Tuesday, June 18, 2024 -
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The dog isn’t Palestinian

“. . . the impossibility of keeping up a sustained state of feeling for any great length of time upon any subject that doesn’t concern personal welfare.” 

So observed George Kennan in the mid-1890s, commenting how American audiences were losing interest in hearing the “sad and gloomy tales” of the Siberian exiles. Kennan had made it his life’s work to publicize their fate.

Bingo! This passage from Into Siberia expresses a thought I’d been grappling with since the beginning of the year. Why does the anti-Israel movement continue to dominate certain segments of society when no other issue has done so over the last decade? Even the marches following Trump’s election didn’t go on for nearly so long.

As Kennan says, it is extremely difficult to keep up levels of interest for issues far removed. That’s why tragedies like the Syrian Civil War — now into its second decade and costing, on average, 84 lives a day — is ignored.

That’s why the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism includes holding Israel to a standard that other nations are not held to.

Some argue that it is US and other allies’ support for Israel that makes this conflict different. In other words, there is personal involvement. There is some truth to that, but I lived in the UK during the Iraq war, when the UK literally had boots on the ground, and even those protests did not continue for as long as the current anti-Israel protests.

So I’m back to Kennan. If his observation is true, then that means for the anti-Israel activists their personal welfare is at stake. But considering that many of them live privileged lives at elite universities and have little or no connection to Israel, to Palestine, to Arabs or to Jews, what precisely is their personal connection?

The answer, I think, lies in what this movement truly is. It is not, as so much of the mainstream media terms it, “pro-Palestinian.” It is anti-Israel and anti-Zionist. Otherwise, why on Oct. 7 itself was a “pro-Palestinian” rally held at the State Capitol (which State Rep. Tim Hernandez attended)? It wasn’t pro-Palestinian. It was anti-Israel.

From day one there have been anti-Israel activists cheering Hamas on. To be fair, they weren’t the majority. At first, the call was for “ceasefire now.” But now, especially on university campuses, the hatred is open. “Zionists do not deserve to live,” posted a leader of the Columbia encampment on TikTok. Jacob Schmeltz, a Jewish student leader on that campus, told IJNCast that he hears chants of “Burn Tel Aviv to the ground” and that a friend wearing a Magen David was told to “go and kill himself.”

This isn’t “pro-Palestinian.”

After Iran’s unprecedented attack on civilians across Israel, some in Dearborn, Mich., chanted “Death to America.” This, too, isn’t “pro-Palestinian.”

If it is not yet apparent, these anti-Israel protests are not about building up anything — for Palestinians or anyone else. This movement is about ending Zionism, ending a Jewish homeland, forcing Israeli Jews into exile (that is, if they evade the destruction that some of these “protesters” are calling for).

I fear that the rabid anti-Israel activists very much have a dog in the fight. But the dog isn’t Palestinian life — it is seeking the end of Israeli life, the marginalization of Israeli and Diaspora Jewry and, very possibly, the destruction of the American value of individualism.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected].

© IJN 2024

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