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Anti-semitism charge is increasingly being leveled against Israel’s mainstream critics

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Maybe you saw that a top minister in Israel’s government accused John Kerry, the US secretary of state, of anti-Semitism? John Kerry made the mistake of saying that if only Israel made peace with the Palestinians, that would cut down on extremism in the region. From Haaretz:

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett attacked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over his comments Friday connecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and extremism in the Middle East.

“It turns out that even when a British Muslim decapitates a British Christian, there will always be someone to blame the Jew,” he said.

Here are Kerry’s original remarks, on Thursday:

As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition, the truth is we – there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to. And people need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity

Bennett’s accusation is not singular. As Israel grows more isolated in world opinion in the wake of the Gaza slaughter, the anti-Semitism charge is being thrown around  in a new way, at a new crowd. It’s now slung whenever westerners are too critical of Israel.

Ari Shavit, the writer who’s a darling of liberal Zionists, accused westerners of anti-Semitism at the end of the Gaza onslaught:

“In the final week of the war in Gaza this summer that took the lives of 72 Israelis and more than 2100 Palestinians, Shavit wrote that strong objection to Israeli conduct was illegitimate and amounted to anti-Semitic bigotry: ‘We’re a tiny minority nation under attack, and sweeping criticism of this nation is like sweeping criticism of the black, gay or Yazidi minority.’”  —Nathan Thrall in the London Review of Books.

A very similar charge was made by Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter in Jerusalem, who accused international media, including American outlets, of anti-Semitism for the way they told the story of the Gaza onslaught, as being Israel’s fault, when the real story was that Israel was taking on Hamas just as the US is taking on ISIS. At On the Media (minute 5):

What we’re seeing is extremely critical coverage of the actions of the Israeli government, and I would argue that this [alleged media] interest in the holy land– I think that there’s a very thin line between that and development of a hostile obsession with the moral failings of Jews, which as we know is a very deep thought pattern in the west.

Also in the context of Gaza, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth was accused of a “deepseated hostility to the Jewish state” and an “immoral anti-Israel obsession.” Roth (whose father escaped Nazi Germany) has said that the charge is a charge of anti-Semitism.

Also in the context of Gaza, religion writer Mark Oppenheimer wrote at Tablet that liberal Protestants who support Palestinian rights seem to him to be anti-Semitic because they have a caricature of Jews as the Israel lobby and

“feel that there are no good Jews left. Except the ones that are entirely secular and anti-Zionist.”

I do wonder if the anti-Semitism charge is being exhausted by this extensive service, that it’s losing its sting. More wild accusations of anti-Semitism:

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has accused Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem of being anti-Semites, in the Jerusalem Post, for saying that the Gaza slaughter amounted to a “genocide.”

David Horowitz has said that Barack Obama is anti-Semitic because he supports the Palestinian Authority, which includes Hamas.

Mike Huckabee said that Obama is anti-Semitic in his response to violence in the West Bank last summer.

Einat Wilf, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, accused former British foreign secretary Jack Straw of anti-semitism for stating that the Israel lobby has too much control over US policymaking. Chuck Hagel and John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt were all meretriciously accused of anti-Semitism for that allegation.

Had enough?

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If you can’t criticize Israel after killing children in a hospital, what’s left? That’s right, there is apparently no plausible reason for criticizing Israel without it being anti-Semitic at its base. A pretty neat trick. We are always reminded by Israeli supporters that they want Israel treated like any other country, then when that standard is applied, it’s cast as “singling out” Israel because some other event in the world was worse (although $3 billion… Read more »

RE: “Mike Huckabee said that Obama is anti-Semitic in his response to violence in the West Bank last summer.” ~ Weiss THAT REMINDS ME: I wonder how much progress Israel has made in the “thorough and transparent investigation” the US State Department said it expects Israel to make* into the videotaped shooting/murder by the Israeli military of the two Palestinian teenagers (Nadim Nuwwara and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Salameh) during the Nakba Day protests outside Ofer… Read more »

ah the power of the ad hominem. it’ really their favorite fall back position. or forwarding position, or whatever. the positioning of victimhood is so valuable some people just can’t and won’t let go. “…is like sweeping criticism of the black, gay or Yazidi minority.’” why not add, ‘or the occupy movement criticizing the 1%’ after all , they’re a minority too aren’t they? (snark). face it, all minorities are not equal guys! this kind… Read more »

The charge of anti-Semitism has become boring and meaningless, but it still works its magic on people who get spooked easily.

Also in the context of Gaza, religion writer Mark Oppenheimer wrote at Tablet that liberal Protestants who support Palestinian rights seem to him to be anti-Semitic because they have a caricature of Jews as the Israel lobby and “feel that there are no good Jews left. Except the ones that are entirely secular and anti-Zionist.” That’s trying to sound as though the good Jews (per Oppenheimer’s description) are very small in number, insignificant. But in… Read more »