Defending Israel and Fighting Anti-Semitism by Daniel Greenfield


The following are excerpts from a speech given by Daniel Greenfield at the annual Ariel Avrech Memorial in honor of Robert Avrech’s son Ariel.

Anti-Semitism has hit unprecedented levels.  Defending Israel is harder than ever.  But why is that? It’s 2017.  Gay marriage is legal.  Everything is more multicultural than ever.  Everyone is tolerant of everything.

If Anti-Semitism were just a garden variety bigotry, then things should be better.

And if Israel is being attacked because of the so-called Occupation, then its situation should be much better than it was since 1967.  Look how many peace deals Israel has made and how much territory it’s given away.

So why doesn’t it work that way? Why are Jews fleeing some of the most multicultural cities in Europe? Why is Berkeley a safe space for everyone except Jews?

Why is the anti-Israel movement much stronger after all of Israel’s efforts to make peace than it was when Israel refused to negotiate with the PLO?

The strategies we learned have failed.  And, taking a page from George from Seinfeld, I’m going to suggest that what we should be doing is the opposite of what we think we should be doing.

If history is any guide, anti-Semitism isn’t going anywhere.  In different countries and times it can get better or worse.  But we are never going to wake up one morning in a world without anti-Semitism.

We have two options.  The same options every minority group has.  We can try to make the world like us.  Or we can learn to like ourselves.  The greatest anti-Semitic threat we face today is Jewish participation and collaboration in anti-Semitic movements.  It’s Jewish insecurity, self-hatred and psychological trauma.

Scratch the BDS movement and you find Jews eager to be out front

But most Jews don’t knowingly collaborate with genocidal anti-Semitism.  Instead they spend so much time being afraid of what the anti-Semites might think of them that they never resist them.

They worry about how to be liked.  They’re insecure.  They want to be nice.

Being nice is nice.  Except when you’re too nice to defend yourself.  When you’re so nice that you give up everything, including your self-respect, just so your enemies will like you.

And then, to add insult to injury, they hate you even more.

Let’s talk about a coat.  The story of the coat comes from the Gemara, the Talmud.

Two men are fighting over who owns a coat.

They come to court still playing tug of war with the coat.  And a Jewish court, in a Solomonic decision, says they have to split it.  The man who claims the whole coat gets 3/4s of the coat.  The man who claimed only half gets half of what he claimed.  One quarter.

We are brought up to value compromise so that seems wrong to us.  Being reasonable should be rewarded.  But let’s look back at the original Solomonic decision.  Two women come to King Solomon with a baby.  Both claim the child.  He declares that the child will be cut in half and half will be given to each woman.  The true mother turns out to be the woman who won’t compromise and cut her child in half.   Compromise can be good in some areas.  But when there are compelling issues at stake, it shows a lack of conviction.

Two peoples walk into the court of international opinion.  One says that the entire land of Israel, which is really Palestine, is mine.  The other says that while the Jewish people do have a great historic attachment to the land, this was where our kings once ruled, where our temple once stood, from which we were exiled and desperately sought to return to for thousands of years, et cetera, we’ll be nice guys and take half the baby, the land and the coat.

Is it really that hard to see why we’re losing the argument? Why a terrorist organization that only came to its current position that it has the right to Judea and Samaria after the Six Day War, which can’t point to a single historic Palestinian state, king or dog catcher, has its demand widely accepted, while we, whose claim is recorded in the holy books of most of the world, can’t seem to convince anyone of it.

We can’t convince anyone, because we haven’t convinced ourselves.

The other side has made it abundantly clear that it won’t compromise.  From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.  You can hear that chant at terrorist rallies and at University of California campuses.  We announce as often as we can that we are eager to compromise.  Take half the coat.  Take 51% of the coat.  See we’re the nice guys.

The other side believes that we’re compromising because we know we’re in the wrong.  We’re that guy coming into court clinging to a coat who doesn’t dare lay claim to the entire coat, but who at least tries to get some of it.  We’re more willing to make peace because we’re wrong.

That’s not the truth.  But if you want to understand why we’re losing the argument, it’s a good place to start.

A compromise is still a negotiation.  To negotiate successfully, you have to do it from a position of total conviction.  And we lack conviction.  Why do we lack conviction? Because we are afraid that they won’t like us.  Who won’t like us? Everyone.  And we desperately want to be liked.

There are two types of nice guys.  There are those who are genuinely nice.  And those who are insecure.  Who want you to like them because they don’t like themselves.

That is who we are as a people.  We lack conviction because we don’t value ourselves.  We can give religion to the world, win impossible battles, invent, create, paint and transform history.

And we still go around needing everyone to like us.

How often do we respond, internally or externally, with, “What will they think of us now?” If we don’t compromise, we’ll seem disgusting to them.  Warmongers.  Oppressors.  Occupiers.  We point to a Jewish scapegoat.  If it wasn’t for him or her.  If it wasn’t for the settlements.  If it wasn’t for the time that Israel took out a terrorist and killed his son.  If it wasn’t for the existence of Israel… they would like us.

That is not negotiating from a position of strength, but weakness.  Moral weakness.  We lack conviction.  And so we give up the strongest position on every argument in our own defense.

The Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, wrote, and let me quote,

“The time for apologies is over.

“…We think that our continual readiness to subject ourselves without a murmur to searches, to turn out our pockets, will finally convince humanity that we are honorable people.  We are constantly saying, ‘Look at us! We are such gentlemen! We have nothing to hide!’

“But that is an outright error.  Real gentlemen will never allow anyone to search their apartments, their pockets, or their souls for any reason whatsoever.”

Moral authority, real moral authority, doesn’t come from accepting the moral authority of your enemies, but from rejecting it.

That is why we are losing the argument.  The enemy rejects our moral authority.  We accept theirs.  And when you accept the moral authority of your enemies, when you accept the premise of their arguments but argue about the details and interpretation, it’s over.

The Two State Solution accepts the moral authority of the enemy.  We thought that it would make our claim to the land stronger.  Instead it destroyed it.  It didn’t neutralize anti-Israel sentiment.  Instead hatred of Israel is bigger and more widespread than ever in countries that were once friendly to Israel.

Why? Because we admitted we were wrong.  Every argument we’ve made since then suffers from that same fatal flaw.

When we talk about a two state solution, we show a lack of conviction.  If Israel was really our baby, we wouldn’t be talking about cutting her in half.

It may seem paradoxical, but the best argument we can make for ourselves is living by the conviction that we are right.  Anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel, is inversely proportional to our confidence in ourselves.

Having armies isn’t enough.  You can be strong and be bullied.

When we’re strong, the bullies turn from physical bullying to moral bullying.  They tell us that we’re bad for defending ourselves.  And then, when we’ve been morally bullied into not fighting back, they punch us in the face.

Moral bullying uses our need for acceptance against us.  It says that if you’re really such nice people, you’ll prove it by not fighting back when the terrorists kill you.

You’ll prove it by giving up your country and committing suicide.

You can be the strongest country in the world and still be morally bullied.  America experiences it all the time.

Jews have a long history of exile.  That taught us to be non-threatening.  To give in.  And sometimes that’s a necessary survival mechanism.  But there’s a price to pay for that.

A price in honor, in dignity and in credibility.  After a while the survival mechanism becomes your identity.

And then instead of being the people of the book, we become the people who are willing to see the other side more clearly than we see our own side.

Being a victim of abuse risks developing a perverse empathetic link to the abuser.  You try to keep yourself safe by becoming sensitive to what the guy who might attack you is thinking.  And the risk of that kind of thinking is that you begin to identify with him.  That’s Stockholm Syndrome.

This is where so many Jews are.  We identify with the guy punching us in the face.

The tragedy of Jewish history is not that we are hated.  It is that we have absorbed that hatred.  That we have learned to hate ourselves.  We don’t love our enemies because we are virtuous.  We do it because we despise ourselves.

Anti-Semitism, here or in Israel, isn’t going anywhere.  It’s up to us how we respond to it.  When we are on the defensive, we will be bullied.  The more excuses we make, the worse the attacks will become.

It’s wonderful that Israelis are incredibly inventive.  But the Hasbara that emphasizes it is the same old defense that Jews have always put on against anti-Semitism.

Look how many Nobel prizes we have and how many diseases we cured.

But that doesn’t dissuade those who hate us.  It’s one of the reasons why they hate us.

The more we keep dishing out reasons not to hate us, the more we’ll be hated.  If we really want anti-Semitism to end, we have to stop worrying about it.

The answer to self-consciousness is to stop worrying what everyone thinks of you.  And to live as your best self.

The best forms of resistance to hatred of Jews and Israel are pride, dignity and success.

The State of Israel was reborn because we worked for it.  And we believed that we could do it because we had a right to it.  That right hasn’t gone anywhere.  Only our conviction in it has faltered.

There was widespread disappointment when this administration, like almost every previous administration, promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  And then didn’t do it.

But that’s the way it’s always going to be.  No one is going to recognize Jerusalem as our capital until we do it 100 percent.  Until we make it clear that no part of our holy city is on the table.

If we lack conviction, why would we expect any other country to have more conviction than we do?

What’s the current strategy?

We show how nice we are by cooperating in the peace process.  We impose freezes, we make concessions and then surely Trump will see that Abbas and the PLO are the ones who don’t want peace.

This strategy has been tried for decades with different presidents.  It has never worked.  Why do we think it’s going to work now? When we are more willing to make concessions than the terrorists, we don’t prove that we’re the good ones.  Instead we show that we’re the easiest to pressure, that diplomats can get the most results by shaking us down, and that we are the most willing to compromise because we’re wrong.

The strategies we’re following have been discredited over and over again.

We’re still waiting for someone else to believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves.

We’re waiting for President Trump to give us permission to have our capital in Jerusalem.  We’re waiting for someone else to take care of Iran.  To recognize that we have a right to our own country.  That we have a right to exist.  But that’s not how it works.

Even when a temporary recognition happens, it’s quickly withdrawn. The Balfour Declaration was followed by the White Paper.  Partition in the UN was followed by a long string of condemnations and Zionism is Racism.  Israel’s golden age of alliance with France ended with Cherbourg.

Israel doesn’t exist because anyone liked us.  It exists because enough Jews realized that the Communists, the French who wanted Dreyfus’ head, the British, the Arabs and so many others would never like us.

Israel’s independence represents the end of that need to be dependent, to be a minority dependent on the goodwill of the majority.  Some thought that creating Israel would end anti-Semitism.

It didn’t.

But, more importantly, it did not end Jewish insecurity.

Anti-Zionism is a symptom of anti-Semitism.  But the great thing about anti-Zionism is that Jews get to play.  They get to participate in anti-Zionism since it seems to be only a national critique.  And self-hating Jews can pretend that it’s not about them.  It’s about Israel.

Searching for approval won’t win us friends, only invite critics, enemies and foes.  Only conviction in our cause and living our best lives will.  Im tirtzu, ein zo agada.  If you desire it, if you have the conviction, it is no dream.


The entire speech can be read at of June 21st

Daniel Greenfield


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