Yaakov Katz

You can’t blame all opposition to the Gaza war on antisemitism

Yes, these is bias against Israel. But the Jewish state must take responsibility for its errors


Anti-Israel protesters occupy space at an entrance to Hamilton Hall at Columbia University (Photo: Getty)

May 06, 2024 09:56

The pro-Hamas protests at American college campuses over the last few weeks have served as a stark reminder of how antisemitism continues to thrive in the West.  It was not surprising that these protests – especially among young people –  took place and they served as an illustration of the well-known double standard applied to the State of Israel.

This sentiment was articulated in a long post published by Israel’s former prime minister Naftali Bennett on X. Listing some of the previous conflicts over the past 50 years – Syria, Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan – Bennett asked what made the Gaza war so unique that it has sparked such outrage.

“Because it’s Israel, the only Jewish state on earth. It’s the Jews,” he answered, adding later that “this wave of Israel-hate is simply a new incarnation of good old antisemitism.”

Bennett is partially right. Yes, the world is antisemitic and yes there is an extreme double standard in the way the world judges Israel.

But, what the former prime minister failed to mention in his long post were the severe flaws in Israeli policies ahead of the war (some of which he was responsible), the strategy the country has outlined for the way it has managed the war and even the tactical way the war has been prosecuted by the IDF since the ground offensive began about six months ago.

Israel’s refusal, for example, from the beginning of the conflict to outline a “day after” plan and explain that the defeat of Hamas is needed to pave a path to normalisation in the region, has not done the country any favours. Instead, the world has heard only slogans like “complete victory” and “destroy Hamas” without any articulation of what comes next.

The reason this has not happened is because of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear that if he articulates a “day after” plan that wil– need to include the Palestinian Authority, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich will pull out of the government and he will lose his coalition.

A different government without these two far-right politicians could have articulated a plan. It would not have stopped useful idiots and antisemites from protesting at Columbia University, but it probably would have changed the world’s overall tone toward Israel.

This is without even getting into the way Israel decided to contain Hamas and – in some cases – even strengthen it at a time that it could have weakened the Gaza-based terrorist group. Bennett was part of that misconception and followed the Netanyahu containment policy when he became prime minister in 2021, allowing Palestinians from Gaza into Israel to work, keeping the Qatari money flowing to Hamas and balking – like Netanyahu before him – from ordering the IDF to eliminate Hamas’s leadership when it had the chance.

So, again – is the world biased against Israel? 100 per cent. Is there antisemitism? Of course.

But antisemitism cannot be blamed for everything. Israelis need to take responsibility for their decisions as well and for how they contributed to the war and the way the world now views the Jewish state. Trying to blame everything on antisemitism will not solve Israel’s problems. It will only lead to more mistakes by the country in the future.

May 06, 2024 09:56

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