May 26, 2019

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NYT op-ed says anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism. A rebuttal.

I’m not going to fisk the entire op-ed by Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times today claiming that anti-Zionism isn’t a form of antisemitism, and concentrate on a single pivotal sentence:

Certainly, some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but it’s entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot. 


If you are against Jewish self-determination, it means either than you are singling out the Jewish people as the only people on earth who do not have that right, or you deny that there are a Jewish people. Both positions are equally antisemitic, because both of them single out Jews as being different and less worthy than any other people.

Contra to fans of Shlomo Sands, the Jewish people have been considered a people and a nation since Biblical times. Chronicles 1 17:21-22:

כא  וּמִי כְּעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל, גּוֹי אֶחָד בָּאָרֶץ:  אֲשֶׁר הָלַךְ הָאֱלֹ-הִים לִפְדּוֹת לוֹ עָם, לָשׂוּם לְךָ שֵׁם גְּדֻלּוֹת וְנֹרָאוֹת–לְגָרֵשׁ מִפְּנֵי עַמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר-פָּדִיתָ מִמִּצְרַיִם, גּוֹיִם. 21 And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth, whom God went to redeem unto Himself for a people, to make Thee a name by great and tremendous things, in driving out nations from before Thy people, whom Thou didst redeem out of Egypt.
כב  וַתִּתֵּן אֶת-עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְךָ, לְעָם–עַד-עוֹלָם; וְאַתָּה יְה-וָה, הָיִיתָ לָהֶם לֵאלֹ-הִים. 22 For Thy people Israel didst Thou make Thine own people for ever; and Thou, LORD, becamest their God.

The Jewish people have considered themselves both a people and a nation since before this was written, and a glance at how 19th century newspapers would refer to Jews often as “Israelites” or “Hebrews” shows that this was the opinion of the Western world as well before Israel was reborn.

Whether or not Israel can represent all Jews who do not want to be represented is not the issue. The fact is that Israel is the only nation that calls itself a Jewish state, and to deny that is to deny the right of self-determination of the majority of Jews who support Israel’s right to exist and its unique status as a refuge for Jews who are oppressed.

It is not “weaponized whataboutism,” as Goldberg says, to point out that only the one Jewish state is subjected to the demand that it be dismantled. Any sane observer knows that a binational state replacing Israel would become yet another Arab thugocracy in short order – one that would have no equal rights for Jews, for gays, for women. The willful blindness to that certainty from the supposedly woke progressive crowd shows that their motivation is not equal rights, but the demolition of Jewish rights.

It is also not “weaponized whataboutism” to point out that not only is Israel singled out for being targeted for destruction on moral grounds, butat the same time Israel is more moral and liberal than nearly every nation on Earth, especially any nation that faces the hostility that Israel does from its neighbors. Israel is more tolerant of minorities than most European nations. Israel has spent more time and energy to minimize civilian casualties at war than any nation in history.  Criticizing Israel isn’t antisemitism, claiming that it has no right to exist based on its actions is. Only Israel is compared with some ideal than no nation has ever reached, and to claim it is illegitimate based on criteria that no other state on the planet is subjected to is indeed proof that the agenda has nothing to do with morality.

There is no escaping the fact that Israel is singled out not because it is a staunch ally of the US, as Goldberg implies – it is singled out because it is the Jewish state.

There is no other word for this than antisemitism.

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