Many Jews say that criticising Israel is acceptable, as long as it’s “balanced”. When pushed, they can’t really think of any instances where Israeli behaviour has been problematic, so why, they ask, do people single out the Jewish state?
The Australian-based Anti-Defamation Commission – once an organisation that believed in fighting racism of all sorts and now just little more than a Zionist mouthpiece – has a few rules about debating Israel and anti-Semitism:
A more recent form, sometimes called “the new anti-Semitism”, focuses on Israel. This takes the form of attempts to delegitimise Israel’s right to exist, to demonise it through false accusations, and to require of it standards of behaviour not demanded of any other nation. The new anti-Semitism emanates from elements of the Arab and Muslim community, encouraged by sections of the radical left. Friendly support is given by some journalists. The ECAJ notes that, “some commentators can be identified who use different criteria for judging Israel than they do for any other state”.
It is of course not antisemitic to engage in rational and even passionate debate about Israeli policies and actions. It is antisemitic to compare Israel’s actions in building a security fence, designed (successfully) to prevent terrorist acts against civilians, with the actions of the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto or those of the South African government in the days of apartheid.
So, only the “radical left” would dare compare Israeli behaviour to apartheid South Africa. That would make, for example, leading Haaretz commentator Akiva Eldar, an anti-Semite. Sadly for the ADC and its ilk, trying to label open discussion about Israel as anti-Semitism is simply ignored by a growing number of people. Fears of yesteryear are decreasing, and across the world, robust criticism of Israeli apartheid is gathering force, including from many Jews.
If Zionists are really worried about anti-Semitism, they should try and modify Israeli behaviour. Otherwise, it’s time to change their tune.