The criticism of Israel's recent action against Hammas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, could have carried more weight had it not been part of a general anti-Israel campaign. Many feel that criticism is legitimate, but only when applied fairly. What if we replace the names in the incident? How would the same people have reacted had the victim been Mr. Bin-Laden? It is clear to many honest people, that the automatic condemnation of any action taken by Israel reflects no more than hypocrisy that expresses sheer hatred.
The mainstream media and the Internet are flooded with an ugly wave of hate propaganda, mainly against Jews and the Jewish State. We hear of anti-Semitic incidents in various civilised countries, as well as of black-listing of Israeli academics in many universities; Various countries and corporations adopt official policies of boycotting Israeli commercial products; A famous Greek musician claims that the Jews are the source of the world's problems; An Arab-Israeli actor makes a film with a pack of lies about Israeli soldiers in Jenin; An ex-Israeli artist presents an exhibit in Stockholm with nasty connotations against Israel; The international court in The Hague has become a stage for anti-Israeli rhetoric; A Hollywood movie portrays the Jews as a bloodthirsty mob - and I even read on the Internet an accusation of the Jews for a crime that has not happened yet - that the Jews will murder Jesus again upon his second coming!!
Many Israelis have become quite used to being called "fascists", "Nazis" and "racists". Anti-Semitic publications such as the libellous book "The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion" are freely distributed across the globe and even displayed at respectable establishments such as the new Cairo Library.
There seems to be a strange coalition forming between old-fashioned, right-wing anti-Semites, left-wing liberals and anti-Israel activists. Some hate the Jews, while others hate Israelis (only the Jewish ones, of course). When a synagogue is burned down in Paris, the local police have to guess whether to chase some racist skinheads or a band of misguided Muslims. The Jews and the Jewish State seem to have succeeded in uniting opposing forces across the world. Is the Middle East situation really so unique to justify this coalition? Has any other national conflict ever aroused such extreme reactions?
Indeed, this wave of hatred and assaults against Jews, Israelis and Zionism, has provoked a negative reaction among Jews and Israelis. Ugly expressions against Arabs are more widespread in Israel today than ever before. Hatred on both sides is slowly becoming a norm.
The worst aspect of this reality is the jargon used by individuals and groups who pretend to work for peace. Many of them express blind anger at "Israel's crimes" and one-sided accusations of the Jews. Some even express their desire to abolish the Jewish State, practically advocating genocide in the name of peace.
One must wonder: What on earth do they hope to achieve with this attitude? Sincere people, who really believe in peace, must realise that aggression can only yield further animosity. Not one of these activists would have reacted differently to such a wave of hatred. History shows that nations react fiercely when pushed with their backs to the wall. Contrary to some popular notions, Israeli Jews are no less human.
Both sides are perfectly entitled to feeling anger and frustration, but when these human emotions turn into blind hatred they can only harm both hater and hated. If the enlightened, civilised world cannot stop this ugly flow of attacks on Israel for its own mental and spiritual health, it should consider the effectiveness of this policy. Israelis are known to react extremely generously when flattered and wrapped in loving warmth. But they are also known to rally to their country's defence when faced with mortal danger. It seems highly unwise to push the Jews toward "peace" with sticks and curses.
The most irrational is the hatred expressed by those who advocate a "One State Solution". If these groups and individuals honestly believe in sharing the land and living in peace within one society, they should be preaching love and brotherhood, not antagonism and prejudice.
Being an Israeli Jew, I am more disturbed by expressions of hatred toward Gentiles in general and Arabs in particular. Unlike some hypocrites, I honestly believe that thinking and feeling in negative terms, contaminates one's individual soul, degrades one's own social culture and harms our own capacity for rational conduct.
May I suggest to both Jews and Gentiles to consider changing this climate. If we really wish to establish peace in the region, we must listen to each other, try to reconcile some of our differences, and learn to accept and respect all people. Actions and expressions that deviate from that line are most likely to arouse suspicion. Aggressive, one-sided accusations, mainly when supported by false portrayal of facts, can only push the accused to resist the attack and refuse any compromise. What we all need is exactly the opposite, if we honestly wish to live in peace.
The only hateful feeling is hatred itself.
Ehud Tokatly, 25/March/2004