Press "Enter" to skip to content

Criticism of Israeli Policy is not Anti-Semitic

Hits: 330

I was provoked to write this discussion of what is and what isn’t anti-Semitism by an article in Ha’aretz on the “controversy” created by the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to George P. Smith. According to the reporting, Smith is not only a brilliant scientist whose work has helped lead to the creation of new drugs that can treat cancer and a range of autoimmune diseases, he is also an outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of Israeli policies.

The Ha’aretz piece notes that Smith has long been “a target of pro-Israel groups” and is listed on “the controversial Canary Mission website”—used by supporters of Israel to harass and silence critics.

As I read through the article looking for evidence of Smith’s sins, I found quotes saying that he “wished ‘not for Israel’s Jewish population to be expelled’ but ‘an end to the discriminatory regime in Palestine.’” At another point, Ha’aretz quotes from an op-ed written by Smith condemning Israeli policies in Gaza which he concludes by expressing his support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) calling it “Palestinian civil society’s call for the global community of conscience to ostracize Israeli businesses and institutions until Israel repudiates [their violence against Palestinians] and the Palestinian people, including the exiles, achieve full equality with the Jews in their shared homeland.”

I read all of this in the context of this worrisome campaign that is unfolding here in the United States to silence critics of Israel or the exclusivist vision of Political Zionism. It is a well-funded multi-pronged effort, one component of which is the shadowy Canary Mission website that publishes the names, photos, and backgrounds of pro-Palestinian students and professors—terming them anti-Semites or supporters of terrorism. It does so with the expressed purpose of harming their careers. The Canary Mission list is also used to taint and smear these activists to intimidate politicians from engaging with them. And the lists have been used by the Israeli government to deny entry to, in particular, Palestinian Americans or progressive Americans Jews seeking to see family, study, teach, or simply visit that country.

Although the Canary Mission has done its best to keep its operations, leadership, and funding secret, recent articles published in the Jewish press have revealed that the project has been financially supported by some mainstream American Jewish philanthropic entities.

In addition to the Canary Mission there is the campaign that seeks to criminalize support for BDS or to penalize supporters of the movement to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of Palestinian rights. This effort is massively funded by the likes of Sheldon Adelson and we now learn, also from a recent expose in a prominent American Jewish newspaper, by millions of dollars funneled to the campaign from the Government of Israel.

Then there is legislation currently pending in Congress designed to make boycotting Israel a crime, complementing the 25 states that have already passed laws denying salaries, contracts, or benefits to individuals who support BDS.

Finally, in a replay of the effort that pressed the UK’s Labour Party to define criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, Trump’s appointment to lead the Civil Rights Office at the U.S. Department of Education has made clear his intent to investigate anti-Israel activism on college campuses as forms of anti-Semitism. And there is legislation pending in Congress—the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Both this bill and the action by Kenneth Marcus at the Education Department seek to extend the definition of anti-Semitism to include criticism of Israel.

In reflecting on these developments, there are several observations that should be made: anti-Semitism is real, ugly, and dangerous; criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism; and the effort to conflate the two not only silences needed debate, it distracts from the effort to root out real anti-Semitism, a scourge that has created great pain and enormous suffering in human history.

Anti-Semitism is hatred toward Jews—individually and as a group. It is also the attribution of evil intent or negative qualities to individuals or a group just because they are Jews. On the other hand, criticism of Israeli policy is not anti-Semitic. When Smith has criticized Israel’s massacres at the Gaza border or its systematic denial of equal rights and justice to Palestinians, he is not attributing this behavior to their religion or even suggesting that this behavior is due to their being Jews. For example, he is not saying “Israel is oppressing Palestinians because that’s the way Jews behave.” Nor is he saying that all Jews, as a group, are responsible for these actions—this would be anti-Semitic.  He said no such thing. The only reason to target Smith and those, like him, who critique the policies of the state (that by the way are not supported by all Israelis or Jews, worldwide) is to silence their voices.

This idea that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic (what is now called “the new anti-Semitism”) is decades old. It has received a push, in recent years, by the campaign to add to the definition of anti-Semitism any criticism that singles Israel out and doesn’t apply the same standard to other countries. This is, at best, a far-fetched effort to shield Israel. While it’s proponents claim that it targets only those who single out Israel for criticism, what they really seek to do is single out Israel as the one country that can’t be criticized.

It is also important to note that there is evidence that in, too many instances, the struggle to combat real anti-Semitism takes a back seat to the effort to shield Israel. For example, while some pro-Israel groups targeted Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party charging him with tolerating anti-Semitism, they ignored the virulent anti-Semites operating on the right-wing of UK politics. This led many Labourites to conclude that the real target was Corbyn’s unrelenting support for Palestinian rights. Much the same could be implied from Benjamin Netanyahu’s embrace of far-right anti-Semitic European leaders, because they were strong supporters of his government.

The bottom line is that this entire effort is designed not to combat anti-Semitism but to silence criticism.  And in the process of doing so enormous damage is done to: legitimate, well-deserved and necessary criticism of Israeli policies; the reputations of individuals like Smith and student activists who speak out because they are outraged by the injustices visited upon Palestinians; and the struggle against the scourge of real anti-Semitism.


Originally published on 2018-10-06

Author: James J. Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute.

Source: Lobe Log

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
The Monster: The US Network of Military Bases
In 2007, the late Prof. Jules Dufour raised concerns about US global deployment of military personnel and its network of military bases. The US views the world, he said, “as a vast territory to conquer, occupy and exploit.” “Humanity is being controlled and enslaved” he argued by this network. The US is dividing the world into geographic command units, like US Northcom or US Southcom, proved the US focus on global control. Dufour mentions the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases (No Bases Network) as essential in achieving a cohesive, coordinated front against US global control. The No ...
READ MORE
Russia vs. America
GR Editor’s Note Moscow is accused of doping as part of a US dirty tricks campaign to prevent Russia from participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. What is the record of the US with regard to doping? The main sports organizations including the NFL, MLB, and NBA have allowed unusually relaxed policies for performance-enhancing drug testing and punishment. The USADA is the US government agency responsible for the implementation in the United States of the World Anti-Doping Code, Yet, the record suggests that the USDA does not actively intervene in “big money sports” and often turns a blind eye ...
READ MORE
The Ultimate War Crime: America’s “Global War on Terrorism”
The Islamic State is not only protected by the US and its allies, it is trained and financed by US-NATO, with the support of Israel and Washington’s Persian Gulf allies.Al Qaeda Affiliated Entities are “Intelligence Assets. Instruments of US Intelligence. The Global War on Terrorism is a fabrication used to justify a war of conquest. The Jihadist terrorists are “Made in America”. They are instruments of US intelligence, yet they are presented to public opinion as “enemies of America”.IntroductionThe Obama administration has embarked upon the ultimate war crime, a Worldwide military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.The Pentagon’s global military design is one ...
READ MORE
The Cold War and Its Origins: History of the Soviet Union (1950-1960)
The Russian Revolution of 1917 terrified the capitalist world. In my last article based on the first volume of D.F. Fleming’s classic “The Cold War and It’s Origins 1917-1960” I traced the story of the attempt to destroy the world’s first communist revolution. 14 Nations attacked the Soviet Union attempting to carve out territory and crush the revolution. They also launched a massive wave of repression at home. Then they attempted to isolate the USSR while they built up Hitler’s Germany as a bulwark against Communism. This lead to World War 2 and an alliance between the USSR, Britain and ...
READ MORE
The Demolition of U.S. Global Power
The superhighway to disaster is already being paved. From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, cancelling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since ...
READ MORE
When the American Civil War Ends: In 1865 or 1965?
The American Civil War The American Civil War (1861−1865) was a military conflict between the northern and the southern states of the USA which initially started as a political-economic revolt and desire for the independence by the southern states which created their own Confederacy not recognized by Washington. However, very soon the conflict was transformed into the war for the abolition of the slavery within the whole territory of the USA. In the first half of the 19th century, there was an increasing number of personalities mostly from the industrial northern states who called for the abolition of the slavery but ...
READ MORE
Titoslavia: The National Questions and Interrepublican Boundaries
After WWII, the official state-sponsored myth, based on notorious lies and forged historical facts, of the anti-fascist combat and the liberation of Yugoslavia by Tito’s Partisans acquired a political life of its own until the 1990s.The official brainwashed dogma became the so-called National Liberation of Yugoslavia while the personal cult of Josip Broz Tito became framed on the propaganda that self-proclaimed “Marshall” of Yugoslavia (on November 29th, 1943 in Bosnian town of Jajce) was one of the most intelligent and ingenious national leaders of the anti-fascist coalition in Europe during the wartime.[i] However, in post-1945 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ...
READ MORE
War Crimes: Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War
Fifty years ago this next month (December 1965), with the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rubber stamp approval of President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the United States Air Force started secretly spraying the forests of Laos with a deadly herbicide that was known as Agent Orange. Operation Ranch Hand, whose motto was “Only We Can Prevent Forests” (a shameful takeoff of Smokey the Bear’s admonition), was a desperate, costly and ultimately futile effort to make it a little harder for the National Liberation Front soldiers from North Vietnam to join and supply their ...
READ MORE
Russian Military Interventions Throughout the World since 1945
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
Contribution to the 20th Annual Conference of Central European Political Science Association
Vilnius, a capital of Lithuania, is a host of The 20th Annual Conference of Central European Political Science Association: “Security Architecture in CEE: Present Threats and Prospects for Cooperation”. The conference place is at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University, from September 25 to 26, 2015. It is organized by the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University and the Lithuanian Political Science Association. The conference sponsors are the Lithuanian Research Council, the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, and the ...
READ MORE
Ignorance and Indoctrination of Westerners Kills Millions
Our Planet Earth is heading straight towards the most dangerous collision in its history. It is not a collision with some foreign body, with an asteroid or a comet, but with the most brutal and selfish chunk of its own inhabitants: with people who proudly call themselves “members of the Western civilization.” Again and again it is clearly demonstrated that Western culture, which the paramount psychologist Carl Jung used to call “pathology”, couldn’t be trusted. This “culture” had already mercilessly slaughtered several hundreds of millions of people in all corners of the world; it enslaved entire continents, and plundered all that had ...
READ MORE
How the US Empire Was Made in North Korea
Over the past 15 years, fighting-talk has periodically flared over ‘what to do about that alleged “crazy Asian dictator”   in North Korea. Today’s round of brinkmanship by the US/Western ‘deep state’ against North Korea will – in all probability – unfold the same way as in previous episodes; it will fizzle out. China is a guarantor of North Korean security, so the US will not go to war with North Korea. Period. The battle between Trump and the Washington Crazies for control of the reins of empire continues, however, and the ‘Krazy Korean’ is relevant to that. I hope ...
READ MORE
Destruction of Christianity: Syria and Kosovo
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
Tiananmen: The Empire’s Big Lie
Early in 1989, China was stirring. A decade of groundbreaking reforms inspired by Deng Xiaoping had brought the moribund economy to life and freed the nation from the ideological shackles imposed by radical Maoists during the cataclysmic Cultural Revolution. Almost everything seemed possible, as Deng proteges Hu Yaobang and then Zhao Ziyang led policymaking on a day-to-day basis. But the changes sweeping China had its dark undersides. Large-scale economic reforms also meant expanded corruption opportunities, which many officials exploited. And Chinese who “got rich first,” under the Dengist dispensation, opened a rapidly expanding wealth gap with fellow citizens. Discontent simmered dangerously. The ...
READ MORE
Electronic Voting Fraud: A Real Threat to any Democrat Running for President
А single strategic IT manipulator virtually anywhere could swing the 2016 election with just a few keystrokes perpetrated in less than a minute. (Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout)The support of readers like you got this story published - and helps Truthout stay free from corporate advertising. Can you sustain our work with a tax-deductible donation today? The way our electoral process now stands, electronic voting machines guarantee a Republican victory in 2016. No matter what she does, Hillary Clinton - or any other Democratic nominee - cannot be elected without a fundamental change in the basic mechanics of how our votes are ...
READ MORE
Corpus Delicti: How the Western Mainstream Propaganda Lies on Bosnian War (1992-1995)
Bosnian Muslim Kasim Blekic was allegedly murdered by Bosnian Serbs but was, in fact, alive outside of Sarajevo. One of the fundamental legal principles or concepts of jurisprudence is that before a person can be charged with a crime, evidence must be shown that a crime has occurred. This is known by the legal principle of “corpus delicti”, the body of a crime, meaning that there must be evidence that a crime has occurred before a defendant can be charged or prosecuted for the crime. The 6th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary (1990) gives the meaning of corpus delicti as “the ...
READ MORE
Libya: From Africa’s Richest State under Gaddafi, to Failed State after NATO Intervention
This article was first published on October 19, 2014 This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Western-backed assassination of Libya’s former president, Muammar Gaddafi, and the fall of one of Africa’s greatest nations. In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. After NATO’s intervention in 2011, Libya is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As ...
READ MORE
The 2016 Aleppo Massacre: Are Putin and Assad the Only “War Criminals”?
On Friday, October 5th, the U.S. Secretary of State – John Kerry calls for war crimes investigation of Russia’s and Assad governments for the destruction of Syrian city of Aleppo. The western corporate mass media was a very quick, like, for instance, The New York Times, immediately and clearly to accuse the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for alleged war crimes in Syria – the same cliché used by the same propaganda machinery against the Serbs (Srebrenica case from 1995 or Kosovo War from 1999) during the bloody destruction of ex-Yugoslavia (by the U.S. and ...
READ MORE
U.S Military Bases Worldwide: 682 Military Bases in 63 Countries
The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists — Ernest HemingwayMilitary spending is the second largest item in the US federal budget after Social Security. It has a habit of increasing significantly each year, and the proposed 2019 defense budget is $886 billion (roughly double what it was in 2003).US military spending exceeds the total of the next ten largest countries combined. Although the US government acknowledges 682 military bases in 63 countries, ...
READ MORE
Totalitarian Rule in America
Every day signs are looming larger than life as we know it in the wealthiest nation on earth that it’s about to crash and burn, forever changing not for the better. The latest wake-up call arrived in a Guardian article earlier this week. The story features a secret prison not unlike the CIA torture detention centers all over the world whereby the Chicago police hold rounded up US citizens for hours or days at a time for interrogation. The same internationally illegal roundups of suspected “potential terrorists” (which by latest Gestapo America standards can easily be you or me) that the CIA ...
READ MORE
The Monster: The US Network of Military Bases
Russia vs. America
The Ultimate War Crime: America’s “Global War on Terrorism”
The Cold War and Its Origins: History of the Soviet Union (1950-1960)
The Demolition of U.S. Global Power
When the American Civil War Ends: In 1865 or 1965?
Titoslavia: The National Questions and Interrepublican Boundaries
War Crimes: Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War
Russian Military Interventions Throughout the World since 1945
Contribution to the 20th Annual Conference of Central European Political Science Association
Ignorance and Indoctrination of Westerners Kills Millions
How the US Empire Was Made in North Korea
Destruction of Christianity: Syria and Kosovo
Tiananmen: The Empire’s Big Lie
Electronic Voting Fraud: A Real Threat to any Democrat Running for President
Corpus Delicti: How the Western Mainstream Propaganda Lies on Bosnian War (1992-1995)
Libya: From Africa’s Richest State under Gaddafi, to Failed State after NATO Intervention
The 2016 Aleppo Massacre: Are Putin and Assad the Only “War Criminals”?
U.S Military Bases Worldwide: 682 Military Bases in 63 Countries
Totalitarian Rule in America
Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.