A New Code Word for Anti-Semitism
December 14, 2010
For anyone following Israel-related events, the year 2010 would be remembered by
one word: Delegitimization.
Just half a year ago, no one knew the meaning of this word or how to pronounce
it. As the year comes to an end, people use it freely, understanding very little
about what it means in action and how to combat this process. It sounds good, as
much as "Israel is Apartheid” became a commonplace statement with Israel’s
In Israel "Delegitimization” became a magic word, as it seems all the ills of
the world are directed at "delegitimizing Israel.” Her enemies though do not use
the word; they act, undermining the very existence of the Jewish nation.
The situation is dire, and one would expect that action be taken, that Israel
will go on the offensive, at the very least try to protect her very being.
Instead, there is only talk.
When deeds and actions substantively back talk, then speech becomes unnecessary.
But without substance, talk is immediately recognized for what it really is:
blowing hot air.
Israeli politicians are guilty of dereliction, taking center stage and
pronouncing out loud what needs to be done and yet never engaging, refusing to
change old habits or getting their hands dirty.
"Our hands are tied,” they pronounce readily. "It is up to individuals and
non-government organizations to act,” they point fingers and assign tasks.
Lack of action and meaningless pronunciations are very dangerous, for they give
a false sense that the leadership is at the helm, directing and engaging. Modern
day Israel, like the Titanic, is about to sink, and the passengers drown in the
icy cold water, the lifeboats unusable and insufficient.
One day perhaps a new movie will be made, Exodus II of sorts, an epic saga of a
people who were blinded by their own success and deserted all the goodness they
were afforded – Israel, a gift created in Heaven for them, and them alone.
First, allow me to define "Delegitimization,” so that we are on the very same
page. This is a process on multiple fronts, both visible and covert, seemingly
innocent on the surface yet insidious and sinister, that denies the right of
Israel to exist as a Jewish nation, blames anything bad on Jews and Israelis
(often calling them Zionists and Occupiers) and plants in our minds the notion
that ridding the world of Jews is beneficial for they only bring evil to the
Delegitimazation is the new code word for anti-Semitism. It has replaced the
word "restricted” in polite conversations and belies little of its dangerous and
frightening implications or very purpose: to destroy the Jewish people.
Its clever effect of attacking a nation in lieu of the individual Jew is clearly
the new secret weapon of the hoards of Jew haters that populate today’s world.
The process attacks Israel ("it is legitimate to criticize Israel”) as a
substitute for the Jewish People. Thus, in essence, it tries to rid the world of
Jews, a modern-day version of centuries-old anti-Semitism.
In many ways, by dehumanizing the Jews, it becomes acceptable and thinkable to
harm them. Homicide bombings in weddings and other gatherings, missiles directed
at civilian populations, inflicting chemical and biological agents, lynching
innocent people and tearing their hearts out or limbs apart while they are still
alive, setting people and their property on fire and other horrors are all
excusable if directed against those who do not deserve to live, sub-humans who
are the filth of the globe.
Most cannot understand how the Germans acquiesced to hundreds of thousands of
people being burned, shot dead or gathered to perish in ghettos and
concentration camps, while life just a few blocks away continued, people went to
restaurants and the opera or for weekend excursions to the country where their
children played and completely ignored what they did not want to see, smell or
A person dying in the street was nothing more than filth, not deserving a
moment’s brief acknowledgement. She was no longer a human being, she became a
nuisance, and so her fate was just and deserving.
Is anything different today? No, we are nearing a point of eruption, and then
all the hatred will surface, having no bounds, no stops. Will Israel, the
designated shelter and safe haven of some eight million Jews living outside of
Israel, be able to protect her six million Jewish residents and fulfill her role
and obligation toward world Jewry?
As it stands now, Israel will be unable to carry out her obligations. New
leadership must rise to lead Israel from the darkness that will engulf her and
the world into light.
What are some of the current mistakes or shortcomings?
Israeli "professionals” err at looking back rather than forward. When the
benchmarks are yesterday’s failures, then "improvements” are only relative to a
very low starting point. No one can be expected to excel when he himself does
not look up and forward.
The head of Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora, for
instance, is a very important person. A Director General of a Ministry has a
hefty salary, personal benefits, numerous subordinates, budgets (enormous at
times) and self-importance. Almost without exception, ministry director generals
are political appointees of the current ministers. Their main qualification for
the job is that they ran their ministers’ campaigns or to whom a debt is owed.
If "Delegitimization” is today’s most valuable commodity in politics, then the
person in charge of the Ministry that is supposed to combat it must be not only
influential, but also detrimental to the successful accomplishment of that
Ronen Plot, however, has the false notion and is under the wrong impression that
the world believes Israel is a desert with camels as the preferred mode of
transportation. Thus, Israel’s iconic response is a segment, commercial-like,
trying to dispel this notion.
In most elementary courses about Israel-hatred, one would point out that there
exist notions that Israel is a desert with camels, a war zone where everyone
possesses guns, Rambo-like, or a religious country where everyone wears black
hats, a male-version of Afghanistan. More recently Israel is portrayed as the
new Nazi Germany with concentration camps and ghettos, walls and vicious guard
As one graduates to a higher level, one realizes that Israel is not the main
figure in this little pretend play; she only has a supporting role to highlight
the plight of the Palestinians. Thus images, even if disconnected from reality,
have no bearing on the plot, and dispelling them will do nothing to alleviate
The only image that was implanted in our collective minds is the understanding
that Israel, Goliath, one of the strongest militaries in the world, an
unstoppable colonialist power, Occupier of Arab lands, is preventing the
Palestinian refugees from returning to their rightful homes, land and capital.
The Zionists are preventing the Palestinians from having running water and the
Settlers are contaminating Palestinian land with sewage.
Dear Director General: The world needs not be told that Israel is modern and
thriving, where high rise buildings and freeways, a beachfront and nightlife,
history and archeology meet nanotechnology, medical and technological
advancements the likes of which can be found nowhere else on earth. All these
are irrelevant to the process of Delegitimization.
Ronen Plot, you head a ministry of propaganda, what you call "Public Diplomacy”
and not tourism. They seem to be doing a very good job.
The desert and the camels are part of the picture in which Israelis are bad and
the Palestinian-David is the underdog. Understand this, fight this, and you will
start understanding what "Delegitimization” is all about.
Ronen Plot, though, is not alone. He is endemic of Israeli bureaucrats and
Over the past ten days two Israeli Vice Prime Ministers visited Los Angeles (as
well as the Minister of Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora himself).
There was a plethora of activities welcoming both Vice Prime Ministers. It seems
most of us like to shake hands with "influentials,” have our pictures taken with
them and feel momentarily "important.”
So the honored guests were ushered from one event to another, breakfast, lunch
and dinner, speaking engagements here and there. There were police officers and
security guards, half the Consulate staff, photo-ops abound; a genuine dog and
What is amiss with such important visits? After all, these very important guests
have used the word "Delegitimization” so many times it became obvious that
combating the process is on their minds day and night. Their attention is
focused solely on this existential threat to Israel’s very existence.
Except that they stop short from taking even the most basic action to actually
combat Delegitimization. First, they need to understand what it is all about.
Appearing before adoring, loving and supporting audiences does not expose them
to the dangers the world hosts in plain eyesight. People seeking a photo op are
not relevant to this battle.
Second, by excluding those on the forefront of the battle lines, they do
disservice not to the foot soldiers, but to those who need to understand what is
going on. The schedules are so meticulously prepared, that only very important
people are ever notified of the visits to the clear exclusion of all others.
Salvation will not come from the status quo or from following what has clearly
allowed "Delegitimazation” to flourish and reach the epidemic proportions it has
already achieved. Excluding and refusing to see and listen to criticism, other
views and reports from the ground does not make the problem go away, instead it
makes one passing moment seem more comfortable and enjoyable.
Many of these visits are either for the sole purpose of fundraising or are
intermingled with fundraising events. A day will come when Israeli law will
prohibit any elected or appointed official or their staff members from either
asking for money or attending any event whose purpose is to raise funds. Then
perhaps they will be able to actually focus on the agenda of their office and
purposes for which they were elected or appointed, rather than money.
Money could be raised in Israel, one of the stronger economies today in the
world. There seems to be no shortage there, just a different way of thinking
(where giving is not expected and demanded as from Jews in the Diaspora).
The following can and should all take place in Israel: fundraising, legislation
to combat anti-Israeli actions stemming from within Israel and the flow of funds
supporting these activities and other defensive and offensive measures. Instead,
Israeli officials come here to the U.S. and ask for help.
Israel will continue suffering greatly until Israelis, as one, start fighting
From the Prime Minister to his dozens of Ministers along with the hundreds of
paid-advisors and thousands of support staff, to each member of the Parliament,
to each diplomat and staff member, the bureaucracy must move to action. When
this giant good-for-nothing, big government begins to fight back, only then will
Jews around the world witness for themselves the resurgence of the Jewish Spirit
and be incentivized to enter the battle.
When those elected, appointed, paid and expected-to-do-the-job start doing their
duty and engage all those who want to destroy Israel, there will be momentum and
inertia against the new armies of anti-Semites. Then words will not be
necessary, for we all understand and "know” deep down what "Delegitimization”
and hatred are all about.
Israel and the Jewish people need someone to lead by example, to take the helm
and move us to a safe harbor. At the moment, we are sailing deeper and deeper
into the freezing waters of the iceberg-dotted arctic waters while music plays
on board our Titanic.
On the upper decks, empty words provide a false sense of protection, a false
pretense of action that is either meaningless or nonexistent and a false promise
of hope for a future that is becoming darker by the minute.
The picture painted is depressing and hopeless, so let us all join one of the
celebratory events for the foreign guests. Between the handshakes and photo
opportunities, the wine and hors d’oeuvres, the main course and desserts with
Cognac sipping, we will undoubtedly feel relaxed and at ease. Perhaps that will
be the time to speak up and take aim at the madness.
About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from
Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers
throughout the world to join them as they present
reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes:
Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related
- the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts -
and so is this "point - counter-point” presentation
that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.