I’ve been watching something interesting happening on the internet.
I’ve been watching legitimate criticism of Israeli military decisions slowly turn into unabashed anti-Semitism.
We’ve talked before about the problem with internet echo chambers in social media. It’s not just folks choosing to consume news media and celebrity opinions that match their biases. (Which is a problem in its own right.) It’s the way that internet communities then exacerbate and amplify people’s own worst instincts.
Israel, the state, is not above question and reproach. If our own government policies can be questioned – and we endeavor under the philosophy that questioning and dissent can be patriotic – then so can those of our allies. But that doesn’t mean all Israeli citizens are culpable for the actions of their government, any more than you and I are responsible for all the decisions our elected officials make.
When you then begin attacking or leveling responsibility at any Jewish person, regardless of their nationality, because of the actions of the Israeli government you’ve crossed a line. You can’t claim any sort of moral superiority anymore. You’ve become the monster.
This isn’t hyperbole. It’s happening. Jewish students have reported instances of intimidation and attack on university campuses here at home. In the Dagestan region of the Russian Republic crowds of folks targeted a flight from Israel, storming the airport and making deboarding impossible – and alarming Russian Jews in the region.
Even in Germany, long sensitive over their history, a kindergarten named for Holocaust victim Anne Frank is changing its name. One of the excuses used by the school administration was that the name and history were unknown to many of their international clients.
Their solution? Instead of embracing the teachable moment to explain to those international families why the name is important, to change the name to something generic and bland.
This is how people forget, and this is how the scourge of hateful rhetoric and anti-Semitism comes back into the mainstream.
The deaths of non-combatants and – yes – children in Gaza are tragic. The loss of life is horrible. It’s not something that we should brush under the rug and ignore. It has to be something the governments of the world and the UN address with the Israeli leadership.
But that doesn’t make Hamas the good guys.
They killed more than 1400 people, many of them elderly and children too, and all of them non-combatants. They took hundreds more hostage. They did this knowing what the response from the current Israeli government was likely to be, and the chaos and death and pain it would probably bring upon their own people.
Israeli may not be fully in the right here, despite their duty to defend their citizens from attack. But that doesn’t absolve Hamas from their role in this.
The leadership of Hamas has just as much blood on their hands as Israel.
But none of it is the fault of the average Palestinian or Jewish person. Most of whom want simply to live, and raise their families, in peace.
We can’t let our anger at Hamas, or the Israeli government, turn us into bigots. We can’t let it make us hate our neighbors simply because of where they or their parents or grandparents were born, or the religion they were raised in.
We have to be better.