Anti-Semitic Double Standards: A Personal Reflection

November 24, 2020

Walid Tamtam is a Muslim Canadian, born in Gatineau, Quebec and a new member of the CAM Contributor Network. He is dedicated to breaking through echo chambers with the purpose of ending polarization and bringing people together. In this original op-ed, Walid offers a personal take on the issue of anti-Semitic double-standards:

An assertion I have heard from many Israelis over the years at different phases of my life is that Israel is held to a double standard. I did not know what to make out of this notion, because all I knew is that there was an ongoing conflict and it must be resolved and that any awareness regarding the issue was done in good faith regarding human rights.

What brought my attention to the issue of double standards was not a reflection on the anti-Israel space and activism that I experience but rather nearly every other social or political movement from LGBTQ rights, Anti-War, Indigenous rights, and beyond. Religious, ethnic and national communities were never at target, it was specific policies that were mentioned by the platforms of each group. Unfortunately, protests against Israel in front of a synagogue seemed far too normal for my younger self.

What baffles me the most looking back is that Ottawa actually does have an Israeli embassy yet the target was a synagogue – and the people inside who did not deserve to experience loud noises, vandalism and disturbances at their place of prayer. My place of prayer, the local mosque, was always quiet and safe, unfortunately not always safe nowadays in different parts of the world but as a proud Canadian, I can say our community and allies have done a great job in keep religious community bonds alive and well. It was never about governments or foreign conflicts but blatant Islamophobia that was unfortunate but clear in its intent whereas other disturbances in Synagogues and visible places of the Jewish community were often masked behind another cause or purpose.

From motions at the United Nations Human Rights Council to the online and in-person instances of xenophobia, hate crimes, and protests that very well lead to hate crimes, Israel is held to a double standard by far too many. Some are blatantly anti-Semitic and then there is the silent majority of which are the most dangerous, the ones who come from visible minority and expand in progressive political circles. It seems as there is an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic narrative brewing up on what is supposed to be the most progressive spaces. For such regressive rhetoric and narrative that is over 72 years old in Anti-Zionism, it has seen success in sensational politics that builds coalitions to fight for the “Palestinian cause”. The clubs on the University campus now and the organizations I marched within my younger life, were not fighting the same fight, but were merging to form a larger community to isolate the Israeli students and ultimately the sole Jewish state in the world. The rejection of peace, coexistence, and humanity in our Jewish and Israeli counterparts could not be blunter in Al-Quds rallies or Students for Justice in Palestine campus events. These campaigns keep us behind Palestinian Authority and Arab League rhetoric and talking points of the last generation

Having seen in the news and social media that I wasn’t the only one to witness or experience inherently anti-Semitic protests not only from the chants, banners, and members but the very location that includes Holocaust museums, Jewish community centers, Yeshiva schools, and other visibly Jewish areas that are not about government actions that resemble the nuances of this conflict complex infrastructure. To bring the view back to campus, at Columbia University on April 11th, 2018, Students for Justice in Palestine were protesting on the opposite side of a Holocaust memorial. This environment demonstrates the lack of humanity within the students and intellectual nor direct connection with the conflicts and Jewish peers.

All people with shreds of humanity and genuine interests in making their schools, communities, and nations a better place to live and engage regardless of their background should condemn this double standard. The double standard against Israel and its Jewish community is a double standard that can be seen through its many symptoms, including the ones I have highlighted through my personal experience that hurts my soul to this day. Anti-Semitism and other forms of hate are on the rise in the era of Covid-19 so it is only ever more essential to speak up to such issues and change the status quo that creates a safer environment for peace and coexistence.

Category: Contributor Op-Eds