Hill Times Columnist Blames Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu For “Antisemitism, Islamophobia, And Anti-Western Sentiment”

December 20, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like all leaders, is a fair target for criticism and for opprobrium.

And in his December 11 column in The Hill Times entitled: “Israel’s war in Gaza: an object lesson for democracies?,” Joseph Ingram, a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, pulls no punches, describing Israel’s prime minister as a brazen opportunist who built a coalition government with “extreme religious parties in Israel,” not out of ideological agreement, but because “they were the most likely to support policies that would keep him out of the courts” because of Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption scandals. 

While Ingram’s assessment would no doubt find agreement among many Israelis, his column soon veers from legitimate criticism of the policies of Israel’s prime minister to eyebrow-raising claims that Netanyahu is somehow responsible for the scourge of Jew-hatred around the world. 

Ingram wrote that Netanyahu’s actions “under the guide of protecting Israel as the eternal homeland of the Jewish people – is helping to fuel a dangerous rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-western sentiment.” 

Since October 7, there has been an indisputable rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes around the world, a common occurrence during every time of heightened tensions and conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The attacks have been deadly: in recent weeks, a pro-Israel protester was killed during a rally in Los Angeles, and a Jewish leader in Detroit was murdered in what very well may also be a hate crime. 

In recent weeks, there has also been a jump in anti-Muslim attacks, though they remain smaller in number. 

However, blaming Netanyahu for the spike in said hate crimes against Jews or Muslims is to absolve perpetrators of such attacks, and transform them from automatons who can’t help but attack others because of the war between Hamas and Israel. Ingram may be attempting to speak in rhetorical terms, but his wording is dangerously wrong. No matter the level of one’s anger at Israel’s policies, there is no justification for attacking innocent people in the world, and Israel’s prime minister is certainly not responsible for the actions of antisocial miscreants. 

While Ingram’s column later meanders into a bizarre rabbit hole including Donald Trump, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, greenhouse gas emissions and clean energy, he concludes by falsely equating Israel with Hamas. 

Ingram wrote that “as Israel and Gaza have shown, electing governments controlled by religious and ideological fundamentalists is fraught with serious risk,” erroneously suggesting that there is somehow any scintilla of comparison between the two. 

Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since violently seizing control of the coastal territory in 2007, is a fanatical Islamic terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel through violent means, and replacing it with an Islamic State-style totalitarian regime. There are no personal rights and freedoms to speak of under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. 

In extreme contrast, Israel is a vibrant liberal democracy, home to more than two million Arabs who enjoy full and equal representation under the law, and where women are viewed equally under the eyes of the law, as are ethnic and sexual minorities. 

The only example cited by Ingram of how Israel, like Gaza under Hamas, has been put at risk as a result of “electing governments controlled by religious and ideological fundamentalists,” is the installation of government ministers publicly calling for the “establishment of West bank settlements.” Whether one agrees or disagrees with Israel’s settlement policy of constructing houses in Israel’s ancestral lands, they cannot be seriously compared to Hamas’ stated ideology of genocidal intent against Israel. 

Whatever Benjamin Netanyahu’s faults, he has not, as Ingram suggests, transformed Israel into a state that is in any way comparable with the Gaza Strip under the extremist control of Hamas. Implying so, as Ingram has done, is intellectually lazy and fallacious.

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