What I am about to write may create problems among some of my Jewish and Muslim friends, but here it goes. In this post I will compare the right wing of the Israeli government with Islamic extremists. A controversial comparison, so let me start by qualifying it. I know the analogy may not be valid because as aggressive as the Israeli right wingers have been, the damage that they have caused is very small in comparison to what Islamic extremists have done. During the last 2 decades the Israeli army has killed around five thousand Palestinians and Lebanese in 3 short wars. Islamic extremists however, have killed over half a million people in Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, USA, EU and other nations. But putting aside the 100x order of magnitude of the killings by Islamic extremists, whose victims are mostly other Muslims, and also the fact that even if Palestinians and Israelis signed a peace treaty we can be sure that Muslim to Muslim killings would continue, what I want to point out is that moderate Jews and moderate Muslims of the diaspora are victims of a similar prejudice. A prejudice so strong that I would call it racism (antisemitism and islamophobia). The issue can be summarized as follows: regardless of the fact that you may be a Muslim horrified by the violence of Islamic State, Al Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, Charlie Hebdo, or some Arab dictator’s killings, or a Jew horrified by the civilian casualties in Gaza and Lebanon, many others will think that you don't condemn the violence, or worse, that you are part of the violence. I have felt this in antisemitic remarks that I have received while living in Spain. If in doubt google "varsavsky judio". And this is wrong. If you cluster moderates with extremists you help extremists. If you believe that all Muslims support violence or all Jews support violence you help violence. I am Jewish, but I am opposed to more settlements in the West Bank, I am opposed to the last invasion of Lebanon and the last two Gaza wars. I do understand that Hamas and Hezbollah would wipe out Israel if they could, I also understand that Israel is at war with Iran via these terrorist organizations, but I see so visibly that they can’t succeed, that using excessive violence against civilians in their midst is not the answer. But what I think is irrelevant, I suffer from guilt by association, especially in Europe. When Israel kills children playing at a beach in Gaza it is not a good time to be a Jew in Europe. Indeed antisemitic incidents rose by a factor of 5 in the UK during the last Gaza war. And when Islamists kill the editorial team of Charlie Hebdo it is not a good time to be a Muslim in Europe either. As a result I believe that the moderate Muslims of the diaspora and the moderate Jews of the diaspora share a similar threat. Just like the actions of Islamic extremists are making the life of most Muslims harder, the actions of the Netanyahu government have contributed to antisemitism outside of Israel. This is in part as a result of prejudice which clusters all Jews in one bag, as if being Jewish means automatic support for the Gaza operation. But also in part because the violence that Israel has used has been undoubtedly excessive. So much so that now even Israel US relations, Obaman Netanyahu relations, are at an all time low. Lastly even though it is true that Israel has been at war with Hamas and not with Al Fatah, the continuation of settlements in the West Bank is a clear indication from the right wing government of Israel, that no matter what you do if you are a Palestinian you will not get your country. And that is wrong. Israel has to show that it is willing to negotiate with moderate Palestinians, otherwise it will help all Palestinians to join Hamas. Having said this I think that the biggest threat all of us now face in Europe is the rise of radical Islam which for the first time it’s governing a new country the size of Belgium and is both receiving fighters from Europe and sending fighters to Europe. It is time for the vast majority of the people from all walks of life to unite against this threat.
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