The goal of the Radicalism of fools has always been to develop a deeper understanding of anti-Semitism rather than to respond to news events. Nevertheless it is necessary to say something about Israel’s unintended killing of seven aid workers. That is because the calamity could play a role in crystalising some of the trends already discussed on this site. In particular the one-sided response to the catastrophe looks set to reinforce a new blood libel against the Jewish people.

There should be no doubt that the killing of the aid workers was accidental. From the perspective of Israel’s self-interest it would have been entirely predictable that such an event would severely damage its international standing. To deliberately engage in such an operation would have been totally irrational from its perspective.

It looks likely there was a degree of negligence involved. But to draw firm conclusions it will be necessary to wait for the results of the official Israeli enquiry and more considered enquiries others might conduct.

However, for anti-Israel activists it simply confirms their prejudice that it is in the nature of Israel (and by extension Jews) to want to kill non-Jews. This is the contemporary version of the medieval blood libel. This outlook was already apparent in the constant mantra that 

Israel is engaged in genocide in Gaza rather than defending itself against a mortal enemy. 

In that context it is worth remembering that the charge of genocide against Israel long pre-dates the current conflict in Gaza. It goes back many years if not decades. Despite a huge rise in the Palestinian population the accusation that Israel is trying to wipe it out has long been routine.

It is also clear that Israel’s critics are winning the propaganda war. It has become routine to portray Israel as a mighty military power even though it is massively outgunned by other powers in the region. Nor is there much understanding that Israel faces a genocidal threat not only from Hamas but also Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. These are in turn backed by Iran and by Qatar.

The word “genocide” has become heavily overused but in Israel’s case it is facing an avowedly genocidal threat. The political movements and countries which support Islamism – a totalitarian movement operating in the name of Islam - have openly pledged to destroy it and kill its citizens. From Israel’s perspective it is fighting an existential battle against an implacable enemy.

It is also clear that the West does not have the stomach to support the fight against Islamism. Weeks before the killing of the aid workers it was apparent that the western powers, including America, did not want Israel to finish Hamas off. That is the real reason they have been holding Israel back from attacking Rafah in southern Gaza. Yet as long as Hamas maintains a substantial presence there – including tunnels into Egypt – it will be in a strong position to rebuild.

The Western powers are also reluctant to fight Islamism at home. Just think of the teacher at Batley grammar school in Britain who has been in hiding for three years after teaching a lesson on blasphemy including a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. Yet the authorities have given him relatively little backing. There are countless other examples of the appeasement of Islamism in the West.

Four key conclusions can be drawn from recent events:

·  The one-sided response to the tragic killing of the aid workers will strengthen anti-Semitism. It has bolstered the conclusion that it is in the nature of Jews to want to kill innocent civilians. This is a modern version of the blood libel.

·  Israel’s position has become even more vulnerable. Not only does it face implacable hostility from the Islamist movement but it has relatively little support from the West.

·  Few understand the threat of Islamism as a contemporary form of totalitarianism. Israel may be on the front line but Islamism is a menace to democracy and freedom everywhere.

 ·   The most intractable underlying problem is the technocratic form of politics currently dominant in the West. Its supporters may consider themselves liberal but they share several of the worst feature of Islamism: hostility to modernity, deep scepticism about the nation state, an attachment to identity politics and an aversion to liberal freedoms. Indeed their appeasement of Islamism is a reflection of the fact that they have much in common.

The task of understanding anti-Semitism is more urgent than ever. Not only is it vital for the fate of the Jews but it is also key to grappling with the most dangerous political trends worldwide.