THE JEWISH STORY IS UNIQUE — AND SO IS THE JEWISH STATE
There is no 1:1 comparison for world conflicts. No conflict or war is identical to another. It feels absurd to even have to say this. But there is no perfect analogy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — or any conflict. They all have unique characteristics. It’s reductive, ahistorical, and simplistic to claim one conflict is exactly like another.
The Jewish story is particularly unique. This doesn’t mean we are better. It just means we are different. No minority in history has been persecuted as long as we have been. No minority has been persecuted in as many places as we have been, or by as many groups. No other minority in history — a minority that constitutes 0.2 percent of the world population — has had its foundational text appropriated so widely that it now forms the basis for the two largest world religions.
What makes Jews unique is what makes Israel unique, too, and by extension, this makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unique as well. There is no other case in the world in which a minority which was largely displaced and subjugated for 2000 years has retained its sovereignty over its ancestral land. No other case like it exists. So anyone that is trying to sell you the idea that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is identical to the United States’ treatment of Native Americans, for example, or that the establishment of Israel is identical to the colonization of what is now the United States, is not only lying to you but trying to sell you something.
The region that now constitutes Israel and the Palestinian Territories has suffered layer upon layer of imperialism and colonization over thousands of years under a plethora of different empires. To assume that you could even begin to understand the conflict or the region because you’ve heard a few familiar key phrases is laughable.
"Listen, the Palestinians are always coming here and saying to me, 'You expelled the French and the Americans. How do we expel the Jews?' I tell them that the French went back to France and the Americans to America. But the Jews have nowhere to go. You will not expel them."
Võ Nguyên Giáp
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ANTI-ZIONIST PROPAGANDA EXPLOITING WESTERN IGNORANCE (PART ONE)
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union, which claimed to be anti-imperialist, sponsored a number of anti-colonial movements from Africa to Asia to Latin America with the purpose of expanding their imperial sphere of influence. In other words, the Soviet Union sponsored and influenced numerous anti-colonial movements not out of commitment to decolonization — the Soviet Union was, after all, a huge empire itself — but rather, to pursue its own imperial geopolitical goals.
The Soviets even launched a covert operation against Israel, named Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, meaning “Zionist Governments.” According to KGB chairman Yuri Andropov (1967-1982), “We had only to keep repeating our themes—that the United States and Israel were ‘fascist, imperial-Zionist countries’ bankrolled by rich Jews.’”
In 1964, the Soviet-allied Arab League created the Palestine Liberation Organization in Moscow. As explained above, during this period, the Soviet Union was in the business of sponsoring Indigenous, anti-colonial, and other Marxist liberation movements to expand its sphere of influence. Given that Israel was both the only democratic nation in the Middle East and was quickly drawing closer to many Western powers, the Soviet Union had a vested interest in destabilizing the small nation. As such, in 1964, the Soviet Union latched onto the PLO, so much so that its original charter was drafted in Moscow by 422 KGB-approved Palestinian representatives.
Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the PLO from 1969 to 2004, was placed under the tutelage of chief of Romanian intelligence and KGB officer Ion Mihai Pacepa. Pacepa also introduced Arafat to Võ Nguyên Giáp (1911-2013), a Vietnamese general and communist politician who is largely regarded as one of the best military strategists in history.
Frustrated by the lack of success of the Palestinian cause, Arafat heeded the advice of Giáp: "…stop talking about annihilating Israel and instead turn your [Arafat's] terror war into a struggle for human rights."
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ANTI-ZIONIST PROPAGANDA EXPLOITING WESTERN IGNORANCE (PART TWO)
Heeding Giáp’s advice, from the 1970s on, the Palestinian movement began reaching out to other marginalized minorities around the world. This, of course, is not inherently a bad thing; the problem is that instead of reaching out out of genuine solidarity, Arafat and other Palestinian leaders exploited groups’ lack of knowledge about the historical dynamics of the Middle East. For instance, they began drawing false equivalencies between the Native American experience and the Palestinian struggle, or the Black liberation movement and the Palestinian struggle.
To this day, many in the pro-Palestine movement connect with other groups not through identifying solely with the experience of marginalization, but also by peddling antisemitic conspiracies to allege that they all have a common oppressor: the Jewish State. The most obvious recent example of this is the Deadly Exchange conspiracy, which alleges that police brutality in the United States is a result of Israel training American police (this post has nothing to do with the Deadly Exchange, but I will post a couple links in the caption explaining why this allegation is both untrue and antisemitic).
Another example of this are posts such as this one:
WESTERN CENTRISM AND AMERICENTRISM
Western-centrism, also known as Eurocentrism, is a worldview that is centered on the western world; in other words, you are viewing the world from a “western” or European lens.
Americentrism is the conscious or subconscious tendency to judge other cultures by American standards. In other words, you are viewing the world from a United States-centric perspective, rather than understanding that different contexts exist in different areas of the world.
A glaring example of this is the lack of understanding or even basic acknowledgment of antisemitism in the Arab and Muslim worlds. The fact that Muslims and Arabs experience marginalization and oppression in North America or Europe does not take away from the fact that in the wider Middle East, for example, Muslims and Arabs not only hold systemic power, but Islam has also been (mis)used historically as a tool to oppress Jews.
To this day Jews are gaslit about the oppression that we experienced at the hands of the Arab Empire(s). This ranges from the ahistorical claim that “everyone got along in Palestine before 1948,” that Jews were “treated well” in Muslim countries, or that the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Arab world either “didn’t happen” or was actually the fault of the “Zionists.”
The idea that the exact same racial, religious, and power dynamics exist in Israel and the United States, for example, is not only ahistorical but glaringly Americentric.
PROJECTING WESTERN/WHITE SINS ONTO THE JEWISH STATE
Antisemitism is a bigotry of projection. For 2000 years, beginning with the crucifixion of Jesus and the antisemitic conspiracy of deicide, antisemites have projected their worst sins onto the Jewish people. They have also projected their biggest hatreds onto the Jewish people, even when — especially when — the projection is unwarranted.
Antisemitism is a mutating virus, and Jews have, historically, been the world’s scapegoat. As such, antisemitism turns Jews into whatever it is that any given society hates the most.
In Medieval Europe, Jews were Christ-killers. Post-French Revolution, when statelessness was cause for suspicion, Jews were bad because we were stateless. Now, we are bad because we have a state. In Nazi Germany, Jews were racially impure. In the Soviet Union, Jews were capitalists. In McCarthyist America, Jews were communists.
Today, in social justice circles, Jews are colonizers, and the Jewish state is a western imperial outpost in the Middle East. Anything at all that social justice activists hate — racism, police brutality, slavery, apartheid, genocide, colonialism — is projected onto Jews or the State of Israel.
Understandably, many social justice activists in the west feel guilt about their ancestors’ sins — in particular, colonialism. So they project this guilt onto the Jewish state, even though there’s virtually nothing in common between English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese colonialism and the re-establishment of the Jewish state (see next slide). They see the Palestinian cause as a way to prevent their ancestors’ sins in real time. Ironically, many of these people live in settler-colonial states themselves. Instead of unpacking that, though, they project their guilt onto a conflict half a world away.
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