Is it humane to appropriate all the suffering in the world, leaving none for the Palestinians?


Photo by Ahmed Abu Hameeda on Unsplash


“Too often…we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought”
– John F. Kennedy

Israel’s fourth general election in two years (on March 23) reminded me of how earnestly – and determinedly – Israelis have engaged in nation-building. And it also a reminder of how carefully, Israel has worked to preserve ethnic nationalism.

Back in 2019, CUNY associate professor and Haaretz columnist Peter Beinart wrote a piece titled ‘Debunking the myth that anti-Zionism is antisemitic‘. He argued “Anti-Zionism is not inherently antisemitic – and claiming it is uses Jewish suffering to erase the Palestinian experience. Yes, antisemitism is growing. Yes, world leaders must fight it fiercely. But in the words of a great Zionist thinker, ‘This is not the way’.”


I saw some of this myself soon after I dared question the nomenclature of January 27 as Holocaust Memorial Day. I had argued that the German state’s official designation of that milestone was rather different and bears thinking about. For 25 years,  Germany has marked January 27 as ‘Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism’. What’s wrong, I suggested, for the rest of the world to consider the same? (Click here to read that blog.)

Well, judging from some of the responses, rather than expanding the pool of compassion for all suffering people, I might have been trying to advance a sneaky and bad agenda against the Jewish people.

The abuse dribbled in on various platforms. A sample was the response  from an individual who described themselves as “Psychanalyste, PhD”.

Well, they were clearly very angry, so much so that they hadn’t stopped to think if it were humane and just to appropriate all the suffering in the world, leaving none for the Palestinians. Here’s that angry reader’s response to me:

“Pour oser ecrire que les israeliens traitent les palestiniens comme eux- memes furent traites par le nazisme, il faut vraiment fermer les yeux pour ne pas etre confrontes aux faits, et leur preferer les dogmes ideologiques. Et cela vaut aussi pour les groupuscules israeliens rallies a l’extreme- gauche internationale “antisioniste”.

Google Translate offered the following:

To dare to write that the Israelis treat the Palestinians as they were treated by Nazism, one really has to close one’s eyes to not be confronted with the facts, and prefer them to the ideological dogmas. And this also applies to the Israeli groups rallying to the “anti-Zionist” international extreme left.

It really brought to mind what President John F. Kennedy said in his Commencement Address at Yale University on June 11, 1962:

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.