The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism

By Landes, Richard | Jewish Political Studies Review, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism


Landes, Richard, Jewish Political Studies Review


Manfred Gerstenfeld, The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism, Jerusalem: JCPA, 2015, 501 pp.

Reviewed by RICHARD LANDES

In the conclusion of his study of how a variety of information professionals,- journalists, academics, human rights activists, post-Zionists,-managed over the last two generations to turn Israel from the plucky David fighting against massive Arab aggression into a the bully Goliath oppressing the poor, weak Palestinian victims, Joshua Muravchik notes:

The opprobrium heaped on Israel whenever it finds itself in a confrontation with enemies who still, sixty-odd years after its founding, do not accept its existence, restricts its freedom of action, even though, more than perhaps any other state, its survival depends on its ability to defend itself militarily. No other country faces a near neighbor with the declared aim to ?wipe it from the map or well-armed forces on two of its borders sworn to its destruction and doing what they can to make this happen.... Should Israels enemies succeed, the result would be a second Holocaust. This would be a tragedy of unspeakable proportions for the Jews, but not only for them. The world would have lost one of its most creative countries, and the devastation of the Jewish people would cause incalculable harm to the spiritual life of the West and perhaps beyond {Making David into Goliath, 229, 234).

While Joshua Muravchik and Manfred Gerstenfeld would hope that those who read the statement above would be horrified. Others might read it and rejoice: "At last the militarily unbeatable Israel, source of global mischief and war, will be brought down by a war of a million cuts! Who could have imagined such opprobrium, such "soft power," especially among those that claim to represent progressive views. Let us recall that in 2000 advocates of the Oslo Peace Process believed they were close to concluding a final agreement and Israel enjoyed international good will. Therefore, it seems preposterous that within fifteen years, well-documented studies argue that the very existence of Israel is in danger because of a campaign of a "million cuts" of criticism and slander and because the progressive left has adopted the narrative frame of the Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David. Who could have argued with conviction that the Muslim "apocalyptic narrative" in which Israel is the global villain {Dajjal=Antichnst), would move from revolutionaries on the margins of Western discourse to the heart of the liberal progressive consensus? While these myriad cuts and this inverted paradigm had been in existence for a long time, no one in early 2000 could have imagined that by 2015 Zionists would be writing books that document the way in which such attacks have attained a preponderance that threatens the militarily "invincible" Israel. Whether they either rejoice or despair at the news, neither side envisaged this outcome which happened so quickly

The War of a Million Cuts places the events in the framework of an antisemitism of longue durée that had been latent during the first decades after the Holocaust, but resurfaced, especially in Europe, in the Twenty-First Century. Tracking the burning embers of antisemitism during the last half of the Twentieth Century (Chapter Two), Manfred Gerstenfeld identifies the new mutation that allowed for its revival, anti-Zionism, with its familiar antisemitic tropes and its shabbily disguised lust for demonizing Jews, in this case, autonomous Jews (Chapter One, 3-4). According to Gerstenfeld, global jihadis represent the reincarnation or the new avatar of Nazi, paranoid, genocidal hatred (Chapter Five). They have many admirers in Europe, particularly among the "global progressive left."

The War of a Million Cuts deals with the question of how such hatred was able to attract a wide range of different types in the Western public sphere. He surveys the entire terrain on which this cognitive war against Israel has been taking place: the media (Chapter Seven); Christian supersessionists (Chapters Eight-Nine); academics and professors (Chapter Ten); educators (Chapter Eleven); lawyers (Chapter Twelve); the United Nations (Chapter Thirteen); Social Democrats, NGOs active in "human rights," and other progressives (Chapters Fourteen-Fifteen). …

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