The X-Ray tech assigned to the two-minute task of filming my elbow, asked me about the origin of my name, sparking a barrage of questions regarding the Middle East. No, I didn’t ride a camel to a tented schoolhouse in the desert. And no, I don’t hate Arabs. He admitted that his main source of information is the local 11 o’clock news, whose coverage is even more skewed than the cable news channels, because the local news chooses out of context snippets of already slanted coverage.
I don’t blame this guy for his ignorance and I give him props for asking questions. There are many global issues on which I’m not an expert (including the Middle East), but I sure as hell don’t draw conclusions from limited news coverage. But what’s a guy to think when Israelis are being stabbed by deranged teen terrorists, and the media shows the terrorist’s body lying in the street? I’m pretty sure we can thank the media for most (if not all) of the erroneous myths perpetuated against Israel. Here are five (of many) that aggravate me:
1. The myth that anti-Zionism IS NOT anti-Semitism. This statement is nothing but a smoke-screen and mincing of words. Let’s be honest. People who never cared about the Kurds, Rwandans, Darfurians, Armenians, Tibetans, Cambodians and Christians being slaughtered as we speak, yet wave the Palestinian flag and spew hatred regarding issues they don’t fully understand, have one thing on their agenda: Anti-Zionism, which is synonymous with anti-Semitism. Why do we not find these humanitarians also protesting other injustices such as rape of women and children, mutilation practices and routine terrorization occurring at alarming rates across the globe? I guess it’s easier to hop aboard the “anti-Zionist” train.
2. The myth that if settlements were disbanded there would be peace. I’m not suggesting that settlements should or should not continue. I’m simply suggesting that settlements have been disbanded in the past and there was no peace. In fact, “occupied” Gaza is now under Palestinian control and violence has escalated. Israel is the only country in the world targeted for extinction. Hamas clearly states that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth, so why do people believe the myth that dismantling settlements will end violence? Talks between the Palestinians and Israel’s right and left administrations have failed over the years, and disbanding settlements was on the table for discussion – but it was just not enough. Well, I’m sorry, but the obliteration of the State of Israel is not an option.
3. The myth that Israel is an apartheid state. I lived in South Africa for two years during apartheid. Even as a teenager, I was able to comprehend the injustices of that appalling system, where blacks were denied all basic human rights and the country was completely segregated. In Israel, Jews, Christians and Arabs have the right to vote, work and live in peace. In fact, Arabs are elected and serve in the Israeli government. Throwing around the word “apartheid” is an attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel, and in the process, delegitimizes and dilutes the true injustices committed against those who endured a real apartheid regime.
4. The myth that incitement is the way to “free Palestine.” I just don’t believe that violence is the answer. Most Israelis would love to send their kids to universities instead of the army and wish for the day that an army would not be necessary. I wonder if that will ever be possible, given the vast cultural and religious abyss that separates us. I keep remembering Golda Meir’s words, “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” I cannot fathom a scenario in which I would encourage, praise or excuse my child for stabbing another human being. Not in the name of God, my religion or anyone else’s. I just can’t.
5. The myth that BDS hurts only Israelis. BDS is more psychological than economic warfare, and arguably hurts Palestinians more than Israelis. Although SodaStream’s CEO stated that closing the West Bank factory had nothing to do with BDS, the result was harmful to hundreds of Palestinians who were the beneficiaries of much higher salaries than the prevailing wage in the West Bank. Should this trend continue? Perhaps hypocritical supporters of BDS should immediately stop using iPhones, check their computers to make sure no parts were developed or manufactured in Israel, quit using instant messaging, voice mail or the highly-effective camera feature to document and spread the word of their cause. And should medications or hospitalizations become necessary as a result of all this peaceful activity, boycotters should not rely on any Israeli scientific studies (that one will be tough given the extraordinarily high number of PhDs and scientific contributions made by Israelis), medications or imaging to save their lives. Better be safe than sorry.
Amidst all this insanity, the EU has issued regulations requiring separate labels for goods packaged or produced in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. Why are new labels not required for all products from all countries? Why is the EU targeting only Israel? Isn’t this eerily reminiscent of that yellow star used not too long ago to label Jews?