Letter to an antisemite

Alternate title: Letter to a not-at-all-antisemitic acquaintance who has Jews among his best friends

I received your message the other day.  Thank you for taking the time to write.  You asked me why I, a non-Jew, speak so loudly about antisemitism.  You said that I make too much of a big deal about Israel.  You said that lots of people are anti-Zionist without being antisemitic, even Jews!  You said that antisemitism is not really a problem, and that the Holocaust should be left alone in the history books.  You said that I should forget about the outdated issue of antisemitism.

I regret that my support for Israel offends you and that my opposition to antisemitism disturbs you, but I will reply to your recommendations by asking you some questions.

Since you are an educated person, you must be aware of the overwhelming evidence that Israel is isolated, demonized, singled out, and boycotted for the sole reason that it is the Jewish state.  Why do you choose to ignore this antisemitism?

When someone makes callous remarks about the Jewish nation being “that shitty little country”, do you nod enthusiastically?

When someone arrogantly declares that Israel is a Western imperialist power on the land where Jews have lived for over three thousand years, do you agree?

When someone scornfully announces that Israel’s settlements building is an obstacle to peace even though Palestinians have rejected multiple attempts at a two-state solution, do you respond with approval?

When someone self-importantly condemns Israel’s security barrier, claiming that it is racist, do you acquiesce?

When someone condescendingly makes claims of “apartheid” in Israel, the only country in the Middle East where the rights of religious and ethnic minorities are respected, do you approve?

When someone disdainfully proclaims that Israel is engaged in genocide in Gaza every time it dares defend itself against terrorism, do you smile in agreement?

When someone cynically praises the United Nations for dozens of anti-Israel resolutions while even the most vile of regimes has no more than one resolution against it, do you let the insult stand?

When someone sanctimoniously condemns the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo in Paris and then quickly adds that Israel makes Muslims angry, do you endorse the condemnation?

When someone contemptuously denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and to be a haven for Jews everywhere, despite the horrors of antisemitism historically and in present times, do you respond with approval?

When someone disparagingly accuses Israel, which has had to defend itself against wars and terrorism for over 66 years, of being a terrorist state, do you concur?

When someone sneeringly remarks that Israel is now “worse than the Nazis”, do you stay silent and stare into space?

If you responded positively to the above questions, then I further need to ask:  Were you raised to support or ignore discrimination and blatant injustice?  Does your religion or moral system teach you to stand by while one small nation is demonized and the only people standing up for it are a tiny minority?  Does your conscience allow you to see this injustice happen in front of yours eyes while you either cheer or remain a silent bystander?

You see, even though I am an Atheist Arab, I have a moral standard.  Not only is standing up against injustice allowed in my view of the world, but it is required.  I do it with pride, but mostly I do it because I feel that it is my duty as a citizen of the world.  I wish that you would join me.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports the Palestinians' right to self-determination in their own state. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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