Shaul Behr
Shaul Behr

It’s not the time to be protesting against Israel

Are you an antisemite? Or, to be clearer, do you hate Jews, and secretly wish they would all just drop dead? If so, then this message is not for you.

I’m talking to you, people who haven’t a racist bone in their bodies, but are opposed to Israel’s policies and wish to protest them.

And my message to you is, now is not the time.

Let me be clear: I have no problem with people criticizing the government of Israel, whether on economic or social policy, or regarding its policies towards Israeli Arabs, or those living in the West Bank or Gaza. That’s fair. I might disagree with you, even vehemently, and I might have some pointed questions for you about why you care so much about Palestinian Muslims in the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, but don’t give a rat’s anus about Uighur Muslims in the despotic communist dictatorship of China. But we can sit and have a civil and constructive discussion about what would be the best solution to any given issue.

I don’t even have a problem with people organizing demonstrations around the world against any particular Israeli policy. That’s the nature of democracy: you are entitled to bring pressure to bear on your government, in the hope that they will change their policy relating to a foreign government.

But…the timing of this latest round of anti-Israel demonstrations is very unfortunate…and very telling.

Let’s get past all the standing grievances that people may have about Israeli’s policies in the West Bank. Nothing has changed there for the past few years. So why demonstrate now? Obviously, because of the current round of fighting around Gaza. And how did that start? Because Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched an unprovoked barrage of missiles against civilian centers in Israel. And now, Israel is trying to stop them.

Let’s just lay this out in starker terms: Hamas is trying to kill as many innocent men, women, and children as they can (including me and my family), for the crime of being Jewish in Israel. Don’t believe me – ask them. Their charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel. At this writing, they have launched over 4,000 missiles at civilians. This is not a joke. Every one of those missiles is intended to kill. Thank God, we have the Iron Dome system, which is about 90% effective. But that still means about 400 of these deadly bombs got through. And they have killed 12 Israeli civilians to date – including Jews, Arabs, and foreign workers.

Israel is not bombing Gaza because Israel enjoys killing Gazans. Israel is specifically going for military targets, in order to prevent Hamas from killing more Israeli civilians. So why are there civilian casualties in Gaza? Because Hamas deliberately places its military assets in civilian areas in order to maximize their own civilian death toll, because the optics of dead civilians in Gaza work well for stirring up international outrage and getting pressure on Israel to ease up. Useful idiots, much?

And now, in response to a literally genocidal attack by Hamas on the Jews of Israel, we are seeing marches around the world in which hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people are basically supporting Hamas over Israel.

When Jews see people marching in support of the Palestinians at this time, while said Palestinians are actively trying to murder as many Jewish civilians as possible, we get a very clear message. And it’s pretty much the same message Black people get, seeing a march of the Ku Klux Klan. Only much, much bigger, with actual genocidal intent.

And it’s not just Jews getting that message. Antisemites the world over are hearing it loud and clear: it’s open season on Jews, again. Intimidation of Jews, threats, verbal bullying, vandalism of synagogues, and even physical assaultit’s all happening.

In today’s world, antisemitism is the only socially acceptable form of racism, because you can just call it “anti-Zionism”, and it’s all kosher.

To those of you who oppose Israel’s policies, but are horrified by Hamas’ actions, I say to you: this is not the time to demonstrate. Wait until the hostilities have died down, until antisemitic incidents have returned to “normal” levels, whatever that may be. Then, by all means, exercise your democratic rights, pull out your placards and march on your local Israeli embassy.

Until then, don’t stand with the antisemites, with the people who literally want to see dead Jews. You’re better than that. I hope.

About the Author
Shaul Behr is a husband, father, grandfather, rabbi, software engineer, kidney donor, and author who writes for fun in his spare time, of which he has none. He also writes speeches for the Israeli Prime Minister, which, unfortunately, the PM has not yet chosen to use.
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