A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
July 16, 2010 Why Do They Hate Us?
For the past week I have been struggling to find the proper way to respond to a email sent by a young Israeli attached to the video clip that is linked here- Only Israel
One of the major themes of the movie, (which you should watch), is that Jewish blood is cheap. The young e-mailer wanted to know "Why does the world hate us?".
There is, of course, nothing new in the question. It's a question asked by every young Jew once they understand Jewish history: Why do they hate us?
Zionism was supposed to make this question obsolete. The Herzlian view of Zionism held that the establishment of a Jewish state would normalize the Jewish people, and thus end anti- Semitism. Herzl would be spinning in his grave to know that a 19 year-old Israeli girl in the year 2010, 62 years after the establishment of the Jewish state would still feel compelled to ask this question.
The simple answer to the question is that the establishment of a Jewish state did not solve the problem of Anti-semitism. it merely established a Jewish state; a state that would be treated with the same hatred that individual Jews have been subjected to for millennia. This is no doubt part of the answer. But the full answer is more complicated. Yesterday, Yoram Hazony printed an interesting piece in his Letters from Jerusalem newsletter called How they see it from Europe
In the article, Hazony explains that the increasing attempts to delegitimize Israel are not a result of any given actions of Israel, but rather a result of a complete change in the view of the nation state by European intelligentsia.
The tide of modern Nationalism reached its zenith in the late 19th century and has been replaced by the Kantian view that the nation state itself is bad. Therefore, there is no need for a nation state, instead we can have institutions like the European Union. Hazony underscores the difference between the European views of the horrors of Nazism; to Zionism's answer, that the establishment of a Jewish state was a clear response to the Holocaust, so that Jews could defend themselves and end Jewish powerlessness. To the European intelligentsia, Nazism is the final proof that the nation state is bad and must be replaced by a transnational government, so to them, a bi-national state in Palestine seems to be an obvious solution.
I truly wish the Europeans were right, it would be a great world, certainly a world I would hope my children and grandchildren could live in. The world of Star Trek, were national differences were eliminated, and even intergalactic differences were eliminated- sounds dream like. Unfortunately for the dreamers we live on the Earth of the 21st century. The earth that saw Bosnians who had lived next to each other and intermarried for generation killing each other because of differences they hardly knew existed. This is a world where Hutsis killed nearly 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days. This is a world were Muslim terrorist can kill destroy the World Trade Center, attack subway in London and rail stations in Madrid, and this is a world were a leading Islamic cleric can get on TV and call for the imposition of Islamic Law in England.
So where does that leave us? While the Europeans, and, for that matter, a smaller number of American intellectuals may be completely wrong in their view of the lack of legitimacy of the nation state, this is their world view and we need to understand it before we can fight against it.
One of our problems in fighting this phenomenon is that many in the world believe we continue to occupy a large number of Palestinians. This is clearly not acceptable in today's world norms is the occupation of one nation by another, even if the occupation may be justified by original circumstances. What is needed today, is an activist Israeli foreign policy, that first makes clear how few Palestinians Israel directly occupies; second, makes clear we have no interest in continuing to occupy any Palestinians, and if the following conditions are met (whatever they may be) we will be happy to cease occupying them all together. This initiative needs to be done in parallel with a more difficult intellectual struggle to explain the very foundations of Zionism. The Jewish people will be more than happy to live as part of a worldwide society that has turned swords into plows, in a world where ethnic and religious hatred are a matter of distant history, and where everyone is free to practice their religion (or lack of one) in complete freedom. However, until that day comes, only an independent Jewish state can protect Jews from the hatred that history has bestowed on them.
While Hazony's theory might explain why the nation state has become unpopular in the 21st century, his theory does not answer the ageless question of our young Israel woman: Why do they hate us? Unfortunately, I really do not have a good answer to that question. However, I do believe that Zionism has clearly changed the equation. For those of us who live in the United States, the establishment of the State of Israel has with out question helped push anti-semitism to the very margins of the society. For those who live in those parts of the world, where there are large Muslim populations (either in Europe or in the Middle East) we have seen a new type of hatred; a hatred I believe is born from an unwillingness to see the "lowly Jew" (the Dhimmi) change his status so drastically. We must also recognize that however justified our actions may have been over the years, many Palestinians have legitimate reasons to hate Israelis and by extension Jews. So does a significant portion of the world still hate the Jews? Yes, they do. However, it’s a different kind of hatred; hatred not born from helplessness. While this seemingly irreversible status is sad, if it is inevitable, I, for one, prefer today's version of hatred, heavily tinged with envy, to the hatred displayed to the Jews by the Nazis in Europe.