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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Myth: "Advocates for Israel try to silence critics by labeling them anti-Semitic"

As addressed by Mitchell Bard.  2/24/2010

“Advocates for Israel try to silence critics by labeling them anti-Semitic.”

Criticizing Israel does not necessarily make someone anti-Semitic. The determining factor is the intent of the commentator. Legitimate critics accept Israel’s right to exist, whereas anti-Semites do not. Anti-Semites use double standards when they criticize Israel, for example, denying Israelis the right to pursue their legitimate claims while encouraging the Palestinians to do so. Anti-Semites deny Israel the right to defend itself, and ignore Jewish victims, while blaming Israel for pursuing their murderers. Anti-Semites rarely, if ever, make positive statements about Israel. Anti-Semites describe Israelis using pejorative terms and hate-speech, suggesting, for example, that they are “racists” or “Nazis.” 

Natan Sharansky has suggested a “3-D” test for differentiating legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism

The first “D” is the test of whether Israel or its leaders are being demonized or their actions blown out of proportion. Equating Israel with Nazi Germany is one example of demonization. 

The second “D” is the test of double standards. An example is when Israel is singled out for condemnation at the United Nations for perceived human rights abuses while nations that violate human rights on a massive scale, such as Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, are not even mentioned. 

The third “D” is the test of delegitimization. Questioning Israel’s legitimacy, that is, its right to exist is always anti-Semitic.41

No campaign exists to prevent people from expressing negative opinions about Israeli policy. In fact, the most vociferous critics of Israel are Israelis themselves who use their freedom of speech to express their concerns every day. A glance at any Israeli newspaper will reveal a surfeit of articles questioning particular government policies. Anti-Semites, however, do not share Israelis’ interest in improving the society; their goal is to delegitimize the state in the short-run, and destroy it in the long-run. There is nothing Israel could do to satisfy these critics.
footnote 41: Natan Sharansky, “Antisemitism in 3-D,”, Forward, (January 21, 2005), p. 9.