The relentless torrent of anti-Israel propaganda turned out by leftist and liberal European media during the past two decades is finally bearing loads of toxic fruit. The far left really started the campaign on a low key after the 1967 War, it intensified during the 1982 incursion into Lebanon, escalated during the second Intifada, took a leap forward during the 2006 Hezbollah War and went mainstream during the Gaza Operation in early 2009.
The war against the Jews has two fronts: one of physical violence in the Middle East and the other of verbal violence in the media where the battle of opinion is raging. Israel is well equipped to defend itself physically but is losing the other war
as Stephanie Gutmann wrote some years ago. Openly antisemitic antagonism towards Israel has always been common in the Arab world. Spread through mosques, madrassas and the internet, this propaganda has infected the entire Islamic sphere including Europe where Muslim numbers and influence are increasing. This demographic factor is expertly dissected by Rafael Israeli in his book on elemental and residual antisemitism.
Robin Shepherd examines the battle of ideas about Israel between non-Muslim westerners. Documenting and analysing in meticulous detail the expanding scope and power of this hostility among European opinion-formers, he notes how it has spread from the far left to the mainstream liberal-left as Bernard Harrison also reveals in The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism and Manfred Gerstenfeld in Behind The Humanitarian Mask with reference to Scandinavia. Major UK media like The Guardian, Independent and BBC
are in the vanguard while on the continent recent examples were provided by the Swedish paper Aftonbladet and the Spanish El Mundo.
Shepherd identifies the cause as Europe's civilizational exhaustion and its symptoms like the post-Holocaust guilt complex and the intelligentsia's embrace of pacifism, appeasement, nihilism and relativism. The World Wars and the continent's murderous salvationist ideologies have made them reject all frameworks like nationalism or religion. As Chantal Delsol
observes, Europe now believes in nothing but the welfare state. The far left and to a lesser degree the liberal-left hate many things, especially America and Israel, but have no idea what they want since the collapse of communism.
Shepherd's examples of the crude demonization of Israel correspond exactly with the analyses of Delsol and Harrison. Emotion & indignation have become the preferred channels for a morality which is negatively defined. Artists and intellectuals in particular express an angry form of piety in hysterical fits of morality of which the relativism, rage and selectivity betray it as fatuous posturing. It is demonstrably contradictory in the way it clings to moral absolutes whilst affirming the universality of relativism. Delsol considers it an empty morality of despair and withdrawal.
Caroline Glick, Bruce Bawer
and Claire Berlinski share the opinion that European elites have rejected the lessons of the Holocaust. The simplistic fallacies that nationalism is the ultimate evil and that war is never justified are denials of reality. Nationalism is a neutral concept that must be judged by the way it is expressed whilst pacifism permits evil to flourish; it is neither pious nor benevolent as it holds justice in contempt. The collapse of the USSR pushed the Left over the edge and was the main reason for its eager acceptance of postmodernism
These evil philosophies are behind Europe's refusal to defend Western values. European elites deny the reality of Islamist terrorism whereas Israel has no choice but to confront it. The fad of Moral Relativism is not applied to both sides; it is used to justify suicide/homicide bombing but never to the measures taken by Israel to defend itself. The far left's hatred of Israel and the USA has made it an ally of radical Islamism despite the ideological chasm between them. Jamie Glazov explains this unholy alliance with great insight in his book United in Hate
In the war of ideas, academia is the source & the mass media the disseminator of anti-Western pieties du jour of which the seeming benevolence masks a profound self-loathing. The double standards of "human rights" organizations and trade unions are breathtaking. Shepherd doubts that Western anti-Zionism is rooted in the old antisemitism; he argues that this vitriolic hatred of Israel represents an entirely new mutation of the mental disease.
The last chapter, Contagion: Is America Next? investigates why the quality of Middle Eastern discourse in the USA has not deteriorated to the same extent as in Europe. He warns however, with reference to Wart and Smearsheimer
, that it could happen. In this regard it's important to consider Andre Glucksmann's theory that a contagion of hatred must be taken literally as a mental disorder that invades minds, bodies and society. Immune to reason, such an outbreak inoculates itself against opposing ideas.
Shepherd's informative book ought to be read with Denis MacShane's Globalising Hatred
that highlights the plague as a factor in international politics with important geostrategic implications. MacShane also points out what scant attention is paid in the West to the Islamic sphere's brazen antisemitism which is promoted by state media and appears in the charters of Hamas & Hezbollah. Authors like Nonie Darwish, Brigitte Gabriel and Phyllis Chesler have been trying to raise awareness of the phenomenon for years.
It is incumbent upon friends of Israel to counteract this descent into madness. Shepherd's is not the first warning; in the 1990s Alan Dershowitz, William F Buckley and William Nicholls saw it coming, while more recently Oriana Fallaci, Bat Ye'or, David Horowitz, Melanie Phillips, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Abraham Foxman, Dennis Prager, Nick Cohen, Walter Laqueur and David Solway have sounded the alarm. This time the Jewish people must not be abandoned to fight the battle on their own. As for the how of counteracting it, the best book by far is The Dawn: Political Teachings of the Book of Esther
by Yoram Hazony.