How and why the West went to sleep when Islamism took hold 20 years ago
About the essay:
Genocidal anti-Israelism is a 21st-century apocalyptic movement that began in the year 2000 with the global call to obliterate Israel: the so-called Second Intifada. It is still raging 20 years later.
It is mainly an Islamist movement, of course, but implicates also the Christian and post-Christian West, and the Communist and post-Communist nations. In fact in the United Nations forums (UNGA and UNHRC) since the turn of the Millenium, Israel has received more country-specific condemnations than all the other nations of the world combined.
The “oldest hatred” traditionally demonised Jews in the midst of the nation (particularly the Christian nations). Today it demonises the Jewish nation in the midst of all nations. This anti-Israelism is amplified by the newest medium: the World Wide Web, which itself came of age at the turn of the Millennium, which is when the first social media sites appeared.
My joint essay (10,000 words) with the brilliant Richard Landes explains things as they are, and why we, in the West, must wake up to the overwhelming antisemitic threats not just to Jews and Israel but to all of us.
Richard’s background and mine could hardly be more different, which, I think, helps make the piece powerful if not unique. I cannot think of a better co-writer or scholar with whom to write this essay. At the end of the 20th century, Richard saw what was coming. He met with Rabbi Lord Sacks in 1999, in the hope of persuading the Chief Rabbi that the relative philosemitism that Jews had been enjoying for a generation was about to come to an abrupt end. Rabbi Lord Sacks was later to write in the Jewish Chronicle (in 2008):
“Towards the end of 1999, I received a strange request. A professor of medieval history at Boston University, Richard Landes, asked to see me. He had, he said, something urgent and important to communicate…
“I concluded that Landes had got it wrong. Then came September 29, 2000, the collapse of the Middle East peace process and the birth of a new intifada. Within weeks it became clear that Israel was being blamed. Not the seven years of Oslo, nor the courage of Yitzhak Rabin, nor the unprecedentedly generous offer of Ehud Barak to the Palestinians at Taba counted in its favour. Israel’s efforts to make peace were as if they had never been.
“Then, at the end of August 2001, came the notorious United Nations Conference against Racism at Durban, which turned out to be the launchpad for a new and vicious assault on Israel. Barely a week later came 9/11, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Within days, conspiracy theories appeared, blaming Israel… Combined, these phenomena bespoke a new and ominous mood. That was when I began to suspect that Landes had got it right.”
How to heal ourselves – and then the world:
We need more co-operation between those who want to save the world, and those who want to save Jewish life
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jewish Chronicle, 3 October 2008