They Hate ‘Progressive’ Israelis, Too
An anti-Israel group called “Adalah” picketed a recent performance by the Batsheva Dance Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The most interesting aspect of the controversy is that the anti-Israel activists were undeterred by the fact that the dance troupe’s director has himself accused Israel of committing “war crimes.”
Speaking to a Canadian newspaper in 2005, Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin expressed anguish that “I continue to do my work, while 20 kilometers from me, people are participating in war crimes.”
Naharin is so extreme that after anti-Israel hecklers disrupted one of his group’s performances in Scotland in 2012, he declared: “If I would think for a moment this [tactic of disruption] can help the Palestinian cause, I would even welcome it — let’s disturb the show, break my house, break my windows if it can help the Palestinian cause.”
But offering up his windows, and even his entire house, was not enough for the “Adalah” demonstrators who picketed Naharin’s dancers in Brooklyn. Because their problem is not Naharin’s house. Their problem is that he’s an Israeli. No matter how far left he leans, no matter how many concessions he declares he is willing to make, Naharin is Israeli. And therefore they consider him to be their enemy. They don’t distinguish between “good” progressive Israelis and “bad” centrist or right-wing ones.
Left-wing Israeli professors are running into the same problem. Though they are among the fiercest critics of their own country, they continue to be hated around the world, simply because they are Israelis. Journalist Or Tshuva, writing last year in the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, bemoaned the fact that Israeli professors “often find that no matter how far left or pro-peace they are, their ‘Israeliness’ remains an obstacle… Many universities [around the world] choose not to collaborate with their Israeli counterparts or offer scholarships to Israeli students. In many cases, Israelis looking to participate in student-exchange programs or pay for postgraduate studies in Europe, and especially the United Kingdom, are unable to find any opportunities.”
Tshuva continued: “While their Palestinian fellows enjoy the political and financial support of active pro-Palestinian university societies and generous scholarships designed specifically for them, the implicit message to Israelis is often: It doesn’t really matter what you say or think, because we simply don’t want to hear from you… Here in London, I have had several unpleasant encounters with people, including academics, who were unwilling to talk to me simply because I am Israeli.”
The Haaretz article noted that British Member of Parliament George Galloway recently walked out a debate at Oxford University “simply because he learned that his student opponent was an Israeli citizen,” even though, ironically, that Israeli student was just about to make the case for creating a Palestinian Arab state.
But topping the charts for Israel-hatred is the latest number-one song on the Palestinian pop music “Hit Parade.” The song, called “Run Them Over,” glorifies the act of Arabs using their cars to run over Israelis. It starts out talking about “settlers,” as in:
“Wait for them at the intersection / Let the settler drown in red blood / Terrorize them / Your heart is strong / Careful: Show no compassion … Lay an ambush on the road and run them over, Allah will aid you.” (Translation courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch)
Who is a “settler”? This verse makes it clear:
“The whole Arab nation is telling you:
Al-Akari, bless your [soul] / Run over the settler! / Run over the settler!”
Al-Akari is Ibrahim Al-Akari, the terrorist who rammed his car into a crowd at a Jerusalem train station on October 22, killing a three month-old baby, Chaya Zissel. A “settler baby”!
Many on the Jewish left like to think that the whole problem between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is “the settlers.” Dismantle the Jewish communities in the territories, they say, and peace will descend upon the region. But this song, currently the most popular tune among the Palestinians, tells otherwise. After a few more stanzas about the evil settlers, the songwriter pulls back the curtain and reveals the whole truth:
“Run [them] over, destroy, annihilate, blow them up; Don’t let the Zionist live long.”
Notice that phrase: “The Zionist.” Every Zionist. In other words, every Israeli. Not just “the settlers.” Not just the “bad Israelis.” Batsheva Dance directors and left-wing Israeli professors and J Street activists, too. We’re all in this together. We’re all on the Palestinians’ hit list.
Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia.