Arab antisemitism is indistinguishable from anti-Zionism, suggests a new book by Elder of Ziyon, veteran analyst and blogger. Point of No Return reviews The Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism.
For anyone following Middle Eastern news as it relates to Israel, Elder of Ziyon has long been the go-to blog for up-to-the minute news and analysis. No one knows Elder’s true identity, but his avatar is the supposed likeness of the medieval rabbi and thinker Rashi. Elder uses him to symbolise the cabal purveying one of the most notorious of published conspiracy theories – The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is a Tsarist forgery hatched in 19th century Russia and still a best-seller in Arab bookshops.
For 14 years now Elder of Ziyon has been stroking his beard and ruminating over modern manifestations of antisemitism, the overarching topic of his blog. Now a book in five sections distils the themes he has been exploring in over 30,000 posts. The result is The Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism.
The book is a welcome addition to any reader’s bookshelf.
In contrast to the Jerusalem Declaration which provides an impossibly narrow definition, Elder offers an even broader definition of antisemitism than the widely-accepted IHRA. Any example aimed at Jews as individuals, people, as a religion or an ethnic group can be antisemitic, he suggests. Elder’s principal preoccupation is with leftwing antisemitism, a phenomenon routinely ignored by progressives and underrated in the USA. The apathy of the Jewish community to this form of antisemitism, he claims, is exacerbated by poor leadership, ignorance, and lack of pride in Judaism and Israel.
In Section One, Elder provides a sweeping history of antisemitism from Greek through Christian, Voltairean, right up to modern-day antisemitism. It is new wine in old bottles.
Many think the BDS movement is recent, but the first boycott of Jews in Palestine goes back to 1909 and boycotts were enthusiastically embraced by the Arab League in 1945. Although the BDS movement has had a negligible impact on Israel economically, Elder warns that it gives a dangerous aura of respectability to antisemitism today.
Arab antisemitism was, and remains, antisemitism. Arab opposition to Zionism and Israel has always been antisemitic. It predates Zionism: the first Arab attack was on Jews in Petah Tikva in 1886 and the first altercation at the Western Wall occurred in 1911. Elder traces all the major influences, from conspiracy theories and blood libels to the role of the wartime Mufti of Jerusalem, author of the 1937 Nazi pamphlet ‘Islam and Judaism’ , through to Holocaust denial/ inversion and the Hamas charter.
An important factor perpetuating the conflict is the misplaced Arab sense of honour. Arab tenants in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah are encouraged not to pay rent because it is more honourable to be homeless than to admit that Jews own the homes they live in.
But in Elder’s estimation, the greatest challenge to Arab antisemites comes from within their own ranks: those countries who have signed the Abraham Accords with Israel. It is a game-changer.
Section Two focuses on international law and all the familiar accusations routinely levelled at Israel: proportionality, distinction, the use or misuse of human shields. What does international law say on settlements and the Right of Return? Elder has plenty to say.
The remaining sections are about the demonisers, ‘faux peaceniks’ and the pernicious corruption of academic Middle East Studies by so-called Experts – the likes of Judith Butler, Ilan Pappé , Jasbir Puar and Avi Shlaim. Peter Beinart, the American liberal turned-anti-Zionist, is a clever propagandist setting the framework to win the argument before it even starts.
What to do ? Elder of Ziyon’s solution is: “To fight it, expose it’ . When Elder writes his blogposts, he tries to ensure that the reader learns something they didn’t know before. And there is bound to be much that even a seasoned antisemitism-watcher can learn from this clearly laid- out and comprehensive guide.