Israelis often feel the need - when they are not called upon to serve their country in the army – to serve their country on the propaganda front. In this context, Israeli friends occasionally email me links to articles or information, which they think will shed a positive light on Israel. The latest such email that I received, linked to an article by Israel’s outgoing Minister of Finance, Ya’ir Lapid, published a couple of days ago in the Guardian.
It’s written in English and published in a British paper but I expect that the real purpose is to impress the home market. There is a general election in Israel in less than a month and standing up to the gentiles always gets an Israeli politician brownie points. In this article, Lapid tries to deride the recent open letter that was signed by 700 British artists who called for a boycott of Israel because of the continued occupation.
It is shallow and kitschy, stoops to pinkwashing – brandishing Israel’s gay rights to distract from Israel’s occupation wrongs, and leads nowhere. Lapid besmirches Hamas (not so difficult), under whose rule gays are hanged and climaxes with a personal touch by naming “my friend Gila Tregerman”, whose four year old son was killed by a Palestinian mortar shell.
Lapid tries to show that he cares about Diaspora Jews, who should “be able to stand safely outside synagogues and do their shopping in a kosher supermarket…” He could ask himself why it is that anti-Semitic attacks in Europe are on the rise whenever Israeli military activity seems to get out of control? And what he wants, Lapid says, is “...modest: for people not to try to kill me just because I’m a Jew.” He knows well enough that if anyone is trying to kill him, it is not because he is a Jew but because he is an Israeli and as surprising as it may seem to him, Palestinian terrorists have been killing Israelis and Israeli soldiers have been killing Palestinians for many years. The attempt to turn this into a “please don’t kill me just because I’m a Jew” is disgraceful and he should be ashamed of himself.