Let us distance ourselves

Let us distance ourselves

You’d be hard pressed to find a solitary week more loaded with tragedy than the one we’ve just finished. In the past few days, we watched two tragedies unfold, both on a worldwide stage and both of vastly different calibers.
The untimely death of Amy Winehouse, at only 27, is a tragedy in that the Grammy-award winning singer was so young and talented, of course, but also in that her death was entirely preventable.
The massacre in Oslo last week, however, is a different beast entirely. On July 22, alleged perpetrator Anders Behring Breivik deployed two separate and devastating attacks. First, a car bomb exploded outside a government building in central Oslo; under two hours later, Breivik opened fire at a summer gathering of Norway’s Labour Party on the nearby island of Utoya. All told, the revised death toll puts the casualities at 76.
Though no ideology or personal belief is a valid cause for the slaughter of so many innocent victims, Breivik, at least in his head, appears to have justified his killing spree with his desire to push Muslims from Norway.
As JTA notes, a manifesto attributed to Breivik is vehemently anti-Muslim, speaking to the relatively recent population explosion of Muslims in Europe. Such xenophobia is problem enough. But even more troubling is the manifesto’s Israel sympathies. The author writes, “Aided by a pre-existing anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, European media have been willing to demonize the United States and Israel while remaining largely silent on the topic of Eurabia.” He even notes several Israeli political parties, including the right-wing Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and National Union, as allies.
It’s not hard to understand how Breivik drew parallels between Israel’s struggles with Palestinians and Europe’s with Muslims — in his mind, both are dealing with an intruder. Ignoring that such a parallel is hardly apt for both situations, the bottom line here — what is most troubling — is that Breivik’s political ideology may somehow be linked to Israel. No belief, political or otherwise, is cause for such awful violence. Breivik’s massacre is a hate crime, and to associate it with the Jewish state is dangerous.
As Jews, we have grown to be extra-sensitive toward hate crimes — whether they are committed against other Jews, Muslims, Christians or otherwise. Hate is hate, and it has no place connected to Judaism or Israel. And yet, that Breivik could find strength and inspiration from Israel’s hard right-wing parties is a problem, one that should be eye-opening to American Jews who may not be familiar with Israel’s harsher policies and rhetoric toward Palestinians.
So let us take this moment to grieve, first and foremost, but also look inward. An Israel that gives politically motivated mass-murderers inspiration is not an Israel that we should be blindly supporting. Let us distance ourselves from the madness of Breivik, and seek to understand why and how he found clarity in Israel.