Exploiting Palestine for Antisemitic Ends

Musa Alzanoun | Pexels

An analysis is urgent in the complex situation of the Palestinian population, which has endured numerous challenges and adversities beyond the scope of the conflict with the State of Israel. These difficulties for the Palestinians have manifested in various contexts since 1948, including internal quarrels, political repression, civil wars, and discrimination in several Arab States, ironically, resembling real apartheid. Notably, international condemnation primarily focuses on the actions of the State of Israel, the World’s only Jewish State, while significant silence persists in other circumstances, and not only regarding the suffering of the Palestinians. The aforementioned raises questions about whether the concern of the International Community is directed genuinely toward the well-being of the Palestinian people and the safeguarding of their human rights, or if there exists a covert antisemitic bias in a discourse that ostensibly advocates for peace but serves as a strategy to discredit the only democracy in the Middle East due to its Jewish identity.

Given the latter, it would be crucial to examine instances where the Palestinian population has been victimized by violence, abuses, and discrimination by other actors, aiming to determine if these actions received the same level of international condemnation, and as unfortunate as it is, that the answer, of course, is no. Additionally, the hypothesis that Palestinians are used as a tool to justify unfounded hatred against the global Jewish Community seems feasible, due to the constant seeking of the ‘woke‘ movements to build phony rationalizations to gain traction in the realm of political correctness.

This is the substance of the previously mentioned claims, which might prove them to be true:

An emblematic case in the Jordanian context is the so-called “Black September,” during which King Hussein ordered a military offensive against the Palestine Liberation Organization and other Palestinian militant groups, resulting in a high number of casualties. This episode of intra-Arab violence against Palestinians is essential to understanding their history, yet it is often omitted in international narratives that focus exclusively on condemning Israel. It is worth noting that Israel has provided medical assistance to Palestinians in emergency cases and for the treatment of chronic or severe conditions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that Israel facilitated the delivery of vaccines to Palestinian territories. Also, it seems relevant to mention that, even on October 7 of the past year, those responsible for the massacre of that date, unequivocally classified as terrorists, received treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Another example is the massacre of Tel al-Zaatar during the Lebanese Civil War, in which Christian Phalangist militias, supported by Syrian forces, attacked a Palestinian refugee camp, showing the vulnerability of Palestinians in regional conflicts. Thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, were killed. This event, like other Palestinian sufferings at the hands of non-Israeli actors, has always received relatively little international attention, suggesting a disparity in the global response to Palestinian tragedies.

Furthermore, in Lebanon, Palestinians face severe restrictions on access to employment, property, and basic services, exemplifying how refugees can be marginalized and discriminated against even in countries with shared history and culture. The lack of civil and political rights for Palestinians in Lebanon reflects their challenging situation across much of the Arab World. In contrast, in Israel, various organizations and programs promote dialogue and understanding between young Israelis and Palestinians, aiming to build bridges and foster a culture of peace and mutual understanding. (i.e. Seeds of Peace, Parents Circle-Families Forum (PCFF), Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, Hand in Hand, PeacePlayers International, Combatants for Peace, EcoPeace Middle East.)

The Sabra and Shatila massacre, perpetrated in 1982 by Lebanese Christian militia, stands as a tragic episode in contemporary history, characterized by the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. This act of violence underscores the vulnerability of refugees in conflict zones and, simultaneously, highlights a tendency in public opinion and political analysis to focus criticism on the State of Israel rather than defending the Palestinian people, while tending to downplay atrocities committed against them. It is important to note that joint efforts by Israelis and Palestinians have been made in infrastructure projects, especially in areas such as water treatment and renewable energy projects, benefiting both Israeli and Palestinian communities.

Additionally, the issue of the Palestinian diaspora must be addressed, focusing on the expulsion of approximately 200,000 Palestinians from Kuwait following the Gulf War of 1991. This event, triggered by the perception of support from the Palestine Liberation Organization for Saddam Hussein, constitutes a significant chapter in the history of adversities faced by the Palestinian population. The magnitude of this mass expulsion and the subsequent adverse conditions for displaced Palestinians did not generate a level of international condemnation and reproach comparable to the criticisms directed at the State of Israel for defending itself against radical Islamic terrorism perpetrated against babies, children, women, and the elderly.

In the context of the Persian Gulf States, systematic discrimination and marginalization against Palestinians have been evidenced, particularly in areas such as employment, education, and residency rights. The refusal to grant citizenship and the resulting legal insecurity are ongoing challenges that highlight the vulnerability of Palestinians in countries where nationality and residency policies are restrictive and discriminatory. In discrepancy, certain Israeli institutions have implemented programs including scholarships and educational opportunities for Palestinian students, manifested in the opening of programs in Israeli Universities to such students. (i.e. Scholarship Program for Arab Students at the University of Haifa, Peace and Leadership Scholarship Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Arava Institute, The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University, The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, Ofer Scholarships for Arab Students.)

The military incursion into Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent removal of Saddam Hussein marked the beginning of a series of aggressions specifically targeting the Palestinian community in Iraq. This phenomenon underscores the vulnerability of minorities in contexts of political change and conflict. Notably, limited attention has been given to this situation, especially compared to the media coverage and international condemnation often accompanying defensive actions by the State of Israel. It’s worth mentioning that recognition of projects and cultural events bringing together Israeli and Palestinian artists, musicians, and writers, aiming to foster mutual understanding and cultural appreciation through art and creative expression, is often omitted. (i.e. West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, The Parents Circle-Families Forum (PCFF), Combatants for Peace, The Freedom Theatre, Heartbeat, Literary Festivals, Art Galleries and Exhibitions, Jerusalem Season of Culture, Pathways to Peace.)

Internal dissensions within the Palestinian Community, particularly the 2007 Gaza clashes between Fatah and Hamas, have had dire consequences for the Palestinian civilian population, exacerbating their already precarious humanitarian and political situation. Despite their destructive nature, these internal conflicts do not usually receive the same international attention as conflicts directly involving Israel. It’s relevant to note that, in contrast, joint efforts have been developed in environmental projects, focusing on the management of shared natural resources such as water and air, to address issues like water scarcity, pollution, and biodiversity conservation.

Within the context of the Syrian civil war, which commenced in 2011, the Palestinian diaspora in that region has borne a devastating impact. Amidst the conflict, they have become victims of violence, further forced displacement and exceedingly adverse living conditions. The magnitude of the brutality experienced by Palestinians in Syria has largely been overlooked in international discourse, underscoring a troubling selectivity in the condemnation of human rights violations. Concurrently, Israeli organizations have contributed to economic development projects and humanitarian assistance in Palestinian territories, including initiatives aimed at enhancing agriculture and basic infrastructure.

Even before the outbreak of the civil war, Palestinians in Syria faced restrictions in exercising fundamental rights, such as land ownership and access to certain professions. While their situation was comparatively more favorable than in other Arab countries, these limitations reflect the inherent complexities of the Palestinian refugee condition in an Arab nation, oscillating between acceptance and exclusion. In contrast, in Israel, programs of academic exchange and collaboration have been established in some universities and research centers, fostering the exchange of knowledge and experiences among scholars and students.

Furthermore, the situation of Palestinians in Libya, following the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime, has evidenced a significant transformation in their legal and social status, marked by increasing vulnerability to aggression and expulsion. This phenomenon illustrates the precariousness of their status in a national context characterized by internal conflicts and power struggles. It is noteworthy that this issue has been scarcely addressed in the realm of international discourse, much like the frequent omission that Israeli medical and rescue teams have assisted in emergencies and disasters in Palestinian territories.

In various Arab states, the Palestinian population faces discrimination and legal restrictions that negatively impact their access to decent job opportunities, property, education, and the full enjoyment of civil rights. These limitations, coupled with the refusal to grant them citizenship, relegate Palestinians to a condition of permanent refugees or second-class residents. It’s crucial to note that these critical circumstances often don’t garner the same level of international condemnation as the policies implemented by Israel, where, unlike Gaza, there are specific projects aimed at empowering Palestinian women in the business and economic spheres, often with support from private organizations.

Thus, it’s imperative to address the situation of Palestinians from a perspective that transcends the unilateral focus on Israel, extending toward a more holistic and equitable analysis. The tendency to issue selective condemnations solely against the actions of the State of Israel, while ignoring or downplaying the violence and discrimination Palestinians experience in other contexts, not only results in a grossly unfair assessment of Israel but also overlooks the necessary recognition and attention toward other adverse circumstances Palestinians face.

This selectivity in condemnation, as argued by Professor Irwin Cotler of Yale University, can be interpreted as a manifestation of antisemitism disguised under the guise of fallacious antizionism. Ironically, during the 21st century, the delegitimization and condemnation of Israel become central elements in the discourse about the “free and pluralistic World.” Genuine concern for Palestinians and the safeguarding of human rights demand consistent and equitable condemnation of all violations of these rights, regardless of their origin. However, since the World has remained silent time and again, the worst can be assumed: Palestinians are the means, and the end is antisemitism and hatred towards the Jewish people.

The omission of denouncing human rights violations against Palestinians perpetrated by non-Israeli actors, primarily by the Palestinian National Authority and the Radical Islamic Terrorist Group Hamas, among others, while focusing condemnation, protests, and actions exclusively against Israel, not only constitutes a form of discrimination against the World’s only Jewish State but also undermines the global fight against racism and discrimination. Therefore, it is essential to address all injustices faced by Palestinians with the same intensity as Israel is criticized, to ensure true justice and equity in the promotion and defense of human rights. Anyone unwilling to do so, or who only remembers Palestinians when it presents an opportunity to vilify Israel and the Jewish people, to a greater or lesser extent, is a thinly veiled antisemite.

About the Author
Lawyer, Law School Profesor, Zionist activist, and writer, specializing in the geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East. His work, published in various esteemed journals, focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, offering in-depth analyses that blend historical, legal, and ethical insights. Known for his ability to unravel complex geopolitical issues, he provides insightful and nuanced viewpoints on contemporary challenges in the region.
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