Israel Institute of New Zealand
The war is over. And yet it isn’t.
For now, there is quiet, but few things are more predictable than that there will be another salvo issuing from the Gaza Strip. As I write, civilians on both sides are likely grateful for the quiet, but Hamas will be busy rebuilding its decimated terrorist infrastructure while Israel’s military planners will be analysing the events of May 2021 and preparing for the next conflict.
As long as Hamas continues to rule the Gaza Strip only those smitten with the most deluded brand of optimism will foresee a permanent cessation of hostilities in the medium term.
So, in a somewhat perverse sense, it is business as usual in the Middle East. And yet, in Western countries, May 2021 saw an alarming change. We have grown used to seeing the usual rabid anti-Israel activists increase their output during periods of war. But this time things were different. The surge in antisemitic activity in Western societies has been, by some measures, “unprecedented”.
We have long held that the distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is largely semantic, or at least that the two are joined at the hip. Developments over recent weeks have only confirmed that view.
Jews living in Europe have been concerned for years. But with Israel under attack, for some, concern turned to despair. The fight against antisemitism may have been lost wrote one journalist. And according to one European Jewish leader, “if Jews are Europe’s canary in the coal mine,” then “that bird is no longer alive.”
Here in New Zealand too, a change is evident. A Green MP’s effectively genocidal war cry against the Jewish state passed without comment from our social-justice-inclined government or the Human’s Rights Commission.
We remain convinced, however, of support for Israel from a large portion of ordinary New Zealanders.
But unfortunately Israel’s friends are seldom as outspoken as Israel’s enemies.
Society has seen significant polarisation in recent years, with courteous discourse on a range of issues becoming increasingly difficult. This has only served to further quieten some of Israel’s friends.
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