22. Antisemitism: From the Personal to the International

Christopher Barder

Why can it seem difficult openly to buy the Jewish Chronicle? Why can it then feel necessary not to be seen carrying it? Why when having to tell someone that one is Jewish can it be difficult not to anticipate a negative response, with the possibility of rejection? The Jerusalem Post has to be hidden in the car in case it incites someone to attack the vehicle. My wife, in London, wanted to ask if some oranges came from Israel and then realised that the shop was owned by an Arab. So she did not ask. I remember seeing Sir Isaiah Berlin on television saying that the Irish in Britain felt unconcerned when the King was threatened by someone taking action against him and I think disturbing his horse. Had the person been Jewish, Sir Isaiah pointed out, the Jewish community would have suffered waves of concern.

The actual awareness of many people’s suspicion of Jews need not of itself become a problem, of course, if there is security in God. But some may so overcompensate that they became brash and thrusting. Nor is a brittle ‘take me or leave me’ a proper response. Some left wing Jews think that Jewish attitudes can be themselves a contributory cause of antisemitism. So then assimilation and being like minded with the Diaspora’s hosting Gentiles becomes a way through. This is not only an illusion historically as Herzl discovered through principally the Dreyfus case but may be disastrous in the future too.1

It is not so much that there is necessarily open hostility in Great Britain, even if sometimes there is a wariness. Rather (not that Mrs now Baroness Thatcher evinced this at all, but the phrase is hers) Jews are made to feel not quite ‘one of us’. This will either help to produce a suppression of ‘Jewishness’, whatever that is, or a sense of not belonging. One of the responses from pro Zionist Christians is that all Jews ought to be in Israel. As Stephen Brook has pointed out however2 there may be either a great sense of exhilaration on visiting Israel (my own response) or a sense of oddness at Jews fulfilling everyday unprofessional functions with which they are not normally associated in the Diaspora. Thus even Israel can appear identity threatening.

It is no wonder that there can be rejection and insecurity and hiding as responses to centuries of non acceptance and worse. Yet for all this, to blame Jews for their imperfections is to play the hypocrite on the grand scale, for without justification and then sanctification ‘there is none righteous, no not one’. And the Church record is a truly appalling one as Dr Brown has shown. Also Professor Wistrich is powerful indeed in the relevant chapters in his excellent book on antisemitism. If the Church fails to bear witness to the truth, the world stands less chance of doing so. All too often the salt has lost its savour, and the Church has been blind. The ‘some of my best friends are Jews’ aspect is not at all enough. Some Moslems profess to have ‘no problem’ with Jews. But their problem, they say, is with Zionism.

This is where the prophetic Scriptures are crucially important. It is also where individuals must walk in their integrity because the recreation of a Jewish state in 1948 and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 are either scripturally of God Himself or they are not. If so then to fall into the world’s constant Israel bashing, frequently exemplified by the United Nations’ assaults, in deference to the number of Arab States is to stand against God Himself. As the late expert in international law, Professor Julius Stone put it5 “The extraordinary campaign against the State of Israel in the General Assembly since the oil weapon was drawn from its scabbard in 1973 involves subversion both of basic international law principles, and of rights and obligations vested in States under them. It has also entailed rather grotesque reversals of the United Nations’ own positions of the preceding quarter century, as part of a wide and illicit rewriting of history”. He calls it “a detournement de pouvoir” on “the international legal order”.

The media feed people a constant diet of lies, half-truths and bias. This I shall illustrate with reference to the Lebanon War. My point, however, is alas of far more general application: the world hates the Jewish state and far prefers Jews quiet and ‘knowing their place’ if it will put up with them at all. How good was Israel for its non-involvement in the Gulf War; what sympathy for its restraint! President Assad of Syria gained amply and so did the Saudis. As for the Kuwaitis: not a finger has been lifted against them for their treatment of ‘Palestinian’ immigrants. (The inverted commas are deliberate because the acceptance of national identity for this heterogeneous mixture is another fraud advanced by the Western media at the behest of Arab propaganda. Over years Palestinian nationalism has become accepted whereas its history is short and malevolent, not least because of its Islamic anti-Jewish and anti-Christian manifestations. It seems to rest on an unsound historical basis6). Iraq and Syria have gone unpunished for genocide and tyranny, albeit the former was attacked for an act of unprovoked aggression on Kuwait. No one has complained vociferously at the UN about Egyptian or Algerian means of coping with Islamic fundamentalism, in the way they have about the expulsions of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad members from Israel.

The perpetrators of four wars (at least) are supposed to be rewarded by negotiations which will involve them regaining territory, illegitimately held in the first place in the case of Judea and Samaria, whilst promising cessation of belligerence as a concession. One of the ‘negotiators’ Continues drug trafficking openly and trains orphaned girls to hate Israel, while buying massively from those willing to sell to it on the arms market – and it has gobbled up much of Lebanon unpenalised by the international community (so called). Syria is not a major oil producer and so there is not available this normal excuse for Western favour.

What all of this and the inaccuracy of the Lebanon war reporting taken together show us that the world is actually against the State of Israel. Since 1982, Britain has refused arms sales to Israel. France’s punishment for the Six Day War was also a refusal to sell arms. The contrast with Britain’s arms sales to Iraq (not to mention Germany’s) is pronounced. The Church, supposed not to be conformed to the world, to be true to Scriptural revelation. must therefore stand resolutely opposed to this manifest iniquity.7

Of the Lebanon war, Dr John Laffin has written of the media; “The simple fact is that the Israelis got a raw deal”8. All those working with the PLO were careful to be favourable because of “exemplary terror, intimidation and silence”.9 Few made clear what bearing the horrific civil war of the 1970’s had on events – be it the destruction of Damour, or the filming of ‘Israeli destruction’ of civilian buildings actually destroyed by actions in the civil war. In one case ‘indiscriminate Israeli bombardment from the sea’ was illustrated by…Roman ruins!10 Whereas no-one filmed the Lebanese having picnics on the beach, there was deliberate demand for feigned crying and upset, by civilians randomly recruited for filming.11 A reporter was told off for mentioning lunch in a Sidon hotel – of which there were a dozen from which to choose – because his paper had already run the headline ‘Sidon Flattened’!12

Dr Laffin quotes veteran American reporter Frank Gervasi commenting on ‘distortion and incompetent misreporting’13 and this has been surveyed by ‘Americans for a Safe Israel’ in dealing with ‘NBC in Lebanon’14 in a thorough and eye-opening analysis of the Summer 1982 coverage. Of 600 minutes only less than 30 were devoted to the background or the Israeli side. Advocacy journalism involved falsehood, misrepresentation, repetition of lies, misrepresentation of Israel’s motives (only mentioning the avenging of the attack on Shlomo Argov, Israeli ambassador to London). No coverage was given to the PLO and Syrian previous dismemberment of Lebanon. An invented 600,000 homeless in South Lebanon were attributed to the Israeli invasion – more than actually lived in the area!

Refugees were represented as a result of the Israelis but no assessment was put forward of the flight from the PLO or the South Lebanese delight and relief at the Israeli invasion. Over a three month period there was not one broadcast from anyone pro Israel so that, for example, representative Charles Wilson, not even a pro Israeli figure, suffered his interview untransmitted because its testimony did not accord with the official NBC version of events. Nor did PLO use of civilian buildings and civilian personnel as hostages.

The first time since 1946 a ‘western’ army liberated a country from a Soviet client went unmentioned, as did the unravelling of Soviet military capability when 100 Syrian jets, including the most up to date MIG 25’s and 50 SAM missile batteries were destroyed for the loss of one Israeli plane. Military historians have drawn attention to Israel’s achievements. NBC did not: not one military expert was apparently interviewed to comment favourably on these. The war was made to appear against civilians. The PLO was reported as if its rapes and massacres just had not occurred. As well as minimising the reasons for Israel’s involvement in the war, its motives were maligned: there was no mention of the way its soldiers risked their lives to save civilians, or the way in which PLO headquarters were in hotels, schools and hospitals. Sarcastic comments were used to undermine Israeli leaders’ comments. In a ratio of 7:1 Lebanese leaders interviewed were pro PLO despite the election as President of Bashir Gemayel, and clearly large numbers of Lebanese being anti PLO.

The false juxtapositions, reversals of reality (such as trying to show Israeli policy as anti United States), the non reporting of PLO murder, kidnapping and intimidation of journalists all contrived to undo the truth and make the Israelis the villains. But, considering for instance, the ignoring of Israeli treatment of PLO and Syrian casualties left uncared for, the representation actually dehumanises the humane. This kind of analysis, and more besides, should alert all those concerned with the truth, and with the love of God, that they dare not trust Gentile attitudes to the Jews, and must find alternative sources of information if they are to be informed properly and accurately. The apparent deliberateness of one sidedness is something which should cause all right thinking people to ask questions.

To be for the Jewish people and for Israel, and to be for the truth, is to be unconformed to the world. For the world loves neither the Messiah, nor His people. It is fundamentally a picture no different to that which threatened Moses so he was put in bulrushes in a basket to escape; or the Jewish people at the hands of Haman; or the children massacred by Herod. The world does not care about the Jews. They do not matter. And they are expendable. John Laffin quotes an encounter he had which well illustrates this point.15 “I once reluctantly interviewed an Israeli mother soon after she had lost a child in a terrorist attack. She didn’t cry; you don’t let a stranger see you weep. ‘You can tell the world that my son was only an Israeli’, she said, ‘but who cares when an Israeli dies?’ She smiled very faintly to show she meant no personal offence, and shook her head and went inside her house.

I could multiply analysis and comment on the press war against Israel at the time of the Lebanon war. David Bar Illan’s column in the international edition of the ‘Jerusalem Post’ continues to expose the repeated errors and biases which recur weekly. Lies about the Jews are a constant feature of antisemitism. The analysis by retired Colonel T N Dupuy who in the mid 1980’s was president and executive director of the Historical Evaluation and Research Organisation (of new York), an author of some 80 books, included this comment “I am disgusted by the many false and irresponsible media reports by those who have a moral responsibility to present facts truthfully and objectively”. He then gives instances about reporting which his own combat experience, studies and observation in Lebanon contradicted.16

What I have put forward here – and I must stress I could add much more – is an indicator, no more, of the way in which individuals may contribute to the international picture. Christians and Jews have a deep personal responsibility not to be blinded, hoodwinked and deceived. They need to bring to the light the deceptions of the media. They need to be aware of the creeping cunning of the underminers of the truth, and of the Jewish people. It is necessary in these days of Pamyat, David Irving and Holocaust ‘revisionism’ and ‘denial’ and German, Belgian and other far right political revivals to sound the most serious warnings, and to say clearly that the media cannot be trusted nor the reasonings put forward therein. Well has Jesus said “they hated me without cause” (John 15:25) quoting perhaps Psalm 39:19; 69:4; 109:3-

Lest it be thought for a moment that my implications are exaggerated let me draw on a paper by Shmuel Katz which originally appeared on 8th June 1979.17 He outlines attitudes to the Middle East as ‘bedevilled and befogged by the traditions of the British Establishment’s anti-Zionist past’, the need to curb and eliminate ‘prejudices long nurtured in Whitehall’; he quotes Josiah Wedgwood on Britain’s Mandate betrayal of the Jewish People including before and during the Holocaust “worthy of Hitler, worthy of the Middle Ages.. the report of it will stink in the nostrils of posterity”. Katz continues, “But behind the official policy – which was of course explained on the grounds of expediency – there lurked in the corridors of the Foreign Office a more ominous phenomenon: a primitive, if elegantly-clothed, antisemitism”.

I wish I truly felt this were out of date. I do not. Let us watch and pray. And let all know with whom to stand alongside in these days.


1. This is the thesis of Tom Hess (1991), Let My People Go, Progressive Vision, 3rd edition.

2. The coverage is severely sceptical and left wing: Brook, Stephen (1991), Winner Takes All A Season In Israel, Picador Edition.

3. Brown, Michael L (1992), Our Hands are Stained with Blood, Destiny Image.

4. Wistrich, Michael L (1992). Antisemitism The Longest Hatred, ,Mandarin Paperbacks edition.

5. Stone, J (no date), International Law and the Arab-Israel Conflict, edition from Israel and Palestine – Assault on the Law of Nations by Ian Lacey, Jirlac publication.

6. Hence I have not been persuaded by arguments opposed to those of Joan Peters (1985), From time Immemorial, Michael Joseph.

7. The wickedness of the world ‘Community’ has been powerfully portrayed by Shmul Katz (1983), Battletruth, The World and Israel, Dvir.

8. Laffin, J (1985), The War of Desperation, Osprey p 148. I owe much to his chapter 7

9. Ibid p151

10. Ibid p154.

11. Ibid p154.

12. Ibid p156.

13. Ibid p157.

14. Video cassette supplied by the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, ‘NBC in Lebanon’ produced by Americans for a Safe Israel.

15. Laffin, J (1979), The Israeli Mind, Bookline Cassell, p 217.

16. Laffin, J, The War of Desperation, p 164.

17. Shmuel Katz, Battletruth, pp 308-9.

(Reprinted from Tishrei, Vol 1, No 3, Antisemitism, Spring 1993)



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