Britain’s home secretary, Theresa May, has declared that “We must all redouble our efforts to wipe out anti-Semitism here in the United Kingdom.” In her view and that of her government colleagues this means more must be done to combat violent Islamic fundamentalism in all of its manifestations. The problem with this way of thinking and policy making, which all Western governments have in common, is that it ignores the fact that the prime cause of the transformation of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism is Israel’s defiance of international law and brutal rejection of the Palestinian claim for justice.
A warning that anti-Israelism could and most likely would be transformed into anti-Semitism was sounded more than a quarter of a century ago by Yehoshafat Harkabi, a former director of Israeli military intelligence. In his book, Israel’s Fateful, published in English by Harper and Row in 1986, he wrote this:
Israel is the criterion according to which all Jews will tend to be judged. Israel as a Jewish state is an example of the Jewish character, which finds free and concentrated expression within it. Anti-Semitism has deep and historical roots. Nevertheless, any flaw in Israeli conduct, which initially is cited as anti-Israelism, is likely to be transformed into empirical proof of the validity of anti-Semitism. It would be a tragic irony if the Jewish state, which was intended to solve the problem of anti-Semitism, was to become a factor in the rise of anti-Semitism. Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.
The Israeli “misconduct” of Harkabi’s warning can be seen today for what it is: on-going colonisation of the occupied West Bank which includes the theft of more and more Palestinian land and water and the demolition of more and more Palestinian homes and olive trees; plus the on-going process of making life hell for the Palestinians of the besieged Gaza Strip.
It is this “misconduct” that has provoked and propelled the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism which is now showing early signs of being transformed into anti-Semitism.
The conclusion invited – in my view an irrefutable conclusion – is that by their refusal to call and hold Israel to account for its defiance of international law. all the governments of the Western world are assisting the transformation of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has every reason to be grateful for this assistance because he knows better than anybody else that Zionism needs anti-Semitism to justify Israel’s policies and actions.
Harkabi’s warning was, in fact, an echo of fears expressed by very many Jews of the world before the Nazi holocaust. Prior to it, most Jews, American and British Jews in particular, were opposed to Zionism’s colonial enterprise. They knew it was morally wrong. They believed it would lead to unending conflict. But most of all they feared that if Zionism was allowed by the major powers to have its way it would one day provoke anti-Semitism.
It was the Nazi holocaust that caused most Jews to throw away their moral compass.