No Monopoly on Racism

The conflict surrounding Palestine and Israel has been a quarrelsome issue dating back to 1948 when the United Nations approved the formation of a Jewish state on a territory that was biblically relevant. The obvious problem was that there already was a human population on the land, which would be displaced to make way for the Jews who had been persecuted by Hitler’s genocide in the Second World War. In this article I am not going to debate whether the occupation is right or wrong as there are countless resources for anyone interested in forming an opinion. What I am going to speak about is a problem I have been contemplating since I became informed of this situation. This problem I am speaking about will offend a percentage of the Canadian population and possibly even some of Blueprint’s reader base. However, the fact that it will offend that percentage of people is precisely my problem!

Well what I am I carrying on about you ask? Brace yourself… you can’t say I never warned you. My hang-up is that I intensely dislike statements that criticize Israel (in any form be it military, governmental, or questions of legitimacy) being labeled as “anti-Semitic”. Everyone seems to be scared of being labeled as “anti-Semitic” — so wouldn’t you? If you are a politician this “racist” allegation is worse than any sponsorship scandal or lack of facial movements. To quote Mike Muir of the ‘Tendencies it’s “Suicidal!”

When anti-Semitic comments are made public such as ones made by Iranian President Ahmadinejad in mid-December 2005 that call for Israel to be “wiped off the map” we have a right as an international community to protest. President Ahmadinejad’s comments made the front page of the Toronto Star as did his description of the Holocaust as a “myth”. We see in the media pictures of gravestones decorated with black swastikas and Hitler Secret Service logos in England surrounding piles of toppled stones next to video of the Jewish elementary school United Talmud Torah in flames as a result of a hate crime in Montreal. These attacks are condemned by governments, international bodies, and the communities in which they occur. The world has came a long way in standing up against prejudice and intolerance but racist attacks still run rampant throughout all nations and certainly not only directed at Jews.

Obvious racism aside, somewhere the distinction between a Jewish person and the state of Israel have become so confused that an individual risks alienation in allegation that she/he criticized the former when she/he actually criticized the latter. A Lebanese radio station al-Manar was banned from airing in France for being anti-Semitic when in reality they are anti-Israeli; Argentinian born Jewish musician Daniel Barenboim who lives in Israel was labeled an anti-Semite because he is both critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and refuses to take interviews from Israeli soldiers; and the list continues…

I realize Israel is a Jewish nation. I do not accept that my disagreement with Israeli tanks bulldozing refugee camps, Israeli gunfire and air-strikes murdering innocent civilians (82% of Palestinian deaths as a result of the Israeli army are civilians not those bandana clad resistors that you are lead to believe), and the arrest and detention of Palestinians for an unlimited time and without charge means that I am against the Jewish population. It means I am against brutal tactics and human rights abuses. I am against the Israeli government and the US-supported military as are many citizens in Israel, including an interesting group called Courage to Refuse who are an organization currently of 633 Israeli soldiers (or Refuseniks) who refuse to serve in occupied territories.

If I cannot spell it out for you any clearer look above at the comments made about resisting hateful words such as ones by Iranian President Ahmadinejad this past December. Iran is an Islamic nation whereas Israel is a Jewish nation. When I disagree with Iran does that I mean I am against the worldwide Islamist population?