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Eric Hoffer longshoreman, philosopher, lover of Israel

Eric Hoffer was a longshoreman, who worked on the San Francisco docks for 20+ years. In his spare time he wrote several highly acclaimed books that made him arguably the most famous American longshoreman of the 20th century. He is often dubbed as a moral and social philosopher who later became an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Hoffer was not Jewish, but he was keenly aware of the unfair treatment of Israel – the only predominantly Jewish country among almost 200 countries in the world today – by the mainstream media. Here is what he wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 1968: 


The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab … 

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us all. 

Hoffer’s premonition might come true. Fast forward to June 8, 2021, when news headlines read, “Longshoremen’s Union Refuse to Unload Israeli Ship.” The union bosses sided with the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement and longshoremen refused to unload an Israeli ship, while cheerfully unloading ships from countries such as China, their human rights record notwithstanding – like using slave labor, putting their Muslim minority in concentration camps and bullying neighboring countries. 

What has changed since Hoffer’s time? It’s the appearance of a new branch of government that was accurately predicted by George Orwell – the Ministry of Truth. Calling it a “branch of government” is not an overstatement. Even though not been elected or appointed by anyone, the Ministry of Truth has managed to get a tight grip on many institutions of our society – public education, the mainstream media, Hollywood, etc. 

The US Congress elected by the people may pass resolutions condemning the BDS movement as antisemitic. But if your children are students, chances are they will learn that boycotting Israel is not only justifiable, it is a moral imperative. If, as a parent, you disagree and start arguing with the school board, good luck to you. 

The Ministry of Truth is rewriting history. It has created a new narrative that it successfully pushes on the younger generation through the system of public and higher education. According to that narrative: 

The Arabs are an indigent people in Israel; they are commonly referred to as people of color, whereas the Jews are not. The Jews moved to the territory of Israel as a result of WWII. They are white European colonizers who created an Israel that oppresses Palestinian Arabs. Another version of this narrative claims that Israel commits genocide against them. 

For instance, when Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who was born to Palestinian immigrants in Detroit, begins her speech in the US House of Representatives with the words “as a woman of color,” she knows what emotions these words evoke. When she then turns around and says that Israel is “promoting racism and dehumanization” under an “apartheid system,” she knows precisely what emotions and associations these words evoke too. Then these words are repeated ad nauseam in the classroom by teachers who have attended “professional development” workshops a.k.a. indoctrination classes, and now you know what has changed between the time of Eric Hoffer and now. 

That narrative simply ignores an enormous body of archeological, historiographical, genetic and linguistic evidence that the Jews are an indigenous people of the Middle East. After the defeat of the Jewish rebellion (66 – 73 CE) against Rome and the destruction of the Temple, most Jews, exiled from their ancestral homeland, scattered all over the world. Yet, the desire to return and rebuild the Temple has always been a central theme in Jewish culture and religion. 

To some degree, that desire was similar to that of some freed African American slaves to return to Africa in the 19th century. They founded a country called Liberia that became Africa’s first modern independent republic. There are many differences between the return of the freed African slaves and Jews to their historical homelands. For one thing, the percentage of former African slaves who chose to return was very small. But both groups were motivated by righteous and honorable intentions. 

Half of the Jews who returned to Israel came from Arab countries as well as Iran, rather than Europe. Another group of Jews have simply lived in Palestine for centuries. Contrary to the Ministry of Truth’s narrative, Jews and Arabs had not lived in peace and harmony prior to the Israeli Declaration of Independence of 1948. Thus, a bloody Jewish massacre took place in 1929 in Hebron, a city where Jews had lived for centuries.  Here is an excerpt from the report made by the British commission investigating the massacre: 

About 9 o’clock on the morning of the 24th of August, Arabs in Hebron made a most ferocious attack on the Jewish ghetto and on isolated Jewish houses lying outside the crowded quarters of the town. More than 60 Jews — including many women and children — were murdered and more than 50 were wounded. This savage attack, of which no condemnation could be too severe, was accompanied by wanton destruction and looting. 

Jews from Arab countries did not migrate to Israel voluntarily. Many of them had to flee for their lives.  Here are just two examples of anti-Jewish violence in the Arab world.  Libyan Jews became victims of a bloody pogrom that lasted from November 5 to November 7, 1945, in which 140 Jews, including 36 children, were killed and hundreds injured.  A Jewish pogrom in Baghdad, Iraq, lasted for two days: June 1 and 2, 1941.  Over 180 Jews were killed and 1,000 injured. 

If George Orwell’s dystopian predictions come to pass, all of these facts will eventually be erased or altered, and the books describing them will be burned. Facebook and Twitter posts mentioning them will be deleted for “spreading debunked conspiracy theories,” which is the digital equivalent of book burning. If the authors persist, their accounts will be permanently cancelled. If they still keep protesting, the Twitter mob will threaten to boycott the companies that employ them, unless the companies fire them for being racists. We have already seen a preview of that, haven’t we? 

The antisemitic double standard applied to Israel was obvious to Eric Hoffer in 1968. Today its perpetrators attempt to avoid criticism simply by re-writing history, creating an alternative reality. In that reality, Israel is the root cause of all troubles in the world. Hence, they believe that anything that may lead to its destruction is legitimate.  


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Eugene Veklerov is a retired mathematician. His articles have been published in The Federalist, PJMedia and American Thinker.