After nearly a month of fighting, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire brokered by Egypt, and it seems the conflict might finally come to an end. But the broader issues surrounding Israel and Palestine still remain and it is anyone's guess whether they will be satisfactorily resolved this time. A lot will depend on sentiment and the willingness of Israel to compromise with Hamas.
Which is why it is important for the world to end the vitriol toward Israel.
Someone I know recently challenged reports of rising anti-Semitism in Europe as Zionist propaganda and blamed the war for any anger directed against the Jews. At best this individual was using two wrongs to make a right and at worst executing a reverse David Frum, in which the political commentator accused the New York Times of falsifying war images from the conflict to drum up sympathy for the Palestinians. Frum's analysis was paranoid and wrong, and so is this guy.
If common rhetoric is to believed, the downtrodden people of Palestine are being slaughtered by a genocidal nation intent on carrying out a Holocaust against the Arabs. The only part of that sentence that is true is the word "downtrodden" and that too is not just the fault of Israel, but Palestinian leaders as well. The rest of the terms are deliberate, political, and thrown out to demonize Israel to a point where anything, including anti-Semitism, is justifiable. Using incendiary terms like genocide make it easy to caricature the Israelis and forget about how they too have been forced into this conflict by repeated attacks on their sovereignty by groups like Hamas.
These analogies are needlessly sensationalist and harmful. They also make no sense.
Take the Holocaust, for example. Other than the fact that it conjures up horrific images for Jews, insults the memory of Holocaust victims, and heightens the sense of insecurity for the community, it is simply inaccurate. The Jews or even their representatives did not lob rockets into Germany, detonate bombs in German cities, or advocate the destruction of the German nation. They were targeted without provocation and that is vastly different from the situation in Palestine, where Hamas has done all those things against Israel. Moreover, while Israel might wage war, it does not run pogroms against the Arab people. Even if Israel's battle strategy is flawed and mistakes are made such as the shelling of the UN school, the nation is fundamentally targeting Hamas, not Palestinians.
That brings us to the broader context of the Holocaust, which was World War II, and here the analogy becomes even more absurd. World War II saw civilian casualties on both sides. Despite the infamous Dresden bombing in 1945, which claimed 135,000 lives (including civilians), by British and American forces, nobody in their right mind accuses the Allies of being genocidal. They were fighting a war for survival and civilian casualties were inevitable. In Israel's assessment, the war with Hamas is a matter of survival, and therefore it too is doing what it perceives as imperative for survival.
That doesn't, of course, mean that Israel should not be criticized for how it has conducted this latest conflict, but it also means that Hamas and other terror groups in the Middle East who use Islamic fundamentalism to justify their own violence against Jews, Christians, and anyone who does not agree with their fanatical view on life, are to blame.
The point is this conflict has arisen out of hatred and the cycle of violence can only end with the demise of that hatred. Religious fundamentalism on the part of Hamas and other groups that advocate the destruction of Jews threatens Israel's sense of safety and puts it in the position of perpetually feeling the need to defend itself. I say "feeling" because sometimes Israel's assessment is correct and sometimes it is not, but nevertheless the nation does not feel safe backing down from its fight with the Palestinians because of the anti-Semitism that pervades the region.
The world should not join in on such hatred; all that does is push the prospect of peace even further away. As I wrote in an earlier piece, there seems to a major shift in the attitude of moderate Arab nations to shun fundamentalism and this should be the template for the future. Israel, for its part, needs to let that process unfold and show goodwill towards the Palestinian people if not their leaders. That is the only hope for every man, woman, and child in that region on both sides of the divide.
Sanjay Sanghoee is a political and business commentator. He is also the author of two thriller novels. Visit his website at www.sanghoee.com and follow him @sanghoee.
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