By Jan Shure
January 12, 2009
I can't prove this - though I suspect that one of the Middle East monitoring organisations has some statistics - but I have a strong suspicion that the Israel-Palestine conflict generates more shturm and drang among the non-involved than any other world issue. And, lest you think I mean on Israel's side, I do not. I mean the members of the general populace, the chattering classes, who have no connection either by birth or residence to the region yet - with a handful of notable exceptions - are stirred to virulent anti-Israel rhetoric whenever there is any flare-up in the region.
This anti-Israel sentiment manifests itself in calls to radio phone-ins, letters to newspapers, advertisements signed by academics, medics and lawyers, and in demonstrations whose slogans frequently deny Israel's right to exist.
But, where, I wonder is this passion, and where are the letters, calls to phone-ins and raised voices for the victims of other conflicts across the world - for Tibet, Burma, Somalia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Congo. And where were the campaigns, demonstrations and marches across London during the Rwandan genocide, or when Serbs where carrying out ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.
If there were voices and demos, they were certainly muted, and received little coverage in the British press. No, it seems the indignation and hate-spewing; the slogans like "we are all Hamas now" are saved up for the Jewish state. And you don't have to be especially paranoid to wonder whether the fact that it is the Jewish state contributes to the widespread protests at Israel's actions.
It is, of course, easy to attribute all and any anti-Israeli sentiment to anti-Semitism, but the level and intensity of the campaign, and the sheer numbers of "non involved" prepared to come out on the streets, sign letters and call up radio stations compared with their relative lack of interest in other world issues where there is far less justification for a state's actions, does leave me with the uneasy feeling that the link between "Israel" and "Jewish" is the defining factor in the protests.