The Jerusalem Post
The anti-Americanism of anti-Israel activists
The problem with ignoring incitement and hate speech against specific groups or even nationalities, is that it doesn’t stop there. As we’ve seen throughout history, what starts with discrimination against one group never ends with only that group. Much has already been said about the rise of antisemitism online and in person in recent months, and it’s true that it has grown in part because of the outlandish and incendiary rhetoric on social media about both Israel and Jews. But one phenomenon that many in Gen Z don’t seem to fully grasp is that the same people who are obsessed with hating Israel are also hell-bent on smearing the United States as well – and not just because of the US aid to Israel as many would like to believe.
Almost any place you see aggressive, over-the-top anti-Israel activity, you see it coupled with radical anti-American ideas as well. Even going back to my campus days at the University of Southern California, the most prominent anti-Israel groups were also virulently anti-America, and would rant and rave about how we have to overthrow the economy in order to usher in a socialist (or communist in some cases) revolution. The events hosted on campus by anti-Israel groups like “Students for Justice in Palestine” also featured openly anti-American speakers who made inflammatory and untrue statements about Israel, while also condemning US soldiers – and all of this was in the preTrump era.
Today’s anti-Israel activists are even more extreme. Take for example, Mohammed and Muna El-Kurd, the twins from Sheikh Jarrah with millions of followers on social media who are on a constant international media tour, playing the victim and sharing their sob story about how “evil” Israel is. Yet while the international press is normalizing these activists, a quick glance at their social media will show you not only radical support for terrorism and violence, but also vehement hatred of the United States including celebrating the burning of an American flag in Colombia and whitewashing al-Qaeda. By failing to call out radicalism, we normalize it.
But sadly, the anti-Israel and anti-America voices have also become more mainstream in the government. In the United States, the inaccurate propaganda and the smearing of American allies has been normalized thanks to extremists like Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Yet it still came as a shock to many when this month Omar compared the US and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban, claiming that “all” of them had committed “unthinkable atrocities” – horrific crimes against humanity. Her ignorant comments drew sharp criticism from her fellow Democrats who penned a letter demanding “clarification.” Instead of apologizing, Omar then claimed she was being pressured because of “Islamophobia,” and Tlaib backed her up.
Obviously, Omar’s comments and response are both absurd, but where were these Democratic lawmakers when Omar was standing on the House floor calling Israel’s right to self-defense “terrorism” when they strike Hamas military targets? Suddenly when Omar exposes her true anti-American beliefs, the world is surprised. When we fail to defend the truth when Israel is unfairly maligned, the United States is never far behind in the campaign of delegitimization.
THE SAME phenomenon occurred in the International Criminal Court, which changed its own rules in order to investigate Israel, which is not a signatory to the Rome statute, nor is the United States. At the same time Israel became a target, the United States in Afghanistan also became a target.
But it’s not just in lawfare and activism that anti-Israel hate breeds anti-American hate. For decades we’ve seen terrorist organizations and enemy states of Israel foment vile anti-American rhetoric, and even carry out attacks. Hezbollah, funded by Iran, pledges on a near daily basis to destroy Israel, but they also are responsible for some of the worst terror attacks against American soldiers as well, such as the Marine barracks bombing in 1983, which killed 220 US servicemen. Iran has funded anti-American insurgents throughout the Middle East for years, and today they continue to use drones and other technology to target American troops in Iraq.
When they aren’t attacking the United States physically, they are inciting against the US calling it the “great Satan” and Israel of course, the “little Satan.” The same way that Hamas incites against Israel, they also condemn and criticize the United
States. Indeed, in nearly every place where you see Israeli flags being burned, those same people are burning American flags by its side.
Because of the United States’ strength, the impact of such smears isn’t nearly as profound as it is for Israel, but lies gone unaddressed don’t simply disappear. The same critics who incorrectly accuse Israel of colonialism also believe the United States is colonialist. Ironically, the United States is the only empire in history to invade a country for the purpose of assisting and then leave that territory entirely – not exactly the signature move of a colonialist empire. While the United States is far from flawless, it’s critical to remember that when it comes to superpowers, it sure beats China or Russia when it comes to its human rights record and commitment to justice around the world. Both Russia and China have proven time and time again their intent to “colonize” other territories (Crimea, Georgia, Tibet, etc.). The same cannot be said for the United States.
It is important that we fight for the truth wherever it is under attack, because the enemies of Israel today will be the enemies of the United States tomorrow. Just as in Israel, the enemies are not just the terrorist organizations we fight, but also the battle for public opinion, which is so easily misled by incorrect information.