Sooner or later the current war in Lebanon will come to an end. Israel will survive, lick its wounds, recharge its diminished energies and return, with revitalized enthusiasm, to its television shows and vacations.
Hezbollah probably will have suffered some damage, and Israel perhaps will have been able to buy itself a fake, temporary peace, sponsored by some international scarecrow force dressed in Bermuda shorts and opera glasses. Israel perhaps will have also succeeded in getting back its kidnapped soldiers through some sort of cynical deal that made it possible for both Israel and Hezbollah to swallow the bitter pill. Yet whatever the consequences of this endless confrontation, Israel cannot win this Lebanese war that was imposed on it. Israel will not win because it cannot uproot Hezbollah from Lebanon, just as it cannot uproot Muslim fundamentalism from Arab countries.
Israel will not win because its enemy is an anti-democratic terrorist organization, one by no means marginal in Lebanon, that has legitimized lies and forgery as part of its cultural tradition. Hezbollah is a group whose outlook is built on wishful thinking and manipulative words, rather than on vigorous empirical methods based on a sense of criticism and integrity.
Indeed, even when Israeli tanks are standing at the doorstep of Beirut, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah will portray himself — and will be accepted by the Arab public — as a new Saladin. And even if the entire Hezbollah army falls in battle, its leadership will declare a Zionist defeat. But above all, Israel will not win because this battle is just a prelude to the great war awaiting us: World War III, Islamic Jihad against the free world.
It is astonishing, even heartbreaking, to see how great the similarity is between 1933 and 2006. In those days, the Western world stood by and watched as some loony took over the German regime — a bizarre, almost comic character who had developed a satanic ideology with the aim of wiping democratic cultures off the face of our planet.
By the same token, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the president of Iran, is perceived by many in Western countries as no more than a loud-mouthed playground bully. But like Hitler, Ahmedinejad is neither marginal nor alone. He has millions of fanatic, fundamentalist Muslims marching behind him, applauding his rabble-rousing, saber-rattling, inciting speeches. He has even managed to take the time-honored cry of “Allahu Akbar,” Islam’s declaration of faith in the God of Abraham, and turn it into a sort of updated “Sieg Heil.” The forgotten World War II arose out of a deep inferiority complex and sick chauvinism, and the next world war will emerge out of a deep inferiority complex, coupled with insane chauvinism — no other society in the world tramples women and rejects feminism more than the misogynist fundamentalist wing of Islamic society.
Negative feelings and a culture of chauvinism have given birth to ruthless hostility and slander, from which there has developed a well-oiled machinery of brainwashing that operates in private houses, mosques, educational institutions and much of the Arab media. Under the leadership of Nasrallah, the Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers from sovereign Israeli territory and the bombing of Israeli towns and cities serves neither Lebanese interests nor Palestinian rights. Hezbollah is acting on behalf of a clearly defined religious agenda, aimed largely at the destruction of Jews and the Jewish state. And again, just as in those bad old days leading up to World War II, the object of collective hatred, the generator of vicious ideology against the free world, is the stereotype of the Jew.
In the old days, it was the stereotype of the ugly and the deceiving merchant in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” who was accused of plotting to take control of the world economy. Then there was the stereotypical Jewish Communist, accused of trying to abolish the Aryan European race and culture.
Today it is the “Jewish usurper” in the sovereign State of Israel, not just in the territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This same Jew is tied inextricably to the American imperialist —the symbol of the free world — in a joint scam to occupy Muslim lands, to desecrate Muslim holy places and to drink the blood of Palestinian children.
The rhetoric is all too familiar. Just listen to what is being said now in Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or Gaza — in fact, throughout the Muslim world. In a recent speech, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament described Nasrallah as a holy warrior who has the blood of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini flowing in his veins. This same blood is pulsing through the arteries of thousands of fundamentalist Muslim clergymen and preachers, hammering at the temples of millions of ecstatic martyrs yearning to blow themselves up and take as many Jews as possible with them, just to fulfill the sacred commandment and to earn the glory of murdering what they refer to as the “Jewish Satan.” Meanwhile, Western politicians, media and other opinion shapers focus their eyes and cameras on the destruction caused by the Israeli military — as if it was Israel who initiated this bloody conflict, as if it is Israel who kills innocent civilians just for fun and to show off its military prowess — and accuse Israel of carrying out disproportionate retaliation.
Many of these same politicians, opinion shapers and media commentators are descendents of Europeans who did nearly nothing to save Jews from the blazing fires of the crematoria. Today, they are helping, directly and indirectly, to fashion the old Jewish stereotype into the “New Jew” — namely, the Israeli. They are in no hurry to stop the Iranians from building new military machinery that will burn 6 million “New Jews” in the nuclear furnace of the global era.
And what are the Israeli Jews doing in order to survive? Not much. Just like their grandparents before them, they deny the apocalyptic news and wait for the racist hurricane to blow over.
Israelis’ democratic tolerance and inherent Jewish masochism make them accept, and often encourage, Israeli intellectuals who blacken their image, who write hypocritical articles and give interviews in the local and foreign media condemning Israel’s acts of self-defense. In the name of some kind of divine moral standards, these intellectuals denounce and despise Israeli aggression and arrogance, and by doing so they help the new generation of antisemites to demonize the Jews.
Can the ticking clock of Muslim antisemitism be stopped from targeting the Israeli state? Perhaps this latest war in Lebanon will help to shed more light on the real motives of Islamic fundamentalism and to open more eyes in the Western world. I am asking the civilized countries of the world not to make the same moral mistakes they made before and during the previous Holocaust of the Jews. Unless you wake up soon, there will be no Jews left to blame you.
Oz Almog, a professor of sociology at the University of Haifa, is the author of “The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew” (University of California Press, 1997).