The Socialist Overtones That Underlie Anti-Semitism
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel outburst claiming that Palestinians supposedly “provided” Jews with a safe haven after the Holocaust is at best misleading.
From 1920 to 1948, when Israel was founded, Great Britain ruled the land between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, then known as Palestine, under a League of Nations Mandate. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Arabs there mobilized to kill Jews and lobby the British to keep Jews out. During World War II, they joined with the Nazis to kill Jews. And after the war, rather than “providing” Jews with a safe haven, they again killed Jews and lobbied the British to bar Holocaust survivors. Only Israel’s successful fight for independence against six Arab nations stopped the Arab massacres.
That Tlaib also is a socialist, however, highlights George Gilder’s critical insight elucidated in his 2009 book, “The Israel Test.” Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, Gilder shows, share socialism’s false conception of a capitalist economy as a zero-sum game, in which business owners are parasites that prey on workers and in which those who become wealthy do so at the expense of others.
In “Mein Kampf,” Gilder recounts, Adolph Hitler accused Jews of monopolizing business and finance to impoverish Aryans. Hitler died in 1945, but his infamous book became a favorite of Palestinians and a perennial best seller in the Arab world. Its themes, Gilder notes, continue to echo in the speeches of this century’s most virulent anti-Semites, including Osama bin Laden, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad. Louis Farrakhan also has a place on this list.
The American media, Gilder continues, has long been replete with similar zero-sum game accusations that omit the word “Jews,” but which depict Jewish financiers like Carl Icahn, George Soros, and Henry Kravis as parasites that benefit at the expense of workers and the poor. Attacks against Jeff Bezos have much the same scent.
The structural defect in anti-Semitism, Gilder explains, is the same as in socialism. Instead of being a zero-sum game, a capitalist economy is a “positive-sum game, based on an upward spiral of gains,” in which “the achievements of one group provide markets and opportunities for others.” The paradox of anti-Semitism, he shows, is that in the upward spiraling capitalist economy, the unsurpassed success of Jews in business and finance simultaneously has particularly benefitted their fellow citizens while fueling anti-Semitic hatred.
Gilder exposes hatred of Israel for supposedly having inflicted poverty on the Palestinians as a particular form of anti-Semitism based on the same defective zero-sum game model.
Pre-statehood Jewish settlement in Mandatory Palestine created economic opportunity that benefitted the Arabs. But it is Gilder’s comparison of the Palestinian economy, first under Arab rule and then under Israeli rule, that is most telling.
During Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Jordan conquered the West Bank and Egypt took control of Gaza. Under Jordanian rule, the West Bank economy grew modestly; under Egyptian rule, the economy in Gaza stagnated. In 1967, the Six-Day War brought the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli control. The data show that from 1967 to 1987, West Bank Arab per-capita income tripled and Arab per-capita income in Gaza rose from $80 to $1,706.
This positive-sum upward economic spiral ended in 1987, Gilder explains, when the Palestinians chose the violent path of the intifada and embraced their leadership’s long-standing ideology that poverty is preferable to cooperation with the hated Jews. In 1934, David Ben-Gurion, later Israel’s founding father, told Arab leader Musa Alami that Jewish settlement in Mandatory Palestine “would bring a blessing to the Arabs of Palestine.” Alami, Gilder recounts, responded that he “would prefer that the country remain impoverished and barren for another hundred years, until we ourselves are able to develop it on our own.” In 2005, when Israel exited Gaza, it left sophisticated greenhouses and irrigation equipment. True to Alami’s sentiment, Gilder notes, the Palestinians who took control of Gaza immediately destroyed most of these facilities.
Some claim that hatred of Israel will cease when Israel makes sufficient concessions at the negotiating table. Some hope that preaching religious tolerance will end anti-Semitism. In “The Israel Test,” Gilder instead shows that to defeat these evils, we must defeat socialism.