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.

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

The U.S. Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

July 19 2018

Since the 1970s, American governments have sporadically pressured Jerusalem to negotiate the return of the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace. Had Israel given up this territory, Iranian forces would now be preparing to establish themselves on its strategically advantageous high ground. Michael Doran, testifying before the House of Representatives, argues that for this and other reasons, Congress should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. (Video is available at the link below.)

Between 1949 and 1967, [the period during which Syria held the Golan], thousands of clashes erupted [there]. By contrast, ever since Israel took control of the Golan Heights in June 1967, they have served as a natural buffer between the two belligerents. The last 70 years serve as a laboratory of real life, and the results [of the experiment conducted therein] are incontrovertible: when in the hands of Syria, the Golan Heights promoted conflict. When in the hands of Israel, they have promoted stability. . . .

From the outbreak of the [Syrian] civil war, Iran and Russia have worked aggressively to shape the conflict so as to serve their interests. The influence of Iran is particularly worrisome because, in the division of labor between Moscow and Tehran, Russia provides the air power while Iran provides much of the ground forces. . . . Thanks to Iran’s newfound ground presence [in Syria], it is well on the way to completing a so-called “land bridge” stretching from Tehran to Beirut. There can be no doubt that a major aim of the land bridge is to increase the military pressure on Israel (and Jordan, too). . . .

Would Americans ever consciously choose to place Iranian soldiers on the Golan Heights, so that they could peer down their riflescopes at Jewish civilians below? Is there any American interest that would be served by allowing Iran to have direct access to the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s primary water reservoir? Would it ever be wise to place Iranian troops [where they could] serve as a wedge between Jordan and Israel? The answer to all of these questions, obviously, is no. And the clearest way to send that message to the world is to pass a law recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

As for the claim that the Jewish state’s seizure of the Golan in 1967 violates international law, Doran notes that Washington undermined this claim with its attempts in the 1990s to broker a deal between Jerusalem and Damascus:

The ready American (and Israeli) acceptance of the June 4, 1967 cease-fire line [as the basis for such a deal] is nothing short of startling. That line . . . leaves Syria in possession of territory along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and elsewhere that it acquired by force in 1948. In other words, to win over its enemy, [Syria], the Clinton administration dispensed with the principle of the impermissibility of the acquisition of territory by force—the very principle that the United States has remained ever-vigilant in applying to its ally, Israel.

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More about: Congress, Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy