Empathizing with Gaza Does NOT Make Me Anti-Semitic, Nor Pro-Hamas or Anti-Israel. It Makes Me human.
By David Harris-Gershon / tikkun.org
Jul 29, 2014

On the ground in Gaza, Israel’s war against Hamas has been devastating. Online and in the public sphere, a different sort of war has been taking place – a broad initiative to delegitimize those who raise questions about and critique Israel’s actions.

This initiative is being carried out both by so-called ‘pro-Israel’ individuals as well as student volunteers enlisted by Israel’s government in its ‘social media war.’ The result: those who merely express empathy for the suffering in Gaza, where over 800 people have been killed and 5,000 injured, are tainted as anti-Semitic or pro-Hamas, and those who offer dissenting opinions are labelled as enemies who seek Israel’s destruction.

The goal is to shut down dialogue and debate, something Jon Stewart nailed in a recent bit in which he attempts to discuss Israel, only to be shouted down as a self-hating Jew. It is not a new phenomenon or initiative, though it has become much more intense and widespread as emotions run high over the ongoing violence in Gaza and continued rocket attacks in Israel.

It seems to be affecting everyone who publicly offers critical opinions about Israel’s Gaza offensive, whether celebrities,journalists or anonymous individuals.

The horrible irony is that, as propagandists try to defame dissenters by slandering them as anti-Semitic, thus diluting its meaning, real anti-Semitism is rearing its head in Europe. Anti-semitism is still a real danger, and that danger is being made graver by those who are participating in this online initiative to falsely tar concerned voices as enemies of Israel.

–§–

In the past three weeks, I have been targeted countless times with such accusations, both on Twitter and in comments to my articles. Yesterday, it reached such heights, with my views being distorted beyond recognition, that I wascompelled to Tweet out the following three statements, to which the response was overwhelming:

The response to these statements were so strong, in part, because of the vast numbers of people who have been on the receiving end of similar attacks. And that’s outside of Israel. Within it, as Etgar Keret writes today in The New Yorker, efforts to silence and delegitimize dissenting voices on Gaza are intense in a society which overwhelmingly supports the military operation.

In the end, such attacks are not personal. In fact, they usually don’t even have much to do with the person being targeted. Instead, such incidents are really just efforts to dehumanize Palestinians and undermine their status as victims in a zero sum game.

I’m just the vehicle. We all are. But like many, I refuse to play this zero-sum game, in which one can be on only one side. Indeed, there is a ‘third way.’ A way to be invested in and care about both sides, viewing the conflict as one in which both sides can win.

Or lose.

My hope is that, in the end, it will be the former. And that’s why I write.


David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.

Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.

4.3 ·
4

Support Films For Action

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information we need to help create a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

We receive no government or corporate funding and rely on our supporters to keep us going. Donate today.

Trending Today
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga22,633 views today ·
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine7,460 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min2,130 views today ·
The Mobilizing Passions of Fascism (2017)
26 min2,036 views today ·
Gabor Mate: Toxic Culture - How Materialistic Society Makes Us Ill
30 min1,987 views today ·
10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn't Learn About In History class
Kathleen Harris1,464 views today ·
How Romanticism Ruined Love
5 min1,373 views today ·
Sent to Haiti to keep the peace, departing UN troops leave a damaged nation in their wake
Siobhán Wills, Cahal McLaughlin, and Ilionor Louis937 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick839 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
Empathizing with Gaza Does NOT Make Me Anti-Semitic, Nor Pro-Hamas or Anti-Israel. It Makes Me human.