The virus that has nothing novel about it

We must shed our illusions—permanently. We cannot expect that the antisemitism virus will be eradicated, or that one country or another will always be a safe haven for Jews.

Prof. Phyllis Chesler

OpEds The New Anti-Semitism
The New Anti-Semitism
Joan Roth

I have been tracking this virus for the last twenty years—no, make that for the last fifty years.

I am talking about another virulent virus, that of Jew hatred, a deadly plague that has managed to mutate over time and geography so that it is always at-the-ready, both in good times and bad, definitely in times of war, famine, plague, and natural disaster but also when hope is high and the going is good.  

As has happened many times before, the Jews and Jewish Israel are being blamed for the Wuhan Virus by the mad mullahs of Iran. They say that “Zionists” are behind the Wuhan (Corona) Virus and that “Zionist elements developed a deadlier strain of Wuhan (Corona) virus just against Iran.”

China, ground zero for the pandemic, is now blaming America for having brought it into China in the first place.

Let’s visit Wuhan, Hubei Province, China for a moment.

My friend and colleague, Marion Dreyfus, has written about her time in Wuhan in the early part of the 21st century. The city had absolutely no potable water and little hygiene; there was open sewage in open marketplace “eateries,” where wild dogs roamed and where bats and all other manner of fish, fowl, and bird were slaughtered, sold, and eaten.

For lunch, Dreyfus and her Chinese friends went to “the dirty alley” where they purchased “unidentified frying objects in woks,” which were as “delicious” as they were unknown. Wuhan’s live market was like a “free zoo,” where rats, bats, snakes, and scorpions were sold to be eaten and the “floors were awash underfoot with spill from the livestock.” As she so delicately phrases it: “The smell was... not Chanel #5.”

Due to the Wuhan Virus, I cancelled my upcoming Sunday lecture in Philadelphia on Anti-Semitism. I’ve continually kept up with this subject—‘twas easier and easier to do since there have been so very many awful-beyond-belief incidents and many thousands of pages of analyses. It is a subject that never seems to go out of style. But for this new lecture, I wanted to read and re-read absolutely everything relevant since my last public lecture on this subject which took place four years ago.

The sheer and unrelenting amount of material overwhelmed and sickened me. It was impossible to keep up with it or to reduce it all into Five—or even Ten Things To Do. The documentation left me breathless and heartsick. 

What can I write that I and others have not yet written a hundred times over? I can’t—but I can suggest a perspective. 

Israeli military leaders do not currently believe that they can end the hostilities towards Israel anytime soon. They have chosen to contain what they call “the matzav,” the situation. Similarly, we must also think of the false propaganda against Jews and Jewish Israel as a “matzav” that can, at best, be contained, isolated, kept at the margins—until such time that we can beat it back, turn it all around.

We are surrounded, not only in terms of national borders, but on all fronts, ideologically, economically, legally, politically, socially and  psychologically, 24/7, and in every language on earth; attacked constantly with Lies, insulted by grotesque European carnivals sporting Nazi-era stereotypical Jews, and by the normalization of anti-Zionism.anti-Semitism on campuses world-wide.

We are, perhaps, in the midst of a slow motion Holocaust, slow moving or rolling pogroms—or trapped in a real-life horror movie.

The most sickening Blood libels are back—and, since 2000, back with a vengeance. Propaganda around the clock claims that Israeli soldiers purposely kill Palestinian children—remember the Al-Dura “fake long range ballistic myth”?—(the phrase is Nidra Poller’s), that poster child for the accusation that Israelis specifically target civilians, especially children, and are engaged in the “genocidal ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians, are worse than the Nazis, and that Israel is a “settler,” colonial, apartheid state.

Europe continues the European Holocaust by supporting a terrorist “Palestine,” not Jewish Israel, and by appeasing its violent Muslim population by allowing them to verbally and physically attack Jewish sites and to beat, harass, stab, and murder Jews on the streets, and in their homes, schools, and kosher markets.

According to a recent ADL Report, based on surveys in one hundred countries, Muslims are two to four and half times more likely to hold anti-Semitic views than non-Muslims do. In the United States, 34% of Muslim-Americans hold anti-Semitic views as compared to 14% of non-Muslim Americans. In February, 2020, the Action and Protection League of Europe collected 500,000 data points from 14,000 people in 16 European countries and found that one in four Europeans equated “Israelis to Nazis” and one in five believed that “Jews exploit the Holocaust for their own benefit.”

The combined effect of such attitudes are a clear incitement to attack at will; perhaps an even clearer incitement to genocide.

We never thought “it” could happen here, in the United States. And yet, in our time, American Jews are being shot down while praying on Shabbos; visibly Orthodox Jews are being slapped, sucker-punched, and kicked in “beatdowns,” or shot or stabbed in a kosher marketplace in NYC, upstate New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and on the West Coast by both African-Americans and white supremacists. 

Today, we are up against dangerous Jew-hating demagogues whom we have allowed to flourish on campus and in the media. Already, Jewish students have had to be rescued by the campus police from Gaza-like mob attacks and riots. What next? Broken bones, a concussion, God forbid, a murder? Sadly, it is inevitable.

I had assumed that the world’s hatred and persecution of Jews had ended, that Jewish history would never again repeat itself.

I was wrong.

Another necessary perspective: Our ancestors suffered in exile for more than two thousand years, and while we are privileged to live at a time when our homeland has been restored to us, it was foolish to have thought that Jew-hatred would suddenly become extinct or that Israel would not remain under siege—or that the very existence of a Jewish sovereign state would not be used to justify pogrom-like attacks on Diaspora Jews. 

Therefore, we must also shed our illusions—permanently. We cannot expect that conditions will always improve, or that one country or another will always be a safe haven for Jews.

However, we can never indulge in the luxury of pessimism. We must always remember that the Jews have managed to survive for millennia against all odds. 

As Jews, as Israelis, as members of a nation holy unto God, we must understand, and never forget, that ours is an eternal struggle.

In a future article, I will try to summarize the range of suggestions that are now being made about What Must Be Done.




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