Here in the UK, the painful truth is that there are only two opinions in town: Israel is bad or Israel is good. Everything happening in Israel at any given moment is spoken about in one of those two contexts, making objective analysis pointless. Jews are too worried anything even vaguely critical of Israeli policies will be used against the country and themselves by the other camp, for whom it doesn’t matter whether Israel is setting up a hospital in Haiti or celebrating gay pride — it is fundamentally evil and born in sin.
In this context talking, about Amona or Netanyahu’s dodgy involvement in submarines is superfluous as it would just be taken by one or other party and used as a part of their narrative. I feel like this reflects anguish over Israel’s power perfectly, and I’ll explain why.
Israel is a powerhouse in the Middle East, she is a regional superpower with an economy the likes of which her neighbours can only dream, and military power that can dominate all of them. Israel is able to threaten every country around her, all of them at the height of their power working in concert failed in a military contest against her. Yet Israel is vulnerable, every city in the country is in range of terror organisations able to prevent her citizens from living normal lives whenever they choose. Should Hezbollah choose to unleash their stock of rockets and missiles on Israel, they would force thousands of Israelis from their homes and overwhelm the ability of defence systems such as Iron Dome to cope with them by sheer weight of numbers. Even Hamas is able to hit targets further North than Haifa. They are able to bring life in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip to a complete standstill and have proven via their tunnels they can make any invasion of the Strip costly both inside and outside the borders of Gaza.
On the world stage the UN passes resolutions against Israel as if it’s its raison d’etre. In 2015 there were 20 resolutions adopted against Israel and three on the rest of the world combined. When the United States uses its veto to come to the defence of Israel, its reasons for doing so are called into question, but rarely are the UN’s motives for the number of resolutions concerning Israel called into question. The IDF is subject to greater scrutiny than any other military in the world and held to a far higher standard and Jews the world over can’t be blamed for wondering why. Israel the Jewish country has been singled out in the UN in the same way Jews as a people were singled out long before their country was revived. It is no wonder then that Jews can be so sensitive to criticism levelled at the only country in the world where their religious practises are part and parcel of the national identity.
In this respect, living in Israel was wonderful. It didn’t matter who I voted for I was a part of the national discourse, voting was a Zionist act regardless. Even voting for Balad would have been a Zionist act, the participation in Israeli democracy and accepting that the victor formed whichever coalition they chose (or could) is participation in the Zionist project. Furthermore, my opinions on various issues while living in Israel were merely a representation of many others who felt the same way I did, regardless of whether it was the minority or majority opinion.
In the UK, it’s very different. Recently a commenter on Harry’s Place asked me if I understood how they felt now that I was in the UK. He effectively hashed out the argument I made above, that there are so many people who hate Israel that defending Israel, no matter what, is the only way to move forward. I disagree. Those who want to attack Israel will do so regardless of anything that is happening or any critique of it. Their bottom line is Israel shouldn’t exist and they’ll push that constantly. So in this respect I have to ask myself, if I write in the same critical way as I did while in Israel will I simply be providing fodder to the haters?
Will I be a so-called useful idiot?
At the moment, I feel that there aren’t enough places left in the UK where Zionists can have the discussion amongst themselves. Places where we can talk about the fire, about corrupt purchasing of submarines or anything else without getting bogged down in the whole Israel right to exist or Israel Apartheid argument. I think that for that reason, to allow those of us who actually care about the State of Israel to have a place where we can talk, I’ll continue to write about Israel as I feel. Perhaps I’m wrong. I suppose we’ll see.