PARIS (RNS) Amid mounting protests in Europe against the Gaza conflict, political and religious leaders in the region have sharply denounced anti-Semitism within their borders.

A pro-Palestine rally takes place in the Barbes neighborhood of northern Paris.

A pro-Palestine rally takes place in the Barbes neighborhood of northern Paris. RNS photo by Elizabeth Bryant

“Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy said in a statement Tuesday (July 22) from Brussels.

Fears of escalating unrest are perhaps sharpest in France, home to Europe’s largest populations of Jews and Muslims. Many have roots in North Africa, and violence in the Middle East resonates strongly here. Thousands defied a government ban against Paris-area protests over the weekend, staging pro-Palestinian rallies that degenerated into violence.

“We have had eight synagogues attacked. We have had shops attacked,” said Roger Cukierman, head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions. “We have heard crowds shouting death to the Jews — not death to Israel.”

Muslim and Catholic leaders also denounced the violence at an interfaith ceremony late Monday in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a synagogue and Jewish businesses were attacked.

France’s government has cracked down, arresting dozens in recent days and vowing a zero-tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism.

French authorities also warn that extremist groups are trying to capitalize on public anger over Gaza, at a time of growing alarm over French youths joining conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Beyond events in the Middle East, France also remains haunted by its World War II past — memories that resurfaced last weekend, as the country commemorated the 1942 rounding up and deportation of thousands of Paris-area Jews under the Vichy regime.

YS/MG END BRYANT

43 Comments

  1. Anti-semitism is used as a shield to protect horrible acts and ideologies that are so racist and bigoted they could only be applied to a special group people, who’s specialness justifies the obvious inequality.

    There, I used your buzzwords liberals. Do you like me now?

    • Hundreds of children have been murdered in their own lands over the last ten days. The apartheid, occupation, state-terror continues, with the shameless support of the US.
      Have you seen the dead body of the unborn child shot in the womb of her mother? I saw it. I also saw the comment of the Israeli girl: “I saw the killed pregnant Arab women. It was so good–I had an orgasm.”
      T-shirts are sold in Israel having the belly of a pregnant Palestinian woman in the target. Next to it is written: “one shot two kills.”
      Yesterday an Israeli “professor” claimed that the only way to stop the Palestinian resistance is mass rape of their women.
      These are happening in the lands Israel is occupying in violation of the international laws that the world, including the US, recognize. I am really sorry if ignorant demonstrators feel hatred against Jewry–it is terribly wrong. But on the other hand you will see a whole discourse targeting Arabs in an essentializing way. Polls and statistics display that the majority of Israeli Jews have racist ideas and sentiments. Check youtube: you will see that many comments of Israeli Jews on Palestinians -Muslim or Christian- are dramatically identical with those circulating in Nazi Germany.
      Terror, apartheid, occupation, murder is what Israel is doing for more than five decades. If there is anti-Semitism, its primary cause is Israel.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        It isn’t just Jews who need fear Islamic contempt for rights and life.
        Miriam Ibrahim knows this quite well. She was sentenced to be hung for daring to be a Christian. It took world outcry to save her life from the Islamic way of gaining conversions to their faith: “Join us or die.”
        Almost every day there are stories like hers from around the world.
        In Northern Iraq a monastery of Christians that has existed there for 1600 years has been taken over by Moslems after terrorizing the Christians of Mosul into fleeing. Again the savage means of ethnic cleansing was “Convert or die.”
        Yet you hear very little(if any) outcry from the Moslem world about such behavior.

        • I hear the same comments a lot of times: “we don’t hear Muslims criticizing al-Qaida, Hamas, ISIS, violence towards non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries.” The response is: DO YOU REALLY SEARCH??? The human rights violations in Saudi Arabia is constantly criticized by Muslims, while the US have no problem whatsoever as long as they get their oil. Afghanistan, Syria, individual crimes based on religious discrimination, etc are everyday criticized; everyday there are demonstrations in many Muslim-majority countries against such crimes. You will hear if you listen, and if you do not reduce the quarter of the world into one category. Don';t forget that the primary victim of these crimes are again, Muslims themselves.
          Are you demonstrating when hundreds of innocent children are murdered in the occupied lands and declared terrorist by Zionists? Do you condemn China, or Myanmar where thousands of Muslims have been killed, and forced to convert? Russian oppression?
          When it comes to human rights, double-standards should not be tolerated: we human beings should be united. But the US is funding the apartheid (see Desmond Tutu and Mandela on Youtube), illegal occupation and terror. Then we ask why people hate the US or why there is anti-Semitism. Pathetic.

  2. Perry Stewart

    My own experience is that people who are sincerely dedicated to God (as in the one true God, Jehovah) are both tolerant and understanding of the unique pressures which Jews have found themselves under since Israel was overrun by successive ancient civilizations.

    Those who are not truly dedicated to God (including many who call themselves Christian, and which includes many traditional church leaders) generally disfavor and dislike both Israel and Jews – some of them without necessarily knowing why!

    Not very scientific I admit, but this is what I have experienced over the years.

      • Because I would love to believe whats good for the goose is good for the gander and think that principle is reciprocal….meaning I’d love to support and exclusively christian nation in america.

        But something tells me you won’t like that idea, despite that you just said it ok for israel.

  3. Lies Nat, so its OK to demonstrate against Israel’s actions by trying to firebomb synagogues or to call for the murder of Jews? That is what is happening in Europe. The French government was embarrassed because when demonstrators broke off and tried to enter a synagogue, there were no police to stop them. Jews had to defend themselves.

    • No its not ok. Its rather par for the course in a modern protest setting when the demonstrators are a economically oppressed group. See america, india, brazil, venezuela, etc. The deal here is the power just happens to be jewish.

      If you were pickle people of the remote religion pickleanity and restored to you promised land, killing many native people there are crushing them economically…they would be shouting death the the pickle people. And I’m sure you would come up with an antipickleism concept to label their actions as hate.

      Its not that you are jews. Its what the jews are doing.

  4. Christians don’t need a state. Western and Eastern Europe is already Christian, and so is Latin and Central America. Christians are the vast majority in the US. Jews just want one tiny little state where they are not dependent on the good will of others and are not in the minority. Ironically many Jews thought that a Jewish state would make Jews normal like everyone else. Antisemitism has proven to be too strong and too adaptable to make that happen.

    • So…you are cool with the double standard thinking then.

      See, its why people generally don’t trust you guys. There always seems to be room in your minds to make allowances for yourselves that are granted no one else.

      And then you wonder what the source of “antisemitism” is. Puleeze.

  5. Because I think that Jews should have one lousy tiny piece of land where they can control their own destiny, you say it is “double standard thinking”. Well I disagree. I think it is the least that Jews need. I am willing to surrender the West Bank and shut down all the settlements. We are not asking for allowances that are allowed to no one else. We are asking for the basics of human dignity, a state of our own. I believe that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own as well.

  6. “Muslim and Catholic leaders also denounced the violence at an interfaith ceremony late Monday in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a synagogue and Jewish businesses were attacked.”

    It’s really not good enough from these religious leaders. To be at the stage where Jews, their businesses, and their houses of worship are being attacked and desecrated, points to a failure or absence of proper guidance and direction from them, and a disconnect with their youth. It’s one thing to peacefully protest against the actions of the Israeli government and in solidarity with Palestinians; it’s quite another to apportion blame on all Jews and create chaos and disorder.

    And it’s really not good enough from the French authorities either. They need to do much more to address the social and economic inequalities amongst their citizens. They also need to crack down much harder on groups which ferment hatred and practice violence. This includes groups like Ligue de Défense Juive (LDJ), which is known as the Jewish Defence League (JDL) in other countries, and has been part of the current unrest. This far-right group has a history of provocation and violence in every country where it exists, including France. It regards its infamous former member, mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, as a martyr to the Jewish cause. Israel and the US have banned it as a terrorist group; it remains legal and operational in France.

  7. This is from Tablet Magazine:

    “The case for Israel is now playing out on the streets of Paris.

    Over the weekend, pro-Palestinian rioters marched into a Jewish suburb in the French capital to break Jewish things. They torched cars, lobbed firebombs into a synagogue, and burnt Jewish-owned stores to the ground. One group of men reportedly spoke loudly of “hunting Jews and killing them.” That followed last weekend’s attempt to storm two other Parisian synagogues to a chorus of “Death to Jews!” and “Hitler was right!” They were only held in check by Jewish vigilantes who took up arms to defend those trapped inside.

    The case for Israel is now unfolding in the heart of Berlin.

    This past Friday, an imam was filmed delivering a Friday sermon beseeching Allah to destroy the Zionist Jews. “Count them and kill them to the very last one,” he prayed. A day before, an angry mob gathered to demand the same thing. “Jude, Jude feiges Schwein! Komm heraus und kampf allein!” it bellowed in unison—“Jew, Jew, cowardly swine, come out and fight on your own!”

    The case for Israel is now parading through London.

    British Jews have experienced a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents over the last several weeks, from verbal abuse to attacks on buildings and people. One woman was reportedly assaulted by a breakaway group of 50 pro-Palestinian protesters who heard her discussing the Gaza conflict on her cell phone. They cried out “get her” and surrounded her, pushing and calling her a Jew, Zionist, murderer, and thief.

    Evidence of this disease has revealed itself in American cities as well. In Boston, Jewish students reported that police had to rescue them from a “die-in” protest against Israel’s operation in Gaza. The demonstrators had swarmed the students, pushing, shoving, and screaming “Jews back to Birkenau” and “Drop dead, you Zionazi whores.”

    But surely, as the Economist argued last month, Jews in the 21st Century Diaspora remain safer than Jews in the Holy Land. Perhaps it’s not so bad for the Jews of Europe, given that the Jews of Israel live in mortal risk of rocket strikes and terrorist attacks.

    The 430 French Jews who immigrated to Israel last week, however, would beg to differ. They followed the 3,500 French immigrants who arrived in Israel last year and the 5,000 more who are expected to soon join them. These Jews fled bourgeois Paris for Ashkelon and Ashdod, swapping the Champs-Élysées for the bomb shelters of Sderot and Be’er Sheva. Did they trade one threat for another more dangerous one? The Molotov Cocktails of French rioters are far less lethal then the rockets and tunneleers of Hamas. But these Jews would gladly trade the Police Nationale for the Israel Defense Forces. Because only in Israel can these Jews know in their bones that that with every last stick, and without any agenda, they will be defended to the death.

    Not every place in the world, of course, is like this for Jews. In the United States, the Jewish community is overwhelmingly secure, prospering in a society that celebrates it. But each chant of “gas the Jews” in Berlin, with all of its hideous echoes, underscores the need for a refuge.

    There are those who would have us believe that what we are witnessing in the world’s most cosmopolitan capitals is boiled-over frustration with Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Because, apparently, to borrow a line from Hamas, firebombing European synagogues is a “natural response” to the conflict in the Middle East.

    Israel’s operation in Gaza is not causing deep-seated prejudices, it is revealing them. And behind all of that hatred lies the need for Israel—the case for Jewish sovereignty is the case for Jewish safety.”

      • As a democracy in a place full of the worst dictatorships out there, sympathy exists even without all of the religious/ethnic appeals.

        The big problem with sympathizing with the Palestinians is they keep doing things which would objectively drive most people away from such things:
        massive theft of aid money, constant supplies of weapons from Arab neighbors but almost no economic aid, telethons for suicide bombers, cheering for the 9/11 attackers, trying to overthrow Jordan, destabilizing Lebanon, using civilians as human shields, putting children in harms way for political purposes, fratricidal violence, Islamicism….

    • There’s no doubt that Europe has a problem with anti Semitism. And there’s no doubt that during periods when Israel conducts military operations which result in the grossly disproportionate killing of Palestinian civilians, the result is the expression of both legitimate protests as well as that element of anti Semitism as well. And your article anecdotally describes some of the incidence of the latter.

      But the tone of the article is pointedly skewed to equate any pro Palestinian protest in Europe with anti Semitism. It seeks to delegitimise pro Palestinian or anti Israeli government sentiment as a whole. For the author, the ‘only’ victims of the current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians are Jews and Israel. And the only motivation of anyone protesting, is to support Hamas and express their own anti Semitism. It infers a classic false dilemma, ‘Either you are with Israel, or you are with the terrorists’. The author illustrates this view by stating the absurd conclusion:

      “Israel’s operation in Gaza is not causing deep-seated prejudices, it is revealing them.”

      What is playing out in cities throughout the world is not a case for Israel. In instances where Jews or their property are being targeted, it is a case for a stand against bigotry and discrimination. A case not unlike one which should be made when the members of any ethnic or religious group are unfairly targeted. The Jews of Europe in 2014 are not the Jews of Europe of the early to mid 20th century. They are not the historical Jews of Europe suffering state sanctioned persecution, torture and extermination, without an equal right of protection or legal redress. The narrative of victimhood played to the collective guilt of European conscience holds no credibility, especially when the actions of Israel as an occupying and besieging force are considered.

      • It does seem a little odd to be throwing support for Islamic Fundamentalists who have been terrorizing their own population for many years.

        If this was happening in the West Bank, a better case could be made. The PA have more legitimate gripes and had actively sought political solutions.

        • Hi Larry

          Justice needs to be absolute, not selective. Hamas should absolutely be held to the same basic standards of behaviour as Israel. But there also has to be some consideration for the imbalance in power and military might between them and those who control their borders, seaport and airspace. There has to be consideration of the ongoing siege of Gaza which has crippled its economy, institutions, and ability to function. The siege has rendered it nothing more than an open air prison.

          As an Ahmadi, I cannot support any group, religious or otherwise, which espouses violence against civilians or intolerance (Hamas – ‘tick’). But nor can I support the collective punishment of a population, besieged by a military and government whose actions guarantee nothing other than a failed state. My sympathies and support are with the people alone. They do not deserve to be collateral damage in the politics of this conflict. Israel is not free and justified to make them so in their war with Hamas. They do not deserve to suffer as they do because of poor limited choices.

          • The blockade of the seaport only exists because Hamas has vowed to never have peaceful relations with Israel whatsoever. Firing rockets doesn’t help them at all here. It can’t be justified in any way. It is not a military attack because it can’t accomplish strategic or tactical goals. It has no political benefit because it intentionally invites reprisals to cause suffering for Gazans and further justify the blockade. [Btw how come nobody ever talks about how Egypt has shut their side of the border with Gaza?]

            Armed struggle only justified armed response. None of it ever served the Palestinian people, but it does serve Iran’s interests.

            Hamas gained control of Gaza in the first place by murdering their fellow Palestinians in a short lived civil war. Even the PA considers them to be a threat to be contained. If there were Palestinians in Gaza who advocated peaceful negotiations with Israel, Hamas would have them killed (and has done so in the past). Hamas has already driven out moderates, people who seek a democratic state and those who want peaceful economic co-existence with Israel.

            I find Hamas to be utterly repugnant and their actions are a main driver for the suffering of Gazans. Israel overreacts but it is reacting, not driving the events. Hamas had the initiative to act one way or the other and they chose to initiate the cycle of attack and reprisal.

            I sympathize with the Palestinian people. But I also know that if one is not willing to openly challenge the cause of their suffering, their corrupt, murderous, autocratic leaders, nothing will change for them.

            Israel has sought peace with neighbors, even the Palestinians. Hamas as you may recall was instrumental in destroying the Oslo Accords in 1997. The best hope for peaceful existence for the Palestinians put forth in their history. Hamas can rot for all I care at this point.

          • Of course the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas is unjustified. But my point is that it is disingenuous of Israel to use that as a ‘trigger point’ to collectively punish ‘all’ Gazans who are trapped by them within this tiny sliver of land with nowhere to go. The reality on the ground is that, regardless of whether or not Israel tries to employ precision in its bombing and shelling, they will necessarily kill a large number of innocent civilians given the immense density of the Gazan population.

            But is all this killing even necessary, or just a pretext for political purposes? According to its government, Israel’s Iron Dome defence system is capturing about 90% of all incoming rockets. This is borne out by the incredibly low number of Israeli civilians killed – so far 2, including 1 at the border supplying Israeli troops. The decision by the FAA to ban flights by US airlines to Tel Aviv as a response to a rocket landing a mile from its airport prompted Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, to state:

            “The security in Ben Gurion and in Israel is as good as it gets. The reality is that the risk coming to Israel is minimal, and if it would be larger we would take the initiative and tell everyone not to come here.”

            Israeli spokesman Mark Regev was also quick to explain that the danger should not be exaggerated and that the landed rocket had been allowed to, because it posed no threat:

            “Any incoming rocket that would hit the airport … would immediately be taken out by our system.”

            The current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has, through the judiciary, instigated a policy of mass arrests and death sentences for supporters of his main political adversary, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Caught up in these imprisonments are also a number of Al Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste – Qatar, where the network is based, is sympathetic to the MB. Saudi Arabia, fearful of the potential political influence within its kingdom of the MB, supports Egypt, recently pledging 12 billion in aid. What does all this have to do with Hamas? Hamas is allied with the MB. And ordinary Palestinians do not figure in this equation of corruption, consolidation of power, and alliances.

          • “Israel overreacts but it is reacting, not driving the events. Hamas had the initiative to act one way or the other and they chose to initiate the cycle of attack and reprisal.”

            Larry I can’t agree that Hamas firing rockets was the precursor for the current conflict. The siege predates that in any event. Following the murder of the three Israeli settler youths, Israel embarked on a series of military incursions and mass arrests in the West Bank. Their targets were clerics, intellectuals and politicians they regarded as being sympathetic to Hamas. 3 million in cash and property is alleged (by European NGOs) to have been stolen during these raids. I’m in agreement with you that it can’t be argued that the Palestinians killed during these raids was a justification to begin launching rockets, but it simply isn’t true that the rockets initiated the cycle

          • As I said before the siege was predicated on the fact that Hamas declared war on Israel and their fellow Palestinians of Fatah.
            God forbid Hamas try to negotiate with Israel. It would be nice if Hamas could act in good faith or give some assurances that opening up the Port of Gaza would not be just an excuse to resupply with newer generation weapons to use against Israel. There is so much potential for everyone involved being squandered by pointless conflict.

            Hamas has intentionally trapped the Gazans. They have no aspirations to lead beyond bullying people into submission. Creating a siege situation has only benefited Hamas, at the expense of everyone else. Palestinains and Israelis alike. Without the worry about warfare, Gazans would be left asking questions about their corrupt Islamicist rulers. Palestinian leaders constantly put their own people at risk to make political points abroad.

            “Following the murder of the three Israeli settler youths, Israel embarked on a series of military incursions and mass arrests in the West Bank. Their targets were clerics, intellectuals and politicians they regarded as being sympathetic to Hamas. 3 million in cash and property is alleged (by European NGOs) to have been stolen during these raids.”

            You have to remember Gaza is in reality a separate de facto state from the West Bank. If the raids in the West Bank were targeting Hamas, you can be almost certain that Fatah was not overly concerned or actively participated.

            The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood didn’t do Gaza any favors when they were in power. The border opened briefly and then shut again within days.

  8. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Being against a particular Israeli policy for rational reasons is one thing. To use that opposition as an excuse for spewing hatred and bigotry is quite another. The anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, uproars make obvious how much anti-Semitism lies just beneath the surface in many countries. How many Jewish teen-age boys have to be murdered by terrorists, how many rockets from Gaza have to be lobbed into Israel , how many dozens of attack tunnels need to be dug for Israelis to have a right to defend themselves?????.
    Just reading some of the pro-Palestinian propaganda makes clear that there will be another Holocaust of Jews if Israel is not able to defend itself.

      • Israel has peace with its neighbors Egypt, Jordan and even Lebanon to some extent.

        They do not have peace with the people who are acting as proxy soldiers for Iran and the Arab League. If Palestinians acted on their own behalf, they would have their own state(s) by now. But instead Hamas and Fatah sold their people out to kowtow to foreign money.

        The armed struggle has done nothing more than make life worse for Palestinians. Without it, Israel would have caved into political pressure from allies and formed peaceful relations with a Palestinian state. While idiots still fire rockets at villages in Israel, nobody has to care what gripes the Palestinians have.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        If Israel didn’t have a strong military and a willingness to use it when under attack they would probably be given the same choice as Christians in Mosul got )::: convert to Islam, pay a special tax, or be executed. A Palestinian Moslem imam has already urged the killing of all Jews. A similar choice was given to a bunch of kidnapped girl students in Nigeria (minus the tax part.)

    • Pardon me for saying so, but the latter part of your comments are absurd. Defending the rights of Palestinians is no more propaganda than your defending the right of Israel to self defence. And being pro Palestinian or anti the actions of the Israeli government does not automatically equate to anti Semitism. That is a non sequitur used to silence criticism, and simply becomes nonsensical when it’s Jews using the same arguments to criticise their own government.

      “How many Jewish teen-age boys have to be murdered by terrorists, how many rockets from Gaza have to be lobbed into Israel , how many dozens of attack tunnels need to be dug for Israelis to have a right to defend themselves?????.”

      I’ve yet to hear or read this mythical argument that Israel actually does not have a right to defend itself. Yet the defence of this absent proposition has become a standard response to criticism of any and all military activities undertaken by Israel. But those who respond with this assertion perpetuate the myth that Israel is the primary victim, simply responding to unprovoked and unwarranted aggression. This same argument has been parroted ad nauseum in the media by a parade of Israeli spokespersons. And so it was again when Israel’s ambassador to the UN, referring to rockets from Gaza, asserted:

      “There is no country in the world that would tolerate such an assault on its citizens — and Israel should not be expected to either. We are acting solely to defend Israelis from constant terror attacks.”

      The dishonest inference is that it was rockets which broke the peace, and simply stopping them would restore it. The dishonesty lies in the fact that what is meant is that it would restore peace for Israel – not for the Palestinian Territories. The question for the ambassador is, ‘Which country in the world would tolerate military besiegement, incursions and occupation; arbitrary arrests; economic blockades; regular attacks by both the IDF and settlers; destruction of farmlands and orchards; daily humiliation of closed military checkpoints and ‘settler only’ roads criss-crossing their own territory; the ongoing theft of land, water, and construction of illegal settlements, and, the annexation of their towns and territory into disjointed ‘cantonments’ with no free passage of travel between them…?’

      What is clear is that Israel is currently practicing neither proportionality nor equal justice. Equal justice is not extra judicially blowing up the houses of the ‘suspected’ murderers of three Israeli youths. Not unless you’re also prepared to accept the extrajudicial blowing up of the houses of those who vengefully burnt a Palestinian youth to death? No I didn’t think so.

      • What would happen if Hamas suddenly opened up peaceful negotiations with Israel?

        Would Israel and its allies with their democratically elected leaders be able to justify the Gaza blockade then?

        Has the armed struggle done anything to advance the aims of Palestinian statehood?

        • I agree Larry, the armed struggle has brought nothing but misery for Palestinians. But I would be interested to know from anyone what rights they think Palestinians should have to self defence. Israel has made it clear that their military might is part of their legitimate right to self defence. What similar right do Palestinians have, if any? Regardless, you are right, but what right do we as outsiders have to tell the occupied and besieged to lay down all arms? It seems counterintuitive to lecture the oppressed rather than, as a friend, reform the oppressor. I can tell we disagree on many aspects of this conflict but I value your perspective regardless.

          • Such questions are more easily discussed among people who are negotiating peaceful terms of existence or even willing to enter into such talks.

            They are also more easily answered by leadership which has a good faith interest in protecting its own people. Israel has that, but I can’t say whether Hamas does.

            The problem with such reductive labels as oppressed and oppressor is you create a false sense of dichotomy here. The Palestinians currently have two enemies, Israel and their own leadership. Addressing one without the other as everyone else has done in the past has never worked.

            Reform is necessary for the Palestinians for peace to happen. A perfect example is how “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland have essentially resolved themselves. It was not the British holding back or withdrawing from the region which brought peace, it was IRA leaders like Gerry Adams who did. People who had the credibility of the fellow violent terrorists, but were willing to seek purely political solutions.

  9. Why does criticism of Israel have a sheer ferocity and intensity that one doesn’t see in the criticism of any country? The only answer I can come up with is that Israel is a Jewish country. It is possible to disagree with the policies of the Israeli government or even be pro-Palestinian without the extreme and one-sided criticism of Israel. I personally disagree with many of the Israeli government policies. I don’t support this Gaza invasion. I think Israel is doing exactly what Hamas wants it to.

    Hamas doesn’t want an end to the occupation or even equal justice. They want to destroy Israel. They hate ALL Jews everywhere. They would attack Jews all over the world if they could. As for proportionality, Israel should not have to apologize that it protects its citizens. I suppose you would be happier if more Jews died. Hamas can dig tunnels, but they can’t build bomb shelters.

    • “It is possible to disagree with the policies of the Israeli government or even be pro-Palestinian without the extreme and one-sided criticism of Israel”

      Nothing that’s been posted is extreme. No-one has stated support for Hamas for example. Support for besieged and occupied Palestinian civilians being killed in their hundreds doesn’t equate to that. The criticism of Israel is entirely justified.

      “Hamas doesn’t want an end to the occupation or even equal justice. They want to destroy Israel. They hate ALL Jews everywhere.”

      Hamas can say what they like. The reality is that Israel is under zero threat of destruction from them. The perpetual victimhood mentality may play well in whipping up popular sentiments of an ever present crisis, but the truth is very different. Israel is a nation with the second best standing army in the world. They are armed with nuclear and chemical weapons. Besides their own weapons of mass destruction, they are backed militarily and economically by the US. In danger of destruction? Hardly.

      Your conclusion that criticism of Israel is simply based on them being Jewish is to deny the facts of what they do. It is also an insult to Jewish critics. Similarly your allegation that, “I suppose you would be happier if more Jews died”, is baseless and a resort to labelling any criticism of Israel as synonymous with anti Semitism. The truth is that there are extremists on both sides of this conflict. But only one side is the occupier and besieger. The other is the occupied and besieged. It is simply immoral to justify the security of your own civilians by occupying, subjugating and besieging the civilian population of another.

    • “They hate ALL Jews everywhere”

      As an Ahmadi Muslim, I support neither Hamas nor the Israeli government, since I believe neither is acting morally or with justice. I am also keenly aware that Ahmadi Muslims living in Haifa, Israel are, according to our beliefs, duty bound to be loyal and follow the directions of the rulers of the land they reside in – i.e. the Israeli government. Whatever their personal feelings about the conflict, in this matter they must follow the Quranic injunction to obey those in authority.

      Hamas is a political animal as much as anything else. Its pronouncements are coloured by emotion and concerns for domestic political appeal. It has undoubtedly called for the destruction of Israel in the past, but its statements are at best contradictory since. For instance, Article 31 of their charter states: “Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—to coexist in peace and quiet with each other.” In 2006 in an officially released document, under the heading of ‘Recognition of Israel’, it stated: “The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people”.

      Israel should not use a contradictory position adopted by Hamas to suspend negotiation and even dialogue. After all, the lives of innocent Gazans are more important than the perceived intransigence of their leaders. Simply talking presents no danger to security. Claiming Hamas rejected a ceasefire agreement they had no input in is a symptom of a policy of ultimatums over direct negotiation. Secondly, Israel should rein in those on its side who similarly make inflammatory and unacceptable statements of incitement.

      “This is a war. It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started…What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy?”

      “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

      “They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists.”

      “They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists.” – Ayelet Shaked, former director of the office of Benjamin Netanyahu, former director of Likud, currently a senior figure in the Jewish Home Party which is part of the ruling coalition – 1st July 2014

      A day after this was posted and liked by thousands of supporters on Facebook, 16 year old Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khudair, was kidnapped and burnt to death by Israelis. The following day, the beating and arrest of his 15 year old cousin, US citizen Tariq Khdeir, was captured on film.

  10. “Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—to coexist in peace and quiet with each other.”

    What Hamas means is their version of Islam in control and minorities living as dhimmis under Hamas as second class citizens.

    There are also other parts of Hamas literature that are classic antisemitism, including Holocaust denial and international Zionist conspiracy theories.

    I don’t agree with what Israel is doing myself. I think that there has been extreme criticism of Israel on this web site. I am expressing my opinion. I am not trying to label all criticism of Israel antisemitc, but criticism often degenerates into antisemitism. All the advanced weapons in the world, can’t protect you from terrorism. Hamas cannot destroy Israel, but it can kill a lot of people. I said that when the criticism of Israel has an intensity and a ferocity that one doesn’t see in the criticism of any other country. That is a form of antisemitism.

    Most Israelis are still willing to accept a Palestinian state, but they have not been convinced that Israel’s security can be guaranteed. They need to be convinced. Hamas’s actions only strengthen the Israeli right.

  11. I looked at the Hamas charter and you picked out the one semi-positive statement about Jews in the whole charter. I would like to post what else they say about Jews in their charter.

    For instance, Hamas’ charter claims Jews — not just Israelis — are responsible for all wars:

    “There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.”

    5.) And all revolutions:

    “They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests.”

    6.) And they also control media:

    “For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained. They took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realisation of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others.”

    7.) According to its charter, Hamas is a big fan of violent jihad:

    “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

    8.) Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore shares the Muslim Brotherhood’s enthusiasm for “death for the sake of Allah:”

    “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”

    “There is no way out except by concentrating all powers and energies to face this Nazi, vicious Tatar invasion.”

    But don’t accuse Hamas of being intellectually consistent on the question of the Holocaust. Though its charter repeatedly accuses Jews of being like Nazis, in 2009 the organization protested the United Nations over teaching the history of Holocaust to Palestinian children because it was, according to Hamas, “a lie invented by the Zionists.”

    • Susan you’ve missed the point. I am not arguing for Hamas at all. There’s no need to convince me of their anti Semitism or conspiratorial beliefs. As I’ve already said, I consider both them and Israel to be engaging in terrorist actions. The only difference is that one group (Hamas) is doing so from a position of besiegement, whilst the other (Israel) is doing so as a powerful, democratised besieger. The only position I’m defending, is the position of absolute justice. And the group most denied of justice in this conflict, are the occupied and besieged Palestinians.

      “Most Israelis are still willing to accept a Palestinian state, but they have not been convinced that Israel’s security can be guaranteed. They need to be convinced. Hamas’s actions only strengthen the Israeli right.”

      We cannot wait for Israelis to,be convinced before ending the siege of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank. Why? Because the right of a Palestinian civilian to security is equal to the right of an Israeli civilian to the same. Not less. Hamas’s actions may strengthen the Israeli Right, but Israel’s ongoing actions strengthen Hamas and that mindset. This is demonstrably true and yet Israel continues its policies regardless.The violence is counter productive from both sides.

      “I looked at the Hamas charter and you picked out the one semi-positive statement about Jews in the whole charter”

      I agree that’s what I did. My point was not to deny the rest of the charter, it was to make the point that Hamas, in my opinion, is no different an extreme political group than many others of the past and present. They are capable of dialogue, compromise and even changing their more extreme positions, in the cut and thrust of political negotiation. I’m not saying they will, I’m saying they can. But an absolutist position of ‘no dialogue’ leaves no room for testing this proposition. History has given examples of groups foregoing violence for political gains, even as some on the opposing side dismissed them as terrorists – IRA in Ireland, ANC in South Africa etc.

      Secondly, as I’ve already stated, Israel is as complicit as Hamas in incitement and targeting of civilians and the defenceless. Their media rhetoric always insists otherwise, but the facts on the ground paint a different picture.

      “The blood of a dialysis patient in Gaza is not redder than the blood of our IDF [Israeli army] soldiers who will, God forbid, need to enter [Gaza]…Therefore I call on the prime minister who we all support in this difficult hour, before we send the IDF into Gaza, we should simply shut down their electricity,” – Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, speaking before Israel’s current invasion of Gaza.

      And whilst Hamas, as you point out, may believe they are fighting for the true religion, and with Allah (God) on their side, the reality is that, again, Israel is no different.

      “History has chosen us to be the sharp edge of the bayonet of fighting the terrorist enemy “from Gaza” which curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel’s battles…God, the Lord of Israel, make our path successful, as we are about to fight for Your People, Israel, against an enemy who defames your name. In the name of the IDF fighters and in particular, the fighters and commanders from the Brigade, make the phrase “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” come true, and we shall answer: Amen.” – Colonel Ofer Winter, Commander of the Givati Brigade in an open letter to his troops, published in Israeli media before the current ground offensive in Gaza.

  12. That is a remark from one commander, but I know Israelis on the left and right who are completely secular and are not very religious or are atheists who support this war because they believe they have no choice. I disagree, but I don’t live in Israel. I don’t even support this war. I just think that the criticism has been over the top and unfair.

    • Of course there are Israelis, including in the military, who are secular and disagree with this. Just as there are observant Jews who disagree. And there are even ‘refuseniks’ – soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories because they believe it is illegal and immoral. And on the other side, living under occupation, the largest Palestinian political group, Fatah, is secular. Also there with them is Palestinian legislator and Sydney peace prize winner, Hanan Ashrawi. She is a Christian from the Third Way Party. Unfortunately, none of them from either side are decisively influential in the current conflict.

      I accept you are sensitive to criticism of Israel as a whole, especially if it is of a generalised nature which ignores the diversity of views within and about it. But I feel, as far as the bulk of western mainstream media goes, the controlled, narrow narrative of the Israeli government position is what overwhelmingly dominates. This includes both imagery and opinion. This is of course not the fault of Israel who are entitled to invest heavily (as they do) in media management, spokespeople, and influencing opinion. Even at the grassroots level they are backed up by an army of paid and volunteer students who sit in Hasbara (propaganda) ‘war rooms’, advocating the Israeli government position.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/world/middleeast/young-israelis-fight-hashtag-battle-to-defend-israelunderfire.html

      But what always gets left out of this one sided barrage of pro Israel, defend Israel the victim against Palestinians the aggressors narrative, are the actual facts. Facts of Palestinian suffering under occupation and siege, and the facts about the extremists at the highest levels of power on the other side. They don’t get seen or heard when coverage is so biased. But when they do, people get some understanding of the “sheer ferocity and intensity that one doesn’t see in the criticism of any country”.

      “All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.”

      “Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender to IDF forces).”

      “After the IDF completes the “softening” of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.”

      “The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave.”

      “Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel.”

      — Op-Ed by Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, July 15 2014.

      • Yesterday an Israeli professor claimed that the best way to stop Palestinian resurgence is to rape their women: then they will stop opposing Israeli occupation. We are talking about mass rapes here.
        Israeli citizens do not consider Arabs (Christian & Muslim) as human beings: racism is the main ideology taught in Israel. Israeli language about the internationally recognized legitimate owners of the lands that they are stealing is parallel to that of Nazi Germany. Desmond Tutu and Mandela stands with the rights of Palestine–check Youtube. African scholars call the Israeli practice officially an “apartheid”, sometimes worse than other examples.
        You guys discuss Hamas, which was established about 26 years ago, while the apartheid, genocide, discrimination, baby-killing is continuing for 66 years. Of course Hamas and anti-Semitism are wrong: but burning a guy alive, and shooting babies in the wombs of their mothers are also inhumane. The legitimate defense of the people of the occupied lands is called terror, while Israel is “defending” itself by murdering “terrorist” children playing on the beach. You still don’t get that “this is not a war: this is murder” (Chomsky). As we keep watching it as an outsider, or supporting it indirectly by submitting to the Zionist=racist decisions of Israel and the US, we share the guilt of the murdered babies and their pregnant mothers.

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