Criticizing Israel is a hate crime, but isn’t attacking a Christian church?
Whenever a synagogue is vandalized in the Arab world, or even in the West, the incident is often labeled a hate crime and widely condemned.
Americans, in particular, are exposed to widespread media coverage of these attacks, including reports of property damage and the implications of anti-Semitic violence, which fuel racist stereotypes and tropes associated with Arabs, Muslims and, in especially the Palestinians.
Allegations of hatred, anti-Semitism and racism are weapons often used by supporters of Israel to distract the public from the truth about the often violent intimidation of Palestinian Christians and Muslims.
But when a Christian church in Jerusalem is ransacked by Israeli soldiers who have been sent to shut down several human rights organizations that have exposed Israel’s criminal apartheid conduct, stories are turned into political fodder and damage to the church is minimized.
What is the situation of Christians in Israel? Well, their population has continued to dwindle over the years, but a telling reflection of Israel’s policy towards Christians was evident when Israeli snipers targeted and killed Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian Christian journalist for Al Jazeera. who was also an American citizen.
Amazingly, more than 100 days have passed since she was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli raid in Jenin. She was shot in the head while wearing a vest and helmet which clearly identified her as a journalist and member of the media.
Just as the assassination of Abu Akleh will fade into rhetorical oblivion, the attacks on Christian sites will dissipate just as quickly.
Although US officials have spoken out against the killing, nothing has been done about it and nothing should be done. The continued violence by the Israeli authorities and the defensive responses of Palestinian civilians eclipse the horror of the crimes that take place and disappear in a background of indifference.
Last week, Israeli soldiers attacked the offices of Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights non-governmental organization in Ramallah. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the occupied territories, two principles often ignored by Israel’s apartheid policies, Al-Haq is internationally recognized for its dedication to human rights. rights and enjoys “special consultative status” with the UN.
The raid on Al-Haq was part of a broader crackdown by Israel against human rights organizations. Similar raids were carried out at the offices of Addameer, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International—Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Workers’ Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. .
For the Israeli government, uncovering human rights violations, providing services to women and families in need, advocating for children and conducting “research” are all considered acts of “terrorism.”
And when Israel applies the “terrorism” label to a person or organization, the authorities can pretty much do whatever they want, including damaging a Presbyterian church in which such an organization has rented office space. The Christian Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem condemned the attack on St. Andrew’s Anglican/Episcopal Church, which took place at 3 a.m. on August 18. It is located in Ramallah, which has one of the largest Christian communities in the occupied West Bank.
Windows and glass objects were smashed. Doors and shelves were destroyed. Israeli soldiers entered the church firing guns, using stun grenades and terrorizing those inside.
I saw no condemnation of the Israeli conduct of Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, or his predecessor, Danny Danon, in response to the attack on the Christian church.
They are, however, often among the first to cry out against anti-Semitism; like when Emma Watson, the British star of the Harry Potter film series, expressed her solidarity with the Palestinian cause by posting on social media a photo taken during a pro-Palestinian rally and declaring “Solidarity is a verb “.
Watson also included a quote from British-Australian activist Sara Ahmed, who said: “Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future. Solidarity implies commitment and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we live on common ground.
Wow – those dangerous words. So much more violent than damaging a Christian church.
Danon denounced Watson’s actions as anti-Semitic. He is an eloquent spokesman for Israel, but he could do much more for the cause of peace if he focused less on demonizing those who legitimately criticize government actions and instead seek ways to bring people together Israeli and Palestinian.
But Danon and Erdan are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to efforts by pro-Israel movements to downplay the Israeli government’s crimes against Palestinians while exaggerating the nature of the views expressed by critics of Israel. , no matter how stupid or sweet.
Nothing escapes their exaggerated anger because it is a strategy designed to distract public attention from Israel’s actions and shape a pro-Israel understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among target audiences, including Americans.
Just as the assassination of Abu Akleh will fade into rhetorical oblivion, the attacks on Christian sites will dissipate just as quickly. Because before you can focus on what Israel did to Abu Akleh or St. Andrew’s Church, something so egregious will happen that will create a blur to obscure apartheid’s racist crimes. ‘Israel.
If Israel can keep target audiences, like Americans, entertained long enough, eventually they will accept its lies and propaganda unchallenged. No one knows better than the Israeli government that the greater the intensity of crimes against a civilian population, the more difficult it is for that population to foster understanding of the underlying principles that motivate those crimes.
Tragically, the Palestinians make Israel’s job easier with their lack of professional communication and lack of knowledge of the power of perception.
Because perception, not truth, is reality in Western communications.
- Ray Hanania is a former Chicago City Hall award-winning political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News