21 Nov

In the same way that many Muslims identify with Islamic states, many Jews identify with Israel.


In the same way that many Muslims deplore the actions, practices and beliefs of certain Islamic states and of radicals within those states, many Jews deplore the actions, practices and beliefs of the Israeli government and Israeli radicals.


However, while many in the West seem to have learned that ‘Muslim’ is not synonymous with ‘terrorist’, I am increasingly of the opinion that the same distinction is not being applied between ‘Jew’ and ‘Israel’.


Many Jews inside and outside Israel are as sickened by the actions of this government as everyone else is. Many of us are praying for an end to the Knesset’s violence and Netanyahu’s aggressive policies. Many of us are aware that we are witnessing a humanitarian crisis which is certainly creating more civilian casualties on one side. Note that for the Jews in the diaspora – certainly the majority – this government was not elected by them. Accusing all Jews of sanctioning the behaviour of the Israeli government is like accusing the whole of Europe of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914. And where did that end up? Exactly.


I don’t know enough about the politics and the history to weigh in on who bears the principal blame. In my mind, I am fairly sure that the Israeli government is, at least on this occasion, very much in the wrong. I, along with all the Jews I know, would far rather see a ceasefire and peace and constructive conflict resolution than the destruction we are now witnessing on both sides.


What I do know is that every time I see a facebook post or a tweet or a crass headline that draws parallels between Jews and Nazis, or talks about Jewish hypocrisy, violence and attempted genocide, or assumes that all Jews are responsible for the failings of the Israeli government, I want to cry.


Catholics in China are not held responsible for the political decisions of Italy (although strictly speaking, the ‘capital’ of Catholicism is the Vatican, Pope-country does not really exist as a political entity. I mean, is it in the Eurovision Song Contest? No. I rest my case). Lutherans aren’t subjected to guilt-attacks for the atrocities committed in Germany, although Luther was a vicious anti-Semite and Hitler was quite happy to utilise the monk’s views in his own policies. In the wake of 9/11, Muslims, it is sadly true, have often been stigmatised and connected without cause to Jihad, the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, without any Western understanding of the internal rifts in Islam and the enormous regional and cultural variations of the religion; now we are (at least, the sensible among us) overcoming this prejudice borne of fear. Yet it still seems that there is an automatic assumption that every Jew is behind every decision made by Likud.


Even more ridiculous is an accusation which appeared in the press recently that Jews who do *not* support Israel unquestioningly are deserving of as much as criticism as those that do. (I think, on reflection, this was an article in the Guardian about an ill-advised tweet from Rupert Murdoch). Er, sorry, what? If this is the case, I morally haven’t got a leg to stand on. I admit it. I am crippled by the hemiplegia of my condemnation of Israel. I’ve already asked if people with religious affiliations to a location are bound to support the political decisions made by the government of said region. I mean, a lot Jews have never been to Israel, but are all ex-pats supposed to stand by the decisions of their country? I know at least one American living in Britain who would have been aghast if Romney was now president-elect. What about 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants? Still responsible? Hm. I think not.


Everyone who is capable of rational thought should be able to decide whether they agree or disagree with the actions of a national government irrespective of their own religious or political affiliation. And everyone who believes that they are themselves capable of rational thought should remember this. Let’s not have any more needless mudslinging at the faceless targets mass stereotyping provides. Stop blaming ‘the Jews’ and start blaming ‘Likud’. Just because they say they speak for Jews, it doesn’t mean we agree with what they’re spouting.


We are, after all, an argumentative race.   


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