CHAREN: The oldest hatred roars back

In one day of savagery, Hamas brought the world’s oldest hatred into the mainstream. The upwelling of antisemitism around the globe, and especially in the United States, mocks the naivety of those who imagined that the oldest hatred was mostly in the past, that Israel could be a normal nation, or that a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue could be realized in the near future. American Jews, stunned by the worst mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust, are reeling from the lack of basic decency shown by many progressives. If your ideology blinds you to the crimes of rape, arson, kidnapping and mass murder, what is there to discuss?

No more hiding behind “anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.” This moment, for all its horror, is at least clarifying. Jewish schools and synagogues are closing around the globe. Vandals stenciled Stars of David on the doors of Jewish homes in Paris. What has Zionism to do with that?

Criticizing the Israeli government, or even generally taking the side of Palestinians over Israelis, is not anti-Zionism. No, anti-Zionism is dehumanizing hatred of Israelis and Jews. It’s the denial of Israel’s right to exist and the hunger to punish, harm or kill Jews wherever they may live. It is indistinguishable from antisemitism.

Raw, Jew-hating anti-Zionism can be found in statements like that of Columbia professor Joseph Massad praising the “resistance’s remarkable takeover” of Israeli bases and checkpoints and calling the 10/7 attack “awesome” and “striking.” We see it in the mob in Sydney, Australia, that gathered to celebrate — yes, celebrate — the mass murder with cries of “Gas the Jews.” We see it in the mob at Cooper Union college shouting antisemitic slogans at a group of Jewish students who were barricaded in the library for their safety.

The depravity of Hamas’s useful idiots is matched only by their ignorance. In Philadelphia last weekend, I passed a pro-Hamas demonstration. One protestor’s sign read “Free Palestine” and was decorated with a hammer and sickle. The cross-cutting inconsistencies here are legion. Hamas is an Islamist movement that believes in strict adherence to sharia law, persecutes homosexuals and represses women. But they are the oppressed, according to the moral hierarchies in vogue on the left. The protesters also decry Israel as a “settler colonial” state. Sorry, that’s rubbish.

There have been Jews in Israel since Biblical times of course (and Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority for hundreds of years), but the modern settlement of the land began in the 1880s when Jews from Europe arrived, inspired by the Zionist idea. They were not colonists for any European power. They were fleeing European persecution. Several more waves of migrants came in the following decades, especially after the severe pogroms of the early 1900s. They did not push anyone out of their homes or land. They purchased land legally and openly.

Israel is also routinely accused of genocide, which is satisfying for the kind of person who thinks, “Why can’t they shut up about the Holocaust?” But it’s a lie. Israel has for 16 years absorbed thousands of missiles fired over the border into southern Israel with only limited responses. They built the Iron Dome system and safe rooms instead of attempting to destroy Gaza. But the rule cannot be that Hamas can target Israeli grandmothers, families and babies for kidnapping, rape, death and dismemberment but Israel cannot pursue them because they hide among their own civilians. That would amount to surrender to terrorism.

The Hamas apologists who point to the suffering of Palestinian civilians are not wrong about the suffering — though they cannot see the obvious responsibility of Hamas for starting this war. A pre-10/7 poll of Palestinians in Gaza found that 62% wanted to preserve the ceasefire. In any case, Gazans haven’t been given a vote since 2006, so Hamas’s claim to legitimacy is essentially nonexistent.

There is also a strange selectivity among Hamas apologists in their concern for civilians. They overlook the glaringly obvious moral distinction between intentionally targeting civilians and inadvertently harming civilians. Hamas makes war on Israeli and Palestinian civilians, in the first case through the most vicious violence imaginable and in the second through using them as human shields for missiles and terror headquarters. Yet their apologists give them a pass for both. They also display notable indifference to what is happening to the civilians in other parts of the world: in Yemen (15,000 killed), or Nagorno-Karabakh (100,000 Armenians ethnically cleansed and forced to flee their homes), or Burma (25,000 Rohingya killed, 18,000 raped), or Syria (306,000 civilians killed including 30,000 children, 12 million forced to flee their homes). It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter how many people suffer and die — that doesn’t disturb the sleep of Hamas’s defenders. What matters is whom you most hate. Israel and Jews top the list.

There was a time when respectable observers who sympathized with the Palestinians would emphasize their desire for “two states for two peoples.” No longer. The protesters and Ivy League professors who proclaim their support for a “free” Palestine “from the river to the sea” are not asking for a tame, two-state solution. The river is the Jordan. The sea is the Mediterranean. What lies between is Israel. Hamas has never made a secret of its rejection of the two-state idea. The slogan envisions at least massive ethnic cleansing, and after 10/7 only a fool would imagine that genocide is unthinkable. There would doubtless be cheers in Paris and Sydney and Dagestan if it came to pass. And that only underscores the original Zionist raison d’etre. There must be an Israel because the world’s oldest hatred will never die.