Israeli aggression and Muslim agitation

Israeli aggression and Muslim agitation

No army can defeat “resistance movements” without transforming itself into a killing machine. That is why Israel cannot avoid committing war crimes by killing civilians and even children whenever it attacks the Palestinians, as in the case of its latest ground operation in Gaza. We may disagree on whether to define Hamas as a “resistance movement” or a “terrorist organization.” Nevertheless, we can discuss whether calling armed groups that receive considerable social support like Hamas “resistance movements,” even if we may not agree with their use of violence.

The fact that such groups are embedded in civil society, and are so strongly supported by the civil population, means that civil casualties become inevitable in the event of military assaults by regular armies. This is why the only solution is to engage in diplomacy of peace, no matter how difficult it may be. This is also why Israel’s policies concerning the Palestinian question have been a total failure so far, and why the latest operation against Hamas is bound to be another failure with a huge human cost. Finally, this is why every Israeli offensive creates an enormous reaction not only among Muslims worldwide, but also creates outrage among humanists elsewhere.

Nevertheless, it is only the tragedies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that risk justifying one of the worst historical crimes against humanity. There is not a single case of Israeli aggression and injustice that has not been related to a debate on the Holocaust and has not triggered anti-Semitism. It is true that those who react on behalf of the Palestinians claim that they are only critical of Israeli politics, and that they are not targeting Jews in general, so it is not anti-Semitism. It is also true that the Israeli state tends to dismiss even the most justified criticisms on the grounds of anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, criticizing Israel and targeting Jews often goes hand in hand. Whenever Israel goes nasty, Jews are required to stand up more than anybody else - not only against the crimes of the Jewish state, but also for Jewish nationalist ideology in general. Zionism is the only nationalism that is expected to apologize not only for its excesses, but also for its existence. Palestinians can be excused for not accepting the imposition of a Jewish nation state in their lands, since it was a unique case of a nation being built by immigration and superimposition, but the only way to find a peaceful coexistence is to start a radical conversation on mutual resentments, rather than mutual denials.

There is no doubt that Israel’s policies have always contributed to the Palestinians’ feeling of injustice and have promoted more resentment over time. Nonetheless, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in general also take a troubled path of demonizing Jews by subscribing to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories rather than engaging in a more sound and sober political dialogue. Now, Turkey is at the forefront of the politics of “angry talk,” and many who criticize Israel are not even bothered about crossing the boundaries of anti-Semitism. Only few days ago, speaking on a late night Ramadan TV show, one guest advised viewers to read Hitler’s Mein Kampf carefully.

I think that the last thing the Palestinians need is new agitators. The last thing we need in Turkey is for agitation politics that will lead the country into more turbulence and less democracy. We should not forget that all authoritarian regimes in the Middle East justified their politics by using the rhetoric of agitation against Israel, and we are now on the verge of such a danger.