לִבִּי בְמִזְרָח וְאָנֹכִי בְּסוֹף מַעֲרָב
My heart is in the East while I am in the faraway West.
Western culture, with all its positive aspects, is permeated with antisemitsm. Other cultures may have antisemitic elements, but they do not constitute their core substance. Western antisemitism is based on anti-Judaism, on Christianity’s displacement and supercessionary critique of Judaism: “we”, the Christians, are the “verus Israel”, the new, true Israel, and “you”, the Jews, who have lost the Covenant, are, rightly, cursed.
This negative, supercessionary vision, initially religious and then secularized, was translated into literature and politics from St. Augustine to Shakespeare to Voltaire. It was manifested in political decisions that hardly conform with what Westerners themselves consider, and take pride in, as their values:
1.Roosevelt refusing to bomb railways leading to Auschwitz during the World War II Holocaust.
2.The United Kingdom arresting and jailing Jewish refugees trying to reach Israel [Palestine].
3.More recently, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (Dec. 23, 2016, obliterating any link between Jews, Judaism and Jerusalem, a remarkable feat for the Western States. with the US abstaining, and all the democratic Christian states supporting it: France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain. For them, apparently, Jesus in the Gospels chased the merchants away from a Mosque, since he cannot have done it from the Temple which, according to the UN vote, never existed.
Today, as Hamas is launching hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities and, ever more brazenly, on Jerusalem, Western States sanctimoniously tell Israel to respond minimally. When the Israeli Supreme Court, after tens of years of tergiverisations, recognized that property rights apply also to Jews, it was labelled as “ethnic cleansing”. It is difficult to find a rationale for Western States supporting terrorist Hamas, since an Israeli defeat would be a disaster for so-called Western values, so the only explanation for this approach is an ancient, knee-jerk (even if not wholly conscious), antisemitism.
The situation is quite different in Asia, where many countries are not tainted by antisemitism. Jews lived as minorities in China, India and other countries places which had no religious affiliation with Judaism, and, therefore, no need to promote their religion to the detriment of Judaism.
When India and China, with Egypt and Yugoslavia, were leading the “Non-Aligned Countries” violently opposed to Israel, they did so not to express a Western-style basic antisemitism, but to make easy political gains. Better to be friends with twenty Arab States than with the sole Jewish one. Nor did they consider one monotheistic religion to be superior to another. Christianity was perceived as a religion from a West far away, both geographically and philosophically, from Asia.
Islam, and its Islamist revisionist ideology–Arab Muslims are always and everywhere victims of Israelis, Judaism and Jews are not indigenous to the Middle East, but settlers who have no connection whatsoever with Jerusalem. This ideology is the mantra behind Western policy, but it makes no sense in many States in Asia. They see Muslims as foreigners who imposed Islam on the indigenous people. Such is the case of the Hindu Temple of Rama, in Ayodhya, India, transformed into a mosque in the sixteen century, and over whose property Hindus and Muslims are in conflict up until today.
When China coordinates with Tunisia and Norway on anti-Israel resolutions at the Security Council, it does so for its own self-interest, not for the love or fear of Muslims (remember how China treats the Muslim Uighurs). China acts not out of hate for Jews, but on the basis of Realpolitik, its perceived self-interest.
Similarly, India, the most populous democratic state, is preoccupied not by antisemitism, but by its own concerns and problems. By contrast, France. which still intervenes militarily in “la Francophonie”, and where rioters use mortars to attack and kill policemen, is pontificating when it tells Israel not to use ” disproportionate force”.
It is time for Israeli leaders, if they can stop quarrelling and set aside their over-inflated egos, to adjust to a new reality. Israel and Jews are and will continue to be the target of Western policies influenced by antisemitism. We should, therefore, expand on relations already begun with States not tainted by antisemitism, specifically, but not only, in Asia.
(Prof. Julien Bauer is Associate Professor of Political Science at l’Université du Québec à Montréal, a CIJR Fellow and Academic Board member. He also edits CIJR’s weekly French language Communiqué Isranet.)