Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

April 3, 2002

Is it "anti-Semitic" to criticize Israel?

A rash of particularly vicious anti-Semitic attacks in France – the burning of a synagogue and the beating of a French Jewish couple – has brought condemnation from the government of Lionel Jospin and, notably, from the Palestinian Authority representative in France and the grand mufti of Marseille, Soheib Bencheikh, who denounced "these barbarous acts":

"Our natural and spontaneous solidarity with the Palestinian people, who submit to daily murders and humiliations orchestrated by Israel's bloody and vengeful leaders, cannot let us forget two undeniable truths: Jews and Arabs have shown, across their long history, an astonishing capacity to live together. And we are in France, a country ruled by secularism, where the only possible way to engage is in a calm and constructive dialogue."


These incidents are real anti-Semitism, as opposed to the ersatz variety concocted by Barbara Amiel and Petronella Wyatt, whose ears burned when the French ambassador to Britain called Israel a "shitty little country" at some posh dinner party. Why, he wanted to know, should we all be dragged to the edge of World War III because of Ariel Sharon? A good question, which Amiel and the rest of the Israel Firsters would just as soon not answer. Anti-Semitic? Hardly. A firebomb heaved into a synagogue – now, that's anti-Semitic. To equate these two acts is worse than dishonest – it is an attempt to close off all debate, and muzzle critics of Israel with the imputation of a "hate crime."


Take Tim Blair, the Australian journalist and gung-ho "war-blogger" I took to task in my last column for cheering on the IDF's pornographic film festival in Ramallah the other day. In response, he wrote:

"I'm yet to write anything as sick as Raimondo's suggestion that September 11 was a Jewish conspiracy: 'At first, it seems like an anomaly that a bunch of Israelis would be cheering – literally jumping for joy – at the sight of the World Trade Center, the pride of New York, brought down and humbled. But, then again, on second thought, it makes perfect sense, now doesn't it?' Yes, it all makes perfect sense, Justin. Especially when your primary source for the Great Jewboy Conspiracy is an unnamed New Jersey truck driver cited in a six-month-old report from the Bergen County News." [Emphasis in original]

To anyone who actually read what I wrote, the idea that I suggested 9/11 "was a Jewish conspiracy" is worse than merely wrong – it is a vicious lie, knowingly told. Is Blair denying that the 5 Israelis arrested hours after 9/11 were indeed cheering and jumping for joy at the sight of the World Trade Center in flames? I cited a "six-month old report from the Bergen County News" for the very good reason that the incident took place six months ago: and if a paper so humble as the Bergen County News isn't good enough for Blair, then perhaps the New York Post, the Washington Post, and the New York Times (scroll down to end of story) will do. Indeed, this incident was widely reported, not only in America but also in Israel.


The point of bringing this up was not to imply some "Great Jewboy Conspiracy" – a nasty phrase, that – but simply to underscore the point made by Ms. Amiel, namely that 9/11 blew apart whatever sympathy for the Palestinians was gestating among American policymakers and put the US government firmly in the Israeli camp. As Amiel put it:

"All those people bad-mouthing the Jews and Israel will quieten down. You are looking at the tail end of the train but the engine has already turned a corner and is going in the opposite direction.

"Nothing succeeds like success. America is driving this train and the world will get on board – though the last carriage may be those London dinner parties."

That, of course, is why those Israelis were joyful at the sight of the worst terrorist incident in American history: because 9/11 marked a turning point in American-Israeli relations, which we are now seeing played out in the American response to Ariel Sharon's Easter blitzkrieg. As the US stands by while Sharon ethnically cleanses Palestine far more effectively than Milosevic ever cleansed Kosovo, the phrase "nothing succeeds like success" just about sums up American policy in the region. Reason, morality, justice, American interests – all have been swept aside by Sharon and his legions, and that "shitty little country" is triumphant, once again, armed to the teeth with American weapons and well on its way to the creation of a Greater Israel. The "war on terrorism" has been transformed into a war on Israel's enemies: Osama bin Laden is forgotten, and, in his place, Saddam Hussein looms large as the target of American ire. No wonder those Israelis were cheering, and why shouldn't they? They are, after all, loyal to their own country: too bad the same cannot be said of American policymakers, who continue to confuse Israel's national interests with our own.


The point of citing the arrest of those Israelis, who worked for a company called Urban Moving Systems – a company that has since completely disappeared off the face of the earth, and which was almost certainly a front for Israeli intelligence – was not to bring up, once again, the Israeli "art students" story, which I have written about extensively, but to focus on the reaction of one of their American co-workers, who was baffled by their behavior. As the Bergen County News reported:

"An employee of Urban Moving Systems, who would not give his name, said the majority of his co-workers are Israelis and were joking on the day of the attacks.

"'I was in tears,' the man said. 'These guys were joking and that bothered me. These guys were like, 'Now America knows what we go through.'"

Americans are, by their nature, somewhat naïve: they find it hard to believe that foreigners – even our allies! – rejoice at the sight of America's pain. What is happening, today, in the Middle East, should make it less inexplicable.


To give credence to the solid reporting of Carl Cameron of Fox News, John Sugg, LeMonde, Jane's Intelligence Digest, and Paul Rodriguez of Insight magazine, that Israel's extensive spy operation in the US had ample opportunity and reason to track the 9/11 hijackers' every move in the US – and even to imply that they must have known something of what was about to happen – has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, and everything to do with the pursuit of truth. If this conjures in the feverish mind of Tim Blair visions of "a Jewish conspiracy," then perhaps he should have chosen a field other than journalism.

To smear those who question whether American and Israeli interests are identical, in every case, is to encourage the growth of real anti-Semitism, and downplay its dangers. To conflate the State of Israel and the Jewish people by equating criticism of the former with hatred of the latter is not only to play into the hands of the synagogue arsonists – but also to bear some responsibility for their heinous actions.


Hooligans come in many colors, and, while the burning of synagogues and attacks on Jews in Europe is capturing the world’s attention, Zionist nutballs in New York City are proving just as bad. At a series of New York City rallies organized by Betar, an ultra-Zionist youth corps, speakers raged against Adam Shapiro, an international aid worker who spent the night at Yasser Arafat’s compoundtreating the wounded. Shapiro, a pacifist, is a brave young man so committed to the idea of nonviolent resistance that he and his compatriots have traveled to Palestine to offer witness to the Israeli occupation. Surely this is a dangerous undertaking, and Shapiro has put his body on the line many times – but it may be, as he opined in an interview with MSNBC, that his life is in more danger in the USthan in war-wracked Palestine. Speakers at the Zionist street actions screeched their hatred of Shapiro, 30, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and one, Ronn Torossian, a spokesman for Betar, vowed revenge:

"Shapiro is a traitor, a piece of garbage, and we are going to make his life and his parents' lives a living hell."

Torossian, an Israeli national associated with the right-wing Likud Party, announced that his group of thugs would hold "protests" outside the Sheepshead Bay apartment building where Shapiro’s parents live. In response to numerous threats, a 24-hour police guard has had to be placed around their home. The parents have apparently already fled – and with good reason. Torossian, it seems, is violence-prone. In one Internet posting to the Betar site, he wrote:

"I just returned from a trip to Israel and went to the 1st major anti-Sharon demonstration, sponsored by the Community of Efrat. Less than 500 people, but blocking traffic, etc. -- One young Betari who couldn’t have been more than 20 or so led hundreds of people into the streets, blocked the main streets of Jerusalem to protest Arik's failure to hit the Arabs back and fought with Arabs.. The ringleader and only guy to get arrested was a young Israeli Betar guy with a tilboshet. Tel Chai & Death to the Arabs !"

Isn’t there a law against "terrorist threats"? I guess it’s too much to ask for it to be enforced against certain politically powerful groups in New York City. Imagine if an Arab had made a similar statement at a pro-Palestinian rally – in the present atmosphere, he would be jailed so fast his head would spin.

Naturally, we don’t see an international outcry over this sort of terrorism, here in the land of the free: where is Barbara Amiel? Where are all the reflexively pro-Israel pundits, who wax hyperbolic over the French "Kristallnacht"? Jews are being attacked in France – but also in Brooklyn. And the silence is deafening.

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