“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
~U.S. Constitution, 1st Amendment
Have you ever noticed how frequently criticism against the Israeli government often seems to be conflated with an attack on the Jewish people? I have often expressed criticisms of the Israeli government’s actions which currently is being run by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and his Likud coalition and – frankly – my criticisms of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government are not unlike my criticisms of American President George W. Bush and his government from 2001 to 2009. In January of 2009 – Netanyahu told one of his advisers, “You are familiar with the language of [President Bill] Clinton and you know Obama and [future White House chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel. I am not. You speak Democratic; I speak Republican. Help me to understand them.” And the Republican/Likud vision of the world is something that I can not, will not support – ever.
As an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause – I find it to be the civil rights issue of our time. And despite a lack of balanced media coverage in America – like many Israelis I find the behavior of the Israeli government absolutely unacceptable. I’ve shared this view on our Facebook page – I Acknowledge Class Warfare Exists many times. But being an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause and highlighting Israeli war crimes carries great risk.
In November of 2012 when we were still writing on our website, Israeli nationals took our website down via a Distributed Denial of Service attack. You can read about how we tracked our attackers down with the help of Anonymous HERE. Or you can just read the email exchange from the Israeli who attacked us HERE; he told us that they would take down our website, Facebook and Twitter unless we wrote pro-Israel stories and deleted several stories that were critical of Israel. Naturally – we declined to submit to the will of foreign agents intent on suppressing our free speech.
Now – I happen to know many people who support the Palestinian cause but are afraid to publicly denounce Israeli actions for fear of being called antisemitic. In fact – despite almost never even using the word “Jew”, somehow – when I share a story that’s well documented with pictures or video or from an Israeli news source highlighting the moral failings of the Israeli government – the inevitable knee jerk reaction that I see from so many Americans is to call out “ANTISEMITE!”.
That reminds me so much of my experiences at the height of the Iraq war; it was very common to denounce anyone who would publicly protest a war based on lies as being “unpatriotic”. In short – people were intimidated from following their heart for fear of their own reputations then and people are intimidated from following their heart for fear of their own reputations today. For the record – I support the existence of Israel as its own country’ within the 1967 borders; I will not accept however Israel’s unwillingness to allow for the existence of a Palestinian state.
Coincidentally – while we continued to place Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people front and center among our 149k fans …. our I Acknowledge Class Warfare Facebook page was deleted. Facebook is famous for being impossible to speak to a real person; we were blessed to have many friends with connections and were able to have that reversed within 10 hours. Facebook said that it was a glitch with their “spam filter blocker”. We now have a new FB web address because our old one is impossible to use.
Shortly after that – we decided to create a new page to focus exclusively on the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people. That page’s name is a source of great angst among some pro-Israel readers; we decided to name it “I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists” and you can like that page HERE. Within 5 days – the page has increased to 2,905 fans as of the moment of the writing of this article. In an eerily similar way – the page has been deluged with attacks.
We have had people report our mere existence as hate speech HERE and HERE and HERE and a crowd of pro-Israeli Americans and actual Israelis have swarmed the page to report it. We were even told quite plainly that “an army of Jews” was assembling to remove our page; you can see that message and the corresponding screenshot of images being taken down by FB HERE. That reminded me very clearly of the person who attacked our website who said there were 6,000 volunteers ready to take us down.
I guess I should consider myself lucky – when President Jimmy Carter wrote in a recent book that Israel was an Apartheid state – he was sued for $5 million by dual American-Israel citizens for what they called an attack on Israel. No; I’m not kidding. You can read about that HERE. Because in America – if you criticize Israel … you had better watch your back. And of course there have been many other efforts here in America to block public criticism of Israel like in New York HERE and the time the California Assembly actually passed a resolution that designated criticism of Israel as “antisemitism”. You can seriously read about that HERE.
Regardless of whether or not we can agree on Israel’s status as an Apartheid state; I can not imagine a United States that would so freely try to deny a person’s freedom of speech. It has devolved to the point where any criticism of the Israeli government is now seen as an attack on Judaism. That says more about them than it does about me. I am rather quite fond of my own mother and the rest of my Jewish family; I certainly don’t hold any inner angst towards them for their Jewish blood.
Right now there is a fight for hearts and minds but Americans are starting to figure it out; according to the latest WSJ/NBC poll – American support for Israel is at its lowest point since 1989. In fact a majority of Americans want to see America treat Israel and Palestine the same. Most Americans don’t realize just how unpopular Israel is in the world and not just the Middle East; in the most recent annual BBC poll from 2012 – Israel was tied for the 3rd least popular country in the world beating only Pakistan and Iran (tied with North Korea). The BBC writes:
The most negatively rated countries were, as in previous years, Iran (55% negative), Pakistan (51% negative), and Israel and North Korea (both 50% negative).
In the EU countries surveyed, views of Israeli influence have hardened in Spain (74% negative ratings, up 8 points) and in France (65%, up 9 points)—while positive ratings remain low and steady. Negative ratings from the Germans and the British remain very high and stable (69% and 68%, respectively). In other Anglo-Saxon countries, views have worsened in Australia (65% negative ratings, up 7 points) and in Canada (59%, up 7 points). This hardening of opinion towards Israel’s influence in the world is strongly apparent in
South Korea, where negative views have risen (69%, up 15 points) while positive views have decreased by 11 points (to 20%).
In short – America is Israel’s only true friend in the world. We have stood by her despite her continued violation of UN security council resolutions. Israeli newspaper – Haaretz holds the record for ignoring the UN; more than any country in the world. They write:
Israel leads the list. Since 1968, Israel has violated 32 resolutions that included condemnation or criticism of the governments’ policies and actions. Turkey is in second place, with 24 violations since 1974, and Morocco is third with 17 resolutions it ignored.
At the core of it all – Americans are getting tired of funding Israel’s government to the tune of $3.1 billion a year plus a bunch of undisclosed free stuff which Business Insider calculates to be $10.5 BILLION in American taxpayer handouts to the Israeli government. One thing the majority of Americans do agree on is that we should be spending that $3 to $10 billion a year here in America on Medicare, Social Security and education instead of giving it to a foreign government with deep political ties.