Monday, September 03, 2007

Criticism of Israel Isn't Antisemitic, Antisemitic Criticism of Israel is Antisemitic

As the situation in Israel has worsened, accusations of Antisemitism and accusations that criticism of Israel is being muzzled with claims of Antisemitism have been thrown around like a football. Critics hostile to Israel claim that they are being muzzled. Pro-Israel activists reply that the claim of being muzzled is itself intended to silence the debate by treating retorts from the Pro-Israel side as illegitimate acts of persecution.

Out of all that tangled mess, let's get back to basics. No one is of course perfect. No country is perfect. There isn't any person or any government or any country that is immune to criticism or doesn't deserve to be criticized. I've criticized the Israeli government extensively myself.

So where do we draw the line between legitimate criticism and bigotry? For one thing fairness is a dead giveaway. Someone who leads a crusade against crime is an activist. Someone who constantly reports and focuses only on crimes by a particular race, is a racist. Apply that same formula to Israel in the context of a world where numerous occupations and ethnic wars and even genocides are underway and it's not too hard to figure out why people who single out Israel are suspected of prejudice.

After all if you had a newspaper columnist, who dedicated all his attention to only crimes committed by Jews while mostly ignoring the rest, it wouldn't be too hard to guess his agenda. It's not too hard to guess the agenda of a U.N. where countries that engage in actual apartheid and are responsible for mass murder sit on the human rights committee and shut down discussion of Sudan while passing more resolutions against Israel. Is that Antisemitism? That's a matter of interpretation. Is it fair? It's impossible to argue that it is.

When British academics push a boycott of Israel but not a boycott of China or India or Turkey or Sri Lanka or Sudan or Saudi Arabia, what any unreasonable person sees is blatant unfairness. It then becomes a matter of determining the motive for that unfairness. Is it bigotry or some other agenda. Considering how prevalent Antisemitism has been throughout history and considering the upsurge in Antisemitism in Europe that has now been testified to even by governing bodies, viewing Antisemitism as at least a contributing factor to such unfairness is entirely reasonable.

Of course we can't know what is in someone else's heart but we can pay attention to the consistency of their own standards to reveal their agendas. Genuine human rights campaigners are supposed to care about oppression around the world. Someone who has no idea what has been going on in Sri Lanka or East Timor but is perpetually outraged about Israel isn't interested in human rights so much as in Israel. And that raises the question why.

Critics of Israel typically try to explain away such single mindedness by claiming that Israel is a unique case because Israel receives foreign aid, because Western countries helped bring Israel into existence or because Israel is more Western and should be held to higher standards. On closer examination though, all these arguments quickly fall apart. Israel receives foreign aid but so do Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and many countries that are genuinely repressive. Much of the Middle East consists of countries that America and Europe created by drawing lines on a map. If America and Europe are somehow responsible for Israel, why are they not responsible for Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria? And finally is Lebanon held to a higher standard because it is more Western and Democratic? In the face of reason such positions quickly fall apart.

Neither foreign aid, nor 'responsibility for the creation of Israel', nor democracy or any other excuse is at the heart of the reason why Israel is targeted in such a way. Among the world Israel is only unique in one way. Not in occupation of territory or its war with terrorism but in being the only Jewish state in the world. And it is its Jewishness that is at the heart of the concern of many of its critics, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

It is difficult to argue that were Israel populated by Arabs or Malay or Africans or Turks or Persians that it would receive a fraction of the attention that it does. There are too many examples that prove otherwise. For hundreds of millions around the world Israel plays a unique role, for good or bad, precisely because it is Jewish and how people approach Israel has most to do with their own religious beliefs or lack thereof and how that causes them to approach Jews as a people.

Muslim opposition to Israel is not rooted in love for the Palestinian Arabs, a phantom people who are routinely abused and despised in Arab countries. It is rooted in the Islamic inability to tolerate a non-Muslim regime, particularly a Jewish one, in their midst. Christian denominations break down their approach to Israel along theological lines, none of them truly accepting Israel over the long run as a enduring Jewish state populated by Jews who believe and practice Judaism.

The progressive left which has rejected a separate ethnic identity for Jews while welcoming and celebrating it among bona fide minorities views Israel as illegitimate because they view a separate Jewish identity as illegitimate, as testified to from the days of the French Revolution to the Soviet Union and to the modern assimilationist streams of Liberal Judaism. In this fundamentally Antisemitic or rather Judeopathic worldview, Arab identity is more authentic than Jewish identity and the artificial European imposed borders of Syria or Jordan are somehow more authentic than those of Israel.

It is not what Israel does that outrages the bulk of its critics and enemies. It is what Israel is. From that inescapable fact emerges both the problem and the solution. We cannot appease our critics. We can only do our best to survive them.


WomanHonorThyself said...

stunning!..absolutely on spot. Keep up the good fight!..Am Yisroel Chai!

Keli Ata said...

Excellent article once again, though I did have have to do a double take on the headline lol.

It's human nature that people and countries will have prejudices, but as you pointed out when they specifically target Jews and Israel (or any nation and religion) they have crossed the line and their prejudices are put into action.

When people accuse Israel of apartheid, of its people and leaders of being Nazis and settlers as illegal occupiers they've crossed the line. When they ban Israel professors and try to cripple the economy with boycotts they are very clearly anti-Semitic.

And as you pointed out so beautifully, even those Christians who claim to love Israel and the Jewish people really only want Israel to exist as a Christian state.

And the support of Muslims and leftist Christian organizations that claim they are pro-Palestinian really don't care about the Palestinian civilians or those victimized by Hamas. They just hate Jews/Israelis. The Palestian people are just a front for their own hatred of Israel and Jews.

I can say it until I am blue in the face...if these liberals genuinely cared for the Palestinians they wouldn't be fighting to keep them under the rule of a terrorist government.

Anonymous said...

Great article.

Lemon said...

True post.

Anonymous said...

You have gotten to the essence of the problem. The world can't stand "Jewish." Jewish/Bible equal fixed moral and ethics that gives the humanistic mind fits. What, we cannot do what we deem right? The Bible says NO! We can't live within these restraints. Of course, this is also true for dictators. So when you add up all the Muslim countries and the various dictators you have almost the entire world. Therefore, Israel will easily lose at the UN and its verious committees.

The real danger isn't just to Isarel. Once you gut morals and ethics we will become survival of the strongest. This is what Germans wanted. And, they weren't alone. There were many in America and Europe with the same mindset.

The end of Israel will cause spill over to degrading Jewish values. Then civilization will crumble.

Marcel said...

"And as you pointed out so beautifully, even those Christians who claim to love Israel and the Jewish people really only want Israel to exist as a Christian state."

I disagree. there are a few of us who see the futility,deception and evil of a 'christian state'.
Isn't Rome enough for an example of this corrupt enterprise of vain, religious, old, decaying mortals ?
As a Christian I am looking for the promise God made to Melek David to come to pass. I'm looking for the Kingdom of God ,having given up on failed ,weak,devious,corrupt man and his political institution's
The problem with so many Jews and Christians is they still trust in liars and lies and have made a god out of their false messiah whom Israel continues to look to for peace with his Road Map final solution.
King George reveals where peoples faith truly lies.
You settle for truth only or lies ,politics, with a good power spin but no good outcome for Israel.
When this fraud unchristian devil declared his vision for a Palestinian state on June 24th,2002, I turned on him like ever true Zionist should have done.
But sadly ,fickle as we all are,most made excuses for their god on the Potomac.

Islam and Israel cannot co-exist.
The moslems know that if the Jews remain in Israel that allah is a fraud ,a fake god who cannot maintain Dar al Islam against a small clan of 'infidel' Jews.
You see ,Israel's continued existence makes Islam look very bad indeed.
Once again Israel's God will teach the world that Israel is not the tail of the nations but the head.
Be patient ,He will bring it to pass in spite of Olmert, Bush and the other appeasers for no peace.

Anonymous said...

Your Christian writer brings up an interesting question. Where do alternative religions fit into the bigger picture? As he points out the existence of Israel is a painful bone in the throat of Islam. Actually, the same can be said for traditional Christianity.

The Bible offers a simple solution. I refer to the seven laws of Noah.

We are currently in a battle between Bible true Jews (and their supporters) and almost everyone else. Opposed to the Bible you have many groups. You have the anti-religious left. You have Islam. You have Athists, humanists, etc. What is a Torah believing person to do?

A recent article indicated that almost half the combat solders in Israel are religious. The problem is that the leadership (government, technocrats, Judicial, etc.) are not.

So we have a struggle. A race between those who are religious and those opposed to religion. Thanks to the way the rules work those elitists, opposed to religion, are tightly in control.

The secular Zionists had a goal to wipe Judism out of existance. Instead the religious movement has grown. What does the left do? They end the experiment. This means turning the State into an Arab majority.

When viewed with this gameplan everything that has happen suddenly make a lot of sense. The leaders want to move Isarel back to an earlier time when Arabs dominated the country. They cut deals with secular Arabs hoping to maintain some rights for individual non-Arabs. That is why the PA/Abbas is good and Hamas is bad. Both are equally evil, but the PA is more likely to offer personal freedom for non-Muslims. If not for all at least for the critical elite.

As long as the anti-Jewish Jewish elite are protected the masses will have to manage as best as they can.

Now doesn't this describe what is happening?

Anonymous said...

7 laws of Noah is junk. Its made up. Its phoney.
Israel is for Jews not Noah, not Christians, not buddhists.

Leslie said...

So Sultan, is there anyone who accepts Israel....or the Jews? The Arabs don't, Muslims don't, the Left doesn't, Christians don't. In your view, those who do not have a Judeopathic world view become a small group indeed. You seem to think disinterest is the best you can hope for. If so, this a terrible approach.

I'm a Christian. While I believe global support for Israel is declining overall, it is NOT declining among Christians. These are the people you say do not "truly accept" Israel. I believe the decline of support for Israel mirrors the decline of Christianity in the west to some sort of secular netherworld where religion has no place at all.

I'll make a wager with you. I wager support for Israel is lowest in those parts of the US are most left and least San Francisco. I'll ignore Europe with it's share of non-assimilating Muslims because that's too easy.

I think support for Israel will be highest in the US in those areas with stronger Christian Dallas for example. I believe that, in Africa and China, support for Israel is highest in those areas where the percentage of Christians is highest. I might even win the wager in those areas of the US that have a larger population with the Jewish faith and that's another place I think your argument breaks down. The political left seems to trump religion amongst some Jews these days.

Simply put, part of your article is correct, and part of it reflects a paranoia that rejects the friends who support and help most. It is understandable.....and sad.

Sultan Knish said...

Leslie, your definition of Christians is a good deal narrower than mine. Most of the Democratic party and a great many liberals are self-defined as Christians, many go to Church.

The Presbyterian Church which boycotted Israel is rather undeniably Christian. So are many other liberal denominations.

Post a Comment