Support for Palestine is no excuse for antisemitism

I remember hearing about the documentary “Loose Change” quite clearly. It involved my dad and his friend discussing this weird theory that the events of Sept. 11, 2001 were the work of the U.S. government. 

It was a theory I had a very hard time wrapping my head around.

As a teenager, I was a huge fan of The X-Files, the show about aliens and outlandish conspiracy theories. I admit I was a bigger fan of Agent Scully than Mulder, but I thought that there was some plausibility to the idea of the government keeping dark and dangerous secrets from citizens.

However, since that time, I have come to realize just how embedded global conspiracy theories are with antisemitism. Not only are many conspiracy theories themselves straight up antisemitic, throw a dart at a list and you’re bound to hit one or two. The Anti Defamation League has published research showing that a tendency toward conspiracy thinking correlates well with antisemitism.

It certainly feels like 9/11-related conspiracy theories are particularly rife with antisemitism.

Antisemitism isn’t new but has certainly seen a revival in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war that started in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas in 2023. On that day, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing 1,139 individuals and abducting 253 more.

In the wake of this atrocity, Israel launched a ground invasion into the Gaza strip, in part to rescue the kidnapped hostages, and also to eliminate Hamas.

As the Israel-Hamas war has gone on, a horrifying humanitarian crisis has arisen in the Gaza strip.

There is plenty to criticize Israel for when it comes to the ways it has conducted its war on Hamas. For example, the use of the artificial intelligence system Gospel has raised concerns about how careful Israel has been in its attempts to minimize civilian casualties.

The incident where seven World Central Kitchen workers were killed in an Israeli air strike in spite of the fact that the convoy had been coordinating with the IDF, is even more disturbing given that such an incident was entirely avoidable.

In short there are plenty of reasons to criticize and protest Israel’s policies and actions. I will not deny that.

But Israel’s humanitarian failings as part of its military response to the Hamas attack, do not excuse the staggering rise in antisemitism that has run rampant in the months since the October 7 atrocity.

In a report published by the Anti Defamation League, there were over 2031 antisemitic incidents reported between Oct. 7 and Dec. 7, compared to 465 reports made during the same time period for 2022.

Denial of the atrocities committed on Oct. 7 by Hamas has also been far too widespread.

One particularly troubling example of such denial involved feminist philosopher Judith Butler not only dismissing the sexual violence committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 but also describing Hamas as engaging in armed resistance against Isreal.

I want to make it clear that what Hamas did was a terrorist attack and given the numbers of civilians killed, there is no justification for calling it an armed resistance.

Furthermore, the level of denialism of the atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 has disturbing parallels to Holocaust denialism.

I myself have lost count at this point as to the number of times I have had to block people on Twitter for having horrific gag-inducing takes on Israel. I have at other times also found myself looking at islamophobic and other statements dehumanizing the people of Gaza that I have also found horrifying.

I do not know what the solution is here. I know that peace between Israel and Palestine will be difficult to obtain, much less maintain.

I just know that peace is necessary and that spreading antisemitism or islamophobia will not make it possible. There can be no justice when we deny the existence of injustices.

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