Thursday, 6 May 2010

Israel Matzav: Shver tzu zein a yid (it's difficult to be a Jew)

Shver tzu zein a yid (it's difficult to be a Jew)

In Europe a century ago, as Jews coped with constant, socially acceptable anti-Semitism, there was a refrain that echoed throughout the ghetto: shver tzu zein a yid (it's difficult to be a Jew). Evelyn Gordon explains that shver tzu zein a yid is the only possible explanation for the betrayal that European Jews handed Israel when they signed on to J Call's call for blaming Israel for the conflict in this part of the world.

Unlike the U.S., the EU doesn’t vote against anti-Israel UN resolutions, give Israel financial aid, serve as a major Israeli arms supplier, and publicly defend (or at least refrain from condemning) Israeli counterterrorism measures. Indeed, it makes only one major contribution to Israel’s welfare: it’s Israel’s largest trading partner.

So when you urge European “pressure” on Israel, you’re effectively urging BDS. The EU has no lesser pressure mechanisms left.

Chemla nevertheless insisted that JCall is “actually helping Israel’s image in Europe” by showing that the Jewish community is “not monolithic.” How Europeans’ image of Israel would be improved by learning that prominent Jews also deem Israel the conflict’s main culprit remains a mystery.

But it’s no mystery how that might improve Europeans’ image of European Jews. On a continent where opinion polls consistently show Israel to be widely loathed, even implying that Israel isn’t solely to blame makes you suspect. But if you urge the EU to withhold support from Israel’s government, yet not from the PA; if you even declare that this serves Israel’s “true interests,” so Europeans need suffer no qualms of conscience, then you’ve restored yourself to the European consensus. You’ve showed, to quote JCall’s petition, that you, too, hear “the voice of reason” — at least as Europe currently defines it.

It’s hard being a Jew in Europe today. So it’s understandable that some would seize on anything, however irrational, that labels itself “pro-Israel” while not violating the European consensus. But their Israeli and American brethren must remind them of the truth: being “pro-Israel” in Europe today requires emphasizing Palestinian guilt, which Europeans routinely ignore, rather than reinforcing their “blame Israel” reflex. And it requires lobbying against “pressure” that can only be manifest through BDS.

Indeed. Shver tzu zein a yid is no excuse for betraying our brethren.

Israel Matzav:Shver tzu zein a yid (it's difficult to be a Jew)

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