To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
--- George Orwell

Monday, September 15, 2014

At Yesterday's Anti Semitism Rally In Berlin, Israeli Flags Might Have Sent A Message At Odds With The Rally’s Intent

Berliners At The Brandenburg Gate Wave Israeli Flags

I love a parade, especially one denouncing intolerance, thuggery and racial hate, but the visuals at Berlin's rally against anti Semitism in Berlin have me a bit confused. German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech in which JFK's infamous line Ich Bin Ein Berliner could have been repurposed into Ich Bin Ein Juden as a statement of solidarity with European Jews who've become targets of rising anti Semitism across the continent triggered by Israeli actions in Gaza this summer. Indeed, one of the reasons for the rally was to draw the vital distinction between "European Jews" and "the Jewish State" as a way of standing against Jewish scapegoating. The sea of Israeli flags at the rally, however, seemed to have sent a message at odds with that aim, conflating Jewish Europeans with the State of Israel and in the process sending a signal of support for that state: Ich Bin Ein Israelisch.

One of the reasons for the dysfunction in the American and European discourse on Israel is the tendency to equate criticism of Israel, no matter how legitimate, with anti Semitism, which is basically a way of saying that "Jews = Israel." In fact this is not the case, as many diaspora Jews, and certainly many anti Zionist Jews, will insist.  Maybe someone needs to design a flag specifically to represent Jews as "a people," as opposed to having the Star of David flag of the Jewish State do double duty? Or a flag that simply, and specifically, stands for opposition to anti Semitism around the world? To hard-core anti Semites, this might be a matter of a "distinction without a difference." But it's a distinction that might actually make a difference in terms of the nuances that need to be established.   

Design proposals for new flags should be sent to:

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