Commentary Magazine

Blowing the Whistle on Incitement

Blowing the Whistle on Incitement

For two decades after the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, both the U.S. and Israel played blind, deaf, and dumb when it came to the widespread Palestinian incitement of hatred against Jews and the Jewish state—on the theory that discussing the issue would only serve to undermine the cause of peace. But it has had precisely the opposite effect. The hate churned out on a daily basis by the official Palestinian media and taught to children in their schools has instructed new generations to despise Jews and regard the denial of Jewish rights as integral to Palestinian national identity. Fortunately, the Israeli government is no longer maintaining its silence and released a major report on the issue in January.

The legitimization of such hatred was illustrated again in December when terrorists convicted of murder were released by Israel as the price for enticing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Those killers were celebrated, honored, and individually embraced by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders dismiss discussion of the issue as a “distraction” from the stalled peace talks. But the reason the Netanyahu government is right to demand that the PA formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state is that its incitement to hatred is predicated on a belief that Jews have no rights to sovereignty anywhere. Until that changes and the incitement ends, true peace is impossible.

Détente for Our Time

Although economic sanctions forced Iran to change tactics and negotiate with the West over its nuclear program, the Obama administration views any toughening of the restrictions as a threat to further talks about thwarting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The deal with Iran signed by the United States in November loosened sanctions and allowed the Islamist regime to continue to refine uranium, even as the U.S. still says it is determined to prevent the ayatollahs from gaining a nuclear weapon. But in the aftermath of the accord, which has yet to be implemented, Washington seems more interested in pursuing a new détente with Iran in which the two countries will cooperate in Syria and Iraq and gradually lower tensions over the nuclear issue. A bipartisan coalition in Congress is hoping to strengthen Obama’s hand in the nuclear talks by passing even tougher sanctions that would go into effect if the negotiations fail. The threat of a veto has stalled the measure. While it is to be hoped that the diplomatic process will succeed, the administration’s priority seems to be engagement with Tehran, not pressure on it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Hamas and the Desert Dam Busters

Extreme weather struck throughout the Middle East in December, inflicting record snowstorms on parts of Israel and surrounding countries as well as producing devastating coastal floods. Low-lying Gaza was particularly hard-hit and, despite the conflict with the strip’s Hamas rulers, Israel responded by sending pump equipment across the border to deal with the problem. But Gaza’s official Hamas-run media didn’t say thank you. Instead, it resurrected a story first aired three years ago by Iran’s anti-Semitic media that claimed the flooding in Gaza was the result of Israel’s opening dams in its adjacent southern region. But, like much of the propaganda spewed by Hamas, this story isn’t merely false; it is absurd, since Israel’s Negev Desert region has no rivers or lakes, let alone dams.

The Return of the Sieg Heil

Few outside of France had heard of it until recently, but a gesture popularized by an anti-Semitic French comedian has become a popular fad in Europe. The quenelle, a downward-facing Nazi salute, was apparently the invention of Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, but it has been embraced by athletes as well as the comic’s fans. They’ve been having themselves photographed performing it in front of Holocaust memorials, synagogues, and even the Jewish school in Toulouse where a Muslim assailant murdered four Jews in 2012. French authorities have responded by banning some of Dieudonné’s performances, but the real problem goes deeper than one man who makes jokes about the Holocaust and calls Jews “slave drivers.” The prevalence of the quenelle is just one more indication of the way Jew-hatred, once confined to the margins of European society in the first decades after World War II, has found its way into the mainstream of popular culture.

Who’s a Native in the Jewish State?

A victory for the BDS crowd in late 2013 came at the hands of an academic group dominated by radicals: The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. While the group echoed the same anti-Israel propaganda line favored by other BDSers, it had a particularly disturbing and false rationale for its decision: an obligation to support the Palestinians whom they believe to be the indigenous people struggling against colonial settlers on both sides of the “green line.” Whatever one’s views of the issues about territory or settlements that are often used to criticize the Israeli government, the notion that Jews are not native to their historic homeland is not only a slur; it’s appallingly ignorant. It also reflects the anti-Semitic nature of a movement determined to deny the right of self-determination only to one people on the face of the earth.

About the Author

Jonathan Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY.

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