By Rolene Marks
Jews know too well the dangers of antisemitism as it changes from generation to generation.
We have been raising the alarm for years. Antisemitism has a way of mutating into a different form every couple of decades or so but its roots and bones are always the same – a seething, venomous, irrational hatred of Jews and anything that is seen to be representative of us. Today that alarm is ringing out louder than we have heard for decades.
Over the centuries, this has manifested in accusations of deicide, blood libels and refusal to conform to idolatry or other religious doctrines. Jews have endured exile, auto-da-fé , Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust and the latest iteration – any and all attempts to demonise our nation state, Israel, while applying gross double standards and attempts to call into question its legal, internationally recognized sovereignty.
Every Passover, we Jews gather at our Seder tables and read the ancient passages that have sustained us through generations. One of those passages we read, speaks of how in every generation there are those who rise up to try and destroy us.
We have survived them all.
We are no strangers to manifestations of antisemitism, be they the genteel murmurings of the champagne socialist elite or the outright and sometimes violent actions of the anti-Israel activists. Following the recent flare up between Israel and Hamas that has come to be known as “Operation Guardians of the Wall”, antisemitism seems to have taken on a more insidious iteration.
For many of us, the world seems to have tilted on its axis. The rise of “woke” culture that is centred on identity politics is creating more division than tolerance. While we are having very important and long overdue conversations about race, it seems that this dialogue excludes antisemitism and the results of this exclusion has never been more evident than in the wake of Operation Guardians of the Wall.
Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is seen through the prism of identity politics. Jews and in this case Israelis are seen as white, Ashkenazi of European descent, engaged in a war against the Palestinians who are people of colour. Singer Halsey, evidenced this in the following Tweet.
This seems to be this generation’s manifestation and not only does it display great ignorance of the facts and history but negates the narrative and experience of the many Jews who were expelled from Arab countries, including North Africa and not forgetting the story of Ethiopian Jewry. It excluded the Jews of India and the African continent and the fact that the majority of Israelis are in fact, to use the parlance of the trendy, “people of colour”. Today’s generation is very attracted to social justice issues and this is admirable but the problem lies in their lack of understanding of history and facts. When it comes to understanding the conflict, context is king and facts and nuance matter. One does not become an expert on the Middle East by looking at memes on Instagram or Tweets from celebrities, models, pornstars (I am not joking!) late night talk show hosts and social media influencers desperate to prove their blue-tick social justice credentials.
Israel’s detractors know this too well and realise that placing the conflict against a background of identity politics, while relying on the ignorance of many, is a formula that unfortunately seems to be working well. They use words like “Apartheid” or “colonialists” which are highly emotive as their central accusation against Israel and as a result of this, Hamas with their genocidal intentions are now seen as resistance fighters and the Israeli Defense Forces as the aggressors. A moral equivalence has been drawn and Israel is the only country that has to defend its right to defend itself against attacks on its sovereign territory. History be damned!
I told you the world was topsy turvy and off its axis!
This is also compounded by politics. While Israel enjoys strong bi-partisan support in the United States, the increasingly vocal and acrimonious “Squad” whose trio of vociferous Israel-bashers, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Rashida Tlaib, have displayed an incredible ability to read the room. In other words they understand the power of the language that they use and platforms that their constituents flock to which is social media. These Queens of Identity Politics have a clear agenda and are not afraid to push it and dismiss them as a small but loud minority at your peril. Today’s leaders may not pay as much heed as they should but they are extremely influential amongst the movers, shakers and opinion makers of tomorrow.
Global institutions and mainstream media have also joined the milieu. Hardly a day goes by without the United Nations and its agencies condemning Israel for something and the once venerated global institute is more synonymous these days for institutionalized antisemitism. Where are the resolutions condemning antisemitism that is rife in the streets of cities around the world? Where was the emergency session when convoys of hate rolled through London screaming “Fuck the Jews, rape their women” or when diners were beaten up in Los Angeles and other cities? Silence. Raping Jewish women is not going to “Free Palestine”.
The mainstream media are just as if not more guilty. Fueled by competition for ratings, the “David vs Goliath” narrative with its inference that Israel is the giant to the oppressed Palestinian is contributing to the growing hate on the streets. In fact, we can almost draw a direct line between the narrative portrayed on TV and the rise in vicious antisemitism. I have lost count how many times I have been called a “baby killer” as the result of people being fed a steady media diet of very partisan reporting. Most of the media have skipped over the facts that Hamas awarded Al Jazeera for their coverage of the recent flare up, choosing instead to focus on the razing of the media building that housed Associated Press and Al Jazeera and a fair shake of terrorists hell bent on finding ways to destroy Israel’s Iron Dome system. But of course they didn’t know they were sharing office space with Hamas!
It takes a brave news channel to challenge the narrative these days and thank goodness there are those like Sky News Australia or the newly launched GB News in the UK who are not afraid to go head to head with the wokeratti!
And it doesn’t get more “woke” than the Hollywood elites. Desperate to be seen as committed social justice warriors, everyone from Ellen Barkin (is she still relevant?) to John Oliver and supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid have A LOT to say about Israel. None of it correct. From their sanctimonious perch amongst the mansions and estates of Malibu to Beverly Hills, these faux experts have used their social media platforms to spread dangerously inflammatory rhetoric. Now before we roll our eyes so far back in our heads that we detach our corneas, these schlebs have millions of followers that far outnumber the total amount of Jews on the planet. I do find it vaguely amusing that the Hadid sisters who grew up in the absolute lap of luxury and earn a living wearing next to nothing are suddenly getting in touch with their Palestinian roots. I doubt Hamas take too kindly to Victoria’s Secret models but I could be wrong.
So what is the solution? It is quite simple. We have to show up wherever and whenever we can. We have to challenge the hypocrisy and false narrative by sharing the stories of our diverse people and remember our indigenous rights. This is our identity politics. It is sad that we have to politicize our identity but in the narrative war this has become an imperative. In every generation they rise up to try and defeat us. In this generation it is an attack on our very identity and diversity all represented in the existence of our nation state. Israel is a physical manifestation of the ethnic diversity of the Jewish people. We will survive this as we have all the others by being present and proud. One blue tick at a time.
While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves. LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).
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