Why does everyone seem to hate Israel?

Benjamin Netanyahu is not the
most popular man in the world
When it comes to politics and world events, I can generally classify my friends into one of two camps.

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.


Michael. said…
Good question Dylan, glad you asked it.
Unfortunately most people lack the self awareness to ask themselves that question (they just follow the crowd without thinking) or have the courage to answer it honestly and in public!
So here’s my take on it, in public.
From my perspective the answer is quite simple in principle, yet complex if you want the details; so I’ll just stick to the simple answer. For those of you who want the more complex answer read your Bible.
The Jews (Israel) are God’s chosen people. Those who despise the God of Israel also despise Israel and they substitute the one and only true God for either a satanic substitute or they believe themselves to be masters of their own destiny (I was in that category once myself).
John 10:10(a) records the words of Jesus “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” so we can discern who is the substitute by the fact there’s death and destruction. The other part of John 10:10(b) where Jesus states “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” is the complete opposite.
So we have a broad group of people following a false god. Therefore death and destruction are in their hearts and minds; often individually but also nationally in the case of those countries wishing to completely destroy Israel.
The other important fact is that Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus is given many names, one of them is Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah and therefore also rejected His peace. The peace Jesus offers in this world is only in our hearts (Jesus told us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”), as real peace will only be experienced in the next life when God creates the new heavens and the new Earth restoring all things (no sin) to how He originally created them.
Another key scripture is Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”. The first half of this verse is quite easy for anyone to understand, however those who may not be familiar with the Bible may not realise that the second half refers to Jesus throw Abraham’s line.
Although this is quite simplistic I think it covers the fundamentals.
And just so there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind; I am a follower of Jesus who is the Christ. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. One day everyone will acknowledge Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. I do so willingly out of gratitude for His willingness to take the punishment I rightfully deserve for my sins thereby freeing me not only from the punishment but also from the guilt. And living free of guilt is peace and freedom indeed. I love the words of Jesus when He says “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

Michael Foulds
Steve Garner said…
Here are two thoughts.

In the 1960s and 1970s the USA supported Israel and the Soviet Block supported the Arabs. Those people with a left wing persuasion, as a default position, opposed Israel and supported left wing regimes. Until recently, those on the left of politics made more noise than the right, remember “the silent majority”? Thus with a continual background noise if “Israel bad, Arab good” people grew to accept that stance as correct without thinking through the issues.

The second idea runs like this. We demand higher standards from those like us than from those less fortunate than us. So we expected better from white ruled South Africa than black ruled Zimbabwe. We expect our refugee policy to be better than from Malaysia’s. As Israel is “white” with a religion we understand and so similar to us, we expect better from them than “brown” Arabs with a strange religion.