Recent months have witnessed some ugly anti-Semitic incidents in different parts of Europe in what can only be described as a distorted response to the manner which Israel conducted the war in Gaza. This type of reaction taking place in Europe reminded me of a warning I heard a few years ago from Robi Damlin of the Parents’ Circle- Families Forum in a meeting with my students. The organisation is comprised of some six hundred bereaved Israelis and Palestinians, who support peace, reconciliation and tolerance despite losing their loved ones to the conflict. Robi, whose son was killed by a sniper, pleaded passionately with the international group of students to avoid importing the Israeli Palestinian conflict into their societies. She asked the audience rhetorically what good would come from them choosing sides instead of simply supporting a peaceful resolution of the conflict. She poignantly pointed out that there was enough hatred in the region already, and spreading this hatred abroad does not help any of the sides. This sentiment seems to elude many political activists at the moment, especially in Europe. Not only has anti-Semitism been on the rise in recent months, but also Islamophobia, especially following the murderous attacks carried out by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Racism and hate crimes in any shape or form are cancerous to the very fabric of a free societyYossi Mekelberg