By Lock Bailey
Anti-Semitism is rising in the world. One reason for the hate is the inability for many to separate the policies of Israel with the people of Israel. Few seem to see the distinction.
Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times quoted Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman last week: “The first victim of war is nuance. The idea of having a nuanced opinion that recognises the suffering on both sides and the complications is almost impossible to maintain.”
This past month crowds in the United States and Europe have gathered to protest against Israel invading Gaza. 10,000 protestors gathered in Washington D.C. alone. But in place nuance was only poison and vitriol. Signs equated the Star of David with the Swastika. There were posters of Israel’s Prime Minister in Nazi uniforms. One giant banner implored Jews to “not do to the Palestinians what Hitler did to you.”
World opinion of Israel is very low. On August 6, the Economist noted that “only North Korea, Pakistan and Iran” are lower. There are real reasons why Israel is disliked, and there are real reasons why America is disliked, and both countries need to listen to world sentiment. Both parties need to allow for nuance. This is not easy for states such as Israel when other leaders openly reveal their hostility. Preparing for the upcoming elections, for example, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan told Jewish citizens to protest Israel’s war on Gaza because Israel has now “surpassed even Hitler” in crimes.
Along with the rise of anti-Semitism is the rise of anti-Arabism, especially in the United States and Israel. Files leaked by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden show such racism against Arabs. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allowed the NSA and the FBI to search private information of Arab and Muslim Americans. Agents would fill-in documents of each Arab American searched. In place of fake names like “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” were the names “Mohammad Raghead” or “Mohammed Towelhead,” showing some of the low-level respect that high-level U.S. officials have for Arab Americans.
More Arab hate was in Israel’s financial center last week. In Tel Aviv thousands of Israelis gathered to protest the War in Gaza. Thousands gathered on the other side of the street to jeer and condemn protestors. Many held signs with Arabic slurs and many chanted “Death to Arabs.” Some Israeli’s even set up lawn chairs while “eating popcorn” on hilltops near the border of Gaza “cheering” the bombing of Palestinian cities and “clapping when blasts [were] heard,” according to Middle East correspondent Allan Sorensen for Denmark’s “Kristeligt Dagblad” and reported with photos in the New York Times.
Nuance has been killed this past month. American news channels spit at guests, asking loaded questions, and responding with rage. These hostilities are no different from other violent times, however. Reporting on the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell noted a truism: “Truth becomes untruth, it is felt, when your enemy utters it.” How very unfortunate this is.