‘Hate-Israel’ activism is riddled with enigmas.
Take the flotilla activists. Shiploads sailed to free Gaza, media workers on board going along. They sailed to free a strip where media workers are controlled, intimidated and kidnapped – to free it from the grips of Israel where the media can do pretty much as it likes. Jurists too can be illuminating. They brandish the colours of Palestine where justice is arbitrary and quick. And the gay activists: their hatred of Israel, the one gay-friendly country in the region, makes no more sense than their love affair with a culture that brooks no tolerance of gays. And remember Christians who choose to camp with their Palestinian persecutors.
But the paradox prize has to go to ‘Hate Israel’ Israelis. We know them by their penchant for turning aggressors into hapless victims; by their favoured milieus and impaired vision. They staff NGOs, social science faculties and the media, from where they fix jaundiced eyes on Israel and stare vacantly past the machinations of the Palestinian enemy.
Paradoxical is the word for such behaviour. Conjure, if you can, Greeks who hate Greece, or Scots who detest Scotland; and not with some idle hatred but one that rules their waking moments, and out of which they craft careers. Or think of a Greek or Scot toiling to see his country dismantled, even at the cost of self-preservation. Yet this describes the behaviour of Israel-hating Israelis. What accounts for the stupendous paradox?
There’s a shallow motivator and a deeper more troubling one. The shallow motivator, hard to resist, is the good living to be made out of Israel-hating. It’s big business, with all the features of a growth industry. Competing Israeli NGOs, academics and journalists work at the coalface, some with international reach. Their operations consist of unearthing and marketing a whole range of Israeli ‘crimes,’ from chopping down olives and demolishing Arab houses to ethnic cleansing and infanticide, all under the ‘promotion of human rights’ umbrella.
Israel–hating individuals and entities compete for publicity, but most of all for donor funds. Monoliths like NIF, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and Adalah, have financiers and customers – the UN, EU, opinion formers, media channels, foreign politicians and parties, and humble street activists. By satisfying stakeholders with Israeli crime products (the more detestable the better) Israel-haters look to boost reputation and funding. They will have a deep interest in a prolonged and intensifying Middle East conflict, aware that the moment peace breaks out the hate-Israel industry would implode. So in material terms, it’s not difficult to explain the Israel-hating Israeli.
But opportunism as the main motivator is a shallow and cynical view. For the most part Israel-hating Israelis go about their work of dragging Israelthrough the mud with heart-felt zest. Why would they devote themselves to making their country an outcast among nations? And why is their activism so boundless and bitter? Deep complexes would be involved, paradoxically touched by no one more insightfully than a leftist French playwright philosopher who had never heard of Israelis. At the time he wrote there were only Jews, and Holocaust ashes had barely settled on Europe.
“The Jew,’ wrote Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1948 work, ‘Anti-Semite and Jew’, “has allowed himself to be poisoned by the stereotype of Jews, and lives in fear that his acts will correspond to this stereotype. So he over-adjusts, to be distinguished radically from acts catalogued as Jewish. If he does not do more than everybody else—much more—he is guilty, a dirty Jew.”
Applying this equipage to our subject, ‘the Israel-hating Israeli has allowed himself to be poisoned by the stereo-type of Israel.’ Shame and guilt follow; then over-adjustment. Nothing is more important than to keep a distance from Israel’s criminal image. So the Hate-Israel Israeli feels compelled to bash his country harder than anyone. And when cooked-up crimes are leveled at Israel he feels compelled to trump them with crimes that he’s unearthed. In this way Israel-haters absolve themselves from all vestiges of guilt and the original sin of being members of that despised nation.
How can we know this for sure? Could it be that the type is driven by real anguish and compassion for the Palestinian people? But no; the plight of Palestinians as human beings means nothing next to holding Israel accountable. When Palestinians are treated badly by their own – kept in poverty, executed without trial, employed as human shields, children trained for combat roles – Israel-haters twiddle their thumbs. They have no interest when Palestinian rights are violated at the hands of their own. Rage comes upon them only when Israel is involved; and the least thing can make it blameworthy: processing Palestinians at checkpoints. Take Israel out of the equation and the concern for Palestinian rights withers to nothing. The feelings of hate-Israel Israelis are simply not at home.
For the enigmatic Israel-hater the Palestinian is but an object, a prop for beating the world’s polecat nation.