Recently, in an attempt to exaggerate the disappointing lack of knowledge the average European possesses about the history of Israel, I described an absurd situation to an acquaintance of mine. I said to him that people seem to think that there were no Jews in Israel until 1948. They think that Europe sent them all there after the war to compensate for the Holocaust, after which the Jews kicked the Arabs out of their homeland. His response: “Well… isn’t that what happened?” And it suddenly occurred to me how unfathomably ridiculous the situation really has become.
Granted, it doesn’t come as a surprise that years of media bias has done its job, and has done it well. Why this media bias started is highly debatable, and of less importance. What it created, however, is a tragicomic circus performance of rabid voicers of opinion. No matter who you are or where you come from, you must have a strong opinion on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. If you identify as liberal, and support things like gender equality, you have now become “pro-Palestinian”, in addition to being pro-LGBT and pro-choice. Anything else would seem unnatural, paradoxical even, to the general public.
Although it seems bizarre, this is what it has come to. For while it is a trend to be “anti-Israel”, this trend is carried on without anyone putting much effort in to learning a little bit of history. The conflict in Israel is arguably one of the most complex, protracted conflicts of our times, and yet one of the most over-simplified when discussed in a public setting. And it has a narrative, too. The protagonists and antagonists are clearly set out. Even the most obvious example of unprovoked homicide against an Israeli becomes ambiguous in the eyes of the general public. It is as if something doesn’t quite add up. More than once have I read about the latest crimes committed by Hamas affiliates and thought, “This time the tables will turn. When people read this they will realize Israel isn’t the bad guy after all.” Each time, I have been sadly mistaken.
I have heard it all. Israel removes the organs from Palestinians and sells them on the black market… In Israel, people have to have their religion printed in their passports so the government can more easily discriminate against Muslims… The Palestinians only have stones to defend themselves with when the Israeli army comes to kill them all…
My general advice to people who confront me with such ludicrous remarks is to visit Israel. Visit the bloodthirsty, organ-stealing, apartheid Jewish state and see for yourself. Take bus 405 to Jerusalem and witness the remarkable fusion of cultures and religions coexisting and tell me all about the apartheid. Join the Tel Aviv Pride Parade dancing through the city streets and describe that feeling of senseless discrimination. Run to the nearest shelter when the rocket sirens are blaring and tell me all about how bloodthirsty the Israeli Defense Forces are with their Iron Dome when they are keeping you safe.
Get back to me when you know what you’re talking about.