Is it ever acceptable to even slightly criticize Israel? Or to sympathize just a little bit with the suffering of Palestinians?
Yesterday I posted a short video about the violent history of the Holy Land. A history that is a long orgy of violence carried out by a broad assortment of ethnic groups, often intoxicated with the belief that they are doing God’s work by killing the other. The video didn’t take any sides but merely implied by the end that it is really satan who is being served by the whole sordid mess. In response I was the recipient of some of the most hateful and bigoted comments that I have received in the four and a half years of this blogs existence. Only a couple were even minimally clear enough, and clean enough, to allow to be posted. I felt some identification with Jon Stewarts sketch below.
I have also found that there is actually a concerted effort by Israel to do just exactly this. David Harris-Gershon had this to say:
“On the ground in Gaza, Israel’s war against Hamas has been devastating. Online and in the public sphere, a different sort of war has been taking place – a broad initiative to delegitimize those who raise questions about and critique Israel’s actions.
This initiative is being carried out both by so-called ‘pro-Israel’ individuals as well as student volunteers enlisted by Israel’s government in its ‘social media war.’ The result: those who merely express empathy for the suffering in Gaza, where over 800 people have been killed and 5,000 injured, are tainted as anti-Semitic or pro-Hamas, and those who offer dissenting opinions are labelled as enemies who seek Israel’s destruction.
The goal is to shut down dialogue and debate, something Jon Stewart nailed in a recent bit in which he attempts to discuss Israel, only to be shouted down as a self-hating Jew. It is not a new phenomenon or initiative, though it has become much more intense and widespread as emotions run high over the ongoing violence in Gaza and continued rocket attacks in Israel.
It seems to be affecting everyone who publicly offers critical opinions about Israel’s Gaza offensive, whether celebrities,journalists or anonymous individuals.
The horrible irony is that, as propagandists try to defame dissenters by slandering them as anti-Semitic, thus diluting its meaning, real anti-Semitism is rearing its head in Europe. Anti-semitism is still a real danger, and that danger is being made graver by those who are participating in this online initiative to falsely tar concerned voices as enemies of Israel.”
I have no idea whether the people that left ugly comments on my post had anything to do with this campaign or was just the usual ugliness that is everywhere to be found on the internet. Probably just the later.
As of today,the death toll has reached over 1,250 Palestinians and 56 Israelis since 8th July with most of the casualties being civilians. Hamas did start this round of fighting, they have been locating their rocket launchers near schools and hospitals, ad they have never recognized Israel’s right to exist. All that is true and yet it does not mean that Israel is free from being held responsible for their own actions. If government in Israel is going to claim for themselves the mantle of defenders of civilization, then they need to make very sure that they are acting in a civilized manner. Those casualty rates are a bit lopsided. The principles regarding just war include proportionality of response, and a prohibition against waging war on civilians.