In mid-August, an American Jewish singer, Matisyahu, was due to perform at Rototom Sunsplash festival in eastern Spain. Following pressure from supporters of the sanctions movement against Israel, which tried to elicit from him a statement on Palestinian Statehood, and his subsequent refusal to issue one, the reggae festival decided to withdraw their invitation to the singer. The international outcry, which ensued against this anti-Semitic move, caused the festival to re-instate the invitation and Matisyahu ended up performing at the event.
What a hypocritical kind of 'heroism' by members of the sanctions movement, in boycotting a reggae artist, an 'ultimate representative' of anything and everything evil, just by the mere fact of being Jewish.
Please don't get me wrong. I am not one to belittle serious issues, definitely not an issue as complex and serious as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which at the very least requires the modesty of learning and necessity of knowledge. Nonetheless it is abundantly clear that more than just 'couch advocacy' is needed to address it.
Moreover, I find myself astounded by the two-facedness of these "couch advocates".
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been butchered so far, be it by the Iranian-supported Assad's illegitimate regime or by the barbaric Islamic State. Only a few weeks ago, Khaled al-Asaad, the 82 (!) year old Director of Antiquities and Museum in Palmyra/Syria, was beheaded by IS. His crime being his passion for history and its artifacts, his body hanging from where he used to work for over five decades.
In Iraq, a genocidal level of hostilities is taking place against the ancient Yazidi community, whose leaders continuously cry out for help. The same IS is well known to torment, abduct and subject Yazidi women to sexual assaults, while using them as slaves for their people (for the lack of a better word for them). In this regard, it is worthy to note a Canadian Jewish businessman by the name of Steve Maman. He has earned the nickname "the Jewish Schindler" after establishing an organization that saves Christian and Yazidi-Kurdish women and girls in Iraq who were kidnapped by the Islamic State. His efforts so far led to the release of over 120 young Yazidi women and girls from captivity. The Talmud teaches us: "He Who Saves Just One Life, Saves the World Entire". Indeed.
Immigrants from these parts of the world, as well as other centers of conflict, are storming the shores of Europe, with the hope of finding a safe place for them and their families. So many of them find nothing but death, in tragic circumstances, be that by drowning on the way or encountering a fate similar to those 50 refugees who perished in the back of an Austrian truck, after suffocating to death.
And where are those "couch advocates"? You got that right: nowhere to be found. They were busy protesting a reggae artist, in a conflict that has become a "token conflict", when so much more is happening all around them. So much pain and suffering taking place in various corners of the globe, and yet they seem to be completely aloof to the cries for help of those who so desperately need it. Is that blatant anti-Semitism? Sheer hypocrisy? Maybe a bit of both, and some.
Is it convenient? Yes. Israel is a convenient go-to "devil". It is not an Iranian Ayatollah who will issue a Fatwa calling for your death just because you wrote the wrong book (Salman Rushdie anyone?!) making you live for the rest of your life looking behind your back. Israel is not IS, who will find journalists and execute them just for who they are, not even what they write. It is not Hamas, which threatens them with physical violence should they dare to tell the truth.
Israel is a shining gem in the Mid-eastern landscape, beckoning with democracy and freedom, and while bordering the barbaric abyss of Syria and IS, is still able to look up to the stars and dream of a better world and a better future for all of us.
One would hope something would change after the atrocities of World War II. It is estimated that over 17 million people lost their lives at the hands of the truly evil Nazis, including but not limited to members of the LGBT community, Jews, mentally or physically disabled people and people of color. But has it?
We thought we had learnt something, yet it seems that just like the monuments and museums we had built in memory of WWII, our hearts remain as cold as stone.