Scotty Hagerman

Protesters and Demonstrations: Waking the Sleeping Giant

There is a sleeping giant that, if awakened, would generate hatred and death on a massive scale. This giant has always been around; coming and going in phases.  This giant is anti-Semitism, and was last awakened fully during the days of Hitler with his delusional conception of a “master race.”  Today, we stand at the edge of sounding the final alarm needed to wake this giant from its decade’s long nap.

Swastikas in England, synagogues attacked in Paris, thousands of protesters in Berlin shouting “Death to Jews”—the fire of hatred still burns in Europe. Fueled by recent events in the Middle East, protesters are filling the streets in numerous cities aligning themselves in opposition to Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge.”

However, anti-Semitism is also waking up in the United States as well. Take for example the four student protesters who were seriously injured in Boston during a Pro-Israeli demonstration. Anti-Semitism is slowly waking up in the higher education system as well—it has been for years. I’ve experienced it myself: in class lectures on political boundaries in the Middle East, and woe to anyone who produces a pro-Israeli paper or interjects a factual pro-Israeli statement into a discussion.  It has become “cool” to bash Israel and associate the State with apartheid. If you remind anyone that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East where over one million Arabs are citizens with voting rights, you will be quickly put down for your “lack of sympathy” for anyone who doesn’t believe the Jewish State has a right to exist.

The recent protests in Europe are a frightening reminder of our past—we’ve seen it before. Anti-Semitism is like a disease that spreads rapidly through ignorance and fear. The latest tactic used suggests that Israel is in the wrong for defending its citizens against Hamas with relatively few fatalities compared to the 700+ deaths in Gaza. Israel uses its defense system and the whole world cries “unfair!” Since when do we support terrorists? Since when do we allow terrorists to continuously fire rockets indiscriminately into civilian territory?  Answer: we usually don’t, and we should not in this crisis either.

There appears to be a media consensus that Jews around the world have no sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza. This could not be further from the truth. The fact is the issues and circumstances surrounding Hamas and Israel are many and complex. Watching an hour long news program will not give you an adequate understanding of why Israel is using such “force” to weaken Hamas.  Sure, the number of innocents killed is minding boggling and sad on a level that most of us will never comprehend.  I don’t think anyone wants to see innocent civilians die.

With media outlets like Al Jazeera, CNN, and others reporting from a “one story” prospective, it is easy to entice a hatred for Israel and the global Jewish population.  Hence the pro-Palestinian protest with shouts of “Death to Jews!,” and the trashy howl of “Hitler was right!”  For now these demonstrations seem to be taking a strong foothold in Europe, especially in France, Berlin, and even Turkey. The United States, when compared to the aforementioned countries, is relatively calm in regards to anti-Semitism. Again, we have seen this before.  One thing remains certain: the propensity of Palestinian supporters to refer to Israel as ‘Nazis’ is a sad indictment on the acceptability of anti-Semitism.

Should Europe choose to allow “Operation Protective Edge” to be a catalyst in waking the sleeping giant, will we, the United States and America Jews, stand by quietly again?  What can we do to combat hatred of things people don’t understand?  The best thing we can do is continue living our lives. We must never give in to fear. Also, we can provide truthful facts that people and media so often overlook. Take for example the following:

200,000 Syrians killed, 1/3 of them children, and there were no demonstrations in Paris or London (UN Statistics).

2,000 People, who don’t know Arabic, a week are being killed in Iraq by ISIS and there are no demonstrations in New York, Los Angeles or Berlin (UN Statistics).

Hundreds of rockets weekly shot by Hamas into Israeli cities and no one demonstrates for the safety of Israeli children (i24 News).

Kurds murdered in the tens of thousands by Iraqi Arabs and no one in Europe paid attention (NY Times).

But Israel tries to stop Hamas, and out comes the world carrying flags; rioting and attacking Jews in Paris, Berlin and even Turkey.

If these “protesters” and “demonstrators” cared about truth and people, they would have been out in the streets for all the above. Otherwise, they are simply anti-Semitic, narrow minded people living a sad and disreputable life. Seeing these people should make us realize the sleeping giant is already awake. Let’s just hope there is enough good in the world to stop it this time.

About the Author
Scotty Hagerman is currently a graduate student of Social Work specializing in Psychotherapy at Concord University. He holds a B.A. with a Double Major in History with an emphasis in Philosophy and also Political Geography with an emphasis in Environmental Law with Honors.
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