MANY people in this country, as elsewhere in the world, are with the Palestinian people in Gaza and are appalled by Israeli military actions and resulting civilian casualties. While this is a deeply emotional issue, we have to pause and reflect on our response lest we take actions which might be also blameworthy. I am sure many of my readers themselves, or have heard others, voice hatred towards Jews in general for atrocities committed in Gaza. Some have gone on to make snide comments about how Hitler should have finished his 'job,' referring to Holocaust. Here I believe we have to draw a line because blaming an entire religious group for atrocities in Gaza is no different from rightwing parties in the West branding all Muslims as terrorists.
Israel is a product of Zionist movement; all Jews do not support Zionism just like all Muslim don't support Salafi or Tablighi movements. Even within Israel there is a growing protest against the rightwing ultra-conservative party politics. There are groups such as “Jewish Voice for Peace” and “Breaking the Silence,” which is made up of ex-IDF soldiers, that are horrified at the atrocities committed by the Israeli government and want the world to know. These groups are actively engaged in protest, both within Israel and internationally, and many a times are putting their own lives at risk. A former IDF combat soldier, Efrati, has been recently arrested and is receiving death threats because he informed the world how some IDF soldiers intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians as revenge for the death of an Israeli soldier.
Furthermore, anti-Semitism plays perfectly into the hand of rightwing Israelis. The current Israeli government wants to represent this war as a religious war, where Hamas, an Islamist party, is waging a war of extermination against a Jewish State; rather than showing it as a war between poorly equipped resistance movements against a mighty occupier. Responding with anti-Semitism only strengthens the Israeli government's stance that Jews around the world are unsafe and need a powerful apartheid-like state to protect them. The rising anti-Semitism is not only morally reprehensible but will also go on to strengthen the extremist elements within Israel and ultimately increase the plight of Palestinians. Let us not give free rein to our misguided emotions, let us not respond to one moral outrage with another, and let us not play into the hands of the Israeli government.
The writer is a graduate from Cambridge University, England.