The West today is preoccupied with a feeling of guilt about the use of power. That’s why the Jews, in their state, are now held up in the press and elsewhere as the prime example
of the abuse of power. That’s why for so many the global villain, as
portrayed in newspapers and on TV, is none other than the Jewish
soldier, or the Jewish settler. This is not because the Jewish settler
or soldier is responsible for more harm than anyone else on earth – no
sane person would make that claim. It is rather because these are the
heirs to the Jewish banker or Jewish commissar of the past. It is
because when moral failure raises its head in the Western imagination,
the head tends to wear a skullcap.
One would expect the growing scale and
complexity of the conflict in the Middle East over the past decade to
have eclipsed the fixation on Israel in the eyes of the press and other
observers. Israel is, after all, a sideshow: The death toll in Syria in
less than four years far exceeds the toll in the Israel-Arab conflict in
a century. The annual death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is a
morning in Iraq.
And yet it is precisely in these years that the obsession has grown worse.
This makes little sense, unless we
understand that people aren’t fixated on Israel despite everything else
going on – but rather because of everything else going on. As Maurras
wrote, when you use the Jew as the symbol of what is wrong, “all things
fall into place and are simplified.”
The last few decades have brought the
West into conflict with the Islamic world. Terrorists have attacked New
York, Washington, London, Madrid, and now Paris. America and Britain
caused the unraveling of Iraq, and hundreds of thousands of people are
dead there. Afghanistan was occupied and thousands of Western soldiers
killed, along with countless civilians – but the Taliban are alive and
well, undeterred. Ghaddafi was removed, and Libya is no better off. All
of this is confusing and discouraging. It causes people to search for
answers and explanations, and these are hard to come by.
It is in this context that the Cult of
the Occupation has caught on. The idea is that the problems in the
Middle East have something to do with Jewish arrogance and perfidy, that
the sins of one’s own country can be projected upon the Western world’s
old blank screen. This is the idea increasingly reflected on campuses,
in labor unions, and in the media fixation on Israel. It’s a projection,
one whose chief instrument is the press.
As one BBC reporter informed a Jewish
interviewee on camera several weeks ago, after a Muslim terrorist
murdered four Jewish shoppers at a Paris supermarket, “Many critics of
Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffered hugely at
Jewish hands as well.” Everything, that is, can be linked to the
occupation, and Jews can be blamed even for the attacks against them.
This isn’t the voice of the perpetrators, but of the enablers.
The voice of the enablers is less honest
than that of the perpetrators, and more dangerous for being disguised in
respectable English. This voice is confident and growing in volume.
This is why the year 2015 finds many Jews in Western Europe eyeing their