Monday, March 27, 2006

When Israel sneezes...

Now that Israel is ready to vote, most probably for Ehud Olmert, hopefully we'll begin to see meaningful change towards peace in the region. All my freaking fingers are crossed so hard it hurts.
It used to be that what happened in that tiny country seemed to have implications only for the Jews who lived there. It was they had to serve in the Army, got bombed, lived in fear. Not anymore. After decades of occupation, intifadas and the gradual radicalization of Islam, Israel's policies towards the Palestinians have provoked a new and harsh wave of antisemitism, that is being exported around the globe, as this chilling article about antisemitism among French immigrant youth points out.
How Israel behaves today has consequences far beyond its borders for Jews and non-Jews around the world. Most of the extreme Islamic fundamentalist rhetoric which has fanned the flames of global terrorism, with 9/11, and incidents in London, Amman and Madrid among other cities, is closely linked to virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment.
Used to be that Jews defended Israel no matter what. They were loyal to its leaders without as much pausing to consider whether they were from the left of the right, or what their policies were. They defended Israel's every move, whether it was morally defensible or not.
This will not work anymore. Jews need to start looking at Israel with a realistic political point of view and, since the survival of the State of Israel is not under discussion, they may want to consider supporting ending an occupation which has turned Israel from an exemplary democracy and a state full of promise, to a country that oppresses and wages an unending war against an entire civilian population and is therefore despised around the world.
I'm personally tired of apologizing for Israel. I'm tired of hearing Israel compared to disgusting regimes that should not be mentioned in the same breath, like apartheid in South Africa and mistakenly, but commonly, the nazis. I want to be unequivocally proud of Israel. I want it to be utterly free of blame. I was not born yesterday and I know that Jews could be literal angels with wings and sugar on top, and somebody would still find reason to scorn, fault and hate us. But it is time to acknowledge, as Sharon (of all people!) did, that something must be done for the State of Israel not only to survive, but to strive to exist with moral dignity and in peace with its neighbors.

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