As long as someone’s doing it, I say:
About the crowds on Friday in Paris chanting “Palestine will overcome” and “Israel, assassin”: Where were they a few days earlier when news broke that over the previous weekend Syria’s civil war had produced 720 more dead, adding to the 150,000 others who have not had the honor of demonstrations in France?
Why did the protesters not pour into the streets when, a few days before that, the well-informed Syrian Network for Human Rights revealed that so far this year Damascus’s army, which was supposed to have destroyed its supply of chemical weapons, carried out at least 17 gas attacks around Kafrzyta, Talmanas, Atshan and elsewhere?
[I]f one were primarily concerned about the Palestinian children whose deaths are indeed an abomination—one would demand that Hamas operatives leave the hospital basements where they have buried their command centers, move the rocket launchers that they have installed in the doorways of United Nations schools, and stop threatening parents who wish to evacuate their homes when an Israeli leaflet informs them that a strike is imminent.
Moreover, if alarm about disproportion and asymmetry were the true wellspring of the protesters’ rage, would they not have had at least a passing thought for another disproportion that, not so far from Gaza, now afflicts the most wretched of the wretched, the most defenseless of all, the Christians of Mosul? Hamas’s “brothers” are offering these Iraqis the following ultimatum: Embrace Islam or die by the sword.
The truth is that these protesters—most of them young members of the self-proclaimed “Gaza generation,” for whom the latest in chic is to sport a kaffiyeh made in Palestine—assume it is normal for Arabs to kill other Arabs.
They are also unperturbed upon learning, from the very mouth of the Hamas leadership (Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 41, No. 4), that in 2012 alone the construction of the infamous Gaza tunnels cost the lives of 160 Palestinian children who were turned into little slaves and buried in the rubble.
The oldest of these protesters also missed the chance to mobilize in favor of the 300,000 Darfurians massacred by Sudan; the 200,000 Chechens whom Putin, in his own elegant phrase, “kicked into the crapper” not so long ago; and the Bosnians who were besieged and bombarded to general indifference for three years. The truth is that for these selectively conscientious objectors, indignation arrives only when one has the opportunity to condemn a military consisting mostly of Jews.
The double standard is odious. And it has become increasingly evident across Europe in the past month. Bluntly anti-Semitic slogans have marred most European demonstrations “in support of the people of Gaza.” Residents of Frankfurt and Dortmund were horrified in mid-July to see neo-Nazi groups join hands with left-wing Islamists in a grim chant: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” The center of London was blocked on July 19 by thousands who gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Kensington to shout their hatred for Jews.
Not to mention Amsterdam, the city of Spinoza, Europe’s capital of tolerance, where in certain neighborhoods it has become practically impossible to wear a yarmulke in public without running the risk of being insulted or assaulted.
This much is fact. The author, Bernard Henri-Levi, makes the case persuasively. But there are so many other facts. The protesters were also absent as Hamass and Islamic Jihad (and suchlike jihadist gangs) shelled Israel daily, without reprisal. Contrary to what I heard on NPR this morning, Hamass is looking not merely to lift the blockade on Gaza (imposed as much by Egypt as by Israel), but to annihilate the Jewish state entirely. Their appeals for violence and genocide are ethnic and religious in nature, citing the inevitability of and necessity for Islam to triumph over “the Jews”, as willed by Allah.
And, of course, my favorite fact: there is no Palestine, and never has been. The idea of a Palestinian state came into being only when the Jews reclaimed their land and called it Israel.
One last fact. Israel will find no justice in this world, and surely not in Europe. A few righteous individuals aside, Israel must know that it can win few friends by placating the haters or trying to ingratiate itself to generations of antisemites. Europe is the past of civilization; Israel is likely to be its future.