Love, Hate and Israel

Of course we love Israel!

French authorities and the Orange CEO couldn’t repeat it enough. Orange’s move in Israel is a commercial one, and not reflective of any political leanings on the non-existent peace process.

It matters very little that no one in Israel seems to believe them, this Israeli administration has been trying so hard to portray France as the bastion of anti-Semitism that if a French man dropped a banana peel and a French Jew slipped on it, someone in Israel would urge French Jews to flee the country.

Of course France has the second largest Jewish population outside Israel (USA are first), so it can’t be that bad, but I digress.

It is no surprise that they were professing their love to Israel. Perhaps they want to wine and dine Israel on the third floor of the Eiffel tower, play her some accordion, and walk her down a random moonlit canal but I doubt it. Because when it comes to Israel, there is no room for subtlety, it’s either you love it, or you’re a closet anti-Semite, or worse an avowed anti-Semite who’ hiding behind his business, or if you’re a Jew, then you’re an anti-Semitic Jew, and if you’re breaking the silence you’re a traitor, and if you fund breaking the silence, you’re an anti-Semite: because there can be no commercial reasons affecting a company’s decision, no overarching political reasons for you to criticize Israel, the only reason is anti-Semitism.

Don’t bomb Gaza! Anti-Semite!

Stop building colonies! Anti-Semite!

Boycott Israeli companies! Anti-Semite!

I never hear a world leader profess their love to another country, they always talk about bonds of friendship, shared histories, but never love.

Love is unconditional, so if you love Israel, you can’t criticize it, unless you secretly don’t, and if you don’t love it, you hate it, and if you hate it you’re an anti-Semite.

Unconditional love is a mother’s love. Israel is no child of mine, and even a mother needs to criticize and chastise her children.

I certainly love Israel, the way I love your neighbor to the north, the one your administration has been fixing to bomb since Gaza last summer.

The fact that people bow and scrape and fall over themselves when they’re accused of anti-semitism by the Israeli administration instead of calling it out for the psychologically damaging political hokum that it is, does the Israel we all love (within reasonable limits) a disfavor.

Gideon Levy argued recently in Haaretz that only Israelis fall for Israeli propaganda, he’s right, and Barack Obama’s interview confirmed that. But since they’re both world-class anti-Semites who cares right? Except for the world, and people with class.

Ayelet Shaked calls boycotts a strategic threat, the same terminology used to describe Iran’s nuclear build-up, and is threatening to boycott who ever boycotts Israel. I would encourage her to go ahead, and consider the following: Israel needs the West more than the West needs Israel.

Sometimes I wonder what the point of a boycott would even be, Israeli products are hardly a factor at all in my life, but the events this week, the elections, this administration and the rampant exploitation of Jewish persecution, of anti-Semitism, of the holocaust, of every single tragedy that can be spun into hasbara, have really upset me, and so, call me an anti-Semite all day long, and the person most likely to suffer is me because it’s delicious, but I’m gonna stop buying Sabra products, and I can feel the hunger pangs already.

Go ahead, call me an anti-Semite, I don’t care what a fascist administration thinks and neither should the rest of the world.

Oh, and I still love Israel. I would want for Israel to be a model for the Middle East. In fact that’s why I’m boycotting your Humus, because I love you so much, that I don’t want to be a part of what you’re becoming.

About the Author
Mame Bougouma Diene is a civil servant on permanent vacation even when he works 70 hours a week, who also blogs for the Times of Israel in French. He's French-Senegalese American, loves Israel and the Middle East, would really like to see an end to this intractable mess in his lifetime.