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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Being Anti-Israel Is Not Being Anti-Semitic, But It Helps

I'm not going to wade into the minutiae of Leon Wieseltier's article at The New Republic as to whether Andrew Sullivan is anti-Semitic because of Sullivan's anti-Israel tirades.

I agree with James Joyner that the terms "anti-Semitic" along with "racist" and "homophobe" are so overused as to have lost much meaning. Indeed, I have devoted my Saturday Night Card Game series to the use of the race card for political gain; I am never at a loss for material.

Regardless of whether a particular person properly is labelled an "anti-Semite," there is a core truth in Wieseltier's article regarding the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the modern era.

Being anti-Israel doesn't necessarily make one anti-Semitic, but the toxic brew of virulently anti-Israel leftists, Islamists and academics has blurred the line.

The singling out of Israel for unique levels of scorn and scrutiny, the attempts to boycott Israelis because they are Israelis, and the accusations of "war crimes" applied to difficult decisions of self-defense, all are part of a strategy which results in acts of hatred and violence against Jews.

It is not surprising that "pro-Palestinian" protesters in London, in attempting to prevent Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon from speaking, shouted "kill the Jews."

Violence perpetrated against Jews for being Jewish most often is perpetrated by those who invoke "pro-Palestinian" justifications, whether it is Osama bin-Laden or some thug on the street in Paris.

None of this is new, of course. The "Zionism is Racism" mantra never really went away even after the U.N. revoked that odious resolution. Applying terms such as "apartheid" and other descriptors to Jewish national identity, which takes place from Jimmy Carter on down, is a reflection of this sentiment.

Being anti-Israel doesn't necessarily make one anti-Semitic, but it helps make the case.

And at a minimum, charting a course of virulent and unrestrained criticism of Israel in ways reserved exclusively for Israel, gives aid and comfort to anti-Semites.

Related Posts:
Law Professor Continues His Personal Intifada
Guardian Columnist Calls Out The Anti-Israel Left, But Not His Own Paper
Abid Katib - Palestinian Shoe Fauxtographer?

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  1. Dear Professor,

    I struggle to absorb the difference between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. Those holding anti-Israeli sentiments the strongest would like to see it happen by the fastest, most lethal way possible. But the 'dumbing down' toleration of anti-Semitism is becoming alarming. Turning a blind eye to what is going on in word and print, at many college/university campuses here and abroad seems like a more fatal resurgence of hate and violence directly targeted at a specific race, specific nationality and specific religion. WTF, yours now and then mine next???? I don't think so.

  2. Umnnnhhh...

    I always try to look at the United States' interests first, which may or may not be aligned with the State of Israel's interests, depending on the issue, etc.

  3. @Dad29, there is a huge difference between criticizing a particular Israeli policy or putting U.S. interests first where there is a conflict, and the broad attempt to delegitimize Israel which takes place daily on many left-wing, pro-Palestinian, and Islamist websites, and through boycotts and other means.

  4. I've long thought that most -- but not all -- anti-Israel sentiment and talk is anti-semitic or is used as a cover for anti-semitism. Of course, it is entirely possible for Americans, Europeans and others, along with Israelis, to disagree with this or that Israel policy or action. I myself believed that that 80s invasion of Lebanon all the way to Beirut was ill-advised and bound to make matters worse, eve as it cleaned out Palestinian and allied military assets.

    However, whenever anti-Israel or anti-Zionist rhetoric is employed by most Arabs and Arab Governments, as well as many other Muslims groups and governments, it's distinction from anti-semitism is without a difference.

    One can test this by imagining what one would think of consistent denunciations of all Arab and Muslims regimes, groups, religious tendencies and political parties as hopelessly addictd to violence, terrorism, revanchism and aggrandizement. Indeed, it's not necessary to imagine this, since there are people who say such things. Even implying them gently brings widespread rebukes from Arabs and Muslims to the effect that the speakers are "anti-Muslim," seeking to destroy Islam and so forth.

    Actually, most of out people and politicians believe nothijg of the kind but the charges persist because there are some people who sincerely and deliberately push this line -- and many ordinary citizens who now simply distrust or even hate all Arabs.

    I don't see whay this does not work both ways, making it quite legitimate to suggest that those who outright call for Isreal's destructio or support or tolerate such rhetoric and policies are anti-semites.