The Line Between History and Fantasy

You guys remember that monster battle between the Pilsbury Doughboy and H.R. Pufnstuf over in China a few years back that left all of Hong Kong blanketed in uncooked cinnamon roll dough? What about when one of Count Chocula Corporation’s underwater pipelines burst in 2008 and turned the entire Gulf of Mexico into chocolate milk? Or when the Mario Brothers were sued for breaking into the San Diego Zoo and killing all those turtles? No?

Yeah, I don’t remember any of that stuff ever happening. Chances are neither do you. That’s about the same feeling I get around this time every year when I’m walking to class past the flagpoles and have to look at this big wooden wall accusing Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid” and all kinds of “war crimes.” I follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pretty closely and I just don’t remember any of that stuff ever happening.

I had a discussion the other day with a friend about the Muslim Student Union’s anti-Israel week. We were arguing about the legitimacy of the claims that the MSU always makes about Israeli “apartheid” and “genocide.” He provided me, from memory, with examples of several incidents over the past few years that supported the MSU’s claims. And to his credit, they were all only mostly convoluted and left out of context, rather than entirely, as is usually the case with what we see on that big wooden wall at the flagpoles every May.

I have to hand it to the guy, though. He must have done some really original research because he started drawing all these analogies; Israeli genocide is like when British forces flew into Tehran on the backs of six-winged dragons and burned the city to ashes; Israeli war crimes are like when the Russians obliterated the walls surrounding Cairo and any innocent souls near them by secretly hiring Lord Voldemort and his legion of dark wizards in World War I; Israeli apartheid is like when Darth Vader invaded Bulgaria and kept its citizens under brutal occupation with his army of storm troopers. And I’ve got to say I was inclined to agree that each accusation against Israel he listed was as factually accurate as the historical analogy he gave it.

Recently I’ve started looking at the people who organize anti-Israel week the same way I look at people who organize cosplaying conventions. That is, people who create a false reality and spend a whole lot of effort pretending it’s real, people just acting the part to suit their context. Their rhetoric reaches heights of so much hatred and their “facts” depths of so much disinformation that sometimes I wonder if they’re really even political activists at all, or just people dressing up and cosplaying as caricatures of them.

I’ve studied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from all angles; Zionist, neutral, Palestinian and people who just don’t give a damn. I’ve been to Israel and the West Bank. I’ve been on the ground. I’ve spoken with the people, even government officials. I’ve peered at so many nooks and crannies in the situation that I’m genuinely sick of the whole damn thing. And I never saw anything about war crimes, apartheid or genocide. Only incidents and events and policies that if you stood on your head and held your breath until you were about to pass out, might actually look like Israeli actions intended to hurt the Palestinians rather than the ambiguous and complicated results of war and conflict that they were. The Palestinians are suffering, yes. They are being oppressed, and they are being brutalized. But the significant majority of it, the part that is intentional, is being done by their own government.

The frank reality is that when you compare the freedoms Israel grants all, not just Jewish but all, of its citizens to those of its neighbors, it’s clear that no Palestinian, no Christian, no lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and certainly no Jew is freer anywhere else in the Middle East than in Israel. Arabs in Israel are not murdered for being gay, like they are in Gaza and much of the Middle East. Arabs in Israel are not murdered for criticizing their government, like they are in Gaza and much of the Middle East.

But it’s rather rude of me to bring that up. That’s factual and objective information, and I don’t want that to ruin a week of fantasy like this.

AE Anteater is a fifth-year English major. He can be reached at emailremoved@uci.edu.