There is something disingenuous about today's anti-Israel sentiment
Of course Israel is a big problem in the Middle East, particularly for the beleaguered Palestinians. But today, there is sometimes something disingenuous about anti-Israel sentiment. Many disparate groups - from British Muslim organisations to the anti-capitalist movement - have oriented themselves around the Palestinian question, taking every opportunity to have a go at Israel.
Often this is driven by an understandable sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians. But the strength of feeling against Israel among so many diverse groups in the West, and the sudden sentiment that we're all Palestinians now, reveals more about us in Europe and America than it does about events in the Middle East. Sympathising with the Palestinian cause seems to be more the result of the widespread politics of victimhood, with many in the West wishing to empathise and emote with the world's 'ultimate victims'.
This kind of anti-Israel rhetoric is cheap - with protesters challenging Israel's unapologetic violence against the Palestinians, rather than asking awkward questions of Blair's foreign policy or the confused and confusing war on terror. Ariel Sharon has become the punchbag of the anti-war movement - the easy target 'mass murderer' who everybody loves to hate.
And often, criticising Israel for being vulgar and violent sits perfectly well with calling for further intervention in Middle Eastern affairs - which is the last thing either Israelis or Palestinians need, after decades of British and US meddling.
'If we need a war against anyone, it's Israel', said one speaker. Others pointed out that Israel has ignored every UN resolution going, that it has far more weapons of mass destruction than Iraq, and that Ariel Sharon has killed more Palestinians than Saddam has killed Kurds. 'We should focus on Israel, not on a piss-poor country like Iraq', said James from Liverpool. 'We should weapons inspect the Israelis, not the Iraqis - though we'd find the same in both cases: weapons from America.'
Anti-Israel sentiment has little to do with demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East, and more to do with calling for Britain and America to 'sort out Sharon'. Many seemed keen to convince Bush and Blair that they should focus their efforts on 'stopping Israeli violence' and 'ending the Israeli occupation', instead of bombing Baghdad
Note: this is an extract from an article about the anti-war protests recently held in Great Brittain. I have put the Israeli portion of the article at this site. For the full article and source, see url