I am frustrated, because in the past few weeks I’ve received various email forwards from many people I respect that are laden with anger and frustration at Israel’s campaign of collective punishment in Gaza. These are intelligent, tolerant people – mostly muslim, but also christian, hindu and atheist – who have never been tainted by anti-Semitism in the past. But the emails are vicious and invoke Hitler and draw the usual Nazi comparisons. One of the most upsetting is an email which pairs images from Nazi occupation of Poland with images from Gaza and the West Bank, which makes a visceral equivalence that is virtually impossible to reason against.
Gaza has been radicalizing public opinion against Israel worldwide. It’s sad to see how anti-Semitism flourishes and takes root in the space created by the anger and helplessness. Israel may claim to have won the tactical battle but it has suffered a massive, self-inflicted, strategic defeat. And so too have the Jewish people as a whole.
It bears repeating in black and white – the actions of Israel, despite the Isaeli government’s own propaganda to the contrary, are NOT representative of Judaism or Jews as a collective whole, any more than the actions of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are of Islam and muslims as a whole, or even the actions of the Bush Administration were of America or Americans as a whole.
There is yet hope. Just as electing Obama virtually ended anti-Americanism’s spread worldwide overnight, so too can Israel fight anti-Semitism worldwide, by doing the right thing: dismantling the settlements in the West Bank, opening up Gaza, and engaging in genuine diplomacy towards a two-state solution. In other words, to choose Jewishness and Democracy over Greater Israel. If Israel does not, then the only option left will be a binational state.
UPDATE: in response to an analogy to the Holocaust at Talk Islam, I comment:
Israel is certainly inflicting collective punishment on the
Palestinians. But did I miss railroad cars and forced deportations? Are
there concentration camps built around giant ovens somewhere I haven’t
been paying attention?
Lets be as accurate as possible so that our genuine moral outrage
isn’t so easily deflected. Israel is engaged in war crimes and is
violating the Geneva Convention; it deserves censure, boycott, and
sanctions. Israel is not, however, gassing Palestinians en masse.
Note, however, that “Israel isn’t as bad as the Nazis” is damning with faint praise, indeed.