By Roberto Savio*
March 2019, Rome – There is a huge debate on anti-Semitism. I think we need to make a systematic analysis that makes the problem simple and clear. Obviously, the subject is very complex and produces so many urges that any attempt of schematization is inevitably incomplete. However, outlining some broad traits can be useful. Let us try it.
First, we must remember that there is an historical anti-Semitism, which is at the root of the wave of anti-Semitism that is waking up throughout Europe. This has precisely historical reasons, caused by the resentment towards the Jews, starting from the Middle Ages at least until the beginning of the Renaissance, when the Roman Catholic Church lost its power of absolute control.
The Jews have been the only non-Christian minority in Europe for 1,400 years, more literate and brilliant than the uneducated, barbaric and violent Christians. A feudal prince who could read and write was suspicious. There were no schools outside the monasteries. Moreover, the Church found it convenient to link the Jews to the crucifixion of Christ… The Jews did not accept to be converted; they had their own religious system that they practiced within closed communities. It was unacceptable to the Church, which exerted total power, the existence of a system that escaped them, with an important cultural level and with a different religious view. In addition to pointing them out as the deicides, who had crucified Jesus (the crucifixion was a Roman pain, not Jewish), they were definitively excluded from society. At a time when wealth was made up of land, they were forbidden to own land and they never became farmers. They took refuge in activities that Christians had never practiced. The Jews could devote themselves to finance, which the Church had forbidden; they could also be active in the trade, thanks to the fact they had communities all over Europe.
In the city of Bergamo, you can visit a chapel dedicated to a young man who, according to popular belief, had been sacrificed by the Jews through mysterious rites. It was later discovered that this was not true. Nevertheless, at that moment, this boy was declared a beatified person and a beautiful baroque chapel was dedicated to him. The tables of the wise men of Zion, in which the plan of control of the world by the Jews is described, are also a false document. However, it is still in circulation today. In addition, it needs to be remembered that the Church today has opened a dialogue of equality with the Jews, recognizing that they have been victims of discrimination.
Let us look at the history of the Renaissance and the city of Florence. In order to escape the accusation of usury, the Florentines who had enriched themselves in that way, gave away churches, hospitals and donations. A magnificent exhibition on this was held two years ago at Palazzo Strozzi. When Protestantism developed, an unprecedented religious conflict emerged, causing millions of victims (another conflict that is now over) and Martin Luther joined the anti-Jewish campaign because the Jews had a power that was not penetrable.
Jews pass for being the black sheep in the eyes of Protestants and Catholics. All are against the Jews. The pogroms had been a way, justified on religious grounds, to confiscate the wealth accumulated by them.
This often unconscious anti-Semitism continues to this day. It is said: Jews rule over finance and the media. It is true, not because of a plot aiming at power, which would have already been easily uncovered, but because they are competent and brilliant. We can see in the orchestras of the world how many Jews are part of them and there are always many more than the others, in proportion to their own population. We can see it in literature, in theatre, in cinema, in medicine, in science and in any field we may want to look for. For centuries in the Middle Ages the best doctors were Jews, and it is also obvious that a small minority persecuted for centuries has developed a higher survival capacity, thanks also to the fact that they started studying 1,500 years before Christians, Catholics and Protestants.
The condition of women in the Jewish family has always been light years ahead of that in the Christian family. This feeling is now surfacing in Rome in the commercial and financial world. Jews own a proportionately higher percentage of the shops in the centre. When there is an important Jewish holiday, many shops remain closed. Which, of course, triggers comments.
Jews are very important for the economy and this is proven. This anti-Semitism, which to me is the result of a feeling of inferiority, exists and will exist for a long time, although the cultural difference between “pagans” and Jews is diminishing.
I know I am getting into trouble, and I am sorry if I am going to be misunderstood, but the same thing has been happening since gay people came out of the closet: in fact, we are talking about the solidarity of gay people with each other to take power, etc… Those who are different and succeed will always arouse envy and hatred. Then there is a convenient way out for those who use the people who are different from themselves: immigrants of the Muslim faith, because they are very different and there is the conviction that what makes them different is not negotiable.
Let us cross-reference these historical considerations with the facts that are occurring today.
There is a political anti-Semitism, which stems from the remains of Fascism and Nazism. The AfD in Germany and Vox in Spain say on the level of the political direction, like Marine Le Pen, that their parties are not anti-Semitic. However, many of their supporters are, by mechanical legacy of the ideal and cultural background of the national socialism. They are those who dirty and desecrate graves or put swastikas on the door of a synagogue. This anti- Semitism is ideological, not religious or social. On the other hand, this is not a central feature of the sovereigns, the xenophobes and the nationalists, who are taking power in Europe: Viktor Orba?n, Matteo Salvini, etc. The other is the Muslim, the black, the Pakistani and there are too many enemies to point the finger at.
There is anti-Semitism by Arabs, Pakistanis, African Muslims, etc. in the Muslim community in Europe. This is obvious and inevitable. The state of Israel, which has evicted hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their homes, has been perceived as a foreign body. Since its birth there has been an objective deterioration in the living conditions of Arabs in Israel, with an increase of settlers, etc. When the state of Israel was created, no one asked the Arab world for its opinion. Israel was perceived as a decision of England, with the support of Europe and the United States. At that time, 54 countries were members of the United Nations… A similar resolution would have never been approved today. Saudi Arabia would be enough to buy the abstention of several countries, as we are witnessing with the arms sales. France, England and the United States (the majority of the five permanent members of the Security Council) did everything they could to convince Germany to continue trading arms with Riyadh that uses them in Yemen… (A parenthesis: the five permanent members in charge of ensuring peace are responsible for the 82% of arms sales).
The way in which the State of Israel was created, without consultation and negotiation with the Arab countries, results in the great problem of the State of Israel. Nevertheless, it is necessary to give a land to millions of people all over the world, who have no homeland since the conquest of Jerusalem by Emperor Titus in the year 73 AD. On the other hand, we should not be surprised that the Arabs feel invaded by a Western operation, even though the Jews have in fact returned to their original homeland. If the international community has given a state to the Jewish people, why has it not given a state to the Kurdish people? Because times have changed and there are countries like Iraq, or Syria, that were not members of the United Nations at that time, and today are, which with Turkey can block any Western initiative. Let us remember that, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, the Westerners had given a homeland to the Kurds – through the Sevres Agreement in 1920. This country was then cancelled (Treaty of Losanna, 1923) under pressure from the countries in which the Kurds are now dispersed, namely 30 million people, whereas Israel only has nine million. The world has changed; the United Nations is now composed of 193 countries.
The birth of Israel was the fruit of another era, during which the West did not need to consult the Arab world. Let us remember all this in such a way as to understand that it is not reasonable to expect the Muslim community in Europe to support the Jews. In mass demonstrations, such as the “yellow vests”, Muslims can participate without problems and express what they want. We conclude this reflection with a question that is probably politically incorrect: how do you think Jews are considered in the anti-elite demonstrations, such as the yellow vests? Are they part of the people who are ignored and resentful or part of the elite?
- There is one element that is growing considerably and that is transversal in the three categories listed. It is Netanyahu’s policy, which is becoming increasingly unacceptable. It might be that he is doing so in order to gain impunity in the face of the possibility of imprisonment, which would affect him for the serious accusations made by the Israeli justice system. Alternatively, because he has the same thirst for power that characterises many of today’s politicians. Every year he has made discrimination against Arabs increase and has formed governments with the most extremist and ultra-religious parties. He has reached his peak by enacting a law whereby only Jews are legitimate citizens of Israel, which contradicts the vision of the founders of Israel. Finally, he has invited an extreme right-wing party to participate in his government: the Jewish House, which is so racist that it has always been excluded from politics.
Like it or not, this provokes a strong rejection in the international public opinion. In addition, Netanyahu has taken advantage of a trap: the existence of the State of Israel is something primary for the Jews and it is a dream after having been stateless for centuries. That is why they are forced to support Netanyahu by covering their noses. When I discuss with my Roman Jewish friends, they tell me: “You can’t criticize Israel, only we can do it”. To which I reply: “But you do not do it and let Israel go to hell…” Netanyahu also managed to create another trap: if you criticize Israel, you are anti-Zionist or you are against the existence of Israel…
Conclusions: Netanyahu has opened a path of confrontation with the Palestinians (who are now much weaker, since the Arabs have accepted the existence of Israel and are abandoning them) that will inevitably lead to abandon the idea of two states, which was instead foreseen in the original plan of the United Nations.
This means the existence of a single state, with second-class Arab citizens (they are already excluded from the army, police and other state structures). Demographics shows an inexorable increase of Arab citizens in a single state that will generate a shocking future with the contemporary growth of Haredi’s fundamentalists. We are moving towards a situation of apartheid, a state that will ignore human rights and will be maintained only by force. Meanwhile, the Arab states are aligned with Israel, in the common concern for Iran. The negotiations on the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel are already public. The Palestinians will be seen more and more as victims and will reap more and more solidarity every day. In addition, this will turn into the decisive support for the historical anti-Semitism.
On the Jewish side, it may be said that the problem of the Palestinians is that they do not have a competent leadership; that they have lost several historical moments, such as in the path of peace between Arafat and Rabin opened in Oslo in 1993; that Hamas, which governs Gaza, does not actually recognize the right of Israel to exist; that the exodus of the Palestinians (between 100,000 and 250,000, according to estimates) has been induced by the Arabs and not by Israel; all possible explanations can be provided. However, they do not change a reality: the State of Israel was born as a secular state, based on human rights, which assumed equality between Palestinians and Jews in its original intention. On the Israeli side, it may be said that the Arab war against Israel broke this vision.
However, the reading of history from 1948 to the present does not change. Since the Netanyahu’s Likud party came to power, the condition and the future of the Palestinians have deteriorated. The Jewish settlements are already spread in several spots, which makes it impossible to create a Palestinian state. Moreover, Donald Trump will give another hard blow to the Palestinians with his peace plan woven by his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump supports Netanyahu not with the votes of the American Jews (about 6 million mostly lay people who are concerned about Israel’s future as a secular and inclusive state), but because this gives him the support of the American evangelists. According to Wikipedia, they are already a quarter of the American population and believe that the restoration of Israel to its former borders is an indispensable condition for the return of Christ to earth that will reward them as the only just ones.
With the progressive deterioration of the living conditions of the Palestinian population and the inevitable increase of Muslims in Europe, the anti-Zionism is growing inexorably, legitimized by the reality on the ground. What is worse, radicalisation will continue in such a way that Israel will only be left with the use of force to control the inevitable dissent. The Palestinian issue can only be resolved by Israel but most Israelis no longer believe in the dialogue with the Palestinians and vice versa. In addition, Netanyahu’s technique of preaching a state besieged by the enemy strengthens the spirit of Masada, the Jewish fortress in which the entire population decided to commit collective suicide in the spring of 73 AD, when they realized that the Romans were about to invade it…
Nowadays, history is full of path changes, such as the possibility that Nethayahu will lose the elections and that his successors will want to re-open a constructive dialogue for a lasting peace…
*Publisher of OtherNews, Italian-Argentine Roberto Savio is an economist, journalist, communication expert, political commentator, activist for social and climate justice and advocate of global governance. Adviser to INPS-IDN and to the Global Cooperation Council. He is co-founder of Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and its President Emeritus.