When it comes to Israel and/or Jews, their opponents frequently do not even honor the idea of respecting their holidays. On the contrary, rather than let them observe in peace, anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists frequently target Jews on those days.
That includes targeting them with physical violence. The parade example is the Yom Kippur War, launched by an Egyptian and Syrian sneak attack deliberately scheduled to take advantage of Israel’s weakened defensive posture during the holiday observance.
Yom Kippur 1973 also fell during Ramadan. Eighteen years later, during the 1991 Gulf War, the Chicago Tribune reported that Egypt pressured the United States to conclude hostilities before Ramadan “citing a need to keep the holy month free of fighting.” The claim would be funny if it were not so tragic.
Israel has also been targeted for terror attacks disrupting holidays. On March 27, 2002, a suicide bomber massacred thirty people and injured another 140 enjoying a Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel, their celebration turned into mourning.
Not only do opponents of Jews and the Jewish State exploit holidays to launch physical attacks. More recently, they have used such times as occasions for launching political, economic, and propaganda attacks designed to impose mental and emotional stress on Jews as they celebrate.
While in some cases a reason that anti-Israel votes are scheduled for Jewish holidays is tactical—students who observe the Jewish holidays are more likely to be pro-Israel, ensuring that there will be fewer votes against the measures—it is clear that the anti-Israel activists target Jewish holidays even when attendance is not an issue.
As Tufts University’s Jewish community prepared to celebrate Passover this year, the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) put forward a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution. A vote was held in the student senate the next Sunday night, April 9—the night before the holiday began. The snap resolution passed. The university’s Board of Trustees later rejected the resolution, but meanwhile, a damper was placed on the holiday mood for many students.
A similar divestment effort at the University of Wisconsin initially passed when the bill was irregularly voted on at its initial introduction, during Passover. The Student Judiciary later voided the vote, essentially for trying to deprive interested Jewish students of their right to vote.
Not to be outdone, the SJP chapter at the University of California Santa Barbara launched its own BDS campaign on Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 24, 2017. SJP issued a statement in which it insisted that “the scheduling decision was made purely for pragmatic reasons,” and it “resoundingly reject[ed] the notion that this is in any way anti-Semitic.” Two years earlier, UCSB’s Associated Students Senate External Affairs Committee approved and passed on to the student senate a prior BDS resolution from SJP on April 9, 2015, which was during Passover that year.
Also on Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017, a person or persons unknown hung an anti-Semitic poster on the campus at Kansas State University. The poster included this text: “Ending white privilege starts with ending Jewish privilege,” and “Is the 1 percent straight white men? Or is it Jewish?” The same poster had previously been plastered across the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago on March 14, 2017, just two days after the celebration of Purim.
The Democratic Socialists of America followed the same tactic during their recent four-day national convention held from August 3 through 6. On Saturday, August 5, 2017, when The Jerusalem Post observed “many Jews would not be in attendance,” the DSA overwhelmingly adopted a pro-BDS resolution. Participants celebrated the result by chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” In other words, the Jewish State should disappear. This was an odd thing to say if the BDS-supporters’ goal is to create a Palestinian state living peacefully alongside the Jewish State.
Given that it is Israel’s existence that is being threatened by these activists, it should come as no surprise that Israel get attacked on its Independence Day, by, among others, the United Nations.
As Israel observed its Independence Day on May 2, 2017, UNESCO voted to approve a resolution condemning Israel’s presence in Jerusalem, which it called “illegal.” UN Secretary General António Guterres marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War – which Israel fought fearing annihilation, after Egypt blockaded it, and ten days after Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser threatened that “our basic objective will be to destroy Israel” – with a condemnation of Israel’s presence in the West Bank and a reiteration of the well-worn trope that “Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remove a driver of violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East.”
Often though, Israel’s adversaries attack its people on its Independence Day with more than threatening and demeaning words.
Arabs have often used Israel’s Independence Day as an occasion for launching physical attacks against Israeli Jews. For example, in 2012, four Arab youths attacked an Israeli family, and also a Jewish man and eleven year old boy, in two separate incidents near the Old City of Jerusalem. Gazans fired rockets into Israel during Independence Day celebrations in 2012 and 2015. In 2016, Israel sealed off the West Bank during both its Memorial Day and Independence Day (the two fall back-to-back) after bombing and stabbing attacks the day before. Ten years earlier, in 2006, Palestinians planned a terrorist attack for Israeli Independence Day; fortunately, the plan was thwarted by Israel’s Yamam police counter-terror unit.
Readers can decide for themselves whether the timing of these events is merely coincidental, or whether anti-Semites are pursuing a deliberate strategy of ratcheting up their hounding by consciously scheduling activities on Jewish and Israeli holidays and observances to add insults to the injuries they attempt to inflict on Israel.
I suggest the timing shows the following:
• There’s a pattern here, and it’s not an accident.
• Dissing Israel on Jewish observances is an expression of hostility to Jews. It gives the lie to all who deny that “anti-Zionism” is anti-Semitic; it is anti-Semitic.
• Dissing Israel on Israeli holidays like its Independence Day and the anniversary of the Six Day War is an expression of hostility to the very existence of Israel as the Jewish State.
• UN anti-Israel resolutions on Israel’s Independence Day, and on the anniversary of the Arabs’ 1967 attack against it, underscore that the UN’s agenda is not to create two peaceful states living side by side, but to attack the legitimacy of the Israeli state. Ditto the DSA cheers of “From the river to the sea…”
• This expression of hostility is a mental, emotional, and sometimes physical assault upon Jews, particularly young Jews. It’s meant to be hurtful, and it is.
• It’s meant to disenfranchise Jews, and it does. Those Jews who are more observant of Sabbath and the holiday, are more likely to be disenfranchised.
Anyone who opposes anti-Semitism, or claims to oppose it, should take note that BDS advocates have shown their true colors by exploiting Jews’ sacred calendar to advance their anti-Semitic agenda; and that the UN and others have exploited Israel’s national calendar to undermine the Jewish State’s very existence.
Johanna Markind is an attorney who writes about anti-Semitism, radical Islam, and criminal law. She previously worked for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Middle East Forum.
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