Words Of Hope For Israel And The Jewish People: An Interview With Author Nidra Poller
Over the last few months, I have conducted several powerful interviews for The Inquisitr about the future of Israel and the Jewish people. I had the privilege of speaking with a proud Zionist and journalist, Adina Kutnicki; the brilliant Israeli policy expert and Jerusalem Post columnist, Dr. Martin Sherman; international authority on the Holocaust and Antisemitism, Dr. Clemens Heni and one of the respected elder statesman of Israel, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld.
Today, we continue our examination of this most important subject by speaking with a renowned Jewish author and journalist, Nidra Poller. Born in America to an observant Jewish family, Ms. Poller left the confines of the United States for France, and since 1972, she has lived and worked in Paris. Thus, she is in the unique position to not only discuss the future of Israel, but she can give voice to the unfortunate rebirth of open Jew hate that is now plaguing the nations of Europe.
Jew hate is not a new story. It has pursued the children of Israel since they first became a “chosen people” and were given their purpose. Not to be superior to others, but to be a light unto the world and a shining example to humankind. To do good works for the betterment of all and to uphold the laws that permit humanity to peacefully co-exist in a civilized society.
Sadly, despite the noble intentions of the Jewish people, this was not to be. For 1800 years, Jews have been called Christ killers and faced unrelenting persecution. For 1400 years, Jews have been crushed by the surging armies of Islam and made into dhimmis and ‘Court Jews’, serving the whims of an unpredictable master. Bereft of their beloved Israel by Roman and Muslim invaders, they wandered the planet as exiles, never welcome and barely tolerated in the nations of the world; living in ghettos and denied all rights and privileges. Long before Hitler killed the six million, Jews were demonized and annihilated with impunity.
For all of those many centuries of persecution, death, and exile, the Jewish people never abandoned the hope that some day they would return to Israel and rebuild their nation. They prayed constantly, century after century, “next year in Jerusalem” and waited and suffered and never gave up. Somehow, they even managed to defy their many masters and maintain a continuous presence in Israel for 3300 years, clustered in impoverished villages, keeping their traditions, refusing to abandon their god and convert to the faith of their conquerors.
But this is not is story of defeat. It is a story of perseverance in the face of terrible odds and triumph over unbelievable adversity. It is about taking a desert and making it into a garden. The transformation of an ancient nation into a vital, vibrant modern society, populated by a people who remember their history and yearn for peace with every particle of their being. In a better world, the Israelites would be the heroes.
Yet, some things never change. Jew hate still permeates the human psyche and a supremacist religion refuses to relinquish its claim on the land it took by force so many centuries ago. So much hate, unrelenting, never ending, and still, the Jewish people say: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces.” A prayer for all of humanity.
Perhaps, if we listen with an open mind to what Nidra Poller has to say, we may begin to cast aside all the propaganda and utter nonsense that is now masquerading as reality and learn something of the truth. As Nidra wrote so simply and so eloquently, “Jews are an asset to civilization and a Jewish state is a precious asset to the world. Persecuting Jews, periodically trying to annihilate Jews is a recurrent bout of a terrible life-threatening illness of human societies…Turning Jews into pariahs, turning the Jewish state into an evil entity is a terrible perversion that cannot be cured. But it can be controlled. This is the task of Judaism. Not to feed into the destructive madness, not to drink the poison, but to stand up proudly and push back the tide.”
[Introduction written by Wolff Bachner for The Inquisitr.]
Now, let us begin our interview with Nidra Poller:
Wolff Bachner: Nidra, welcome to The Inquisitr. As an American Jew who has lived in Paris since 1972, you have witnessed first hand the rebirth of Jew hate and the incredible hostility to the state of Israel that is common today in Europe and Great Britain.
Nidra Poller: Yes, Wolf, and it happened suddenly between the 28th and 30th September 2000, with the outbreak of the misnamed “Intifada,” attributed to the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount (identified in France as “l’esplanade des mosquées” [Mosque Square]) and the fabricated report of the alleged killing of Mohamed al Dura. In the space of two days, the situation of Jews in France was radically transformed. You could hear the sound of a tear in the fabric of French society!
Of course this rupture, this outbreak of irrational hatred and violence, did not come out of a clear blue sky. Hostility to Jews is an ongoing phenomenon, an undercurrent that flows insidiously throughout history. But acute outbursts such as we saw in the year 2000 are still shocking and, somehow, unexpected.
At the time, while earning my living as a translator as I had been doing for some 30 years, I was thinking about the next novel I would write. I set aside that project. It was not a time for fiction. Events playing out before my eyes were of the scope and depth that makes great novels. I opened a writer’s notebook and started to chronicle what was happening. I wrote in French because I was speaking to my adopted country, and because I had been writing in French rather than English for close to twenty years.
Today’s blogs are a pale version of the writer’s notebook, a distinguished literary tradition, an art in itself and one of my favorite literary forms because I have always used fiction the better to write about reality. And, as a novelist, I work with time as a precious metal. I love to capture reality with precision in its fleeting moments. My Cahier d’une honnête citoyenne tells the story of what was happening as it happened in France, Europe, the United States, and the world in the crucial period that began in September 2000. This literary exercise, shaped by my abiding interest in history and politics, led gradually to my current activity as a latecomer journalist. While I was composing and subsequently publishing in French, my colleagues were asking me to translate their texts into English because their voices could not be heard in France. After a few years I decided it was foolish of me to continue writing in French when English, my mother tongue, reached the international audience we were all grasping for. I will be publishing an English version of the chronicle—Notes from a Simple Citizen– in January or February.
There was the shock in September 2000, but we had advance warning in 1991 during the First Gulf War. Then, too, I set aside fiction and opened a writer’s notebook where I chronicled the “arabesque” discourse built around Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait… to liberate Palestine. I realized then that anti-Semitism could come back in a new form with new arguments and the same sting. French intellectuals, some of Muslim origin others not, spun a tale that, while remaining theoretical and abstract, would later justify atrocities against Jews.
Wolff Bachner: How dangerous is Europe circa 2013 for Jews?
Nidra Poller: It is difficult to measure danger. First, no matter how many Jews are attacked or, in the worst cases, maimed or murdered for being Jewish, most Jews are not attacked. That leaves a lot of normal life. Second, the specific insecurity aimed at Jews has spread to the general population (and this is not accidental); one can be attacked as a woman, as a Frenchie, as an infidel, as a fatcat or at random. Nonetheless, some random criminal attacks become brutally violent when the assailants realize their victim is Jewish. It would be wrong to imagine that French Jews live in trembling and terror. Or that they are not afraid, wary, cautious, and concerned. A vibrant Jewish life is visible anywhere and everywhere. However, the possibility of acute outbreaks of violent Jew hatred in reaction to international or domestic incidents is ever present. The possibility that the situation will worsen is always kept in mind.
Wolff Bachner: Is there really a rebirth of Jew hate or was it just better hidden in the years immediately following World War Two?
Nidra Poller: I believe that the irrational hostility toward Jews and Judaism is a constant and will never disappear. It ebbs and flows, rises and falls, takes myriad forms according to the circumstances, but cannot be eliminated. Faced with concrete evidence of the consequences of this hostility—the Shoah—our societies saw it as evil and swore to never again indulge in such despicable practices. But the safeguards built to prevent the repetition of those horrors were gradually twisted into mechanisms for the contemporary version of the age-old murderous rage. The rejection of nationalism and military might—presumed causes of war and persecution– became an instrument for rejection and persecution of the Jewish state that is our rampart against genocide. Civil rights, human rights, and the United Nations became weapons in the new war against the Jews.
It is up to us to develop better strategies to deal with this pathological attitude to Jews. I keep looking for a new term, the right term to describe it. We are stuck with “anti-Semitism” or “antisemitism” but should be able to get beyond it, since it was only invented in the 19th century to name a phenomenon that had already existed for more than a thousand years. I want to find a term that correctly designates the connection between the two elements—Jews and the attitude. Ant-Semitism is not a “something” directed at Jews it is a pathology of individuals and societies that hides behind the Jew or passes through the Jew. It acts against us but it is not really about us. We are forced to be the vector of a rage against life, against ethics, hope, intelligence, clarity, pleasure… all that is good. But it does not end there: it is a refusal to accept reality, mortality, free will. At any given time, the Jew will stand for one or more of these qualities that society cannot deal with. It is not Judeophobia or Jew hatred, it is a frustrated yearning to be human, a profound despair, a dismal lack of courage that turns on the Jew, perceived as the one who has it all. Of course Jews individually fall short of Judaism, but that doesn’t change the image or ease the pain of those who feel cheated and deprived… of not being Jewish.
Pathological jealousy of Judaism will never disappear. We don’t expect evil to disappear, we know we will have to deal with it forever. Hostile powers, armed robbers, savage beasts, insane killers, destructive forces of nature… they can’t be eliminated. We have to deal with them effectively, make the pathology boomerang, return it to the sender instead of letting it lodge in our midst.
Wolff Bachner: What is life like for a European Jew who is proud of their Jewish identity and makes no effort to conceal their Jewishness?
Nidra Poller: I cannot pretend to know the extent of harassment endured by Jews coming and going to work, to the synagogue, to Jewish schools in certain neighborhoods of certain cities in France. As for other European countries, I do not have information beyond what you can read in the media.
There are so many situations in which it is impossible to hide one’s Jewish identity. Wearing a baseball cap instead of a kippa [skullcap], keeping a magen david [Jewish star] out of sight, hiding a plastic bag from a kosher delicatessen or the cover of a book related to Israel or Judaism … what else? If one doesn’t “obviously” look Jewish, it might make things easier, but not necessarily. Some Jews with no telltale indications have been assaulted in the métro. Observant Jews, haredi, rabbis do not attempt to hide their identity. Girls in modest dress, boys with tsitsis [similar to prayer shawl fringe, hanging out under the shirt] can be seen almost anywhere. Students in universities and elite schools are subject to a different kind of pressure—intellectual, cultural, religious, clannish. Many resist valiantly, others give in.
Some Americans get the idea that no one can wear a kippa in the streets of France. False. At the same time, many Jews are harassed verbally and physically. It can happen anywhere at any time. There are many proud Jews in France who do not hide their identity and who assert their right to live fully and freely in their own country. And there are many proud French Jews who leave because they feel that things can only get worse for them as Jews but also as French citizens.
Wolff Bachner: What are typical examples of modern European Jew hate and who is responsible?
Nidra Poller: We have all the varieties. There is the snide dinner party gossipy contempt for Jews. It’s a musty outworn bag of dried up ideas about Jews, Judaism, Israel, and Zionism, collected over the ages from all sources and centuries. Ancient Greek anti-Semitism mixes with modern French hostility to religion in general, without neglecting Christian anti-Judaism and Nazi anti-Semitism, and an added heavy dose picked up from Islamic Jew hatred. This kind of attitude, which can be found in the workplace as in cultural and intellectual circles and in the media, always existed but it was kept quiet until recently. Today, the spread of violent forms of Jew hatred by Muslims is taken by highbrows as permission to express the milder versions.
Animosity toward Israel is more virulent and more dangerous than the dinner party strain of anti-Semitism. French media, cultural and intellectual circles, government, and the general population are steeped in this form of anti-Semitism that is not repressed because it is purportedly different. These people don’t hate Jews like the Nazis did. They don’t call for the extermination of Jews or the elimination of the Jewish state. They simply develop arguments that would lead to the above, arguments based on “international law,” human rights, national liberation and, of course, the hallowed demands of Palestinians. These people espouse attitudes that justify genocidal hatred of Jews, but deny such intentions. They defend Islamic claims against the Jews, but always for the most noble reasons. They know everything about the Mideast conflict, but only if it leads to the conclusion that Israel is in the wrong, must be punished, amputated of territory, forced to submit to international dictates and the aggressive demands of its Muslim neighbors. This form of friendly hostility to Jews / Israel includes the entire peace process ideology. It is held by some of our best friends, and is almost universal in French political classes.
The most virulent form of Jew hatred is Islamic. Muslims are responsible for 99.9% of attacks against Jews. The genocidal hatred of Jews that motivates this behavior is inscribed in sacred texts and has been practiced down through the ages. Despite frantic attempts to deny the evidence, nothing can change the facts of this specifically Islamic form of animosity toward Jews. The slightest detail that could diminish the religious factor is grasped and exploited. Sébastien Selam’s killer Adel Boumedienne, Youssouf Fofana who exterminated Ilan Halimi, and Mohamed Merah who executed three Jewish children and a teacher in Toulouse,all dressed in sweat suits, drank, and hung out with women. Commentators who know worse than nothing about Islam frantically denied the religious factor in those murders. In fact, intensified religious affiliation and practices is documented in all three cases. Further, almost all the members of the heterogeneous Gang of Barbarians led by Fofana were Muslim-born or converts to Islam.
Without this specifically Islamic strain of virulent anti-Semitism the other forms would remain low key and essentially inoperative. Today, this murderous rage functions like blood to sharks, attracting other forms of Jew hatred in a two-pronged movement: as a dhimmitude concession to tyrannical Islam—we hate the Jews as much as you do so leave us alone—and as permission to indulge in otherwise taboo behavior.
Wolff Bachner: How much of the increase in European Jew hate can be tied to the massive influx of African and Middle Eastern Muslims to Europe and Great Britain?
Nidra Poller: As explained above, the massive influx of Muslim immigrants is the cause of violent Jew hatred in Europe. In France, harassed and persecuted Jews flee heavily Muslim neighborhoods just as they had to flee Muslim countries in the 50s and 60s. In addition to the thuggish street persecution, more refined forms of discrimination develop as French Muslims who improve their skills and educational baggage move up the professional ladder– partially on their own merits and partly by virtue of unspoken affirmative action—to reach positions of power where their prejudice against Jews provokes conflict and injustice. This should not obscure the fact that good relations also exist between like-minded fair-minded Muslims, Jews, and people of all origins and beliefs. Freedom- loving Muslims in France are victims of the massive influx of uneducated, unassimilatable, dysfunctional immigrants who create social problems and cast an unfavorable light on the whole community.
Muslims are increasingly active in political parties. This is sometimes an indication of successful integration, but can also be evidence of tribal politics, in which token Muslims are used as bait to fish for the Muslim vote.
“Immigration” is a controversial issue in all Western European countries. In fact, the issue is Muslim immigration but all things Islamic must be handled with a kid gloves vocabulary. Those who refuse to face the problem argue that prejudice against immigrants touched wave after wave of immigration—Eastern European Jews, Italians, Poles, Portuguese —and all were eventually integrated into French society. North and sub-Saharan Africans, they say, will follow suit. France, like the United States, sees itself as a haven for immigrants. This is a badge of honor. Jews, as former immigrants and victims of discrimination, are expected to be particularly generous and wary of doing unto others the evil that was done to them.
Is the current, problematical immigration just one more wave that will be harmoniously absorbed? Massive immigration into the United States and Western Europe today includes a very large proportion of illegals that are immediately entitled to benefits, health care, and other considerations that modern, prosperous, human rightist societies can provide. Legal immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century were given nothing. The scope and scale of Muslim immigration into Western Europe is unprecedented. Some cities—Malmö, Sweden, for example—are on the way to population replacement.
The earlier waves of immigration held up as an example are in fact the proof that we are dealing with an entirely different issue. Immigrants became French. That’s what they wanted, that’s what was expected of them. They could keep their accents, style, cuisine, and ties with the country of origin but they did not expect the French to bend to their cultural will. The major thrust of the massive Islamic immigration that began in the late 70s (cf: Islamic revolution in Iran) is antagonistic to the host population. Those who want to become good citizens are engulfed in the negative currents that prevail everywhere in the Arab-Muslim world. And, finally, the massive flux of immigrants is coming from a nation, the oumma, that is at war with the West.
Masses of uneducated, unemployable, unstable, easily manipulated immigrants overwhelm social services, law enforcement, and public finances, impoverishing the middle class. Whatever the individual motivations for coming to Europe, they are lumped together in the balance of power statistics. It becomes a “fact” that “Islam is the second religion of France.” Indeed! And what does this “second religion” say to infidels? Convert or die. Or accept a perilous existence as a dhimmi. So we come full circle: in the name of exquisite tolerance, France has welcomed millions of Muslims whose religion is based on absolute intolerance.
The public debate on [Muslim] immigration is hedged by misplaced humanism and raw terror of Islam. Those who claim it is beneficial hide the truth and twist the facts; those who say it is a danger are marginalized and rejected as xenophobic Islamophobic racists.
Though it is impossible to have accurate statistics, France is known to have the largest Muslim population (about 7 million) and the largest Jewish population (down to about 550,000) in Western Europe. The main factor in the degradation of Jewish life in France is this Muslim population. Fortunately, only a few Jews have been murdered… but this brutality is an insult to and an assault against all French Jews. The goodwill of individual Muslims who implicitly reject the violent precepts of Islam cannot counter the negative collective force of Islam.
Wolff Bachner: Is Europe on the verge of a clash of civilizations between the once Christian nations of Europe and the Islamic world that will seriously impact the lives of each and every European?
Nidra Poller: Europe is already plunged in a clash of civilizations between militant Islam and exhausted Christianity. It impacts everyday life and weighs heavily on future prospects. The very Europeans who revolted against authoritarian Catholicism, especially in France where laïcité [strict relegation of religion to the private sphere] is a religion in itself, now find themselves disarmed in the face of tyrannical Islam that is hostile to their values and aggressively attacks them and their belongings. However, the constant close proximity with this Islamic hostility has led to a rejection of Islam in European populations that contrasts with the attitudes and practices of the elites. It also contrasts with the naïveté of Americans who fall all over themselves to surrender their cherished liberty to Islamic forces disguised as defenders of civil rights. More inclined to religious observance, Americans are more likely to fall for freedom-of-religion arguments that quickly turn into prohibitions against their religion in its most innocent manifestations such as Christmas trees in public places and crosses in municipal coats of arms. French laws against ostentatious religious symbols are mistaken by Americans as intolerance. They are in fact a form of self-defense. At the same time, a refusal to recognize the specificity of Islam leads to unfair pressure on Jews. The kippa and the crucifix have to be stigmatized so that prohibitions against hijab and all that goes with it won’t be “unfair.” Some European countries have banned or tried to ban circumcision or kosher slaughter! Again, we see animosity to Judaism dressed up in the best intentions. Why should those cruel archaic Jews stubbornly insist on slaughtering a fully conscious animal with a knife when we, the enlightened, stun the animal first? It sounds so reasonable: just stun the animal. Well, what is so stunning about shooting a nail into the animal’s brain? The Sarkozy government consistently defended kosher slaughter within the EU. I don’t know if the current government is taking the same position.
Wolff Bachner: Is there any hope left for Jews living in Europe or will Jews abandon Europe in large numbers?
Nidra Poller: Hope is a very personal option. I never give up hope. And I never surrender to any kind of fatalism. It is up to European Jews to decide if and how they can continue to live in Europe. This question is very much alive in France; we have brilliant Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers who use their intellectual power to help create conditions in which vibrant flourishing Jewish communities can continue to exist in Europe, without in any way discouraging those who want to make aliyah [literally “go up” to Israel, settle in Israel]. Relations between French Jews and Israel are extremely close. The majority of French Jews today are Sephardic. When they left the Arab world, some came to France and others to Israel. I would say these families are joined, not divided, by ties with Israel. So far, Jews are not forced to flee in great numbers with nothing but the clothes on their backs (as they did when they fled Arab countries). This allows people to be pragmatic; they act in the interests of their families, they maintain business or professional ties in both worlds, go back and forth. Sometimes it is the older generation that retires to Israel, sometimes it is the young adults who leave Europe and become Israeli at the beginning of their careers.
If Jews cannot live in Europe, Europeans will not be able to live here either. They will be like the Christians in the Muslim world today. It will take longer, because they have a slight edge population-wise and a very broad advance in economic and political power. But when you observe the extent of compromises already made with Islamic forces, it is not hard to imagine the slippery slope.
Wolff Bachner: Can you see a day when there are virtually no Jews left in Europe?
Nidra Poller: First, you have to consider that a large proportion of nominally Jewish citizens do not hold to their Jewish identity and would not feel any need to leave Europe as Jews. The Jewish population of central and Eastern Europe was practically eliminated by the Shoah and significantly reduced in Western Europe. But look how many Jews remained in France, look at the renewed vigor of the Jewish community here. If Jews can live in Europe after the Shoah it is hard to imagine a situation in which they would disappear. If they did, it would no longer be Europe. It would be a cultural and intellectual wasteland. If there were no Jews left in Europe what would become of American Jews?
Thousands of French Jews make aliyah every year. Something like 30% return to live in France or elsewhere. I don’t see this as a failure or a mistake. I think it is natural. Sabras [Jews born in Israel] move to Europe, the U.S., and other more exotic destinations; Jews from other countries make aliyah; as long as we enjoy this freedom to come and go we will be doing the best for ourselves, our people, and the countries we live in.
Wolff Bachner: Natan Sharansky, the human rights activist and current Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, created what he calls the ‘3 D Test of Anti-Semitism” to deal with the current trend of disguising open Jew hate as so-called “legitimate criticism” of Israel. He claims that “demonization of Israel”, “double standards applied to Israel”, and “delegitimization of Israel” are the new form of Jew Hate.
Do you agree with Sharansky and how prevalent is this problem?
Is constant criticism of Israel the new form of Jew hate?
Nidra Poller: Yes of course I agree that carping criticism of Israel is the new form of Jew hatred. I go further than that: gratuitous criticism of Israel is the old form of genocidal Jew hatred. Not because Israel shouldn’t be criticized, but because the motivation for this grotesque nitpicking is to destroy Israel and leave Jews defenseless as we were in Europe in the 30s. It is tedious to give examples of the pseudo rational justifications for scathing scorn, selective indignation, and self-righteous finger pointing focused on Israel. The bad faith is so obvious that it is boring to spell it out. It’s persecution disguised as criticism and carried to ridiculous extremes: construction of homes for Jewish people in a “West Bank colony” is as bad as the use of nerve gas in Syria. The criticism we are talking about is not based on reality; it is aimed at an imaginary Israel, a monster that exists only in the mind of the Inquisitor.
Jews, some of whom are Israeli, can be found among the obsessed critics of Israel. In recent years, as the genocidal intentions that motivate scorn for Israel have become more obvious, many self-critical Jews have toned down their rhetoric. There is no way to prevent Jews from being self-critical! When it becomes suicidal, most but not all pull back from the brink.
Wolff Bachner: There are 57 Islamic states, all accepted as Islamic states by the other nations of the world and by the United Nations. There is a 57 member organization called the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that represents these nations and they refer to the OIC as the “the collective voice of the Muslim world.”
Yet, we hear constant criticism and screams of “Jewish apartheid” because Israel wants to be recognized as the one Jewish nation. Despite the fact that Jews have maintained a continuous population in Israel for 3500 years, the world refuses to give the nation of Israel the same right to define itself as the 57 Islamic states. Despite the fact that Israel was re-established by the world community in 1948 specifically to be the homeland of the Jewish people and a safe haven for the Jewish people, the world calls a Jewish state racist.
Israel grants full rights to every legal citizen of the country, no matter their religion. Unlike the Arab states, other religions can worship openly in Israel, while it is illegal to even build a new church in most Islamic states.
Does Israel not have the same right to determine the type of nation it chooses to be as the 57 Islamic states?
What is the reason for this double standard, and more importantly, why do Jewish leaders and politicians constantly fail to remind the world of this insane double standard?
Nidra Poller: We might even say there are already 57 Islamic states and that is just the beginning: the goal of Islam is to unite the entire world under its banner. If this aim could be achieved, there would not be more than 100 Islamic states, there would be one single oumma. The project cannot be dismissed as a harmless fantasy because the existence of those 57 Islamic states is the result of former conquests. As an undergraduate majoring in history at the University of Wisconsin in the 50s I can’t recall ever hearing a word about the jihad conquest. How did vast regions of the world and more than a billion people become Muslim? The question was never raised, not then and not in succeeding decades when the “Middle East conflict” became a constant focus of attention. I first learned about jihad conquest in 2000 and I think it would be fair to say that the vast majority of people in the West still don’t know anything about it.
They take the existence of this Islamized world for granted, while beating their breasts over Western colonization! Our leaders and opinion-makers surrender to pressure from this huge mass of population and territory without questioning its legitimacy. They exhort Israel to surrender to Palestinian demands– on the grounds of the rights of peoples to self-determination–without showing the slightest regard for the rights of more than a billion descendants of the victims of jihad conquest.
Israel is accused of stealing the land of the Palestinians, forcing them to flee or reducing them to stateless refugees in their own country. But where is the cutoff point? Obviously, it is arbitrarily fixed at the point where Israel can be pronounced guilty. The land was owned, occupied, conquered, and lost repeatedly over the centuries. Like all the lands on the face of the earth.
The fallacious accusation of illegal occupation serves to justify the aggressive project of conquest of the tiny territory currently under Israeli sovereignty in the midst of the vast expanses still living under Muslim occupation. The fallacious accusation of apartheid serves to justify the BDS movement [boycott, disinvestment, sanctions] by creating a parallel between apartheid South Africa, supposedly defeated by a comparable boycott. In fact, BDS is a continuation of the Arab boycott of Israel that prevailed for decades. These spiteful strategies fail miserably. The Islamized world, where something worse than apartheid is practiced against infidels, is helpless to overcome its inherent weakness…and Israel prospers.
Jews have lived in the Diaspora for thousands of years. We adapted to countries in which we were a minority, sometimes appreciated but often despised. We modified some of our religious practices to live in harmony with a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or other majority while holding on to what was essential to us as Jews. We contributed generously, abundantly, magnificently to the nations in which we lived.
If the world community established Israel in 1948 it was because Zionists first asserted our right to re-establish a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel. The world cannot grant or withdraw permission for a sovereign Jewish state. It is our right, our decision, and we defend it with all our might. This is how nations are created and maintained. That others might dispute our claim to nationhood on specious grounds while assuming that Lebanon, for example, rose up from the soil when the earth was created and endured unchanged ever since, is laughable and we should not take it seriously.
Who is accusing Israel of apartheid without saying a word about Islamic law and practices with regard to infidels? This too is laughable. I don’t think we should dwell on such ridiculous squawking. It is more interesting to explore the positive aspects of a Jewish state that includes an Arab population of some 20% all of whom are free to emigrate if they are not happy there. Is it cold-hearted to say that they are free to leave? No. Jews in Soviet Russia—including Nathan Sharansky – or in Islamic countries—Syria, for example– were persecuted and forbidden to emigrate, and then later forced to leave, empty-handed, abandoning their wealth and property. The idea that an Arab whose family lived for several generations in Israel has a divine right to remain there, to complain there, and ultimately to force the majority to conform to his demands, when Jews whose ancestors lived in Tunisia before the Muslim conquest were forced to leave is untenable.
When we look at the remarkable accomplishments of our young / ancient Jewish state and the good life that can be lived there, we see that the world is much better off for having at least one Jewish state where Jewish values, ethics, skills, and practices are given free reign. And if there could be more than one, it would be even better. But there are not enough Jews to go around so the world will have to be satisfied with just one.
Jews are an asset to civilization and a Jewish state is a precious asset to the world. Persecuting Jews, periodically trying to annihilate Jews is a recurrent bout of a terrible life-threatening illness of human societies. It is a childish rage in which the frustrated individual or society, unable to achieve its goals, tries to destroy all that is valuable. Turning Jews into pariahs, turning the Jewish state into an evil entity is a terrible perversion that cannot be cured. But it can be controlled. This is the task of Judaism. Not to feed into the destructive madness, not to drink the poison, but to stand up proudly and push back the tide.
“Israel is the heart of our civilization, not the appendix” Atlas Shrugs April 2010
Wolff Bachner: Speaking of double standards, about 500,000 Arabs fled Israel in 1948, when 10 Arab armies invaded Israel with the intention of finishing what Hitler started. Many left at the request of the Arab leaders, who asked them to get out of the way of the incoming Arab armies, and they were told they would be able to return after the all the Jews were dead.
The Economist, a frequent critic of Israel, reported on October 2, 1948: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit… It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”
As we know, the Arabs lost the war and 500,000 Arabs who left Israel became refugees. Instead of absorbing them into the sparsely populated Arab countries, the Arab League deliberately decided to let them rot in camps, where they remain to this day. The intention was to use the refugees as a weapon with which they could attack Israel and frankly, the world has swallowed the big lie of the Palestinian refugee, hook, line and sinker.
Are the refugees being used as a weapon to deligitimize Israel?
Is the so-called “Right of Return” being used as a means to destroy the Jewish character of Israel?
Nidra Poller: Well, it is time for us to say there are virtually no more refugees. A babe in arms carried out of Israel by those who fled in 1948, for whatever reason, is now 65 years old. The Arab-Muslim states have tried for 65 years to use the refugee issue as a weapon to make Israel the villain among nations, deserving annihilation. It didn’t work. They invented a right of return that no nation on earth would accept, with the intention of destroying Israel by stages in a peace process meant to be more lethal than previous failed military invasions. If a state is what the Palestinians really want, the refusal to relinquish this right of return has made a two-state solution impossible. When that last babe in arms is 100, Israel will still be here, more prosperous than ever. What can be gained by such bankrupt strategy? Convincing themselves and the world that they now have 7 million refugees, swallowing up large sums of money in the corrupt UNWRA program… is that a victory? It has brought no positive results.
In a sane society, yes, there are tradeoffs. Your people were chased from our lands, our people were chased from your lands, chased or fled, what does it matter; you make a new life, you belong to a new land. We are human beings, not trees that can’t be uprooted. This question of Palestinian “refugees” is not being debated in a sane society, it is used to stimulate ever greater madness. But it doesn’t work.
One more point: a Palestinian who at the time called himself an Arab or a Syrian, forced by changed circumstances to abandon a village with its bare hills and gnarled olive trees, finds himself in an almost identical landscape a stone’s throw away. And that is the tragedy of tragedies that should justify the elimination of the Jewish state? But millions of Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, Malians, Somalis, Sudanese, Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians –the list is endless—voluntarily leave their sun soaked lands, their bare hills and gnarled olive trees, to settle in the grey cold urban landscapes of Europe and that is fine, natural, acceptable and, what’s more, that is their right? Anyone who would suggest that these “refugees” should return to their native lands would be called a racist xenophobic Islamophobe.
Not only have they Arab and Muslim states exploited their own refugees for 65 years, but no one says a word about the 900,000 Jews who were driven out of the Arab nations since 1948. Almost one million Jews were uprooted from countries they had lived in for hundreds of years, and forced to leave with literally the shirts on their backs. Not one cent of restitution has been paid to the Jewish refugees and the world continues to ignore their existence. Making matters worse, the government of Israel also ignores the Jewish refugees of 1948 when dealing with the Palestinians.
Why do Israeli leaders fail to mention the plight of the 900.000 Jews expelled from Arab countries since 1948?
Why is the world willing to ignore the fact that there are twice as many Jewish refugees from 1948 as Arab Israeli refugees?
Nidra Poller: I think Israeli governments have recently begun to note that the Jewish refugees from Arab lands must be factored into the equation. What more should be done? They certainly don’t want any right of return. They will never get compensation for their stolen wealth. What does it matter if the world recognizes the plight of Jews chased from Arab lands and the efforts made to resettle them in Israel or anywhere else in the world? The reality is that Jews helped Jews and helped themselves and that is how and why we prosper, how we overcome adversity. It is more important to recognize this about and for ourselves than to seek symbolic compensation from a world that doesn’t know so well how to take care of itself.
Wolff Bachner: Nidra, you have written extensively about the case of Mohammed al-Durra, the 12 year-old Arab child whose alleged death led to the Second Intifada and the murder of over 1000 Israeli civilians. An Arabic cameraman with documented pro-Palestinian political views and a French National Television journalist who has made a career of denouncing Israel used a few seconds of film carefully edited from over 18 minutes of footage to accuse Israeli troops of deliberately murdering a child. Despite detailed subsequent evidence that Israel was not responsible, and that the child may not even be dead, the case has been used over and over again to attack Israel and it has become a rallying cry among extremists who call for the death of every Jew on earth.
What are the facts about this case?
Who is telling the truth and why is this case so important?
Nidra Poller: The al Dura death scene is a blood libel disguised as a news report. It is not journalism, it is myth. The facts are simple but they are difficult to set forth concisely because the myth was presented as a news broadcast and people persist in thinking about it that way. If I may correct you, Wolff, the al Dura video is not “a few seconds of film carefully edited from over 18 minutes of footage,” it is less than one minute of footage period. There are no al Dura images in the 18 minutes of footage turned over to the Appellate Court in 2007, except for a furtive shadow that shows them waiting in place before the alleged shooting began. The cameraman, Talal Abu Rahmah, claims Israeli soldiers fired at the man and boy for 45 minutes until they “finally” killed the boy and critically wounded the father. He says he filmed 27 minutes of the 45-minute ordeal. All he has to show for it is approximately 55 seconds of eventless footage.
Can one prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that an incident did not happen? Of course not. But it is easy to prove that nothing happened in the video broadcast by France 2 on September 30, 2000 and repeatedly thereafter. Nothing happens in the video that was broadcast and there are no additional images of the alleged incident. France 2 and Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin brought lawsuits against several journalists and bloggers in an attempt to silence critics. They were not able to present a shred of concrete evidence to defend their case.
I covered all of those trials and have written extensively about the al Dura affair for the past 13 years. I will be publishing my collected articles, hopefully before the end of November. Readers who would like to be informed when Al Dura: long range ballistic myth is available can write to us at email@example.com.
The al Dura blood libel is the linchpin of the ongoing war against Israel and the key to understanding the strategy of 21st century jihad. My work on that affair led me to question the underlying mechanisms that made it close to impossible to open closed minds. This is how I developed the concept of “lethal narratives.” Working outward from the al Dura blood libel I identified widening circles of narratives, including the Al Aqsa Intifada, the Arab-Israeli conflict, 9/11 and the religion of peace, winning hearts and minds instead of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the election of B. H. Obama…finally reaching the outer circle, jihad, a comprehensive plan for global conquest that evolves over the centuries, adapts to geopolitical and technological changes while constantly pursuing the same goal, inscribed in Islamic scripture: the conversion of all of humanity to Islam.
The al Dura blood libel was a flash of blinding light. It confirmed, in the Arab-Muslim world, the image of Israel / the Jews as absolute evil, while quickly disappearing from the collective Western mind that cannot deal with its contradictions. The image faded into the background but the message was sustained. This is why a collective mind that thought it had learned the lesson of the Shoah was able to accept atrocities committed against Jews in Israel and violent attacks against Jews worldwide. Endless lies about Israel, sucked up from Palestinian sources, were reeled out in Western media, just like the al Dura blood libel.
Back to the technical realities of the al Dura broadcast: Is it possible that no one remembered what was supposed to be in that cassette? Eighteen minutes or 27, that’s not the issue. This was supposed to be the raw footage of the al-Dura ordeal that, according to the cameraman and the boy’s father—sole living witnesses—lasted 45 minutes. Three days after the incident Talal Abu Rahmah declared under oath that he had been at Netzarim Junction since seven in the morning, the incident began around 3 P.M. and, filming intermittently “to conserve his battery,” he shot a total of 27 minutes of the terrible ordeal.
The court demanded unedited footage. Enderlin presents an 18-minute video, and the issue is: where are the other 9 minutes? Edited out, of course. But the most important question is: where are the images of the man and boy under fire? The court didn’t ask. And this is typical of every aspect of the al Dura affair. Accounts of an incident supposedly based on the facts are constantly revised, details are erased, ludicrous statements are not challenged, and it seems like no one is listening.
By bringing together all of my writings on the al Dura affair, including complete trial coverage, I hope to give a comprehensive, coherent picture of how the blood libel was presented, defended, elucidated, analyzed, and maintained in a context of French determination to protect the myth and the mythmaker. With the concept of lethal narratives I break out of the narrow confines of the al Dura affair to explore a wider understanding of the strategy of 21st century jihad.
Wolff Bachner: Is the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians over borders, refugees, and settlements or is it a continuation of 1400 years of Islamic Jew hate, as taught in the Qur’an, and by Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the PLO?
Can there ever be peace in the Middle East?
Is there any reason to continue seeking a two state solution?
Nidra Poller: The conflict is not between Israel and the Palestinians, it is a battlefront in the war waged by Islam against the West. Israel is on the front lines as a Western outpost in the Islamic world… not, as some would have us believe, in the sense of a big foot of Western imperialism stepping on the toes of the Middle East; it is an outpost of civilization in the face of brutal tyrannies. And, for jihad on the march, Israel is a forward position where its weapons have been sharpened under cover of a fake movement of national liberation. Remember, the al Dura blood libel was 9/30/ 2000. One year later, 9/11/ 2001 the United States was attacked. And so on and so forth. By accepting the lethal narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict the free world made itself a justified target of the same forces on the same terms for the same reasons.
The legitimate aspirations of individual Palestinians cannot be satisfied by any Islamic collectivity, not the PLO, not Hamas, Hizbullah, Muslim Brotherhood, the OIC and not by the U.N. either. Honest, industrious, democratic Palestinians who might lead decent lives are betrayed by all those who claim to represent them. They are better off than their counterparts in Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, etc. because Israel imposes a degree of law and order that protects them from the Islamic paroxysm disguised as an Arab Spring (another lethal narrative).
Will there ever be peace in the Middle East? Peace is not a stable condition anywhere at any time; it is a constant yearning, satisfied sometimes, cruelly disappointed at others. If Israel could be moved like a piece of furniture, if it could be temporarily extracted from the Middle East, would peace prevail? No. Hostile forces will always exist, making peace a kind of war, war that succeeds in bringing periods of calm. There is no endpoint in human affairs.
If a two-state arrangement was a solution, it would have already been established. Pursuing projects beyond all that is reasonable is a form of madness. In fact, who is pursuing a two-state solution? The PLO has been clear from the beginning and to this day: it is pursuing a two-state stage in a one-state solution. It is pursuing the elimination of the state of Israel. And what is Israel pursuing? By engaging in futile negotiations Israel hopes to reduce the pressure to make suicidal concessions.
Government officials cannot denounce this pernicious process with the same liberty as free thinkers. Israeli leaders have to talk about a demilitarized Palestinian state when we know full well that the only reason the PLO wants a state is so that it can take up arms against Israel.
The only hope for some kind of harmony in the Middle East would be an Islamic about face, an act of humane generosity, a decent acceptance of the Jewish state of Israel with the frontiers Israel deems necessary to protect its sovereignty. This would do us all a world of good. It would be the beginning of a healing process for the Islamic world. It may take years, decades, a century or it may never happen. In the meantime we just have to live with the situation as it is and not grab at peace process straws.
Wolff Bachner: Do you believe Israel is in mortal danger from Iran?
How should Israel deal with the threat of a nuclear Iran?
Nidra Poller: We are all in mortal danger from Iran. If foreign policy dilemmas could be solved by works of fiction I would write a short story in which Iran uses the bomb… on a European country first. Isn’t that what keeps Western leaders from devising a strategy to prevent Iran from going nuclear? They think Israel is the target. The only target? Iran’s Muslim neighbors wouldn’t bank on it.
Did you notice, Wolff, that nuclear apocalypse books and films have gone out of style? As long as the U.S. could be imagined as the perpetrator or a partner in crime, the end of the world was nigh. Now that the danger comes from an Islamic power, the fear is so great that it has to be repressed!
Can Israel go it alone? Those who know don’t talk and those who talk don’t know. I do not have inside information on this question. I hope and pray that Israel can deal with Iran without the help or permission of the United States. We hear different evaluations from different sources, so it is a question of choosing which one to trust. I choose to go with those that say Israel can do what has to be done. And I find it hard to believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu or any other Israeli leader trusts the sort of Obama-deals we are hearing about–give in to the Palestinians and we’ll help you with Iran.
Wolff Bachner:. What is your reaction to an American president who supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and gives arms to the Islamic fanatics in Libya and Syria?
What is Obama trying to accomplish and how can anyone justify his support for Islamic extremists?
Do you believe Obama is trying to force the state of Israel to accept a peace plan that would leave Israel indefensible?
Nidra Poller: President Obama is personally responsible for the disastrous results of his foreign policy but we should also recognize the gradual changes in American society and mentality that led to his election and re-election.
I think I had Obama’s number from the early days of the Democratic primaries. Having been a 3rd world Leftist myself, I caught on quickly. Readers might be interested in the fictional account of my love affair with Africa.
Karimi Hotel & other African equations(print & kindle editions available).
I happened to be in the U.S. in December 2007 when Obama did Iowa and South Carolina with Oprah Winfrey. My article– “Tell it Like it Was”– showing how Obama was playing the black hype, was turned down. The editors said “Don’t publish this, people will think you’re racist.”
I pursued my analysis of the mechanisms that were bringing Barack Hussein Obama within reach of the White House. While apparently fighting back after the 9/11 attack, the United States shifted into dhimmitude surrender. George W. Bush led the nation into battle while conceding the moral victory to Islam, religion of peace. The same G.W. Bush was vilified as a reckless gunslinger who turned the world against us. B. H. Obama was the savior: culturally, ethnically, religiously, politically and by virtue of his dark complexion he would mollify our enemy. The lethal narrative that established our guilt in the same terms used by the 9/11 mujahidin dictated the choice of Obama as president of the United States. With rare exceptions the nominally conservative media, including trendy “alternative” sites, would not touch this kind of sharp commentary on Obama. Do you know why, Wolff?
Every site, listserve, foundation, organization, magazine, newspaper, and think tank had one or several Obama disciples that would withdraw support and badmouth them if they colored their comments outside the lines.
The election of B. H. Obama was outside the limits of American political history and outside the limits of politics. The hysterical adulation was fitting for a tyrant, not for the president of a democracy. The complicity of mainstream media, too, violated the safeguards of a free democratic society. Voters, seduced by a lethal narrative, chose an un-American anti-American president. He was packaged as black, they were told that they could atone for their racism by choosing him. He was dressed up as African and they believed that they could be forgiven for their white European colonialism by electing him. He was whispered as Muslim and they were led by the nose into submission. After 9/11 the choice was convert or die… or live in dhimmitude. The choice was B. H. Obama.
Obama’s distaste for Israel was clear. Jews voted for him. Pressuring Israel to accept concessions that would leave it indefensible is the favorite pastime of political leaders throughout the world but Obama has special leverage; he is using it to undermine American military and diplomatic power, leaving the West defenseless.
Is Obama a card-carrying marionette of organized enemy powers? Is he a darling of the jihad -friendly far left, stumbling into what amounts to subversion? Or is he simply an emanation of the collective American mind at the dawn of the 21st century? Known for their widespread affection for Israel, Americans chose a president whose animosity to Israel is attested in past affiliations and declarations as in current strategy.
Which brings us to the last part of your question, Wolff. Because the indefensible borders strategy is called the “two-state solution,” the American president can nudge the Jewish state into existential danger while preening in the Friends of Israel mirror held up by his Jewish supporters. And we who identify the two-state solution as jihad against Israel are portrayed as extremists who stand in the way of a peaceful solution.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who had genuine sympathy for Israel and the Jewish people, repeated the two-state rhetoric every time he visited Israel. We have to replace the vision of that imaginary Palestinian state with a realistic image based on the current dynamics that is causing convulsions in every Islamic or half Islamic state. Even if the PLO were sincere and the population of Judea-Samaria ripe for harmonious co-existence, it would not be allowed to happen. The jihad foreign legion would move in the day after the declaration of statehood, overturn or assassinate Abbas, hook up with or make war against Hamas, tyrannize the local population, and launch an all-out attack on Israel.
Wolff Bachner: My friend and fellow journalist, Adina Kutnicki said this about Jerusalem, when I interviewed her for The Inquisitr: “As to Jerusalem, the heart and soul of Zion (in the same realm as Judea and Samaria), whither it goes, so too does the fate of Israel, as well as the Jewish people. It is inconceivable that Israel would survive without Jerusalem intact, and dare I suggest, there would be little reason left for its existence, sans an intact eternal capital. It is one tragedy if enemies capture it from Jewish hands, but it is a wholly different paradigm if Israel’s leaders surrender it on their own.”
Can you conceive of a divided Jerusalem, with a PLO flag flying over the Eastern half of the city?
Would this be the ultimate betrayal of the Jewish people?
Nidra Poller: Jerusalem must not be divided. The very idea that an eventual Palestinian state must have [a piece of] Jerusalem as its capital shows the true nature of the “two-state one-state” solution: it is the worst form of pathological mimicry. Instead of existing, the Palestinian entity demands the right to imitate its prey before swallowing it up. If that is their project, it will never succeed. There is no reason for us to pretend that it is a legitimate aspiration that we should try to satisfy halfway or a quarter or one-tenth. We Jews cannot even set foot in Mecca, the capital of the oumma, but we are supposed to give half of our capital to the Palestinians who never cherished it until we recovered some of its past magnificence and made it shine with new light?
Going along with unreasonable demands is not a sign of respect. The international community that supposedly has an enlightened opinion on every burning issue should take a courageous stand on the question of Jerusalem. Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish state because the Jews had the courage to wrest it away from those who desecrated it, they have the power to hold onto it, and they have the intelligence to keep it forever. That is how territorial claims are settled in the real world!
If we do not betray ourselves no one will be able to take Jerusalem away from us.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
Biography Of Nidra Poller:
Nidra Poller, born in 1935 in Jessup, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University. She has been living in Paris since 1972. Her literary career began with the publication in 1966 of a short story, “Wedding Party in Piazza Navona,” in the review Perspectives. Author of (yet to be published) novels in English and in French, she turned to journalism in 2000. She has published widely in print and online media, including the Wall Street Journal Europe, New English Review, Dispatch International, Middle East Quarterly, American Thinker, Commentary, Jerusalem Post, New York Sun, National Review Online and dozens of other outlets.
Photograph of Nidra Poller by Jiro Mochizuki.
This article is dedicated to the blessed memory of Prof. Israel Gutman (1923 – 2013), a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Auschwitz who was a leading and trailblazing historian of the Holocaust. As a founder of the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research in Jerusalem, he dedicated his long life to honoring the memory of the millions of innocent human beings from every nation and faith who perished in the flames of World War Two