It is Not Antisemitic to Criticize Israel Fairly
There is probably no nation on the planet more self-critical than Israel. Leftwing organizations criticize their nation’s treatment of the Palestinians. Rightwing groups criticize their nation’s secularism and worldliness. As for Israeli politics, they make American politics look tame and civil.
Daily, Israeli newspapers level charges against one political party or another. Meanwhile Israeli intellectuals rail on one social evil or another. Religious Jews condemn the non-religious for their lack of observance. Non-religious Jews condemn the religious for their hypocrisy.
Welcome to life in Israel, where criticism of Israel happens virtually 24/7.
Fair Analysis Versus Antisemitism
Quite obviously, then, it is ridiculous to brand all criticism of Israel as being antisemitic, even when it comes from outside the nation. Some of the criticism is fair. All nations and peoples will be subject to criticism of one kind or another.
But when lies are circulated about Israel, that is antisemitic. When the nation as a whole is demonized or delegitimized, that is antisemitic. When Israel is held to a different standard than the rest of the world, that is antisemitic.
Let’s expand this to the Jewish world as a whole, for argument’s sake. It is not antisemitic to say, “It seems that Jewish people have a disproportionate influence on the economy and the media.” But it is antisemitic to say, “Jews control the economy and the media.” One statement is fairly accurate and does not draw larger, false conclusions. The other is not accurate. It does draw larger, false conclusions.
It is not antisemitic to say, “Liberal Jews have a disproportionate influence on America’s moral values. Examples include the three Jewish Supreme Court judges, George Soros, and leaders of the ACLU and SPLC.” It is antisemitic to say, “The sexual revolution was a Zionist conspiracy.” Or, “The Jews want to destroy America’s Christian values.” Again, one statement is fairly accurate and does not draw larger, false conclusions. The others are not accurate; they do draw larger, false conclusions.
The problem is not fair criticism. The problem is when the Jewish people as a whole are demonized. The problem is when they are falsely caricatured and made into scapegoats. In short, the problem is with the idea that, “All the world’s problems can be traced back to those evil Jews!” The problem is statements like, “Israel is a genocidal, apartheid state, no better than Nazi Germany.”
That’s when we cry, “Antisemitism!”
Antisemitism and Israel Bashing
Earlier this year, I updated and revised my 1992 book Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the ‘Church’ and the Jewish People. I was struck to see how antisemitism has reared its ugly head since the first edition was published.
Jews are now fleeing France and England because of increased attacks and outright Jew-hatred. Jews in Germany have been warned against the danger of wearing a kippah (yarmulke) in public. In many ways, things are far worse today in Europe than they were just two or three decades ago.
As for world governing bodies like the United Nations and its various organizations, Israel-bashing continues to be the pattern. The Jewish nation is singled out for unfair attack and criticism.
Just this May, “The annual assembly of the UN’s World Health Organization today voted 96 to 11 for a resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab bloc and the Palestinian delegation, that singled out Israel over ‘Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.’”
Israel is always the guilty party.
Blaming the Jews
Even within the evangelical Church, demonizing the Jewish people and Jewish nation is becoming more common. It includes dangerously outlandish charges like this: “Of all the diseased schools of racial supremacism, I am convinced that the Jewish specimen is the most evil and most threatening to the lives, bodies, and eternal destinies of humankind. … Zionism has existed as a satanic ideological force in opposition to all things good and even to life itself for three thousand years. … Zionism and its accompanying religious disease, Judaism, are the champions of all time in terms of the total number of innocent men, women, and children being imprisoned in concentration camps, beaten, bludgeoned, raped, robbed, humiliated, and unmercifully slaughtered.”
What’s frightening is that quotes like this could be easily multiplied. They spread like wildfire on the internet. And given today’s fascination with conspiracy theories, antisemitism has found a powerful new expression: It’s the Jews who are responsible for it all!
Don’t Defame, Demonize and Delegitimize
Daily I see similar comments posted on my YouTube channel, blaming “the Jews” or “Israel” for all the evils in the world. (Ironically, the same critics frequently intersperse another antisemitic libel, namely, that today’s Jews are not really Jews! I document this in the new edition of my book as well.)
My critics also allege that any criticism of the Jewish people is antisemitic. They claim that it’s OK to say positive things about “the Jews.” But if you say anything negative about “the Jews” you are automatically branded antisemitic.
This too is patently false. But when it comes to antisemitism, truth has never mattered that much. Antisemitism continues to exist by peddling falsehoods, exaggerations and lies.
Nonetheless, for those who might actually be interested in facts, I’ll say it once more. It is not antisemitic to criticize Israel and the Jewish people fairly. It is antisemitic to defame, demonize and delegitimize the Jewish people and Jewish state.
Is that clear enough?
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Jezebel’s War With America: The Plot to Destroy Our Country and What We Can Do to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.