Monday, August 11, 2014

Israel Doesn't Get a Free Pass, but Anti-Semitism Doesn't Either

From the Huffington Post

For some, criticizing Israel is equated with being an anti-Semite. Just the other day, someone on my social media called the world "anti-Semitic" and claimed that rather than paying attention to what Israel is doing, people should focus on Bashar Al-Assad in Syria and the Islamic State in Iraq. This rhetoric is not uncommon.

What's going on in Iraq and Syria is not only deplorable, but shouldn't be ignored either. Nonetheless, just because horrific things are taking place in other parts of the Middle East as well doesn't give Israel carte blanche to do as it pleases.

The reason much of the world is captivated by Gaza is because one of the most advanced armies in the world is engaged with guerilla forces and not an actual army, a discrepancy that is resulting in humanitarian devastation on the Palestinian side

The Right To Criticize

The irony of being labeled an "anti-Semite" for criticizing Israel is that it calls itself a democracy and one of the most fundamental ideals of having that title is freedom of expression. If anything, it is imperative to be critical of a state's action. By doing so, you point out its flaws with the hope it will improve its standing in the world and the conditions of its people.

Journalist Laurie Penny says it best,
"It is not anti-Semitic to suggest that Israel doesn't get a free pass to kill whoever it likes in order to feel 'safe'. It is not anti-Semitic to point out that if what Israel needs to feel 'safe' is to pen the Palestinian people in an open prison under military occupation, the state's definition of safety might warrant some unpacking. And it is not anti-Semitic to say that this so-called war is one in which only one side actually has an army."
Penny takes it a step further:

It is not hate speech to reiterate the wild disparity in casualties... To speak of proportionality is not to call, as at least one silverback columnist has claimed, for 'more dead Jews'.


While criticizing Israel certainly isn't anti-Semitic, it is important to note there is a fine line to cross when some begin equating Zionism -- a nationalistic movement -- with Judaism -- an Abrahamic religion -- in an effort to show support for Palestine and specifically Gaza during this politically charged time.

As we speak, there are solidarity with Gaza protests taking place in various parts of the world. However, there is an aspect of these protests that needs to be carefully assessed. If you're out protesting the Gaza war and chanting "Jews to the gas chambers" or "death to the Jews" and resorting to violence towards any Jewish person -- essentially unable to differentiate between Zionism and Judaism -- I hate to break it, but you're an anti-Semite and horrible human being.

By targeting members of the Jewish community -- regardless of their stance on Israel -- demonstrates one's ignorance of history and current events. You're not only resorting to anti-Semitism, whether you are verbally or physically hurting the Jewish people, but you're taking it a step further by dragging those who are against the war on Gaza with you. This is one of the most destructive things to the Palestinian struggle than anything else. By being hateful and ignorant, you're hurting the Palestinians and their supporters. It is these very actions the public points to obstruct support for the Palestinian people.

Criticize Israel all you want, but don't resort to anti-Semitism to express your frustration at Israel's wrongdoings.

Read the full article at the Source

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