If we mistakenly imagine that this is “about” the Jews, however, we fall into the trap that anti-Semitism sets for us by deflecting attention from perpetrators to victims. The trail of terror leads not to the Jews but from those who organize against them. Fingering the Jews—in their homeland or elsewhere—is a pretext. In every case, Jews are convenient targets standing in for the liberalizing aspects of individual freedom, democratic governance and modernity complete with its anxieties. Anti-Jewish politics aims at the tolerant societies in which Jews flourish.
One of those societies is Israel. Adjusting our sights, if we follow the trail of Middle East terror back, past its current practitioners—Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and various offshoots and affiliates—we arrive at the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The PLO was founded in 1964—three years before the war launched by the Arab states from which Israel emerged in possession of some disputed territory on the west bank of the Jordan River. Until 1967, the PLO and its offshoots had existed in Jordan but been suppressed; after the war, as the PLO focused its terror exclusively against the Jews, money began to flow to the organization from the Arab states. A pure product of ideological anti-Semitism, the PLO and its terrorism formed but one weapon in the Arab war that was failing to destroy Israel by other means.