Criticism of Israeli Policy is not Anti-Semitic

Hits: 627

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.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

READ MORE!
Iran 1953: State Department Finally Releases Updated Official History of Mosaddeq Coup
The State Department today released a long-awaited “retrospective” volume of declassified U.S. government documents on the 1953 coup in Iran, including records describing planning and implementation of the covert operation. The publication is the culmination of decades of internal debates and public controversy after a previous official collection omitted all references to the role of American and British intelligence in the ouster of Iran’s then-prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq. The volume is part of the Department’s venerable Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. For decades, neither the U.S. nor the British governments would acknowledge their part in Mosaddeq’s overthrow, even ...
READ MORE
Adolf Hitler and Roman Catholic theologians
IntroductionThe propaganda by the Christian churches in regard to their role during WWII in Fascist Italy, Yugoslavia, and Nazi Germany has so conditioned their believers that most of them believe that Christianity played an honorable role at best, and only a silent role at worst. Yet there seems little recognition that the very framework of the beliefs owned by the Fascists and Nazis came from their Christian upbringing from church, school, and Christian traditions. The entire anti-Jewish and racial sentiments came not from some new philosophy or unique ideology, but rather from centuries of Christian preaching against the Jews, gypsies, ...
READ MORE
Putin’s New World Order
Is Vladimir Putin the most popular Russian leader of all time? It certainly looks like it. In a recent survey conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center,  Putin’s public approval rating soared to an eye-popping 86 percent, which is twice that of Obama’s when he left office in 2016.  And what’s more surprising is that Putin’s popularity has held up through a severe economic slump and nearly two decades in office. Unlike most politicians, whose shelf-life is somewhere between 4 to 8 years, the public’s admiration for Putin has only grown stronger over time. And the phenom is not limited to Russia either.  According to a recent survey by the pollster YouGov, “Putin is the third most admired man in Egypt, the fourth in China, ...
READ MORE
Britain’s Collaboration with pro-Jihadist Forces in Kosovo
In British mainstream commentary, the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia is seen as a ‘humanitarian intervention’. Tony Blair still receives much praise for coming to the defence of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, whose plight was surely serious as they were subject to increasingly brutal abuses by the Yugoslav army towards the end of 1998 and early 1999. Yet the NATO bombing that began in March 1999 had the effect of deepening, not preventing, the humanitarian disaster that Milosevic’s forces inflicted on Kosovo. The bulk of the atrocities committed by Yugoslav forces took place after the NATO ...
READ MORE
Croatia Must Not Whitewash the Horrors of Jasenovac
There are horrific realities of history that must not be questioned, distorted or denied by anyone with even the slightest integrity or sense of decency. The slaughter of millions of Jews in the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec, Chelmno and Sobibor during the Holocaust of World War II falls squarely in this category. So does the fundamental fact that this ultimate crime against humanity was perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its multinational fascist accomplices. Any attempt to deny or to attempt to trivialise or minimise the enormity of this genocide, or to rehabilitate its perpetrators in any way whatsoever, is, simply ...
READ MORE
USA & Islamists in Balkans in Coalition Again
SERBIAN SETTLEMENT IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA BEGAN IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY A.D.Note: Croats settled much later and in insignificant numbers. That is why they are not mentioned much in the literature.THE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE VII PORPHYROGENITUS (reigned 913-957) REFERRED TO BOSNIA AS PART OF *THE LAND OF THE SERBS*.BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA… THE LARGEST SINGLE NATIONAL ELEMENT IS THE ORTHODOX SERBS, followed by Moslem Slavs (few of whom can trace their origin to Turkish colonists) and Catholic Croats……The republics of Croatia and Slovenia are predominantly Roman Catholic, while the republics of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA (!!!) are predominantly ORTHODOXIn the ’90-ies Alija Izetbegovic, former SS ...
READ MORE
What is the European Union for?
After all the initial eu(ro)phoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently.In a pamphlet written in 2011 – Europe: The Unfinished Project – I wrote:At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone, and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of ...
READ MORE
Political Language Explained
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
12 Signs America is on the Decline
When it comes to a few key indicators, Ireland, the UK, Canada and even Albania and Greece are surpassing America.America is declining, in large and important measures, yet policymakers aren’t paying attention. So argues a new academic paper, pulling together previously published data.Consider this:America’s child poverty levels are worse than in any developed country anywhere, including Greece, devastated by a euro crisis, and eastern European nations such as Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.Median adult wealth in the US ($39,000) is 27th globally, putting it behind Cyprus, Taiwan, and Ireland.Even when “life satisfaction” is measured, America ranks #12, behind Israel, Sweden and ...
READ MORE
Hitllary Clinton Plans to Destroy Russia
Leaked emails are filling in the picture of a Bill-and-Hillary-Clinton plan to destroy Russia – a plan which had originated with US President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1990, and which has been followed through both by his son George W Bush, and by both of the Clintons, but which has only recently started to become documented by leaked publications of personal communications amongst the key operatives who were the insiders running this operation behind the scenes, and who include Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George W Bush, Victoria Nuland, Jeffrey Feltman, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, Saudi Crown Prince ...
READ MORE
How Fascism Won Control in “The West”
"The West" is the nations that are essentially controlled, basically dictated-to, by America's approximately 600 billionaires, who control the U.S. Government, by coordinatedly funding (through their news-media and political donations, and also by their members-only private conferences) the careers of cooperative politicians, and who thereby defeat the politicians who act against increasing the percentage of the nation's wealth that these few people hold, and against increasing their extractions from everybody else. (Those non-compliant politicians are derisively called "socialists" and equated with the communist Joseph Stalin instead of with the democratic socialist FDR and the leaders of the democratic socialist Scandinavian ...
READ MORE
N. Chomsky on the U.S.: ‘This is a Very Racist Society’
Professor Noam Chomsky said it would be “no small trick” for the Ferguson protests to turn into an anti-racism and social justice movement, considering America’s founding principles are slavery and the extermination of the indigenous population. In a sweeping interview covering everything from Iraq and Syria to China, capitalism, and the protests in Ferguson, MIT linguistics professor Chomsky told GRITtv’s Laura Flanders that events in Ferguson and the protests that have followed show how little race relations in the United States have advanced since the end of the Civil War. “This is a very racist society,” Chomsky said. “It’s pretty shocking. ...
READ MORE
Documentary Movie: “God and Croats” (English Subtitle)
The Serb holocaust during the WWII in the Independent State of Croatia is not a misnomer, an accusation, and even less a speculation. It is an historical fact. Rabid nationalism and religious dogmatism were its two main ingredients. During the existence of Croatia as an independent Catholic State, over 700,000 men, women and children perished. Many were executed, tortured, died of starvation, buried alive, or were burned to death. Hundreds were forced to become Catholic. Catholic padres ran concentration camps; Catholic priests were officers of the military corps which committed such atrocities. 700,000 in a total population of a few ...
READ MORE
Donald Trumpenstein: Self-Proclaimed “Cop of the World”
History has repeatedly demonstrated the need to view with the greatest skepticism U.S. imperialism’s justifications for its endless wars and interventions. Need we mention the 1964 U.S.-manufactured Tonkin Bay incident, wherein a virtually non-existent Vietnamese navy was accused of attacking a U.S. destroyer? That false flag pretext was employed to launch the Vietnam War, during which four million Vietnamese were slaughtered in a 10-year U.S. conflagration verging on genocide. Or the more recent Iraq “weapons of mass destruction” lie that resulted in the U.S. murder of 1.5 million Iraqis? Even if the latest sarin gas accusations against Syrian President Bashar Assad should ...
READ MORE
Fomenting Illegal “Independence” and “Revolutions” in Kosovo and Panama
US President Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch imperialist and expansionist, engineered the illegal dismemberment of Colombia in 1903.The illegal US dismemberment and annexation of Serbian territory, the detachment, and dismemberment of Kosovo in 2008, parallels what occurred when the US illegally dismembered Columbia in 1903 in order to construct the Panama Canal.Outrage, shock, and uproar followed Roosevelt’s illegal detachment of Panama from Columbia in 1903. Many American leaders were outraged at the illegality, cynicism, and immorality of the dismemberment of Columbia.In the March 2, 1912 New York Times article “Hit at Roosevelt in Panama Inquiry; Senate Calls on Taft for All Records ...
READ MORE
Videos on Ex-Yugoslavia: Reverse Side of the Truth
Documentary films about ex-Yugoslavia not seen on global corporate mass-media news. For instance:US documentary movie "RETLINES" with English subtitle from 1991 about Vatican smuggling Croat Nazi Ustashi to South America in 1945Ratlines were a system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II. These escape routes mainly led toward havens in South America, particularly Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile. Other destinations included the United States and perhaps Canada and the Middle East. There were two primary routes: the first went from Germany to Spain, then Argentina; the second from Germany ...
READ MORE
Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon on Kosovo in March 1999
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. [wpedon id="4696" align="left"]
READ MORE
The Ambiguity: The Case of Democracy
The Great Financial Crisis, the Occupy Wall Street rising, Wikileaks and Snowden exposure, imperialist interventions in Iraq-Libya-Syria, the economic-political developments in Greece, and the on-going string of revelations in the US politics take away all ambiguities related to democracy, development and state. With broad and fundamental connections and character the incidents and processes – parts of democracy and development – being witnessed by the contemporary world are significant with far-reaching implications, and helpful to comprehend issues of democracy, development and state.No ambiguity: Ambiguous and confusing narratives of democracy and development are vigorously sold in markets despite the reality of repeated ...
READ MORE
The entrance-gate to the death camp of Jasenovac in Croatia
1. Catholic extermination campsSurprisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942-1943 also in Croatia existed numerous extermination camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Pavelic, a practicing Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children!In these camps – the most notorious was Jasenovac, headed by a Franciscan friar – orthodox-Christian Serbians (and a substantial number of Jews) were murdered. Like the Nazis, the Catholic Ustasha burned their victims in kilns, alive ...
READ MORE
The History of the CIA
When I began reading the work of Douglas Valentine about six years ago, I had not read his books, only the articles that the US online journal Counterpunch had published. In fact I only began reading Counterpunch because of the accident of having been introduced to the two original editors of what was then only a printed newsletter. Later I was even able to publish a few pieces in that journal before its more famous founding editor’s demise. Why do I preface a book review with such personal observations? To that question I will return later.After reading numerous articles I ...
READ MORE
Iran 1953: State Department Finally Releases Updated Official History of Mosaddeq Coup
Christianity in Europe During WWII
Putin’s New World Order
Britain’s Collaboration with pro-Jihadist Forces in Kosovo
Croatia Must Not Whitewash the Horrors of Jasenovac
USA & Islamists in Balkans in Coalition Again
What is the European Union for?
Political Language Explained
12 Signs America is on the Decline
Hitllary Clinton Plans to Destroy Russia
How Fascism Won Control in “The West”
N. Chomsky on the U.S.: ‘This is a Very Racist Society’
Documentary Movie: “God and Croats” (English Subtitle)
Donald Trumpenstein: Self-Proclaimed “Cop of the World”
Fomenting Illegal “Independence” and “Revolutions” in Kosovo and Panama
Videos on Ex-Yugoslavia: Reverse Side of the Truth
Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon on Kosovo in March 1999
The Ambiguity: The Case of Democracy
(Only) Three Examples of the 20th Century the Roman Catholic Church Atrocities of Genocide
The History of the CIA
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share