Sometimes I wonder how different I would be if my parents had never moved to America from Israel. At this moment, I’d be a soldier serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, just like the rest of the 18-to-21-year-old Jewish Israelis are obliged to do, and forced into yet another war for my survival simply because I’m Jewish. The city my parents came from, the city I would have grown up in, has just been attacked. More than 270 missiles from Gaza targeted Israeli civilians in a total of three days, and the violence continues. So, while in America I’m free to go to college, go to parties, study abroad, and do pretty much whatever I want, I feel the need to share my concerns on the rise of anti-Zionism in America.
The other day, the University of California, Irvine, voted 16-0 to divest itself of companies that do business with the Jewish State. Here at UC Santa Barbara, a girl in one of my classes confidently compared the Israeli soldiers to the German Nazis that murdered their grandparents and great grandparents. Yet Israel is a country that is always willing to lend a helping hand to countries in need. It was the first to offer aid after the earthquake in Japan. It was one of the first countries to act to stop the genocide in Darfur. It sent over aid for Hurricane Sandy despite the constant attacks Israel’s people must face at home. In Israeli hospitals, a sick Palestinian may be treated before a wounded Israeli soldier because they offer medical attention based on fatalness, rather than health insurance or citizenship.
And yet Israel is the one criticized, despite the fact Israel has always been the one willing to compromise since day one, as seen in various peace treaties agreeing to a two-state plan Palestinians refused to negotiate with, including the United Nations Partition Plan. Palestinian leaders very publicly vow to “drive Israel into the Sea.” Peace is a two-way effort.
When the American government was first notified of the Jewish holocaust, they chose to do nothing long before eventually intervening. Americans now wonder how such a horrible thing could have happened. Well, your apathy may be costing a lot of lives, again.
So what I want to know, America, is why, when I turn on the news to hear about the weekly attacks on Israel, nobody seems to give a damn. Yet when Israel responds – the same people you wished defended themselves before Nazi Germany – it is an outrage. And you dare to compare these people to Nazis? It’s sickening.
Whether we realize it or not, we as Americans hold immense power in global affairs. And this is how we use that power? To criticize a targeted people and stand by as a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians live side-by-side is struggling for survival?
It truly breaks my heart to say I’ve never felt so unsafe calling myself an American Jewish student in the UC system, one of the leading university systems in the world.
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Vered Tova Hazanchuk is a second-year student at UC Santa Barbara.