|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.
continue to target Jews across the world. But they have not succeeded in
bringing down the Israeli government – and they have not weakened Israeli
Now the war has entered a new phase. This is the soft war
that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it.
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
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 sometimes emboldens these
THERE ARE two things that worry me most. First is the
disturbing new home that anti-Semitism has found in polite society –
especially in Europe. Second is how violence and extremism are encouraged
when the world sees Israel’s greatest ally distancing itself from the
When Americans think of anti-Semitism, we tend to
think of the vulgar caricatures and attacks of the first part of the 20th
Today it seems that the most virulent strains come from
the Left. Often this new anti-Semitism dresses itself up as legitimate
disagreement with Israel.
Back in 2002 the president of Harvard,
Larry Summers, put it this way: “Where anti-Semitism and views that are
profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of
poorly educated rightwing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are
increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities.
Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are
anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”
Mr. Summers was
speaking mostly about our university campuses. Like me, however, he was
also struck by alarming developments in Europe.
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
Commissioner 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
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
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, Malmo, 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 Norwegianbased, German shipbuilder from
using its waters to test a submarine being built for the Israeli
Britain and Spain are boycotting an OECD tourism meeting in
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, some of the
most egregious attacks on Jewish people, Jewish symbols, and Jewish houses
of worship have come from the Muslim population.
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.
Europe’s political leaders do not stand up to the thugs, they lend
credence to the idea that Israel is the source of all the world’s problems
– and they guarantee more ugliness. If that is not anti-Semitism, I don’t
know what is.
That brings me to my second point: the importance of
good relations between Israel and the United States.
that if America wants to gain credibility in the Muslim world and advance
the cause of peace, Washington needs to put some distance between itself
and Israel. My view is the opposite. Far from making peace more possible,
we are making hostilities more certain. Far from making things better for
the Palestinian people, sour relations between the United States and
Israel guarantees that ordinary Palestinians will continue to
The peace we all want will come when Israel feels secure –
not when Washington feels distant.
Right now we have war. There are
many people waging this war. Some blow up cafes. Some fire rockets into
civilian areas. Some are pursuing nuclear arms. Some are fighting the soft
war, through international boycotts and resolutions condemning Israel. All
these people are watching the US-Israeli relationship closely.
this regard, I was pleased to hear the State Department’s spokesman
clarify America’s position last week. He said that the United States
recognizes “the special nature of the Israeli state. It is a state for the
This is an important message to send to the Middle
East. And when people see a Jewish prime minister treated badly by an
American president, they see a more isolated Jewish state. That only
encourages those who favor the gun over those who favor
Back in 1937, a man named Vladimir Jabotinsky urged
Britain to open up an escape route for Jews fleeing Europe. Only a Jewish
homeland, he said, could protect European Jews from the coming
In prophetic words, he described the problem this way:
“It is not the anti-Semitism of men,” he said. “It is, above all, the
anti-Semitism of things, the inherent xenophobia of the body social or the
body economic under which we suffer.”
The world of 2010 is not the
world of the 1930s. The threats Jews face today are different. But these
threats are real. These threats are soaked in an ugly language familiar to
anyone old enough to remember World War II. And these threats cannot be
addressed until we see them for what they are: part of an ongoing war
against the Jews.
Edited from a
speech Rupert Murdoch gave in New York last Wednesday at an
Anti-Defamation League dinner.