The number of victims may be disputed, but very few will deny that a large majority of the 1500 Palestinian killed by Israel were innocent children, women and men. Most of the world have seen the Israeli military exercising a campaign of vengeance against Gaza people.
What may be a sliver of hope - if you are still capable of seeing anything positive in that blood bath - was that all over the world, anti-Israel sentiments were flaring. The world (East and West) is gradually coming to see Israel as the aggressor and oppressor in the puddle known as the Israeli-Palestinian (I-P) conflict.
Even in the traditionally 'cold-blooded' Northern Europeans, anti-Israel feelings are growing rapidly. From Amsterdam where an visiting Israeli officer was shoe-pelted (after which the paranoid officer said ''Today shoes, tomorrow guns'') to Sweden where the Israeli ambassador was also shoe-pelted, and where Davis Cup matches in Malmo - Sweden's third largest city - could not be held with fans in the stadium as the city was boiling with demonstrations against Israel, calling for boycotting Israel and protesting the presence of the Israeli tennis team.
One Israeli tennis player expressed his shock after demonstrators tried to disrupt Sweden-Israel tennis match. According to Haartz, he said "Sweden protest was first time I felt anti-Israel hate".
But to express shock at the civilized world reaction to massacres of innocent Palestinians by one's own country is truly confusing. Is it naïveté, childish innocence, or ignorance? Or does it represent a more profound pathology that pervades the Israeli collective memory and perception?
It is hard to feel confused as to why the European street is unhappy with Israel. The European protesters over the last several months were not very subtle. They explicitly say why they are unhappy with Israel. In Sweden, they did not mince words:
Still, some old and wise Jewish community leaders insist that the real reason is not that simple.
' 7,000 people gathered at a square in downtown Malmo to hear speeches condemning Israel's offensive in Gaza and urging support for Palestinians. Sweden's Left Party leader Lars Ohly told the crowd that the European Union and the rest of the world "should boycott the racist regime in Israel." Chanting anti-Israel slogans, the protesters then marched toward the Baltic Hall arena, where some of them tried to break through the police barrier.' [Full article here]
And as usual, the Defamation League, aka Anti-Defamation League (ADL), foams around the mouth accusing the Malmo City council of using the tennis matches "as a device to express anti-Israel bias."
The leader of the European Jewish Congress said Wednesday the main blame for growing antisemitism across the continent was the economic crisis, not the Gaza war.
[European Jewish] Congress President Moshe Kantor said that what he believes anti-Semitism levels unseen since World War II had nothing to do with Middle East issues.
The political ignorance of a tennis-centered athlete is understandable. But the ' leader of the European Jewish Congress' ? This wise leader and the eternally-angry Foxman of the ADL are never tired of the same slogan: It has nothing to do with what Israel does. They hate us because they will always hate us for one reason or the other.
This sounds like circular logic to me, but for a lot of other people, it is the undisputed truth. And in some sick sense, it is a handy justification for having absolutely no critical appraisal of what Israel does. If, in that kind of traditional wisdom, the conclusion is known [they will always hate us], then what is the point wasting energy trying to find another reason [for example, Israel is doing something that is really so bad that people get angry at Israel]?
True antisemitism is the hate of Jews for no reason other than their being Jewish. If Israel occupies land, oppresses people and kills innocent Palestinians, I think some civilized humans have the right to be angry, or even mad, at Israel and its supporters for what Israel is are doing.
Are there true anti-Semites? Certainly. But nine times out of ten, that charge is hurled at someone who dares to criticize Israel (unless they are Jewish, then they get charged with being self-hating Jews).
But, let us go back to the perception gap between what Israel does, and what its supporters see.
Israeli as well as pro-Israel media in January and February of 2009 were studded with articles trying to understand the unusual 'public relation failure' of Israel in recent months. Some articles reached the conclusion that 'no matter how you sweeten it, Israel was the villain in that fight, and thus the world reacted appropriately'. Others blame the propaganda failure on the usual and eternal suspect: antisemitism.
Gideon Levi wrote recently a very interesting article about the Tennis Match events in Sweden, titled "Has anyone in Israel asked why the Swedes hate us?". It is a must-read, and it discusses the reason for pervasive and unreal sense of innocence some Israelis have, and the real anger the world outside Israel feels.
A more pointed article by Akiva Eldar has an even more provoking title: "Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?". It reviews an academic research done in Israel on that sensitive topic: perpetual victimhood. the principal researcher is Daniel Bar-Tal, one of the world's leading political psychologists - probably soon to be pronounce a self-hating Jew.
The article concludes with specific statistics about the 1948 partitioning and the lack of awareness of objective facts about that era by a large portion of Israeli society.
[For sake of brevity, reviewing these 2 articles was moved to Part 2 of this posting - see below]
The articles by Gideon Levi and Akiva Eldar are excellent assets for anyone that has interest in the psychology of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. This psychological aspect of the conflict is, in my opinion, the single most important obstacle to the resolution of the problem. From it stems ALL the evils chronically afflicting that sad part of the world.
A quote I heard once in a conversation about Israeli Palestinian issues is an illustrative example of the short link between victimhood and criminality. A defender of the Israeli position thought that the following statement that he attributed to an Israeli politician summarized the wisdom of his stance:
"I hate Palestinians because they make us kill their children".
Wow. In ten words he expressed hate, admitted murder, dumped all the blame on the ones whose children he murdered and came out with clean conscience feeling like a victim.
I presented a brief review of these 2 articles here:
Links to original articles: