Over the past 100 years, the world has seen the creation of some 100 new states -- perhaps more states in a shorter period than ever before in the history of the world. Most of those new states have not proved very successful. But there is one among the states that has succeeded magnificently: the state of Israel. So guess which is the one state that people worldwide seek to overthrow? Terrorist-sponsoring Pakistan? Oil-corrupted Nigeria? Oppressive Uzbekistan?
Nope, nope, and nope again.
OK, OK, you say, tell us something we don't know.
Fine. Over the past few years, there's been an interesting shift among opponents of the state of Israel. They've begun to call themselves "post-Zionist" -- a bland, bloodless phrase. The idea embedded in the phrase is that Israel can somehow be transitioned away from its current status as a Jewish homeland via some technical process not involving massacres and exile -- that Israel can be abolished without harm to the Israelis.
It's not a very realistic project, to put it mildly. But it's an attractive slogan to those who dislike Israel and don't want to face the implications of that dislike.
Last weekend, militant groups inside Gaza launched a rocket barrage against southern Israel. Up to a million Israelis have had to take refuge in bomb shelters. 200,000 children missed school. This is what anti-Zionism looks like.
Over that same week, as so often in the past, Canadian university campuses have been disgraced by renewed vilification of Israel under the slogan of "Israel Apartheid Week." The good news for Canada is that these acts of vilification have been met with resounding criticism from political leaders. Federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said forcefully:
"The organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week use the cover of academic freedom to demonize and delegitimize the state of Israel. In reality, this week is nothing more than an unbalanced attempt to paint Israel and her supporters as racist; this week runs contrary to Canadian values of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding."
Liberal leader Bob Rae agreed:
"It is... difficult to understand why this year the focus continues to be on Israel, rather than on the appalling massacres and human-rights violations that have reached intolerable heights in countries such as Syria and Iran."
The short answer to Rae's haunting question is that anti-Israelism has never been about human rights. Anti-Israelism has always been about the destruction of one nation and one people.
For many Israelis and many Jews, the continuing intensity of that ancient hatred understandably feels a crushing, intolerable, and ultimately baffling burden.
It's a tragic fact of human psychology that some people targeted by hatred will seek to find in themselves some reason that they are hated. By blaming themselves, they can impose some sense on a universe that otherwise seems terrifyingly senseless. By blaming themselves, they can perhaps hope to find some escape from hatred -- short, that is, of the murder or suicide which is what the haters say they want for them.
"If we abolish this part of ourselves -- or that -- will you then stop despising us? Will you then grant us permission to continue to exist in some subordinated form or other?"
It's a pattern of thought we see in abused children, in battered women, in bullied gays -- and in post-Zionist Jews.
Sometimes it even works a little and for a time, but always at a terrible price.
The point of Zionism was to put an end to the centuries-old pattern that taught Jews to survive by abnegating themselves. And in that, Zionism succeeded. It succeeded for Jews inside Israel -- and as Israel flourished, Zionism succeeded for Jews outside Israel, too. If Jews in Canada and Europe and the United States dare today to speak up for themselves in ways that would have shocked their great-grandparents, it is in great part the success of Israel that inspires them.
And those Jews who imagine that they can advance or even retain that self-respect by denigrating Israel -- or, worse, by appeasing those who seek to destroy Israel -- are making a terrible error. There is no "post-Zionism." There is only "anti-Zionism" -- the modern form of an ancient malignity.
That's the issue for the Jews in the Israeli bomb shelters. It's the same issue for the Jews taunted on Canadian university campuses by those who push pamphlets calling for the destruction of this one, and only one, of the nations of the world.
This blog originally appeared in the National Post.
Follow David Frum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@davidfrum