LETTER: Don’t oversimplify complex Israel issue

Dear Editor:

I’m writing in response to Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin’s thoughtful essay “Are Jews about to face another Holocaust?” (published in The Vidette on Jan. 12, 2017).

I welcome Tommi’s exploration of the topic of anti-Semitism, and I agree that it is on the rise in America and around the world. For example, students on many American college campuses, as Tommi mentions, are too often spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric because they oppose the hawkish policies of Netanyahu – the Israeli prime minister – and his cabinet.

But actually, I believe that Tommi oversimplifies the issue in the same manner as those misinformed college students.

Many college students say Israeli policies are bad, therefore all Jews are bad. Inversely, Tommi says that Jews are not bad, therefore the policies of the Israeli government must not be bad. That is a gross oversimplification of an extremely complex issue.

I’m Jewish and I love and support Israel, but that doesn’t mean I support all of its policies. I’m also American and I love and support America, but that doesn’t mean I support the policies of every administration. It’s a common misconception — and a common piece of Republican propaganda — to say that if you criticize Israel, you must be anti-Semitic. That is simply not true. Jews don’t all believe the same thing nor belong to the same political party any more than any other minority group does.

I cannot support Israel’s provocative policy of building settlements on what the international community regards as territory occupied — not owned — by Israel. Yes, Israel won the land fair and square in a war it didn’t start. But the fact of the matter is there can be no Jewish state unless the Jews and the Palestinians have their own countries — the two-state solution envisioned by Israel, Britain and the U.N. after WWII.

If the current population trend continues, Jews will soon be outnumbered by Palestinians in Israel. Then, either the Jewish nature of the country is gone, or you have a minority population ruling a majority. That is not healthy or sustainable for Israelis or Palestinians.

While I appreciate Tommi bringing her thoughts to Vidette readers, I believe she has inadvertently perpetuated an inaccurate and dangerous piece of propaganda: that speaking out against Israeli policies means you’re anti-Semitic. The issue is way, way more complicated than that.

Ann Hartman