Why Do You Care About Israel and Palestine?

A nuclear power is waging an endless war on a tiny area that wants to gain its freedom from the big and powerful neighbor. There is a forced and cruel displacement of people from the lands they have inhabited forever, a genocide. The nuclear power is using anti-Muslim sentiments to consolidate the persecution of the people who fight for independence. The inhabitants of the small area are using terrorism to defend their right to independence, bringing their acts of terror into the very heart of the powerful conqueror. The appalling poverty plagues the people who have almost lost all hope for having a state of their own. The land has been destroyed by endless war.

Of course, you must have realized by now that I’m talking about Russia and Chechnya, right?

As the recent flare-up of the conflict between Israel and Palestine intensifies, everybody is plastering their Facebook pages, blogs, and Twitter feeds with (often quite disturbing) photos and cartoons that reference the conflict. Friendships crumble as people take objection to the way their acquaintances portray what is happening. Articles on the subject abound. People snap at each other at work and at home as pressures rise and everybody’s opinion becomes more passionately entrenched.

As I observe what is going on, I keep wondering why this specific conflict provokes such intense feelings. There are many similar conflicts taking place in other parts of the world but nobody seems to care, or at least not nearly as much. Whenever I mention the word “Chechnya”, I see people’s eyes glaze over with boredom. Yet any reference to Israel makes everybody sit up and pay attention.

Could anybody explain why this is happening? Why do you personally care more about Israel and Palestine than about Russia and Chechnya?

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95 comments on “Why Do You Care About Israel and Palestine?

  1. Honestly, I’d like to know the same thing. I’d also like to know why people with no personal stake in the matter and, more importantly, no extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern history or politics insist on taking such strong sides.

    • Well US and Israel cooperate economically and this is known, so the question should one tie the ties closer, or loosen them, is nearby. Chechnya is more remote and importantly, one did not hear simple stories about it in elementary school. Israel is one of the countries one hears of first in life.

      Israel is in the Bible and it is where Jesus is from! This is important! In school you sing about the wind blowing through olive trees in Israel. The star led three wise men to Bethlehem. I am not kidding, I think this stuff really has an impact, you start hearing about this almost as soon as you can talk, and soon after you study the Holocaust.

      • “Well US and Israel cooperate economically and this is known, so the question should one tie the ties closer, or loosen them, is nearby. ”

        - If people cared about the economy, then at least somebody would be interested about what is happening in China. Surely, we can all agree that China has a much greater impact on the US economy than Israel ever could. China is about to become the world’s biggest economy. They are in the midst of a huge power exchange. There are daily environmentalist protests. Does anybody know or care about that? I have to scour the Internet to find one little article a week mentioning China.

      • “Israel is in the Bible and it is where Jesus is from! This is important! In school you sing about the wind blowing through olive trees in Israel. The star led three wise men to Bethlehem. I am not kidding, I think this stuff really has an impact, you start hearing about this almost as soon as you can talk, and soon after you study the Holocaust.”

        - This is an interesting response and I like it. The only problem with it is the following: there are many people who have no idea that the Jews and Israel in the Bible are the same Jews and the same Israel on the news today. My students have no clue. I have to explain that to them. In the meanwhile, the intelligent, highly educated people who do know it’s the same Jews have no reason to care about the Bible.

    • “Honestly, I’d like to know the same thing. I’d also like to know why people with no personal stake in the matter and, more importantly, no extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern history or politics insist on taking such strong sides.”

      - I think we will find the answer collectively in the end.

  2. Israel is a very famous country in the US and there is a lot of identification with it at a personal level, for various reasons. Is Israel safe is like saying am I safe, and is Israel doing something wrong is like asking it of oneself. This is my guess.

  3. It’s hard not to take notice of Israel (and by proxy, the Israel-Palestine conflict) when the American government and the American media takes so much interest in it. You can’t have a presidential debate in this country without the candidates falling over backwards in affirming their love for Israel. To the American media, foreign policy *is* the Israel-Palestine conflict, nothing else matters.

    So yeah, when the government and the media start taking an active interest in the Russian-Chechnya conflict, or Sudan, or the Hutus and Tutsis, the people will follow. If Wolf Blitzer on CNN talked about Chechnya for years and years, and if US congress frequently passed resolutions and made passionate speeches about the plight of the Chechen people, and if every American president solemnly swore to defend Chechnya in every state of the union address, then yes, after a few decades I would *totally* expect the American people to plaster their facebook pages with opinions about Russia-Chechnya relations, and to break relationships/friendships over this conflict.

    This kind of zealotry doesn’t develop quickly. It takes time and a lot of effort.

    • The media don’t take up issues randomly. If we are talking about capitalist countries, then the media go where the viewers, the ratings and, consequently, the money are.

      As for President’s speeches, I wasn’t on this continent during the Cold War but I’m guessing there were massive speeches about our region. Some presidential candidates still want to continue that discussion. McCain did in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2007. Romney tried to do it now. Still, no interest whatsoever. Of course, the Cold war is kind of over but I don’t get the feeling that this is something people cared about but forgot. I have a feeling nobody ever gave a crap. I’m wondering why.

    • “after a few decades I would *totally* expect the American people to plaster their facebook pages with opinions about Russia-Chechnya relations, and to break relationships/friendships over this conflict.”

      - The Cold war lasted for decades. Where is at least one sorry Facebook page? :-) :-)

  4. Being Jewish – and having many relatives both who live in Israel and who have strong feelings – helps personalize the issue for me. I also feel a “responsibility” of sorts related in part to how I was taught by my parents growing up that pushed/pushes me to speak out, when I feel strongly about issues. This feeling seems doubly strong – when my feels are (as they are here) counter to the Dominant perspectives I hear about frequently. I would speak similarly – as to why I care a lot about men’s issues – another topic not popular often amongst others.

  5. Maybe it’s because Israel is more interesting than Chechnya. It has a far more interesting narrative that can be interepreted in different ways (which leads to endless entertaining discussions about which interpretation is ‘right’).

    Narrative A.
    A tiny country, greatly outnumbered still manages to keep surrounding populations with hostile intentions (which outnumber it by about 2000%) at bay through superior tactics and technology. It also has a functional political system while the governments of its enemies are mired in corruption, brutality and theocratic oppression.

    Narrative B.
    It’s colonialism all over again! The corrupted and corrupting power of European cultural hegemony is oppressing the noble indigenous population (who merely want to live in peace and adopt secular democracy enriched by their own vibrant traditions). The colonial power slaughters innocents while the noble indigenes mere strike back in self defense.

    Nothing I’ve read about the Chechnya conflict lends itself to that kind of romantic narrative. It’s hard to see it as anything but a big corrupt and often brutal country with imperial aspirations beating up a much smaller but also corrupt and often brutal unruly province with delusions of grandeur whose main export is organized crime. Not fun for the Chechens, for sure, but it’s hard to see either side as inspiring.

    Maybe someone who really researches the issue in depth can find an inspiring side to the Chechen conflict but for me it’s much more like a mob war than anything else.

    • That’s it. It’s a redemptive narrative. Once “the West” sacrifices itself for the sake of global freedom, the exotic and egalitarian peasants will celebrate with many festivities. We will have purged ourselves of sin, by messianic sacrifice, and this will herald in a new age where nobody every takes advantage of anyone else. People will treat each other equally and herbs will grow.

    • These narratives and romantic stories don’t appear out of nowhere. There is a reason why people see one story as boring and another as fascinating. I’m trying to get at this reason.

  6. I don’t. I mean, I do, intellectually want it to be resolved with the least harm and waste of life, but emotionally I don’t. I can’t ‘care’ about all the many conflicts because I’d never sleep at night again.

  7. The best comment I have seen in it is this:

    “The hostilities between Israel and Hamas this week are just another sad exchange of munitions of no benefit for anyone, least of all the impoverished residents of Gaza. Rockets go one way, Hellfire missiles go the other. Targeted killing, random strikes, claim and counter claim of who is a terrorist and who is acting in self defence.

    Of far more novelty though is the Twitter war that broke out between the Israel Defense Forces and their opponents. Taking their fight to the micro-blogging world, the Israeli military and the al-Qassam Brigades resembled nothing more than two drunk blokes at a football barbecue “sword fighting” with their streams of urine.”

    And you can see the whole thing #IDF v #Hamas: the new Gaza war in 140 characters or less

  8. One sentence and I knew it was Chechnya. You have use that writing device before.

    I believe the answer to your question is part exposure. Before 1990 nobody in the West knew anything about the struggles in Chechnya, whereas the English speaking West has been abreast of happenings in the Middle East since the time of the British mandate.

    There might also be some idea of being stake holders given that these same English speaking countries were instrumental in the creation of Israel.

    Also British and American governments have often used Israel as a proxy to look after their own interests. Think Suez Crisis (1956) where Britain and France plotted with Israel to take control of the Suez Canal. In order to make this seem reasonable to their respective citizens they needed to portray Israel positively.

    Finally the high levels of exposure the West has had to the Holocaust and its intertwining with the narrative of modern Israel has tapped a natural empathy in the West.

  9. Interesting question.
    Here is why I personally care a lot more about this than the conflict between Russia and Chechnyan:

    1) Because the US and other Western countries massively support Israel and leaders of these Western countries issue statements that they stand with Israel when a war is going on, like now. Therefore when Israel bombs poor civilians we feel like we take part of the moral responsibility.

    2) Many people in the Muslim world blame all of the West of what is happening now, or at least the US (and rightly so), and that increases the tension between two huge populations of people on this planet, which is dangerous and important for all of us.

    3) I personally know Israelis, Jordanians and Iranians. On the other hand for some reason I don’t personally know any Russians or Chechnyans so I care less. Maybe the latter emigrate less often?

    And then there are also probably some totally irrational reasons, like that Israel is such an important place in Christian mythology, and that probably most people in the West initially had a positive image of Israel and its people. We cannot help but identify with the Israeli and then be disappointed that they do not behave like we find they should…

      • Yes, this is of course the deal. Also US feels guilty about its own antisemitism which was quite virulent in fairly recent past and also not having stopped Holocaust and having turned ships of Jews away from here at the time. The only way to redeem US is to support Israel, the feeling is.

        So, from above, no it is not “the economy” it is to what extent should we or should we be involved in their bombings of things. Given all the Jews have suffered, partly in US and because of US, should we help Israel beat up Palestinians to make up for it, or not, or if so, how much?

        There is much written on China. Environment, human rights, etc., etc., should we be cooperating with and contributing to a country that does these things, etc.

      • “There is much written on China. Environment, human rights, etc., etc., should we be cooperating with and contributing to a country that does these things, etc.”

        - Can you imagine close friends yelling at each other, people having Facebook wars, life partners having a fight because of China? I just wrote this and started laughing. It doesn’t happen. All of these things happened to people I know over Israel yesterday. And this is just one day.

  10. Its religious. Muslims hate the Jews, I think the Jews probably hate the muslims(not quite as much). Christians hate them both but need the Jews for their own purposes(biblical prophecy). Without an intact Israel(from biblical times), Jesus will not have his “second coming”. One big lovefest from the big three. The chosen ones(Jews), The peaceful ones(Muslims) and the Love your neighbour ones(Christians).

  11. I forgot, why I care. That conflict is more likely to be at the root of a possible third world war than the chechen one is. :(

      • The Israel/Palestinian conflict is much more likely to involve multiple countries. The whole area is a tinderbox waiting to ignite. The chechen/Russian issue is miniscule in comparison.

      • You only say this because you are unaware of the conflict. Do you know, for instance, who is funding the Chechens?

        The issue is minuscule in many people’s minds for the simple reason that they know nothing about it.

  12. This is not only a US thing. The Facebook debacles I referred to in the post happened among people who never lived in the US. I had an argument about Israel near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and on Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana.

  13. No, but the US is a major player in it, they fund Israels military. Without the support of the US, Israel would not be in its current position. You cannot have this discussion without this understanding.

  14. I am really surprised that your students are not aware of the fact that the Jews in Israel are the “same” as those in the Old Testament. The mythic connection is very strong; people talk about the “Holy Land,” and many people I knew as a child travelled there when they could afford it.

    I put the word “same” in quotes, since I don’t think that any group of people is the same as their ancestors thousands of years ago. Things are constantly changing, both culturally and genetically. But it is true that any one people of today is descended from a people (or more than one) from any period of history or prehistory that one cares to consider. (This sounds funny, using ‘people’ as a singular noun, but it is standard, I think, just uncommon except in the plural, ‘peoples’.)

    Mythology affects many people who have no apparent reason to care about it, I suspect.

    • @David

      I have been around many Evangelicals and it is a mixed bag on who knows about biblical prophecy and who doesnt. I think many of the ones who are in power are aware, hence the reason for such political support that comes from the religious right in the US.

    • “I am really surprised that your students are not aware of the fact that the Jews in Israel are the “same” as those in the Old Testament. ”

      - Do you remember this story that I published in 2009:

      Student (describing a painting by Velazquez): So here we see some woman and she is breastfeeding this baby. And there are these three other men with gifts standing around them. I have no idea why he painted this.

      Me: So who are the mother and the baby?

      Student (indignantly): How should I know?

      Me: Virgin Mary and Jesus.

      Student (incredulously): You think??

      The students are full of surprises. They seem so ultra-religious, yet don;t know the first thing about their own religion.

      Last week, I had to explain why it is not a good idea to refer to people protesting against the austerity measures in Spain as “protestants.” Only one student laughed.

  15. I have a six-year-old post on my blog which addresses the questions you ask here, albeit in respect of a different pair of countries. There are some other posts which illustrate the kinds of story which tend to grip my attention, when- and whereever in the world they take place.

    May I have permission to link?

  16. There are a million reasons why Israel – Palestine get more attention.. but not the least is that Israel is our only real ally in the middle east.. and they are very similar to us : democracy, somewhat similar religion… christianity-jewish link, both fear (rightly or wrongly.. and pretty rightly i would argue) and view radical muslims (again.. not all.. but the radicals) as a threat.. and the palestinians come across as pure evil…

    and what is the justification for pure evil? Read this article :)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/hamas-kills-suspected-col_n_2165236.html

    It is pretty damn obvious that americans are never going to have sympathy for this type of brutality… does it make more sense now?

    Obviously the russians don’t engender similar feelings from the US.. do i really need to explain why?

    • “they are very similar to us”

      - You don’t know much about Israel, do you?

      “Somewhat similar religion”

      - Or Judaism. A little hint: try not to tell any Jew that Christianity is “similar” or you might gain an enemy for life. Are you aware that Christianity and Judaism negate each other in the way that Christianity and Islam do not? Are you aware of why the Jews find the idea that Christ is the Messiah to be very offensive?

      ‘Obviously the russians don’t engender similar feelings from the US.. do i really need to explain why?”

      - Yes, please. This is precisely what I’m trying to find out in this post.

      • //“they are very similar to us”
        - You don’t know much about Israel, do you?

        Which differences are you thinking of?

        Am I deluded to think I live in a Western, democratic country? :)

        Btw, today the fire continues, including 1 rocket falling in the country’s center, in a city near Tel Aviv, despite the Iron Dome. Fortunately, from this rocket only 4 people were slightly hurt.

        Tonight there will be no cease of fire, may be tomorrow. Meanwhile, Israeli ground forces are prepared.

      • “Which differences are you thinking of? Am I deluded to think I live in a Western, democratic country?”

        - No, of course not, but saying that Israel is “very similar” to the US is going way too far. The US is a huge country, very different in the way of thinking (just look at the resistance to the national healthcare system), created for the purpose that is the opposite to the purpose of Israel’s creation. If anything, Israel is more similar to many western European countries but not the US. I’d say that the US has a lot more in common with Russia (huge empires, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, very aggressive, opposed to social safety net, etc.)

        “Btw, today the fire continues, including 1 rocket falling in the country’s center, in a city near Tel Aviv, despite the Iron Dome. Fortunately, from this rocket only 4 people were slightly hurt. Tonight there will be no cease of fire, may be tomorrow. Meanwhile, Israeli ground forces are prepared.”

        - I hope tomorrow there is a cease-fire. Take care of yourself!

        Do you have an answer to this post’s title question? I have one, of course, and I’m sure you can guess what it is.

    • //somewhat similar religion… christianity-jewish link

      Judaism is much, much closer and friendlier to Islam. Just for a quick representation:

      Fun fact that I remembered and now Googled (from a religious site in Hebrew):

      A Jew can’t enter a church, since Christians are engaged in idolatry. Muslims, according to Judaism, – don’t, so a Jew can enter their place of worship.

      Were I to find religion other than Judaism, Halaha, rabbis would be happier with Islam, as far as I understand.

      This shows that not religion is important, but additional myths people build around it because of both pragmatic interests and other ideologies of the time.

      • //This shows that not religion is important

        Wanted to say that not ONLY religion is important. Since changes in religion, as it’s practiced, are very slow and it’s taught from birth, in the most impressionable age, the messages of it are of great importance.

      • “Judaism is much, much closer and friendlier to Islam. Just for a quick representation”

        - Exactly.

        “This shows that not religion is important, but additional myths people build around it because of both pragmatic interests and other ideologies of the time.”

        - Exactly.

        Why am I agreeing all of a sudden? :-)

    • IME very strong support for the Palestinian cause requires that person not pay a whole lot of attention to how Palestinians behave or what they say when sympathetic English speaking journalists aren’t around (and/or a huge ability to rationalize away behavior and rhetoric that most westerners would never tolerate among any other population in the world).

      That’s not to say the state of Israel is all sweetness and light or blameless, but their differences are more understandable to Americans. So individual Americanss support of either Israel or the Palestinians more or less correlates with their attitudes toward their own country as primarily sympathetic (go Israel!) or hostile (Palestine will be freeeee!)

      Russians and Chechens are both equally alien to most USians (and neither has a backstory that is in any way inspiring or can make person feel good about themselves for supporting them).

      • We both have viewed the way Westerners behave, when they are being politically correct, from an outsider position, as third-worlders. We deem the behavior to be superficial and self-serving, indeed intent upon aggrandizing the liberal individual and his or her perceptual powers, through indirect means.

      • “So individual Americanss support of either Israel or the Palestinians more or less correlates with their attitudes toward their own country as primarily sympathetic (go Israel!) or hostile (Palestine will be freeeee!)”

        - This is a very interesting observation. I like it. It’s insightful.

  17. //Why am I agreeing all of a sudden?

    Do disagee about why Israel isn’t the most resembling US country in the region. Why do you think we’re more different than US and Sweden, for example?

    • “Do disagee about why Israel isn’t the most resembling US country in the region. ”

      - Wait, nobody was talking about the region. The idea was that the US resembles Israel more than it resembles Russia which is, apparently, why Americans care more about Israel than Russia.

  18. // Do you have an answer to this post’s title question? I have one, of course, and I’m sure you can guess what it is.

    I think it’s a combination of seeing Israel as the last Western colonizer, which West can use as a scapegoat with zero cost to itself, oil interests and (latent) antisemitism, without many of those rabidly anti-Israel people being aware they have it. Also large Muslim immigration to the West can not play a role, in my opinion. Muslim fanatics not only attack Jews (f.e. that killing in France), they vote too.

      • As you can probably imagine, my answer coincides with yours. :-)

        But I also like Cliff Arroyo’s suggestion that many people don;t care about either Israel or Palestine. For them, it’s a way to speak about their own politics projecting it onto Israel. As we know, historically, Jews have always served as a screen where people projected their own fears, doubts, negative qualities, etc. There is no indication that this process is about to end.

      • // As you can probably imagine, my answer coincides with yours.

        I wanted to say that ” large Muslim immigration to the West can NOT not play a role”, meaning that it plays a huge role, and thought you would disagree.

        // For them, it’s a way to speak about their own politics projecting it onto Israel

        I liked this thought too. It’s so simple and yet wasn’t on my mind.

      • “I wanted to say that ” large Muslim immigration to the West can NOT not play a role”, meaning that it plays a huge role, and thought you would disagree.”

        - Of course, it definitely plays a role. Just yesterday I was talking to somebody whose vision of the conflict is powerfully informed by this immigration. The person in question obviously doesn’t live in the US.

  19. As we know, historically, Jews have always served as a screen where people projected their own fears, doubts, negative qualities, etc.(Clarissa)

    I guess when you belong to a religion that thinks of itself as “God’s Chosen People” you are probably going to attract a lot of detractors. My interest in the area is, how does my belief system affect them and how does theirs affect me. Afterall the world is getting smaller not bigger.

    • My father and grandparents did not belong to any religion. Can you explain to me why they were persecuted? Why my sister was bullied at the age of 6 by a crowd of adults on a bus when she knew nothing of any religion? Why my grandparents’ neighbors who knew nothing of any religion were killed in the concentration camp near Kharkov? Why thousands of Soviet Jews who were atheists were slaughtered in Babiy Yar?

      I’ve seen all kinds of insensitivity but this is really too much. To come to a Jewish person’s blog and say that the Jews are to blame for the Holocaust is outrageous.

      I’m sure you never heard this but let me break the news to you: you are an anti-Semite.

      • Single state is only solution to the problem and hamas must be removed .Egypt annexing gaza is a good start

      • Sorry, Clarissa, your post I am replying to seems to be a response to Titfortat, but I do not see where did he “blame the Jews for the Holocaust”… I did not see Holocaust mentioned at all. Was it a figure of speech, or was there another message which you deleted? My intention is not to police your thoughts on your own blog, but I am going to use what just happened to illustrate the point I am trying to make.
        Someone above mentioned cruel and evil things Palestinians say when their western supporters are too far to hear them. I totally believe they say all those things. But I also know what my ex-Israeli acquaintances tell about Palestinians, or any other Muslims for that matter, “among us friends”, so to speak. You know what was the reaction of my ex-Israeli friend to the shooting of that Pakistani blogger girl? “Why do they [Muslims] need education in the first place?”
        Where am I getting at with this? First, both sides of the conflict appear to be very bitter (understandably so), and I would not assign any moral high ground based on who says what. Second, and more importantly, I must admit I was too afraid to confront my friend about his BS. For fear of losing a friend, and without said friend even understanding my point, but just writing it off on me being a crypto-anti-Semite who finally came out of the closet. The accusations of antisemitism are thrown back and forth way too easily, this unfortunately has become a tool to silence opponents. Montreal Gazette seriously discussing (at the time of the previous Lebanon war) if opposing Israeli policies is antisemitism or not??? WTF? Nationalist-minded Russians also believe that opposing Russia’s policies is “russophobia”. And believe this “russophobia” is a part of traditional western mentality… The only difference – the nationalist-minded Russians have almost zero influence on Western public opinion.
        And I actually do not see how this is even in the best interest of the Israelis – to irritate their potential supporters (yes, I still support semi-democratic semi-secular Israel over their opponents) this way, and to delude themselves that the policies and attitudes of Israel are enjoying wider support than they actually are? And to believe non-supporters are just deranged individuals following the ancient antisemitic tradition, so their arguments can be ignored?.. And real antisemitism, when it occurs, is ignored because such accusations are perceived as just an unfair polemic tool? Well, all this is another proof (to me at least) that neither side is thinking straight any more, both are hostages of the past.

        And, with respect to your original question – I agree with those who see Russians and Chechens as a) equally alien to the Western public (an average Westerner is much more likely to have Jewish friends and acquaintances than Russian or Chechen ones, and the Russians who emigrated to the West are less passionate about Chechnya than Jews are about Israel… maybe because of the size mismatch; Chechnya is not really a threat to the existence of Russia); and b) neither of them having moral high ground with which Western public could easily identify for the purpose of feeling good about itself.
        And with the WW-III-type arguments as well. Saudis support the Chechens… So what? Compare the probabilities of wars between a) Israel and neighboring countries and b) Saudi Arabia and Russia…
        Cannot help it – the latter one would be quite interesting…

      • This is the anti-semitic statement in question: “I guess when you belong to a religion that thinks of itself as “God’s Chosen People” you are probably going to attract a lot of detractors.” That’s a justification for Holocaust. And it was used many many times to do just that, in case you didn’t know. Jews “attracted detractors” because of what they believe. They should have just gone and believed something else and no detractors would arise. Of course, the millions of Jews who did not practice Judaism at all yet were burned alive, tortured, murdered, raped, etc. do not even get mentioned. Thank you so much for making me go roll myself in the dirt of Titfortat’s vicious hatred for my people while I disinterred this insult for you.

        I don’t give a crap what impotent excuses that creep might come up with. Anybody who says things like that is an anti-Semite. And anybody who doesn’t understand why this statement is egregiously insulting and completely horrible should stop visiting my blog and stick to neo-nazi websites.

        “The accusations of antisemitism are thrown back and forth way too easily, this unfortunately has become a tool to silence opponents.”

        - I’m sure you have had a chance to read Titfortat’s comments on the blog. Do you seriously think he is any sort of an opponent for me? The guy’s intelligence is at a 2nd grade level.

        “And to believe non-supporters are just deranged individuals following the ancient antisemitic tradition, so their arguments can be ignored?”

        - Who exactly said anything of the kind? Anti-semites are in no way deranged. Anti-semitism is a very cold and calculating thing. The problem is that it’s useless to try and explain to a non-Jew what anti-semitism is and how much it informs every aspect of a Jew’s life. White people don’t understand racism, straight people don’t get homophobia, and men don’t get female oppression. This is why it is always a good idea just to let those who suffer from a type of persecution share their experiences and accept that their feelings have validity. If I managed to get over my need to educate black people about racism, I’m confident that everybody else can get over their burning desire to tell Jews what’s anti-Semitic.

        I also recommend the following post of mine. Many different words can be used in place of the word “race” here.

      • valter07: “Someone above mentioned cruel and evil things Palestinians say when their western supporters are too far to hear them”

        I’m not talking about everyday people in private conversations, I’m talking about what Hamas officials say on the record to the public when they think they won’t be understood:

        small sample,

        A little girl praises suicide bombers and the minister of the interior flat out saying the Hamas plan is to take over all of Israel and expel the current residents?

        To support this, you either have to support their aims, assume they’re lying, or assume they’re emotionally children and not responsible for the silly things they say.

      • Apologies, then, for being not sensitive enough. And of course you are better expert on antisemitism than me. In my limited experience, the regular grunt, rank-of-file, second-grade level, antisemites are just that, second grade-level… They just absorbed all those ideas about the Jews in their childhood, from equally second-grade-level parents and never bothered to examine those ideas critically.

        Concerning members of (supposedly privileged) group X not being able to fully understand the problems of group Y in general – that may be true, but where does it leave us? Imagine – Jews sitting in their own corner bemoaning that nobody can understand them, and Blacks doing the same, and Russians, and Estonians, and Arabs, and Tutsi, and Hutu and everybody else. And everyone being fully entitled to their feelings… Don’t know, I’d rather discuss things despite the risks of offending somebody’s sensitivities…

        And, offering an example of what I believe in – I will not take offense with you suggesting me to visit neo-nazi sites.

      • “Don’t know, I’d rather discuss things despite the risks of offending somebody’s sensitivities…”

        - There is discussion and then there is “Jews attract detractors.”

        “And, offering an example of what I believe in – I will not take offense with you suggesting me to visit neo-nazi sites.’

        - I apologize but yesterday’s comments sorely tried my patience. There is a parallel discussion happening in RL where my sister and my best friend are involved on opposing sides, so you can imagine.

      • // In my limited experience, the regular grunt, rank-of-file, second-grade level, antisemites are just that, second grade-level… They just absorbed all those ideas about the Jews in their childhood, from equally second-grade-level parents and never bothered to examine those ideas critically.

        valter07, I wanted to share the article on the topic by George Orwell:

        http://www.george-orwell.org/AntiSemitism_In_Britian/0.html

        Clarissa, if you haven’t read it, I recommend to you too.

      • “In my limited experience, the regular grunt, rank-of-file, second-grade level, antisemites are just that, second grade-level… They just absorbed all those ideas about the Jews in their childhood, from equally second-grade-level parents and never bothered to examine those ideas critically.”

        - I know, I know. So now I get to provide a rude awakening to some of them.

      • Cliff, I told already, I do not support Hamas. I support Israel, reluctantly. As a culturally closer, more or less secular power against religious fanatics. However, it would be much easier for me to support Israel, psychologically, if Israelis were more humble about their contribution to the conflict.
        Let’s forget about any particular nations, to be fully objective. What would you expect if nation X attempted to build a national/religious state of nation X on the territory populated by nations/religious confessions Y, Z and W? Whereas confession Y was (at the moment of creation of state X) a majority, and therefore the only way one could meaningfully build state X as a national/religious state was by displacing population Y. Wouldn’t you expect some armed resistance from population Y? Some terrorism? Are there precedents in history for such armed resistance to be directed strictly at military targets and not at civilian X population? Wouldn’t any remotely popular leader of Y claim that his goal is destruction of X? Wouldn’t people of Y really desire the destruction of X?

  20. // You only say this because you are unaware of the conflict. Do you know, for instance, who is funding the Chechens?

    I don’t know. Who? May be, you would write a post about it? Would’ve been very interesting and informative.

    // Single state is only solution to the problem and hamas must be removed .Egypt annexing gaza is a good start

    So now a single state is not Israel and gaza, but Egypt and gaza? :)

    Israel is currently supplying electricity to gaza and otherwise takes (economical and else) responsibility. It would’ve been extremely glad for gaza to become some other’s country problem, but Egypt wants to annex gaza as much as Israel does.

    Other Arab countries choose to keep Palestinians in refugee camps for decades, not letting them to live normal lives, in order to use them as a weapon against Israel, and may be for other economical, political reasons I don’t fully understand. Why isn’t the free world protesting against this?

    // I guess when you belong to a religion that thinks of itself as “God’s Chosen People” you are probably going to attract a lot of detractors.

    All 3 main religions have been slaughtering each other for centuries. Even without mentioning different currents in each religion, f.e. Protestants vs Catholics and Sufi vs Salafi.

    Each religion sees itself as the Chosen people. At least, Judaism doesn’t see all not Jews going forever to hell, as Christianity and Islam do, but thinks moral not-Jews will be in heaven too and that there is no such thing as eternal hell at all. So, I don’t believe you’re right about something inherently “attracting a lot of detractors” in Judaism.

    - el

  21. // For them, it’s a way to speak about their own politics projecting it onto Israel.

    Now I started thinking of Germany. The current support for Israel may stem not only from historical reasons, but also from an identification, as the fears of the new Other, Muslim immigrants, begin to rise. (Identification with the real for Israel and not so real for Germany position of being attacked by Muslims.)

    Isn’t it ironic that educated, fully loyal to Germany Jewish population of pre-WW2 is being replaced with numerous Muslim immigrants, who surely don’t identify with their new country, as the killed and exiled, living for generations there, German Jews did?

    Btw, everybody, who wants, can see what’s going on in Syria, yet the West seems more silent than when Israel does something to stop rocket fire for a while. Or when US attacks other countries with *far* less concern for civilians.

    I see and understand on the level of feeling how cruel Arabs around us are even to each other, I see a picture of somebody and understand were Israel to lose, they would commit genocide of my people. I still don’t feel or understand how Western, educated, European Germans could do that. And I studied the history of the Holocaust a lot.

    • “Btw, everybody, who wants, can see what’s going on in Syria, yet the West seems more silent than when Israel does something to stop rocket fire for a while. Or when US attacks other countries with *far* less concern for civilians.”

      - Yes, the double standard is appalling. All of those journalists who “bravely” denounce Israel because it sells didn’t emit a squeak when their country ravaged Latin America and then turned to Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The problem is that in certain circles in the West it is fashionable to denounce Israel. In competing circles in that same West it’s fashionable to denounce Palestine. It is very very very VERY rare that I see a person in either of those circles who is not motivated either by anti-Jewish or anti-Arab sentiment.

      “I see and understand on the level of feeling how cruel Arabs around us are even to each other”

      - Definitely not more cruel than any other ethnic group.

  22. The last piece of my stream of consciousness for now, I remembered you mentioning your living in Israel aunt (?), who “was a normal person, then lived in Israel for a while and started talking about killing all Arabs.”

    After one’s house being under rocket fire and rightly (I hope you won’t dispute that) feeling (which goes deeper than only intellectually knowing) that Palestinians would do your people genocide, if they could, her reaction isn’t surprising.

    Today on the bus I heard people talking Israel should attack stronger, not stop now, and expressing a hope that now, after getting rockets, Left – leaning citizens of the country’s center will see and feel for themselves who’s who. A very popular sentiment nowadays, thus I decided to mention it.

    In the same conversation people mentioned the Turkish and (some) Westerners’ protests against Israeli blocade of Gaza, that without the blocade they would’ve 10 times as many rockets, tanks and even airplanes.

    Also was said that the goal of Israel going to 67 borders is to first push Jews into most small space possible, and then attack from all sides, as has already been done in the past. If somebody doesn’t know, this idea has been openly discussed in Arab society for forever, so Israelis don’t feel any need to both lose territories and get zero peace for that. Thus, talks of “Israel must negotiate with those people and give territories anyway” from the West don’t seem attractive.

    • “The last piece of my stream of consciousness for now, I remembered you mentioning your living in Israel aunt (?), who “was a normal person, then lived in Israel for a while and started talking about killing all Arabs.” After one’s house being under rocket fire and rightly (I hope you won’t dispute that) feeling (which goes deeper than only intellectually knowing) that Palestinians would do your people genocide, if they could, her reaction isn’t surprising.”

      - My relative was never under rocket attack, first of all. I also have never seen any evidence that Palestinians want to start a genocide of the Jews. As for being justified in wanting to kill all Arabs, my grandfather fought in WWII. He saw things that nobody should ever get to see. He saw his country ravaged by the Nazis. I don’t have to tell you what was done to Ukraine in the war. Yet my grandfather always said that this wasn’t what the Germans did. It was what the Nazis did. He never suggested that all Germans should be killed as a result. All nations and ethnic groups have their murderers. But the Nazis don’t represent all Germans, Lenin did not represent all Russians, ETA doesn’t stand for all the Basque people, a rapist doesn’t stand for all men, and so on.

  23. Reblogged this on Notes from underground and commented:
    One of the reasons that I am concerned about the Israel-Palestine conflict is that one of the effects of it is to drive Christians out of the part of the world where Christianity started. But like other conflicts it illustrates the poison of competing nationalisms. There are also parallels with the disintegration of Yugoslavia — also the result of competing nationalisms, which were fanned by bigger nations, as predicted by Samuel Huntington.

  24. // I also have never seen any evidence that Palestinians want to start a genocide of the Jews.

    They would start one, if they could. Not of all the Jews in the world, but of the “Israeli Zionist Enemy”. Imagine Israel really losing a war, what do you think would Palestinians from gaza do? Let Jews live here? :)

    Actually, Germans are a good example. Not all Germans were Nazis, but they killed 6 million nevertheless, which is ~ today’s Israel Jewish population.

    In the War of Independence Arabs were openly talking of killing the most of the Jewish population (men, women and children), with may be a few, few refugees running away from the Middle East. I have even seen an article with the interview of a person living then, who heard such himself. Yes, it’s an Israeli newspaper, but I don’t think he made it up.

    I am not justifying anything, only said that it’s an understandable, albeit sad, reaction.

    • // I have even seen an article with the interview of a person living then, who heard such himself.

      Not from a person on a street, but from sheih(s). They even offered him to hide his family, so that they alone wouldn’t be killed. He refused.

    • “In the War of Independence Arabs were openly talking of killing the most of the Jewish population ”

      - You keep forgetting to put the word “some” before Arabs. I recently mentioned a relative of mine who says all Arabs should be killed. Should we conclude on the basis of her statements that “Jews want to kill Arabs”?

      Some Arabs are horrible people. Some Jews are horrible people. Some Americans are horrible people. Some Ukrainians are horrible people. There is absolutely no relationship between an ethnicity and the proportion of horrible people among that ethnicity.

      • Clarissa, of course, I meant some Arabs.

        However, to me being killed by those “some Arabs” in case of defeat, the word “some” wouldn’t help to stay alive.

        This killing would be done, that’s what I mean. Both then and now. “Some” is more than enough for that.

  25. “Clarissa, of course, I meant some Arabs.”

    Of course.

    “They would start one, if they could. Not of all the Jews in the world, but of the “Israeli Zionist Enemy”. Imagine Israel really losing a war,”

    I can’t imagine that. Israel has a thousand times more firepower, nuclear capability, and unconditional support from the biggest military power the world has ever seen. I’m sorry that isn’t sufficient to quench your doomsday paranoia. But hey, those palestinian kids can really hurl them rocks with a mighty speed. Time to deploy a clusterbomb and flatten a village. Phew, existential crisis averted (for another 10 minutes at least).

    • // Time to deploy a clusterbomb and flatten a village.

      Definitely what is going on in Syria now.

      Israel, for many reasons, is very careful to minimize hurting civilian population. Imo, more careful than US. And US White House isn’t being shot at.

      Not hurting civilians at all is impossible. Or should Israel be 100% passively suffering, while being shot at?

      // I can’t imagine that.

      Amen.

      But when we talk of peace agreements, of what can be done, closing eyes at what the other side would do, if it could, is stupid.

      • Yup, let’s project our delusional paranoid fantasies on to the opposition and then use that as justification to subjugate them. Punishing people for perceived thought crimes, yay! Winning hearts and minds!

    • Btw, I am not talking of only Palestinians vs Israel war. In the War of Independence all Israel’s neighbors attacked it. Peace agreements or don’t exist or are very fragile even now. In a case of a great war, which I hope won’t happen, that many may attack again is a real possibility.

    • “Clarissa, of course, I meant some Arabs.”

      - It is important to be very careful with such statements. The distance between “I was mugged by a Hispanic man”** and “Hispanic men are criminals” is a distance between normalcy and racism.

      ** This actually happened to me.

  26. // Yup, let’s project our delusional paranoid fantasies on to the opposition … Punishing people for perceived thought crimes, yay!

    Perceived? Check THE COVENANT OF THE HAMAS, where it is straight written that it’s goal is to obliterate Israel and to get masterly of all the land of Palestine.

    Check what’s said on Palestinian TV. (Even children’s programs, where they’re taught to be shahids since age 1. Less, actually.) What’s written in their newspapers and schoolbooks.

    Yet, you still think I am projecting it all.

    • Ooooh, the GREAT WAR ™. Well, whatever deluded fantasy helps you sleep at night. I realize you *need* to believe in this mythical Great War in order to justify your government’s actions. Believe me, I understand.

      Don’t tell me you’re scared of speeches intended for home consumption. Like I said, you have superior military power, actual nuclear fucking capability, access to the most cutting-edge weapons, and the unconditional support from the world’s great military power. I feel sorry for you that you still think it’s no match to the dreaded HAMAS CHARTER! Pen is mightier than the sword, eh?

      “Mommy Mommy, Katelyn wrote in her diary she wanted me dead. Can I clusterbomb her house, kill her family and all her relatives, cripple her country’s economy, and bomb her neighborhood’s water supply?”

      “Yes, dear.”

  27. “What is very sad and, I believe, tragic is that the government of Israel maintains such a massive level of this “we are on the brink of extinction” propaganda that it constitutes psychological warfare on its own people. ”

    Well put. It seems like everyone is susceptible to this propaganda. It doesn’t matter if you’re educated or even well-informed. Fear displaces everything else from one’s mind, it seems.

  28. A TV program deciding to show something is not like a government officially deciding to show it. Does US government support all programs on US TV and tells them what to do?

    Imo, showing even 10 sec of enemy propoganda shouldn’t be done. But a TV program in a democratic country can decide differently.

    And it was only 1 min, not an entire movie, as I wrongly let you believe.

    Btw, Clarissa, what do you think of this 1 min of hate? Well-done?

  29. // Anti-semites are in no way deranged. Anti-semitism is a very cold and calculating thing.

    Which benefits does it bring? If it’s rational, it must bring benefits. Calculating to achieve what?

    • Relief. Justification. Feeling better about oneself.

      “It isn’t my fault that I’m doing so badly. It’s because Jews have conspired to take away all opportunities.” I have heard this statement almost word for word from several people. (With the way I look, they just don’t know who I am.)

    • Projection isn’t so much rational as it is adaptive. Unfortunately, there is way too little written on this common mechanism. Also, people presume that adaptation is always good. It resonates well with those who have a superficial understanding of Darwinism, and believe that superior humans manifest greater adaptive characteristics than do inferior ones.

      Let me explain a little more about adaptation though projection. One has to believe that wherever one finds oneself in the social order, this is where one ought to be. To entertain the feeling that one has characteristics that would fit one to be higher than one is, is to exacerbate a state of internal suffering. To avoid this feeling, one believes that everything has worked out as it should have. If one does have superior characteristics, one projects them up in the hierarchy. “It’s Professor X who has these qualities I admire.” If one has inferior qualities, like laziness or carelessness, one projects these downwards. “It’s student Y who needs to pull her socks up.” Having distributed oneself throughout the institution in this way, one feels adapted.

      In the case of projecting things onto Jews, one feels that one has sunken pretty low within the society, and one desires that there would be something morally lower that would distract from having to think about one’s situation. The Jews are easy to blame because they haven’t had roots in most places for very long. They’re outsiders, who like to belong, but one could argue they don’t belong. Outsiders are lightning rods for any bad feelings in the community. Those who want to adapt especially attract the community’s hostility when it is undergoing stress. “You SEEM to be one of us, but you are in fact OTHER.” The person who wishes to adapt, or who adapts well, is open to the charge of deception as to their true identity. “They seem to be the same as us, but actually they act/feel/think differently.”

      To adapt to trying times, the community must release its pent up tension into an enemy. Sometimes this enemy is external, sometimes it is internal. The pressure to adapt to trying circumstances is always profoundly felt — and thus, enemies are created. It is more convenient, and more cowardly, to project one’s anxieties, self-doubt and depression into those who are close by, rather than risk going to war with an external enemy. The wars that take place in most organisations, families and communities are means by which the members of the group attempt to achieve a sense of adaptation to stress. The desired outcome is a feeling of equilibrium and peace with oneself — and it doesn’t seem to matter how has to suffer for the members to achieve this state.

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