The recent shocking, but predictable and inevitable flare-up in south Israel and brutal murder of an Israeli citizen near the Egyptian border highlighted the unrelenting attempts by Hamas to threaten the very lives of Israeli civilians and forcefully shattered the notion that Hamas was disinterested in engaging in rocket attacks from Gaza. It further dispelled the myths that Hamas` overall aggression is simply an expression of tit-for-tat, a reaction, as is constantly disingenuously painted in mainstream media. The narrative proposed is often tainted with an egregious inversion of “victim-aggressor” roles and frames “reactions” as “actions” – thus completely ignoring the dynamics of “cause and effect.”
But the biggest lesson to be learned is the reaction – or alarming lack thereof – from the audience rather than the players.
Recently, I attended the heavily covered and much pondered over performance of “The merchant of Venice” by Israel’s National Theater – Habimah at London’s Shakespeare Globe Theater. After spending a little time strolling around, I decided to strike up a conversation with a middle-aged woman handing out boycott leaflets. I didn’t attempt to steer the conversation to the legitimacy of the boycott and its adverse effect on the facilitation of mutual dialog between the sides.
Instead I tried to identify the motivational factor and questioned the double-standard as to where and why was there virtually no opposition raised to the performances just days earlier by China and Russia – among other despotic regimes. The response to my question centred on the idea that regardless of the host of raging conflicts at the moment, one cannot have one’s fingers in all pies. Further attempting to justify her position, the woman said, “Just because there is an abundance of greater evil – it does not negate the lesser evil.”
Now this claim is inherently specious as, by analogy – commanding a highly limited police force, one does not go about exclusively dedicating manpower in an effort to tackle jaywalkers when faced with intensely high murder rates! Unless of course, another issue is at play; perhaps a more cynical, but better fitting explanation of this bizarre behaviour.
Malicious expression of hatred
This is, in no way advancing the absurd notion that Israel is beyond criticism in light of what evil is currently raging around the world. By all means – engage in constructive criticism because no democracy is beyond reproach. Rather, it’s an attempt to drill down and understand the motivation for her special treatment and demonstration of unnerving amount of schadenfreude.
This got me thinking about the many times this very line is thrown around as a blanket indication of impartiality and thus cloaks the incessant, almost borderline clinical obsession with Israel as justified and in the spirit of global human rights concerns. It justifies the lack of action or even basic mobilization of protests and rallies relating to Syria, Sudan and less chic causes such as the ongoing oppression in Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and Cuba among the 48 NON-FREE and 60 PARTLY-FREE countries as rated by The Freedom House.
Looking at the news stream relating to Israel, or rather the extreme lack of attention, coupled with deafening silence from “activists” in the face of a reality where over a million Israeli civilians are faced with the threat of a rocket targeting their homes, stores, buses and children in school at the blink of an eye, one cannot help but focus on the screaming disparity, the pin-drop silence and, yes, the double standards.
Is it really going overboard to suggest this “activism” is simply a malicious expression of hatred packaged under the guise of human rights concerns rather than born out of a deep genuine concern for the Palestinians? A convenient platform from which to launch a constant avalanche of de-legitimization activities aimed at demonizing Israel whilst accusing the more objective observers of every conceivable evil.
One cannot help but wonder: Is it human rights concerns which tug so intensely on the heartstrings of these “activists”? Is it the innocent children subjected to an environment no child should be exposed to, which drives them? Is it really the image of heavy rocket fire that penetrates their dreams and keeps them tossing and turning at night?
Shlomie Liberow is a fellow at StandWithUs UK and president of the Jewish society at Goldsmiths, University Of London