The previous Chronicle on Sartre and Nishida gave us reason to praise the discovery of nothingness—the free space of the human scene—in the two hemispheres of the civilized Northern world, in contrast to the densifying resentment of the South. But it is far from clear that the signpost provided by Sartre’s paradoxical reversal of the polarity of Being and Nothingness can serve us to orient ourselves in the Ressentimentstreif of today’s world before it becomes too violent to tolerate a dialectic of mere ideas.

Lee Smith’s article, “The Global Empire of Palestine,” which appeared in Tablet last December 19, is a revelatory description of this “Empire,” which Smith understands as an enterprise wholly dedicated—always implicitly, and now explicitly—to the downfall of Western civilization via that of the Jews. Here are his concluding paragraphs:

To the literal-minded, and others who do not yet recognize the character of the pathologies ushered in with the age of the Empire of Palestine, it may seem bewildering, for instance, to see LGBTQ+ organizations demonstrating on behalf of a Hamas triumph. But Queers for Palestine don’t need to be told how Hamas actually deals with queers in Gaza and the West Bank. That’s irrelevant. In the Empire of Palestine all difference is transcended. It’s not a place, it’s a spiritual principle guided by the inversion of reality and governed by the equation 2+2=5.

Few in the climate change movement could have been surprised to hear Greta Thunberg [whose photograph heads the article] express her desire to “crush Zionism.” In her strident warnings of catastrophic global climate change and the end of humanity, the Empire of Palestine has always been the subtext, a land of chaos and confusion, an inverted Eden in the desert presided over by an unforgiving earth goddess.

The Empire of Palestine is an aesthetic convention. It’s an “open-air prison” and “the Riviera of the Levant.” It’s a forgery. A postcard from the continent of unreason.

Climate millenarianism, the mass replacement of native populations, the government-sanctioned sterilization of children—everywhere you look the mark of civilizational suicide is on the horizon as Western elites assemble under the imperial banner [i.e., the Palestinian flag]. Flown in European capitals and university campuses, it represents the longings of a powerful faction within the West of those exhausted by life and wanting one last time to feel something like life coursing through their veins as they await the cleansing fire, redemption culminating in the coup de grace.

It was inevitable they, too, would stand against the Jews, who have chosen life over death.

Is it not really (almost) as simple as this? What Smith calls “Third World Man,” representing the “South” of post-colonial resentment, is the embodiment of the West’s death wish.

Smith’s article translates the abstraction of “nothingness” into a terminology less benign than that of the Eastern or Western ontologies of Sartre and Nishida, one inflected by the suicidal influence of the “Southern” post-colonial realm of cultural negation. The Orwellian 2+2=5 reflects an ironic “Northern” view of the West’s descent into irrationality as, by letting itself get sucked into the “Empire of Palestine,” it distracts itself from its real-world conflicts with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, who have no desire to inhabit the nihilistic fairyland of the “Empire of Palestine” but are happy to profit from it—while leaving the bulk of its financing to the West’s inner demons, which, as always in times of civilizational crisis, fall back on the sacrifice of its Urvolk, the Jews.

Qualifying the latter simply as having “chosen life over death” is the ritual gesture of understatement that inevitably accompanies Jewish discussions of Jew-hatred. For it would seem of no benefit to the Jews to characterize themselves as, for better or worse, “the sacred/cursed people of Western civilization.” This is the originary sin of anti-antisemitism, as antisemitism is the originary sin of the West.

Should we not then be thankful that, with all its own cruelty and poverty, the East has at least been spared this curse; that the absence in the great Eastern cultures of a marked sacred/scapegoat people suggests that the search for Nirvana is ultimately a more humanistic goal than the West’s for individual salvation?

As Nishida’s paradoxical language demonstrated, nothingness is not a void, a realm of absence, but a self-contesting space in which the self survives only through constant auto-negation. Reconceiving this space as the scene of human language and culture allows us to bring the abstraction back to Earth—and anthropology—as the locus of the freedom accorded humans by their possession of the primary intuition that makes language possible: that of the awareness of necessary but voluntary interdiction that we call the sacred. The power of Smith’s description of this new “Evil Empire” lies in the clarity with which he poses its antithetical relationship to the sacred as conceived by both Eastern and Western thinkers.

Yet we cannot leave this discussion without a return visit to an age-old question, the question that is not “Why the bicyclists?” but “Why the Jews?”

Perhaps, as a propitiatory gesture on introducing this topic, the first thing one must say is that the role of a “sacred”—or “chosen”—people is not one that the Jews could reasonably be said to have asked for. And the second thing we must remark on is that the current renewal of this role three generations after the Shoah is the greatest of “post-historical” ironies, one that the satiric tone of Smith’s article reflects better than any other—for righteous indignation is not a stance that post-exilic Jews, as opposed to their prophetic ancestors, comfortably espouse.

Thus if Smith shares the universal reluctance to explicitly name the anti-Jewish source of the potency of his imaginary Empire, it is surely not because he is unaware of it. Why then must I insist on naming it as Judenhass, hatred of the Jews—the real meaning behind the euphemistic “anti-Semitism,” which, as it used to be painfully common to point out, should make the very idea of Arab hostility to the Jews an absurdity?

Could my insistence be for the pleasure of violating a taboo of a more profound and subtle nature than all those which are so uncourageously violated in our day? That it is still felt to be inappropriate to seek to explain, not just “the world’s oldest hatred,” but the world’s unique enduring civilizational hatred, should oblige us to think a bit more deeply about why this is so, why the “bicyclists” are as good or bad a point of comparison as any.

For the uniqueness of antisemitism, universally recognized if only by the uniqueness of the word, is always pooh-poohed when it comes to really facing up to it. This was amply demonstrated by the Congressional testimony last December of university presidents, and more recently and egregiously by the pusillanimous responses of the vast majority of campuses to the current wave of lawlessness, including expressions of crude and explicit Jew-hatred of a kind that would be simply unthinkable to voice against any other group of people—and certainly not against Islamic terrorists shamelessly boasting of perpetrating barbarous and sadistic acts of violence on defenseless victims—or should I say, Jews.

But it is very unlikely that the Empire of Palestine is going to rebuild the death camps, certainly not in Europe or the US. Smith’s article makes clear that the tacit recognition of the necessity of Jew-hatred to Western civilization suffices; a few dozen or hundred Jews may get killed, but outside the Near-Eastern killing fields, the phenomenon has entered the realm of Orwellian black comedy. If Mel Brooks could only sing “Springtime for Hitler in Germany” after the Allied victory, Smith can joke about the Empire of Palestine while it still exists and builds its arsenal with funds from Iran and Qatar and the blessing of progressive billionaires.

“Jew-hatred” is not “hatred” in the normal sense of personal or group hostility. The current rash of demonstrations on campuses and in the streets, supposedly to express sympathy for the Palestinians, only make us realize that, however artificial may be the term “antisemitism,” no other does any better.

Were it not for the Jews, there would be no such thing as “Palestinians.” Indeed, it was the genius of Arafat to have grasped the epoch-making idea so cleverly expressed in Smith’s article, as significant in its day as Hitler’s “Big Lie” in the 1930s, that the Palestinians are the anti-Jews, whose role in the age of Wokeness is to occupy the summit of the hierarchy of accredited “intersectional” victims as the propitiatory substitutes for the members of our societies who could with whatever credibility be seen as the victims of the Jews in the past.

For the 12th-century English, Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln was a helpless innocent of our society that the Jews drained of his blood; for the Europeans of 1348, the Great Plague spread by the Jews made our people its victims. Whereas it is all too clear that, given the suffering inflicted on innocents throughout the world, a fair share of which is wrought by the Palestinians themselves, the only reason we take their part is that we can view them as the victims of the Jews.

And given that such vicarious passion had never previously entered into antisemitism, its arrival forces us to consider to what extent the latter might be said to have been from the outset the hidden root and the unconscious goal of the vicarious victimism to which we have given the name of Wokism.

For the self-abasement required by the virtue-signaling recognition of White Guilt is not without leaving a residue of dissatisfaction. No doubt the white person rebuking his co-racialists for not recognizing their “inherent” racism is at the same time advertising his courage in proclaiming his own failings, but the effect is to deny his own society’s legitimacy. Whereas focusing on the Palestinians allows the entire American population to unite in righteous indignation. Although antisemitism continues to be ritually condemned, there is no taint of antisemitism implicit in the humanitarian defense of a third-world people suffering a “genocidal” attack from a well-armed industrial power. And claims to the effect that the Chinese do a lot worse to the Uighurs or the Russians to the Chechens can simply be dismissed as Whataboutism. Or as Greta would put it, “How dare you!”

To explain all this more simply: if the Jews are indeed the sacred people of Western civilization, those to whom its One God first revealed himself, then they are indeed the Whitest of all Whites; “Semitism” is merely a euphemism for Ur-Whiteness.

And this in turn makes us realize that We are all Palestinians! The opposition is not racial but cultural. Hence Western Jews too can identify in good faith as defenders of those whom the Israelis, cheered on by the Zionists in the Diaspora, seek to deprive, in their lust to occupy a territory on the basis of millennia-old pretensions, of their right to their own peoplehood—a genocide.

If we seek signs of the coming Apocalypse, this is as good a one as any. For eighty years or so, antisemitism had been a minor and atavistic sentiment, presumably restricted to backwoods MAGA-voting neo-Nazi deplorables. Indeed, although Trump has never manifested the least sign of antisemitism (let us please not cite the “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville), immediately after his election in 2016, a non-Jewish liberal wrote me expressing his sympathy for the sufferings I as a Jew was about to endure.

I would hope that at least by now we have gotten the message: if antisemitism was absent from the New Left in the 1960s, it is front and center in the Woke Left of the 2020s. The point is not at all that the old SDS was unconsciously antisemitic; it is simply that the progression of the epistemology of resentment along what MLK might have called the “arc of injustice” has returned it to its point of departure: Western self-hatred means hating the Jews so we do not have to hate ourselves.

This is the true meaning of “scapegoating” in the Girardian sense of “emissary murder,” as described, not in Leviticus, but in the Gospel of Matthew 20:16:

                                So the last shall be first, and the first last…