Richard Landes is a historian who taught at Boston University. His work focuses on apocalyptic beliefs at the turn of the first and the second millennium. His most recent book is Can ‘The Whole World’ Be Wrong? Lethal Journalism, Antisemitism and Global Jihad (Academic Studies Press, Boston, 2022). In this long read he asks why so much western commentary on the Middle East is so detached from the realities on the ground, and so extravagantly and obsessively hostile to Israel, finding the answer in a complex combination of intellectual and psychological shifts that have overtaken much western culture in recent decades, especially on the left, including ‘Western liberal cognitive egocentrism’, ‘humanitarian racism and the human rights complex’, ‘psychological supersessionism’ (and the consequent appetite for News of Jews Behaving Badly), ‘jihadi intimidation and the fig-leaf of post-colonial ideology’, and a revolutionary ‘apocalyptic millennial mindset’ that abhors contradiction.
Fathom is running a series of essays mapping the intellectual revolution of our times and assessing its impact on the discourse of contemporary antisemitism and demonisation of the Jewish State. We began with Kathleen Hayes’ reflections on gender identity ideology. Forthcoming is an interview with Balázs Berkovits about ‘critical whiteness studies’ and contemporary antisemitism and antizionism. The editors encourage responses from readers.
The expression ‘reality-based community’ has a strange genealogy. First used contemptuously by a Bush Administration official in 2004 to describe liberals who objected to their policies with ‘facts’, it quickly became a proud self-referent for liberals. Ironically, as Kurt Andersen puts it in his extensive study of America’s troubled relationship with reality, ‘Neither side has noticed, but large factions of the elite left and the populist right have been on the same team.’ This has become even truer in the six years since Andersen wrote that remark in 2017.
Today we have two loud camps each justifiably accusing the other of substituting post-truth advocacy for descriptions based on hard evidence. In the process, a ‘great divorce’ has occurred between Western information professionals and the realities it is their vocation to understand. The following study examines one aspect of this problem – the conflict between Israel and her neighbours – for the following reasons: a) it was an early harbinger of things to come, b) because the misinformation comes to us from a legacy media that claims to observe professional standards, c) because this misinformation reflects the biases of people who, even as they embarked on this great divorce with reality, were convinced that they were indeed, the reality-based community, and d) because ‘getting it wrong’ on this particular topic has so many grave real-world consequences not just for Palestinians and Israelis, but for democracies the world over.
For anyone with an elementary knowledge of Soviet propaganda, it might seem disconcerting to read collective statements from academics, including Jewish ones, about the Middle East conflict, or even to listen to a news broadcast from an increasingly post-modern legacy media about the Middle East. One does not normally expect a morally and empirically bankrupt propaganda ministry, the subject of savage parodies, to hold such hegemonic sway decades after the failure of the totalitarian system that spawned it. How does a propaganda campaign of cognitive warfare get belatedly adopted by the very culture it targets? After all, one of the reasons the West won the Cold War in the early 1990s was because Soviet propaganda had so divorced the USSR from reality that once Glasnost took hold and that propaganda was challenged, the bottom fell out. And yet, now, in the early 2020s, the central themes of Soviet anti-Zionist, anti-democratic propaganda – Palestinian nationalism and freedom fighting, Israeli colonialism, apartheid, racism, and genocide, Zionism=Nazism – now rerouted through post-colonialism, hold wide currency in Western public discourse, both explicitly, and implicitly.
To some extent, one can explain this in terms of the increasing influence of an intellectual revolution in the West, broadly taken to involve variants of critical theory – post-modern, post-colonial, queer, critical race, victim – and the various identity politics that inform this theorising. This study focuses not on documenting those trends, but the underlying cognitive and psychological factors that drove otherwise welcome post-modern perspectives as contributors to our understanding of reality, in directions that have produced a major wedge between practitioners of the new approaches and the reality they aspire to explore and change for the better.
Two radically different paradigms: Desperation vs. Aspiration
One of the better concise definitions of reality runs: ‘Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.’ In the Middle East conflict between Israel and her neighbours, this principle has particular resonance since efforts to resolve it are all predicated on a broad conceptual framework that claim to best approximate and explain the situation, but have so far not only failed to resolve the conflict but, one might well argue, have fed the conflict’s irredentist tendencies on both sides. In contrast, an alternative framework provides a radically opposing ‘take,’ with contradictory policy recommendations. On the one hand, the ‘desperation’ model and on the other, the ‘aspiration’ model. One is well known, and familiar in some form to all consumers of Western legacy news and academic work on Middle East Studies; the other, is far less familiar.
The first, the ‘desperation’ paradigm, views the conflict as a national struggle, in which. the Palestinians ‘yearn’ for national freedom. They are the indigenous underdogs, victims of an invading Western movement, resisting that conquering and occupying power and its Occupation, seeking to ‘Free, free, Palestine.’ Their violent ‘resistance’ to Israel, then, stems from their desperation to achieve that freedom. Here, the conflict over the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, is about two competing national entities, forced to share the land. And the solution is a positive-sum ‘Land for Peace’ formula.
In its post-colonial version, this approach views Zionism as one of the last offshoots of the West’s imperial world conquest in the 19th century, hence a venture based on the racist, oppressive, and often genocidal tendencies of European imperialism. In this framework, the Palestinians are the brave David and the Israelis the bully Goliath who stole their land. In its more extreme form, the Israelis are the new supremacist-racists, Nazis; and the Palestinians, the new Jewish victims – victims of genocide at the hands of the Jews. This more radical approach openly espouses the Palestinian claim to all the land: ‘From the river to the sea.’
The second, the ‘aspiration’ paradigm, views the conflict in the Middle East as a religious one, the result of an inability of Muslim triumphalism to accept an autonomous, infidel presence in what should be Dar al Islam. In the land between the River and the Sea, independent infidels, living under their laws, undermine the very foundations of the triumphalist faith: because we are right, we must be visibly superior. Hence, the very existence of Israel, a state in with Jews are a free people, is a blasphemy against Allah, and the failure to prevent it, a standing humiliation to the Arab warrior, an emotional Nakbah. Jewish resistance, like the (perceived) Armenian defiance of dhimmitude, calls for extermination. The Arabs, including chief Palestinian leader Haj Amin al Husseini, were eager allies of (and later offered refuge to) the Nazis during and after the Holocaust, with whom they shared a particular hatred of the Jews. In a very concrete sense, the ‘Palestinian’ front constitutes the last active front of World War II. From this perspective the best term for the conflict is the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the triumphalist Muslim-autonomous Jewish conflict. And the best framing, is the Israeli David against the Arab-Muslim Goliath.
Most Westerners don’t adhere to either of these sweeping analyses and prefer to believe that there are ‘faults on both sides,’ that ‘the cycle of violence’ needs to be broken, that ‘a two-state solution’ is the best way to resolve the conflict – ‘land for peace.’ And yet for over three decades this solution has inexplicably failed to produce any substantial results. Indeed the task, at least as now conceived, seems Sisyphean if not self-defeating. And while the desperation and aspiration models both have explanations for that failure and policy suggestions for how to succeed in the future, they come to precisely opposite conclusions.
The desperation model is simple: If Israel ends the Occupation, there will be peace. It’s a solution so obvious that, in the words of a BBC commentator, ‘it could be solved with an email.’ Palestinian spokespeople and supporters insist that they have already made their sacrifices for peace – 78 per cent of their land conceded – and demand, in return all of the remaining 22 per cent (i.e., to the Green Line). It’s the Israelis, they assert, who refuse to make the necessary concessions, and who continuously take measures (the Settlements!) that ruin the chances of peace. Instead of making peace, the Israelis oppress the Palestinians, refuse them their rights either as citizens, or their right to sovereignty. In despairing resistance, the Palestinians claim the right to fight back however they see fit: Resistance is not terror. What choice do they have?
On the contrary, insists the aspiration paradigm, the ‘Palestinian’ cause, as opposed to the Arab-Muslim cause, was formulated by the Soviets in order to make the Muslim hostility to Jews acceptable to democratic Westerners as a national liberation movement. By emphasising a secular Western goal, it offered cover for the key religious principle that Jews must not be allowed a grain of sand, that the destruction of Israel is the only acceptable goal. Thus the 78 per cent ‘conceded,’ was actually lost in repeated failed efforts to have it all, the great aspiration which the Palestinian leadership still pursues. Their slogan, ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free,’ is repeated (unthinkingly?) by progressives and liberals on campuses across Western academia. When the Palestinian spokespeople use the term ‘settlements,’ this paradigm argues, they don’t mean those beyond the Green Line (although they’re happy to let the journalists believe that), but anywhere in Israel, including Tel Aviv; when they say ‘Occupation’ they mean Israeli control of territory dating from 1947. The endurance of irredentism in Palestinian political culture to this day reflects not national aspirations, but a religious and tribal obligation that wears a national garb in Western languages for liberal Western audiences.
Indeed, as outlined repeatedly in Arabic by leaders from Yassir Arafat to ‘moderate’ Faysal al Husseini, the Palestinian leadership saw the Oslo peace process as a ‘Trojan Horse,’ a temporary concession like Muhammad’s Hudaybiyya treaty, made in order to gain tactical advantage and continue the war. A Fatah Central Committee member explained in Arabic what the real aim of negotiations – ‘the inspiring idea, the great goal’ – was, namely all of the land from the river to the sea, but cautioned against saying it out loud (i.e. to foreigners). In other words, the Palestinian ‘moderate, secular’ leadership (Fatah) pursues a deceptive cognitive-war strategy of negotiations whereby, while they are weak, the appear to agree to a peace process in order to gain concessions that will sufficiently weaken their enemy that they can resort to kinetic warfare: ‘What will be with Israel [if it makes these concessions]? Israel will come to an end.’ In other words, ‘Land for War.’
Here we have a striking, real-world cognitive and policy contradiction. The Peace camp, even among Jews (Peace Now, B’tselem, J-Street), thinks that the more concessions Israel makes, the more likely the peace; that Israel’s not offering enough has doomed the negotiations. The Palestinian leadership’s stance, on the other hand, articulated in Arabic, means that the greater the Israeli concessions (i.e. the weaker the Israeli position), the more likely the war. Counter to the hopes and expectations of liberals and progressives of ‘two democratic states living in peace side by side,’ the most likely outcome of the Israelis ceding the entire West Bank to the current Palestinian leadership, whether PA or Hamas, would be a belligerent Jihadi state similar to Gaza. Only in this case, it would have open borders to the Arab and Muslim world, able to draw jihadi recruits from the entire Ummah. From this point of view, the resistance of the Israeli voters to ‘making peace’ with the Palestinians is not some kind of perverse and unfortunate ‘turn to the right,’ but an awareness of just how dangerous and high are the risks.
The dramatic split between the high-minded UN Resolutions and the real-world improbability of a democratic Palestine, suggest that pursuing the liberal agenda will lead to a spectacular victory for global Jihad. This leaves Western non-Muslims with a dilemma. How close are our operative conceptual and cognitive frameworks to approximating a Mid-East reality which, if we ignore it, will not thereby go away? And will the damage be only to Israel, or to the democratic world?
Now in a democratic public sphere marked by free speech, information professionals would make available the relevant evidence, whether it supported a particular frame or not. In such a case, Western consumers of news and analysis, for example, would be aware of the dramatic contradiction between what Palestinians say in Arabic and what they say in Western tongues, and draw their own conclusions. Similarly, the public would be familiar with the role of triumphalist religiosity and honour-shame in Arab political culture.
And yet, not. Among both academics and journalists, there is a near-unanimous support for the desperation approach, and a distinctively hostile response to the aspiration thesis. Indeed, the term used widely for the struggle – Israeli-Palestinian conflict – replicates the frame of the Israelis as the great Goliaths and the Palestinians as weak underdogs. The only legacy-media access the public has to the alternative frame and its supporting evidence, is via interviews with Israeli spokespeople whom the journalists feel free to interrupt at will. In some cases, for example France 24, Israeli officials scarcely appear. The Israeli organisations that translate the Arabic texts and monitor the professional standards of Western journalists and ‘Human Rights’ NGOs, rarely if ever get interviewed. On the other hand, in repeated and friendly interviews with Palestinian spokespeople and NGOs, reporters allow lengthy uninterrupted sweeping accusations against Israel, and offer little pushback to their dismissal of criticism of their side for incitement.
The result: ‘everyone agrees’ that the Two-State Solution is the way to peace, and that the Israeli Occupation is the major if not sole obstacle to that solution. Writes Matti Friedman about what he terms ‘the Cult of the Occupation’ and its place among journalists:
The [Israeli] Occupation is not a conflict like any other, but … the very symbol of conflict: … [Israel] is, in fact, a symbol of the ills of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism … The cult’s priesthood can be found among the activists, NGO experts, and ideological journalists who have turned coverage of this conflict into a catalogue of Jewish moral failings … Sympathy for Israel’s predicament is highly unpopular in the relevant social circles and is something to be avoided by anyone wishing to be invited to the right dinner parties, or to be promoted.
And yet, at least in terms of what the current Palestinian leadership says in Arabic (Hudaybiyya or Trojan Horse tropes) and the way some Palestinians behave on their Street (rejoicing at 9-11, celebrating terror attacks), a case can be made that their ideological and spiritual brothers are the global Jihadis who target Western democracies. One can dismiss the ‘Trojan-Horse talk’ about a temporary-truce talk to prepare war as ‘mere rhetoric,’ designed to pacify a presumably less important group opposed any negotiations at all. But those judgments should be up to the informed citizen to make. Journalists should not leave out relevant material from their reports because they deem it contrary to the goal of peace, or, as in the case of Palestinian rejoicing over 9-11, because they yield to Palestinian threats. And yet, to a great extent, the widespread consensus among Western information professionals and activists around the ‘desperation to be free’ paradigm arises precisely in the absence of contradictory evidence that suggests this approach is not just fruitless, but counter-indicated.
One might even venture to claim that the disparity between what liberals and progressives think about the Middle East conflict, and what really motivates the behaviour of both sides of that conflict, Israeli and Palestinian, constitutes one of the more remarkable cognitive gaps of our dissonant age. This is especially true when it concerns a conflict that commands such extensive coverage, generates so many lengthy news research and policy reports, and whose real-world implications, were we to get the conflict wrong, are so serious.
The following discussion attempts to explore how this divorce from reality could have happened.
First Cause: ‘Palestinians and Western Liberal Cognitive Egocentrism’
The first order of distortion comes from what psychologists call ‘cognitive egocentrism’ which is the tendency to project one’s own mentality onto others, assuming everyone thinks like oneself. This notion of cognitive egocentrism, itself borrowed from Piaget, has an ironic dimension to it today: normally the term refers to immature stages of development – childhood and adolescence – and the more mature one becomes, the more one learns to empathise with others, the less egocentric one presumably becomes. Indeed, as one group of researchers put it: cold people (unempathic) are far more likely to be cognitive egocentrics. And yet, paradoxically, in the twenty-first century, some of the most determined, even dogmatic cognitive egocentrics come from the most progressive, empathic circles of warm thinkers and activists who view everyone as committed to the principles of positive-sum interactions (win-win) and have difficulty imagining people who don’t think in those terms. One student’s comment on Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners illustrates a key confusion of ‘humane’ with ‘human’: ‘I think he dehumanizes the Germans because he depicts them as sadistic.’ And yet, alas, few traits are more peculiarly human than sadism.
The ascension of a kind of beneficent anthropology, in which humans were instinctively cooperative, gregarious, pacific beings (until capitalism corrupts them), was not a foregone conclusion. For most of the recorded political life of mankind the paranoid imperative governed relations: rule or be ruled, or as Thucidydes put it: The strong do what they will; and the weak do what they must. We, however, tend to take the reverse for granted with little appreciation of how rare and risky it is. John Tooby, the anthropologist, explained after the Paris Bataclan attacks in 2015:
Born into a world that has been internally pacified for so long, it is easy (and convenient) to mistake this for the state of nature, and not something maintained by the costly self-sacrifice of some [I’d say many]. People raised in cultures that are predominantly organized around cooperative rationality cannot imagine any other rationality: So when people use violence it must be that they are driven to it by desperation or searing injustice, and they will stop when given justice. No one, we think, could possibly prefer war… A cooperator wants to arrive at a win-win covenant among equals. But predators envision instead an I-win-you-lose domination.
In the Middle East conflict this western mindset projects a liberal mentality onto the Palestinian leadership who do not share it, and, ironically, denies it to Israelis, who, for the most part do share it, sometimes in the most passionate ways. For example, in his Cairo Speech of 2009, the newly elected President Obama articulated this ‘unyielding belief.’ Here we find liberal cognitive egocentrism elevated to the position of both a dogmatic belief, and a foreign policy doctrine. Shimon Peres’ book, The New Middle East, is a paragon of wishful liberal cognitive egocentrism.
The peace camp explains Abbas’ refusals, as they had Arafat’s at Camp David (2000) and Taba (2001), as a reasonable response to specific conditions. The idea that the Palestinians could not sign because their thinking was governed by zero-sum principles of shameful compromise and honourable victory – ‘what has been taken by force can only be retaken by force’ – has not penetrated this projection. Indeed, anyone so suggesting it, got and still gets accused of racism or ‘holocaust-paranoia.’
The role of this aggressive projection of rational positive-sum intentions onto the Palestinians has done the greatest damage in the pursuit of peace between them and the Israelis. It characterises all the Western players in the quarter of a century of failure that marks the ‘peace process’ so far: Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Yossi Beilin, Yair Hirschfeld, Shimon Peres, Terje Roed Larsen, Condoleezza Rice, Ehud Olmert, Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and now, Anthony Blinken. It also characterises the vast majority of the coverage of the conflict and the failed peace efforts among journalists in the legacy media.
Ironically, to maintain this attitude takes a double denial. On the one hand, it means denying, ignoring, dismissing the ample evidence of a very different attitude expressed by Palestinian leaders, both religious and ‘secular’ when speaking in Arabic. On the other, it means viewing the Israelis as the intransigent ones, committed to their Occupation of ‘Greater Israel,’ refusing to grant the Palestinians their ‘rights.’ As a result, Western consumers of news from journalists and their consulted experts, are fed a constant diet of the ‘Cult of the Occupation,’ in which ‘everyone knows’ that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and their settlements constitutes the core problem and its termination, the key to peace. The idea, far more embedded in the realities of the conflict, that Palestinian irredentism and constant incitement to genocide are the problem, and that giving sovereignty to the current political culture in the West Bank would lead to war, is relegated to the status of ‘Israeli propaganda.’ Indeed, consumers of the main news outlets (New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, Le Monde, BBC, CNN, France 24, etc.) know about Palestinian incitement only in the vaguest terms.
Second Cause: Humanitarian Racism and the Human Rights Complex – The Quadruple Standard
The fly in the ointment of liberal cognitive egocentrism is that, in order to apply it to Palestinians, one must not apply it to Israelis, a position that demands that one systematically ignore counter-evidence in both cases. The first part of this process involves what Manfred Gerstenfeld calls ‘humanitarian racism,’ or a ‘reverse racism’ in which one has no moral expectations of the group involved. (In the UK this is sometimes called ‘the racism of low expectations.) ‘The humanitarian racist … considers that as the non-white or the weak cannot be held responsible for their acts, one should look away as often as possible even if they commit major crimes.’ One finds as a result that when the ‘privileged victim’ behaves badly, the humanitarian racist treats their behaviour as either as a justifiable response to oppression, or as a kind of force of nature. Anything that might upset such ‘weak’ and ‘‘marginalised’ players and lead to violent behaviour is the fault of those who provoke them. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer briefly conjectured that, in an internet age of worldwide impact, certain deeds that would surely provoke Muslim violence (burning a Qur’an), might not be protected as free speech under the First Amendment. He thereby placed the panic of an indoor crowd at potential death by fire on a par with offended people rioting and murdering. Americans, however, are expected to see their flag burned as a legitimate expression of free speech and not react violently.
Charles Jacobs characterised this combination of extremely low standards applied to the (post-colonial) ‘other,’ and correspondingly high standards applied to the post-imperialist Westerners, as the Human Rights Complex. The violations of human rights that arouse indignation and condemnation in the international ‘human rights community’ are those perpetrated by ‘whites,’ while those perpetrated by ‘people of colour’ either on whites or on other people of colour, provoke embarrassment.
The Middle East conflict between Israel and her neighbours embodies these imbalances as perhaps no other global conflict. On the one hand, Israel is held to extremely high standards: her military campaigns against an enemy that uses its own civilians as human shields get judged harshly for their ‘wholly disproportionate responses’ and high body count; and any evidence of Israeli discrimination against Arabs brings on accusations of ‘apartheid’ racism. These demanding standards are made all the easier since both the Israeli government and Supreme Court, and its intelligentsia hold it to these high standards. The result of Israeli intelligence, targeting and doctrine, a result decidedly not acknowledged by critics, is that Israel’s military operations have achieved a higher ratio of combatant-to-civilian-deaths than any other urban military conflicts. Indeed their most exceptional achievement, the operation in Jenin in 2002, with a 3:1 combatant-civilian ratio, is widely known in global circles as the ‘Jenin Massacre.’
Often enough, in candid moments, journalists and pundits, especially critics, will admit they hold Israel to higher standards, not considering that, by the same token, they hold Israel’s enemies, triumphalist Muslims, to (far) lower standards. Palestinian terror attacks on civilians, while they make the news, rarely appear in analyses as ‘disproportionate,’ or as ‘war crimes.’ Often enough it is considered resistance, among other things, to humiliation. When Israel can be held accountable for the death of a journalist, the media give it the highest profile, while the rest of the 197 killings of journalists in the Arab world between 2014-2021 go unmentioned, except in statistical surveys. Again, beneath the disparity of treatment lies the racist thinking: events are only newsworthy when man bites dog.
But double standards are not inversions. Double standards mean, you understand the Israelis live up to a much higher progressive standard than do their enemies, and you may even call on them to make more sacrifices and take more criticism than their more volatile, honour-shame driven cousins. It’s one thing to criticise the Israelis more, but it’s quite another the disable your critical thinking and believe accusations of racism, apartheid, human-rights violations, from people operating in a ‘strong-horse’ world steeped in power politics and prejudice, a stranger to human rights even for their own people, much less their minorities and women and self-declared enemies. It’s one thing to root out examples of prejudice in a culture committed to rooting it out, it’s another to report as reliable, descriptions of the Israelis as “apartheid” leveled by political culture that is de facto when not de jure apartheid. Double standards, at least in modern journalism, should not mean that one jettisons journalistic standards entirely to ‘tell the story that one believes is socially just.’ What serious journalists, aware of how Palestinian combatants target Israeli civilians and dance for joy when they do, would not apply a heavy dose of scepticism to Palestinian complaints that Israel targets their civilians?
People with sound moral compasses do not reverse the picture they generously touch up with their higher expectations, by calling the Israelis Nazis even as they ignore the ample evidence that their enemies admire the Nazis and wish to finish Hitler’s job. Those who don’t realise that Israel is the last active front of World War Two, don’t understand both the dynamics of that psychotic episode among nations a century ago, or the survival of those dynamics to this day in the Middle East.
And yet, that is precisely what has happened. In a strange alchemy, even as Palestinian bad behaviour registers as resistance against an unbearably oppressive enemy; Israeli good behaviour, evidence of their profound commitment to liberal and humane values gets dismissed as so much cheap propaganda intended to distract from Israel’s oppression of Palestinians: ‘pink-washing’ (look how nice we are to LGTBs), ‘aid-washing’ (look at our international catastrophe assistance), ‘vegan-washing’ (look at how many vegans and vegan-friendly restaurants we have), ‘green washing’ (look how ecologically responsible and innovative we are), ‘purple-washing’ (look at our gender egalitarian army), ‘Ethiopian-washing’ (look at our Black Jews).
Third Cause: The Lethal Combination of Jihadi Intimidation and Post-Colonial Ideology
Now all this has a certain logic to it, if somewhat perverse. But it doesn’t explain why this largely unconscious and deeply problematic distortion has such vitality, so great a consensus, and such longevity (over two decades and counting). Even Fox News participates in this systemic misinformation. One might expect that in more than just a corner of the Zionist media one would find journalists willing to expose what Palestinians say in Arabic, or admit the public secret that, yes, journalists work hard to appease Palestinian wrath at bad press.
For example, at the height of the Jenin operation, PATV ran the following sermon:
We believe in this Hadith [about killing all the Jews in the world]. We are convinced also that this Hadith heralds the spread of Islam and its rule over all the lands… Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters… Oh Allah, raise the flag of jihad across the earth… Oh beloved, look to the East of the earth, find Japan and the ocean; look to the West of the earth, find the country and the ocean. Be assured that these will be owned by the Muslim nation, as the Hadith says, ‘from the ocean to the ocean.’
One might reasonably expect Middle East journalists to disseminate widely and discuss at length such a startling development. If ‘Nie Wieder! [never again the Holocaust],’ means anything, it means that when some group preaches genocide from the pulpits in conjunction with world conquest, and these genocidal sermons are then broadcast to the public by the political authorities and taken up by mass murderers (including 9-11), that’s news, relevant and accurate… especially when the journalists and their audiences to whom they have professional obligations, are themselves also the targets of these ferocious imperial ambitions.
But no. The gold standard of media silence in these matters had already been set by William Orme of the New York Times, who, in an article on Palestinian incitement, quoted a speech that called on Muslims to ‘slaughter Jews wherever you find them,’ with only a short excerpt:
Israelis cite as one egregious example a televised sermon that defended the killing of the two soldiers. ‘Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews,’ proclaimed Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya in a live broadcast from a Gaza City mosque the day after the killings.
One would be justified upon reading such an article to find the Israeli complaints awfully petty, and feel confirmed in the worldview of liberal cognitive egocentrists and humanitarian racists: the Palestinians just want freedom; the Israelis deny them their rights. And in the meantime, the reader knows nothing of the exterminationist hatreds that fuel Palestinian violence.
This brings us to one of the main sources of the Western detachment from reality, the wave of fake news about Israel and the Palestinian territories that hit in 2000. Not only did Western journalists affirm their cognitive egocentrism by refusing to discuss aspects of Palestinian political culture that violated their amalgamation of ‘human’ and ‘humane,’ they also proved a major conduit for Jihadi war propaganda as news. Starting with the al Durah story of the IDF gunning down a Palestinian boy in his father’s arms, and reaching a paroxysm with unverified and false accounts of massacres at Jenin (2002), the Western news coverage of the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ has continued to feed the Western public sphere with news that both conceptually and in its details, fails to uphold the most elemental standards of the information professions: from running inflammatory, unchecked material about Israel to falling silent about inflammatory easily-checked material from the Palestinians, to refusing to correct proven errors. The degree to which main players in the Western media are compliant with the propaganda demands of the Palestinians can reach alarming levels.
In general, in the history of modern, professional, journalism, even when fake news made it into the legacy media (the most egregious case being the coverage of the famines in Ukraine 1930-33, especially by the award-winning New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty), they were opposed, even denounced, by others, and eventually corrected. However, in the case of the wave of fake-news from Israel, the media consensus is exceptionally broad, and highly resistant to correction. Jenin, for example, remains to this day even among some Jews a meme for Israeli violence against innocent Palestinians. The recent coverage of events in Jenin (Shireen abu Akleh, 2022-23) illustrate how the basic mindset of the news media coincides with the Palestinian narrative: report Palestinian eyewitnesses as reliable, including accusations of deliberate murder; focus on Israeli aggression and Palestinian suffering, treat Israeli civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists as roughly equivalent to the deaths of Palestinian militants defending their terrorists. One of the reasons for this widespread consensus, especially where the journalists based in the region were concerned, springs from one of the great ‘public secrets’ of the profession, the widespread Palestinian intimidation of journalists and the equally widespread and denied acquiescence of journalists to that intimidation.
Journalists like Orme – I’d argue, the pack of journalists and NGO/UN workers, and diplomats who hang out together in the area around Sheikh Jarrah and the Colony Hotel – did not (and still do not) consider themselves compliant with Palestinian demands. To the contrary, they will ‘reject as utterly baseless the charge made by some that there is wilful, systematic “self-censorship” by the foreign press corps assigned to Israel and/or Palestine.’ They were merely reporting what they saw: The Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David. They were just ‘leveling the playing field.’ Their post-colonial framework in which the Israelis are colonial invaders and the Palestinians an innocent indigenous population, serves them as a fig-leaf for their silent compliance with Palestinian intimidation.
And since their compliance is voluntary, even noble, they feel no stick, only carrots. ‘There was no violence directed at us by the Palestinians,’ said one photographer to me in 2014. ‘On the contrary, they liked us and welcomed us. I feel safer with Palestinians than with Israelis.’ And so they would, until, that is, they break with ‘the procedures,’ as did Seager momentarily. The more the compliance, the warmer the reception. In 2014, in response to some striking examples of Hamas intimidation of media especially about reporting when their rockets killed Palestinian children, some reporters to let slip the truth. Gabriel Barbati tweeted about the shell that killed ten boys at Shati refugee camp the previous day:
Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday [yesterday] in Shati. Witness [proof]: militants rushed and cleared debris. @IDFSpokesperson said truth in communique released yesterday about Shati camp massacre. It was not #Israel behind it.
Things got so bad that even the FPA objected to Hamas intimidation, to which the senior NYT correspondent Jodi Rudoren responded: ‘Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense.’ And at the end of the day, the rather disturbing story that Hamas broke its Eid al Fitr truce, killed ten Gazan children, cleaned up the mess and then displayed the scene to journalists blaming Israel, never got very far beyond the Jewish news ghetto.
Again, this is justified in the minds of journalists because they see themselves as siding with the underdog freedom fighters, a cause they see as ‘left-wing.’ The Israelis, by contrast, are ever-more ‘right-wing.’ One of the most commonly heard comments in the mouths of both Palestinians and Western journalists, is ‘the most right-wing Israeli government ever…’ Of course, this necessitates a heavy silence about the brutal authoritarianism on the other side in order to maintain Palestinian progressive bona fides.
The irony of this ‘post-colonial,’ presumably neo-Marxist, Soviet-Palestinian/now journalists’ narrative of the Palestinians’ plight comes from one of the most striking analytic failures of those applying that paradigm to this conflict, namely their assumption that the leadership represents the people, that, as the Soviet propaganda line insisted with such remarkable success in the West: ‘the PLO is the sole representative of the Palestinian people.’ The idea that that elite systematically sacrifices their own people to the elite’s ends, as do all pre-modern elites, cannot penetrate this confusion. As a result, any effort to blame Hamas or the PLO for the violence registers as ‘blaming the victim’ even though these actors are the direct beneficiaries of victimising their people. As a result, one of the most ‘far-right’ movements by any normal definition – fascistic policies including torturing domestic dissidents, misogynistic, racist, oppressive of commoners and minorities – gets the halo effect of representing a ‘people’s liberation’ cause and labelled progressive.
Fourth Cause: Psychological Supersessionism and the Unhealthy Appetite for News of Jews Behaving Badly
Were intimidation alone the problem, however, one would expect journalistic compliance to be as perfunctory as possible, as in other cases of access journalism. And of course, there are always ways to communicate the pressures of intimidation as illustrated by the joke about red and black ink. If you can’t print anything bad about your subjects, you don’t have to report their propaganda as news. What needs explanation is why this particular journalistic lapse in professional ethics expressed itself so vigorously and so enduringly.
For, if not with all journalists, certainly some seem to enjoy putting Israel in the hot-seat. And yet, the most engaged journalists pale besides the even more passionate advocacy of the Palestinian cause by NGO workers upon whom these journalists rely for much of their news reports. The journalists then tone down (some might say, launder) these NGO reports as news. Indeed, NGOs and journalists have a relationship of mutual dependence, the former for getting their message out, the latter for getting news from areas where even journalists cannot go. But it goes well beyond that. Increasingly, journalists as formal groups have adopted the Palestinian cause and see their job as reporting Palestinian grievances. One needs more than intimidation to explain how this level of hostility could prevail among liberal and progressive journalists (and academics).
Some in Zionist Jewish circles, explain the sudden and ferocious turn of the Western intelligentsia against Israel, as antisemitism pure and simple, according to the traditional reading of the expression ‘עשו שונה ליעקוב. – Esau [Rome, gentiles] hates Jacob [Jews].’ And certainly, there is plenty of evidence that antisemitism, defined as hard-wired/prejudicial hostility to Jews, is at play in the attacks on Israel’s legitimacy. But this broad, sometimes mystical accusation does not necessarily help us understand the source of this hostility. Here, I’d like to focus on one particular source, namely a form of psychological supersessionism in which news of Jews behaving badly acts to reassure the consumer of such news about their own self-worth.
Supersessionism has a long history, most clearly articulated by the early Christians as a zero-sum theology in which Christians replaced the Jews as God’s Chosen People, the new ‘light to the nations.’ Inherent in the claim was a self-perception among Christians that they so vastly surpassed the Jews in their moral and ethical teachings as to make Jewish claims to such leadership null and void. With the conversion of Constantine and the ‘Peace of the Church’ – itself a major moral degradation – it became a triumphalist claim: our religion is the true one because we rule. And this claim manifested itself in legislation that demeaned the Jews: their suffering was a sign that God was punishing them for not accepting Jesus as the Christ. Islam, with its dhimmi legislation, instituted such degrading and restrictive legislation for both Christians and Jews under its rule.
Speaking in psychological rather than theological terms, supersessionism is a form of invidious identity formation in which the new claimants assert their superiority over the ones whose status they most envy and therefore resent, through the feeling that they make themselves look bigger by making their rival look smaller. As a result, the more insecure supersessionists feel about their claimed superiority, the more hostile they are to those whose continued competition they find intolerable. Hence, often enough throughout the periods of Christian triumphalist rule, Jews were forced to turn the other cheek while supersessionists slapped them. These shame-honour dynamics reappear, mutatis mutandis, among Muslims and their treatment of dhimmi.
Analysts have pointed out how subsequent secular movements, including the Enlightenment, have adopted much of the supersessionism of their predecessors, whom they believed they far surpassed as the moral leaders of humanity. Indeed, one might argue the only content that the Enlightenment did not reject from among the Christian superstitions they despised was this hostile attitude towards Jews. In its darker and more insecure moments, such rejection of Jewish claims to chosenness projected the supersessionist’s (base) notion of ‘chosenness as master race’ onto the Jews, as in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
And it is to the current generation of ‘secular’ progressive thinking, currently referred to as ‘woke,’ that I would attribute this same zero-sum competitive spirit, one in which debasing the rival reassures one of one’s proper place above all others. When Terje Roed Larsen and so many others, convinced by the Jenin massacre meme, announced, ‘Israel has lost the moral high ground,’ they referred not to losing the moral high ground to Palestinians, but to themselves, the global progressive left, which now considered itself the new moral global hegemon, opposing US and Israeli imperial hegemony. And the more tenuous the claims to moral superiority, the more violent the hatred of Jews.
A strong link connects lethal journalism to some of the most virulent supersessionism. In response to the ‘Jenin massacre meme’ in 2002, both Jews and non-Jews came out with virulent denunciations of the Jewish belief in their chosenness as a justification for treating gentiles as badly as they want. The lethal reporting from Lebanon in 2006 set off a startling tirade from the popular Norwegian science writer Jostein Gaarder. And the 2014 Gaza campaign produced a poem which, in the voice of the Jews proclaims:
we revel in our treasure spun of stolen land,
a god created in our image, draping our souls
with hate and fear enough to warm our hubris,
all we stand tall, all, we are the chosen unto the planets,
we need no other, want no other, will have no other,
suffer no other, no, no, for we are, we are, WE ARE.
Ironically, but predictably, in each case, the projection onto the Jews describes far more accurately the attitudes of their enemies.
But the extreme cases only alert us unmistakably to the phenomenon. In its more mundane and subtle forms, this supersessionist pleasure in the debasement of Jewish claims to high moral standing shows up in the near obsession of the news media with this conflict, and more specifically its predilection for news of Jews behaving badly. Indeed, the thirst for news from the Middle East is so great, that many a scrupulous journalist and photographer has accepted the Palestinian Media Protocols just in order to get access to reports that ‘sell,’ considerably better than, say, reports from the far more devastating events occurring in Syria next door. One sees this clearly in the high premium on covering the lives of Palestinians allegedly taken by Israelis, and the lack of interest in the suffering of Palestinians tortured and killed either by their own leaders, or by other Arabs. It’s an unconscious application of the ‘man bites dog is news’ meme, with all the racism that embodies.
Ironically, many a woke Jew, driven by a perfectionist moral imperative to pursue (social) justice and a strong need to signal that virtue, has joined in the chorus of scolds. In doing so, however, they partake in a messianic mode of thinking – it’s all our fault and if only we were better, we could fix anything – in which all responsibility lies with ‘us Jews,’ and one avoids the apparently degrading and unpleasant act of pointing the finger at someone else. Never blame the victim. And yet, this high-minded act of humanitarian racism actually encourages real antisemites to Jew-wash their animosities and to exploit the Palestinian victims by supporting their worst victimisers.
If Palestinian intimidation explains the basic lines of information journalists convey, it does not explain the tone of that coerced coverage, the moral energy with which journalists and commentators ply their cult of the Occupation and affirm Palestinian claims with the authority vested in them as information professionals. So, whether one attributes the broad consensus to raw intimidation, animus towards a Jewish state, ideological commitments, or just the pleasure of bullying someone ‘everybody agrees’ deserves it, the Western addiction to bad news about Jews has a powerful impact on the quality of ‘knowledge’ about a particularly volatile and critical region of the world that the current crop of post-colonial information professionals delivers.
Fifth Cause: Apocalyptic Millenarian Enthusiasm
One might think this survey was enough to both explain and correct the empirical and moral disorientation of the current PC consensus. After all, becoming aware of unconscious prejudice and correcting it constitutes one of the most fundamental principles of current ‘anti-racism.’ Cognitive egocentrism, humanitarian racism, even the bias of an intimidated media, all can be compensated for when and if the information professionals wish to do so. And, of course, one would hope that a progressive world, so committed to positive sum thinking, would respond appropriately to discovering the zero-sum logic embedded in its unconscious supersessionism and racism. And if moral reasons do not suffice, there’s always the self-interest and self-preservation that comes from shutting down this pipeline of own-goal war journalism and paying attention to the real world.
And yet. It’s hard to imagine that happening.
Which brings us to the last factor in the current detachment from reality: millennial enthusiasm. The apocalyptic millennial mindset, described by Norman Cohn among others, runs roughly as follows: In these times of unprecedented danger, the world is permeated by evil (variously defined as ‘not us’), and the battle between the forces of ‘good’ (us) against this monstrous evil has begun. Only after evil has been destroyed, can the millennium of peace and harmony and plenty begin. The elective affinity of this mindset with cosmic conspiracy thinking is patent.
No human belief is more intense and volatile than millennial dreams in apocalyptic action: believers collectively go from exaltation to despair and rage (and sometimes back). The dream engenders both sublime eros (universal love) and devouring thanatos (both murderous and suicidal). Apocalyptic time – the conviction that now is the Great Transformation – produces millennial movements ‘in action’; indeed, the initial heady success of the movement itself serves as proof that the time has come. Henri Desroche described these movements as ‘taking’ the way a forest fire takes, feeding on its own heat, ceasing only when it has burned itself out.
Apocalyptic memes seize the believers whose minds and souls they enter; rides them, not as Freud’s ego rides the id to restrain it, but to give the exaltation, the inebriation its full head. This leads to destruction far more often than to redemption. And no belief is more resistant to correction, more supple in sustaining itself despite the utter disproof of its tenets, than the conviction that one lives, finally, in apocalyptic time. Still more ominously, millennial movements that take power most often respond to (inevitable) failure with some form of coercive purity in which they try to carve out the perfect society on the body social: the apocalyptic genealogy of totalitarian societies.
Hannah Arendt describes the peculiar relationship of totalitarian (millennial) movements to reality:
Totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations.
In his study of these movements of ‘true believers’ Eric Hoffer noted that ‘Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.’ And what we find among the ‘woke,’ anti-racist, progressive left today is an apocalyptic scenario that they share with apocalyptic Jihadis, in which the US and Israel are the ultimate evil enemies, the twin Satans. The moment of consecration of this visionary alliance came at the first Durban ‘Conference against Racism (August to September 2001),’ where al Durah played the role of patron martyr-saint, demonstrators raised placards featuring Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Osama Bin Laden, and antisemitic (in the hard sense) and anti-American sentiments flourished.
When, in the wake of 9-11, the anti-war movement became a global phenomenon, gathering millions to demonstrate against the Israeli-American Antichrist, the organisers welcomed the presence of diaspora Muslims, who gave the proceedings both great, if somewhat alarmingly militant, energy and passion. Riding high on their sense of destiny, the organisers saw themselves as the moral hegemon of the new century. One finds this alliance, primarily structured around the Palestinian cause (whose hatred of Jews, progressives do not consider antisemitic) pervasive in current progressive/woke circles.
When Black Lives Matter launched in the mid-teens, it made a concerted effort to link its cause with the Palestinian, including a denunciation of Israeli genocide of the Palestinians (!) as part of their platform. Today, thanks to BDS and its broad support among post-colonial academics and the UN-NGO matrix, the Palestinian cause has permeated many other causes and institutions, from the UN and the ICC to the women’s movement and LGBT. As Corinne Blackmer noted, in some cases, the Palestinian issue literally obliterates the topic at hand.
Millennial movements need what Bernard Harrison calls ‘(grand) project-driven homogeneity,’ which takes participants out of their normal(-time) identity and gives them a new, redemptive, apocalyptic one. In today’s anti-racist, woke, progressive culture one finds many of the characteristics of apocalyptic millennialism: the world is threatened with imminent destruction (imminent Global Warming, to which add Terminator-like Artificial Intelligence) and permeated by evil (systemic racism from privileged white supremacists and Zionazis). The solution – the collective end of racism and oppression down to the smallest microaggression, the dismantling of every vestige of innately oppressive power and privilege – is at hand in the here and now; and all dissent shall be banished from this brave new world.
The advocacy journalism that these crusades inspire has invaded the legacy media in the 21st century, even in those areas where, unlike the Middle East, intimidation does not play a primary role. Today’s newsrooms are filled with identity-driven ‘youth’ who rebel against the strictures of ‘objective’ journalism in all its forms – impartial, fair, non-partisan, accurate, accountable. These activists are enabled by a compliant old guard who see ‘new audiences’ for this journalism as an alternative to the old white news consumers. So cowed are the managerial echelons that remnants of serious journalism (Bari Weiss, James Bennet, Ian Buruma, Donald McNiel Jr.), get thrown to wolves of cancel culture on the slightest transgression.
In the summary to his argument that this new journalism can gain the confidence of its readership, Leonard Downie embodies the split between the wishful thinking of post-objective journalism and the realities it systematically ignores:
Trustworthy journalism by a new generation of journalists and newsroom leaders can ensure that the news media continues [sic] to do its [sic] part to protect democracy.
However, journalism cannot be considered trustworthy just because its proponents, extensively quoted in his ‘study,’ assure us that it is (or can be). On the contrary, pretending it’s trustworthy when it’s not, ensures that democracy will be in grave danger.
A number of observers have noted the religious dimension of woke anti-racism, a claim readily dismissed by its practitioners. Vincent Lloyd, after feeling the bite of the revolution turning on its own (i.e. himself), commented: ‘John McWhorter asserts that anti-racism is a new religion. It was an idea I quickly dismissed. Last summer, I found anti-racism to be a perversion of religion: I found a cult.’ A cult, maybe, but more importantly, an apocalyptic cult, one bent on eliminating evil and saving the world.
Today’s ‘woke’ apocalyptic spirit contains a heavy dose of Thanatos. In a sense, the current wave of oikophobia (fear and loathing of one’s own culture) shares some disturbing traits with the suicidal millennial movement known as the ‘Cattle-Slaying’ among the Xhosa in the mid-19th century South Africa. Then, after several failed (millenarian) revolts against the English colonisers, a young woman announced that the ancestors had told her that if the living would only kill their (plague-stricken) cattle and destroy their sickly crops, then the dead would return, sweep away the British and bring new healthy cattle and a bumper harvest. Once the movement took, it induced exaltation at the prospect of English defeat, and every failure was taken as proof that even more – in fact all the – cattle must be sacrificed, including the cattle of those who did not accept the prophecy. When it was over, 400,000 cattle had been killed and 40,000 Xhosa died of famine. And the British imperialists decisively defeated and colonised South Africa.
In today’s millennial drive, one finds a similar self-destructive elation: deconstruction, perhaps the most corrosive form of criticism ever devised, is turned on the Western canon, destroying the very social capital that made progressive politics possible, all done in anticipation of a resulting great liberation from the ‘systemic’ oppression of Western society. True to their humanitarian racism, deconstructionists refrain from directing their corrosive criticism at non-Western cultures, no matter how systemically these other cultures oppress their own weak.
In pursuit of the goal of slaying their social capital (the word comes from capita, heads of cattle), and greatly aided by the power of social media to create a cancel culture through online shaming, Western progressives devour their own. Worse, as they carry out this purge, they lay themselves open to the most destructive, hate-driven apocalyptic movement of our time, Global Jihad. Indeed, this suicidal ‘red-green’ revolutionary alliance already played out in Iran in 1979-80 when Khoumeini’s theocratic redemptive state, once in power, brutally eliminated its communist allies. Even as Western progressives reject their own ‘grand narratives,’ they enthusiastically adopt the grand narratives of other cultures, indeed the very grand, redemptive Caliphator narrative that targets them and their dreams! They willingly, enthusiastically, play the role of messiah’s donkey, vehicle for a saviour who, the time come, will slay them as a crowning sacrifice.
Freud wrote that what he called ‘the reality principle’ kept the id’s libidinous drive in check through the agency of the ego. But when millennial memes drive their vehicles into frenzies, the ego cannot get corrections from the reality principle to alter that behaviour. All evidence that the ‘reality of the external world,’ the empirical world, defies and even contradicts, the believers’ fondest fantasies gets dismissed in a dizzying calculus of cognitive dissonance – they believe anything that reinforces the sense that they are nobly pursuing justice, and are so very close to ‘bending the arc of history towards justice.’ If any single factor explains the profound and enduring commitment of Western progressives to a profoundly unreality-based grand narrative in all its details, I submit a (misguided) unconscious redemptive impulse – social justice now! – plays a central role.
Final Thought: Antisemitism and the Intellectual Revolution
In their introductory statement to the project of studying the ‘intellectual revolution of our time’, the editors of Fathom posed the problem:
Whatever position one takes, it is inconceivable that this intellectual revolution will leave untouched the form taken by the ‘oldest hatred’ because, as David Nirenberg’s monumental study Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition showed us in exhaustive detail, no intellectual revolution ever has. Radically new paradigms of thought have always seen antisemitism shape-shift again, new notions of Jewish malignity and new anathemas emerging out of the ferment.
The foregoing analysis suggests greater precision here. Whatever the promises, potentials, and pitfalls of the intellectual revolutions, the practice of the millennial aspirations embedded in their thinking has been profoundly affected by the mutations in 21st century Jew-hatred. The animus to Jews – fear, envy, shadow projection – has played a critical role in bringing these intellectual revolutions outside the halls of academia to the larger culture, shifting it from an esoteric ideology that only an intellectual could believe, to a (revolutionary) practice with profoundly destructive implications.
The first major wave of fake, advocacy-driven news carried across a broad spectrum of legacy media outlets, came and continues to come from the coverage of the world’s only Jewish state starting in 2000. Subsequent major advances in ‘performing’ these new ideologies have made extensive use, both implicitly and explicitly, of the path opened up by 21st century anti-Zionist lethal journalism. Black Lives Matter, one of the most consequential of such revolutionary movements to go mainstream, identified heavily with the Palestinians, and benefitted from the same media predilections for advocacy journalism and staged emergencies. The elective affinity between woke and antisemitic tropes is well-attested. At least where the more dramatic abuses are concerned, it may be that the ‘new antisemitism’ is less a consequence of the new intellectual revolutions, than a principle contributing factor to both its going from the margins to the centre, and the strength of its death instinct.
 Alan Dershowitz, ‘An Academic Hijacking,’ WSJ, January 28, 2007. Academic Statements 2021 from faculties of Rutgers, Brown, Gender Studies, Jewish Studies. For an analysis of the degree to which these statements ignore key aspects of the situation, see Andrew Pessin, ‘Academia for Hamas,’ Elder of Ziyon, 31 May 2021. On the advances of the post-modern approach to news, see the recent study and op-ed by Leonard Downie, ‘Newsrooms that move beyond “objectivity” can build trust,’ Washington Post, 30 January 2023; responses by Bret Stephens and Richard Landes.
 Izabella Tabarovsky, ‘Soviet Anti-Zionism and Contemporary Left Antisemitism,’ Fathom, May 2019. For only one telling example of its uncontested currency, see the case of the Vice POTUS who, when confronted with a foreign Muslim student accusing Israel of ‘ethnic genocide of the Palestinians,’ replied: ‘I’m glad you did [bring this up] and again this about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth, should not be suppressed. And it must be heard, right?’ See Samuel Chamberlain, ‘Kamala Harris praises student who accused Israel of genocide for telling “your truth”’, New York Post, 28 September 2021.
 Richard Landes, Can ‘The Whole World’ Be Wrong? Lethal Journalism, Antisemitism, and Global Jihad (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2022), chap. 8.
 Attributed to science-fiction author Phillip K. Dick, cited in Mark Goldblatt, I Feel, Therefore I Am: The Triumph of Woke Subjectivism (Bombardier Books, 2022), p. 9.
 Landes, “The Demopath’s Lexicon: A guide to Western Journalism between the River and the Sea,” Israel Affairs, 26.3 (2020): 311-329.
 This is not by any means restricted to Palestinians. Al Jazeera Arabic has been a major purveyor of antisemitism, whereas the English version, slightly cleaned up passes for reliable journalism. See Tarek Ali Ahmad, ‘Al Jazeera Arabic’s long history of anti-Semitism,’ Arab News, 21 May 2019; on Al Jazeera’s reliability, it is rated ‘slight to moderate liberal (!) bias,’ Media Bias Fact-Check.
 Arafat’s first Hudaybiyya speech was in English, but it was privately addressed to fellow (Asian) Muslims in South Africa – not meant for public consumption. See discussion in Landes, ‘Oslo’s Misreading of an Honor-Shame Culture,’ Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs (2019): 189-93; Efraim Karsh, Arafat’s War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest (New York: Grove Press, 2003).
 The most thorough (and depressing) account of this behavior by the peace camp is chronicled by Kenneth Levin, The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege (Hannover, NH: Smith and Kraus Global, 2005).
 On Israeli voters ‘turning to the right’: Carlo Strenger, ‘Why Israel keeps moving to the right,’ Guardian, July 19, 2010; Clare Robbins, ‘How Israeli youth helped usher in the farthest right-wing government ever,’ Vox, February 9, 2023. For an analysis of how a Palestinian state is decidedly not in the interests of the Europeans, despite their enthusiastic support for it, see Wolfgang Bock and Andrew Tucker, Two States for Two Peoples? The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, International Law, and European Union Policy (The Hague: THINC, 2023).
 Landes, ‘Demopath’s dictionary.’ On the relationship between what Israelis say in Hebrew and in foreign tongues, the presence of so many English translations of Hebrew Papers, and the eagerness with which some of them, like Haaretz, reveal every secret they can, means that there is no serious gap between what the Israelis say in private and in public. Note that the Assange files, whose revelations of the duplicity of many diplomats to some extent triggered the Arab ‘Spring,’ held no damning revelations of Israeli duplicity.
 On the role of shame-honor dynamics in Arab political culture, see Landes, Can “The Whole World” Be Wrong?, pp. 191-211. Even ‘liberals’ in today’s Palestinian culture support terror attacks. Elder of Ziyon, ‘The most progressive, liberal, Westernized Palestinians support murdering Jews,’ Elder of Ziyon blog, February 02, 2023.
 ‘But the [AP] bureau’s explicit orders to reporters were to never quote the group or its director, an American-raised professor named Gerald Steinberg’. See Matti Friedman, ‘What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel.’ Part of Steinberg’s work documents how Western diplomats and UN officials, particularly those dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issues, are integral parts of the same network, and generously fund their NGO subcontractors. These international diplomats never quote from, respond to, interact with, or are interested in learning about the research that might embarrass them. Gerald M. Steinberg. ‘European Funding for Palestinian NGOs as Political Subcontracting’, Strategic Assessment 24:4, INSS, Tel Aviv University, November 2021.
 Gadi Wolfsfeld, Charles Enderlin, Yair Hirschfeld and Dennis Ross do not mention Arafat’s Hudaybiyya speech in their lengthy retrospectives on the negotiations. Cf., the contemporary coverage of Connie Bruck, ‘Wounds of Peace,’ New Yorker, 14 October 1996, p. 7.
 Elad Segev and Menachem Blondheim, ‘The footprint of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in online world news: The puzzle of salience,’ Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, 3: 2 (2010): 72-85; Phyllis Chesler, ‘The New York Times’ Orwellian obsession with Israel,’ Israel National News, 11 January 2023.
 The term was originally coined to refer to adolescent boys who tended to assume that everyone was as preoccupied with sex as they were: David Elkind, ‘Egocentrism in Adolescence,’ Child Development, 38:4 (December, 1967): 1025-1034.
 Eli Sagan, The Honey and the Hemlock: Democracy and Paranoia in Ancient Athens and Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
 For an analysis of the failure of Oslo in these terms, see Landes, ‘Oslo’s Misreading.’ There is, for example, no even remotely similar group among Palestinians like B’tselem or Peace Now, Israeli groups that regularly criticise their own side, and demand more concessions for the sake of peace… now! (One lone exception, Bassem Eid.) On journalism, see the school of ‘peace journalists’ in Israel who do everything, including dismissing negative news, in order to encourage peace, Gadi Wolfsfeld, Media and the Path to Peace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
 On the defence of Arafat’s ‘no’ in Western terms, see Deborah Sontag ‘The Quest for Middle East Peace: How and Why It Failed,’ New York Times, 16 July 2001; Robert Wright, ‘Was Arafat the Problem?‘ Slate, 18 April 2002.
 Gadi Wolfsfeld argues that Israeli peace journalism failed because Israeli journalism fell victim to the war-journalism mode, Media and the Path to Peace, chap. 7. He only briefly mentions Palestinian war journalism (p. 186). He argues that if only Israel knew more about Palestinians, they would make the necessary sacrifices for peace. Apparently, knowledge of Palestinian genocidal hatred was not part of that greater knowledge.
 Sarit Catz, ‘Media Silent on Palestinian Leaders’ Incitement to Violence,’ CAMERA, 13 October 2015. This attitude is shared by many in Israel, including many in the Intelligence Community. See The Gatekeepers, discussed in Can ‘The Whole World’ Be Wrong?, p. 407f. Most recently Maj. Gen. (ret.) Tamir Hayman, former head of the Israeli army’s Military Intelligence and now managing director of the Institute for National Security Studies described the volatile situation on the West Bank in terms of ‘lack of hope and prosperity’ without mentioning incitement and genocidal aspirations. See Allison Kaplan Sommer, ‘Netanyahu’s Red Line on Iran Was Crossed. Now What?’ Haaretz, 2 February 2023.
 The current most egregious example is the enforced silence about black-on-black violence in the US. See Connors Friedersdorf, “Should Black Lives Matter Focus on ‘Black-on-Black’ Murders?,” Atlantic Monthly, 7 February 2015; for a recent example of what happens to someone who points this out, Zac Kriegman, ‘I Criticized BLM. Then I Was Fired,’ The Free Press, 12 May 2022.
 Ze’ev Chafets made these points already in 1985 about what he called a ‘double double-standard’: Double Vision: How the Press Distorts America’s View of the Middle East (New York: William Morrow, 1985), 307-11. For an example among many of Israel’s high standards: Mordechai Kramenitzer’s 400-page study: ‘Proportionality: A Critical and Comparative Perspective,’ Center for Democratic Values and Institutions, 2016. There is nothing even remotely similar in Palestinian publications, indeed most praise Palestinian indiscriminate killing and targeting of Israeli civilians. The only references to disproportionate killing appear in accusations leveled at Israel, e.g., ‘The Dahiya Doctrine and Israel’s Use of Disproportionate Force,’ Institute for Middle East Understanding, 7 December 2012.
 Jeff Helmreich, ‘Journalistic License: Professional Standards in the Print Media’s Coverage of Israel,’ Jerusalem Letter / Viewpoints, 460, 15 August 2001; Alex Safian, ‘The Real Story on Israel,’ Wall Street Journal, 12 July 2001; Kenneth Lasson, ‘Betraying Truth: The Abuse of Journalistic Ethics in Middle East Reporting,’ Express (2009).
 Richard Landes, Heaven on Earth, chaps. 12 and 14.
 ‘Each new act of murder and sucide testified to how oppressive were the Israelis. Palestinian terror, in the view, was the measure of Israeli guilt. The more grotesque the terror, the deeper the guilt.’ Paul Berman, Liberalism and Terror, p. 254.
 There’s a distinct difference between Fox editorial stances in the USA and the reporting of their reporters who, like others, are subject to sometimes fierce harassment: Rory McCarthy, ‘Freed Fox pair tell of kidnap torment before forced conversion to Islam,’ Guardian, 28 August 2006.
 Something that German pastors and priests did not do even at the height of the Nazi Holocaust and the admiration of Deutsche Christen for Hitler; see Doris Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
 Landes, Can ‘The Whole World’ Be Wrong?, chap. 9.
 For an extensive discussion of this Palestinian intimidation of the media and the refusal of the media to admit it publicly, see Landes, Can “The Whole World” Be Wrong?, pp. 324-46. See also: Judy Lash Balint, ‘Media Frightened into Self-Censorship,’ WorldNetDaily, May 3, 2001; Stephanie Gutmann, The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for Media Supremacy (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2005).
 Email from William Orme, 22 November 2014.
 For a more detailed account of this seminal moment, see Landes, Can “The Whole World” Be Wrong?, pp. 335-42.
 See the exchange between the Palestinian psychologist Iyad Saraj and Israeli Head of Shabak Ami Ayalon about suicide bombers in The Gatekeepers, discussed in Can ‘The Whole World’ Be Wrong?, p. 407f.
 The journalist who went to cover events in a totalitarian state, instructed to write in black ink what was true and red ink what propaganda and lies, wrote back in black ink, ‘everything wonderful in this utopia, except for a shortage of red ink.’
 Gerald Steinberg, ‘On journalists, political conflict and NGOs,’ Jerusalem Post, 13 December 2014. For an interesting analysis that both lays out the ‘strong bond of attraction,’ between journalists and ‘human rights’ NGOs and the dangers involved, see Carroll Bogert, ‘Whose News?’ Human Rights Watch Report, 2011. Most recent case, Patrick Kingsley mainstreaming AI’s renewed accusation of apartheid in the New York Times.
 Medievalists distinguish between anti-Judaism and antisemitism. I prefer to use antisemitism as a term to designate the kind of implacable hatred expressed by the Nazis (and well received even by those peoples they conquered), namely paranoid/exterminationist Jew-hatred. See David Nirenberg, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition (New York: WW Norton, 2013).
 Richard Landes, ‘“Erases, Replaces…”: The Global Progressive Left, Anti-Zionism, and Post-Modern Supersessionism,’ Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism, 6.1 (Spring 2023).
 This is the thesis of Galvin Langmuir on late medieval explosions of Jew-hatred as a response to a crisis of faith: History, Religion, and Anti-Semitism (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 232-305.
 There is a marked paucity of recent studies of dhimmi status and behavior. Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (Philadelphia: Farleigh Dickinson Press, 2001).
 Landes, Can ‘The Whole World’ Be Wrong?, pp. 116-19.
 For a comparison of the Guardian’s use of photos from Syria and Gaza, in which they featured 31 photos from a Gaza conflict in which 209 died, while only 23 from same period of Syrian warfare in which 16,000 people died, see Adam Levick, ‘Guardian Photos of the Week: Gaza and Syria, a Case Study In ‘Disproportionality’,’ CAMERA, 28 January 2019. Similarly, war photos from Syria are subjected to great scrutiny for manipulation (Reuters Denies Ethical Allegations, While Some Syria Photographs Still Questioned,’ NNPA, 18 March 2014), and in some cases, rejected wholesale by newspapers (Michael Zhang, ‘Sunday Times Telling Freelance Photogs Not to Submit War Images from Syria,’ PetaPixel, 5 February 2013.
 Alvin Rosenfeld was one of the earliest to document this phenomenon in the 21st century: “Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Antisemitism (New York, AJC, 2006). See also Edward Alexander, Jews against Themselves (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2015).
 Cohn gives a generic definition which I have slightly altered (as indicated):
- collective, in the sense that it is to be enjoyed by the faithful as a collectivity;
- terrestrial, in the sense that it is to be realised on this earth and not in some other-worldly heaven;
- imminent, in the sense that it is to come both soon and suddenly [for this I use ‘apocalyptic’ – RL];
- total, in the sense that it is utterly to transform life on earth, so that the new dispensation will be no mere improvement on the present but perfection itself.
- the evil ones were to be exterminated; after which the Saints – i.e. the poor, the victims – would set up their kingdom, a realm without suffering or sin.
Norman Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages, p. 15. I have left off his final component (‘miraculous, in the sense that it is to be accomplished by, or with the help of, supernatural agencies’), since the variety of this thinking I examine here is in many cases (like Marxism) resolutely secular. And I have added at the end of the list, a later passage specific to the bottom-up rebellious variety that is the main theme of his study and here. On millennialism, see Landes, Heaven on Earth (2011); Catherine Wessinger (ed.): Oxford Companion to Millennialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); and Jonathan Searle and Kevin Newport (eds.), Beyond the End: The Future of Millennial Studies (Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 2012).
 Freud postulated a ‘death instinct’ to match the ‘pleasure instinct’ in order to explain World War One (Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, 1920). Subsequent psychologists dubbed it ‘Thanatos.’ He didn’t live long enough to understand that that was only the first round of a ‘thirty years war’ (1914-45) in which the death instinct of the second round would far outstrip the first. On Nazis as an ‘active cataclysmic’ apocalyptic movement, see Landes, Heaven on Earth, chap. 12.
 Henri Desroche, Dieux d’hommes: Dictionnaire des méssianismes et millénarismes de l’ère chrétienne (Paris: Mouton, 1969), p. 6.
 See Lee Quinby, Anti-Apocalypse: Exercises in Genealogical Criticism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994); Charles Zeiders and Peter Devlin, Malignant Narcissism and Power: A Psychodynamic Exploration of Madness and Leadership (New York: Routledge, 2020).
 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973) p. 353; cited by Roger Kimball, ‘Deliver us from Reality,’ American Greatness, May 13, 2023.
 Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (New York, Harper, 1951), 91.
 Landes, ‘Fatal Attraction: The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad,’ in The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, ed. Cary Nelson and Gabriel Brahm (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014), chap. 20.
 Landes, Can “The Whole World” Be Wrong?, pp. 41-47. On the apocalyptic narrative that drives the movement for a global Caliphate, see Landes, “Caliphators: A 21st Century Millennial Movement,” MERIA: Middle East Review of International Affairs, 21.2 (Summer 2017).
 For a survey of the problem, see Eunice Pollack, “Black Antisemitism in America, Past and Present,” INSS, 1 June, 2022.
 ‘In queer and women’s studies programs, the topic of Palestine is regularly inserted into the most unlikely contexts, to the extent that one student in a class about queer history told me that they discussed nothing but Palestine.’ Corinne Blackmer, ‘The Queering of Antisemitism,’ Tablet, 23 February 2023. Bernard-Henri Levy described a similar effect at Durban (2001): ‘…all the activists for all the just causes who had arrived [at Durban] full of hope, persuaded that they finally had a stage upon which to express themselves, and who ended up reduced to silence by the screaming activism of those who wanted … to see a single face, that of the little boy Muhammad al-Durrah — and only wanted to hear a single slogan: “Free, free Palestine.”’ Bernard-Henri Levy, Left in Dark Times: A Stand against the New Barbarism (New York: Random House, 2008), p. 94.
 Bernard Harrison, Blaming the Jews (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020), p. 111. He does not use the millennial terminology I do here.
 Landes, Heaven on Earth, chap. 4.
 For two recent examples at CNN, see Frederick Pleitgen and his Palestinian Media Protocols Compliant description of the deliberate targeting of three women in a car (the Dee family), followed-up by close direct shots, as ‘There was a shooting incident where a car received a bullet shot, or gunshots, with the family in it. It was a mother and her two daughters, and the two daughters were killed in that crash.’ Critiqued by David Litman, CAMERA, 9 May 2023. For the logic behind these failures of reporting see Landes, Can ‘The Whole World’ Be Wrong? pp. 315-19. For an example of lethal journalism, see, for example, Christiane Amanpour’s unquestioned adoption of the Palestinian narrative that the killing of journalist Shireen abu Akleh was deliberate.