Michael Jackson

Why Israel?   

The Question

Many Jews assert that the world hates Israel.  They ask why Israel receives so much criticism.  This whole issue is entwined with anti-Semitism, but I would like to consider Israel hatred separately and mention anti-Semitism where it is appropriate to explain anti-Israel actions.

UN and Human Rights NGOs

The United Nations is a good place to start.  There are far more condemnations and motions passed against Israel than the gross human rights abusers of North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, and Russia combined. There are 57 nations in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  These nations comprise almost one-third of UN members.  In addition, there are at least 40 non-Islamic dictatorships that are willing to condemn Israel merely at the whim of the national dictator.  The UN’s anti-Israel stance is undeniable, immoral, and hypocritical.

Many accuse allegedly unbiased human rights organizations, especially Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, of an anti-Israel bias.  Many people claim that their articles and the volume of their rhetoric against Israel are biased.  These two organizations have each published tens of thousands of reports over the past 20 years.  I performed an analysis of the numbers of claimed rights abuses, since very few, if any of us, can write about their fairness and impartiality concerning articles on Paraguay, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Russia, and dozens of other countries.  But we can count the number of reports by country.

Here are the total number of reports on some major countries as of October 2022:

Human Rights Watch reports:  Israel 2,046, Egypt 2,710,  China 4,651, India 2,495, France 3,447, Iran 2,186, Turkey 2,452, USA 33,728  (NOT A TYPO!!!)

Amnesty International reports:  Israel 2,078,  Egypt 2,541, Pakistan 1,472, China 3,130, Syria 2,518, Turkey 2,789, Iran 3,371, Brazil 1,177

Considering the number of reports per country, Israel is not an overwhelming concern for either organization.  Concerning degrees of bias in individual reports, who can fairly analyze a plethora of reports from dozens of countries?

The Muslim and Arab world

Let us consider the Muslim world.   There are several areas where Muslims are oppressed or discriminated against.  There is the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar, the discrimination against the Muslims in India, and Uighur repression in China.  Based on news coverage and protest demonstrations, it seems that these other instances of Muslim repression cause far less reaction in the Muslim world than the Israel-Palestinian issue.  I think it is fair to say that the Muslim world does exhibit rage and anger against Israel which is somewhat lacking in these other clear examples of repression of Muslims.  Muslims ruled over Jews for over a millennium.  Now in Israel, the tables have been turned.  But I do not think that this is a cause for Muslim hatred.  Muslims dominated Hindus for over 200 years during the Mughal empire and also in previous Indian Muslim dynasties. The Hindu government’s repression of 200 million Indian Muslims does not cause mass demonstrations throughout the Muslim world.   So, I do not think that the issue of a repressed group under Muslim rule then becoming the rulers of the nation is the major factor in Muslim attitudes towards Israel.

The Arab world is a concentrated microcosm of the larger Islamic world.  Arabs are geographically, culturally, and linguistically closer to Palestinians than Bangladeshis or Indonesians are to Palestinians.  Arabs, much more than non-Arab Muslims, identify with Palestinians.  Iran is a special Middle East, but non-Arab, case.  The Iranian government and probably the Iranian people have more hatred towards Israel than is displayed in many Arab countries.  Some of the Arab countries teach school kids the anti-Semitic passages in the Koran and the Hadith.  Israel has signed peace treaties with neighboring Egypt and Jordan.  Also, Israel has signed the Abraham Accords with a number of the feudalistic Arab monarchies. Yet the current Israel-Gaza war will accumulate seething rage against Israel, especially among Arab peoples, if not among some of their autocratic leaders.

Europe and America

In the Western world, mainly nominally Christian, there are anti-Semitic strands fostered by long-term religiously based anti-Semitism.  There is also strong support for Israel from American evangelicals.

Israel regards itself as a democracy and most people in the West agree with that judgment.  People, therefore, expect higher standards from Israel than from North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, etc.  Similarly, America’s actions in the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 repulsed much of the West.  Western countries expected America to abide by a higher standard. 

Many Europeans see Israel as a country that is openly discriminating against West Bank Arabs and, even before October 7th, had enforced severe restrictions on the quality of life for Gazan Palestinians.

Americans have a very high opinion of Jews.  They receive the highest regard among many ethnic/religious/racial groups.  However, older Americans have a more positive attitude towards Israel than younger Americans.  Also, the evangelical movement, a big supporter of Israel, is losing its membership. There is also a growing White Supremacist movement that will propagate much anti-Semitism but not necessarily anti-Israel feelings.  These White Supremacists would love all American Jews to move to Israel.  

The younger generation in the US and Europe is turning against Israel.  Anyone under 40 does not remember the stereotype of the Israeli David versus the Arab Goliath.  They see the Israeli Goliath against the Palestinian (not the Arab) David.  The current war in Gaza merely reinforces that belief.  The younger Western generation is not influenced much by historic Christian anti-Semitism, but many have strong anti-colonial and anti-imperialist beliefs.

The Rest of the World

Nearly all African countries have colonial pasts.  They have histories that allow them to identify with the Palestinians as an oppressed people, much as they were treated themselves by European colonialists.  Latin America also has deep anti-American feelings based on what many see as continual American imperialist intervention in their own countries.  These anti-American anti-imperialist feelings can carry over to Israel.

Israel itself

Israel is moving to the right based both on conflicts and demographics.  The power of West Bank settlers is increasing and the theocratic influence in the government is more salient.  The Israeli government has overlooked many settler human rights abuses against Palestinians.  The government has also discriminated against West Bank Palestinians for several decades.  Tragically, by the time the fighting stops in the current war in Gaza, I think over 12,000 Gazan children will have been killed.  Israel’s actions stir up much enmity abroad.


So why Israel?    The Muslim and Arab worlds play a major role in spreading anti-Israel feelings.  The colonialist attitudes and actions of West Bank settlers, supported by Israeli governments since 1967, cause repulsion in a post-colonial world.  We have to remember that most countries in the world today were once colonies.

The Future

The UN will be anti-Israel for a long time.  Muslims, and especially most of the Arab world, will remain hostile to Israel.   The younger generation of Europeans and Americans will also be more anti-Israel than their parents.  The American evangelical support of Israel will decline in the next decade or two. I expect global anti-Israel feelings will rise in the coming decades.

About the Author
Born in London in 1949. Studied Maths at Warwick University. Came to Israel (WUJS program at Arad) in 1971. I became a citizen and served in the army in 1973. Returned to the UK in 1974. Worked in Information Systems. Married an American Orthodox woman in 1977 and moved to America. For a few years I have led a retiree philosophy class.
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