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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Twenty-first-century Total War Against Israel and the Jews: Part Two

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, International Law, Israel, World Jewry
Publication: Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism

The Perpetrators, the Anti-Semitic Hate Motifs Used, the War’s Methodology, the Hate Distribution Mechanisms, and a Strategy for Countercombat


The Conduits for the Propagation of Hatred

Postmodern society is characterized by its fragmentation. This is also true concerning both the propagation of anti-Semitism and its distribution circuits. The total war against the Jews uses a large number of disparate tools; many are employed by the Arab and Muslim world.

It has already been pointed out that the cartoon is an important mass weapon for the media, Arab and Muslim sources, and others in propelling anti-Semitic ammunition. There are several other such conduits, including language, the Internet, and the United Nations.

Language as a Tool

Language is an important means of propagating and distributing anti-Semitism. The French linguist Georges-Elia Sarfati has undertaken detailed analysis in this area. He points out that discourses are formulated on the basis of the ideological views of those who use them. “Rather than words being neutral, they serve to introduce a certain vision of the question they address.”2

Anti-Zionism’s canonic texts are primarily Soviet fabrications. A key role was played by Trofim Kitchko, a major ideologist who published several anti-Semitic books over a twenty-year period starting in 1963. His first book, Judaism Unembellished, was sponsored by the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

The term anti-Zionism came into systematic use only after the Six Day War. This was first done by the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Information, thereafter by the media of the French extreme Left. Sarfati notes that anti-Zionism has by now become an “ideology” – a system of ideas – which has permeated specific groups in society. He adds: “A number of key equations dominate the anti-Zionist discourse. The master one – which transversally commands all others – is ‘Zionism equals Nazism.'” This also demonstrates how this conduit is used to propagate the notion that Jews are the most evil people in society.

Sarfati summarizes: “The equivalences used against Israel are so evil because they attach the four major negative characteristics of Western history in the last century – Nazism, racism, colonialism and imperialism – to the State of Israel. They relate to a collective memory and are easily memorized.”

Other Aspects of Semantics

There are many other disparate uses of semantics against Jews and Israel. Typical code words for Jews in the United States are, for instance, “East Coast intellectuals” and “neoconservatives.”

One topic that requires in-depth investigation is the distorted use of terms such as “peace,” “peace movements,” and “peace activists” in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Several other authors have mentioned the use of semantics against Jews and Israel. Israeli historian Raphael Israeli, a specialist in Islamic civilization, writes

this Kafkaesque world where there is no cause and effect; when you achieve peace it does not mean reconciliation; when you wage hostilities that is not called war, when you massacre civilians that is not terrorism; when you make concessions, that does not mean that you cannot go back on them once you have achieved your goals; and when you pledge something it obliges you only as it is convenient to you.4

German historian Susanne Urban discusses a bestselling book of another German historian, Jörg Friedrich.

Friedrich’s popularized style helped this book become a bestseller. He uses terms that for decades were associated with Nazi persecution and the Shoah; thus, cellars and air-raid shelters in which Germans died are “crematoria,” an RAF bomber group is an Einsatzgruppe, and the destruction of libraries during the bombings constitutes Bücherverbrennungen. In this way the Shoah is minimized through language.5

Samuels draws attention to yet another aspect of the use of language. He notes that in the 2001 UN Durban Conference terms such as “genocide,” “Holocaust,” “ethnic cleansing,” and even “anti-Semitism” were hijacked by the defamers and used against the Jews – who historically have been the main victims of these phenomena.6

The Internet

With the rapid growth of the Internet, a major new mode of transmitting anti-Semitic messages has developed. This is one of the few areas of global hate distribution that a major Jewish organization systematically monitors, analyzes, and combats.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) scrutinizes about four thousand problematic Internet sites worldwide. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, its associate dean, notes that terrorist, racist, bigoted, and anti-Semitic sites have emerged in large numbers and are sometimes also linked to each other. He remarks that “from a propaganda point of view, there is no quality control on the Internet, no librarian, no censorship and no analysis.”7

Cooper adds that as part of an overall strategy, new laws are required as well as more freedom for secret service agencies. This complex problem also raises new questions about the borders between the freedom of speech and the rhetoric of hate.

The Institutions of Anti-Semitism’s Propagation

Anti-Semitism is largely propagated by institutions. These include the media, the political system, the United Nations, NGOs, universities, and Christian churches. Both individual members of the cultural and intellectual elites and neo-Nazis take part in this, either in an organized way or individually. A special role is played by anti-Israeli or self-hating Jews.8

The Media

An important role in the total war – in particular against Israel and to a lesser extent against the Jews – is being played by the media. Many of them are both perpetrators and conduits. Various factors interact. To mention one: in West European countries, the number of right- and left-wing voters is roughly similar. Yet there are many indications that among journalists left-wing opinions prevail, and that a disproportionate number are extreme leftists.9

Whereas the media have the power to criticize others relentlessly, there are few ways to take them to task. Their staff is mainly subject to the specific media’s self-regulation. Except in extreme cases, journalists are not accountable to anybody outside their profession.

Many European media have consistently taken anti-Israeli positions. Hildegard Müller, a German Christian Democratic parliamentarian, is one of those who observe that Israel’s problematic image in Europe is partly due to media distortions. She says that many media do not research the news they cover. Müller adds:

Many newspapers have no editors anymore for specific topics. They take their news from press agencies, such as Agence France-Presse.

The next day one finds the same news in tens of newspapers. No journalist in any of these media has checked the truth of this information. Slowly an overall picture is created: a small Palestinian force fights against the high-tech Israeli army. This creates the distorted image of David versus Goliath.10

The French Elite’s Uniform Attitudes

Trigano states that in the first years of the new century, the French elites’ attitudes about Middle East politics were almost uniform. He wondered how, in French democracy, all major currents in society could propagate similar ideas. “It was frightening to turn on a television or to read a newspaper and see the same ideological discourse of disinformation about Israel.”

Trigano concluded:

The majority of viewers have no other sources of information and cannot discern between truth, manipulation and lies. They see selective images and hear handpicked Israelis, usually very critical of their own government, express their opinions. Those with different views on Israel are considered outsiders and troublemakers. For a long time, people like myself who affirmed that there was anti-Semitism in France were considered a problem because we deviated from public opinion.

What does such a reality tell about French society? I do not believe in a conspiracy. There is no commander or organization behind the multiple attacks on Israel. Yet the assaults create the feeling of a near totalitarian society regarding Israel and the Jews.

Trigano adds that he slowly started to realize that the extreme power of the media represents a major danger to Western democracy.

Their attitude toward Israel and the Jews over the last few years has shown that they can pervert analysis, debate and criticism. We are dependent on a class of journalists with consensus political views. They read and co-opt each other’s opinions, without accountability to anybody. Freedom and democracy, however, cannot coexist if truth and facts are obscured.11

Monitoring the BBC

Several media-monitoring experts consider the BBC one of Europe’s most systematically biased information providers concerning Israel. From 2001 to 2005, Trevor Asserson has undertaken five well-documented studies on the BBC’s anti-Israeli bias. He shows how the BBC has frequently transgressed the various legal obligations under its monopoly charter from the British government.

Asserson’s findings included that 88 percent of documentaries over a certain period of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict conveyed a negative impression of Israel or a positive image of Palestinians. He also found that there was a systemic problem with the BBC complaints system.

Asserson said: “BBC’s news reports concerning Israel are distorted by omission, by inclusion, by only giving partial facts, by who is interviewed, and by the background information provided or the lack of it.” He furthermore discovered a systematic abuse of language regarding Israel, the use of irrelevant pictures, and correspondents presenting their own views as facts. Asserson accused the BBC of creating news instead of reporting it in certain instances. He also mentioned that in private conversations with senior BBC journalists, he had heard “that anti-Israel feeling is rife within the BBC.”12

Asserson’s analysis has shown that this is a long standing process. His methodological work is of substantial importance for better understanding the role of media in the total war against Israel.

A media organization that has so many flaws in one field probably behaves similarly in others as well. This became clear during the 2003 judicial inquiry chaired by Lord Hutton into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly, a British expert on biological warfare.

Lord Hutton’s report suggested that the BBC invented a story that Prime Minister Blair deliberately misled Parliament. BBC bias in other areas is also likely to come to light gradually in the years ahead.

The United Nations

The United Nations is both an anti-Israeli actor and an important conduit of new anti-Semitism. Extreme attacks on Israel are a regular feature of its gatherings. Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has made major contributions to analyzing the methodology of the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic forces at this supranational body and its affiliated organizations.

Bayefsky, addressing the first UN Conference on Anti-Semitism in New York in June 2004, stated: “The United Nations has become the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism – intolerance and inequality against the Jewish people and its state.”13

Assessing the UN’s anti-Israeli methodology, she said that the organization “delegitimizes the self-determination of the Jewish people, denies Israel the right to defend itself and demonizes it in the framework of the international regime of human rights protection. The UN also encourages terrorism directed at Israelis.”14

Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, has drawn attention to Europe’s consistent and longstanding anti-Israeli bias at the world body. He says that according to the UN, Israel behaves demonically. Gold indicates what the consequences of this process can be, the attitudinal basis of which has been laid with the help of the European Union. “From Israel’s distorted record at the UN to demonizing the entire Jewish people is then a short step. This process binds anti-Zionism, the attack on the legitimate rights of the Jewish people, with anti-Semitism.”15

The problems the UN causes for Israel may increase further. Samuels stresses that the UN is a vital arena and that increasingly its international conferences will be held in Third World countries. “It is there that we face multiplier effect problems. Our enemies may not have the power to destroy us, but in the world’s chambers of diplomatic rhetoric, they conduct a war of attrition that leads to confrontations on campuses, boycotts, lawsuits and media campaigns.”16


Another important vehicle for both propagating and distributing anti-Israeli material is a variety of nongovernmental organizations that focus on human rights issues. Israeli political scientist Gerald Steinberg, editor of the JCPA’s NGO Monitor, is a major analyst of the NGOs’ role and methods in the assault on Israel.

He observes:

[the] extremely wealthy and powerful “NGO community” has propelled the anti-Israeli agenda in international frameworks such as the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHCHR) and the 2001 Durban UN Conference against Racism. In these and other examples, including the false charges of “massacre” during the Israeli military’s anti-terror operation in Jenin (Defensive Shield) in April 2002, and the portrayal of Israel’s separation barrier as the “apartheid wall,” these NGOs have played a central role. Their reports, press releases, and political lobbying campaigns have had a strong influence in the United Nations, the media, and academia.17

The methodology of the NGOs’ discriminatory attacks on Israel includes laying false emphasis. One example is Christian Aid in the United Kingdom.

Its policy and campaigns consistently blame Israel for Palestinian suffering, while barely mentioning Palestinian terrorism and corruption. The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists is another wealthy, extreme anti-Israeli NGO. It has a very formal and legitimate-sounding name, but is essentially a propaganda organization.18

Other authors have discussed the bias of leading NGOs. Irwin Cotler, who has a longstanding association with Amnesty International, says that in their work in the Middle East: “one can discern a false moral equivalence in respect of Israel and other Middle Eastern countries. For example, they will do a one-off study – or perhaps no study at all – of the dictatorial and authoritarian non-democracies in the Middle East while maintaining a sustaining indictment of the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel.”1

The NGOs at the Durban Conference

At the 2001 Durban Conference, major anti-Israeli actions of many NGOs suddenly became internationally visible. Samuels says that the steering group of the NGO Forum there was dominated by SANGOCO (South African NGO Committee), which played a leading role in attacks on Israel. It had developed an eight-point plan against Israel that clarifies many aspects of the total-war approach.

Samuels summarizes this program:

The first point: to launch an educational program to create worldwide solidarity against Israel, the last bastion of “apartheid.” The second point: to use all legal mechanisms in countries of universal jurisprudence against Israel. The third and fourth points of attack were to discredit the Law of Return, the foundation of Zionism and Israel, and replace it with a Law of Return for all Palestinian refugees in order to create moral equivalence.

The fifth point: to reinstitute the Arab boycott, out of Damascus, combined with a secondary boycott, as in the 1970s and 1980s. The sixth point: to impose a sports, telecommunications, academic, scientific and military embargo on Israel. Points seven and eight encapsulate their broad goals: the eventual rupture of all diplomatic relationships with Israel and measures against any state that does not accept ostracism of Israel. All of these eight points were to be carried out over a five-year program.20

The Academic World

In the Western academic world, anti-Israeli forces have been disproportionately active over the past decades. Their initiatives have multiplied in recent years. Since early 2002 a variety of attempts to boycott or discriminate against Israel, or Israeli academic institutions and scholars, have been undertaken in several Western countries.

These include proposals such as the divestment of Israeli securities, breaking of relations with Israeli universities, ostracizing Israeli academics, refusal to publish or review Israeli academic papers, hampering the career of pro-Israeli scholars abroad, and so forth. Several campaigns have strong anti-Semitic motifs. Many of these actions are initiated by university lecturers.21

In several academic fields there is also major anti-Israeli bias in teaching. An example is Middle Eastern studies in the United States. The field of Palestinian studies has expanded disproportionately to its relevance. Thanks to scholars’ bias, there are taboo subjects that are never studied in the frame of Middle Eastern studies, including both Palestinian and Al Qaeda terrorism.

Martin Kramer, of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, frequently exposes the distortions in Middle Eastern studies in the United States. He says the tragedy of academia is that it has become home to countless people whose mission is to prove the lie that Zionism is colonialism. Thus research is undertaken, books are written, and lectures delivered to establish this falsehood.22

In his 2001 book Ivory Towers on Sand, Kramer concluded that since the 1980s American academic centers in Middle Eastern studies have been factories of error.23 Scholars in this field are so prejudiced that they have missed out on analyzing or forecasting all major developments in the Middle East. He asserts that had one relied only on the analyses of academics, one would not have anticipated the emergence of Al Qaeda or the possibility of an event such as 9/11. Kramer notes that this is even more severe in view of the discipline’s heavy funding by the U.S. government. He regularly monitors these issues on his website.2

Neglecting Genocidal Calls from Palestinian Academics

The methodology of propagating anti-Israeli bias in the academic world involves not only neglecting the reality in which Israel operates, but also ignoring the extreme racism at Palestinian universities, including calls for genocide. The anti-Semitic statement by Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiyah of the Islamic University of Gaza was mentioned at the beginning of this essay.

Al-Najah University in Nablus is dominated by students who support Palestinian terrorist organizations. They explicitly favor suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. This reflects the criminal atmosphere pervading Palestinian society where, over a long period, large parts and often the majority of the population have backed the suicide bombings. At the Nablus campus there have been rallies by terrorist organizations that feature demonstrations of how suicide bombers murder Israelis and blow up Israeli passenger buses.25

In the elections for the student government council at Bir Zeit University – near Ramallah – at the end of 2003, models of exploding Israeli buses were also featured. In a debate, the Hamas candidate asked the Fatah candidate: “Hamas activists in this university killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?” Needless to say, the “Zionists” are largely Israeli civilians.26

Ignoring the relationship between Palestinian campuses and calls for murder is one of many examples of how the postmodern total war against Israel in the Western world consists partly of remaining silent about the criminal character of Israel’s main opponents

Christian Churches

Anti-Semitism in Christian circles has for many centuries been primarily identified with the Catholic Church. In the past decades a major change has taken place due to the 1965 promulgation of the Nostra Aetate declaration by Pope Paul the Sixth, which absolved Jews of collective responsibility for the death of Jesus. Although forty years later Catholic anti-Semitism continues in many places, the Vatican and many senior Catholic leaders make consistent efforts to fight it.

An important case of a major Christian attack on the Jews was The Passion of the Christ, a movie released in February 2004. Its producer, Mel Gibson, is a conservative Christian who belongs to a dissenting Catholic community. Throughout this film, which was a major commercial success, Gibson cast the Jews in a very negative light.

The ADL and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops jointly assembled a nine-person panel to study the movie’s screenplay.27 This group concluded that

a film based on the script they had been shown would promote anti-Semitic sentiments. It assessed that “the Temple – and by extension Judaism – is presented as a locus of evil…. A Jewish mob is shown in ever-increasing size and ferocity. The mob is plainly identified as representing the Jewish people as a whole, portraying them as such as ‘bloodthirsty,’ ‘frenzied,’ and ‘predatory’…Jewish figures are particularly associated with evil uses of money.”

Another conclusion of the panel was that “dramatically, as the script stands, Jesus’ opponents are one-dimensional ‘bad guys’….The film takes every opportunity to embellish the violence of the passion, thereby increasing the likelihood of an audience to be filled with outrage at those who perpetuated such a horrendous crime.” The study group added: “Viewers without extensive knowledge of Catholic teaching about interpreting the New Testament will surely leave the theater with the overriding impression that the bloodthirsty, vengeful and money-loving Jews simply had an implacable hatred of Jesus.”28

In DVD and video format the film will be shown in Christian circles for many years to come. It may have a negative impact on the image of Jews among Christians. When the movie was released there was major media discussion about it, and many reviews were very negative. The DVD edition, however, will be shown in churches and other places, often to youngsters without any comment. The Gibson case is a major illustration of how Jews must continue to fight old battles while new ones are constantly emerging.

Other Christian communities – for instance, substantial parts of the Lutheran Church, following the tradition of their Church’s founder, a notorious anti-Semite – have also been permeated by anti-Semitism for many centuries. Christian intellectuals also brought European anti-Semitism to the Middle East while teaching in church and European schools there.29

Progressive Christians

Although Christian anti-Semitism has not received much attention over the past decade, it remained latently present. Recently it has come to the forefront again among various liberal Protestant denominations.30 The Presbyterians were the first American church to promote divestment from Israel and some companies that do business with it.31

This was followed by various other Protestant churches in the United States and by the World Council of Churches, which is an ecumenical umbrella group claiming to represent 340 churches in over one hundred countries.32 Some “progressive” Christian leaders disguise their anti-Israeli policies by professing brotherly love for Jews. This “love” mask is yet another element of how the total war against Israel manifests itself.

Israeli historian Robert Wistrich has discussed traditional Christian anti-Judaism in the British media. He gives several examples from the Anglican Church Times, for instance, when it chose to mark Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day with a particularly malevolent article by the Reverend Richard Spencer, who described events in Ramallah as a “suffering and deprivation that I could only imagine in Auschwitz.”33

At the same time that substantial forces in the Muslim world and in particular the Jihadists pose a major threat to Christian societies, many liberal elements among the latter focus their negative attention on the Jews.

The historian Rivka Duker Fishman has pointed out that this already had parallels in ancient times:

In the seventh century, the Arabs embarked on the conquest of the world in the name of Islam. The Caliphate replaced the Persian Empire and Christian Spain and conquered much of the Byzantine Empire. The latter, however, seemed to ignore the threat of the new invaders and their religion. Instead, the Byzantine political and intellectual elite focused increasingly on the Jews in tracts and legal measures.34

Anti-Semitism in liberal Protestant and some other Christian churches will need much more study than it has so far received, as the total war against Israel and the Jews goes on.

The Interaction of the Perpetrators

One of the most complex elements of the total war is the interaction between the various perpetrators. To study this most effectively, many more case analyses of anti-Semitic attacks need to be undertaken. The usefulness of such studies can be demonstrated by a detailed example: the research undertaken by Israeli in his book Poison: Modern Manifestations of a Blood Libel.35 It shows the interaction between Arab hate propaganda, the media, and the United Nations.

Israeli discusses a case of mass hysteria that broke out in the northern West Bank in March 1983. A number of girls at a middle school in the village of Arrabeh fell sick. The symptoms included fainting, drowsiness, nausea, headaches, stomachaches, and vision disturbances. Almost immediately afterward, Palestinians, in a modern variant of the blood-libel motif, accused Israel of being responsible.

During the following weeks the number of patients, mostly young women, rose to nearly a thousand in Jenin, Hebron, and elsewhere in the West Bank. Investigations carried out by both Palestinians and Israelis did not find any traces of poison. Gradually, it came to light that many of the later “patients” had faked their illnesses, often at the prompting of Palestinian leaders.

International Reaction

More important than the medical aspects of this case were the political reactions of the media and international institutions. In one of its initial articles on the event, the Israeli daily Haaretz implied that there were indications Israel had used nerve gas. Several Israeli Arab parliamentarians falsely claimed that the Israeli government had imposed a state of siege around Jenin and that its civilian population was fleeing in panic. The secretary-general of the Arab League accused Israel of using poison gas against Palestinian pupils.

The Israeli authorities called in experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, a world leader in epidemiology. They concluded that most of the patients’ illnesses were of “psychogenic origin and induced by stress.” They mentioned that the initial Arrabeh case could have been caused by a low concentration of hydrogen sulfide gas from a poorly cleaned latrine at the school.

The International Red Cross and the World Health Organization also carried out investigations. Although they found no proof of poisoning or anything similar, in their reporting they showed anti-Israeli bias. In early April the UN Security Council, prompted by Iraq, adopted a resolution to “investigate the mass poisoning.” Even the United States supported this measure despite the fact that there was no proof at all of any poisoning. Various Arab sources charged that Israel had practiced genocide and chemical warfare aimed at damaging the girls’ reproductive systems.

Israeli also analyzes the reporting of various media on the case. Among the worst distorters of the truth were French dailies such as the Communist L’Humanite, the socialist-inclined Libération, and Le Monde. None of these apologized after the facts became known. The New York Times was one of the few media outlets that did so, but even that was only on an inside page.

The Jews First, Others Next in Line

Another major aspect, related to the subject of the total war, concerns the significance to others of what happens to Jews and Israel. The de facto function of the Jews and Israel has been compared to that of a canary in an underground mine. Common mining practice was to send canaries into mines in order to access environmental hazards. When the bird stopped singing the miners knew they were in danger.

From what happens to Jews, others can often learn what is awaiting them. Anti-Semitism is a construct that takes aim at the Jews initially. The aggressor first looks for what seems an easy target; thereafter he grades up to more difficult ones. This has often been described regarding authoritarian societies, but it exists in democracies as well. The perpetrator’s aggression subsequently extends to others and endangers them as well. In the 1930s the Jews were a prime target for Hitler and his adherents. Later tens of millions of others would perish or suffer as well.

This functional role has nothing to do with how Jews and Israel see their contribution to society. The distorted image, constructs, discrimination, and attacks on the Jews and Israel are rather an indicator of substantial problems of contemporary Western society at large. Although today the Jews and Israel are prime initial and visible targets, they are rarely the sole ones.

In other words, what may manifest itself initially as scapegoating the Jews is often revealed later as a precursor of attacks on many others. A few disparate examples indicate that the Jews’ and Israel’s functioning in a canary role for other democratic societies is a wide-ranging phenomenon.

France’s Initial Inaction against Anti-Semitism

One example of the Jews’ canary function concerns the main initial outburst in France of twenty-first-century European anti-Semitism. At first the French Socialist government, in power at the time, made substantial efforts to deny or minimize the anti-Semitic nature of the severe verbal and physical attacks on the Jews.

In line with the government’s unofficial policy, many teachers closed their eyes to the violence, intimidation, and racism against Jews and others in French schools. Others described the perpetrators as “hooligans” or “hoodlums,” in denial of the obvious fact that elements in the French Muslim community as well as foreign Muslim television stations systematically incite against others. Yet other teachers try to maintain “social peace” by appeasing the bullies and withholding sympathy from their victims.36

The government’s denial lasted for more than a year until after the first round of the 2002 presidential elections in April. Many then received a major shock from the reaction to the country’s increasing breakdown of law and order. The extreme right-wing politician Jean Marie Le Pen progressed to the second round in these elections at the expense of the Socialist premier Lionel Jospin.

The Fading of Denial

In the parliamentary elections shortly thereafter, the right-wing UMP party came to power. The new interior minister Nicholas Sarkozy recognized officially that anti-Semitism was a problem in France and began investigating possibilities to combat it. President Jacques Chirac, however, continued his denial and only admitted the existence of anti-Semitism in France toward the end of 2003, three years after its major new eruption had begun

The Jews were initially the prime targets of many racist attacks originating to a disproportionately large extent – compared to the size of the communities – among North Africans. There were, however, already indications – for instance, from many incidents in schools – that French society at large, rather than the Jews, was the main object of the Muslim perpetrators.

At the same time, there were many other signs of the breakdown of law and order in various domains of French society. This manifested itself, for instance, in the fear of the police to enter certain areas in and around major cities. These no-go areas are largely populated by North African immigrants and their descendants. In the Muslim community one also finds other extreme antidemocratic attitudes, such as the religious intimidation of other Muslims and, in particular, women.

In spring 2005, during protest demonstrations of high school students in Paris, further major proof emerged that some of the extensive aggression and racism among minorities is oriented toward French society at large and not only toward the Jews. Hundreds of North Africans and blacks from the suburbs attacked and robbed students, and some said explicitly that they did so because their targets were white French.37

Those who still doubted that the French state was the main target of the minority hooligans and/or racists had a rude awakening at the end of October when both around Paris and in other places in the country a large number of cars were torched within a few days, while also many attacks on French institutional targets took place.

The United Nations Undermines International Conventions

The canary phenomenon is also illustrated by several developments at the United Nations. Gold points out that many of the anti-Israeli actions of the UN, undertaken with full support of the EU countries, have led to the “politicization of international humanitarian law, and the undermining of international conventions.”38

Cotler remarks, in discussing the UN’s anti-Israeli bias:

It is not surprising then, that the Supreme Court of Canada, in the trials of Holocaust deniers, affirmed: “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words.” Tragically, fifty years later, this lesson has still not been learned. The hate trafficking in Rwanda and Bosnia took us down the road to ethnic cleansing and genocide; and the worst arena today is to be found in the Arab countries and Palestinian Authority.39

Homicide bombing was for several years largely a Palestinian specialty. It was predominantly carried out on behalf of Palestinian organizations and aimed at Israelis and Jews. Some of these bodies were close to the Palestinian Authority, others opposed to it. Since then the aims of this type of terrorism have extended to Western targets such as the 9/11 bombings in the United States, the attacks against Westerners including noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently in the July bombings in the United Kingdom. By 2005 the prime victims of Arab and Muslim suicide bombings in the world have become other Muslims, mainly in Iraq and to a lesser extent in Afghanistan.

On a related matter, in the Netherlands various articles appeared early in 2004 about the verbal threats and violence by young North Africans against Amsterdam Jews. They did not draw much attention. In one article a Dutch Jew was quoted predicting that sooner or later a Jew in the Netherlands would be murdered by a Muslim.40 He was wrong insofar as in November of that year it was a Dutch non-Jew, the media-maker Theo van Gogh, who was cruelly murdered by a radical Muslim, Mohammed Bouyeri in Amsterdam. Even today hardly any Dutch have understood that the murderous threats against Dutch Jews made the Jews fulfill a canary role for their society. Since then, various other potential Islamist terrorists have been arrested in the Netherlands.

These are only a few examples of the canary role of the Jews. They can be complemented by many others. The similarities in the BBC’s bias against Israel and the British government were already mentioned earlier.

Teaching Media Monitoring

Also in reactions to the media attacks, the Jews and Israel have played a precursor role. Pro-Israeli media monitoring has made a number of major media, mainly in the United States, subject to more checks and balances. The criticism of the media comes from many concerned people and thus constitutes an important democratic process. The efforts of the Jewish organizations and individuals to make the media more accountable will ultimately be emulated by other interest groups.41

Yet another canary role of the Jews has been played in the academic world. Initially many attacks from the Left focused on the boycott of Israel, mainly in the United Kingdom but also in some European countries, and on divestment from Israeli or certain Israel-related securities in U.S. universities. Both were an indicator that there were major problems at universities, which supposedly have as their aim the fostering of knowledge, but where propaganda has often taken the place of teaching.

In the United Kingdom, government sources now mention the dangers resulting from extremist activities on campus including terrorism. Frontpage Magazine has, in recent years, frequently highlighted that discrimination rather than academic freedom prevails in various departments at American universities.


A number of conclusions can be drawn:

1| The postmodern total war against the Jewish people is of a radically different nature than those in the past, and particularly the aggression of the Nazis in the previous century.

2| Although there are many prime perpetrators in the hostilities against the Jews, the most important ones come from the Arab and Muslim world.

3| The total war is directed against both Israel and the Jewish people. For many perpetrators, particularly but not only Muslim and Arab ones, there is hardly any difference between these targets. Others, entirely or primarily, focus on one of them. Some perpetrators try to ignore or conceal that in the prevailing atmosphere, their attacks inevitably affect both Israel and the Jewish people.

4| Many perpetrators do not operate in a coordinated way. Some, particularly many of those behind anti-Semitic Internet sites, often are on their own.

5| The combined actions of all perpetrators, collaborators, and fellow travelers help create a climate that makes it easier for others to join the battle in any of various ways. This is the more so given the deep cultural roots of anti-Semitism in many Western societies.

6| As situations cannot remain static, the societal climate could further develop toward an atmosphere that is even more tolerant of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli violence.

7| The perpetrators of hate propagation and distribution are multiple. They include government officials – primarily, United Nations, academics, the media, NGOs, churches, and so forth.

8| With the increase of terrorism by extreme Muslims in the Western world, more and more radical elements of the Muslim and Arab communities in Western countries will have to come under police and intelligence scrutiny. Information on developments in Muslim societies, withheld until recently, is being published after murderous attacks of various kinds by radical Muslims in Madrid, Amsterdam, and London.42 The media are also increasingly providing information on the minority racism strongly present in Western Muslim communities. Increased surveillance and exposure will also be helpful in identifying perpetrators of violent anti-Jewish acts, who come from these communities to a disproportionately large extent

Strategies for Cambat

1| The first step in any defense strategy is to know the enemy, his operations and intentions. In the diffuse postmodern war that Israel and the Jewish people face, achieving this is difficult. Thus, much more resources should be devoted to “understanding and analyzing the enemy.”

2| Exposure of the enemy should be a central aspect of strategy. Neither Israel nor responsible Jewish leaders want to be the spearhead of a confrontation with the Muslim or Arab world. In a selective way, however, the rampant racism and anti-Semitism in it must be exposed.

3| In view of the limitations of Israeli and Jewish resources, the coordination of efforts becomes a crucial matter. The Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism, initiated by Minister Natan Sharansky, was a modest beginning in this regard.

4| A detailed assessment should be made on how to mobilize non-Jewish allies in the struggle against anti-Semitism and to raise funds for this. One successful approach so far has been the promotion of international forums that have led to the Berlin Declaration and an increasingly accepted definition of contemporary anti-Semitism.

5| When a small group comes under a large number of attacks, a strategy of defense cannot be based on confronting all or even most attacks directly. Such a strategy, particularly in this specific case, can only lead to the dissipation of resources.

6| Turning the accuser into the accused must be a central element in any strategy. Defense alone will always remain wanting. There are several reasons for this. Nobody is perfect; Israel and Jews often fail like everybody else, though not necessarily as much and as severely as many of their adversaries. It is an easy tool for the enemies to seek out such failures and focus on them, ignoring much greater transgressions of others. As long as adversaries know that there is no price to be paid for their attacks, they will continue them. Some adversaries in fields such as politics, academia, and the media, however, are easy targets for counterattacks if the Jews and Israel want it so.43

7| In a diffuse war, the tools of combat will always have to be multiple. Lessons learned from one country can often be applied to another. Some tools have proved to be effective such as pro-Israeli media monitoring. In particular, in the United States this activity has to a certain extent succeeded in containing the most extravagant attacks on Israel and the Jews.44 45 Legal action can sometimes be effective but in many cases is extremely costly. Sometimes it leads to adverse results.

8| The canary phenomenon will have to be investigated in more detail and thereafter explained much better to a wide audience. Society’s reactions to attacks on a Jewish minority will be stronger when large parts of the surrounding society understand that they are under attack as well or will soon be. Assessing the role of the Jew as a target and his functioning as a canary thus becomes a concern not only for the Jews, but also for many others. It is thus crucial to investigate what others are under attack, not only to understand better how the enemy works but also because it is an effective tool to mobilize others against the common enemy.

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1. Part One of this essay was published as Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 38. 1 November 2005.

2. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Georges-Elia Sarfati, “Language as a Tool against Jews and Israel,” Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 17, 1 February 2004.

3. Ibid.

4. Raphael Israeli, Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology, (London: Frank Cass, 2003).

5. Susanne Urban, “Anti-Semitism in Germany Today: Its Roots and Tendencies,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 16, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2004), 124.

6. Gerstenfeld, interview with Samuels, “Anti-Semitism and Jewish Defense.”

7. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Rabbi Abraham Cooper, “Anti-Semitism and Terrorism on the Internet: New Threats,” Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 9, 1 June 2000.

8. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Jews against Israel,” Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 30, 1 March 2005

9. Manfred Gerstenfeld and Ben Green, “Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 16, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2004).

10. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hildegard Müller, “Israel and Europe: The Positive and the Negative,” in Gerstenfeld, Israel and Europe, 40.

11. Gerstenfeld, interview with Trigano, “French Anti-Semitism.”

12. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Trevor Asserson, “The BBC: Widespread Antipathy toward Israel,” in Manfred Gerstenfeld, Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2005), 193-207. An earlier version of this interview, “What Went Wrong at the BBC: A Public Monopoly Abusing Its Charter through Bias against Israel,” Jerusalem Viewpoints, No. 511, 15 January 2004 can be found at

13. Anne Bayefsky, “Perspectives on Anti-Semitism Today,” lecture at conference on “Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding,” United Nations Department of Information, New York, 21 June 2004; Anne Bayefsky, “One Small Step,”, Opinion Journal, Wall Street Journal, 21 June 2004,

14. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Anne Bayefsky, “The United Nations: Leading Global Purveyor of Anti-Semitism,” Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 31, 1 April 2005.

15. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dore Gold, “Europe’s Consistent Anti-Israeli Bias at the United Nations,” in Gerstenfeld, Israel and Europe.

16. Gerstenfeld, interview with Samuels, “Anti-Semitism and Jewish Defense.”

17. Gerald Steinberg, “Abusing the Legacy of the Holocaust: The Role of NGOs in Exploiting Human Rights to Demonize Israel,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 16, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2004).

18. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Gerald Steinberg, “European NGOs against Israel,” in Gerstenfeld, Israel and Europe, 111-23.

19. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Irwin Cotler, “Discrimination against Israel in the International Arena: Undermining the Cause of Human Rights at the United Nations,” in Gerstenfeld, Europe’s Crumbling Myths, 223.

20. Gerstenfeld, interview with Samuels, “Anti-Semitism and Jewish Defense.”

21. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Academic Boycott against Israel,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2003), 58.

22. Martin Kramer, “Is Zionism Colonialism? The Root Lie,” Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 35, 1 August 2005.

23. Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001).


25. Julie Stahl, “Palestinian Students Offer Celebration of Suicide Bombing,” CNSNEWS.COM, 25 September 2001.

26. Mohammed Daraghmeh, “Hamas, Fatah Compete over Killing Israelis in Campaign for Student Council Seats,” Associated Press,, 10 December 2003,

27. Its members were Dr. Mary C. Boys, Dr. Michael C. Cook, Dr. Philip A. Cunningham, Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, Dr. Paula Fredriksen, Rev. Dr. Lawrence E. Frizzell, Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, and Dr. John T. Pawlikowski.

28. Report of the Ad Hoc Scholars Group Reviewing the Script of The Passion, 2 May 2003.

29. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Meir Litvak, “Development of Arab Anti-Semitism,” Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 5, 2 February 2003.

30. See, e.g., “New England Conference Urges Divestiture from Israeli Occupation,”

31. Amiram Barkat, “The Divestment Snowball,” Haaretz, 14 September 2005.

32. Julie Stahl, “Israel Troubled by World Council of Churches Divestment Campaign,” Cybercast News Service, 23 February 2005.

33. The Church Times, 24 January 2003, as quoted by Robert S. Wistrich, “European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself,” American Jewish Committee, 2005.

34. Rivkah Duker Fishman, “The Seventh-Century Christian Obsession with the Jews: A Historical Parallel for the Present?” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 17, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2005).

35. Raphael Israeli, Poison: Modern Manifestations of a Blood Libel (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2002).

36. Brenner, Les territoires perdus.

37. “Manifestations de lyceéns: Le spectre des violences anti-‘Blancs,'” Le Monde, 15 March 2005 [French].

38. Gerstenfeld, interview with Gold, “Europe’s Consistent Anti-Israeli Bias,” 53.

39. Gerstenfeld, interview with Cotler, “Discrimination against Israel,” 224.

40. Paul Andersson Toussaint, “Nieuw taboe: ‘Jodenvriendje zijn,'” De Groene Amsterdammer, 31 January 2004 [Dutch].

41. Manfred Gerstenfeld and Ben Green, “Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 16, Nos. 1 & 2 (Fall 2004), 33-58.

42. On the Netherlands, see, e.g., “Van dawa tot jihad: De diverse dreigingen van de radicale islam tegen de democratische rechtsorde,” Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties, 2004 [Dutch]. For an English analysis, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Radical Islam in the Netherlands: A Case Study of a Failed European Policy,” Jerusalem Issue Briefs, Vol. 4, No. 14, 2 January 2005.

43. Gerstenfeld, “Academic Boycott.”

44. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Andrea Levin, “CAMERA: Fighting Distorted Media Coverage of Israel and the Middle East,” Post-Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, No. 33, 1 June 2005.

45. Gerstenfeld and Green, “Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers.”

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Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is an international business strategist who has been a consultant to governments, international agencies, and boards of some of the world’s largest corporations. Among his ten books are Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (JCPA, Yad Vashem, WJC, 2003); American Jewry’s Challenge: Conversations Confronting the 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005); and most recently, Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (JCPA and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2005).