By Amnon Rubinstein, June 7, 2005.
Is being anti-Israel the same as being anti-Jewish? That’s the perennial
question, and it deserves an updated answer.
Yes, say those who defend every action taken by the Jewish state. That’s not
what I think. In fact, one may Â must Â criticize Israel without hating Jews.
Israel’s post-1967 policy of implanting settlements in the occupied territories
contravenes international law as well as the principle of equality. So it cannot
but arouse justified opposition.
Granted there’s an overlap between anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism. For
example, one of the pro-AUT boycott Web sites links to anti-Semitic sites.
Indeed, the proceedings leading up to the now-rescinded British boycott of
Israeli academia seemed to have been led by “academic skinheads.”
Similarly, one pro-Palestinian activist at London University Â an Israeli musician Â
defends the burning of synagogues as “a rational act” expressing opposition to
How should we classify such utterings? Are they a manifestation of
radical-leftism or neo-Nazism? A more extreme version of Noam
Chomsky-thinking or a less extreme version of Julius Streicher-thinking? But the
precise correlation between anti-Israelism and old-fashioned JewÂhatred is of
For, in fact, the situation of Jews in the West has never been so good. A British
Jew (still) heads the Conservative Party. Jews are to be found at the top
echelons of European society. True there are virulent acts of violence in Europe,
but these tend to be perpetrated by young Arabs and Muslims.
To be sure, there remain pockets of old-fashioned Christian hatred. For
instance, a comprehensive sociological study by Michel Wieviorka and others,
“Hatred of Jews in France,” published recently, found that in provincial Alsace,
where hardly a Jew lives, anti-Semitism, of the old familiar kind, remains
prevalent. In Cordoba, Spain, swastika banners have been spread across a
None of these incidents explain the bash-Israel hysteria gathering momentum in
liberal circles Â just as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan for disengagement
from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank is about to be
Indeed, here we are dealing not with opposition to Israel’s policies, nor with
old-style Judophobia, but with an outright denial of Jewish peoplehood and our
right to self-determination.
It is this mood that plagues some “liberal” circles who cannot be accused of
WHEN WE take a bird’s-eye view of anti-Semitism we can divide it, in the
words of Emile Fackenhein, into three stages.
Stage One: “You cannot live among us as Jews” – which precipitated forced
Stage Two: “You cannot live among us” – which precipitated mass
Stage Three: “You cannot live” – which signifies murderous, “biological
anti-Semitism” of the kind that culminated in the Holocaust, and of the kind
advocated recently by the Egyptian television series Horse Without a Rider.
But today we are arriving at a Stage Four: “You cannot live in a state of your
own.” This stance is popular among Western leftists and “liberals.”
Those who fall into this category are definitely not anti-Semitic. Yet this stage
is also nourished by an irrational attitude toward all things Jewish.
Why shouldn’t the Jews be entitled to a national home of their own? Why
should the verdict of both the League of Nations and the United Nations
advocating a Jewish state in Palestine be abandoned? What universal principle
justifies this “special treatment” of the Jews ?
THE GOOD NEWS is that the European Union Â which too many Israelis love to
hate Â has come to our rescue. It has given us unequivocal criteria by which to
evaluate the presence of Stage Four anti-Semitism. The EU’s monitoring
committee on anti-Semitism and racism has formulated its own definition of
- denying Jews the right to self-determination by
claiming that Israel’s existence is “racist”;
- applying a double standard; holding Israel to a yardstick not expected of
any other democratic nation;
- drawing comparisons between Israeli policy and those of the Nazis;
- holding world Jewry collectively responsible for the actions of Israel.
This is a dramatic and courageous definition, one that flies in the face of many
A court in Versailles went even further and, in an exceptional decision,
convicted editors at Le Monde for publishing in 2002 “Israel-Palestine: The
cancer,” which reportedly described Jews as “a contemptuous people” and
implicitly equated Israel with Nazi Germany.
It’s starting to look as if the EU and the French courts are properly defining
Stage Four Jew-hatred. Good news, indeed.