In 1980, I tried to convince the Israeli government that anti-Semitism was a serious problem. I got a polite, even successful hearing, and my words made the front pages of the Israeli media. Still, there was no traction, no plan, no forward movement.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, in 2004, I participated in the first global conference on anti-Semitism and had the privilege of meeting and working with Minister Natan Sharansky. At the time, Sharansky was the Minister for Israel-Diaspora Relations and for Global Anti-Semitism.
Who says that the Jews never learn?
In 2009, in Rome, I met with Israeli diplomat Aviva Raz-Schechter who is now the Director of Israel’s Department on Global Anti-Semitism. She is a beautiful and beautifully effective politician/diplomat/bureaucrat. We discussed the Israeli government’s upcoming annual conference on combating global anti-Semitism.
Who says that the Jews never learn? Anti-Semitism is one of our greatest teachers.
The conference begins on December 16th, tomorrow, and runs for two days in Jerusalem. I was supposed to speak there. At the last moment, I could not do so. But, I stopped everything else, wrote a speech for the panel I would have joined (some of which Professor Charles Small of Yale may read for me). Then, I stopped everything again in order to write and publish two articles on the subject of anti-Semitism. Both promote the Jerusalem conference.
Yes, of course, I am guilty. And I am putting my guilt to good use.
The first article appeared right here, at Pajamas, yesterday. The second article appears today in Human Rights Service, an online publication based in Norway which is read in all the Scandinavian countries.
Given the abysmal record on Israel shown by the Swedes, I wanted them to hear the good news right away, namely, that the Israeli government conference to combat global anti-Semitism will take place tomorrow, a mere eight-ten hours from now. The piece appears below.
The Greatest Battle of the 21st Century
By Phyllis Chesler, for Human Rights Service
For years, the world stood by and did nothing as the Palestinians perfected their diabolical arts of airplane hijacking and suicide terrorism against the tiny Jewish state. On the contrary, the world cheered the terrorists on. Palestinian terrorists were seen as victims or as freedom fighters, Israelis were viewed as the “genocidal” aggressors. Suddenly, the Palestinians became the “new Jews,” while the Jewish Israelis became the “new Nazis.” Western progressives, including feminists, became more concerned with the occupation of a country that never existed (Palestine) than they were with the occupation of womens’ bodies, world-wide.
This “narrative” Romance was well funded by the Soviets and the Arab League, housed by the United Nations, supported by the Arab and Western media and professoriate, and by international human rights groups. The bombing of synagogues, the boycotting of Israeli academics, demonstrations against the Israeli “occupation” of Muslim land, and the shunning of Israeli athletes became routine all over Europe. The Arab and Muslim media, joined by their mainstream western counterparts have accused the Jews and the Zionists—falsely—of deliberately shooting down a young Palestinian boy, committing a massacre in Jenin, poisoning Palestinian water, spreading cancer and AIDS among Palestinians, rendering Palestinian men sterile, and harvesting the organs of Palestinian prisoners for profit.
The targeting and isolating of Israel continues. Just last week, the EU resolved to promote East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. And, the British government resolved to label products produced by Jewish settlers in order to help consumers boycott them. In the United States, anti-Israel fanatics have started a boycott of Trader Joe’s for carrying Israeli products, even going so far as removing Israeli items from the shelves and putting anti-Israel stickers on them.
Most recently, on the evening of December 12th, in Vienna, while Chabad Rabbi Dov Gruzman was conducting the annual ceremony to light the public Chanukah menorah in Stefanzplatz, a Muslim ran in cursing Jews, who then began punching and kicking the Rabbi; he then bit off part of the rabbi’s finger. The rabbi was rushed to the hospital where they re-attached his finger. The attacker was arrested. Chabad’s response was to plan an even larger public ceremony with free jelly doughnuts for 700, as opposed to the usual 50-60 participants.
According to Israeli diplomat Aviva Raz-Schechter, on December 16th-17th in Jerusalem, the Israeli government will be holding a global conference on combating anti-Semitism. This is an important conference and one that should also be held in every major capital of the world. Clearly, that is not happening.
If the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority have their way, they hope to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state—without having to negotiate with Israel. And, as mentioned, the Swedes and the EU hope to declare East Jerusalem the capital of that state.
Do you really think Jews and Christians will be able to pray at their holy sites in East Jerusalem? Or that a conference on anti-Semitism would ever be held there?
Let me be clear. Soon enough, what happens to the Jews happens to others. Thus, 9/11, 3/11, 7/7, and 11/26 were all direct hits on modernity, democracy, Western values, women’s rights, and human rights—values which the Israeli state symbolizes. Of course, since the world chose not to stop jihadic terrorism against Jewish Israel, that same terrorism soon went global; a whirlwind of suicide bombings, airplane hijackings, hostage-takings, and massacres have now taken place on every continent. The well integrated, highly assimilated, peaceful Semites (Jews) who were slaughtered by Hitler in a real Holocaust have now been replaced by a less assimilated, more demanding, less peaceful group of Semites (Muslims) who are challenging core Western and European values.
Contrary to the politically correct progressive opinion in the West, we, Israelis, Americans, and Europeans, have not “caused” this jihad. I know this in my bones—and I learned it the hard way, the best way.
Once, long ago (as my readers here already know), I lived in Kabul, Afghanistan. Almost every day, my Afghan mother-in-law pressured me to convert to Islam. (Yes—my first marriage was to a descendant of Abraham’s first son, Ishmael.) Thus, long before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or the emergence of the Taliban, I experienced Islamic gender and religious apartheid up close and personal. Women wore shrouds, sheets, and sat at the back of the bus. Servants were treated like slaves. I was endangered there as a Jew, as a woman, and as an American.
I learned that Islamic fundamentalism and doctrines of superiority, which include fear, suspicion, and hatred of the “infidel,” are not caused by the West, the Zionists, the imperialists, or the colonialists.
Orwell would best understand how language has been used to pervert the truth. Israel is not an apartheid state. Rather, Islam is the largest practitioner of apartheid and of slavery. Israel is not a colonialist, occupying power; rather, it is Islamic history that is characterized by imperialism, colonialism, conversion by the sword, and suppression of dissent. Freud would also understand how the jihadic mind projects and scapegoats Jews and Israel for the sins and crimes of Islam.
Still, Islamic gender and religious apartheid is a human rights violation and cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism, tolerance, anti-racism, diversity, or political correctness. As long as Islamist groups continue to deny, minimize, or obfuscate the problem, and to project their own crimes onto Israel, we all remain in danger. By we, I do not mean only the West. I am also including Muslim dissidents, Muslim feminists, Muslim homosexuals, Muslim freedom lovers—and the large number of Muslims who simply want to lead peaceful lives free from tyranny.
In my view, the larger battle of good versus evil, of modernity versus barbarism, the battle for the preservation of western values, will ultimately be won or lost as a function of whether the world supports or sacrifices Israel—and on the field of womens’ rights.
I do not think that radical Islamists can yield on the subject of women’s rights any more than they can yield on the subject of Israel’s right to exist, true democracy, freedom of religion, or tolerance for homosexuals and for dissent. Here, then, is exactly where the greatest battle of the 21st century is joined.
Note: The author retains the copyright to the Human Rights Service article.