Anti-Semitism Is Never Solely about the Jews

(Wall Street Journal) Ruth R. Wisse - Since the start of this millennium there have been attacks on Jewish houses of prayer in Dusseldorf, Brussels, Minsk, Mumbai, Istanbul, London and Caracas. Disparate local factors cannot account for the single-minded choice of targets. In every case, Jews are convenient targets standing in for the liberalizing aspects of individual freedom, democratic governance and modernity complete with its anxieties. Anti-Jewish politics aims at the tolerant societies in which Jews flourish. The intelligence agencies have become good at their work - though never good enough - but so far they seem not to have focused on the trail leading to the ideology that set terror in motion. If we follow the trail of Middle East terror back, past its current practitioners - Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbullah - we arrive at the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO was founded in 1964 - three years before the war launched by the Arab states from which Israel emerged in possession of some disputed territory on the west bank of the Jordan River. After 1967, as the PLO focused its terror exclusively against the Jews, money began to flow to the organization from the Arab states. Opposition to Israel was the unifying feature of an otherwise splintered Arab League that found in anti-Zionism the same ideological energy that Europeans had found in anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism unite otherwise contentious parties against a common target. For their own safety, those already living in free societies have to hunt down the terror cells to destroy them. But beyond them, what needs to be confronted is the ideology that brought terrorism into being. Only the incubators of this fatal hatred can accomplish that. The rest of the world can help by refusing to join the diversion of condemning Israel and by urging Arab and Muslim leaders to make up for seven lost decades of blame. The writer is a former professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard.

2015-01-19 00:00:00

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