It is not Anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. It IS Anti-Semitic to irrationally hate on Jewish people. Jews are NOT killing Palestinians. The State of Israel is killing Palestinians. Judaism, to my mind, is a faith not a nationality. That Israel is largely populated by Jewish people has nothing to do with it. Plenty of Jews around the world condemn the heavy-handed actions of Israel, so perhaps it is time to stop framing some of the argument around these terms. To point the finger at the entirety of the Jewish people for the actions of Israel is the equivalent of blaming ALL Catholics for the sexually aberrant, pedophilic tendencies of SOME of the Catholic Church’s priests… disproportionate and wrong-headed (much like Israel’s response to Palestine).
I suppose, for some, it’s just easier to have a go at a European Jew or an American Jew, simply because they’re a conveniently closer target for an impotently angry person’s sense of righteous indignation than an actual Israeli. This IS Anti-Semitic, to generalize so wantonly and in such an uninformed manner; to engage in a ‘they’re-all-the-same’ mentality, to be incapable of nuance, is a fundamental basis for racism, for all forms of intolerance and narrow bigotry in fact.
What is happening in Gaza is unconscionable, grotesque; it is a situation that has gotten way out of hand – but it is also a vastly more complex situation – both historically and geopolitically as well as morally – than most people have had any time to really think about. It’s certainly a lot more complicated than blaming ‘the Jews’ or, indeed, the state of Israel hysterically claiming Anti-Semitism every time someone dares to question the degree and vehemence of its Palestinian onslaught.
Whatever the actual right and wrongs of the conflict, criticism of Israeli military action is, at worst, anti-Israel; for a great many people around the world, I suspect, such criticism is more an expression of anti-war sentiment (whoever happens to be fighting), of anti-bloodshed and anti-bullying… in much the same way as it was meant when huge amounts of people around the world openly demonstrated against the – contentiously illegal – occupation of Iraq. In much the same way that they are cynically framing criticism of the Gaza situation as Anti-Semitic, the Neo-con, right-wing elements of the media framed such anti-Iraq-occupation protest as Anti-American (and framed all those Americans who were also against the occupation as traitors). Of course, it wasn’t that; it was simply disgust that we could still be engaged in this sort of behavior at this stage in our evolution… and a belief that there has to be a better way of resolving our differences than with violence. Violence begets violence – we’ve seen it again and again – and the violence being visited upon Palestine by the state of Israel – not Jews, the state of Israel – looks set to guarantee another three generations’ worth of cyclical conflict and vengeance.
Of course, there is one other way that this will stop. Israel has been making claims that the world is looking at a second Holocaust – they are, of course, referring to another Holocaust against themselves, but that is NOT going to happen… Israel is a powerful nation, with great wealth and weaponry behind it, just like other globally powerful nation states. No, the danger now is that Israel itself will become RESPONSIBLE for a new Holocaust, when almost the entire population of Palestine is wiped out in the throes of genocidal, paranoid madness. Israel might argue that such an outcome will not and cannot be the case – who would want to believe such a thing of themselves – but the region is consumed by total hatred, and the rhetoric issuing from both sides thrums like a thickly plucked cello string with terrible psychological damage… people are capable of anything in that sort of condition. It might sound like the temporary insanity argument… but it fits. Israel and Palestine are caught up in a terrible, terrible madness. We all know – the Jewish people especially – what happened when Germany went temporarily insane in the 1930s.
Sadly, retrospection and change will not yet be the order of the day, as has often proved the wont of humans when it comes to repeating the tragedies and idiocies of history. We’re still quite not there yet, are we? We’re not quite at that stage where we can all just go, ‘No, this is not the way.’ As it stands, there is one, definitive way in which this conflict will end… with the annihilation of Palestine. Yes, there will be recriminations afterwards; there will be criticism, maybe even a sanction or two for a few years, but, I fear, the international community will end up doing what it has always done – whether we’re talking about the US in Vietnam or Iraq, or the British in India or Africa, or Russia and Ukraine – we’ll tamp down those feelings of ethical indignation and we’ll forget all about it. We’ll have wagged our fingers and that will have been enough to satisfy our belief in our own self-righteousness. It’s a whole lot easier than addressing our mutual complicity.