Dr.Gerstenfeld’s article first appeared at INN and is republished here with the author’s consent…
Fighting Antisemitism & Anti-Israelism Adequately
For a journalist looking for an easy book to write on Israel, a topic with much readily available material is the Israeli governments’ failure to competently fight antisemitism and anti-Israelism. It is probably difficult to find another example of a country in modern-day history that has been under as much discriminatory and verbal attack as Israel which has reacted so poorly.
When under attack, societies behaving normally look for the best defense. That is also what Israel has done in other key areas. When attacked by foreign armies during the War of Independence, the country understood that it had to invest heavily in building and improving the IDF. Nowadays the Israeli army is considered one of the best in the world.
There have also been attacks from foreign intelligence services. For that and other reasons the need for competent intelligence services was identified. Over the years Israel’s international intelligence agency, the Mossad, became feared in the world. Its domestic intelligence agency, Shabak, and the military agency, Aman, are also considered to be highly competent.
In recent years, there have been increasingly dangerous cyberattacks. In response, Israel began investing heavily in cyber defense. Experts say that Israel is on its way to becoming a world leader in this field.1
The contrast of these actions by Israel with its less than mediocre fight against antisemitism and anti-Israelism is staggering. Antisemitism has been around for well over a millennium in the Western world. Jews have been murdered, persecuted, discriminated and abused in many ways. The Holocaust is still fresh in our minds. Antisemitism has never disappeared from post-war Europe. It has greatly strengthened in the current century, including in the United States. The Holocaust caused classic antisemitism to become taboo. The emphasis of the inciters thus shifted gradually toward anti-Israelism.
The motifs of anti-Israelism are identical or mutations of the classic religious and national antisemitism types. It is now apparent that a pre-warning of the spread of anti-Israelism was the ‘Zionism is Racism’ Resolution of the United Nations. In 1975 the General Assembly Plenary voted that ‘Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.’ Yohanan Manor who published a book on this topic 2 wrote: “Nevertheless, official Israel did not regard the huge and mounting damage inflicted by “Zionism is racism” as sufficient reason to openly fight the resolution and act to overturn it.” The resolution was revoked only in 1991 after the United States was convinced to take the lead on the issue. 3
A first major warning in the new century came after the Muhammed al-Durrah killing in 2000. The images of this 12-year old Gazan crouching next to his father became a powerful propaganda image of the Second Intifada for the Palestinians in the Muslim world. A Palestinian camera-man who worked for France TV2 heavily edited the footage. This enabled the TV station to claim that Israel had killed him.4 Ballistic analysis showed that Israeli soldiers could not possibly have done that. Yet all the proof came far too late. It was the beginning of a massive expansion of Palestinian false footage sometimes called Pallywood.
A second huge warning sign came the following year. In 2001 in Durban South Africa, the first UN World Conference against Racism took place. It became an antisemitic hatefest. Israel was lampooned. The NGO conference there was even worse. Among its participants were many fake humanists, humanitarian racists and other progressive perverts.5
What lessons did the Israeli government draw from this disastrous conference? The main conclusion seems to be an incidental response. With the help of Jewish organizations, Israel prepared for the 2009 Geneva review conference. As a result, there was a massive Israeli and Jewish presence there. The NGO maligners of Israel were pushed into the margins. Despite these efforts, this had no structural impact.
The new century led to a flood of antisemitic and anti-Israeli incitement. Among the latest manifestations of anti-Israelism is the largely political decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate Israeli war crimes.” 6 It is improbable that she would have dared to go ahead with this case if Israel had an anti-propaganda agency. Both she and the ICC are vulnerable to ongoing exposure. Bensouda was a minister of justice in a dictatorial government in Gambia. The ICC is a failure which has wasted well over a billion dollars for barely any condemnations.
A few months ago, I had a brief talk with a former Israeli minister. In all sincerity this Minister believed that some Israeli ministries deal competently with antisemitism and anti-Israelism. They have been given funds to do so. The idea that ministerial employees and ministries with all their constraints can possibly deal with a complex problem like this is however absurd.
The basics of strategy is that attack is the best defense. Palestinian extreme hate mongers are an easy target. Their leading party, Hamas, is a genocide promoter and the second largest Fatah — and the Palestinian Authority it controls — are murder glorifiers. The employees of a new Israeli anti-propaganda agency in their first days of employment would only have to go through the Palestinian Media Watch website to get a rapid indication of how to expose the Palestinians. Hate speech, demonizing, antisemitic cartoons, and misuse of Western funding are just a few among many topics.7
There is now finally a new government. The Knesset has become fully active. Perhaps there is one opposition MK who understands that the ongoing failure of Israeli governments in these areas is a topic where he or she can score by continuously exposing it.
2 Yohanan Manor To Right a Wrong: Revocation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 Defaming Zionism (New York: Schreiber, Sheingold, 1996)
5 Manfred Gerstenfeld, The War of A Million Cuts, The Struggle Against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Antisemitism, RVP Press NY (p. 2015) pg. 13