Antisemitism – a Shield to Protect Israel?

I cannot prove that I am not anti-German, or that I am not anti-Muslim. Such accusations are almost impossible to disprove. Even uttering the phrase, ‘I am not anti-Muslim’, invites people to consider, ‘Is he being truthful, or is he in denial. So how should I respond when I, like anyone who has criticised Israel, am invited to take steps to prove that I am not antisemitic. (See attached picture of sample tweets.)

What is antisemitism?

Even though the word semitic includes the Arabs as well as Jewish people, the phrase antisemitic is generally accepted to mean anti-Jew. The IHRA states that antisemitism is ‘a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.’ For a detailed definition see the full website here:

This site gives examples and detail discussions of antisemitism such as below. (I have highlighted certain words for clarity.)

‘Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.’

‘Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include..

  1. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination
  2. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.’

Note that according to the IHRA, disagreement with the current setup of the Israeli state is NOT proof of antisemitism, it depends on the overall context.

Note also, that trying to claim that all Jews are collectively supportive and responsible for the actions of Israel may be antisemitic.

Dealing with accusations of Antisemitism

Like any normal person, I found the violence of Oct 7th revolting and unjustified but so too do I find what is Israel is doing in Gaza unacceptable.

Time and time again, we see supporters of Israel encouraging and amplifying antisemitism, deliberately trying to make Jewish people gather together in fear, as a means of creating a public relations shield with which to protect Israel from criticism. Some politicians are happy to suggest that all Jews will feel responsible for the actions of Israel and that criticising Israel therefore offends them all, despite the IHRA (point b above) states this in itself may be an antisemitic act.

I do not want to make too much of a few rude comments on Twitter. (When I was a teacher, I used to tell staff that the Internet was like the school toilet wall – you are unlikely to find anything good written about yourself there, better not to look if you are easily upset.)

However, people should be aware that defenders of Israel need a public-relations shield to protect Israel from criticism while it destroys the people of Gaza and the accusations of antisemitism are part of that shield. Those of us who are unfairly accused should not fall in to the trap of trying to satisfy the demands that we ‘prove’ we are not antisemitic. We will never satisfy those who seek to defame us as a tactic to defend Israel.

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