Whether we like it or not, the Jews are the sacred people of Western civilization, which remains for the moment the world’s dominant civilization. And just as the word sacré in French means both sacred and cursed, it should be no surprise that the most outrageously inhuman acts of the past century have been perpetrated on the Jews.
Victimary thinking, now called Wokeness, divides the human community into oppressors and victims, and compels those of the “privileged” oppressor group to purge themselves of guilt by identifying with the resentment, real or presumed, of the latter. As we have seen in the recent pro-Hamas demonstrations, this vicarious resentment is meant to be interpreted as a sign of virtue that allays the “white guilt” of those who flaunt it, in contrast to peers who fail to do penance for the immoral privilege of their social role.
The status of victim in this schema implies a right to rebel against the oppressor, while at the same time removing the rebel’s burden of agency. Thus when on October 7 Hamas savaged its Israeli oppressors, the very uncivilized brutality of the attacks was taken as a demonstration of the terrorists’ state of oppression. To the extent that their actions could be called inhuman, this only proved that the Israeli Jews had deprived them of their humanity.
Similarly, on a much lower level, the victimary status of street criminals in New York makes it impossible for them to be held to civilized norms of behavior and consequently deserving of punishment. These criminals, to the limited extent to which they are party to the decisions that concern them, have no reason not to accept this passive role that absolves them of any need to justify or excuse their conduct: in effect, the criminal justice system as conceived by George Soros and his allies does the work for them.
The case of Hamas and other Islamist groups is very different. However much they seek to turn any accusations of brutality against their adversary, their position, whose fundamental principles they have no wish to hide, is one of conquest. “Palestine” is part of the Islamic waqf or inalienable sacred trust given to Islam, and the Israelis are interlopers whose ruling presence within it is scandalous and illegitimate. No limits may be imposed on the holy warriors who seek to chase the interlopers from their land “from the river to the sea,” and by extension, to exterminate all Jews wherever they are.
Thus it is no surprise that Hamas’ American and European supporters, as multiple demonstrations and acts of violence following October 7 have demonstrated, are stimulated rather than inhibited by the shamefulness of their deeds. Would this murderous enthusiasm be so easily transmitted to third parties if the jihadis’ adversaries were not Jews?
Calling Hamas’ behavior “antisemitic” reduces to a banalized label a behavior pattern with a long history. And when we stop to explain why this term, invented a century and a half ago, has become the universally recognized standard for the millennial phenomenon of Jew-hatred, we are struck, beyond the avoidance of the word “Jew,” by its outdated nineteenth-century racialism.
The latter suggests an obsolete prejudice, not a serious current problem like racism. The application of this latter term to prejudice against blacks, which interestingly enough does not have its own specific name, only increases its power: racism, as our “anti-racists” solemnly insist, is at the very base of the evil of capitalism in general and of the United States in particular, and it has come via its “intersectional” extension to cover many forms of discrimination that have nothing to do with race. Antisemitism, in contrast, cannot similarly be made into a socio-psychological category. It has eternally been viewed as a unique phenomenon. Before the Holocaust, Jews often spoke of Jew-hatred in ironic, almost affectionate terms, as “the prejudice” or “the disease.” I doubt if blacks have ever spoken in this manner about racism.
Although antisemitism had not previously been a focus of Woke demonstrations, it is no accident that it sufficed for Hamas to set off a conflict through actions of unspeakable brutality against helpless Israelis to spark a uniquely hate-filled series of marches and incidents. For Jew-haters have long conceived Jews as the real victimizers of their eventual persecutors, notably since the rebirth of the “blood libel” in England in the 12th century.
The ease with which today’s Woke leftists, with not a few Jews among them, have picked up antizionism should not surprise us. As the oikophobic elements of Western white guilt intensify, it is natural that its perpetrators should return to Western civilization’s founding sacrificial myth in its elemental form. And it is notable that the demonstrators who identify with Palestinians as victims of the Jews include believing Christians as well in their condemnation, particularly those who see the Jews’ return to Jerusalem as a sign of historical fulfillment.
As always in the ambivalence of the sacred, les extrêmes se touchent. But the strength of Islam lies in the fact that submission denies any value to such paradoxes. Allah is greater, and killing Jews is by no means conceived as “sacrificing” them. They are sons of pigs and dogs, or as the Nazis preferred to call them, vermin (Ungezeifer): objects of hostile attention but of no regard, yet more repulsive than dangerous.
What this unanticipated new outpouring of antisemitic hatred suggests is that in the West, the epistemology of resentment, which is focused not on external but internal enemies, had so to speak been awaiting the moment when the diffuse (self-)hatred of whites, which had been able to be purged only symbolically—and in the American context could not easily be focused on any particular group, given that the “deplorables” were the vaguely defined “flyover” population who served as the “other” for urban professionals—could be given a more specific target. And so the conflict in Gaza has allowed oikophobic whites to ally themselves with all the victimary minorities and focus once more on the one group within Western civilization that constitutes a pre-defined sacrificial unit.
That the Muslim Brotherhood, as the organization that transformed what began with Ataturk as Islam’s modernization into a return to its originally resentful conquistatorial roots, would seek to profit from the affinity of its revolt against what could be conceived as Western colonialism with Nazi Jew-hatred had already been demonstrated by Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini’s attraction to Nazi Berlin. For postwar Israel, a concentration of the world’s Jewish population that can at the same time be viewed as playing a “colonial” role in the Middle East, is the perfect target for both Islamists and Westerners whose Wokeness had heretofore lacked a well-defined villain. Hence the ironic inevitability with which the most repulsive human actions in memory touched off a wave of enthusiasm among those whose most prominent previous target, the police “murderers” of George Floyd, had offered few real sacrificial opportunities, merely permitting a vast expansion of minor criminality that could only give self-hating Westerners the satisfactions of petty Schadenfreude.
The Zoomers who cheer along with Palestinian students on American campuses are not about to gleefully rape and slaughter American Jews; unlike the soldiers of Allah, they have no stomach for sacrificing their lives for a cause. The possibility of such acts by unvetted immigrants is another story; one thing of which we can be certain is that today’s Western world contains many friends of Hamas and Iran who would indeed enthusiastically participate in a terror campaign against the Great Satan.
Whether or not this unanticipated surge of antisemitism in the face of American weakness will encourage the new anti-Western Axis to intensify its challenge to our hegemony, it should certainly make us realize the necessity of toughening our defenses and ending our indulgence to Iran… although it is hard to imagine that Western diplomacy will ever renounce its hypocritical adherence to the “two-state solution.”
And hopefully this new challenge will make us less indulgent as well of the decadent nonsense of which TikTok is the most egregious showcase. I continue to hope—or is it pray?—that Western civilization has not yet gone over the edge.
At the very least, these Hamas-supporting riots have done us the service of revealing the foundation of Wokism in Western culture in the millennial (self-)hatred embodied most profoundly in The Jew, the diabolical self-image in which the resentful fringes of our culture cannot bear to see themselves.
Those who accept Christianity, those who accept a forward-looking Islam—simply, those who have more love than hate for themselves and their fellow humans—have no need for antisemitism. But we must not view with equanimity the proliferation in our own culture of believers in nothing, unable to bear the sight of the One God staring back at them from the mirror of their soul.