Why does everyone seem to hate Israel?
Benjamin Netanyahu is not the
most popular man in the world
Firstly, there are my friends who care as much about politics as Britney Spears does about staying classy. If I was to even mention the words “Parliament House” you can pretty much guarantee they will waste no time in asking me, politely of course, to shut up.
Then there are my friends who love nothing more than to embark on a decent political rant. “Fiscal recklessness”, “disgraceful policy decision”, “the numbers aren’t going to go back up,” and other somewhat wanky phrases are often uttered.
These ‘politically passionate’ friends of mine seldom walk the tightrope separating left from right. Usually they’re firmly encamped on one side or the other. This suits them just fine because, these days, there’s a lot to get fired up about.
Australia is fast becoming a country where, if you open your mouth and words come out (as happens far too often on my part), there’s a strong chance that somehow, somewhere, someone will get offended and demand retribution.
Even though I fall into the ‘right’ camp, I normally am pretty good at entertaining alternate points of view. As a former leftie, it’s pretty easy for me to put myself in someone else’s shoes and understand why they’ve reached their decisions.
There is one particular issue that I do not understand though. Try as I might, I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s so fashionable and popular to be anti-Israel.
Last month, 19 protesters were arrested trying to stop people shopping at Max Brenner in Melbourne and Sydney. Their reason? They claim the Jewish-owned franchise supports the Israeli Army.
Seldom does a day go by when ABC site The Drum, or Crikey doesn’t carry a story from someone arguing an anti-Israel position. Furthermore, out of all the countries around the world to boycott goods from, The Greens in Sydney chose to boycott Israel.
Now, I understand that Israel is prone to making some questionable decisions (aren’t we all? See Carney. T.), but out of all the Middle Eastern nations to get fired up about, why is it so many people choose Israel?
I’ll admit, I’m hardly an authority on the Middle East, but Israel appears to be the only strong democracy in the region. It’s one of the only countries in the Middle East where the rights of women are protected. It’s the only country in the region which considers itself an ally of the United States, Britain and Australia.
However, let’s have a look at some of its neighbours: Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran have all, at one point or another, made the case that Israel has no legitimate right to exist. Iran, in fact, has openly pledged to wipe Israel off the map.
Looking further we have Saudi Arabia, where women are stoned for adultery. Gaza, just next door, produced Hamas, a recognised international terrorist group.
And that’s just that region! Let’s take a trip to Africa where in the Sudan or Uganda, child soldiers are thrown into the frontlines of guerrilla conflicts. Further afield we have human rights abuses of remarkable size and scale in Somalia, Niger, Rwanda, Libya and Zimbabwe.
Is Israel really that much worse than the countries I’ve listed above? Yet, the country which attracts almost exclusive condemnation from the so-called politically aware in Australia, is the one Australia has an alliance with: Israel.
Richard Reid is a polarising
figure... like Israel... kind of...
Something else I don’t understand: why is it right wingers tend to love Israel, yet left wingers tend to despise it? I’m trying to work out what conservatives find so attractive that progressives find so abhorrent. Maybe it’s one of those issues like the Today Show’s Richard Reid; you either love him or you hate him (but most people hate him).
I’m almost petrified to pen this article because writing anything that mentions the word ‘Israel’ tends to get people pretty fired up. Everyone seems to have a deeply held opinion that leans towards ‘Israel has a right to exist!’ or ‘Israel is occupying someone else’s land!’ After all, this is the country that one questioner from the ABC’s Q&A program accused of genocide.
So why do Australians get so fired up one way or the other about Israel? I’ve no idea. All I know is that I’m skating on thin ice, because if there’s a topic other than Fabio Grosso’s dive in the 2006 FIFA World Cup to make Australians angry, it’s Israel.