How Anti-Zionism Became Anti-Semitism: A Historical Overview

After the defeat of Nazism in World War II, the Soviet Union and its satellites became the main European incubators of anti-Semitism, a doctrine they soon repackaged, with great success, as anti-Zionism. Asael Abelman tells this story in a sweeping and penetrating essay that can be read in its original Hebrew here or in a rough English translation at the link below:

After 1945, and even more so after 1948, the war against the Jews ceased to be one against a people scattered and dispersed among the nations but instead against a people who had returned to their land. The banner of this war against the Jews was now borne by the Arab peoples as well as Muslims throughout the world, and even though a wide chasm separated most of them from the European left, all parties found in this struggle a common denominator. . . .

Take Poland, for example, in the late 1960s. During this period, Polish students were expressing their resentment of the Communist regime in their country. When the regime sought a way to rally its ranks and divert attention from its critics, it found it in anti-Semitism. By then, most of the Jews of Poland had been exterminated [in World War II]; many others had left for Israel and other countries; and many of the remaining Jews in Poland did not see themselves as Jews, were themselves unaware that they were Jews, or were completely indifferent to their Jewish identity. But none of this prevented the leader of Poland, Wladyslaw Gomulka, from looking for a way to use anti-Semitism to serve his political needs.

His opportunity arrived with Israel’s victory over the Arab states in the Six-Day War. Immediately thereafter, Gomulka publicly announced that “Polish citizens of the Jewish nation are not prevented from returning to Israel if they wish. Our position is that every Polish citizen should have one state: the Polish People’s Republic; . . . we do not want a fifth column.” Thus, parallel to the Arab desire to destroy the state of Israel, anti-Semitism came out of the mouth of the leader of the Polish Communist regime, a man who no doubt considered racist Nazism to be the absolute evil, [who was himself married to a Jewish woman], and who subscribed to an ideological doctrine strongly opposed to national hatred.

Thereafter, Gomulka’s Poland became flooded with anti-Semitism. Persistent rumors claimed that the economic shortage in Poland was caused by unfaithful Jewish Communists; Jewish lecturers and students were expelled from the academy; and anti-Jewish notions straight out of Nazi Germany appeared in the official press. . . .

This recruitment of the hatred of Israel for political purposes in Poland . . . was conducted in parallel with Soviet oppression of Poland itself, and the Soviet authorities likewise used anti-Semitism for their own ends. . . . One incident illustrates perfectly the cooperation engendered by the war against the Jews: the doctoral dissertation written by Mahmoud Abbas at a Soviet university on the supposed cooperation between Zionists and Nazis. This work by a current Palestinian leader is particularly striking in light of the fact that one of the first Palestinian leaders, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, had promoted the extermination of European Jews in cooperation with the Nazis.

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Read more at Mida

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Communism, Mahmoud Abbas, Polish Jewry


What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy