Tonight, at sundown marks the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The Hebrew calendar will start the year 5778. According to Jewish traditions, it is a joyous holiday and it is also a deeply religious holiday. There are greetings wishing one another a sweet new year.
Most years are not sweet. The history of Jews is a history of hate, scorn, oppression, rejection, and genocide. Thousands of years of fending off hate and plots to wipe Jews off the Face of the Earth have failed. Despite thousands of years struggle, Jews are still here and are not going anywhere.
Israel is a Blessing and a challenge.
Not all anti-Semitism comes from the White Nationalist right wing. The hate and bigotry pre-dates the Donald Trump Administration. Although the argument it has increased with his emergence in American politics is a well-documented fact.
There is a strong element on the left as well. The modern nation of Israel is a fact. After half the Jews in the world were killed by Hitler and his henchmen, the Zionist dream of reestablishing Israel in the traditional Jewish Homeland took on new urgency, and Israel came into existence in 1948.
With the Jewish experience of being a people who were killed, discriminated against, persecuted, and abused, Jews wanted one place on Earth where those injustices would not be tolerated. That place is a nation called Israel. It is a Jewish homeland where any Jew has the right to return and be free from oppression.
Free from scorn and hate is another issue. On May 14, 1948, when the modern state of Israel came into existence, there is a tiny detail overlooked in the creation of the new state. To what extent will the borders be for the new state was not well defined.
Arabs were the majority in the area known as Palestine. They were none too happy about being trapped in a “Jewish State” with their rights not clearly defined. Jews from Europe still suffering the pain of The Holocaust started arriving and conflicts deepened.
Israel is a fact and is not above criticism.
Israel is a recognized Nation of the World and a full member of the United Nations. It has as much of a right to exist as the United States, or England, or China, or any other nation. Over the past 69 years, Israel has been built into a marvelous nation and can brag of many technological advances that have transformed the world.
Israel is not above criticism. Neither is Israel’s leaders above criticism. Sometimes that criticism can be quite harsh. In a free society, that goes along with being in power.
Criticize as much as you like, but when your criticism turns to trying to delegitimize the State of Israel, to say it does not have a right to exist, or to accuse the State of Israel of crimes they have not committed, then criticism steps over the line into anti-Semitism.
Comparing Israel to the Nazi regime, the greatest perpetrators of anti-Semitism in history who systematically murdered 6 million innocent people just because they were Jews is also anti-Semitic.
When Jews murder Palestinians, the State of Israel arrests the Jews and put them on trial. Do you think Jews were offered that kind of protection in the Third Reich? The comparison is so absurd as to show those who are making the statement are not making a legitimate criticism. They are practicing anti-Semitism.
Yes, criticism is legitimate against any state and against any leader of any state. That criticism too often allows safety for those who want to practice Jew hate. Jew hate is not a legitimate criticism of Israel. Anti-Israel has often been hijacked as cover for anti-Semitism.
The reason I wrote this article is I received a new round of anti-Semitism directed at me personally. It was not from skinhead Trump supporters. It came from a people on the left. It was triggered by Israel’s Prime Minister praising Donald Trump’s Nationalist speech at the UN.
I support Israel, and I know her shortcomings
I wonder how many of those who are criticizing Israel have been in the Middle East to see what is going on first-hand? Many have but it has been my experience on social media that the majority have not been anywhere near the region.
I have been in the region many times. Not just in Israel, I have been in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. I’ve been in Lebanon and Syria more than I have been in Israel. My views are not biased by being a Jew who has been in Israel. My views are based on having been in the region and viewing it through my American views of the world.
Israel is a state under siege. Just the simple act of getting on a city bus can have fatal consequences. Attacks on non-Arabs are commonplace. So are dumb rockets that are shot from the West Bank into Israel without a care if it slams into a school, or a hospital, or a shopping district.
That is not Israel’s fault. It is not because of the occupation, or Palestinian rights, or a struggle for a Palestinian State. It is because Israel exists and for no other reason.
Arabs refuse to accept the reality of Israel, yet Israel is a reality. I see Israel doing things, and its leader participating in American domestic politics and I don’t like it. It offends me. It offends my values to have a Head of State taking political sides in our domestic politics.
Whether it is Putin or Netanyahu, they need to be out of our domestic politics. I acknowledge the hypocrisy of my statement since the USA sticks our noses in foreign politics often. “You do it too” doesn’t make it right.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise in America and it is not the fault of Donald Trump. It is on the rise on college campuses in the USA. In many cases, Jewish kids are mocked or scorned if they don’t denounce and repudiate Israel. That is anti-Semitism. Israel is an integral part of the Jewish religion as well as part of the Jewish experience. People who do this are asking for Jews to repudiate their Jewishness.
I recognize anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists will strongly denounce Israel. They have that right. I vigorously disagree with the false charge that Israel is an apartheid State. That too is anti-Semitism.
When I see statements that Israel will be free of the Jews from the Jordan River to the Sea, then it is anti-Semitic. What that chant symbolizes is a desire to erase the State of Israel from the map.
The Arab-Israel conflict will not be resolved by the UN, or the USA, or any other “honest broker.” It will be resolved only by negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The occupation is a roadblock to peace. I agree with that. I understand the occupation from Israel’s perspective, considering the routine terrorist attacks on Israel.
We need a new starting point. I would propose that starting point be a new Palestinian Charter that recognizes Israel’s right to exist and a statement from the Knesset of Palestine’s right to exist. Some say the Camp David Accords are that starting point. They aren’t because the right to exist for both states is implied.
Before you criticize Israel, make certain your criticisms are based on policy and that you are not using your statements as a proxy for Jew hate. When you try to delegitimize the State of Israel, you have stepped over the line into anti-Semitism.
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