In a recent interview on my radio show, I told Progressive Rabbi Michael Lerner, “On OpEdNews, we have some people who post, saying Israel is evil, that Zionists are evil…”
Rabbi Lerner Replied, “…if I were the Israeli Right, or if I were the right wing fundamentalists in this country, I’d be putting those lefties who are writing that on their payroll - in fact, they might be on their payroll, for all I know. In other words, this is the kind of language and the kind of thinking that ensures the predominance of the right. “
If you look at the protests against the Gaza invasion, some are for peace, but some are virulently anti-Israel and some are anti-Semitic, with one woman, in Florida, wearing Palestinian garb, shouting out, “go back to the ovens.”
These messages of hate just feed the fires of war. But worse, as Rabbi Lerner observes, they feed the fear of right winger Israelis and the people they want to frighten. Feed the fear and you keep the power to continue waging war against the Palestinian people.
This is not about whether the Israelis have a right to defend themselves. They do, in my opinion. This is about the way people who oppose the massive bombing in Gaza discuss and protest.
Often, people who attack Israel, Israeli policy and Zionism are accused of being anti-semites. Sometimes it is true. I’ve seen enough cases of people hiding their anti-semitism behind anti-Zionism. But often, people are justifiably or reasonably protesting the actions and policies of Israel, without a single iota of anti-semitism.
But why raise the issue? You can protest and support the victims of the attacks on Gaza or support peace in the Middle East. You can protest against the attacks and the bombing. You can protest against war and violence. But when you protest against the whole of Israel, that’s like the Palestinians who danced in the streets celebrating when the twin towers were bombed on 9/11. They were wrong and it is a mistake to attack the whole nation of Israel when you can attack policy or even the political parties supporting the policy. .
There are plenty of protesters who carry signs saying take away US funding of Israel. That’s not about to happen. But what if protesters started calling for taking away funding of conservative-run Israel? What if tens of thousands of people started going after Kadima and the even more extreme right wing parties in Israel? What if tens of thousands of US protesters wised up and started attacking the right wingers who keep Israel on its anti-Palestinian, land-grabbing settler permitting course? What if people in the US sent a message to Israeli citizens that Israel the nation is our friend and ally but the right wingers who have been finagling control of the Knesset—their parliament— are as unwanted as the right wingers the voters of the US threw out of congress?
In my recent radio show Interview with Chris Hedges, he told me that the problem with Israel is it has always been run by a small group of extreme conservatives who use the weakness of Israel’s parliamentary system to maintain control. What if we in the US started demanding a change in governance in Israel before we handed over the funding?
That would be change that could make a difference.Meanwhile, don’t feed the beast that commits the violence by using language it can use to sell its message. Stay with peace and support for the Palestinians and stay away from going after Israel. Just look at how strong congressional support for Israel is, based on this past week’s vote. Attack the source of the problem. The Hillary hearings are talking a lot about “smart power.” Let’s start talking about smart protest.