Anti-Israel protests
Photo: AP

Open your eyes to reality

Op-ed: World Jews shouldn’t ignore anti-Israel sentiments fuelled by anti-Semitism

In recent years the anti-Israel sentiment throughout the world has been gaining considerable strength. Boycotts of Israeli products and even Israeli professionals have become commonplace in some parts of Europe. Harsh protests against Israel can be witnessed in city squares or on university campuses in North America, Australia and South America. Hollywood icons and even former presidents employ one-sided language in publicly chastising Israel and blaming her for the lack of regional peace.


In such an environment, the question begging to be asked is whether the majority of the current anti-Israel sentiment is in reality just a disguised form of underlying anti-Semitism, or whether the two items are unrelated?


When I hear firsthand stories of Jewish students on American campuses being afraid to openly identify with Israel, is this because of a threatening anti-Israel environment and nothing more? When Arabs enter into a large well-known French store outside of Paris and openly trash Israeli-made products without any police interference, is this solely an anti-Israel act? Similarly, when a local Arab group performs a flash dance in front of holiday shoppers in a St. Louis mall singing against "Israeli Apartheid" and calling for a boycott of a company that operates in Israel, are these people only against Israeli policies and nothing more?


These and a thousand other stories make it hard to believe that such blatant acts, as well as the atmosphere which seems to be nurturing them, are driven by feelings that are merely anti-Israel without any connection to being anti-Jewish.


Why wait?

Our long history in exile was periodically punctuated by times of acute anti-Semitism in our various host countries. Sometimes this was due to seemingly blind hatred while at other times it was the result of domestic problems in our host nation. Whatever the specific reason, and with the adage “those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it” in front of our eyes, it’s time that the anti-Israel wave currently sweeping large parts of the world be examined more closely.


Moreover, as it is hard to believe that anti-Semitism is not a factor in the current trend, then no Jewish community in the Diaspora - be it in America, Australia, France or Argentina - should be excused from addressing the issue and no community should be lulled into thinking that things cannot get worse in their host country.


It is more difficult today to identify genuine anti-Semitism today, as in the past there was no State of Israel and thus there was no opportunity for concealing anti-Semitism under the guise of only being anti-Israel. Nonetheless, this complexity does not mean that the current situation should be foolishly ignored or denied. Therefore, to continue placing one's head in the sand and to think that all the anti-Israel sentiment sweeping large parts of the world is exactly that and nothing more, as many of the apologists would like us to believe, is being a bit naïve.


Moreover, as according to many observers both the American empire is currently teetering and economic disarray is a real possibility for many of the Euro bloc countries over the next few years, and nobody knows with certainty what will happen or who will be blamed should the situation there suddenly deteriorate, why risk it all by remaining in the Diaspora?


While the State of Israel was unfortunately not a reality during the dark times of the past, today it exists. True, it’s full of many problems and difficulties and it’s not always so simple to live here, but nonetheless it is an open and available home for the Jewish people. Moreover, as it is always preferable to come live here from one's own volition rather than being forced to flee here, why wait and take the chance?




פרסום ראשון: 12.28.10, 00:24
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