Israel facing revival of deep-seated hate
by Salim Mansur
JERUSALEM — The dilemma of Jews and Israel in the contemporary world became acutely vivid to me as I stepped out of the noon-day sun into the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem.
The hall stands empty except for an eternal flame in memory of Jews murdered by Hitler's Nazi Germany and on the floor the names of the death camps in central and eastern Europe.
Perhaps a large number of Jews exterminated in the Holocaust might have been saved, and the demographic reality of present day Israel would be different, if Britain had fulfilled its pledge made in the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 and assisted in the birth of the Jewish state as it did in establishing Arab states following the First World War — like those of Transjordan and the Kingdom of Iraq.
The weight of history's cruelty on the children of Isaac, Abraham's son from Sarah, has been unbearably enormous.
Yad Vashem was established to remember the fate of European Jewry and of the six million who perished in the Nazi death camps.
Keeping alive that memory in a world of forgetfulness and denial is also to keep meaningful the promise of never again for Jews to ever suffer similarly.
The story of modern Israel, as many have noted, is a miracle unlike any, of a people condemned to elimination coming together to build a state and society that is unapologetically strong militarily.
It is a robust and inclusive democracy, and is at the leading edge of science and technology.
Not quite three generations removed from the end of the Second World War and the establishment of modern Israel, Israelis are once again confronted with the oldest organized and persistent bigotry in Europe — anti-Semitism — resuscitated anew by the deep-seated enmity of Arabs and Muslims against Jews.
I recalled in leaving Yad Vashem one of the most insightful books ever written on the subject of anti-Semitism, Jean-Paul Sartre's Anti-Semite and Jew.
Sartre wrote it during the war and it was published soon after France was liberated from the Nazis.
Sartre famously described anti-Semitism as a poor man's snobbery.
He had observed it closely and seen how the wretched bigotry of the utterly mediocre man laid low his beloved France into committing crimes against Jews.
The resuscitation of anti-Semitism in Europe, and to some extent in North America, comes in the guise of anti-Zionism and support for Palestinian rights. In other words, it feeds upon the wretched snobbery of the utterly barren and broken world of Arabs and Muslims.
However anti-Semitism is revived and whatever its sociological origin, Israel is surrounded by, at best, mediocre nations and leaders, such as Iran's Ahmedinejad with his evil grin, who brazenly broadcast their anti-Jew bigotry.
In such circumstances the remarkable fact is how open, normal and fun-loving Israelis are living under the shadow of an evil that refuses to die, or leave them alone.
What hypocrites demand of Israelis and the scrutiny Israel is subjected to by them, they would not dare make of any other nation.
It is the fallen nature of the world that makes of Israel a light unto nations confounding anti-Semites endlessly.