Let’s get one thing straight. Addressing a systemic issue within a society is not the same thing as painting everyone in a given society with a broad brush. For example: there is a deep systemic issue in the United States regarding g*n violence. When I make that claim, I am not saying that 100 percent of Americans support g*n violence. In fact, as of 2021, 65 percent of Americans favored stricter g*n laws. But that doesn’t take away the fact that g*n violence is a serious, deadly systemic issue in the United States, an issue that needs to be addressed because it’s costing real lives.
Trauma-informed bias is certainly real. But trauma-informed bias is zero excuse to perpetuate violence against another group of people. If that were the case, Jews would have a free reign to perpetuate violence against an enormous list of people, including Palestinians. Trauma-informed bias is also not an excuse to perpetuate 2000-year-old antisemitic tropes. As the saying goes: your trauma is not your fault, but your behavior is your responsibility.
Antisemitism is systemic and deeply institutionalized in much of the world. This is also true of the Arab world. There is a reason why Arab-majority countries expelled nearly 100 percent of their Jewish populations between the 1940s and 1970s. To think that Palestine, which is predominantly and culturally Arab, is somehow exempt from this systemic antisemitism is absurd. 75 years of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and 56 years of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank do not somehow undo over 1000 years’ worth of systemic institutionalized antisemitism in the Arab world. Do Israeli actions exacerbate this prejudice? Absolutely. But when Palestinian media, textbooks, government officials, official legislation, and more perpetuate 2000-year-old antisemitic tropes, we have to be honest that this is an issue.
To put it plainly: antisemitism kills. Antisemitic tropes and conspiracies kill. Not just Israeli Jews — who constitute about half of the world’s Jewish population — but Jews in the Diaspora, as well. When violence flares between Israel-Palestine, statistically, attacks against Jews in the Diaspora skyrocket. Of course not all Palestinians are antisemitic! But systemic issues transcend individual people. This is not about any given individual. This is about a societal problem that should be addressed, because it costs lives. We are allowed to speak openly about the bigotry that hurts us. Stop gaslighting us.
ANTISEMITISM IS NOT A TRAUMA RESPONSE
If trauma gave you permission to be a bigot, Jews would have permission to be bigoted toward almost every people on earth, given that we’ve been oppressed by a list of people so long you wouldn’t be able to fit it into this post.
Was it a trauma response when, in the seventh century, the Arab conquerors in the Land of Israel relegated Jews to second-class citizenship? Was it a trauma response when, in 1012, Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah expelled Jews from Palestine? Was it a trauma response when, in 1517, 1660, 1834, and 1838, Arabs slaughtered, r*ped, dispossessed, and maimed their Jewish neighbors in the cities of Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias?
Describing the 1517 Hebron pogrom, a local Jew, Japheth ben Manasseh, described how local Jews were r*ped, beaten, and killed. He wrote: “In the seventh month, on the holiday of Succoth in 1517, the cruel tyrant; the Wrath of the Holy One Be He, Murad Bey, deputy of the Sultan and ruler of Jerusalem, decided in his heart to take out his fury on the Jews in his city and those living in Hebron. And he said 'I will take booty from them and take the Jews in the two cities captive so long as they have the power to see me.' And he carried out his decree.” Was that a “trauma response” to the Israeli occupation?
Describing the 1838 pogrom, a Jewish doctor wrote: “We huddled together in Rebbe Avraham Dov's house...The women were hysterical and the children crying. The Rebbe asked me to write a note in Arabic to the mayor, pleading with him not to forsake us in this desperate time. I did so, but his answer was mere lip service...” Was that a “trauma response” to the Israeli occupation?
ANTISEMITISM IS NOT A SYMPTOM
Antisemitism is a 2500-year-old bigotry. It’s not a “symptom” of the Israeli occupation. It’s the root cause of the conflict.
While the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip certainly exacerbate the issue, antisemitism is the reason that the Arab leadership in Palestine, repeatedly, refused a binational state in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s the reason that they, repeatedly, refused anything that would grant Jews any sort of autonomy.
Was it a “symptom” of the Israeli occupation when the Arab leadership in Palestine instigated a pogrom against the ancient Jewish community of Jerusalem in 1920? Was it a “symptom” of the Israeli occupation when Arabs massacred their Jewish neighbors in Hebron and Safed in 1929? In Jaffa in 1936? In Tiberias in 1938?
Was it a “symptom” of the Israeli occupation when virtually entire the Arab leadership in Palestine not only allied with the N*zis, but also trained with them? Haj Amin Al-Husseini, Akram Zuaiter, Jamal Hussein, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, Mu’in al-Madi, Amin Tamimi, Abd al-Qader al-Husseini…the list goes on and on. Was it a “symptom” of the Israeli occupation when moderate, non-antisemitic members of the Arab Higher Committee were outcast from Palestinian nationalism?
Was it a “symptom” of the Israeli occupation when the Arab Higher Committee threatened to exterm!nate the Jewish population in Palestine in 1947? They promised to, in writing. In a pamphlet, they wrote: “The Arabs have taken the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.” Was their genocidal threat a “symptom”?
ANTISEMITISM IS NOT RESISTANCE
I don’t know how many times we have to go over this. I despise Holocaust comparisons, but here is one: during the Holocaust, the Jewish resistance did not target random German civilians, including children. Targeting civilians is a war crime. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will listen to international law:
In 1998, the United Nations made its stance on war crimes crystal-clear when it drafted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;
- Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;
- Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;
- Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities.
- Taking of hostages;
Palestinian militants have repeatedly violated every single one of these points.
In Resolution 49/60, the United Nations describes terrorism as the following: “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.” To reiterate: terrorism is “in any circumstance unjustifiable.”
Resolution 1566, adopted in 2004, describes terrorism as the following: “Criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”
ANTISEMITISM IS NOT THE ONLY OPTION
Antisemitism is not the “only option” for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
In 1939, the Palestinian Arab leadership rejected a binational, Arab-majority state because the plan did not call for the expulsion of Jews from Palestine. Was that the “only option”?
In 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine offered to hear the Arab leadership out regarding what they wanted for Palestine. Instead, the Arab leadership boycotted the committee and threatened Arabs with death if they were found meeting with the investigators. Was that the “only option”?
In 1947, the United Nations, after meeting only with the Jewish leadership because the Arab leadership had boycotted them, voted in favor of partitioning Palestine into one Jewish and one Arab state. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs didn’t. Instead, Arab leadership threatened g3nocide. To quote Azzam Pasha, the General Secretary of the Arab League: “Personally I hope the Jews do not force us into this war because it will be a dangerous massacre which history will record similarly to the Mongol massacre or the wars of the Crusades…We will sweep [the Jews] into the sea.” Was that the “only option”?
In the very immediate aftermath of the 1948 war, Israel offered to absorb 100,000 Palestinian refugees, even while drowning in debt and struggling to absorb about a million Jewish refugees, about half of them being Jewish refugees expelled from Arab nations, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Arabs rejected the offer. Was that the “only option”?
Over 10 different solutions to the conflict have been put on the table since 1993, solutions that would grant Palestinians a sovereign state. All of them have been rejected. Was that the “only option”?
In 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip. Palestinians responded by destroying the Israeli infrastructure left behind and launching an endless barrage of missiles onto Israeli civilians, all of this before Israel and Egypt enacted their blockade. Were those missiles the “only option”?
ANTISEMITISM IS NOT THE ONLY WAY OUT
When I recently spoke of the Palestinian recruitment of child soldiers, someone argued with me that Palestinian children feel so hopeless given their situation that martyrdom seems like the only possible way out. While I don’t doubt that living under blockade or military occupation — as well as under the corrupt and oppressive leadership of the Palestinian Authority and H*mas — surely makes children feel hopeless, such a statement is a disgusting way to take accountability from the adults that recruit children for military operations, which is not only a war crime but a crime against humanity.
This law applies both to state armed forces and non-state armed forces; in other words, Palestinian groups cannot claim innocence for using children in combat under the guise that their paramilitary groups are not acting on behalf of a sovereign nation.
In 2005, Amnesty International — generally quite hostile to Israel — stated: “Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly shown total disregard for the most fundamental human rights, notably the right to life, by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and by using Palestinian children in armed attacks.”
The recruitment of minors for combat by Palestinian militants dates back to the final years of the Ottoman occupation of Palestine (1517-1917). Youths were at the forefront of the opposition against Jewish immigration, and an attitude developed that children had a “duty to sacrifice themselves.” Was that the “only way out”?
During the infamous 1929 Hebron Massacre, when 69 Jews were murdered and the most ancient continuous Jewish community in Palestine was decimated, Arab youths instigated the violence. Was that the “only way out”?
In the 1930s, the powerful Husseini family founded the Palestinian Arab Party, modelled after the N*zi Party in Germany. Inspired by the Hi!tler Youth, the party created a N*zi-like scout group named “Al-Futuwwa.” Was that the “only way out”?
During the Second Intifada (2000-2005), at least nine children carried out suicide bombings against Israelis. Was that the “only way out”? In 2000, the then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Ekrima Sa'id Sabri made a statement in support of suicide attacks carried out by children: “The younger the martyr, the more I respect him.” Was that the “only way out”?
Stop washing responsibility off exploitative, deeply bigoted adults.
ANTISEMITISM IS NOT "JUST" ANTI-ZIONISM
I will not get into the issue of whether anti-Zionism is always antisemitism, because that’s not the point of this slide. Please do not derail the comments.
But I will tell you what is not “just” anti-Zionism: claiming there is no such thing as Israeli civilians and that every Israeli Jew is fair game, which is no more than a thinly-veiled euphemism to justify the genocide of half of the world’s Jews. Distorting or erasing 3000 years of continuous Jewish history, especially history that is extensively corroborated and recorded. Denying Jews our legal right to self-determination. “Criticizing” Israel or Israelis by projecting ancient antisemitic tropes onto the Jewish state. The tokenization of Jews with fringe opinions unrepresentative of the community to justify your bigoted positions. Murdering civilians. Attacking Jews for the real or perceived ills of the Israeli government. Speaking over the Jewish community on what our identity is or isn’t. Holding Israel, Israelis, or Jews to impossible and often blatant double standards. Quoting from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a virulently antisemitic text that inspired the N*zis, in your national covenant. Promising that not a single Jew will be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state. Holocaust denial or distortion. Encouraging children to “ann!hilate” the Jews in your children’s television shows. Putting on firework displays and handing out candy when Jews are murdered. Paying your citizens and their families 3x the average Palestinian wage as a reward for murd3ring Jews. Scapegoating Israel or Israelis for every issue on earth. Appropriating Jewish history when you are not Jewish and as such it is not yours to claim. Advocating for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state (for context, 15 countries list Christianity as their state religion and 27 countries that list Islam as their state religion, yet no one advocates for their destruction. Israel does not have an official state religion, because the Jewish People are a nation).
The list goes on and on and on.
ANTISEMITISM IS NOT UNIQUE
Antisemitism is not an issue unique to Palestinian society. Antisemitism is foundational to virtually every Christian and Muslim society, which is most societies in the world. In the Arab world, Jews are heavily oppressed, disenfranchised, and persecuted, to this day. Sure, between Israel and Palestine, power dynamics have shifted, but a 1000+ year old systemic bigotry does not suddenly disappear after 75 years of Israeli statehood.
We also have to be honest: the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is not merely a localized conflict. There are many international actors involved, most notably, Iran and Qatar, which overwhelmingly sustain Palestinian paramilitary organizations. Palestinians, being culturally Arab and a part of the Arab world, consume Arab media, which is notoriously antisemitic. All of these factors shape the situation on the ground.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, 93 percent of Palestinians harbor predominantly antisemitic attitudes. People have criticized the methodology, though personally I find those critiques laughable (for example: one of the criticisms was that antisemitic posts posted to social media by Palestinian teenagers were a case of “teenagers being teenagers” rather than actual antisemitism).
The animosity with Israel surely exacerbates these antisemitic attitudes; however, antisemitic tropes are thousands of years old and people are learning them somewhere: from their parents, who learned it from their parents, who learned it from their parents. From social media. From the media. From school textbooks. We have to be willing to address this — and many other things — for there to be real change.
Over the past 3 years, I have made countless posts about antisemitism in other societies. This is not unique, nor am I singling out Palestinians. I know this is an emotional situation for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that Jews should just accept the bigotry that has gotten us murdered for the past 2500 years. It doesn’t matter where or who it comes from: antisemitism kills.
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