda campaigns, and defended his performance with the memorable observation that he saw “no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers.”