Disentangling Interests

It's not hypocrisy, it's a double standard.

Disentangling Interests
A sign at a demonstration protesting US involvement in World War II

Amidst the chaos of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that's recently erupted, there has been an array of attempts to draw parallels between countries and cultures in order to facilitate certain political narratives. One of the most common is the comparison between Israel and the West. Particularly, it has been the Israeli Zionists that have posited that the West and Israel share a common bond as the misunderstood settler colonialists, facing accusations of oppression from the minorities and underclasses that have benefited from the colonialism they reproach. At a first glance, this comparison seems to be a critique of anti-colonial sentiment, two groups casting off the guilt of their past misdeeds. However, with a closer look, it seems one group is attempting to minimize a gulf between two great nations, in a pursuit of its own geopolitical interests.

Israel's relatively recent foundation in 1948 is deeply rooted in religious narratives of the Jewish homeland. It was designed by Zionists as a safe haven for all Jews of the world. In contrast, the West's colonization, particularly in the Americas, was driven by a mix of economic desires, geopolitical rivalries, and the idea of manifest destiny. America is also historically a Christian nation; nearly all of its founders held some form of Christian belief. It is an over-simplification to categorize the West and Israel as a monolithic entity, based on shared foundational myths or religious beliefs. These distinctions in foundational motives lay bare the significant differences in the genesis of these two entities.

There's a second inherent inconsistency in the narrative. Zionists living in America claiming simultaneous alliance with the West's so-called colonial legacy, while also painting themselves as victims of Western prejudice. Groups like the ADL and SPLC are run by Israeli-Americans and Israeli citizens, who according to Jonathan Greenblatt, "are all Zionists". These so-called watchdog groups monitor, censor, and punish Americans through the weaponization of the legal system and the media. It's difficult to see how Zionists can align with a group and simultaneously claim oppression by the very same entity. There is no coherence in identifying with both the colonist and the colonized.

While Zionists in America enjoy the freedoms, rights, and opportunities that the nation offers them, they are often times the most vociferous critics of American policies, especially those they perceive as anti-Israel. While Americans for centuries have upheld the values of freedom of expression and the right to speech, those same principles are thwarted by anti-BDS legislature, laws written only to protect the interests of Israel. This pattern mirrors some immigrant groups who, while benefiting from the systems of their newly adopted countries, maintain strong nationalistic ties to their old homelands. Simply pointing out this behavior in reference to Jews living in America is labeled as anti-Semitic. This is another flaw in the comparison between The West and Israel. Although this phenomenon of dual loyalty is not unique to American Zionists, it is more commonly observed with immigrants from the Global South than Europeans living in America.

We have all seen Mexican communities flying their nation's flag, most commonly in metropolitan areas of the US. It's common for a city to highlight the distinct ethnic backgrounds of its citizens, or to celebrate during festivities like Mardi Gras. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, and is nearly exclusively normalized in Western and more specifically, European nations. This is not true of Israel. In fact, as recently as January 2023, the Palestinian flag has been banned by Israel's Minister of Security, Ben-Gvir. Make no mistake, this is not an endorsement of tolerance, or liberalism, or some other misplaced sense of empathy. It is however an attempt to shed light on the rift that exists between the West and Israel. Despite the pro-Zionist rhetoric insisting Americans really do share common ground with Israel, it seems that only Western nations must uphold diversity as a virtue. It's not hypocrisy, it's a double standard. Their narrative serves to hide this inconsistency through a form of forced teaming. The sole utility of the phrase "Judeo-Christian" is to reassure Western nations that their alliance with Israel benefits both parties. "We're not so different, relax. You can let your guard down."