All too often, the 21st century is comprised of the desire to be outraged. This is something that has become increasingly evident in the Western media’s portrayal of Israel, a state which finds itself defending its existence both verbally and physically, in wars (1948, 1967, 1973, 1982 to name a few) and retaliation to extremist assaults.
First, let me establish that this will not be a text outlying and describing Israel’s (rightful, to my knowledge) claim to its land, rather the Western attitude to the Jewish homeland, and the ridiculousness driving campaigns such as the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Following the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, and consequent ‘revenge murder’ of Palestinian teen, Mohammad Abu Khdair, Israel-Palestine tensions are back at the forefront of the Western media. Disputes, both physical and verbal, have been ongoing between modern Palestinians and Israelis for over 100 years, with feeble peace process attempts never gaining traction. Most recently, John Kerry, America’s Secretary of State, saw his attempts crumble yet again, as Palestine’s sole government, the PLO, joined forces with Hamas, a UN-recognised terrorist organisation. At this very moment, “Free Palestine” hippies and so forth were quick to jump upon the “evil Zionists” bandwagon, accusing Israel of neither wanting peace nor attempting it. Such a claim is groundless, and the complementary “apartheid Israel” comments infer that such people have no interest in facts, but only outrage. The facts are as such: elements of Hamas have declared a desire to exterminate the Jews many a time, with no intention of peace. Indeed, the Hamas Charter itself (Article 13) states that such peace processes as those attempted by the West are inconsistent with their stance; under them, Jihad alone would dominate international handling. The inevitable fear of the Israeli government of Fatah uniting with an organisation craving their destruction is however not accepted by outraged commentators, of whom fall to the conclusion that Israel must wish to continue “murdering innocent Palestinians”.
Whilst I use terms such as “hippies”, it is important to recognise that the increasingly anti-Israel Western sentiment is not confined to a non-influential minority. The United States of America, a champion of democracy and lifelong friend of Israel, finds itself with wavering support for the one and only true democracy in the Middle East, with John Kerry even making remarks against Israel. Likewise, Britain ends up with a foreign secretary, William Hague, who so thoughtlessly took it upon himself to congratulate the Palestinian collaboration with terrorists, on behalf of the British people (apparently).
Whilst many newspapers frequently capture attention and manufacture outrage with heart-wrenching headlines of the Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) retaliations impacting “innocent children and civilians”, the full story is never shared with their loyal readers. Somehow the incessant rocket attacks from Gaza (450 in 2014 so far alone) and Hamas’ undying aim to kill Jews never make it into print. Moreover, there is rarely any mention of the fact that Palestine has long been placing military bases in civilian areas, be it schools, hospitals or play areas. The consequent mounting death toll invariably sparks upset, as it should, however we must question the PLO’s prioritisation of politics over its own citizens. This disregard for human life becomes more shocking with the sacrifice of its own children for the sake of extremism and anti-Zionism. Child suicide bombers have long been a “tool” of the Palestinian struggle, with innocent children having explosives forcibly strapped to them, with only one intent: killing as many Israelis as feasible. Such actions might be highlighted as anomalies of the Palestinian struggle, but it cannot be discounted that murderous attacks on Israeli civilians will continue as long as Islamist propaganda and terrorist organisations thrive. Use of extremism is of course something accepted as the norm by Hamas, whom we cannot forget now hold influence in the Palestinian governmental processes. This barbarism must be condemned, but it fills me with regret when I read no mention of such extremism in the daily ignorance of those who believe that Israel is needlessly creating some kind of “apartheid state” via its retaliation. Of course there are instances whereby IDF soldiers, Israeli police and citizens have acted in reckless ways, and this must also be condemned. However this must be recognised as a typical anomaly of any defence force, such as that of which Palestinian child suicide bombers are, and not something that characterises the entire Israeli democracy.
Influential news outlets sensationalising Israeli retaliation by using headlines such as “Israel steps up air strikes on Gaza” must therefore be questioned. Such statements are rarely assisted by a balanced headline referring to strikes into Israel, thus impressionistic and outraged readers are an unfortunate inevitability. In recent discussion with an Israeli, it was interesting to hear also that Israel have taken in over 700 Syrian rebels to treat medically free-of-charge. (Yet again no mention in the West). After such use of Israel’s civilised and advanced facilities and practitioners, Syrians find themself shocked at the kindness which so contradicts the fierce propaganda they are subjected to. Hence, it comes as no surprise that they must fear for their lives upon returning from communication with the “evil Jews”. Though judgement of Israel is not so crucial to the West as it is to its neighbours, it does run the risk of eventually finding too many of its citizens meeting misguided and incorrect conclusions of a nation. Additionally, supporting the existence of a civilised democracy in the Middle East can only be advantageous to the world. A democracy which presently holds content citizens, Arab and Jew.
The very fact that stateless ethnic groups such as Tibetans and Kurds rarely prompt the detestation towards China/Iraq from the West, which Israel receives regarding Palestine, points to a disturbing enthusiasm for hating one nation. Furthermore, whilst we must not silence debate by using accusations of anti-Semitism and racism, it is interesting to note the immense outrage directed not at the Israeli government, but the whole nation. A nation of which now holds the highest core Jewish population (6.6 million) than any other nation in the world.
Similarly, movements such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), of whom are gaining support as the anti-Israel hysteria gains momentum, hold no credible ground. Regularly listing successful firms (such as Starbucks, McDonalds, Coca Cola, Victoria’s Secret and Estee Lauder) with any slight connection to Israel for their loyal supporters to boycott is certainly petty and discriminatory. Following Syria’s condemnable acts towards its citizens, 9 million of which have now fled their homes due to the situation, an expansion of divestment to Syrian businesses would have been feasible. Assuredly, this never arose. Despite Israel typically flourishing with more enterprise and high-tech advances than other Middle Eastern nations, one would assume that outrage towards Syria, or other violent governments Iran and Sudan, might be displayed in a similar manner. The strange lack of any boycotting movement arising against genuine aggressors suggests more than an upset anti-Zionist feeling, but an inappropriate hatred of Israel.
The path to peace is complicated and involves a vacuuming of intense feelings and extremism on both sides. For this to occur, the West should reevaluate its influence and important example it can play to both allies and fellow people of the world. Manufacturing outrage and promoting ignorance and malignity should never be deemed credible in a civilised democracy; something which should prioritise balanced debate over needless sensationalism and illiberal discrimination against one nationality’s business interests. What is not complicated for the West, however, is the certain fact that there is always balanced debate to be had.