Tom Lehrer’s immortal “National Brotherhood Week” said it all:
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
nd the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.
The youtube video of Irwin Cotler’s recent remarks in the Canadian House of Commons on Holocaust Remembrance Week is remarkable for at least two reasons.
- First, it is a heartfelt and articulate expression of respect for Holocaust survivors. Rarely is the import of the Holocaust, or the incredible heroism of the survivors, captured so well in so few words. The whole House rises in true respect for the survivors in the Gallery, and one imagines, for Cotler’s eloquence.
- The second reason the Youtube video is so interesting are the “comments” one sees on the Youtube page. Many are particularly vile, hateful, anti-semitic, anti-Israeli rants. The spelling is bad too. One imagines that if they could, the authors would find a way to type the letters backwards, like 4 year olds with crayons filled with blood.
Regrettably, it’s not just neo-Nazis who hate Israel anymore. It’s the Canadian Union of Public Employees. It’s many on the “left”. It is be possible to disagree with parts, or even ALL of Israeli policy, without necessarily being an anti-semite. After all, many Israelis and diaspora Jews want a radical change in policy. It is phony to say that everyone who criticizes Israel is a Jew-hater. However, the uniquely intense and vocal anger at Israel (a multi-ethnic liberal western democracy) contrasts sharply with attitudes about other countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc etc (brutally oppressive, mysoginistic religious kleptocratic tryannies). That difference in attitude, particularly on “the Left” eventually leads one to ask “how come they only hate Israel, when there are so many genuinely hateful regimes to be mad at?”
Some may see the Israeli policy on the Palestinians as somehow worse than what the Islamic states do to their own people. If they truly think that, then they aren’t looking very hard for the facts. The Islamic states are almost universally brutal, grossly unequal, undemocratic regimes which suck the life out of their own people, do next to nothing for the Palestinians they profess to support and which use anti-semitism as a bonding agent to hold together a social consensus. That’s a pretty apt description of the Gaza regime too.
The basic Israeli position has been pretty straightforward for decades: stop talking about driving us into the sea, or soaking the desert in Jewish blood, leave us in peace and we will carve out the land you need to make your own country happen. Expect it to be heavily guarded, too, considering the multiple past invasions of Jewish territory by land and air. It’s true that there are Israelis who don’t want to share an acre of land, but they remain a minority. It is true that the Israeli government has pursued a reckless course settling the West Bank, because if they ever planned to give it back, that’s really all but impossible now.
Most Israelis, for most of the country’s history, have been ready (desperate) to find a way out of the eternal deadlock. They are ready to “trade land for peace.” Unfortunately, their appetite for compromise is somewhat dulled when the results are always “trading land for Katusha rockets.” And so the hardline is getting harder in Israel, as are border fortifications, a process which has really crushed Palestinian economic prospects. And until Palestinians are prepared (or able) to speak the language of compromise (without being kidnapped by Hamas and shot in the street) it can’t get much better.
Indeed, all one need look at is the difference between the crowd running Gaza and the people running Israel, to know who you would rather have in your neighbourhood. That’s not about their races or faiths, by the way, it’s an observation of their behaviour. Israel is a tough democracy in a tough spot. Hamas is a genocidal gang of creeps, strapping bomb vests on 3 year olds. Yet Hamas and the other truly criminal regimes out there earn barely a passing look from the crowd ready to boycott Israeli goods and academics. Why is that exactly? What is about Israel that so aggravates so many people – the same people who would have let Gadaffi continue to make mulch out of dissidents, the same people who profess commitment to human rights yet don’t give a rat’s ass about the hundreds of millions of women living like slaves in the Islamic countries?
It is this stinking hypocrisy which makes it very, very hard to take the pro-Palestinian liberal-left crowd seriously. And leads one to wonder, what is it about Israel, exactly, that gets some people so vexed?
Only one answer presents itself. Ask Tom Lehrer.