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IAM Friday Special: "Attacking Israel with genocidal intentions" by Nidra Poller


Israel Affairs 

Volume 18, Issue 3, 2012

Special Issue: War by other means: Israel and its detractors

Attacking Israel with genocidal intentions


Nidra Poller*

pages 363-371

Version of record first published: 25 Jul 2012


De-legitimization of the State of Israel is the current episode in a persistent genocidal project aimed at the Jews and, more profoundly, at the values inherent in Judaism and shared by civilized societies. Skirting the shame attached to anti-Semitism after the horrors of the Holocaust, contemporary advocates of the genocidal plot are given free rein to attack Jews by a combination of severe criticism of the State of Israel and well-meaning plans for its geopolitical future, i.e. the peace process. Ugly lies – the Jews stole the land from the Palestinians, Israel is an apartheid state – func'tion like the age-old charges that justified persecution of the Jews as Christ killers. Beautiful lies – the two state solution that everyone knows – echo the proto-legalistic measures that gradually deprived European Jews of their rights, their strength, their resources and capacity to resist deportation and extermination. Americans, misinterpreting as a repetition of the 1930s the rise of violent anti-Semitism in Europe at the dawn of the twenty-first century, are unprepared to deal with a parallel rise in Muslim Brotherhood forces within the US. As brutal Islamic Jew hatred boils in an Arab-Muslim world revolting, reforming, and submitting to sharia law, the Obama administration conducts a policy of the outstretched hand and blindfolded eyes that leaves Iran free to develop the ultimate genocidal weapon. Israel is the bulwark, not only for Jews but for the free world. Clear thinking, uncompromising discourse, and resolute action – at the risk of being labelled extremist – can stop the genocidal project and, working backward, disarm the lies.

From the first stirrings of Judaism to the present day the war against the Jews has been pursued with variations in methods, scope, and intensity. It would be foolish to sum up in a few sentences the brilliant work of a host of thinkers who have analysed this process and examined its underlying causes. We can no more ignore their thought than rest on their conclusions. We have to integrate their wisdom into fresh thinking based on the contemporary situation. What stands in the way of an early twenty-first century genocide of the Jews? Compared to the previous genocide, Jews today are healthier, wealthier, and wiser. Honest human beings the world over are sincerely horrified by the Shoah and more or less aware of the dangers of a repetition. The democratic nations in which the Diaspora lives in relative peace and prosperity are well-armed to defend themselves against attack and the Jews against potential exterminators. But all of these safeguards would crumble if not for the State of Israel.

Therefore, one could say with near scientific precision that the State of Israel stands between the Jews and a twenty-first century genocidal plot. How clever, then, to labour away at destroying Israel while denying the slightest anti-Semitic intentions. The range of weapons is limitless. The combinations are devilish. A peace process seasoned with Intifadas, martyrdom operations coupled with invocations of international law, humanitarian flotillas armed to the teeth, rocket attacks in tandem with UN recognition bids, and of course the construction of a tight-knit international network of sympathizers extending from the grassroots to the halls of power. While Israel's neighbours pound away at its existence, Muslims in Europe and the Americas blithely attack Jews to ‘avenge’ their Palestinian ‘brothers’. Again, freedom to harm Jews has been granted along with immunity from the anti-Semite label. Domestic and foreign enemies of the Jews collaborate to conduct attacks that terrorize large populations into granting whatever is demanded in the name of Islam, Palestine, peace, and adulterated civil rights. The leavening agent of this recipe is a compound of the good obtained by a reverse chemistry that transforms the moral lessons of the Holocaust into the amoral values by which Jews can once more be pursued and exterminated.

In the name of the good, Jews can be harassed on university campuses, elbowed out of professional and commercial activities, vilified in lowbrow and highbrow media, abandoned to thugs and murderers and, conversely, glorified if they outspokenly reject Israel. Cartoonists win prizes with Nazi style caricatures where Jews are recycled as Israelis. Arab-Muslim intellectuals are invited to speak in high places and given tenure in prestigious universities for justifying the persecution of Jews identified as Israelis. Outreach operations promote the narrative that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are mutually guilty of/victims of prejudice. Idealists wave the co-exist banner.1 People of all colours and creeds can live together harmoniously as long as the Jews turn their backs on the outlaw state of Israel – under its present government, of course. The genocidal plot aims to divide and conquer: divide Diaspora Jews from Israel, Israeli Jews from their government, Israelis living inside the green line from ‘colonists’, and so on.

Here and there, the ‘evils of Zionism’ give permission to break the post-Auschwitz taboo and stir up old-fashioned anti-Semitic stereotypes. The hue and cry against Wall Street speculators and billionaires are emblematic targets of Jew hatred that would be unleashed if the bulwark of Israel were ever to collapse.

Nevertheless it is counterproductive to label as ‘anti-Semitism’ the will to destroy the State of Israel by all means possible and impossible. On the one hand this old vocabulary that we have not been able to update leads to outdated reactions and outworn strategies; on the other, it drags into dead-end debate with a new kind of enemy that will swear to the heavens and to the end of time ‘I am not an anti-Semite’. Furthermore, with or without the hyphen, the term implies that it has something to do with being against Jews. Does it?

Yes and no. The genocidal plot is not a reaction to the evil deeds or noble acts of Israel or the Jews, but to the notion of the good upheld by Judaism. Ironically, the irrepressible impulse to commit genocide without hindrance from the prohibition inscribed in Judaic values leads to the hatching of genocidal plots against the Jews. In common language this would be: get out of my way so I can really do what I am falsely accusing you of doing.

This brings us full circle to the comprehensive programme – the will to destroy life – of which the destruction of Israel by specious arguments is an essential but partial element. Only when we have perceived the outer reaches of this project can we understand and combat its concrete on-the-ground manifestations. Otherwise we assume a defensive position that feeds the animosity directed against us. Rather, we should take heart from the fact that the genocidal plot is not moving forward as quickly as planned. Neither armed invasion, nor shahid operations, nor subversion, nor BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), nor the combined forces of the United Nations General Assembly have come anywhere near to defeating Israel. Israel is flourishing. The genocidal plot persists, however, in a hair trigger configuration: an Iranian nuclear weapon over Israel's head, and a detriment to all humanity. We have to dismantle it.

What should be done with the specious arguments used to attack Israel? They are no more valid than the ones used to attack the Jews over the centuries. And yet we seem to be fooled every time into answering lies with facts. Not that the facts are worthless. On the contrary, they are helpful to those who defend Israel, the Jews, and civilized values. When used, however, to counter the destructive lies they paradoxically give weight to the accusations. Reasonable arguments inadvertently imply that there might be some truth to the accusation, and lead to quibbling over details. Since the accusers have no scruples, they will twist every single detail, constantly adding weight to the lie, never answering any objection, never conceding a point, and eventually slamming a door in the Zionist's face: ‘It's impossible to discuss anything with you, you're an unconditional supporter of Likud and the colonists. So what's the solution? Do you want to kill all the Palestinians?’

The lies – I call them ‘lethal narratives’ – have kinship with earlier versions of Jew hatred: ‘Israel stole the land from the Palestinians’ fun'ctions in the same way as ‘the Jews killed Christ’. No number of historical documents, deeds, multi-coloured maps, or population statistics can make a dent in that argument because, like the Christ-killer accusation, it is essential, not circumstantial. ‘Stole the land’ defines Israel. It does not stand upright as a three-dimensional reality which one could examine by going behind it, around it, underneath it.

‘Israel is an apartheid state’ does not mean that Israel treats Arab-Muslim-Palestinians like South Africa treated Blacks. It means the Israelis, who are intruders, can be forced by BDS to hand over power to the rightful inhabitants of Palestine. A few years ago a French journalist reporting from Israel translated a shabat elevator for haredim into an apartheid elevator reserved for Blacks. The whole rubbish heap of Israel apartheid charges is of the same low quality, and its long term success is not guaranteed. Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) was nipped in the bud this year in France. The major event, a colloquium scheduled at the Université de Paris 8, a hotbed of Palestinianism a stone's throw from the skyscrapers of La Défense, was cancelled by the president, Pascal Binczak, on the grounds that the organization could not ensure public order on campus and did not respect the ‘intellectual and scientific independence of the university where the pluralism of scientific and critical approaches and free analytic debate must be seen as intangible academic obligations’.2  Efraim Karsh penned a head-on collision for the IAW slander convoy.3

The 15 April 2012 Flytilla was grounded, provoking outrage on the French BDS site Europalestine.org, where the intention to defeat the ‘illegitimate’ state of Israel is broadcast in every way, shape, and form. When the Bienvenu en Palestine operation was thwarted, the organization accused European airlines, police, and military of collaborating (as in ‘Vichy collaborators’) with the Israeli secret services to deny them their rights – to go to Bethlehem and inaugurate a school. The movement invents international laws to condemn Israel, flouts French law that prohibits their anti-Israel boycotts, and denies the existence of international law that allows sovereign nations to require visas, establish no-fly lists, and requires airlines to repatriate unwanted passenger at the airline's expense. Duly informed that their reservations were cancelled, the Flytillistas publicly promised to cause trouble at the airports, then shrieked when met by law enforcement. Their real intention is to erase Israel's borders and strangle its sovereignty by inventing a sovereign Palestine whose borders can be defined by will or whimsy. The geopolitical fait accompli of the designation ‘Palestine’ is reinforced by the excitement it offers, as if it were a new sexual organ promising unspeakable orgasms.

These ugly lies are best countered with the contempt they deserve. Much progress has been made in this direction over the past 12 years. Israel is increasingly skilled at deflecting barrages of inflammatory allegations. The more Israel shows itself to be indifferent to false charges – responding sharply in international instances, deflating ludicrous accusations with lively humour4  repelling stunts like the Million March to Jerusalem, fighting back against ‘humanitarians’ armed to the teeth, exposing the hypocrisy of UN organizations – the less harm they can do. Though they will always subsist in the shadows, morph into endless variations, sustain the image of Israel as the Bad Guy, and stand ready to poison the atmosphere and justify violence against Jews when the occasion arises.

Ugly lies are a danger but beautiful lies are far more dangerous and difficult to counter. Ugly lies are the meat and potatoes of mean people who want to do bad deeds. They don't really care about Palestinians; they aren't really shocked by the plight of Muslims; they have no noble values to honour. But beautiful lies are a treasure held dear by masses of well-meaning people. Anyone who dares to challenge the beautiful lie of the peace process risks being relegated to the margins of public discourse, branded ‘extremist’ by some, accused of war crimes by others, shunned by prestigious colleagues and editors. Why should commentators or political leaders bring opprobrium on their heads by declaring that the two-state solution is just as false as ‘Israel is an apartheid state’ or ‘the Jews killed Christ’? Since there is no chance of a Palestinian state being established in the near future it may seem easier to give lip service to the two-state solution and get on with one's career. This isn't cynical. It's a strategic choice. But I will argue that it is harmful.

The purpose of the peace process is to make war against Israel by demonstrating that Israel doesn't want peace. The term ‘peace process’ is a semantically self-justifying trick that confounds ‘peace process’ with the ways that peace can effectively be made in the real world. It follows that if Israel won't accept the terms of the process, then it is the obstacle to peace. That failure is the success of the process. The proof is that Palestinian rejection of the process is not defined as an obstacle but as further justification for placing the blame on Israel. By virtue of the peace process, certain Jewish neighbourhoods are declared to be illegal because they are located in ‘occupied’ territories. International law is invoked like a pagan god to bellow flames on the illegal occupiers and reduce them to ashes. Those who accept the principle of a Palestinian state living peacefully side by side with Israel on secure borders are considered to be moderates. Ostensibly free to debate details, modalities, and timing, they are in fact sucked up into ‘the solution that everyone knows’: retreat to the 1967 borders adjusted by land swaps, division of Jerusalem, and solution of the refugee problem. The more obvious it has become that none of this could, should, or will happen, the more the solution is reiterated. Another massive block of affirmation that cannot be examined from all or any sides.

What is the role of the peace process in the twenty-first century genocidal project as compared to the earlier version, the Shoah that we have recently commemorated? It fu'nctions like the series of proto-legalistic measures that gradually stripped European Jews of their rights, their strengths, and their capacity to resist extermination. How many people would have obeyed the laws and decrees if they knew where they were being led? Register as a Jew or you'll be arrested, leave your profession, turn over your company to an Aryan, turn in your radio, pick up your Jewish badge and sew it on your clothes or you'll be jailed, stay out of the parks and libraries, come with us or you'll be shot… Every step was legalized; the documents drafted in beautiful old-fashioned bureaucratic penmanship are lined up on the walls of Holocaust Memorials like the sharp teeth of man-eating beasts.

Today's equivalent measures are: respect international law, end the illegal occupation, surrender your sovereignty and life-saving protection, create the Palestinian state that will exterminate you, don't make us attack you, do it to yourselves.

Heads of state who have no desire to see the Jewish people exterminated periodically promise to roll up their sleeves and get the peace process going. They assure us that this time the solution that everyone knows will finally prevail. Jews who definitely do not want to be massacred or see their Israeli brethren exterminated reiterate their devotion to the peace process and, too often, grab Israel by the ear and scold it for not making the painful concessions that will, as everyone knows, bring peace.

Does this mean that Jewish survival depends on convincing the multitudes that the peace process is in fact a war and the friendly criticism of Israel fosters a genocidal project? How? What hasn't been tried yet? How do we break the stranglehold? Deny that there is a plot to exterminate the Jews and all the humanism seems to fall on the other side of the equation. You sound heartless if you say you don't want a Palestinian state. You sound alarmist if you say Israel is facing an existential threat and Jews everywhere will be in danger if Israel can't resist. You sound pretentious if you say the survival of the free world depends on Israel.

European Jews of the World War II generation are often torn between gratitude for the decisive American intervention that defeated Nazism and disappointment with the failure, in their eyes, of American Jews to pressure their government to specifically target the killing machine, to bomb Auschwitz. In fact, Jews in those days were not far removed from their greenhorn origins, subject to domestic anti-Semitism, quota systems, and other forms of discrimination. Now comfortably rich, powerful, and well-integrated, many American Jewish citizens, leaders, and donors seem to take pride in their ‘independence’ from Israel. They believe that gay marriage, abortion rights, and redistribution of wealth are the crucial issues of our times, the moral slide-rule by which we should be judged. Eschewing partisan support of Israel, they reach out to defend Muslims, designated as victims of prejudice and discrimination.

While Israel's score in popularity polls soars in the United States, voters chose a president whose hostility to Israel was already revealed during the Democratic primaries, later demonstrated in the Cairo speech, and repeatedly displayed in policies and attitude thereafter. The president's popularity among Jewish voters is reportedly still flying high, undisturbed by a foreign policy that belies his claim to ‘have Israel's back’. (The phoney street talk betrays the speaker.) The disparity between the popularity of Israel and enduring support for an anti-Zionist president demonstrates once more the complexity of the genocidal plot. Americans love Israel in a t-shirt kind of way. What becomes of this puppy love when, as it seems, citizens and their representatives are unable or unwilling to influence the administration's bizarre approach to Iran – an outstretched hand and blindfolded eyes? Iran is given all the elbow room it needs to develop the genocidal weapon par excellence, the New York Times leaks Israeli war plans like a divinely ordained blabber, and Israel's best friends speak in enigmas an Iranian bomb would be a disaster, an Israeli attack will be a catastrophe. Or vice versa.

How did we, at this crucial time, lose America? From the first Democratic primaries, at the end of 2007, the protective shield formed around the candidate Barack Hussein Obama was respected by mainstream and, with rare exceptions, alternative media. Criticism of the candidate was muted, understated, or censored. Reliable information about Obama's anti-Zionist ideas and friends was suppressed by the mainstream and diluted by the alternatives. The tyrannical mode was in place from the very beginning. No one wanted to offend unconditional Obama supporters among the readership and benefactors. Everyone was afraid of being called a ‘racist’.

The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the past decade was misinterpreted as a replay of the 1930s and 1940s. Europe was going rotten again. Jews should immigrate en masse to the United States. Not to Israel? No, they considered Israel too dangerous. Europe was finished, collaborating once again with the Nazis, this time in an Islamist version. The images were telling: torched synagogues, battered rabbis, smashed windows, murdered Jews, swastikas. While attention was focused on the fall of Europe into its final episode of anti-Semitism, Muslim Brotherhood front organizations in suits and ties were weaving their web in the vast United States of America. Today, Jewish organizations are swimming like little fish into the nets cast by CAIR (Council on American–Islamic Relations) and its multiple front organizations. Paradoxically, the tons of garish anti-Zionist garbage dumped in Europe since September 2000 has mobilized some European Jews, particularly in France, to greater vigilance and stronger defence of Israel, while the honeyed chants of the Brotherhood are lulling American Jewry into self-destructive outreach and cosy ecumenism. (Not to suggest that we are totally immune to this kind of thing.) It is not a question of transatlantic competition but of lucidity. The misconception that the United States is a refuge today as it was in the days of Nazism weakens support for Israel and lulls American Jews into a false sense of security. If an analogy must be made, could the US be compared to Germany in the 1920s?

Above and beyond the ugly lies and the beautiful lies is the ultimate lie: blood libel. The Jews as Christ-killers are child-killers (Christ as the child of God). The Muhammad al-Dura scene broadcast by state-owned France TV on 30 September 2000, has fun'ctioned as blood libel on an international scale in the age of instant mass communication. A fabrication purporting to show a Palestinian youth killed in real time by Israeli soldiers opened the floodgates to a torrent of Jew hatred buoyed up by and justified by merciless criticism of the state of Israel. The Dura controversy has come forward once again in France, in the aftermath of the 2012 murders at Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse. Muhammad Merah's declaration that he was avenging the killing of children in Gaza was mentioned, among other information, but did not resonate as it would have just a few years ago. France 2’s Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin, responsible for the Dura broadcast, has as usual leapt to his own defence and reiterated against all evidence the accusation that the boy was killed and the shorts were fired from the Israeli position. Filmmaker Pierre Rehov, who was one of the first to contest the Dura broadcast, reminds us in a forceful open letter to Charles Enderlin that he interviewed the Israeli soldiers who manned the checkpoint on the day of the alleged incident.5 They happen to be Druze. It does not make them any the less Jewish child-killers for the blood libel.

The polite dismissal of Israel by a cocktail of harsh criticism, snide remarks, inflammatory images, twisted documentaries, EU statements and UN resolutions is amplified by a chorus of crude Jew hatred from an Islamic world in a state of paroxysm. The revolt or reform (as in Salafist return to the origins) billed as the ‘Arab Spring’ is a retrograde movement leading to the domination of parties with different names and similar platforms based on the imposition of sharia law. Accomplished with elaborate scenarios in the Maghreb and Mashrek and brutally in sub-Saharan Africa it has met with determined resistance in Syria, where Bashar Assad's forces have killed an estimated 11,000 Syrians, most of them civilians. The international community that stamps its feet and throws its weight around when Israel is involved has by turns entreated, pleaded, summoned, ordered, requested Assad to put an end to the killing. The hallowed United Nations expressed all forms of consternation, named an emissary, brokered a truce of sorts, and is now sending in unarmed blue-helmeted observers. Turkey reprimanded, the Arab League finger-wagged, the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) threatened to send troops and President Assad is still there, doing what comes naturally. No one expects him to respond to human rights arguments.

Why would we be defeated by an enemy that is militarily, technologically, and intellectually weak, disorganized, and torn with internecine strife – an enemy that wherever it exerts its dominion has nothing good to offer its people? The only way we could be defeated is if we act as if the decision is not in our hands. We will not prevail by stretching our necks to the outermost reaches and convincing the inveterate Jew hater to change his ways, but by reaching inside ourselves and forging the utmost conviction of our right to live and prosper, forging it with such fire and light that it gradually ignites those closest to us and in an ever widening circle reaches the misguided.

The lightning speed of information offers advantages that no other generation enjoyed. The lapse of time between the premise and the conclusion is so brief the facts are in, the tricks are unmasked, the pros and cons worked out in real time in concrete reality; we have the discourse, the debate, and the consequences in a bit more than a tweet. That's why we can do what has not been done before. We have a nation, a land, an army, and the information needed to stymie the genocidal plot.

What will calm the ardour of the genociders is not painful concessions, apologies, admissions of guilt, bending over backward to mollify critics, giving 10% credit to ugly lies and heart-sinking validity to the beautiful ‘everyone knows the solution’ lie; no, what throws ice-cold water on the genociders is when Israel stands firm, strikes when attacked, and strikes pre-emptively when existentially threatened, fulfilling the promise of a land of refuge and fulfilment for the Jewish people and throwing the hatred back where it came from, back to the dark hearts of those who want to kill Jews so they can destroy humanity. Western civilization is not lost, it is staggering. As Jews we have a responsibility to defend ourselves so that free people everywhere can rediscover the courage to defend their freedom and highest values. That is the upright humanitarian position that reaches out to all decent human beings. It is not the phoney outreach posture of throwing ourselves into the jaws of the purveyors of sharia.

Clean up the static and the blood-curdling cry rings out loud and clear: Kill the Jews! Some think it is nothing but background noise. It's a question of fine-tuning.


1. See, for example, http://www.coexistbumpersticker.org/.

2. “Communiqué de la direction de l'université Paris 8 Vincennes – Saint-Denis,” February 17, 2012.

3. Efraim Karsh, “The Middle East's Real Apartheid,” Jerusalem Post, March 5, 2012.

4. Latma TV, “Benjamin Netanyahu's letter to the Flytillistas”, http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=266012

5. http://jssnews.com/2012/04/19/lettre-ouverte-a-charles-enderlin-par-pierre-rehov/.


* Nidra Poller is an American writer and translator who has lived in Paris since 1972. She was a member of the Board of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, gave talks at the JCPA and has been interviewed by Manfred Gerstenfeld. She has contributed to many publications including Jerusalem Political Studies ReviewHer writings include observations on society and politics, including the Muhammad al-Durrah incident and the Ilan Halimi trial. Poller is also a translator, notably of the philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas.


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