What Makes Hatred of Israel Different from Other Political Passions?

April 13 2018

The ongoing protests at the Gaza security fence, and Israel’s efforts to contain them, have once again brought people to the streets of European cities—and even more people to their social-media accounts—to express their outrage at the Jewish state. Noting that these same people are largely indifferent to, for instance, Turkey’s persecution of Kurds or Syria’s gassing of civilians, Brendan O’Neill asks what makes Israel the object of so much hatred:

Israeli activity doesn’t only elicit a response from these campaigners where Turkish or Saudi or Syrian activity does not—it also and always elicits a visceral response. The condemnation of Israel is furious and intense, and the language used about it is dark, strikingly different from the language used about any other state that engages in military activity. Israel is never just wrong or heavy-handed or a country that “foolishly rushes to war,” as protesters would say about Tony Blair and Iraq, and very occasionally about Barack Obama and Libya, and, if they were pressed for an opinion, would probably say about the Turks and the Saudis, too. No, Israel is genocidal. It is a terrorist state, a rogue state, an apartheid state. It is mad, racist, ideological. It doesn’t do simple militarism—it does “bloodletting”; it derives some kind of pleasure from killing civilians, including children. . . . This Jewish state is the worst state, the most bloodthirsty state. . . .

There is no getting away from it: the thing that is really unique about Israel is how much they hate it.

[The next step is to say that Israelis] are fascists, that the victims of fascism now practice fascism. This is the sentiment behind much of the myopic focus on Israel: that the Jews now do to others what people once did to them. Even though actually they don’t. Even though they do nothing that bears even the remotest resemblance to the Nazis’ effort to exterminate the Jews. And yet at anti-Israel demonstrations, placards compare Gaza with the Warsaw Ghetto; people implore the Jews to remember their own suffering; Israeli flags with swastikas on them are held up. This is not anti-imperialist, it is anti-Jewish; it is the gravest insult to say that Jews or the Jewish state are the new Nazis, and [these protestors] know it is a grave insult.

The treatment of Israel as uniquely colonialist, as an exemplar of racism, as the commissioner of the kind of crimes against humanity we thought we had left in the darkest moments of the 20th century, really captures what motors today’s intense fury with Israel above all other nations: it has been turned into a whipping boy for the sins of Western history, a punching-bag for those who feel shame or discomfort with the political and military excesses of their own nations’ pasts and who now register that shame and discomfort by raging against what they view, hyperbolically, as a lingering expression of that past: Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Spiked

More about: Anti-Zionism, Holocaust inversion, Israel & Zionism

A University of Michigan Professor Exposes the Full Implications of Academic Boycotts of Israel

Sept. 26 2018

A few weeks ago, Professor John Cheney-Lippold of the University of Michigan told an undergraduate student he would write a letter of recommendation for her to participate in a study-abroad program. But upon examining her application more carefully and realizing that she wished to spend a semester in Israel, he sent her a polite email declining to follow through. His explanation: “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” and “for reasons of these politics” he would no longer write the letter. Jonathan Marks comments:

We are routinely told . . . that boycott actions against Israel are “limited to institutions and their official representatives.” But Cheney-Lippold reminds us that the boycott, even if read in this narrow way, obligates professors to refuse to assist their own students when those students seek to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Dan Avnon, an Israeli academic, learned years ago that the same goes for Israel faculty members seeking to participate in exchange programs sponsored by Israeli universities. They, too, must be turned away regardless of their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .

Cheney-Lippold, like other boycott defenders, points to the supposed 2005 “call of Palestinian civil society” to justify his singling out of Israel. “I support,” he says in comments to the [Michigan] student newspaper, “communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights [and] freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

Set aside the absurdity of this reasoning (“Why am I not boycotting China on behalf of Tibet? Because China has been much more effective in stifling civil society!”). Focus instead on what Cheney-Lippold could have found out by using Google. The first endorser of the call of “civil society” is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that trade not only in violent “resistance” but in violence that directly targets noncombatants.

That’s remained par for the course for the boycott movement. In October 2015, in the midst of the series of stabbings deemed “the knife intifada,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel shared a call for an international day of solidarity with the “new generation of Palestinians” who were then “rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation.” To be sure, they did not directly endorse attacks on civilians, but they did issue their statement of solidarity with “Palestinian popular resistance” one day after four attacks that left three Israelis—all civilians—dead.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Academia, Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada