Culture Magazine

Criticizing Israel is Not Anti-semitism

By Fsrcoin

Predictably, the Middle East horrors bring out, too widely, not humanistic responses, but their antitheses. Ideological pathologies.

Criticizing Israel is not Anti-semitism

The hard left (to borrow a Middle East trope) never misses an opportunity to shove its head up its butt. This we saw after the October 7 atrocity, with some “woke” Palestinian sympathizers saying, essentially, Israelis got what they deserved. Fools saying such things got the condemnation they deserved.

Yes, Israel did sow seeds for the metastasizing enmity. Blindly treating it as an irremediable given; to the exclusion of treating Palestinians as human beings who, in fact, they have no choice about living beside. A reality from which Israel — its government, that is, and the population segment supporting it — has divorced itself.

But none of that excuses, let alone justifies, October 7. In fact, if Hamas are friends of Palestinians, who needs enemies? October 7 was a terrible blow not only against the innocent Israelis butchered, but against Palestinians. Certain to bring down upon them a terrible retribution. That indeed was Hamas’s cynical inhuman calculus — if there was any rational thinking at all.

So defending, in any way, Hamas and what it did, is moral idiocy.

And so is defending what Israel is doing. I heard an otherwise smart observer on the radio (WAMC’s Roundtable) blandly dismissing accusations of genocide because only about 12,000 Palestinians (mostly women and children) have so far been killed.

Criticizing Israel is not Anti-semitism

This word “genocide” has become a moral tarbaby. Yes, thrown around with imprecision; it’s supposed to mean acting with intent to eradicate a people as such. Israel isn’t doing that (though many Israelis probably wish they could). But then the implication often seems to be that if it’s not “genocide” then it’s okay.

The Gaza nightmare might conceivably be rationalized as collateral damage to achieve a worthy objective of destroying Hamas to prevent more October Sevenths. But that cannot in fact be achieved. Israel cannot realistically hope to destroy Hamas, and even if it did, it’s surely aggravating the enmity and thus making recurrences of October 7 more, not less, likely. This is just madness.

Criticizing Israel is not Anti-semitism

Also floating around here are ideas of collective guilt. All Palestinians deserving punishment for what Hamas did. All Israelis — indeed, all Jews — for what Israel’s government does. A barbaric concept of justice (fitting only for a barbaric book like the Bible).

Meantime too, cancel culture has gone into overdrive against notional anti-semitism. Today’s paper reports actor Melissa Barrera tossed from a Hollywood production over online comments using the G-word and “ethnic cleansing,” with Gaza “being treated like a concentration camp.” The same story relates Susan Sarandon dropped by her talent agency for saying Jews “are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence.”

Sarandon’s phraseology may have been injudicious, but I don’t read her as actually justifying anti-semitism. Likewise one can nitpick Barrera’s word choices, but she was calling out actions that are wrong.

Criticizing Israel is not Anti-semitism

The great irony here is that throwing around accusations of anti-semitism is just as objectionable as the supposedly anti-semitic statements being condemned. Indeed, more so — because those statements address something truly fundamentally wrong, whereas condemnations of them torture verbiage to point a finger at a supposed wrong where there really isn’t any. Criticizing Israel’s government and actions is not anti-semitic.

(Disclosure: my ancestry is Jewish. My mother was a German Holocaust refugee. Her grandmother died in a Nazi camp.)

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