The fear builds

If campaigners against Israeli apartheid need evidence that our work is bearing fruit, this New York Times article reveals all:

The American Jewish Committee, an ardent defender of Israel, is known for speaking out against anti-Semitism, but this conservative advocacy group has recently stirred up a bitter and emotional debate with a new target: liberal Jews.

An essay the committee features on its Web site,, titled “ ”˜Progressive’ Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,” says a number of Jews, through their speaking and writing, are feeding a rise in virulent anti-Semitism by questioning whether Israel should even exist.

In an introduction to the essay, David A. Harris, the executive director of the committee, writes, “Perhaps the most surprising — and distressing — feature of this new trend is the very public participation of some Jews in the verbal onslaught against Zionism and the Jewish State.” Those who oppose Israel’s basic right to exist, he continues, “whether Jew or gentile, must be confronted.”

The essay comes at a time of high anxiety among many Jews, who are seeing not only a surge in attacks from familiar antagonists, but also gloves-off condemnations of Israel from onetime allies and respected figures, like former President Jimmy Carter, who titled his new book on the Mideast “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.” By spotlighting the touchy issue of whether Jews are contributing to anti-Semitism, both admirers and detractors of the essay agree that it aggravates an already heated dispute over where legitimate criticism of Israel and its defenders ends and anti-Semitic statements begin.

The essay, written by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, an English professor and the director of the Institute for Jewish Culture and the Arts at Indiana University in Bloomington, castigates a number of people by name, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, the historian Tony Judt, the poet Adrienne Rich and the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, in addition to a number of academics.

The growing fear amongst the radical Zionist community is palpable. Israel has rarely been under such attack in the public domain (even though its policies on the ground remain indefensible.) Dare to criticise the apartheid policies in the occupied territories, and be prepared for an avalanche of bile. Write a best-selling book that exposes the bankruptcy of the Zionist lobby, and watch the sparks fly (don’t laugh too hard when reading this article.)

Rather than campaigning for a sustainable, humane and independent Jewish state, some elements of Jewry only seem to know the language of force. Whether it’s advocating for military strikes against Iran or denying the geo-political realities of the recent Lebanon war (it’s a sign of media bias if a journalist rightly claims that Israel was simply waiting for a reason to attack Lebanon and Hizbollah? Do they not read the vast evidence proving otherwise?)

It’s a Jewish duty to speak out when injustice occurs. Present-day Israel (and Palestine) demands nothing less.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common