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Louis Hemmings
poet, author, quixotic

Can Anything Good Come Out of Israel?

Model of quasicrystals, discovered by Nobel prize winner Dan Shechtman of the Technion
Model of quasicrystals, discovered by Nobel prize winner Dan Shechtman of the Technion

Dystopian news from the war in the Middle East has become our daily, force-fed, digital diet. We have had repeated pro-Palestinian protest marches causing significant traffic disruptions on city streets/ We’ve had heated conversations of the IDF / Israel versus Hamas / Gaza conflict with family and friends. If anyone dares question the narrative in a mild or abstract way, they are gaslit and ostracised in real life and online. For all the shouted-out rhyming slogans, the cyclops one-sided rhetoric and the fascist-like massed flags – have these protestors have visited Palestine or Israel?

How many of them have Palestinian or Jewish friends / acquaintances? Do they know Middle Eastern history, culture and religious practices? Are critics of Israel acquainted with the Koran or the Bible? This matters to appreciate nuance and allow for some ‘grace-space’ in this agonising, society splitting, meaphone debate.

The constant publishing of pro-Palestinian opinion pieces written about the hellish conflict are prejudiced and one-sided. Almost-impossible political pressure has been forced on Israel from the day after their existential “ground zero” – October 7th. Are reporters balanced and neutral? Why there is such under-representing of the Israeli side of the Hamas / IDF war in the mainline media.

Most journalists report on the horrific toll of multi-thousands of Palestinian women and children killed in the conflict. Yet the numbers of Hamas “martyr” soldier deaths are strangely omitted in their statistical quotes. These same scribes hold Israel to account strict around the “need for verification” of murder, rape and abduction events of October 7th.

Empiric proof of news sources is a universal demand in Western democracies. Why is it that Hamas gets a free pass with their press-releases of statistics. Israel can seemingly not ever do right, but Gaza can do no wrong. The war-time ethics being demanded of Israel is not applied to Hamas. Hamas can duck and dive, and are editorially indulged by liberal Western politicians and media.

When this brutal war is over, perhaps democratic liberals might care to consider some of the dystopian distinctives of Muslim culture. The punitive and sexist sharia law, the intolerance of minorities and the hatred of Jews.

Compared to the robust Judeo-Christian philosophy, wider cultural spaces, and intellectual freedom of conscience and religion, the Muslim outlook seems sectarian, patriarchal and vengeful. The Koranic exposition comes across as textually derivative, poetic sounding but not practical, autocratic not redemptive.

So, where do Muslim and Judeo-Christian outlooks and lifestyles radically diverge?

Education

UNWRA junior and secondary school textbooks incorporate antisemitism, glorification of terrorism, and encouragement of martyrdom. Such pedagogical propaganda is abusing malleable minds. Would Western educators embed such embattled ideology in school textbooks? I very much doubt it.

Gender.

Gays, lesbians and trans citizens in Gaza are subject to extrajudicial executions, unjust imprisonments and forced exile (to enemy Israel).

In contrast, Tel Aviv has the largest annual gay pride march in the Middle East. It holds equal rights for gay couples. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is forbidden. Israeli law is inclusive and protects the rights of minorities.

In Israel, women are encouraged and expected to join the army as active soldiers. The Israeli Supreme Court affirmed that marital rape is a crime in a 1980 decision.

In contrast, Hamas enforces some Islamic standards of dress for women in Gaza: women must wear a headscarf to enter government ministry buildings. The historic legal and social subjugation of women in patriarchal Palestinian society is endemic.

So called “honour killings” are a problem in the Palestinian Authority – the government has not moved to stop these killings. (In a side note: are female pro-Palestine protestors aware of such sexual subjugation of the women in Gaza?)

Governments

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) last held an election in 2006. Israel has had nine elections since 2006. There are ten Arab politicians from two Muslim parties: United Arab List (Islamist) and Hadash-Ta’Al (Arab secular) in the Knesset (Israeli legislature). The Economist Group’s Democracy Index 2022 study states that Israel is the only democratic country (albeit somewhat flawed) in the region.

Post October 7th, 2023.

In late December 2023, The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) published the findings of its latest survey into Palestinian attitudes.

Seven hundred and fifty adults were interviewed in the West Bank, and 48 in Gaza. The survey, which has a four-point margin of error (rather than the usual three-point), found that almost three-quarters (72%) of all respondents believe Hamas’s decision to launch its attack on Israel on October 7 was “correct.”

(85%) of respondents said they had not watched videos shown by international news outlets of acts committed by Hamas on October 7. This high figure may hint at why only 10% of those surveyed said they believed Hamas had committed war crimes that day.

In conclusion, why do we demonise these “peculiar people”? Are we jealous of the relentless creativity? Do we hate that this tribe see themselves as ‘God’s Chosen People’?

Can anything good come out of Israel?

Our intellectual, cultural and philosophical lives get touched daily by Jews.

Musicians: Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Drake, and more.

Hollywood stars: Barbra Streisand, Paul Newman, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Steven Spielberg.

In the Humanities: Ludwig Wittgenstein,Noam Chomsky, Jacques Derrida, Marcel Proust, Sigmund Freud.

And then there are many important inventions, of which I quote a few:

Netafim is a worldwide pioneer in smart drip and micro-irrigation.

BabySense is a non-touch, no-radiation device designed to prevent crib death.

MobileEye combines a tiny digital camera with sophisticated algorithms to help drivers navigate more safely.

SanDisk who invented the USB flash drive.

Mazor Robotics’ Spine Assist and other surgical robots.

 

Endless Antisemitism.

Herod’s hatred and enslavement of the Jews in 1440 BC was the start of antisemitism. Luther’s 65,000-word antisemitic treatise written in 1543 continued the insiduous spite. Next comes the satanic Nazi demonization of European Jews by Hitler.

But try as we may, we just cannot stop these inquisitive, witty, irrepressible and argumentative Jewish minds. Some would say that the God of the Bible bestowed “eternal blessing” on them. Others spew conspiracies about their ubiquitous prominence if all fields of life. Paranoid people might say that Jews are clannish, intermarrying families that possess cunning, money-grubbing, world domination dreams.

Whichever of those positions you support, you just cannot argue with classic, self-deprecating Jewish humour, as below:

“After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, a government official in Ukraine menacingly addressed the local rabbi, “I suppose you know in full detail who was behind it.”

 “Ach,” the rabbi replied, “I have no idea, but the government’s conclusion will be the same as always: they will blame the Jews and the chimney sweeps.”

 “Why the chimney sweeps?” asked the befuddled official.

 “Why the Jews?” responded the rabbi.

 

About the Author
Louis Hemmings has been writing prose and poetry since 1972. Some of his work has been published in Poetry Ireland, The Irish Catholic, Forward (USA) and Books Ireland. He is a late-life journalism student in Dublin, Ireland. He is married 38 years, has two boys, buried a stillborn and holds an ecumenical Christian point-of-view.