“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The rebuke from Martin Niemoller, the Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps for seven years speaks again to the selective and blinkered behavior of the righteous and smug among us when they do not feel threatened by the evil threatening others. Or sometimes when they do.
Pastor Niemoller’s words go to the heart of political correctness, and are easily altered to include other victims. The pastor did that himself, and his chilling final line retains its power to rebuke. The Jew continues to be under siege. This time in Israel, as that tiny country remains a focus in the West of those who make themselves feel good by criticizing Israel, which nevertheless remains the canary in the coal mine, destined to bear the first assault of radical Islamic terror.
Against the backdrop of jihadi terror confronting Europe, the European Union last week issued another rebuke to Israel, insisting that Israeli products manufactured on the West Bank be labeled as made in “settlements” rather than in Israel, to emphasize the “occupation” of land Israel took after it won the 1967 Six-Day War imposed on it by the combined Arab military might (such as it was).
This targeted punishment of Israel is echoed in the United States in the movement among the universities known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), aimed at Israel and even against individual Israelis. The professors wrap their arguments in “human rights,” but their arguments are riddled with deceit, pretense and hypocrisy, lacking credible insights, and cited at no personal cost.
Alan Dershowitz, the distinguished Harvard law professor, disposed of a celebrated defender of the BDS movement in a debate the other day at the Oxford Union, the famous British debating society. He won a resounding victory over Peter Tatchell, a British human rights activist. He vividly exposed the hypocrisy of the double standard to which Israel is held.
“What about other countries that are enforcing military occupations with far less justification than Israel has had?” he asked. “Russia, Turkey, China, Indonesia, Armenia, Azerbaijan all continue to occupy territories that lawfully belong to their neighbors.” Where is the demand to invoke labeling, sanctions and divestment against them? Why are critics silent about the abuse of Arab dictatorships and tyrannies? Mr. Tatchell finally conceded his points, and Mr. Dershowitz won the debate, 137 to 101.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the labeling recalls dark memories of Nazi boycotts and the signs in the windows of Jewish shops in Germany in the run-up to the Holocaust: “Europe should be ashamed of itself.” Indeed it should. So should the campus show-offs here.
The anti-Jewish message is both subtle and blatant. Language is, as always, the giveaway. In the wake of the massacre in Paris, Belgium’s Justice Minister Koen Greens observes that “it’s no longer synagogues or the Jewish museums, it’s mass gatherings and public places.” He refers to the atrocity of Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, a French citizen who had traveled to Syria and returned to Brussels to walk into a Jewish Museum, take out an AK-47 and kill three museum visitors. A fourth, critically injured, would later die of his wounds.
“You don’t have to be Hercule Poirot to realize that a justice system headed by a man who doesn’t consider synagogue attendance as a gathering, or Jewish museums as public places, isn’t going to try especially hard to pursue justice when the victims are Jews,” Liel Leibovitz writes in the online magazine Tablet. She notes that the gunman was a friend of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the architect of the Paris massacre, and asks whether paying closer attention earlier could have discovered the link to the Paris terrorist, and disarmed him. She argues that attitudes toward Jews encourage sloppy follow-up of investigations of suspicious characters.
Once it was fashionable to blame Palestinian terrorism on the Israeli occupation, but it’s difficult now to think jihad will go away if the Israelis submit, like lambs, to slaughter. Richard Landes, a professor of history at Boston University, suggests that Israel’s ability to resist “life destroying strategies” is a humiliating obstacle to the radical Islamic goal of world domination. The charter of Hamas describes “the final war of extermination of the Jews” as a prelude to the destruction of the rest of the infidels. Pastor Martin Niemoller calls from the grave to warn of the consequences of leaving the struggle to others.
• Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.
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