Graffiti On History's Walls
But no matter. It is as if the world somehow believes Israel must win the "moral man of the year" award in defending itself--as if responding to those who seek its destruction is morally wrong. Is there really no difference, then, between the violence of murderers who target innocents and the indispensable violence of lawful authorities? Are the arsonist and the firefighter truly moral equivalents? Is Israel's approach, which seeks to minimize civilian casualties, the same as that of the terrorists, who seek to maximize it?
Such questions are prompted by an unprecedented reversal of history: Arab terrorists, incredibly, have managed to inspire more sympathy than their victims. The Jews, having experienced the genocide of Europe, today stand accused of perpetrating genocide on the hard ground of the West Bank and Gaza. The vocabulary of the accusations presents the Jews as Nazis and their Arab enemies as helpless Jews. The worst crimes of anti-Semites in the past--racist and ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide, crimes against humanity--are now increasingly ascribed to Jews and to the Jewish state. The argument has become, if you are against Nazism, you must oppose Israel. Thus has Israeli self-defense been transmogrified as aggression. As a consequence, the era of reconciliation that obtained between Israel and the world after the Holocaust is, tragically, no more. In much of the world's news media and in its elite communities, as a result, there is a pattern of delegitimization of Israel.
AMERICANS, WHO HAVE COME to take for granted the scurrilous anti-Semitism that routinely appears in the Arab press, might be amazed by what now appears in the sophisticated European press. In England, the Guardian wrote that "Israel has no right to exist." The Observer described Israeli settlements in the West Bank as "an affront to civilization." The New Statesman ran a story titled "A Kosher Conspiracy," illustrated by a cover showing the gold Star of David piercing the Union Jack. The story implies that a Zionist-Jewish cabal is attempting to sway the British press to the cause of Israel. In France, the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur published an extraordinary libel alleging that Israeli soldiers raped Palestinian women so that their relatives would kill them to preserve family honor. In Italy, the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano spoke of Israel's "aggression that's turning into extermination," while the daily La Stampa ran a Page 1 cartoon of a tank emblazoned with the Jewish star pointing its big gun at the infant Jesus, who cries out, "Surely they don't want to kill me again."
Across Europe, the result has been not just verbal violence but physical. A report issued last year by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, titled "Fire and Broken Glass," describes the assaults on Jews and people presumed to be Jewish across Europe. Attackers, shouting racist slogans, throw stones at schoolchildren, at worshipers attending religious services, at rabbis. Jewish homes, schools, and synagogues are firebombed. Windows are smashed, Jewish cemeteries desecrated with anti-Jewish slogans. In just a few weeks in the spring of last year, French synagogues and Jewish schools, students, and homes were attacked and firebombed. A synagogue in Marseilles was burned to the ground. In Paris, Jews were attacked by groups of hooded men. According to police, metropolitan Paris saw something like a dozen anti-Jewish incidents a day in the first several months after Easter.