Israeli barbarity and anti-Semitism
The Palestinians have suffered many disasters, permanent displacement from their lands, massacres, and severe suppression. U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. Embassy there is the latest injustice, also led to a massacre of tens of people on the border between Gaza and Israel.
The unholy alliance between the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran will contribute to more chaos in the Middle East. Luckily, Turkey’s government and opposition have been united against unwise U.S. policy. However, none of the political circles in Turkey are well-informed about the Palestinian issue.
In the 1960s and 70s, the Palestinian issue was championed mostly by left-wingers. It was only after the Islamist group Hamas took over the struggle that Turkey’s conservative right started to pay attention, turning the issue into a Muslim question rather than an issue of national independence. Indeed, in the beginning the issue was a part of pan-Arab and Arab national independence movements, with the Arabs fighting two wars with Israel (in 1948 and 1967) that ended with failure.
During the years of the so-called “Arab Cold War,” Arab politics was largely defined by the rivalry between the allies of the West and its enemies. It was an Arab country, Jordan, which massacred Palestinians in the infamous Black September of 1970 and exiled the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to Lebanon. Things then changed; although the war of 1973 was considered an Egyptian victory it created division between Egypt and Syria, with the latter never signing a peace agreement with Israel. The Palestine question eventually led Lebanon into a bloody civil war and ruined the PLO’s power and influence.
As Turkey was a staunch Western ally during the Cold War, right-wingers including Islamists neither condemned Jordan nor supported the allies of Palestine in the Lebanese Civil War. It was considered a leftist issue and the PLO was generally known almost as an anarchist organization.
Despite the fact that the establishment of Israel was condemned by Muslims worldwide, from the start the Palestinian issue was part and parcel of Arab politics and rivalries. Unfortunately, anti-Israel sentiments in the Muslim world only led to the reinforcement of anti-Semitism and Jewish conspiracy theories, rather than serving for useful cooperation for the rights of the Palestinians.
As for the Arab world, all Arab regimes abused the issue for domestic and regional interests. First of all, authoritarian regimes used the issue to distract attention from domestic ills, while competing with each other in manipulating the issue. Needless to say, such efforts did not help the Palestinians and only helped lead to the current tragedy.
Israeli politics has certainly created much injustice, but the whole issue is more complicated than the “champions of the Palestinian cause” are often willing to acknowledge. Worse, misguided support for Palestine has served to reinforce anti-Semitism in Muslim-majority countries. This happened again after the recent massacre of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces, with a number of Islamist writers feeling free to name the problem a “Jewish problem.” For them, it is as if Israeli violence or barbarity legitimizes one of the worst kinds of racism, which is anti-Semitism.