By Michael Levitt
Often, when I go on Twitter, I wish I hadn’t. The unbridled hate and hostility there is a sobering indictment of social media. With many tweets so shamelessly crude and abusive, epitomizing the worst in loathing and other negativity, it makes for a sad view of humanity. That an inordinate amount of the content is directed against Jews and Israel reflects a toxic, widespread obsession online and off which, in many cases, betrays a disturbing antisemitic bent.
The defamation of Israel is of little surprise in a world so hypocritically fixated on it. The manifestations are endless, marked by a troubling double-standard and righteous indignation reserved only for the Jewish homeland.
In addition to social media, we see this preoccupation also play out in news coverage, the United Nations, NGOs, in the halls of academia and in the arts community. Driven by their idée fixe, the bashers constantly rake Israel over the coals, no matter how tenuous their command of Middle East history and its current complex reality. Facts and context often seem incidental.
Of course, like all other countries, Israel is and should be subject to criticism. But when its very existence is questioned, it’s an attack on the Jewish people. When the vilification of Israel involves the three “Ds” — demonization, double standards, delegitimization — it’s antisemitic. Pure and simple.
In their woke-driven zeal, anti-Israel activists often wrap themselves in the “anti-Zionist” flag, as if denying Jews the right to their own state in their ancestral homeland were a badge of honour. Whether through wilful ignorance or antisemitic malice, these social media warriors are relentless in their cynical attacks. This has a negative impact for Jews in both the Middle East and in diaspora communities as evidenced by the intense hate and violence targeting them, with many feeling they’re having their safe space stripped away.
Let’s be clear, there’s no problem with criticizing Israel, something that diaspora Jews and Israelis do all the time. It’s something else entirely when celebrities and social media influencers with millions of followers use their platforms to regularly denigrate Israel with highly charged misinformation and falsehoods, sometimes even justifying violence and terror against it and its civilian population.
One has to wonder why those who devote such wildly disproportionate attention to a liberal democracy — that just so happens to be the world’s only Jewish state — often turn a blind eye to the planet’s worst rights abusers, including the most odious dictatorships.
Like a petri dish of hate and ignorance feeding off each other, social media has become the gateway to a larger, ongoing pile-on singling out Israel. It amplifies the same pathological Israel Obsession Disorder many diplomats at the UN have long exhibited.