A Palestinian TV talk show host is facing strong condemnations and threats for hosting an Israeli Jewish singer who is extremely popular among Palestinian youths.
The condemnations expose the ugly face of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), whose followers are vehemently opposed to any form of "normalization" between Palestinians and Israelis.
The BDS activists are demanding that those who brought the singer, Zvi Yehezkel, to the TV show in Ramallah be punished. The activists do not even seem to care that the singer supports peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
They are more bothered by the fact that a Palestinian TV station in Ramallah dared to invite a Jew to an interview. The BDS activists are also not ashamed to expose their anti-Semitism by expressing their outrage over the fact that Yehezkel is an observant Jew wearing a skullcap.
Judging from the angry reactions to the Yehezkel interview, one can only deduce that members of the BDS movement are a deeply antisemitic racists who hate Jews just because of their faith and appearance.
Dozens of Palestinians took to social media to hurl abuse at the Palestinian TV show and its presenters, calling them "traitors," "spies," "dogs" and "pigs."
Palestinian artist Faten Kabha wrote that she decided to cancel an interview with the TV show "after it hosted a Jewish Zionist in the heart of Ramallah."
The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, a body dominated by Fatah activists in the West Bank, and several political groups also joined the bandwagon of denunciations over the Jewish singer's appearance on a Palestinian TV show; and the "anti-normalization" activists are also targeting the five-star Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah for hosting the Jewish singer.
One of the leaders of the "anti-normalization" campaign, Fadi Arouri, demanded that the hotel distance itself from the TV show, which was recorded in one of its halls, or face being labeled advocates of "normalization" with Israel. It would seem he has more to worry about by being labeled a racist.
Arouri, on his Facebook page, lashed out at the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation and the hotel for bringing the Jewish singer to Ramallah. He threatened to add the hotel to the list of advocates of "normalization" with Israel, saying: "You will be fought against the same way we fight the occupation and its institutions."
Arouri and his friends are also angry with the TV show for using Hebrew names of Israeli cities during the interview with Yehezkel, who lives in Ashkelon, and argued that the presenter should have used the Arabic name of Majdal instead of Ashkelon.
The Jewish singer is fortunate that Arouri and his friends did not know about his presence in Ramallah in real time, otherwise they would have attacked the TV studio and forced him to flee Ramallah, as these BDS activists have been doing for the past few years: violently breaking up meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and intimidating the participants like jackbooted thugs. These are people behaving in a way that does not deserve being rewarded with anything, let alone a state. They far more resemble all tyrannical thugs throughout history who spend their lives telling other people how to live, and using violence, or threats of violence, to coerce anyone who does not agree. Sadly, there already seems to be too much of that kind of muscling in our Arab and Muslim world, as Egypt's forward-looking President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as well as many others, regularly point out.
Palestinian "anti-normalization" activists disrupt an unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace conference last year, in Jerusalem's Ambassador Hotel.
The public outcry over a Jewish singer's appearance on a Palestinian TV talk show is yet another reminder of how we Palestinians have made ourselves intolerable to Israelis, even to those who are sympathetic to our cause and believe in peace and coexistence.
The campaign on social media against the singer and the TV show also provides proof of increasingly racist sentiments among our people. We automatically dismiss anyone wearing a kippa because we assume he is a "settler" who hates Arabs and Muslims. It is embarrassing to read many of the comments posted by Palestinian activists concerning the singer's religion and kippa.
With such attitudes, how can we ever make peace with Israel? If hosting a Jewish singer on a Palestinian TV talk show has drawn such fierce opposition and denunciations, what will happen the day any Palestinian leader signs a peace treaty with our Jewish neighbors?
How many times have Palestinians appeared in the Israeli media during the past few decades? Has anyone ever heard of such protests by Israeli Jews? Israeli media outlets have even been conducting interviews with some of Israel's worst enemies, including Palestinians who mercilessly killed innocent Jews. Still, we never saw disgusting and racist reactions like the ones posted on social media after the interview with the Jewish singer.
Over the years, we have taught our people to hate not only Israel, but Jews as well -- as is already cemented in the Hamas charter. We have done this through incitement in mosques, media outlets and public rhetoric. We have now reached the same stage as Germany's Nazis -- the same thing, ironically, we falsely accuse the Jews of being -- where our people consider the appearance of a Jew on a Palestinian TV show an act of "treason" and a "crime." In reality, it is we who are the New Nazis.
The case of the Jewish singer shows that the BDS and "anti-normalization" folks are nothing but a group of racist brown-shirts working to destroy any chance of peace and coexistence between Palestinians and Israel. Their hysterical reaction to the TV interview with Yehezkel proves that our people are continuing to march backward, toward more extremism, racism and Nazism.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.