Entering the bookshop at the American Colony Hotel recently, I noted a prominently placed display of four books directly facing the entrance. The books were the first thing seen by any visitor to the shop. They were evidently intended to give a representative sample of the kind of fare available there. They succeeded in this, and in something more.
The American Colony is one of the best hotels in the city, a favored place for European diplomats, journalists, peace processors, and others in the colorful array that the city attracts. While sometimes described as “neutral ground,” it may more accurately be seen as the main stronghold of the international pro-Palestinian presence and sentiment in Jerusalem. It is therefore as good a place as any for assessing that sector of opinion.
The choice of books displayed at the bookshop’s entrance sums up elegantly the main components of the disturbing ethos among supporters of the Palestinians in the West.
The books on display were The Founding Myths of Modern Israel, by Roger Garaudy; Married to another Man: Israel’s dilemma in Palestine, by Ghada Karmi; I Shall Not Hate, by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish; and The Palestine Papers – the end of the Road?, by Clayton Swisher. Come with me on a brief tour through them. And let’s speak plainly, as the time requires.
Roger Garaudy is a veteran French Communist who later converted to Islam. His book combines Holocaust denial with calls for the destruction of Israel. He marshals the “evidence” assembled by Holocaust deniers over the years to dispute the existence of gas chambers in Nazi death camps. The Holocaust, Garaudy thinks, was a myth intended to create sympathy for the theft of Palestine by the Jews. Hitler’s main enemies were Communists, says Garaudy, and he had no plan for the destruction of the Jews. Garaudy’s book is a straightforward example of Jew hatred of the most vitriolic and extreme type.
Ghada Karmi’s book seeks to refute the idea of Jewish peoplehood. She repeats a number of myths recently revived by anti-Zionist propagandists in the current battle to delegitimize Israel. The claim that Ashkenazi Jews are descended in the main from Turkic “Khazars” is re-aired. This claim, a favorite of anti-Israel propaganda recently restated by Professor Shlomo Sand, is intended to disprove the notion that Ashkenazi Jews descend from Jewish communities originating in ancient Israel. Karmi blithely dismisses as “open to question” recent evidence deriving from thousands of DNA studies that refute these claims. She believes, as she has stated elsewhere, that the Israelis and Palestinians are heading for an apocalyptic “cataclysm,” out of which a Palestinian Arab state will emerge.
Clayton Swisher’s contribution is to argue that there is no basis for a peace process that includes accepting the continued existence of any Jewish state. He argues that recent leaks from the offices of PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat mark the final demise of the “two state solution.” Swisher argues that it is all Israel’s fault, despite the fact that the leaks show many examples of the opposite. For example, the leaks showed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressing willingness for concessions including the redivision of Jerusalem and the ceding of 98.7% of the West Bank. Swisher, as he has said elsewhere, favors those Arabs “committed to liberating all of historic Palestine.”
Dr. Abuelaish’s book is a work by a Gaza physician whose three daughters were tragically killed during Operation Cast Lead. They died as IDF troops battled Hamas snipers and mortar teams in the area of Beit Lahiya. There is no reason to believe that Abuelaish shares any of the opinions contained in the other three volumes. But given the overall display, it is reasonable to assume that the store’s goal is to stress Israel as committing war crimes rather than Abuelaish favoring conciliation. Certainly, and unsurprisingly, one would search in vain for any volumes discussing similar losses of civilian life among Israeli Jews.
Here, then, is the display that greets European diplomats, salaried peace processors, and elegant locals meeting in the courtyard and coffee shop, passing or entering the bookshop of the beautiful and peaceful American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem.
Four volumes. One of which, though written by a man of conscience, serves the purpose of describing an instance of Israeli killing of civilians. The other three are united in calling for the destruction of Israel. One of them denies the Holocaust. All of them, in great detail, set about seeking to deny the most basic facts of Jewish history, to ridicule all Jewish concerns deriving from that history, and to make of the Jews a non-people, not to be included in the general mass of humanity but rather to be uniquely singled out in illegitimacy.
This is the ideology behind the flotillas, boycotts, and furious demonstrations against Israel in the year 2011, decades after the Palestinians supposedly accepted Israel’s existence and turned toward seeking a two-state solution. This is the idea behind which Islamists and “progressives” can happily unite. This is the channel through which the familiar and foul substance of antisemitism is going to flow right back into the Western mainstream. Unless it is prevented from doing so.