Fred Maroun
A believer in peace and human dignity

Marsha Lederman, it is simple, they hate Israel because they hate Jews!

A pro-Palestinian demonstration on October 13, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio, USA (credit: Paul Becker / Wikimedia Commons).

Marsha Lederman, a Canadian Jewish columnist asked in the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s two national newspapers, “Why do people hate Israel?”.

Lederman asked, “how much do you have to hate a country to actively seek out and tear down posters of its abducted children – often with glee?”.

The piece is well written, and Lederman tried very hard to describe points of view on both sides of the conflict, but she totally missed the big picture.

Someone reading her piece without any significant knowledge of the conflict would come out thinking that the conflict is hopeless but would not know why. Lederman even admitted having no answers when she ended the piece by writing, “But there is so much hate right now, everywhere. And I don’t know how we come back from this. Or where we go.”

Yet the answer was staring her in the face.

Lederman spoke with pro-Palestinian protesters, and they gave her the answer. One of the protesters said, “Israel is not a true country, a true state”. Another protester referred to Israel as “so-called Israel”. Other protesters yelled at Jewish counter-protesters, “go back to where you came from”, and “It’s too bad Hitler didn’t finish the job”.

The protesters couldn’t have spelled it out more clearly to Lederman: they hate Israel because they hate Jews.

She wrote that one of the anti-Israel protesters, “makes it clear that she does not support the actions of Hamas, but explains that “people today have a better understanding of that reaction to oppression. It’s normal that people are going to fight back against their oppressors.”” In other words, that protester excused the massacre committed by Hamas.

I don’t know what more Lederman needs to know.

She wrote, “the issue is complex and far more nuanced than much of the current discourse would suggest”.

While there are undeniably many complexities in the conflict, which after all has a long history, the root cause of the conflict is quite simple. It started due to antisemitism, and it continues due to antisemitism. Palestinians say it very clearly in their slogan, “From the River to the Sea Palestine Will be Free”.

There are many countries in the Middle East, none of them Jewish, yet when the Jews decided to accept the 1947 UN partition plan, the whole Arab world rejected it and started a war with Israel. That plan required not a single Palestinian to move. Not a single Palestinian would have lost their home or become a refugee if the plan had been accepted, but the Arabs could not accept that the Jews would have even one tiny little state. The Arab refugees and the Jewish refugees that ensued were the result of the Arab rejection of the tiny Jewish state.

Similarly, today, any Palestinians losing their homes, being killed, or having to move in Gaza are doing so because Israel needs to eliminate Hamas to defend Israelis against further attacks, and because Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Hamas chose this war. Hamas made this war necessary. Some people demand a ceasefire. There was a ceasefire before October 7, but Hamas broke it and made more ceasefires impossible.

To Lederman’s question “where we go”, the answer is quite simple. The Arab world, including the Palestinians, must accept the right of Jews to self-determination. They must accept the right of the Jewish state to exist. Once that happens, all other issues can be solved.

If that doesn’t happen, and if Israel continues to be threatened and attacked, it will continue to respond. Those who don’t like the responses should ask themselves what they did to resolve the root cause of the issue, antisemitism. If they did nothing, if they contributed to it by refusing to accept Israel’s right to exist then they are part of the problem. They are the reason why there is war.

I doubt very much that Lederman doesn’t know these fundamental truths. She said at the start of her piece that her own background “brings with it a bias”, and she proceeded to walk on eggshells after that. But in doing so, she didn’t help the reader, and she left the impression that the two sides in the conflict have equally valid points. They do not, and that needs to be said.

Of course, Palestinians have some valid grievances against Israel, but those grievances do not justify a massacre, and even more importantly, those grievances cannot be resolved if Palestinians continue to reject Israel and to support violence against it.

A poll conducted by the Arab World for Research and Development and reported by the Jerusalem Post, indicates that three quarters of Palestinians completely reject the existence of Israel and support the October 7 massacre and kidnappings. Could the answer to Lederman’s question be any clearer?

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 to defend itself. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities co-exist in peace with each other, 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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