Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why is there such hatred of Israel?

I am trying to understand why so many people single out Israel for their protests when as far as I can see they are the most open and progressive country in the region.

There are many that point out the plight of the Palestinians, but they are hardly the only people to be displaced. The Palestinians also chose to leave. We hear nothing about the Germans expelled for numerous places in 1945. We do not hear about the displacement of Croats, Serbs and Bosnians in the former Yugoslavia. Tibet gets some headlines, but a lot less than the Palestinians even though the Tibetan situation is much worse. Few of these people live in refugee camps for generations, but Palestinians do.

There are many examples of forced ethnic cleansing over the last 65 years and this is not what happened in Israel. Clearly, if it was the plight of the Palestinians, people would be focusing on many other groups that suffered more.

Israel is allied with the US, this seems to be the justification from many people. But in no way is Israel as close an ally of the US as Canada, the UK and Australia are. The newly emerging democracies in eastern Europe are the most gung ho US allies, countries like Poland and Estonia. It is Israel that is singled out for being an instrument of the Americans. Clearly the issue is not the alliance with the US.

Israeli human rights abuses are raised, but the Palestinian government abuses their own people much more dramatically than the Israelis ever have. There is also no discussion of the lack of the most basic human rights in countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia and many more countries. Why would one expend the energy to protest human rights abuses in the most liberal country in the region?

The only answer that seems to make any sense is that the opposition to Israel is grounded in a hatred of Jews. The people opposed to Israel say they are not anti-semitic, that they only oppose the actions of the state of Israel, but it seems the only Jew they accept is one that says Jews should not protect themselves from attacks.

If people want to criticize Israel, they should ensure that they put in the context that the Israelis are doing better than their neighbours. Letting fascists in the Gaza Strip get away with some of the worst oppression of people is significantly more relevant than any of the actions of Israel. Criticism of Israel needs to remind people that countries like Saudi Arabia are worse for Arabs than Israel.

I am all to aware of the shortcomings of the state of Israel, but it is still a much better place to live than most of the rest of the countries in the region. I also keep in my mind that Israel is a small country that still has neighbours that officially state their intent is to destroy the country. Israel tolerates Hamas while Hamas calls for the death of the Jews. A small country with few resources and not lot of people is surrounded by hostile countries. It is an amazing feat they have not become to a dictatorship.

Without balance, the criticism of Israel is just modern veiled antisemitism. I listen to western Palestinian activists and there is a strong undercurrent of dislike for Jews. There is dangerous quasi antisemitism among the left in many western countries.
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