West’s Go­liath psy­chosis

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Me­lanie Phillips

ONCE AGAIN, WE are liv­ing through the hal­lu­ci­na­tory, sick­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing Is­rael’s morally-el­e­vated de­fence against mur­der­ous fa­nat­ics pro­voke a global ex­plo­sion, of Is­rael-bash­ing and naked anti-Jewish ha­tred, es­pe­cially in demon­stra­tions across Europe.

For sure, the cur­rent war in Gaza has en­gen­dered more sym­pa­thy than pre­vi­ous such Is­raeli mil­i­tary cam­paigns. More and more peo­ple un­der­stand that Is­rael alone is fight­ing a mur­der­ous Is­lamic ag­gres­sion which threat­ens them­selves, too. Peo­ple are less in­clined to blame Is­rael or be­lieve me­dia re­ports that are of­ten not far off in­flam­ma­tory in­cite­ment against Is­rael and the Jewish peo­ple.

Many in the in­tel­li­gentsia frame this con­flict as if Is­raelis are the war crim­i­nals and geno­ci­dal Ha­mas the vic­tims. They un­crit­i­cally swal­low the Ha­mas death count, even though it or­ders all ca­su­al­ties to be de­scribed as “civil­ians” whereas un­told num­bers are armed killers.

The Ha­mas strat­egy is to max­imise civil­ian deaths and give the widest cir­cu­la­tion to hor­rific pic­tures of mu­ti­lated chil­dren in order to turn Western opin­ion against Is­rael.

It works, with com­men­ta­tors spit­ting venom at Is­rael as “out of con­trol”, guilty of in­dis­crim­i­nate slaugh­ter and even — ob­scenely — “geno­cide”.

Why did the West turn against Is­rael? The con­ven­tional ex­pla­na­tion is that, with the post-1967 “oc­cu­pa­tion”, David turned into Go­liath.

But as Joshua Mu­ravchik points out in his new book, Mak­ing David into Go­liath: How the World Turned Against Is­rael, China’s op­pres­sion of Ti­bet didn’t pro­duce the same re­ac­tion.

Mu­ravchik presents an il­lu­mi­nat­ing anal­y­sis to try to ex­plain the in­ex­pli­ca­ble. In a nutshell, the Arab and Mus­lim world set out to bend the Western mind — and suc­ceeded. Mu­ravchik records how, in the ’60s, the newly-formed PLO ter­ror­ist group learned from Al­ge­ria to present the en­emy as not only Is­rael but also “world im­pe­ri­al­ism,” and the Pales­tinian cause as a strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion. The con­flict was re­de­fined from Arabs v Is­rael to Is­rael v Pales­tini­ans. The for­mer Arab col­lab­o­ra­tors of Hitler and Goebbels were trans­formed into the com­rades

What is it that leads so many to de­monise Is­rael?

of such ro­man­ti­cised fig­ures as Ho Chi Minh and Che Gue­vara. An­ni­hi­la­tory Pales­tinian ter­ror­ism be­came chic. Giv­ing the Pales­tini­ans a state be­came the holy grail of en­light­ened opin­ion.

The role played by ter­ror­ism and the oil weapon, the hi­jack­ing of the UN by the Arab bloc, the ma­lign in­flu­ence of such fig­ures as the aca­demic rewriter of Is­lamic his­tory Ed­ward Said, not to men­tion the ap­palling growth of the Is­rael-hat­ing Is­raeli left, all this and more is part of the story.

I would add the pre­vail­ing cli­mate of con­se­quen­tial­ism, which means all that mat­ters is out­comes, re­gard­less of the mo­ti­va­tion of those pro­duc­ing those out­comes. As a re­sult, peo­ple look at the im­bal­ance of ca­su­al­ties be­tween Is­rael and Gaza and con­clude that Is­rael’s ac­tions must there­fore be dis­pro­por­tion­ate.

And yet, and yet. More than 200,000 have been killed in Syria, some 700 last week alone, not to men­tion hun­dreds in Iraq and else­where. So what is it that drives so many to de­monise Is­rael’s army — de­scribed by Bri­tain’s for­mer com­man­der in Afghanistan Richard Kemp as “the most moral amy in the his­tory of war­fare” — as mon­strous and de­lib­er­ate child killers?

This thing ul­ti­mately de­fies ra­tio­nal ex­pla­na­tion. As Is­lamist sav­agery spreads, the moral de­prav­ity of the Western an­i­mus against Is­rael and the Jews can only be de­scribed as a meta­phys­i­cal psy­chosis.

Me­lanie Phillips is a colum­nist for The Times

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