How to criticize Israel without sounding like a raging anti-Semite or helping Netanyahu
Yesterday, I wrote about the important distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism*. People like to conflate the two of them, but the truth is, neither anti-Zionism nor, certainly, being critical of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic.
But that doesn’t mean there are no anti-Semites out there among the anti-Zionists or critics of Israel. And so, I thought I’d offer those who are anti-Semitic some tips.
Now, dear anti-Semitic friends… I know what you’re thinking. Why should we listen to this… Semite? But here’s the thing: every time an anti-Semite opens his mouth, the people who exploit anti-Semitism to justify its policies towards Palestinians win a point. And every time a critic of Israel says something anti-Semitic, the people who exploit anti-Semitism to argue that all critics of Israel gain lots of points. It makes it that much easier for hawks to point and say, you see? These “Free Palestine” people, are just a bunch of anti-Semites.
So, Netanyahu owes anti-Semites, especially anti-Semites who are critical of Israel, a thank you for the free hasbara.
Now, it isn’t fair, it isn’t right… to discredit an entire cause because of the actions of a small few, but if you actually care about changing people’s minds, making a statement, creating a viable movement, you are disciplined enough to be practical…. wait… why am I trying to reason with anti-Semites? Oy! Well, I guess, I would like the real anti-Semites to shut up for various reasons: they’re assholes, they’re ignorant and/ or hateful. And if someone is driven by anti-Semitism more than helping the Palestinians, they won’t care, anyway. But let’s say you’re an accidental or ignorant anti-Semite? Let’s say you’re actually committed to changing Israeli policy. Then, I guess, this list is for you.
If you want to not come off as an anti-Semite, you should refrain from saying any of the following:
- Jews run the world.
- Jews run all the bankers.
- Death to the Jews.
- the Holocaust never happened.
- The Holocaust is debatable.
- “Jews” when you mean “Zionists”
- “Jews” when you mean “Israelis”
Also, when attending a pro-Palestine demonstration, refrain from:
- chanting “Gas the Jews” or “Kill the Jews” or “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone.”
- holding signs that say “Hitler was right” (as tempting as it is.)
- attack a synagogue
- attack a kosher shop
- burn down a Jewish-owned pharmacy
Other things to avoid are:
- refusing to treat a Jewish patient and instead, telling her to go to Gaza to get rid of the pain.
- refusing to let Jews shop.
- Using the #HitlerWasRight hashtag when tweeting about Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
I am in no way saying that Anti-Semitism is behind most protests against Israel. But I am saying that anti-Semites who are critical of Israel are too dumb to realize they are their own / Palestinians’ worst enemy.
* YES, Semites are not Jews, they are people who speak Semitic languages, specifically,
Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the lands once known as Abyssinia), Arabic (spoken in all the Arab countries and in many Muslim countries because it is the language of the Qur’an), Hebrew (spoken in Israel and by some Jews and others outside of Israel), Aramaic (spoken primarily by the Chaldeans of Iraq and by some Catholic and Maronite Christians in the world, at least in their church services if not in their homes or business) and Syriac (spoken by a few in various parts of Syria and in the Middle East).
So, anti-Semitism is a misnomer, but it is a misnomer I will use because who has time to reinvent the wheel? When people say anti-Semite, they mean anti-Jew.