Israelis are repeatedly being told that their policies of self-defense against Palestinian terrorists and West Bank settlements have soured the world on them. According to this train of thought, Israel is unpopular because of what it does, not because of its existence. But the hatred for the Jewish state, particularly in what many of still think of as the enlightened continent of Europe, has gotten to the point where even the U.S. State Department has pronounced it as part of the engine of a “rising tide of anti-Semitism.” A prime example of how this works comes from the Paris suburb of Bezons where the ability of Palestinian propaganda to demonize Israel has sunk to new depths.
Bezons, which is not far from the city of light, is not exactly a tourist attraction. But it has now garnered some international attention due to an event held at the municipality last month that honored and granted honorary citizenship to Majdi Rimawi, a Palestinian who is currently imprisoned in Israel. According to Bezons Mayor Dominique Lesparre, a member of the French Communist Party, Rimawi’s only crime is to resist Israeli oppression. However, the ceremony omitted the salient fact that Rimawi was jailed for his role in planning the assassination of Rehavam Ze’evi, Israel’s Minister of Tourism in 2001. Ze’evi was just one of more than 1,000 Israeli Jews who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the second intifada but the praise showered on his killers by even an insignificant French town speaks volumes about the way Europeans have embraced the false Palestinian narrative about the Middle East conflict.
That many people around the world sympathize with the plight of Palestinian Arabs who have suffered during the decades of conflict in the Middle East is understandable. But the kind of thinking that leads people to honor a terrorist murderer or to support economic warfare against Israel is rooted in something very different. In order to think that Rimawi, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is a victim, you have to believe that his group’s efforts to bring about Israel’s destruction via the slaughter of its people is justified. Doing so is not a function of legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies or a critique of specific measures but in a conviction that the Jewish state ought to be eradicated and that those who seek that end are in the right.
The honoring of Rimawi stems from the fact that his wife is a former mayor of the West Bank village of Qarawat Bani Zeid that has a sister city agreement with Bezons. It may be that many in France believe the story about the terrorist told in a pamphlet published by the municipality:
Majdi Rimawi has been imprisoned for over a decade by his Israeli jailers. His only crime is defending his city and homeland, and demanding adherence to international law and recognition of Palestine within the 1967 borders. For this he was sentenced to more than 80 years!
One could easily dismiss this as merely another big lie that no serious person could take at face value. But the problem with big lies is that they are, as history instructs us, often more easily believed than the truth. Like other Palestinian terror groups, the PFLP isn’t interested in the 1967 borders, let alone international law. But somehow the intifada, which followed Israeli offers of peace and statehood that were rejected by the Palestinians, has been transfigured into a struggle against Zionist tyranny.
People believe these lies because they have allowed themselves to be persuaded that Israel’s existence is itself an act of oppression though ought to be reversed. The notion that Israel is a product of European imperialism rather than the work of the national liberation movement of the Jews is risible, but in a Europe where colonialism is still thought of as a form of original sin, it is saleable.
But the bottom line here is that the information war being waged against Israel is one based on lies. As is the case with the actions of the Palestinian Authority and its media, honoring killers of Jews as heroes of the Palestinian people is inextricably linked to a belief that the Jews have no right to live. Anyone with even a minimal knowledge of European history knows that there is a long, dishonorable tradition of scapegoating Jews and marking them for death. Once it was justified in the name of religion or race. Now it is justified in the name of anti-imperialism or whatever ideological cover the left is now giving to the Palestinians.
The honoring of Rimawi is not just an isolated publicity stunt. It’s part of an effort to convince the world Israel’s efforts to defend its citizens, whether by active counter-terrorism activities, strikes on missile launches or even passive measures like building a security fence, are unjustified. Those who take such positions and support boycotts of Israel because of them need to understand that there is no difference between what they are doing and pinning a medal on a killer. Delegitimizing Zionism inevitably leads to legitimizing murder.