The World Does Not Criticize Israel Because of Anti-Semitism

Hello. My name is Amit. I was born in Israel in 1986. My family and I moved to Miami, FL in 1991. The American-Jewish community I was raised in, also in large part an Israeli ex-pat community, was heavily Zionist and thus shaped my worldview as both an Israeli-American and a Jewish girl. 

Present day, I am 28 years old. I no longer identify as a Jew nor a Zionist. After years of programs, trips and seminars geared to instill Jewish pride, passion for the state of Israel, and belief in it’s need and right to exist as a Jewish state, I hold none of these things. I once found a sense of spirituality in observance of Jewish rituals, but eventually came to see all religious rituals alike. I have no need for religion in my life nor the need to identify with a religious group as a culture. Culture, for me is a vague concept. It is not static. It is nothing more than clusters of people with shared habits, language (slang included), diets, clothing, etc. More importantly, I am not a Zionist.

I am very well-versed in Israeli “Hasbara” from the aforementioned programs and seminars. In college I attended Birthright, the Hasbara Fellowships program (twice), heard the Alan Dershowitz and Neil Lazarus spiels, and was thoroughly warned and prepped and armed to defend Israel on my campus against “anti-Israel attacks” that are often, if not always, veiled anti-Semitic attacks. (Of course, anti-Semitism is exclusively used to mean anti-Jewish in these circles.)

So the story goes by my former educators as such:

There was always a Jewish presence in the land, and the Zionist movement began encouraging migrations half a century before the state was declared.

A two-state solution was offered at the time of the partition and the Arab population rejected it and proceeded to attack the new state.

Palestine was only named Palestine by the British during their mandate which was the name of an ancient, extinct group called the Philistines, and therefore the idea of a “Palestinian people” was “invented”. Palestine never existed independently, as it was occupied by the Turks prior to the British mandate.

Israel has given and offered more land concessions for peace than any other country in the world. Israel was forced to defend itself in the 6 Day War (1967), in which it “assumed control” of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. Israel offered to exchange this land for peace with it’s neighbors, but the Arab countries yet again refused to recognize Israel’s existence or make peace. (We were taught by the Hasbara program in particular to only refer to the occupied territories as “disputed”). 

Israel is held to a double standard, it doesn’t have a partner in the peace process and all it’s citizens want peace, but have to maintain the occupation or “disputed territories” solely for security. 

It is a liberal, secular, Jewish democracy in a sea of oppressive, brutal, primitive, sexist homophobic countries all around. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Arab woman have the right to vote. Terrorists rule and brainwash the Palestinians to become martyrs and kill Jews. 

The talking points go on and on and the bottom line is that the “conflict” will end when the world, and particularly Israel’s neighbors, “recognize its right to exist”. 

While I look back on all of this in awe of my naiveté, I am amazed that it once made perfect sense to me. The crux of all of this is indeed the question of Israel’s right to exist, which is essentially the question of the right for a Zionist state to exists. This is where my former educators and I agree, but the answer to this question is where we vastly differ. 

One thing about the Hasbara Fellowships is that they include some left-leaning speakers in the program that I firmly believe is only to prove that all voices are heard in “the beacon of 
democracy that is Israel”. The program is run by Aish HaTorah, one of the largest organizations and yeshivas in Israel that is unapologetically religious Zionist. Nonetheless, I heard Yael Dayan speak on one sunny day in Tel Aviv. She was on the Tel Aviv city council at the time. Her father, Moshe Dayan (the famous military leader), joined the Hagana at 14, was a commander in the 1948 War (War of Independence to some), was Chief of Staff of the IDF during the Suez crisis, and was the Defense Minister during the 1967 War. Yael, nonetheless, went on to be a left-wing politician and peace activist. That morning I heard her say that the right of return (for Jews) is racist and must end. The thought never crossed my mind before. That was the first time I was confronted with the inherent inequity of what a Jewish state is in theory versus reality. 

The justifications were always plentiful and available, but all boiled down to a single point: without a Jewish state, there will be another Shoa, another Jewish holocaust. Invoking “The Holocaust” is a constant. So much so that the entire Nazi genocide in Europe is remembered solely as the murder of 6 million Jews.

In my Jewish upbringing and holocaust education the gypsies and disabled were mentioned usually as an afterthought. But it wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I discovered exactly how many non-Jews the Nazis murdered along with Jews in the death camp. The number is estimated to be between 5 and 6 million, a million of which were Catholic Poles. 

This was indeed an unfathomable tragic event in history. My grandmother, whom I love dearly and am very close with is a living survivor of the concentration camps. I descend from people who were ruthlessly massacred by people that were enraged with an elitist, nationalist ideology and chose to identify my grandmother and everyone else in Western Europe with whom she shared a set of customs, rituals and perhaps lineage.

Unfortunately those that consistently invoke the Nazi genocide as a justification for a Jewish state and occupation conveniently choose to focus solely on the Jewish victims and have also taken ownership of the word “holocaust” itself. The murder of 6 million Jews is often written as the most tragic event or the worst genocide in modern history. But why are we even in the business of rating genocides from bad to worse? Why do Jews insist on claiming that they won the Oppression Olympics? What determines the worst? Is it number of people killed? The Nazis killed 11-12 million in Europe and the number of Soviets killed is estimated anywhere from 14 to 26 million. Unfortunately, human history is full of brutal genocides, but to claim a single one and raise it above all other suffering and death as your badge of victimhood is both immoral and cynical. 

Nonetheless, this practice has young Jews around the world defending Israel’s right to exist and fight terrorists because they are convinced that it’s existence is the only protection Jews have from another such genocide. Thus all opposition to this notion are deemed anti-Israel i.e. anti-Jewish. 

Who is a Jew?

The first dilemma of Jewish nationalism is having to define a religion politically. Who is a Jew? By Jewish law, a Jew is a person born to a Jewish mother and decedent of the 12 tribes of Israel. That is quite vague and arbitrary, especially considering the impossibility of tracing your lineage to biblical times. Add on to that the fact that there are many forms of observing Judaism and many of which allow conversion into the religion. There are also those who identify as non-observant or secular Jews. This is because Judaism for many is nothing more than the rituals you practice with your family a few times a year. Having a seder makes you Jewish like having Thanksgiving dinner or watching fireworks and eating hot dogs on July 4th makes you American. For some it’s a personality, an accent, a sprinkling of Yiddish words in conversations- a whole host of possibilities, as it is nothing more than a fluid culture that you can move in and out of at will. But when forced to define this esoteric question of “what makes a Jew” politically, you need concrete answers. The closest thing to concrete, however, is the former definition by religious law. Hence, a “secular” Jewish democratic government, now in conjunction with a Rabbinic body, is now in the position of determining your mother’s religion and somehow your biblical lineage (via proof of your mother being “Jewish born”). This marriage of religion and politics is made even murkier when determining what style of Judaism said Rabbinic body will be.   

The supposed logic behind Herzel’s idea for Jewish statehood was that because of the inherent, incurable phenomenon of anti-Semitism, the non-Jews of the world will always identify anyone decedent of Jews-whether observant or not- as Jew. So therefore, Jews need their own state in order to live their lives and band together in defense. It is often spoken during conversations about “Jewish culture” and “secular Judaism” that the Nazis identified those who no longer observed the Jewish religion and lived secular lives as Jews anyway. And so, ironically, the secular Jews of the world have decided to identify with a religious group as a cultural identity because rabid anti-Semites insisted on it.

A people with no land found a land with no people. 

But not quite. 

Among the most censored and stifled topics of discussion in Israel is the Nakba. It is of no surprise that the day of Independence for Israel is a day of mourning for the Palestinians. Why? Because Palestinians hate Jews of course! Are we sensing a theme yet? Sarcasm aside, my Israel activism college education made some of the most appalling and fallacious claims about the creation of the state of Israel. As mentioned in the beginning of this piece, the story went as such: 

There was always a Jewish presence in the land, and the Zionist movement began encouraging migrations half a century before the state was declared.

A two state solution was offered at the time of the partition and the Arab population rejected it and proceeded to attack the new state.

Palestine was only named Palestine by the British during their mandate which was the name of an ancient, extinct group called the Philistines, and therefore the idea of a “Palestinian people” was “invented”. Palestine never existed independently, as it was occupied by the Turks prior to the British mandate.

The talking points, and I call them talking points because they were actually presented to me as talking points, go on to claim that after the partition when the fighting began the Arab populations living in the land given to the Jews were encouraged to stay and promised protection, but fled anyway, leaving their homes behind. The ones that stayed, they claim, remained in their homes, were given citizenship, and live in Israel peacefully to this day. Essentially, the Arab population and surrounding countries has no motive to reject Israeli statehood and take up arms other than anti-Semitism. Therefore, commemorating the Nakba is an act of anti-Semtism because it is equating the catastrophe with the creation of the Jewish state and thus the mere idea of having Jews as your neighbors is a reason to mourn. 

This is yet another gross exercise in cynicism, total dishonesty and spin, beginning with the fact that it is acknowledged that an occupying force along with the UN which only represented European and American colonizers decided to partition land that wasn’t theirs to partition. During the 1948 war, 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or displaced and their towns destroyed. The massacre of Deir Yassin, where 107 villagers were killed by the Irgun, including women and children, is never taken into account. The reality of the matter is that millions of refugees from WWII were given land and homes by a third party and thus expelled hundreds of thousands of other people from their homes and made them refugees in return. 

Those that defend Israel, whether blindly or knowingly, refuse to discuss 1948 and address the expulsions of Palestinians from their homes. The Israeli Knesset passed a law in 2011 that defunds NGO’s that commemorate the Nakba. Discussing the Nakba shakes the entire fragile façade that Zionism rests on. It is far easier to discuss empty promises of a “two state solution” that are potentially defined by the 1967 borders. It is far easier to paint Palestinians as Jew-haters from the start. It is far easier to ignore the plight of the Mizrahi Jews from Arab countries (next topic of discussion). It is far easier to talk about security, terrorists, and anti-Semitism.

But the hard part is to answer the question, “Why does Israel deserve to exist?” Why do we need a Jewish state?

Anti-Jewish sentiments are real to be sure, and I believe they are increasing throughout the world. Jewish nationalism has created the existence of a Jewish army that fights wars for a Jewish state. When nation, army and religion are inextricable, wars become Holy Jewish wars that are perceived to be fought for and by the Jewish people. All nations of the world are scrutinized for their wars and bloodshed. Scrutinizing Israel’s wars and bloodshed creates a scrutiny for Judaism where it otherwise would not. To end, or at the very least deter Jewish hatred in the world, we need to stop defending Israel, stop claiming it has a right to exist, and end Zionism once and for all. We need to acknowledge the vast suffering of innocent Palestinian refugees, the horrid living conditions they are subjected to by Israel, and create a just solution for Palestinian right of return. A one-state democracy with equal rights for all citizens is the only hope for peace. The division and separation of over 60 years has only served to radicalize the oppressors and the resistance. The longer justice is delayed, the harder it will be to rebuild trust. But it all has to start with the entire world standing up and speaking out. 

  


Surely the most absurd thing ever said about Sharon, is that he was a man of peace. That he “left” Gaza and that he “gave” Gaza back to the Palestinians. That he did it for peace and in return all Israel received were rockets fired from Gaza. The Israeli disengagement from Gaza was a cynical, unilateral move. It allowed Sharon to get the Israeli settlers in Gaza out of his way, close Gaza like a prison and score a few political points with the US administration. It was a cruel move that allowed him to further suffocate the people of Gaza, people that he was determined to destroy from early on in his violent career. But the proud Palestinians would not surrender and served as a constant reminder of the blood with which his hands are stained.


myvoicemyright:

1.8 million people affected in the Gaza Strip | At least 100,000 have been displaced in Gaza‬ due to Israeli bombardment  | At least 572 people killed | 2.200 houses destroyed | 85 schools destroyed | 18 health facilities destroyed .  ***

(via myvoicemyright)


Four out of every five Palestinians killed during Israel’s ongoing military offensive in Gaza have been civilians, including dozens of women and children, the United Nations said on Monday.

earthisalie:

priceofliberty:

"I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy." — George H. W. Bush as Vice-president, during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988), commenting on the Navy warship USS Vincennes having shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in a commercial air corridor on July 3, killing 290 civilians, as quoted in “Perspectives”, the quote of the week section of Newsweek (15 August 1988)

i had no idea this happened. holy fuck.

earthisalie:

priceofliberty:

"I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy." — George H. W. Bush as Vice-president, during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988), commenting on the Navy warship USS Vincennes having shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in a commercial air corridor on July 3, killing 290 civilians, as quoted in “Perspectives”, the quote of the week section of Newsweek (15 August 1988)

i had no idea this happened. holy fuck.

(via mochente)


…which country on earth would tolerate being suffocated, starved and besieged for 66 years in an open air prison involving a brutal military occupation, blockade, and routine deaths?

Q
Are there no shelters in Gaza, if not why aren't they being built in order to help the Palestinian civilians? Why isn't Hamas using the tunnels as shelters, and won't the UN provide any help for the shelters to be built during "peaceful" times??
Anonymous
A

redphilistine:

I’ve already explained this. Palestinians are prevented from importing any building materials by Israel’s siege. There are still ruins from the 2008-09 war on Gaza that haven’t been rebuilt. How do you expect anyone to be able to build structures that can withstand Israeli missiles?

As for the tunnels, today Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, announced that over 100,000 Palestinians have been displaced and are taking shelter in UNRWA facilities. How are they, let alone the rest of the 1.8 million residents of Gaza supposed to take shelter in tunnels?