Analysis : Who is anti-Semitic?
Sunday, 2 December, 2007
By: Yael Lotan
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
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, 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 criticized 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
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.
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.