As columnist Charles Krauthammer recently observed: “The world is experiencing the worst resurgence of anti- Semitism in 50 years. Its main objective is the demonization and delegitimation of Israel, to the point that the idea of eradicating… the world’s only Jewish state becomes respectable, indeed laudable. The psychological grounds for the final solution are being prepared.”
Party to this grim preparation is one Tony Judt, former Oxford don and now a history professor at New York University. Accomplished in the academy, where Israel is widely vilified, he has evidently, as a Jew, suffered discomfiting criticism among his colleagues — perhaps even at dinner parties. He doesn’t appreciate this, and so publicly advocates the dismantling of Israel as a sovereign Jewish nation.
In an October 10, 2003 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times and a longer version in the October 23 New York Review of Books, he terms Israel an “anachronism” to be done away with. The Jewish state is “bad for the Jews,” writes Judt, explaining “the behavior of a self-described Jewish state affects the way everyone else looks at Jews.” He opines that “non- Israeli Jews feel themselves once again exposed to criticism and vulnerable for things they didn’t do.”
Not surprisingly, the professor’s argument for the abolition of the Jewish state in favor of a binational one shared with the Palestinians — an entity soon to leave Jews a minority — is an extremist diatribe filled with distortion.
Judt parrots Palestinian allegations, charging Israel has, for example, “consistently and blatantly flouted UN resolutions requiring it to withdraw from land seized and occupied in war.” But there is only one currently relevant UN resolution, 242, and that requires Israel to withdraw to negotiated “secure and recognized boundaries.”
Israel has, of course, pulled back from large areas of land, including the Sinai and southern Lebanon. On the other hand, Arab states blatantly violate Resolution 242’s demand that states in the region terminate “belligerency” and respect the right of “every State in the area… to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
Judt attacks Israel as outmoded in an age of individual rights and multi-ethnicity because it is a Jewish state. Disregarding the 22 Muslim Arab states in which Islam and its hundreds of millions of adherents are given privileged status, and from which in varying degrees Jews are prohibited from owning property, praying, or even setting foot, the author lambastes Israel as “a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded.”
In fact, in Israel as nowhere else in the Middle East, people of all faiths live, work, vote, worship and prosper. Jews do enjoy unique access to citizenship under the Law of Return — just as other democratic nations offer citizenship privileges to particular ethnic groups. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany, Mexico, Bulgaria and the Baltic and Balkan nations are just a few.
Judt is equally hypocritical about recent key events. He complains: “Israeli liberals and moderate Palestinians have for two decades been thanklessly insisting that the only hope was for Israel to dismantle nearly all the settlements and return to the 1967 borders, in exchange for real Arab recognition of those frontiers and a stable, terrorist-free Palestinian state… “
Literally unmentioned are the Camp David/Taba negotiations, with their offer to dismantle settlements and return virtually to the 1967 lines — and Palestinian rejection of statehood in favor of terror. Thus the professor is silent regarding Arab rejection of nationhood alongside the Jews.
Nor are the Arabs faulted for their “anachronistic” dictatorial regimes — while the Jewish state is to be destroyed for its supposed imperfections.
Arafat and his associates have long advocated the “single state” solution Judt embraces, and have made clear what that would entail.
“Every Palestinian must clearly understand that the independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, is not the end of the process but rather a stage on the road to a democratic state in the whole of Palestine,” Fatah ideologue and PA director of political indoctrination Othman Abu Gharbiya stated in November, 1999. “This will be followed by a third phase, namely Palestine’s complete amalgamation in the Arab and Islamic cultural, national, historic, and geographic environment. This is the permanent-status solution.”
In becoming a cheerleader for this solution, Judt offers the Jews of Israel the fate of other ethnic and religious minorities in the Arab Middle East, all of whom are beleaguered and persecuted in some degree, and in the worst cases subjected to genocidal assault. Indeed, Palestinian leaders, including PA religious figures, have repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel.
But submitting Israel’s Jews to the murderous designs of Arafat and his cronies apparently means little to Judt when weighed against the prospect of being freed in the eyes of his academic colleagues from the “guilt” by ethnic association with Israel’s battle for survival.
Originally published in the Jerusalem Post on November 7, 2003.