Israel is getting a lot of attention these days, and unfortunately so are the Jews as antisemitic attacks and anti Israel rhetoric is on the rise.
You sure get a different perspective of the international response and international media once you’ve become an Israeli citizen. It never really dawned on me before this year how much focus there is on this tiny country compared to lots and lots of other places.
It also didn’t dawn on me how much of a media bias and anti Israel bias there is out there. Oh come on you know there really there is!
I didn’t concern myself with it so much because I was 1) an American and 2) a leftwing activist that was critical of Israel’s actions. I’m still critical and questioning but also an Israeli citizen. I think that becoming Israeli has made a big difference for me. Additionally, my political viewpoint has moderated over the last couple of years–so whereas I used to agree with my mom (who is pretty left-wing but not radical left-wing) on lots of things, I now find myself disagreeing with her on certain points.
So now, I see the international outcry to Gaza, and I have multiple reactions. First I feel sadness–I agree that there is a humanitarian crisis and Gazans are suffering. Also I worry about Israel’s international image. and the long-term consequences of the war.
But I also feel anger and defensiveness. There is a part of me that is thinking (albeit irrationally) ‘who do you think you are to criticize my country? if this were happening in your country, you would do the same thing. you have no freakin’ idea what it is like’ and ‘you know, it’s not like we Israelis are enjoying this war or the fact that Palestinians are suffering. People seem to forget that our own people were being bombarded by rockets.’ Also ‘geez, there are a lot of people pissed off at my country right now. I’m not sure if I like that’ and ‘I feel like everytime Israel engages in a military action the international community pounces on us. I feel like some people are just waiting for any excuse to say something or do something against us.’ And so on and so on.
I’m not arguing that these gut reactions are grounded in rational thinking. I expect lots of people to disagree with them.
Fortunately not all news about Israel is bad. This week Israel won it’s Third Golden Globe award with the film Waltz with Bashir. Of course the irony is that the film is an anti-war statement about the first Lebanon War and here we are in the midst of another war. Maybe that’s not ironic because there always seems to be a war here. The film’s director said that just as the film was relevant 2 years ago (when Lebanon 2 happened) it’s relevant today.