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The War of a million cuts

The Struggle against the Delegetimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism…

Review by Karl Pfeifer

Manfred Gerstenfeld the autor of „The War of a million cuts“ is according to Anshel Pfeffer (Haaretz) “the greatest authority on anti-Semitism today”. Gerstenfeld coined this expression to make it clear that this fight is radically different from that against the classic anti-Semitism, in which the hatred focused on single messages. (In religious anti-Semitism on the killing of Jesus and in ethnic anti-Semitism on the Jew being genetically inferior.) “The Propaganda war endangers Israel’s existence as well. Even though its effects are slower than a possible Iranian nuclear strike, they can be disastrous in the long run. The huge number of Israel’s enemies compared to its population highlights the need to fight the propaganda war far more efficiently. The problem is enhanced by the fact that demonizing people is far easier than fighting demonization.”

Gerstenfeld gives examples from many countries and sources, how actual and how dangerous the anti-Semitic obsession in all its open and disguised, witting and unwitting forms is. This important volume contains 23 chapters: How Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism Overlap and Intertwine; Postwar Europe, Anti-Semitism, and Anti-Israelism;  The Mutation of Ancient Hate Motifs; Categories of Demonization; Originators of Demonization: Muslims; Muslims in the Western World;  Media as Hate Promoters; Christian Inciters—Roman Catholics; Incitement in Christian Institutions—Protestant Churches; Academics Against Israel and the Jews; Schools and Hatred;  Lawfare; The United Nations, a Purveyor of Hate; Social Democrat Inciters;  Jewish and Israeli Inciters; Other Originators of Hatred and Incitement; How Hatred Is Transmitted; Demonization’s Impact on Jews; Demonization’s Impact on Israel and Israelis; Those Who Fight Against the Demonization;  How to Combat Demonization of Israel; Conclusion.

The book looks at the entire delegitimization process as an entity. This can be seen through the structure of the book, i.e. respectively the messages of delegitimization, who are the perpetrators? How delegitimization gets into society? How much damage has been done to Jews and Israel already and how to fight it? The book thus lays the infrastructure for systematic and rational future action. Gerstenfeld explains the need and the reasons for the establishment of an anti-propaganda agency.

Gerstenfeld explains: “The often weak Israeli reactions to extreme Palestinian statements have led to a situation where in many circles the Palestinians’ image greatly differs from that of Arab countries. Palestinians are often seen mainly as victims. This is at a time when the criminal ideology of the largest Palestinian faction, Hamas, includes incitement to genocide. The Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas himself, and other leaders practice the glorification of murderers. Many Westerners look away from this. This selective blindness and silence should be made more difficult for them. There are many who attack Israel and ignore Hamas’s exterminatory agenda.”

According to Gerstenfeld there is no reason to be fatalistic unless the present Israeli incompetence in the propaganda war endures. It is not too late to turn the tables on Israel’s enemies. It requires, however, an effort that is radically different from what is taking place at present.

There is a postscript to the book as well. This text deals with the perpetrators and phenomena related to the partial delegitimization of Israel. But reading it can also instruct many others. As is so often the case, what happens to the Jews and nowadays Israel is a first indication of what is to come to many other nations. The distorted realities of contemporary Islam, the media, academia, NGOs, parts of liberal Protestantism, trade unions, social democracy, and so on have and will have an impact on many other countries and individuals.

Those who are aware of the current Jewish and Israeli experience can use it as a looking glass to understand and treat problems in their own environments.

This book sorts out the difference between hasbara (public diplomacy) and propaganda. It will be of interest to political scientists, scholars in contemporary political extremism and all those who want to fight the ideology of anti-Semitism at all levels.

Manfred Gerstenfeld: „The War of a million cuts / The Struggle against the Delegetimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism”, JCPA Jerusalem and RVP Publishers New York, 2015, 501 pages, Order?

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