It’s become almost impossible to say anything about Jews, even as a mild joke. An African-American actress jokes about a photo showing her with a big nose (“That’s my Jewish cousin”), and all hell breaks loose. She apologizes for the “antisemitic” remark and eats humble pie.
What if a Jewish actress quipped about a photo showing her looking bronzed, that it was her “African-American cousin”, would she have had to to apologize? – Unlikely, and nor should she have. But the general public has been warned never to refer to Jews at all, except in a flattering way.
It goes much further than that, of course. The mildest criticism of Israel provokes a vicious response. Any other country may be criticised and some more than most – compare how events in Georgia and Venezuela are reported in the mainstream Western press – but Israel must never be described as anything other than a decent, brave, clever, generous little democracy, constantly threatened with annihilation by its bloodthirsty Muslim Arab neighbors.
In many countries it is illegal to deny the Holocaust, and in some countries you can go to jail for doing so. On the other hand, it’s all right to deny the catastrophe that the State of Israel has wreaked in the Middle East. It is legal to persecute and hound critics of Israel and the Zionist lobby, or anyone who presumes to mention the suffering of the Palestinians. And of course it’s open season on Islam – unlike any other religion, you are free to vilify it in the ugliest terms.
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But it is not antisemitism to criticize Israel. It is not “self-hate” to do so if you’re a Jew. On the contrary – blind support for Israel equals anti-Arabism, anti-Islam, racism pure and simple. Those who blindly support Zionism, and its political creation Israel, are guilty of racism which is really anti-Semitic – the Arab people are as Semitic as the Jews and far more numerous. How else is it possible to justify what is actually going on in the Middle East? – A nation of five or six million dominating five to six million others, expropriating their lands and homes, denying them all rights – human, civil or national – subjecting them to constant violence, killing them with impunity, holding thousands of them in prison without trial; intimidating the neighboring countries with overflights and periodic military attacks; building up an immense arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, yet forcibly preventing any other state in the region from even beginning to approach the possibility of developing them; running a state as a quasi-theocracy – religion being the one qualifier for citizenship and full civil rights, and rabbis holding parliamentary and government positions – while decrying the neighboring Muslim states as “fundamentalist”.
I, an Israeli born and bred (born, I should add, in Palestine well before the establishment of the State of Israel, to which my parents devoted their lives), refuse to be tagged as a “self-hating Jew”, refuse to accept the sacrosanct status of the people I was born into and the government which claims to represent me. I cannot close my eyes to the evils of Zionist colonialism, the non-democratic practices of the Israeli social system, which gives full rights to some citizens and denies them to others on an “ethnic”/religious basis, the role it plays in destabilizing the region and keeping it always on the verge of war – which it always wins, being militarily far stronger than all its neighbors combined. I refuse to endorse the use of the Holocaust as a propaganda weapon by a regime that has exploited it in the form of reparations (from post-war Germany) and guilt-offerings from the Allied governments – yet has never allowed Holocaust survivors to hold senior positions in its government and marginalized them socially.
It should be perfectly legitimate to criticize Israel. Giving it uncritical, unqualified support in all its actions, its violations of dozens of UN Security Council resolutions, its policy of assassination and destruction – that is a racist position, a position that says “Arabs don’t count, Arabs have no rights, Arabs are vermin and whatever is done to them – in Palestine, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon – is legitimate. And Islam is the same as Fascism.”
Now that is real anti-Semitism.