Tag: Spain

THE SYRIAN AND SPANISH CIVIL WARS— BOTH PRELUDES TO WIDER CONFLICTS?

 

 

 

 

 

To the already-crowded military field in Syria, with its various Sunni Muslim and Alawite-Shiite militias, Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Russian actors, as well as the U.S., British, and French-led allied air coalition, we now learn that both Saudi Arabia and Turkey may also soon be directly involved. This fraught and unstable internationalized battleground should recall Spain from 1936-39, which was in important respects the antechamber of World War II.

 

In 1936 Spanish pro-fascist monarchist forces under General Francisco Franco attacked the legitimate government of the Spanish Republic, setting off a civil war.  This war was soon internationalized, with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany supporting Franco’s nationalist forces, and Leon Blum’s “Popular Front” France initially providing some military aid (Britain remained “neutral”) to the Republic. Soviet Russia, pushing “Popular Front” politics, also /countered Nazi-fascist support for Franco with military equipment and advisers. As well, thousands of largely socialist and communist volunteers, organized into International Brigades, came to the aid of the Republic. 

 

The viciously partisan war, pitting Catholics against leftists, fascists and monarchists against liberal, socialist, and anarchist republicans, ended with the defeat of the Republican forces in March, 1939, as the Western democracies provided little help and Stalin’s Soviet Union, after failing to dominate the anarchist (POUM)-led Republic, withdrew its initial support. The long war entailed massive urban and rural destruction, with an estimated half-million deaths, and over 400,000 Republican refugees, military and civilian.

 

The Spanish Civil War should, mutatis mutandis, in some ways remind us of the increasingly complex and even more destructive and dangerous civil war in Syria, now almost five years old, with eight million internal and over four million external refugees and a death toll approaching 300,000.  In Syria, of course, the government was, and is, not a legitimate representative Republic, but a one-man, one-party dictatorship, while the initial Syrian rebels were not proto-fascist monarchists but relatively moderate Muslims,  demanding, in one of the last gasps of the failed regional Arab Spring, a truly representative government.

 

While the Assad-family dictatorship had traditionally been supported by the Soviet Union, a policy continued by its Russian successor, the direct intervention of Moscow would come only later. Initially, the West supported the rebels indirectly, with the American President, Obama, calling for Assad’s removal but providing no aid to his opponents.  As Assad moved militarily against his largely civilian opponents, new factors entered the equation: Shiite Iran and its Lebanese Hezbollah clients ramped up support for the Alawite Syrian ruler, while the anti-Assad Sunni Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arabs (and to some extent the Turks) supported the largely Sunni rebels.

 

Soon, however, as the conflict deepened, a new element entered the increasingly volatile mix.  An extreme Islamist force, IS, or Islamic State (or ISIL [Arabic “Daesh”]), breaking away from Al Qaeda, established itself, proclaiming a sharia-based Caliphate in both Iraq and Syria. Bloodily repressive, beheading and burning captives and raping and enslaving subordinate Yazidi and other women, IS quickly conquered part of northern Syria, around Raqqa, and a swath of Iraq around Ramadi, first threatening and then taking Iraqi-Kurdish Mosul, and threatening Baghdad.

 

As in the Spanish Civil War, an initially internal conflict was soon internationalized. In Spain, the conflict was deepened and broadened by Italian-German military support for the monarchist-conservative-Catholic Franco’s Falange movements, and indirect Western, and then direct Soviet Russian, support for the secular liberal-socialist-anarchist Republican forces.  In Syria, the initial moderate Muslim rebels were soon overshadowed by more radical anti-Assad Islamist forces, financed and supported by Sunni Saudi Arabia, while Bashar Assad received Iranian funding and arms, troops from Iran’s Lebanese client Hezbollah, and increasing Russian support. And the pro-Republican International Brigades in Spain were inversely mirrored in Syria by thousands of young pro-IS Islamist volunteers from around the world.

 

In Spain France gave only minor, indirect support to the Republic (the International Brigades, however heroically motivated, were of relatively modest military weight), and the Soviets, while providing arms and some military cadres, never went “all in”. Similarly, in Syria, where Obama kept the US (and NATO) out of direct involvement, moderates received Western moral, but little direct military, aid, and their weakness created a   pro-Sunni, anti-Assad power vacuum soon filled by IS.

 

(The rise of IS can, in fact, in large part be laid at Obama’s feet. Allergic to providing  “boots on the ground”, Obama—who had already fostered IS’s rise by prematurely withdrawing American forces from Iraq–reneged on a pledged “red line” after Assad’s use of chemical weapons was discovered. Lack of American resolve and leadership created the Syrian political vacuum into which IS expanded.)

 

As the crisis deepened, and IS expanded while Assad’s area of control steadily shrank, the interventions were radicalized. The U.S. in 2014, after the public outcry over IS’s savaging of the Yazidis in Iraq, championed a Western-Sunni Arab (Jordan) “Allied” air campaign against IS (but still no “boots on the ground”, save for the use of Kurdish forces in the north-east). Now Iranian support for Assad (before, during, and after its nuclear deal with Obama) was ramped up, and then Russia–with naval and air bases in north-west Syria–intervened directly by bringing ground-attack aircraft into play. (Putin’s air campaign, from his Syrian base near Latakia, while supposedly directed against the IS, in fact has concentrated largely on what Putin called “terrorists”, that is, the relatively moderate–and supposedly US-backed–Sunni anti-Assad coalition.)

 

Now, in February, 2015, Russia’s involvement has deepened (advanced S-400 missile anti-aircraft batteries are in place, heavy bombers from Russia are being used, and there is evidence of augmented Russian ground forces). Meanwhile the American-led air campaign still shows little sign of markedly impeding IS (and Canada under its new Prime Minister is withdrawing its six F-18 fighters). In a partial Obamian about-face, the U.S. Administration–under increasing domestic pressure, as the Presidential election campaign heats up–has announced the placing of an initially small (50!) contingent of American special forces troops on the ground and a ramping up of the aerial sorties. 

 

As the Saudis and Turks reportedly contemplate direct intervention, the two leading world-powers and their proxies are now directly facing off against one another in the downwardly-spiralling Syrian civil war. Despite hurried “deconfliction” talks to avoid accidental confrontations, incidents like Turkey’s recent downing of a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber, and continued claimed border incursions by Russian aircraft, could easily spark a deeper crisis.  

 

In Spain, Nazi-fascist support trumped ineffectual Western, and manipulative Soviet, aid (see George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, on the Soviets’ duplicity), resulting in a Francoist victory and the destruction of the Republic.  In Syria at this point, Russian-Iranian support for Assad (the equivalent of German-Italian aid to Franco) seems about to trump the moderate rebels who, weakly backed by the U.S. (like the Spanish Republicans by France), are losing.

 

Here IS, as a kind of relatively independent third party to the conflict, breaks the structural parallelisms. IS–playing off the Alawites and the moderate Sunnis against one another, and oddly (or not so oddly) not constituting the direct target of either the Russians or the Turks, or for that matter of Assad—is, despite some recent allied air force-backed Sunni and Kurdish advances, holding its own, or better (see its recent expansion into Libya and Afghanistan).

 

(Indeed, some analysts argue that Assad has in fact used IS against the moderate rebels, and is willing, at least in the short-to-medium run, to divide Syria with them to do so. It is also pointed out that Turkey’s Erdogan, focused on fighting the Kurds, not IS, has maintained porous Turkish-Syrian borders, allowing IS reinforcement and supply. And, further, that the mass emigration of millions of Sunni Syrians to Lebanese, Jordanian and Turkish refugee camps, and on to Germany and Sweden through southern Europe–  worsened recently by continuing Russian-supported bombings of civilians–is in fact a kind of ethnic cleansing strengthening Assad’s minority Alawite constituency.)

 

If the Spanish Civil War was a prelude to World War II, strengthening and encouraging the fascist-Nazi forces, demonstrating the weakness and appeasement of the democracies (and of Stalin)  and, not least, demonstrating the irrelevance of the League of Nations,  is the Syrian Civil War (also demonstrating the weakness of the West, and the impotence of the UN) the antechamber of a wider and deeper  conflict?

 

The book of the future is the hardest of tomes to read, but the obviously deeply unstable Syrian situation indeed has within itself elements of a wider conflict. Accidental confrontations—Russian and American aircraft encountering one another, a Russian-American naval crisis in the Mediterranean, an incident issuing from recently-emplaced Russian guided-missile batteries (which “cover” Israel as well as Syria and the Turkish border), the possible shooting down of an allied coalition (or as happened recently, a Russian) aircraft, a Russian cruise missile going astray, aand so on– could lead to serious consequences.

 

At the same time, more “structural” elements, radicalized by the ongoing conflict, may well come into play (Turkey, after all, which may soon enter the fray, is, like the U.S., the French, and the British [whose Parliament recently voted to join the bombing campaign in Syria],  a NATO member).

 

Syria today has become what Hobbes, reflecting on an earlier civil war, termed a bellum omnium contra omnes, a “war of all against all”.  The UN, despite the periodic protestations of Ban Ki Moon, is—like the League of Nations in 1936—irrelevant, and recent attempts to convoke an effective peace conference leading to a general truce and a political solution have again foundered (on sustained Russian bombing and “moderate” Muslim forces’ opposition to Russian demands that Assad stay in place in any ensuing “caretaker” regime).

 

Syria,, where the civil war is entering its sixth year, is the scene of increasing internationalized combat and socio-economic disintegration, reinforcing already massive population flows. America (still isolated by isolationism in 1936, and having once again largely withdrawn from the world under Obama) has, as IS continues to spread and the Russians and the Iranians step up their own involvement, been partially sucked back into the vortex despite the evident distaste of its President.

 

The Saudis and Gulf Arabs (already bogged down in Yemen by opposing the Iranian-backed Houthi revolt there) are nevertheless also deeply involved in Syria, supporting both elements of the moderate Sunni opposition and IS.  IS itself remains a destabilizing expansionist factor, with footholds in Libya and Afghanistan, connections to Boko Haram in Nigeria, terrorist killings of over 200 Russians in the Sharm El-Sheikh airplane bombing over the Sinai and 130 Frenchmen through multiple terrorist attacks in Paris, and scores of other dead in Beirut and in San Bernardino, Ca., where one of the Muslim killers of fourteen innocents had pledged her allegiance to IS by cellphone.

 

Russia-backed Iran, doubling down in Syria, is sending thousands of its own Iranian Revolutionary Guard units under IRG officers (over 400 killed in combat), to support Assad. Turkey, where conservative Sunni Islamist Erdogan was handed a reinforced nationalist majority in recent elections, is moving against the Kurds, inside and outside the Syria-Turkey border, despite the fact that they are the U.S.’s only effective “boots on the ground” ally in Syria.

 

Note that nothing to this point has been said of Jordan, or Egypt. King Abdullah, who has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, is under both IS and Moslem Brotherhood domestic pressure. And Egypt’s Gen. el-Sissi, in a domestically precarious position facing IS terrorism in the Sinai and continuing Moslem Brotherhood radical opposition domestically, also has a direct stake in the Syrian outcome.

 

Israel, too, which has studiously avoided getting directly involved to this point, save to prevent transhipment of advanced war materiel from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, remains a potentially (major) wild card. With IS forces in the Egyptian Sinai, Iranian-led troops near the Golan Heights, Russian planes over the borders, Iran-backed Hamas terrorists in Gaza and Hezbollah Shiite fighters (with 100,000 rockets) on the southern Lebanon border, dangerous incidents are possible, and could easily escalate.  

 

The American abdication of regional leadership, despite the rising stakes of the Middle East game, has emboldened the deepening Russian and Iranian intervention; indeed, whether Obama is in fact collaborating de facto with Russia (and Iran) in Syria remains moot.  This would seem to indicate that the Syrian Civil War, like Spain’s, could, sooner or later, burst out of its domestic container. By 1939, Hitler, emboldened by Franco’s victory in Spain and Western weakness and appeasement at Munich, had forced the Anschluss with Austria, and then signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with his erstwhile Bolshevik enemy.  The Nazi invasion of Poland, and the beginning of World War II, were only months away.

 

Could accidental confrontation, hubris-driven aggression, or a successful “victory” in Syria (e.g., a Western diplomatic “peace settlement” betraying the moderate Opposition, with Russia maintaining Assad in power and further emboldening the Iranian Mullahs and Putin–remember Crimea, and eastern Ukraine) spark a region-wide Middle East conflagration? Such an eventuality surely cannot be discounted. And could this, given the regional rivalries and NATO connections, spark a wider European war?  Given the current downward spiral, we could find out the answer, one way or another, in the not-so-distant future.

 

(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

 

THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S “PALESTINE” VOTE: EUROPEANS, “BLIND IN ONE EYE”, SEE ISRAEL AS “GREATER ISRAEL” — UN VOTE REFLECTS GROWTH  – FROM SPAIN TO  NORWAY –  OF TOXIC ANTI-SEMITISM

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

 

Israel’s Settlements and the Europeans: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Dec. 2.2012— Those looking for an explanation for why almost all of Europe backed the Palestinians in the recent vote to upgrade their status at the United Nations are blaming it on Israel’s decision to continue building homes in Jerusalem and its suburbs.

 

Did Israel Lose Europe?: Jonathan Schanzer, Benjamin Weinthal, Foreign Policy, Nov. 30, 2012— There was never much doubt that the U.N. General Assembly would overwhelmingly vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of non-member state on Nov. 29. The big surprise of the event was that a number of key Western European countries did not join the United States and vote against the resolution.

 

Blind in One Eye: Galtung and the Toxic European Left: Robert S. Wistrich, Times of Israel, May 17, 2012— The dark spirit of anti-Western ressentiment and knee-jerk anti-Zionism that has come to characterize a growing sector of Europe’s intellectual left is no secret to seasoned observers of these cultural pathologies.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

 

Knee-jerk Anti-Zionism: Tibor Krausz, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 28, 2012

Britain: EU Sanctions Against Israel not an Option: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post  Dec. 4, 2012

The French Connection – To Anti-Semitism: Ari Lieberman, Front Page Magazine, Nov. 29, 2012

Where Would Hezbollah Be Without the EU?: Douglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 8, 2012

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL’S SETTLEMENTS AND THE EUROPEANS

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Dec. 2.2012

 

Those looking for an explanation for why almost all of Europe backed the Palestinians in the recent vote to upgrade their status at the United Nations are blaming it on Israel’s decision to continue building homes in Jerusalem and its suburbs. As reporter Laura Rozen put it in a tweet, “Does Israel really not get how fed up Europe is w/ its settlement policies?” The upshot of this sort of thinking is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fanatical devotion to “Greater Israel” is isolating Israel and forcing even its friends to abandon its cause in international forums.

 

The problem with this thesis is that it is pure bunk….[T]here are a lot of reasons why the Europeans stabbed the Israelis in the back at the UN, among which their objections to “settlements” is by no means inconsiderable. [However], if the Europeans believe that the 1967 lines with land swaps is the formula for peace, it’s hard to understand why they are upset with Israel building in places that everyone knows they would keep under such a plan. After all, does anyone who is actually interested in peace–as opposed to those who think every Jewish home anywhere in the country is an illegal settlement–actually think Israel will abandon 40-year-old Jerusalem neighborhoods or the suburbs that are close to the green line? Far from the Israelis pushing the limits in their quest for settlements, it is the Europeans who are redefining the terms of peace.

 

For Israel’s European critics, “Greater Israel” is no longer all of the West Bank, which even Netanyahu has conceded may be ceded for a real peace deal, nor even retention of an undivided Jerusalem. They are now acting as if any Israeli government that acts as if it is going to hold onto all of the Jewish areas of Jerusalem is a foe of peace. In doing so, they are not only distorting Israel’s position — which is still perfectly compatible with a two-state solution based on the ’67 lines with swaps — but also covering up or ignoring the fact that the Palestinians have refused Israeli offers of a state and now no longer even wish to negotiate.

 

The idea that the Europeans — save for the principled stand of the Czech Republic — have turned on the Israelis solely because of “settlements” is a misnomer. The tilt toward the Palestinians and against Israel is not a recent phenomenon, nor is it the product of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister. Virtually any act of Israeli self-defence is treated as impermissible. Nor can one understand the unwillingness of these governments to stand with Israel outside of a context in which anti-Zionism has become the orthodoxy of European intellectuals and the rising tide of anti-Semitism on the continent.

 

Moreover, the decision to back Mahmoud Abbas at the UN has just as much if not more to do with the hope that giving him a shot in the arm will undermine Hamas. This is a monumental misjudgment, since Abbas cannot hope to compete in the long run with the more violent Islamists who run what is already an independent Palestinian state in all but name.

 

Europeans who think isolating Israel in this manner will teach Netanyahu or the Israeli people a lesson are ignoring the realities of the conflict. Though they would divest themselves of almost all of the territories in exchange for an end to the conflict, the overwhelming majority of Israelis have no intention of allowing the West Bank to become another, more dangerous version of Gaza from which Islamist terrorists will launch missiles or terror attacks. A European demand for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines including a divided Jerusalem and the eviction of nearly half a million Jews from their homes to empower a Palestinian entity that won’t negotiate is antithetical to the idea of genuine peace.

 

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

 

DID ISRAEL LOSE EUROPE?

Jonathan Schanzer, Benjamin Weinthal

Foreign Policy, November 30, 2012

 

There was never much doubt that the U.N. General Assembly would overwhelmingly vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of non-member state on Nov. 29. The big surprise of the event was that a number of key Western European countries did not join the United States and vote against the resolution. The Czech Republic was the only European country to vote against the upgrade, and shockingly, the normally staunchly pro-Israeli governments of Germany and Britain decided to abstain. Does this mean that Israel has lost Europe?

 

Germany's surprising decision, in the eleventh hour, to shift from opposing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's bid to abstaining on it was reportedly tied to the question of Israel's ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank — a recent source of contention in European capitals. Germany appears to have taken this opportunity to address the conflict on the world stage.

 

This decision was especially shocking to Israelis given Germany's historical relationship with the Jewish state. Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a 2008 speech before the Knesset that she supported Israel's right to defend itself and that only the Israelis and Palestinians — without external interference — could negotiate a two-state solution.

 

"Every German chancellor before me has shouldered Germany's special historical responsibility for Israel's security," Merkel said then. "This historical responsibility is part of my country's raison d'être. For me as German chancellor, therefore, Israel's security will never be open to negotiation."  The Federal Republic has based a large chunk of its devotion to Israel's security on the notion of Wiedergutmachung, or reparations for the German crimes against European Jewry during the Holocaust.

 

Although Germany likes to present itself as Israel's strongest ally in Europe, the relationship has often been shaky. Take the example of Christoph Heusgen, Merkel's national security advisor and Middle East point man, who in 2009 — a year after the chancellor's speech before the Knesset — sought to convince U.S. envoys to weaken Washington's opposition to the United Nations' Goldstone Report, which alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza during that year's Operation Cast Lead.

 

According to a WikiLeaked cable from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin at the time, Heusgen "thought [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu needed 'to do more' in order [to] bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. With Palestinians in East Jerusalem getting notices from Israeli authorities that their houses will be destroyed, it would be 'suicide' for President Abbas to move under the current circumstances."

 

The cable continued: "Heusgen said he could not fathom why Netanyahu did not understand this. He suggested pressuring Netanyahu by linking favorable UNSC [U.N. Security Council] treatment of the Goldstone Report to Israel committing to a complete stop in settlement activity."

 

In 2010, Merkel and Netanyahu had a heated telephone exchange over the settlements issue, and the relationship further frayed over Germany's decision this year to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's representation in Berlin to that of a full diplomatic mission with an ambassador.

 

Germany's U.N. abstention on Nov. 29 may also have been driven by domestic calculations. Specifically, Merkel may inherit the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as a coalition partner in a new government in elections in late 2013. This month, SPD officials hosted representatives of Palestine's ruling Fatah party at the SPD's Berlin headquarters and published a joint declaration affirming a "strategic partnership" between the two parties.

 

Meanwhile, France's relations with Israel have been uneasy for more than a decade. Famously, in 2001, France's ambassador to Britain, Daniel Bernard, called Israel "that shitty little country." More recently, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy offended the Israelis with his famous hot-mic fiasco at the 2011 G-20 meeting, in which he told U.S. President Barack Obama he couldn't stand Netanyahu (and Obama concurred).

 

During Sarkozy's tenure, France was also a vocal proponent of upgrading the Palestinian status at UNESCO. When the Paris-based UNESCO granted the Palestinians member-state status, U.S. law compelled the Obama administration to withhold its $80 million annual contribution to the organization. Washington registered its displeasure with the move in no uncertain terms. As State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated, the vote was "regrettable, premature, and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East."

 

Sarkozy's successor, François Hollande, did not let the financial blow to this Paris-based organization get in the way of his support for the Palestinians at the United Nations. Hollande has made clear that the settlement issue is a priority for his government. "It erodes the building of trust between the sides and constitutes an obstacle to a just peace, based on a two-state solution," said France's Foreign Ministry in a statement this month.

 

In a late-October meeting with Netanyahu in Paris, Hollande said that the two countries had "divergences on occupation, which we want to see halted." Although Hollande has played his cards close to the vest, he announced this week that he would support Abbas's bid. His position against the Jewish state was particularly startling given the recent uptick in anti-Semitic violence that has rocked France in recent years, forcing Paris and Jerusalem to jointly deal with this disturbing trend.

 

With France pushing for Palestinian statehood and Germany largely sitting out the fight, other European governments soon cast their votes in favor of Abbas's bid too. According to one European diplomat well versed in Spain's foreign policy, Hollande capitalized on the weak Spanish economy to push Madrid to vote for the PLO's upgrade….Spain is [also] attempting to obtain a seat on the U.N. Security Council and that the vote may have been a way to court favor from Arab countries.

 

Israel could once count on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's staunch support, but this has given way to successor Mario Monti's cold shoulder. Monti's support for the Palestinian bid was an about-face from Italy's position when Abbas attempted a similar maneuver one year ago.

 

(As for the now-isolated Czechs, Prague's decision to veto the PLO's move came as no surprise. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has dubbed noble-born Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg the "Zionist prince" for his support during Operation Cast Lead.)

 

Israel's brief war against Hamas in Gaza this month may also have had an impact on EU decision-makers. Faced with the PLO's deepening irrelevance and the growing potency of Hamas and its Iranian military arsenal on Israel's southern border, Israeli officials say that the Europeans may have wanted to give the nonviolent Abbas a moment in the sun. In other words, they wished to demonstrate approval for bureaucratic and legal strategies over the brutal violence of Abbas's rivals in Gaza.

 

So, after the better part of a decade of diplomacy between PLO embassies and their host governments from Latin America to the Levant, Abbas won his diplomatic upgrade….

 

In fairness, Israel always faced an uphill battle in Europe, where Muslim populations are on the rise and pro-Palestinian sentiments continue to gain traction. From the EU's perspective, Israel's long-standing recalcitrance over settlements and the rise of Hamas probably made support for Abbas inevitable.

 

But for Netanyahu to find himself all alone, with only a reluctant partner in Washington and seven other countries by his side, must surely have come as a shock.

 

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

 

BLIND IN ONE EYE: GALTUNG AND THE TOXIC EUROPEAN LEFT

Robert S. Wistrich

Times of Israel, May 17, 2012

 

The dark spirit of anti-Western ressentiment and knee-jerk anti-Zionism that has come to characterize a growing sector of Europe’s intellectual left is no secret to seasoned observers of these cultural pathologies. The world-renowned 82-year-old Norwegian Professor Johan Galtung – who over fifty years ago founded Oslo’s International Peace Research Institute – is only the most recent prime exhibit of this syndrome.

 

Widely recognized as the “father” of international peace studies, Galtung has long execrated the United States as an imperialist nation of killers, exploiters and torturers, responsible for most of the world’s evils. The much-traveled white-haired professor, in many ways the embodiment of European elitist anti-Americanism, has more recently lavished his self-righteous indignation on Israel (the “little Satan,” as the Iranian Ayatollahs fondly call it), and seems to have enthusiastically embraced the notion of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

 

Among Galtung’s most recent claims has been the assertion that the massacre last summer in Norway of 77 young people by Anders Behring Breivik may have been ordered by the Israeli Mossad. He was even quoted as saying, “It will be interesting to read the [Norwegian] police report on Israel, during the trial.”

 

If that blood libel were not enough, he bizarrely linked Breivik’s murderous actions to the King David Hotel bombing of the British Administration’s nerve-center in Palestine by the Irgun in July 1946. The only vague connection between these two totally distinct events is that they both occurred on July 22. But for the distinguished “sociologist,” the link evidently lies in sinister Zionist-masonic machinations and an endemic terrorist blood-lust among Jews.

 

Galtung, an iconic figure in the Norwegian and international left, has not hesitated to recommend that we should all look again (more sympathetically) at ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” one of the most notorious anti-Semitic texts of the 20th century. Reading the ‘Protocols’ apparently makes Galtung think above all of Goldman Sachs, the giant international investment bank with an unmistakably Jewish name, and the long tentacles of “Jewish” finance-capital. In this context, he airily dismisses the notion that the ‘Protocols” were a concoction of Tsarist Russian anti-Semites. After all, how could mere forgers and Russian police agents possibly predict, over a century ago, what is supposedly happening before our very eyes!?

 

Galtung obviously regards the USA as the contemporary living embodiment of the “Protocols of Zion” scenario displayed in vivid Technicolor. “Six Jewish companies control 96% of the media,” he has written — including virtually all the major TV networks, film studios, publishers and top journalists. Even the non-Jewish media mogul Rupert Murdoch – a favorite target of anti-Semites worldwide – is on his list, since many of those who work for him are (according to the Norwegian professor) “fanatically pro-Israel.”

 

It is worth noting that a major source for these and other bigoted conspiracy-mongering assertions by Galtung is the deceased American neo-Nazi and white racist supremacist, William Pierce, founder of the “National Alliance.”

 

Galtung, who last week told Haaretz that he is open to all hypotheses on such questions, did not fail to imply that Jews had a historic responsibility for the pogromist assaults directed against them, since they had lent money in the past to indebted peasants; and, he added, even Auschwitz had two sides, since Jews in Weimar Germany allegedly held key positions — which meant that “anti-Semitism could have been predicted.” Ignorance, dogmatic obtuseness and sheer bigotry echo from these statements in a truly toxic mix.

 

Some Norwegian academics and fans of Galtung’s “peace studies” research have professed mild shock and bewilderment at this tissue of neo-Nazi, racist and anti-Semitic rubbish pouring out from the mouth of such a prominent and respected leftist guru. But this astonishment seems thoroughly misplaced…[T]here is a well-entrenched tradition of such anti-Jewish bigotry on the left from the beginnings of European Socialism until the present day.

 

Long before Galtung, many left-wing radicals embraced the grossly simplistic view that Jews were the driving-force behind Wall Street, the big banks, international finance-capital, global exploitation and predatory imperialism. Moreover, during the past 40 years it is leftist intellectuals who have often been the spearhead of fashionable “anti-Zionist” conspiracy theories and pernicious efforts to equate Israel with the evils of apartheid, racism, colonialism, fascism and even Nazism.

 

In the last decade we have, for example, seen a growing list of European and even American academics, artists and intellectuals (some of them Jewish and ex-Israeli) join this bandwagon….

Galtung cannot, unfortunately, be dismissed merely as one more senile bigot and ultra-leftist crank. The recipient of many university honors and prizes, his remarks inevitably attract attention and are only a slightly more extreme version of a proliferating European-wide sickness. A long-time admirer of Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Castro, Saddam Hussein and other “leftist” totalitarian tyrants, Professor Galtung’s “peace” orientation in the name of human rights has proven all-too-popular in Western as well as Third World academic circles. In the Arab-Islamic world he would, of course, be considered mainstream, even “moderate.”…

 

(Professor Robert S Wistrich is the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

 

 

The French Connection – To Anti-Semitism: Ari Lieberman, Front Page Magazine, Nov. 29, 2012—When it comes to the Jews, the French have a long, checkered history of treachery. French anti-Semitism is well known and deeply embedded in French culture. It therefore comes as no surprise that France will likely be the first major Western power to recognize Palestinian statehood, according to a statement released by the French Foreign Ministry.

 

Where Would Hezbollah Be Without the EU?: Douglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, November 8, 2012—The EU has been here before. During the same period they came up with their false wall-of-separation within Hezbollah, they they did the same thing with Hamas. The fiction disappeared in Europe because it was no longer possible to allow a group to operate which blew up buses full of civilians.

 

Knee-jerk Anti-Zionism: Tibor Krausz, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 28, 2012—Karl Marx thought he had the Jews figured out. “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? – Huckstering. What is his worldly God? – Money,” the patron saint of communism opined in his 1844 polemic “On the Jewish Question.” He went on to lament the way Christians had fallen prey in their habits to the pecuniary obsessions of those greedy Semites.

 

Britain: EU Sanctions Against Israel not an Option: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 4, 2012—As country after country summoned their Israeli ambassadors in protest of settlement building plans, British Foreign Secretary William Hague clarified Tuesday that European sanctions against Israel were not an option.

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org