Jews are constantly lectured that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are two separate concepts. Attacks on Jews are "justified" as a response to Israel's actions, we are told. Even when the attacker does not mention Israel, we are often told that it is a legitimate response.
The events in recent days have finally put paid to anyone who claims that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are mutually exclusive phenomena.
Since the outbreak of hostilities between the State of Israel and terrorist organizations in Gaza, Jews worldwide have been brutally attacked, and the number of anti-Semitic incidents has grown by hundreds of percent.
It is clear to almost every Jew that prejudice against us is different. It is largely unrecognized, with many fighting hard against attempts to define this hatred—the world's oldest. It is delegitimized, with many telling us Jews what constitutes hatred and intolerance displayed toward us in a way that would be unacceptable if exhibited against any other minority. It is downplayed, with many claiming that, as a collective, we are too powerful for persecution.
Nonetheless, the easiest way for many to hide their hatred of Jews is to shroud it in anti-Zionism. It is a thin veil that has now been lifted by recent events, definitively showing once and for all that Jews are not hated because of Israel—rather, Israel is hated because it is the Jewish homeland.
That is vital to understand. And those who still make the claim that attacks against Jews are connected to the behavior of Israel have to answer the following questions.
First, why are the Jews the only community targeted because of their ethnic, religious or national affiliation to another country? There are currently dozens of armed conflicts around the world, with tens of thousands of casualties every year—yet not one of these conflicts is imported to Europe the same way as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is repression and occupation in all parts of the world, yet there are no violent riots or demonstrations on the streets of our capitals. Most of these conflicts are met, even when they involve death and mass oppression that dwarf the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with passive indifference.
Second, if this is about Israel, then why do convoys of cars waving Palestinian flags travel across the U.K. specifically targeting Jewish areas, shouting "F*** the Jews, rape their daughters?" Why do gangs in Los Angeles search restaurants, asking who is a Jew before beating them up? Why are synagogues and other Jewish institutions targeted and vandalized? How does this express a feeling toward Israel, or help the Palestinian cause?
Third, why is it that only conflicts involving Jews get millions of people so riled up? As this is written, regrettably, thousands of Muslims and Arabs are being killed in armed conflicts, with millions more oppressed. Where is the outrage over the hundreds of thousands brutally massacred in the Syrian or Yemeni civil wars? Where are the demonstrations against the over one million Uyghurs held in concentration camps in Xinjiang? It should be clear that this is less about Muslims and Arabs, and far more about Jews.
Fourth, why is it not possible to march for Palestine without anti-Semitic chants and imagery? If these people are pro-Palestinian and not just anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, then why the need for massive blow-up figures with horns and big noses? Why do the marches invariably end up near synagogues, with Jews attacked? Where are the chants and placards calling for peace and coexistence?
Fifth, as mentioned earlier, there are countless conflicts around the world—the majority of countries are not classified as "free" by global human rights monitors. No nation is perfect, and each one makes mistakes. However, why is Israel the only country whose actual continued existence is routinely called into question during a conflict, or when it enacts an unpopular policy? The State of Israel is the only nation on earth whose destruction and dismantlement is often called for by people unhappy about its actions.
All of these questions point to something unique about the State of Israel that causes violence and hatred among many of its detractors, far worse than anything directed against any other nation on earth.
Unfortunately, this is part of an ongoing pattern.
Israel is the only nation permanently on the agenda of United Nations bodies. Israel is the only nation specifically mentioned in international women's rights reports. Israel is the only nation faced with a call for "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions." While there is some form of ethnic, religious and gender-based discrimination in every country in the Middle East and beyond, only Israel is called an "apartheid state." Israel is the only country slated for destruction by a nearby country that is racing to acquire the means to carry it out.
Israel is attacked by seemingly disparate groups, from the far Left to the far Right to Islamist extremists. Each of these groups uses historic anti-Semitic motifs against Israel unique to their tradition, such as a lust for blood, killers of children and the pursuit of global power.
Israel is also the only Jewish homeland and the only nation-state where Jews constitute a majority in the entire world.
No one can seriously claim anymore that this is all just a mere coincidence.
Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum and former director of the Jewish Community Relations Council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.