Why is Israel hated by so many on the Left?

Why is Israel so hated?

Many on the Progressive Left, including the Jewish progressive left, who claim to love Israel, will say that Israel is hated because of the occupation and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

(I should make clear – in my opinion the occupation is a terrible crime and we absolutely are guilty of terrible treatment of the Palestinians, but…).

Israel’s vilification is not because of the way Israel has treated the Palestinians. The opposite is in fact true.

Palestinian National identity was created as a way to destroy Israel. The fact that today there is such thing as a Palestinian people is because the Arabs living in this area were turned into a separate people so that Zionism could be defeated. The existence of the Palestinian people means that Israel can be accused of oppressing a small defenseless people. If Palestinian National Identity had not been created, then Israel would be occupying parts of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The Israeli-Arab conflict would be between 22 Nations, on the one hand and one nation, Israel, on the other. Or it might even be between the Muslim World (nearly a quarter of the world’s population) and the Jews (0.02% of the global population).

So instead, those opposed to the idea of Jewish self-determination have reshaped the conflict to be between Israel – a strong powerful country, and the Palestinians – a beleaguered, oppressed nation of refugees.

What is so incredibly sad about this manipulation is that the people who did it, actually really did create the reality of an oppressed, beleaguered nation of refugees. Forcing the Arabs of Palestine to remain stateless, poor and without freedom so that they could be used as a tool with which to beat Israel. In 1949, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon could have welcomed the Arab Refugees from Palestine and they could have become Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese citizens (all of these modern nation states are constructed states, all of these national identities are constructed. A Palestinian from the Northern Galilee has more in common with a Lebanese Arab than they do with a Jerusalem Palestinian).

In other conflicts around the world, people have tried to lift up refugees and end their stateless status. The Muslims of India who left were made citizens of Pakistan (or the UK, or the US, or any of the countries they ended up in). The Jews who left Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are now Israeli citizens. The Turks who left Greece and the Greeks who left Turkey have been repatriated.

The Arab League with the help of the UN made the opposite decision – instead of trying to give the refugees homes and integrate them into society, as the UN’s Human Rights Council does with every other refugee issue. For the Arabs of Palestine, who would become the Palestinian people, the UN set up the United Nations Relief and Works Agency – UNRWA. This agency is committed to ensuring that all the Arabs of Palestine and as many of their descendants as possible remain stateless refugees.

Israel is not hated because of our treatment of Palestinians. The Palestinian people was created in order to promote the hatred of Israel.

In the progressive politics of today, Power is seen as evil. In these days, many are quoting the late Golda Meir, and one particular quote goes: “We would rather live and be hated than die and be pitied.” That is the choice Israel has made. We have chosen power and self-defense.

And for that we are hated.

The leaders of the Arab League (and now the theocratic-fascist leadership in Tehran) choose the death of Palestinians and the accompanying pity of the world to create hatred of Israel.
None of this excuses Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip. But the root cause is not the occupation. The occupation could have ended at numerous points if the leadership of the Palestinian people had wanted freedom and autonomy. It continues not because Israel desires it (though there are many extremist rejectionist Israelis who do desire it and their popularity is fed by the extremist rejectionist Arab and Muslim leaders who are theoretically their enemies) but because the manipulators of the Palestinian people desire Israel’s destruction.

We are dangerously close to another famous Golda quote: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” I hate this quote because of the generalization and the demonization – the idea that “the Arabs” really do hate us more than they love their children. As a parent, I am offended at the very idea. I have met many Palestinians and nothing has made me think that there is less humanity and sensitivity and compassion in Palestinian society than in any other. People love their kids. But politicians don’t mind playing politics with other people’s kids. I don’t believe “the Arabs” hate me more than they love their kids. I think their children (and ours) are being sacrificed on the altar of the ongoing campaign to destroy Israel.

Hamas’ attack on October 7 was not designed to hurt Israel militarily. It was not a boiling over of rage at the injustice of the occupation. It was designed to provoke Israel into killing huge numbers of Palestinians in Gaza, which in turn would ensure Israel’s global isolation. Hamas have literally sacrificed “their own” people in order to make Israel look bad. And it has worked. Hamas do not seek Palestinian Liberation. They seek Jewish death. Those who claim that this latest war is about resistance to occupation have confused cause and effect. This war was initiated by Hamas to continue Israeli isolation, to prolong the occupation and to ensure no peace can ever be made.

About the Author
Haim Shalom moved to Israel from Manchester, England, and lives and works in Jerusalem. Having chosen the names "Life" and "Peace", he does his best to promote both. He is a Reform Rabbi in one of Jerusalem's 5 progressive congregations.
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