A Temple professor writes that Hamas' attempts to kill Israeli civilians and anti-Jewish demonstrations around the world would go on even if there were no military strikes in Gaza.
Many of my fellow academics have offered their enlightened views on why Hamas is launching rockets, why there are vicious protests in London and Berlin, and why pro-Hamas demonstrators in France have brought violent pogroms back to the streets, attacking Jews, destroying Jewish places of business and Jewish places of worship.
Many claim it's because of one thing — the occupation.
I am not in favor of the occupation of West Bank territory that should, in my view, be governed by Palestinians. And I am also not one of those people who wants to downplay the horror that innocent civilians in Gaza are enduring. It's tragic.
But it's not the occupation that is fueling these anti-Jewish demonstrations and Hamas rockets. Hamas attempts to kill Israeli civilians would go on even if there were no military strikes happening in Gaza right now.
The reason why Hamas attacks Israeli civilians, and the reason why pro-Hamas demonstrators in Europe are calling for Jewish blood — these are not anti-Israel demonstrations at this point, they are blatantly anti-Jewish — is not the occupation. The occupation is a pretext, not a cause.
The reason why this is happening is horrifically simple: They hate Jews.
They don't need a reason. And they cannot be reasoned with. The Israeli/Palestinian crisis right now is opening the floodgates, but the waters of chaos were already bubbling and swirling behind those gates.
The other day I posted a comment on the Facebook wall of a Palestinian friend expressing my anguish at what is happening in Gaza. A moment later, one of his friends, a Hamas supporter, replied: "I don't believe a word you say. You Jews are all the same…you are dirty people…"
This person had no capacity for viewing me as a human being. He had never met me, he didn't know me. The only exposure he had to me was a statement of sympathy and support. But that didn't matter. I was a Jew — and all Jews are the same. We are, in his view, animals fit for extermination.
This person is not a lone lunatic. This person is expressing a belief that all supporters of Hamas either actively celebrate or are willing to accept and tolerate.
I cannot stomach the attempts to rationalize, justify and even tacitly accept this blind, stinking, monstrous Jew-hatred.
So, to my fellow academics who insist on identifying the occupation as the root cause of all this anti-Jewish hostility: Why are you so ready to recognize and condemn hatred and racism directed against other people, but not against Jews?
When gays are beaten, do you say, "Well, it's because the gays are doing X, and should stop"? When African Americans are subject to discrimination and racist aggression, would you ever attempt to say, "If they simply adjusted their attitudes about Y, this oppression would end"?
Why then are you so willing to retreat into the pathetic claim that it's all because of Israeli policies? Why are you willing to accept violence against Jews as somehow justified by Israel's occupation of territory obtained in 1967? Why are you perpetuating the old "it's our fault that they hate us" explanation?
When will you realize that it is the old, unceasing evil that has always threatened Jews, and it is not about Israel/Palestine? And when will you accept that no attempts at conciliation, justification or accommodation will ever stop it?
I know when. I know when you'll realize what this Jew hatred really is.
You'll realize it when they come for you. And your protests of sympathy with their plight will be cut short as they end your life mid-sentence.
See the world for how it is. Do not try to conform it to academic theories that make it appear as you want it to be when the horrible truth is staring you directly in the eyes. Recognize the spreading hatred of Jews for what it truly means. To blame it on Israel and the Gaza crisis is to spit on the memory of 6 million of our ancestors.
Mark Leuchter is an associate professor of Hebrew Bible and ancient Judaism and the director of Jewish studies at Temple University.