And now we have the news coming out of Chile. A Jewish backpacker was charged with starting a major forest fire in the Torres del Paine national park, an incident which, as David Breakstone puts it in an article titled “The Dreyfus Revival,” quickly fanned the flames of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. According to segments of the Chilean press, the political echelon, the social networks and the public, Israel stands accused of a particularly malefic geopolitical objective, namely, of intending to colonize Patagonia and plant a second Jewish state in southern Chile! According to Breakstone’s report, spectators accosted the backpacker as a “stinking Jew,” journalist Andres Figueroa Cornejo “published a diatribe against Israel in El Ciudadano” comparing the country to Nazi Germany, and the vice president of the Christian Democratic Party, Fuad Chachin, denounced Israel for ‘killing Palestinian children.’
Conveniently forgotten are that Israel sent a crack rescue team to Japan to aid in restoration work after the 2011 tsunami and hosted Chilean miners who survived the Copiapó disaster in a “pilgrimage of thanks.” Indeed, it comes as no surprise that the state-of-the-art medical team Israel dispatched to Haiti after the great earthquake of 2010, reputedly the most effective of the international field hospitals, was venomously maligned among bloggers and journalists as an organ harvesting operation. Israel is a country that gives far more to the world than almost any other country, excelling in the fields of science, technology, medicine, agriculture, and green energy, not to mention literature, as George Gilder makes luminously clear in his The Israel Test—which does not prevent it from being considered a pariah among the nations.
Even at the best of times, antisemitism lingered as a kind of low fever. Today, however, the world has become sick again with the same virulent infection that spread through the 1930s and led to the Holocaust. Israel is resented because it provides Jews with the possibility of survival in a country with a strong military, a tested population and an open-door policy for diasporites who wish to emigrate. It is thus condemned, to cite the title of Robin Shepherd’s book on the subject, as “a state beyond the pale.” But this state is necessary as a refuge and haven even for the most anti-Zionist and post-Zionist Jews, whose secular pieties and embrace of internationalism will not save them in the event of a catastrophe.
Breakstone remarks that “the uncomfortable question as to just how much the Jewish people can ever really be at home outside of a Jewish state remains unanswered.” Perhaps at certain times and in certain places it is differentially possible, but there can be no assurance that the condition of peaceful assimilation will be permanent. Jews need Israel as much as Israel needs Jews. Like Philip K. Dick’s definition of reality, history is that which does not go away. Many Jews feel that Israel has made the world less safe for them. The truth is that the world has always been, so to speak, “less safe” for them, which explains the rise of the Zionist movement and the necessary re-establishment of the state of Israel.
In the present time, as Broder observed, antisemitism has once again become fashionable, and Jewish citizens of democratic states throughout the West are coming increasingly under attack. The existence of Israel is only a pretext for the “new antisemitism,” which has found a political substitute for other, discreditable forms of a primordial and tenacious bigotry. The old malevolence has merely added another aspect to its inventory. But it is the same old hatred.
Whether or not Jews wish to admit it, the Jewish state will always remain their fallback position, the only default guarantee they can rely on. If Israel is destroyed, all the Jew can reasonably expect from the liberal world in which he has invested his loyalty and made his contribution is a candlelight vigil. And there should be no mistake about this. In the course of time the candles of a false remorse will inevitably begin to gutter.
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