Eylon Aslan-Levy gives us a first hand account about post-anti-Semitism Europe:
The Israeli Debating League is heading home from this year’s European Universities Debating Championship in Manchester. The annual “Euros” tournament brings together hundreds of students from across Europe to argue about thorny issues for which they have only fifteen minutes to prepare. This year, over two hundred teams battled over the motion: “This House Believes that Israel Should Allow Members of the Jewish Diaspora to Vote in its Elections“.
It has become a tradition to hold a debate about Israel at Euros: this is the third in as many years. As such, the championship has become a fascinating place to see what the students of today – and the leaders of tomorrow – think and know about the Jewish state.
Many of the debaters’ mistakes were, relatively speaking, benign.Other misconceptions were bizarre.Israel is, as one team noted, the most tribal society in the world. It has seven tribes, another team added helpfully.
Yet others were far more sinister.It was asserted that ”the Israeli people are irrational” and want to kill people. Israelis cannot be trusted with their own democracy: their extremist government won’t apologise for the Mavi Marmara. Israel has no right to sovereignty, since it can’t survive without foreign aid – that’s why the Jewish Diaspora should be able to vote in Israel, to keep the place in check. This should work because – as we heard in another room – JewsAnti-Israeli bigotry is one thing. Anti-Semitism is another.When members of the Israeli delegation told their Kosovar counterparts that they had stayed in Manchester for a few days before the tournament, their competitors responded with a comment about “rich Jews”. When the Israelis clarified that they had in fact stayed in a hostel, the response became: “stingy Jews”.There is in much of the world an unhealthy obsession with Israel, and the debating world is no different:At last year’s championship in Belgrade, we learnt that Ehud Barak was the president of Syria, and that Israel is guilty of genocide in the West Bank, where it might consider dropping a nuclear bomb. Debating a demilitarised Palestinian state, one Israeli debater mentioned post-war Germany as an example of demilitarisation; she was met with the sardonic response that it was “curious” that the Israeli debaters should try to draw an analogy to Nazi Germany. Whatever that was supposed to mean.The Israeli delegation react to these modern-day blood libels with a laugh, a shrug, a sigh – and then business as usual. The Israelis are used to it. They are used to being the subjects of baseless aspersions and comments that would be deeply hurtful, had they not developed a thick enough skin already to deal with it. Israelis have learnt to just roll their eyes and laugh. It is just so normal to hear people accusing Israel of anything and everything, or just getting their facts horribly wrong, that it ceased to shock long ago.Moreover, Israelis are not sure that Europeans understand why certain remarks are so offensive. So it is better just to drop it and move on.ma nishtana?