Reading Ha’aretz this morning, my eyes were diverted to an article about the indignation of the Israeli Tourism Ministry about – guess what? Anti-Israel bias, of course. Apparently, in the wake of the rocket attacks earlier this week, the US government issued a travel warning to Israel (particularly Eilat and the rest of Southern Israel), the West Bank, and Gaza without mentioning the Jordanian city of Aqaba, the only place with an actual fatality in the rocket attacks.
OK, fair point. But, does anyone really think that rocket was aimed at Jordan?
Israel loves to divert criticism by claiming that the world is unfairly biased against it. It’s a painful truism that shockingly atrocious human rights violations take place all over the world every day, with barely even a sideways glance from the international media. It’s also true that when Israel demolishes someone’s house, injures a peaceful protestor, or restricts aid to Gaza, the world pays more attention. The UN gets involved, as do European governments, international media, and certainly, the Arab world (and you know, occasionally the USA). This, to some more right-wing pro-Israel people, constitutes clear evidence of anti-Semitism, and nests perfectly into a well-established part of the Jewish psyche, which says the whole world is always out to harm the Jews.
I certainly do not mean to in any way downplay the suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of others, throughout history. However, in the case of Israel, isn’t the attention a good thing? Since its birth as a nation, Israel has had the attention and support of most of the western world – none of this is new. International attention on Israel could help to solve issues in the nation – and to create a more stable, peaceful region. It has worked before! And what’s the other option? For the world to get distracted by another global conflict and for Israel, out of sight, to let human rights violations spin out of control, and to promote policies and actions that make peace in the Middle East even less achievable?
Obviously, the current situation in Israel/Palestine is not tenable – for anyone. Do pro-Israel folks want the world to give up on peace in Israel? Obviously not, but they need to recognize that international attention is going to include (very deserved) scrutiny, and that general world opinion is usually pretty valuable. The world has a good, you know, worldview.
Oh, and by the way, if you are planning a trip to Southern Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, OR AQABA this week, travel safely!