By: Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. Jewish Press Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The cultural war between Islamic barbarism and Judeo-Christian civilization is raging even as Gaza and Sderot are under siege. The manipulation of propaganda is a key factor here. Britain â€“ the country that turned Nazi-era European Jews back from Palestineâ€™s shores â€“ is now trying to boycott and isolate Israeli doctors, journalists, and university professors. The British Anglican Church, well-financed British-based NGOS (Christian Aid, World Vision, Amnesty International, etc.) and British academics have joined their voices to the Islamist-led jackal-chorus against Israel.
In order to understand such British actions â€“ or in order to see how Jew-hatred is synchronized in Britain â€“ let me refer to two recent British cultural offerings.
First, a Welsh-British theatre troupe appeared in New York City and, in a powerful and well acted play, â€œMemory,â€ presented yet again the morally false equivalent of Nazi soldiers and Jewish civilians in Germany in the 1930â€™s and 40â€™s with Israeli soldiers and Palestinian villagers today. Both sets of soldiers are only â€œfollowing orders.â€
While our sympathies are with the persecuted and murdered Jews, they are also meant to extend to the Palestinian villager in the play who, appealingly, holds a basket of fresh oranges as he contemplates the demolition of his home. (There is absolutely no discussion of why his home is being demolished, no mention of the non-stop terrorist violence against Israeli civilians.)
Thus, our terror, pity, sorrow, and moral outrage on behalf of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust and our considerable repugnance toward the Nazis is masterfully manipulated so that we transfer exactly such negative feelings toward (undeserving) Israelis and positive feelings toward (undeserving) Palestinians.
Obviously, many Palestinian civilians are worthy of compassion. Like the rest of the civilized world, they, too, are held hostage by hate-filled terrorist maniacs. The barbarism of Hamas gunmen toward Fatah gunmen and leaders has revealed to the world that Israel never had a peace partner in Gaza and that neither the secular Fatah nor the Islamofascist Hamas is able or willing to protect the Palestinian civilian.
Most Palestinian civilians, however, along with their many Western allies, still scapegoat Israel rather than their own leaders for their considerable misery and danger. Like the so-called moderate Muslims (whom we cannot easily find) who maintain a loud silence, Palestinians do not denounce and resist their own corrupt and murderous leaderships and are still filled with a pathological hatred toward Jews and Israel.
The other recent British cultural offering that warrants discussion is a â€œmockumentaryâ€ directed by Gabriel Range and titled â€œThe Death of a President.â€ Drawing on our collective trauma over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, this film, which poses as a documentary, transposes 1963 emotions onto an event that has not occurred, namely, the assassination of President George W. Bush. The British desire for the death of the American president is so great that wish-fulfillment fantasy is presented through a reality-form technique.
Surely, this is a new kind of propaganda. The man jailed as the presidentâ€™s assassin, Jamal abu Al Zikri, is really an innocent Muslim whose wife, Zahara, is presented on camera as a soft-voiced, eminently sympathetic figure in hijab. The true assassin is an African-American father whose son was killed fighting the war against jihad in Iraq.
Beyond culture â€“ or rather as an extension of it â€“ the siege against the Jews also includes the rockets raining down on Sderot and the bizarre international silence about it; the Western intellectual glamorization of Tariq Ramadan (who, I might add, teaches at Britainâ€™s distinguished Oxford University whose press publishes his clever double-speaking books which essentially strive to present a Muslim Brotherhood message for the twenty-first century).
One might expect that Jewish advocates and Israeli intellectuals would condemn all this and boycott or at least ostracize those who write books justifying the demonization of Israel. Some do just that, but many others do not.
For example, the influential American Jewish Book Council just gave a showcase to Stephen Walt, who together with John Mearsheimer authored a paper about how the â€œZionist Lobbyâ€ was causing unrest both on American campuses and in terms of American foreign policy. Walt was invited to speak at the councilâ€™s annual Jewish book network conference in New York. (Walt and Mearsheimer have expanded this dangerous libel into a book to be published this fall.)
Meanwhile, Brandeis, the â€œJewishâ€ university, gave Jimmy Carter a stand-alone platform to spout his anti-Israel views. And then thereâ€™s the Forward â€“ a Jewish newspaper that has previously honored me and in whose pages my work has appeared â€“ which covered the latest British attempt to boycott Israeli academics mainly by focusing on the allegations of one Israeli-American academic, Dr. Yigal Arens, a professor of computer science who insists that he has been â€œ boycottedâ€ or disinvited to a conference at Ben Gurion University because of his anti-Israeli politics. This is passing strange since so many Israeli academics are themselves left wing and specialize in criticizing Israel.
And now leaders of Americans for Peace Now, Israel Forum, and Brit Tâ€™zedek vâ€™Shalom are contemplating a merger in order to increase their clout and attract â€œmore money to push for a two state solution.â€
Nevertheless, there is some sanity on the horizon:
â— Austin, Texas-based physicist Dr. Steven Weinberg, who is also a Nobel laureate, cancelled a trip to the UK in protest of the boycott of Israeli products called for in April by British journalists.
â— Dudu Himmelfarb, chairman of the workerâ€™s union of Maman, an Israeli cargo company, has announced that â€œif the British union decides to go ahead with the boycott, we will stop unloading cargo from the British Aircrafts and imports from Britain.â€
â— Just this month some 100 Israeli reservists from Sderot refused to serve, saying, â€œWe, reserve soldiers and officers from Sderot, have been brought up on the values of Zionism, Judaism and the sacrifice for the state and its citizens. We used to believe that army service was a privilege and a duty for the State of Israel and its residents, and that this was the only way to ensure the existence of a safe home for the Jewish people in Israel and the Diasporaâ€¦.Last summer we were called up for the war in the north and responded to the call out of a sense of mutual commitment, national duty and a shared destiny with the residents of the north. We feel that this commitment is being violated in Sderot and the Gaza-area communities by the Israeli governmentâ€¦. The government does not offer a solution to the threat.â€
â— Media watchdogs CAMERA, HonestReporting.com, MEMRI, and a host of ex- and dissident Muslims together with Christians and mainly Orthodox Jews from all over the world continue to fight Israelâ€™s demonization.
â— Rank-and-file members of the various British bodies that have called to boycott Israel are demanding second votes. Jewish groups are launching petition drives and calling for the British to reconsider their obsessive delegitimazation of Israel. The noted law professor and author Alan Dershowitz has called on academics worldwide to affiliate with Israeli universities. (I had already done so long ago as part of a drive undertaken by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.) The Goldhirsh Foundation has announced that it will not fund any UK scientists.
It is not enough. Nothing is enough. It is not our fault; the forces arrayed against us are overwhelming. Therefore, I implore the grassroots members of the Jewish Book Council not to invite Professors Walt and Mearsheimer to any more Jewish book fairs. (I do not have enough space to discuss why this seeming relaxation of our commitment to free speech may ultimately save the very civilization in which such an idea evolved).
So many non-Jewish universities are caving in to Islamist demands for pro-Islamic programs; I hope administrators at Brandeis (where I once taught and where my beloved son went to school and loved it) will consider it incumbent upon them not to join this lynch mob; may they â€œboycottâ€ Walt-Mearsheimer and others of their ilk as lecturers â€“ unless they allow for face-to-face debate.
Finally, I hope that, like the Nazi-era Danes, other American and European professors will proudly â€œwear the Jewish starâ€ and join me in affiliating with Israeli universities.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is the author of many works including the bestseller â€œWomen and Madnessâ€ (1972), â€œThe New Anti-Semitismâ€ (2003) and â€œThe Death of Feminism: Whatâ€™s Next in the Struggle for Womenâ€™s Freedomâ€ (2005). Her forthcoming book is titled â€œThe Islamification of America.â€
An Emerita professor of psychology and womenâ€™s studies and the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Womenâ€™s Health Network, she may be contacted through her website, www.phyllis-chesler.com