Spreading pain, not peace
A member of Israel’s Knesset spoke at a Kristallnacht commemoration event this week and equated Israel’s actions to the events of Nov. 9-10, 1938.
Hanin Zoabi, an Arab-Israeli member of the Knesset, spoke at a Kristallnacht “memorial” in Amsterdam that was organized by a group known for its antipathy to Israel and its sympathies for Hamas. It appears the event was not meant to sincerely mark the solemn anniversary but rather, as is so often a tactic among the most extreme anti-Israel hate groups, to rub salt in the wounds of Jewish history.
“Kristallnacht didn’t suddenly fall from the sky, come out of nowhere,” Zoabi said Sunday. “It was the result of a development over time. We can see a similar development happening in Israel over the last several years.”
She acknowledged that, during Kristallnacht, thousands of businesses and hundreds of synagogues were attacked and destroyed.
“Perhaps the majority of Germans did not approve, but they kept quiet,” she said. “When in Israel two churches and tens of mosques are burned; and hundreds of Israeli supporters of Beitar shout ‘death to the Arabs’ after each soccer match; when a family is burned to death; when a 15-year-old boy is burned to death, the majority keeps quiet, although they are perhaps shocked.”
Of course, Zoabi is wrong. When these tragic and despicable incidents have happened, they have been condemned from the highest offices, by the most respected voices and across the political spectrum of Israeli society. When the far more frequent incitements to kill Jews occur, and when terrorists stab or drive over Israelis, these acts are lauded by Palestinian political and religious leaders and are cause for celebration among Palestinian civilians. That’s a big difference.
Zoabi is a member of the Arab Israeli party Balad, which calls for a binational state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean – in other words, the effective end of the world’s only Jewish-majority nation. She is an elected official in the parliament of a country she does not believe should exist. Fine. That’s a fact of democracy. We have such a phenomenon in our own federal parliament.
Zoabi is not only a citizen of a democratic state, but one who was democratically elected by other citizens to represent them in the Knesset, which, in itself, goes some distance in undermining her hyperbolic claims.
Zoabi, because she is a citizen of a free country, has the right to say what she wants, short of the sort of incitement banned by law in every democratic society. (Although she has crossed that line, with minimal repercussions, in calls for “popular resistance” and justifying the kidnapping of three Israeli teens last year who were later found murdered.)
How ironic that a person in her position could invoke such vicious, ahistorical imagery and do it at a time and place that should call for the barest sense of human compassion and decency – and get away with it. Because, despite a few outraged comments from politicians and media, she will get away with it. There will be no legal or parliamentary repercussions for her words. She is a free person – one of the freest and most powerful Arab individuals in the Middle East, when you come down to it. Were her political agenda to be realized and the land in which she lives to come under the governance of Hamas or Fatah or any other political entity currently on the scene or even on the horizon, and she were to use her words to attack her country in this manner, the outcome would almost certainly be far more grievous for her.
Beyond this individual case, though, this kind of language is a treasured tactic of the anti-Israel movement. Clearly it is a strategy of the Amsterdam group that invited her to speak and we have seen it even on campuses and at rallies here in Vancouver: anything that can be done to cause pain to Jewish people is not only acceptable, it is a legitimate tactic.
Whether it is literally a knife in the neck of a Jew in Jerusalem or the inhuman exploitation of Jewish history against the Jewish people themselves in Amsterdam or the exploitation of Holocaust imagery and language against the state of Israel at rallies worldwide, including here in Vancouver, there is a streak in the anti-Israel movement that is more concerned with inflicting pain than finding solutions.