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Sympathy for Palestine Is Not Anti-Semitic

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Message Bhumika Ghimire

Standing barely 5 feet 3 inches and weighing 120 pounds, I am not in a position to risk making enemies. I have no martial arts skills and don't carry a gun, so trying to be a likable person is the only self-defense strategy I have.

You can imagine my horror when one fine day I wake up to find out that I had turned into a persona non grata for many who were once my friends. Since I didn't do anything to hurt them or cause them any harm, this sudden tide of hate puzzled me. So I did what I do best, googled myself and snooped around the blogosphere.

Search results showed that I am an anti-semite, anti-Israel, Hamas-loving guerrilla. Surprised? Me too. The reason behind so many adjectives bestowed to me, in my understanding, is my view on the Middle East crisis.

You see, I believe that the people of Palestine deserve to live in peace. They need to have a homeland they can call their own, their rights as human beings have to be respected, and the ongoing violence against them has to end. Does that mean I don't like Israel or the Israelis? Does that mean I am anti-semite? No.

Asking for fair treatment of the Palestinians does not make me an anti-semite. But sadly my friends chose to ignore logic and reasoning and tag me as enemy of Israel anyway.

While the world is busy debating about a peace solution to the Middle East problem, there is a growing trend around us which is largely ignored. It is the trend to label people with demeaning names and accuse them of acts they have not committed because they differ from the majority view.

For instance, a professor from Indiana University in Bloomington, in his recent essay discussed in The New York Times, has said that liberal Jews who criticize Israel's policies feed the growing anti-semitic feeling around the world. In that essay he has named those liberals, including figures like the famed playwright Tony Kushner, that he believes are betraying the Jewish cause. I don't know how Kushner is handling this accusation, if it were me I would be in court by now.

How can you accuse a Jewish person who is exercising his/her freedom of speech by expressing his/her views, which, God forbid, differ from the majority, of feeding anti-semitism? What right does the professor have to question their loyalty to their faith and their people?

Here is something even more intriguing, Jimmy Carter, former president of the U.S., recently published a book on the Middle East crisis titled Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. His motivation, as he has said, in writing the book was to spark a dialog about the issues in hopes of finding a workable solution. The marginalization of moderates as I have mentioned came into action, the tide of the witchhunt caught him too, Carter is now being accused of being an anti-semite, and anti-Israel, among many other things. Leading the charge against Carter is Alan Dershowitz.

Dershowitz, Harvard professor and author of several books on Israel, said in his six-part essay titled Ex-President for Sale: "Did Carter advise Arafat to walk away from a Palestinian state? Did he contribute to the new intifada, which claimed thousands of lives on both sides? That is an important question -- one I would have asked Carter had I been given the chance."

Carter contributed to the intifada? To suggest something so far fetched seems preposterous, but then Dershowitz does anyway because he can. He has the support of the majority, who feel obliged to label people and accuse them falsely if they dare to object to Israel's misguided policies.

There are many more incidents like ones mentioned, where the majority is trying to silence the dissenting minority. I hate to say, but this witchhunt will invariably lead to the marginalization of moderates, which in turn will fuel the radical agenda, thus making peace and understanding impossible.

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Mika is a freelancer.
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