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   Responses to Common Inaccuracies About Israel
RULE
Anti-Semitism and Criticism of Israel   

Inaccuracy
Jews unfairly label anyone who criticizes Israel an anti-Semite.

Inaccuracy
Israeli policies towards the Palestinians are comparable to Nazi policies towards the Jews during the Holocaust.

Inaccuracy
Arabs who hate Jews cannot be labeled as anti-Semitic because they themselves are Semites.


Response
Certainly the sovereign State of Israel and its government can be legitimately criticized just like any other country or government in the world. Criticism of particular Israeli actions or policies in and of itself does not constitute anti-Semitism. However, it is undeniable that there are those whose criticism of Israel or of Zionism crosses the line into anti-Semitism. It is also undeniable that criticism of Israel and Zionism are considered socially acceptable, thereby providing a pretext for some whose criticism masks deeper anti-Semitic attitudes.

How can one distinguish between criticism of Israel that is within the bounds of legitimate political discourse, and that which crosses the line into anti-Semitism? One way is to recognize when those that criticize Israel invoke traditional anti-Jewish references, accusations and conspiracy theories. For example, when Israelis are depicted using Der Stürmer-like stereotypes: i.e., hooked noses; bent over, dark, ugly, demonic figures. Or when Israelis are accused of crimes that are reminiscent of age-old anti-Jewish conspiracy theories – i.e. alleged Israeli/ Jewish plans for world domination; that a Jewish cabal (elders of Zion) is behind Israel’s strength or behind foreign policy that is favorable to Israel, or allegations of Israeli actions that are eerily similar to medieval blood libels.

Another common theme is when Israelis are compared to Nazis and Hitler. This comparison between the Jewish state and those who perpetrated the greatest and largest act of anti-Semitism in world history is not an impartial or dispassionate accusation. It is a charge that is purposefully directed at Jews in an effort to associate the victims of the Nazi crimes with the Nazi perpetrators, and serves to diminish the significance and uniqueness of the Holocaust. To make such a comparison is an act of blatant hostility toward Jews and Jewish history.

Finally, deeper bias against Israel and Jews may be evident when Israel is held to a different standard than any other country in the world. Such an example is when critics of Israel question or deny Israel’s right to exist. No one questions France’s right to exist or Egypt’s, simply because there is disagreement with their policies. Why is it only the Jewish state’s legitimacy that is a subject for discussion? Similarly, questions of motivation arise when Israel is singled out for criticism for actions or policies that nations around the world engage in with impunity.




Response
Any comparison between the Nazi’s deliberate and predetermined plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is anti-Semitic on its face and is deeply offensive and dangerous. Israel and the Palestinians have been engaged in a territorial dispute. Israel has no policy or plan or desire to exterminate the Palestinian people.

This comparison between the Jewish State and those who perpetrated the greatest and largest act of anti-Semitism in world history is not an impartial or dispassionate accusation. It is a charge that is purposefully directed at Jews in an effort to associate the victims of the Nazi crimes with the Nazi perpetrators, and serves to diminish the significance and uniqueness of the Holocaust. To make such a comparison is an act of blatant hostility toward Jews and Jewish history. Furthermore, the images of Jews as Nazis, committing genocide are an insult to the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust and an affront to those who survived the horrors of Nazi Germany.




Response
The term anti-Semitism was formulated to refer specifically to the hatred of Jews. The term has never been used to refer to hatred against Arabs. Claims to the contrary are an effort to diminish the potency of the term, or to seize ownership of this resonant term.

The historical roots of the term “anti-Semitism” go back to the 19th century when it was invented and popularized by anti-Jewish German writers and intellectuals in the closing decades of the 19th century. The anthropology of that era gave the name “Semitic” – from the Hebrew “Shem,” one of Noah’s sons – to a family of languages that included Hebrew, Arabic, Assyrian and Phoenician; and labeled members of groups that spoke these languages were “Semites.” Through the ministrations of late-century racial “science,” Semitic was increasingly used to designate Jews as a “race” with inborn biological attributes. The use of the term “anti-Semitism” to specifically denote opposition and antagonism to Jews was first suggested by the German journalist Wilhelm Marr in his 1879 work The Victory of Judaism over Germanism, a best-seller that helped push “the Jewish question” to the center of German politics. Quite simply, anti-Semitism refers to the hatred of Jews, whatever the nationality, race, color or creed of the perpetrator. Attempting to dismiss the term anti-Semitism because of semantics does not erase the fact of its existence or its history.


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