Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire between the Israeli Defense Forces has backfired as both sides continue to bomb each other (albeit with widely differing success rates) and the Palestinian death toll rises to over 200.
Despite a five-hour ceasefire on July 17, which allowed Gaza strip civilians to restock on humanitarian supplies, neither side appears willing to negotiate a permanent ceasefire in this current time. It is high time to think of the wider consequences of Operation Protective Edge on the worldwide Jewish community.
The operation, launched after Hamas, the Islamic faction de facto ruling Gaza, hurled rockets deep into Israeli territory, is increasingly coming under fire from the international community. Alongside this criticism, many have begun to direct their anger over the operation, not at the Israeli government, but at Jewish communities who have no role to play in the conflict.
Palestinians gather to withdraw money from ATM machines in Gaza City, Thursday, July 17, 2014. The Bank of Palestine opened one of its branches in Gaza City's Rimal neighborhood as the cease-fire began, drawing hundreds of people trying to withdraw money. The Israeli military says it has struck 37 targets in Gaza ahead of a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire meant to allow civilians to stock up after 10 days of fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
While fascist and neo-Nazi trends have already started to resurface in recent years in Europe, as evidenced by the increasing number of Jews immigrating to Israel, the ongoing skirmish between Israel and Hamas has led to a series of visible attacks on the Jewish community.
France is a prime example where tensions towards Jews are rising.
Home to the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe, France is increasingly witnessing violent protests against Israeli actions in Gaza “imported” to its home turf.
On July 14, French National Day, pro-Palestine demonstrators turned violent, addressing Jews in an increasingly “hostile and hate-filled manner” on the Place de la Bastille. Tensions increased further when rioters broke off to attack a synagogue with 150-200 Jews inside mourning the death of three recently killed Israeli kids.
Two nights prior to the July 14 celebration of so called "peace," Molotov cocktails were flung at another synagogue in a northeastern suburb of Paris, an act described by the president of the top Jewish religious authority in France as “a new low.”
Such shameless hatred toward the already marginalized Jewish community indicates that some are beginning to direct their anger over Israeli military actions toward innocent Jews continents away.
Anti-Zionism Turned Anti-Semitism?
Indeed, the higher the death toll rises on the Palestinian side, the more people direct their outrage of Israeli militarism at the Jews internationally.
A recent Spiked article correctly pointed out the hypocrisy in this unjustified and racist abuse towards “Israeli people and Jews [who] are coming under attack for military action they have nothing to do with.”
A BBC examination found that many photos posted on Twitter purporting to be Gaza circa July 2014 were really file photos or showed other battlefields. (Image source: BBC)
Current media reports and viral Twitter hashtags underline that not only is Israel’s military and government undergoing attacks from the Western community but, more worryingly, this anti-Zionist behavior is beginning to translate into a form of anti-Semitism, plagued by foul language, prejudice, racial slurs and physical attacks on the Jewish community.
This is a dangerous path that we are going down, where the military actions of a minority of Israelis’ are used to justify the scapegoating and racial targeting of an entire Jewish population.
In response to a pro-Israel rally held in on July 14 in New York City, organized and attended by a wide range of elected officials from the New York area, Sandy Turner rebutted the group’s insistence that New Yorkers support Israel, asking:
“Who are they talking to? They don’t represent me. I’m Jewish and I’m a New Yorker and I absolutely do not."
Raging statements such as these go to show that, while it is all too easy for individuals to direct their anger at their enemies, we cannot fall into the trap of condemning Jewish communities for the actions of the Israeli government and military over a policy they do not control and may not even support.
We Don’t Deserve This
Just as innocent Palestinians contend that they don’t deserve the bloodshed and violence brought upon then, neither do Jews deserve the racial hatred and slander being aimed at them.
Unfortunately, with nationalist extremists making strides within the European Union, evidenced by the recent appointment of German neo-Nazi Member of European Parliament Udo Voigt to the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament (that’s right, the one in charge of protecting the human rights of European citizens), and the Gaza crisis back in full swing, Europe needs to watch carefully to prevent these neo-Nazi and fascist trends.
A Neo-Nazi protest in Hamburg, Germany in June 2012. Credit: YouTube screenshot
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a meeting held with rabbis from Russia, the U.S., the United Kingdom and France among others, also highlighted the increased danger of the revival of fascism and neo-Nazism and the threat that Holocaust denial can bring. While Putin may be a lot of things, an anti-Semite he is not, as he welcomed the Jewish community as his "closest allies" with regards to preventing a repeat of the tragedies of the past.
Putin’s promises to the Jewish community came on the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day in Sevastopol, where rabbis, foreign and Russian journalists, activists and the wider Jewish community gathered to remember the millions who died at Nazi hands, including 4,200 Jews and Krimchacks murdered in Sevastopol. The event shows just how important it is to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, especially at a time when Europe is becoming increasingly plagued with anti-Semitic sentiments and acts.
States, international organizations, activists, the media and, most importantly, our populations need to play a part in ensuring minorities are properly protected and that anti-Semitism doesn’t creep back into 21st Century society.
Should we continue to remain as silent bystanders amongst this gradual escalation of hatred and abuse, we risk the rewrite of a gruesome and ugly past.
Feature Photo Credit: Getty Images
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