“If you’re pro-Palestinian, you’re anti-Semitic.”
A classmate tweeted something along the lines of this a few weeks ago, to my great confusion. Of note: The student who tweeted this is neither Israeli nor Jewish, but rather an American Catholic. Another American Catholic, Republican Steve King, said recently that he doesn’t understand how “how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second.”
These statements exemplify an increasingly popular two-pronged right wing tool regarding Palestine, Israel and Judaism. The first prong prevents any criticism of Israel by non-Jews with the threat of the cry of “anti-Semitism!” The second strikes hard at Jews who critique Israel, silencing them with the accusation of self-hatred.
This mass muzzling allows the right to create and present an unquestioned narrative regarding Israel. And they have certainly taken advantage of this. While there may have once been some truth to the idea of an Israel surrounded by Arab and Muslim foes, this is not the case now.
Legitimately dangerous enemies of Israel are so few and far between that Netanyahu has turned his fear mongering on ISIS – despite the hundreds of miles of Syrian territory held securely by coalition-supported rebels and Russian-supported regime loyalists separating the two. This is only an offshoot of the intensely popular narrative of Israeli victimization at the hands of Palestinian aggression.
That narrative is totally backwards. Netanyahu leads the oppressors, not the oppressed. He says he does what he does for the citizens of Israel and the Jews of the world. He speaks for “we the Jewish people” and his soldiers oppress, repress, detain, torture, bomb, murder and massacre in our name.
While Jews may not have an obligation to denounce or condemn these crimes against humanity, we should recognize that we have immense power. Netanyahu’s influence comes from a narrative of a united Jewish people under attack from radical Islamists.
By showing that not all Jews are unified in their faith in Israel, we can help weaken Israel’s almost sacred status and thus work to end oppression. By speaking out against the unconscionable and discriminatory Israeli apartheid, we show the world that that country is not infallible just because it is Jewish. We can’t let the accusation of self-hatred silence our criticism and neuter our outrage.
And, too, by objecting to Netanyahu’s devious actions, we can declare ourselves in solidarity with the Palestinian people. None of this means we are anti-Semitic or self-hating Jews. To criticize Israel is not anti-Semitic. I am not anti-Semitic – I embrace my Judaism. While I may not be the most religious Jew, I practically revel in my culture and heritage.
The reason I criticize Israel, the reason I am writing this post, is not because I hate Judaism, but because I love it. And, in loving it, I want to show that not all of the world’s Jewry supports a single man’s bloodthirst for domination. A “self-hating” Jew is a more accurate representative than Bibi himself.