This is my latest column for Jewish News:
As a vocal supporter of Israel and an active blogger in defence of the Jewish state I long ago realised that some critics of Israel are so consumed with blind hatred that they might never emerge from the darkness of their self-imposed intellectual dungeons. However, I fought to remain optimistic that such cases formed only a small number of Israel’s critics. In the last few weeks this optimism has been truly shaken.
I’d always hesitated to jump to extreme conclusions about what motivates people to be so strongly, ignorantly and uniquely hostile to Israel. I told myself that they were usually not motivated by antisemitism or any other evil inclination, they were simply a little bit misguided and very ill-informed. If only they could be shown a more balanced picture, I hoped, they might quickly begin to develop a more sensible approach.
But people around the world saw the videos and photographs of what the Israeli commandos faced on those boats and still many refuse to accept what happened. When they were shown videos filmed by the flotilla passengers themselves proving that at least some on the fateful boat were proudly determined to provoke a violent confrontation and become ‘martyrs’ they still saw no evil and heard no evil. Even when relatives and friends of some of the dead confirmed what their motivation had been their words were broadly overlooked.
Then at the weekend we had photographs of the passengers’ brutality which they took and published themselves, but still it was not enough. It’s as if a suspect is in court pleading guilty to a crime and producing compelling evidence to prove his guilt and yet people are sitting shaking their heads in the jury box and saying: “No, he doesn’t mean it, he’s not really guilty”. Israel, meanwhile, faced a different but sadly familiar standard of treatment in the court of public opinion: guilty until proven guilty.
In attempting to defend Israel one becomes accustomed to struggling through an obstacle course of double standards. These include that, unlike any of the world’s other conflicts or disputes, Israel is the one on which people who know little nonetheless speak lots. One rarely hears people commenting about, say, Sri Lanka’s war with the Tamil Tigers, the nomadic hostilities in Sudan or India’s battle with the Maoists unless they have a decent grasp of the issues involved. But people who know almost nothing about what is going on in the Middle East nonetheless feel not just permitted to comment on the matter but absolutely compelled to.
These ill-informed comments are nearly always hostile to Israel, but it is not just the ignorant who are making such disturbing noises. Politicians from all parties joined in the dishonest flotilla narrative and they should hang their heads in shame for their cowardice. It is because of their chorus of hatred that the solidarity demonstration arranged by the Zionist Federation last week was so important. In an upsetting week it proved comforting and inspiring to be among 700 other supporters of Israel, making our voices heard and proudly waving our Israeli flags.
We are a movement of wonderful people but let’s be honest, our level of activity and noise is generally put to shame by the other side. The more shows of strength we make the less inclined our politicians will feel to turn their backs on Israel as they did last week. We need to get our message spot on. Language is vital, so although it is perfectly true that Israel has a right to defend herself I feel this is too meek a statement, because the truth goes a lot deeper than that. Israel has an absolute duty to defend herself.
For the way it so morally and courageously does just that, the IDF has my wide-eyed respect.
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