David Without a Sling — ‘Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel’

It may be hard for some to believe, given the endless attacks on the Jewish state today, that in the not-too-distant past, Israel was as beloved as it is now widely reviled. More remarkable, it was especially loved on the left, where now it is scorned. The process by which Israel turned from paragon into pariah is the subject of Joshua Muravchik’s well-argued new book Making David into Goliath.

All this changed in the aftermath of the Six Day War. Muravchik documents the wide sympathy in Europe as well as in the United States—including in the media—which Israel enjoyed immediately prior to the war. At that time, it looked as if Israel might be annihilated by its Arab neighbors, who made no secret of their intention to rid the world of the Jewish State.

But when, to general amazement, Israel defeated the Arab armies and captured lands previously held by Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, it overnight became the ruler of millions of Arabs. The Arabs would take advantage of this, setting in motion a redefinition of the conflict. No longer was it tiny Israel against a vast Arab world. “Now it was Israel versus the homeless Palestinians. David had become Goliath,” Muravchik states.

There was another dimension to the change in attitude toward Israel: Successful Arab intimidation of the West. Muravchik notes: “They threatened those who crossed them with terrorism, oil cutoffs, and economic boycotts; and they rewarded those who appeased them with protection, economic favors, and the power of their diplomatic bloc.” He describes how opponents of Israel took over the United Nations and human rights organizations, which, after reading Muravchik, the reader may feel should more correctly be called “Palestinian Rights Organizations.”

But the most serious omission in Muravchik’s book—the elephant in the room—is the resurgent anti-Semitism without which the intensity of the charges against Israel—disproportionate and hysterical in tone—are inexplicable. Muravchik is aware of anti-Semitism’s role, but he refers to it only glancingly. To be sure, Muravchik’s stated purpose is not to look at root causes, but to describe the methodology by which Israel’s enemies have turned Israel into Goliath. However, no small part of their success is found in the well-tilled soil in which they work. Explicit anti-Semitism is still, says Muravchik, “a Western taboo.” That, too, appears to be changing.

Muslims have made no effort to separate hatred of Jews and Israel (finding ample warrant for Jew-hatred in Islamic texts), but as historian Daniel Goldhagen has pointed out, substantial numbers of Muslims have now settled in Europe, where “they have replenished and emboldened the anti-Semitic human reservoir of many European countries, established new ones in countries where there had not been such a distinctive or powerful anti-Semitic presence, and resuscitated or created an unabashed anti-Semitic discourse that does all the harmful things such discourses do.” Writer Gabriel Schoenfeld, too, has pointed out that anti-Semitism is resurgent not just in Europe, but also in the United States.

Muravchik’s conclusion is sharp and timely: Words do harm. Unceasing criticism leveled at Israel restricts its freedom to act, although its survival depends on its ability to use military force. Today, Israel is on the brink of a third war with Hamas—the first two were limited engagements. Having paid a high political price after the 2009 Gaza War thanks to the U.N.’s Goldstone Report, Israel is even less likely to do what needs to be done this time around. Recast as Goliath, blocked at every turn, the Jewish state may be reduced to a point where it’s worse off than tiny David—who at least shot his sling.

Full article: David Without a Sling — ‘Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel’ (Washington Free Beacon)

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