Return of the yellow star
In the post-Holocaust era it is infra dig to hate Jews, publicly at least. Hence the transmogrification from Jew to Zionist
Nothing is new beneath the sun. King Solomon the wise discerned that everything existed from the beginning, so that ‘new’ things are really very old things, manifestations of eternal concepts; like the badge of shame that Jews have been made to wear.
To many the yellow star, inset with Jude, Juif, or Jood, brings to mind the Holocaust. Yet the idea and its applications predate Hitler’s Third Reich by a millennium or two. Already in medieval times Jews were compelled to identify themselves by wearing badges of sorts. That opened up all kinds of possibilities, beginning with treating Jews like the pestilence. Isolate them, concentrate, deprive and deport them, or kill Jews on demand, as the need might be.
Now that society bends over backwards to absorb religious minorities, surely the yellow star is a curiosity to ogle at behind glass in a cold exhibition hall.
If only that were true. Some technical or tactical adjustments may alter the substance or appearance or method, but never the essence of an eternal obsession to quarantine Jews. It squats in our global village as it squatted in the medieval hamlet, though not nakedly. The Jew badge system of the new millennium lives behind a veil, a light one to penetrate, luckily. To see through it simply ignore the meaning of words and focus on what words mean.
Two great linguists harped on the idea that words may serve a tactical purpose. One was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who wrote that anti-Semites like to devaluate words. By making absurd remarks they intimidate and disconcert adversaries, which is both quicker than persuading by rational argument, and easier. Indeed, the more absurd the remark, the wilder the fib, the bigger the advantage gained.
The other linguist is Noam Chomsky. His focus is not anti-Semites but “manipulative totalitarian regimes.” Totalitarians use words not to communicate but to provoke an effect.
Chomsky’s own trademark style is to do exactly that: be provocative. His statements are so provocative and improbable that adversaries are at a loss whether he wants to be taken seriously or not. He calls the United States one of the leading terrorist nations in the world, and opines that George Bush’s crimes vastly exceeded Bin Laden’s. Are we meant to take Chomsky at face value? Or are we being disconcerted and intimidated for a brilliant man’s delight and purpose?
Back to the yellow star; what is the tactical word for Jude? What caricature now gets up everyone’s nose? In the post Holocaust era it is infra dig to hate Jews, publicly at least. So the Jude that everyone loved to hate has transmogrified into a Zionist. Nowadays people don’t hate Jews, they hate Zionists.
Often when their guard is down they’ll admit that one means the other. Be careful to say Zionist, warned Azzam Al-Tamimi, Director of London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought, believing he was out of earshot. “There is an organization called MEMRI, and it monitors your channel, as well as Al-Jazeera TV, Al-Hiwar TV, Al-Quds TV… all the channels…. Therefore, my advice to my brothers in Al-Aqsa TV and the other Arab channels is that we must be very careful when we use the term ‘Jews’.”
Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, dropped his guard differently. “The Zionists have been inflicting very heavy damage and suffering on the whole of humanity for over 2,000 years, especially over the last four centuries.” Of course 2,000 years ago, or even four centuries ago, there were no Zionists to inflict damage and suffering. There were only Jews, and it was them Iran’s Ayatollah meant.
But there is yet a second euphemism for ‘Jew’. Thanks to Anis Mansur, one of Egypt's top journalists, and confidant of the late president Anwar Sadat, we know that word: ‘Israeli’. "There is no such thing in the world as Jew and Israeli. Every Jew is an Israeli. No doubt about that.”
Tuvia Tenenbo wrote a book on rampant anti-Semitism in modern Germany. The head of the publishing company, from one of Germany’s top families, went into a rage. “He told me I couldn’t write and that the book needed serious editing. I asked him to show me what good writing was. He did. If there was a line in the book about people not liking Jews he demanded that I change the word to Israel.”
Hence to the formula: Zionist = Jew = Israeli. The book I wrote in 2012, Hadrian’s Echo, provides at least half a dozen more proofs that the terrible twins are the Jew of old.
Now to the second of the tactical words: ‘Anti-Semite.’ Expelled from one fortress the anti-Zionist will hurry to the next. Heavy with ridicule he’ll decry that no one can be critical of Israel without being called anti-Semitic. How that shot brings adversaries up short. Yet how flimsy the fortress from where it is fired.
Two quick questions and the game’s over for the protesting critic: 1) Why would a critic want Israel destroyed? And, 2) Why would a critic want Jews killed?
For wanting both those things a boycott supporter could not be anything but a deadly enemy of Israel – of the Jews. “Implementing the right of return means eradicating Israel," said Amos Oz, the author and left wing peace advocate. "It will make the Jewish people a minor ethnic group at the mercy of Muslims, a protected minority, just as fundamentalist Islam would have it."
Nevertheless Oz (being politically correct?) stops mid way through. What some Muslim groups have done, and are doing to minor ethnic groups, on three continents, means that the right of return would eradicate more than Israel, it would eradicate Jews. Dismantling the security barrier would act likewise, though at a slower rate.
Every boycott supporter – Christian, Jew, Muslim or secularist – fully understands that his demands amount to the shedding of Jewish blood. And if he calls that a lie, or tut tuts, or coughs disdainfully, remind him to address the two questions. And while he’s thinking up a diversion, ask him why he never protested when Palestinians bombed, shot, and knifed Jews to death.
So to the character of the latter day yellow star. Borne instead of worn it sets not only Jews apart but products like Ahava cosmetics of Jewish origin. Boycotted by stores and shunned by shoppers, products must carry the warning label, ‘Made in Israel’ or ‘Made in the Occupied West Bank.’ Like tobacco products and alcohol, consumers are warned and weaned off the deleterious effects of Zionist-made products.
Along with Jewish products Israeli academia finds itself shunned like the devil: “All Israeli academic institutions, unless proven otherwise”, the manifesto of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel reads, echoing Hitler’s Nuremberg Decrees to strip Jews of their basic rights and begin the process of separating them from the population. A professor at the University of Manchester wrote to her Israeli colleagues: “I will always regard and treat you both as friends, on a personal level, but I do not wish to continue an official association with any Israeli.”
As it was dangerous in Nazi Europe to associate with Jews, today it’s ill-advised to associate with Zionists. Israel’s deputy ambassador in London noted, "The last time that Jews were boycotted in universities was in 1930s Germany."
Academies, in the words of French author Julian Benda, have become
“an arena for the intellectual organization of political hatreds’. He wrote this in 1927, but how presciently. Rhodes University, South Africa, is a living model of the intellectual organization of Zionist hatred. Fear-ridden pockets of Jews who came out in support of Israel were branded racists, Islamophobic, apartheid supporters, problems to be gotten rid of, disgraceful.
To be sure the new model yellow star exempts, for now, ‘good Jews.’ They are Jews canny enough to set themselves free by excoriating Zionism or Israel or still better, both. Effectively they sell their Jewish identity and reap a decent return, both in kind and in cash.
The boycott movement is flush with funds, though it keeps who the funders are close to the chest. ‘Israel-bashing is the contemporary key to acceptance,’ observed Professor Robert Wistrich. How right. Even a humble saxophone player may aspire to minor celebrity status. “It is Gilad Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile,” wrote the Guardian.
Anti-Zionist Jews are nothing if not materialistic. They never sell themselves short, but think nothing of selling out the rights of their Jewish brethren – rights to freedom of speech and association. At the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, a concert with an Israeli-born pianist was invaded when boycotters burst onto the stage blowing vuvuzelas and forcing the event to be abandoned.
Even then, we have not touched the limit of yellow star-exempt Jews. If motivated at bottom by human rights, one might overlook their failings. But that’s the problem: boycotters have no concern for Palestinian rights. Or they have, when Israel is in the equation, but take Israel out of the equation and boycotters dissolve to nowhere. If they had a credo it would be the following: What Muslims do to Palestinians is Muslim business; what Palestinians do to Jews is no one’s business; what Jews do to Palestinians is criminal.
But let the idol of Israel-bashers, Noam Chomsky, put it for us squarely: “The current BDS movement's hypocrisy rises to heaven.” And let them deny it: Boycotters are not concerned with Palestinian rights; they are concerned with trashing Jews – sorry, Israel, where the tribe lives, and thrives.
Steve Apfel is director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book,'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel's critics' (2012) and a contributor to, "War by other means." (Israel Affairs, Special Issue. July 2012)
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