Culture

Are They Killing 'Folks' Again?

It’s hard not to notice certain parallels between Saturday’s events in Copenhagen and events in Paris last January 7 and January 9.

In the latter case, first people were attacked (at the Charlie Hebdo offices) for having insulted Islam, and then “folks” (in President Obama’s memorable formulation) were attacked for being, well, folks. In the Copenhagen case, similarly, first Islam-insulters were attacked, and then…folks.

In both cases the “folks” were Jews—what a coincidence.

Of course, sarcasm aside, it wasn’t really a coincidence at all. For thousands of jihadists in the world and many millions of Muslims—certainly not all, but significant numbers—who support them, having been born a Jew is sufficient grounds to be killed. In an earlier iteration, this was known as Nazism.

Yet, while there is clearly an Islamic tradition of antisemitism rooted in the Koran, Jews and Jew-killing have generally not been an obsession in the Islamic world. What makes our era different, of course, is the existence of that intolerable outrage known as the state of Israel, which occupies one-sixth of 1 percent as much land as the Muslim Arab countries, and of course, an even tinier proportion of the total land mass of the Muslim countries.

If Israel didn’t exist and there were only some Jewish minorities in today’s world, jihadists and their supporters would not be obsessed with them and attacking them. Because of Israel’s existence, jihadists now view all Jews, wherever they live, as members of the same accursed, demonic tribe that has no right to life. Hence the current situation in Europe, where synagogues and Jewish schools require the presence of armed soldiers and police officers.

It would be one thing if the assault was basically being mounted by part of the Muslim world while the rest of the world was standing behind Israel and the Jews. Unfortunately, that is hardly the case. The sad reality is that, seven decades after the Holocaust, the Jewish state is the most vilified country in the world, and the Western countries play a large role in the vilification.

A poll this year, for instance, finds that Britons view only North Korea as worse than Israel, while viewing Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia more favorably than Israel. Also this year, a poll finds 35 percent of Germans equating Israeli policies with those of the Nazis and 48 percent having a “poor” opinion of Israel. More generally, a BBC poll of world opinion in 2013 found only North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran to be less popular than Israel.

Other examples abound, of course. The goal of the BDS movement, increasingly trendy on Western campuses, is Israel’s eradication pure and simple; no comparable movement exists regarding any other country. The body known as the UN Human Rights Council is a kangaroo court for ritual denunciation of Israel—one that Western countries participate in and finance. And as former AP journalist Matti Friedman has powerfully documented (here and elsewhere), Western media deliberately pursue an Israel-vilifying agenda, poisoning its image in the minds of millions of mostly poorly informed people.

Compared to Europe and the Muslim world, of course, the situation in the United States is much better, with Congress and a large majority of the population showing support for Israel. The same, however, cannot necessarily be said about the administration. With Jews—or “folks,” if one insists—now increasingly being targeted in murderous attacks as a corollary of Muslim rage against Israel, is it time for the administration to rethink its prominent role in the Israel-bashing?

In 2014, for example, the State Department called Israeli actions “unacceptable” 87 times; only Syria, Iran, and North Korea tolled higher numbers, while Pakistan, Russia, Afghanistan, and Iraq got fewer “unacceptable” tags. With Israel it’s a “scandal of the week” onslaught: approves building plans for Jews in Jerusalem! Bombs a UN school! It goes without saying that no other U.S. democratic ally gets anywhere near such an amount of criticism; most, actually, are not publicly criticized by Washington at all.

And then there is the severe vilification of the thrice-elected Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. “He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.” That Mafia-style bluster was an administration official’s reaction in January to Netanyahu’s accepting an invitation to address Congress. In October it was: “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.” Of course, you’ve never heard the administration talk that way about David Cameron or Angela Merkel—or even Hafez Assad. It seems the leader of the “folks” gets a very unique treatment.

It is said that Obama, in his last years as president, is concerned about his “legacy.” Unless things change soon—which is not exactly likely—helping create a climate of aggression toward the Jewish state and Jews is going to be part of it.