Op-Ed: Pondering the Anti-Israel Double Standard
Att'y Joseph M. SabagThe writer is an attorney and Zionist activist residing in Florida.
Last month, a lot of noise was made in response to the suggestion by MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) that the pressure being exerted upon Israel by Secretary of State John Kerry “may have anti-Semitic undertones.” Yogev’s remarks were made in the wake of Kerry’s not-so-subtle threat that Israel would face boycotts if his “peace negotiation” effort fails.
It is widely recognized that boycotts of Israel, among other forms of economic warfare, are motivated by hatred and a desire to seek Israel’s destruction, and therefore deserve no legitimacy. That is presumably why the remark by Kerry that initiated the matter drew the ire of many of the same critics as Yogev did with his response. Why then did they in turn suggest that Yogev was wrong to raise his concern? Aren’t inappropriate or anti-Semitic undertones possible even where intent is absent, and even when uttered by a Secretary of State? It is, of course, up to the reader to estimate for himself the intentions of Secretary Kerry and whether MK Yogev’s suggestion was legitimate or out of line.
More recently, Kerry again drew criticism after suggesting that although the United States recognizes Israel as the Jewish state, Israel's insisting that the Palestinian-Arabs do as much –thereby inherently recognizing the connection of the Jewish People to the Land - is a mistake.
One can’t help but notice that these and other recent episodes offer the opportunity to explore the unique world of the anti-Israel double standard – one of the hallmarks of the 3-D Test of Anti-Semitism. For example:
Why is denying the historic fact of the Holocaust considered anti-Semitic, while denying the historic fact of the Jewish People’s connection to the Land of Israel is not?
In pressuring Israel to agree to concessions that would have grave consequences for its safety, rights and very existence, Secretary of State Kerry , President Obama and many other officials around the world regularly refer to Israel as an "occupier" and suggest that it is territorially illegitimate. As a matter of law this suggestion is entirely false. On the practical level, as it effects the perception of onlookers worldwide, “occupation” is merely a polite code word used to suggest that Israel is a thief. It directly fuels the myth that Israel stole land that must be returned to its victimized Arab owners. It is entirely reasonable to question whether the lies of Israeli occupation and territorial illegitimacy feed into anti-Jewish bigotry.
When Iranian leaders cast doubt upon the occurrence of the Holocaust, decent societies and Jewish leaders around the world spring into action in order to highlight the false and hateful nature of such rhetoric. In these instances, the cynical questioning of obvious historical facts and the anti-Semitic intentions that motivate such attacks are condemned in the most unequivocal terms. Yet at the same time, these same indignant champions of truth and decency usually offer no reaction to the everyday denial of Jewish legitimacy and rights in Israel. In fact, many feed into it themselves by making use of expressions such as “occupation”, “West Bank” and “settlements” –weaponized language that contributes directly to the narrative of Israel’s enemies. They are, at best, indifferent to the embedded suggestion that the Jew has no right to be in a region known as Judea since time immemorial.
What made centuries of European boycotts against Jewish businesses and institutions leading up to the Holocaust anti-Semitic, but not the boycott of the Jewish State today?
In examining history, there are no moral qualms about recognizing the hatred that fueled boycotts of Jewish businesses and ultimately horrific violence. Such matters are the subject of college courses, and are viewed by many Jews as an important part of their identity. Today, despite the lessons of the past, a concerted campaign is being waged against the Jewish state to attack its legitimacy in virtually every aspect of its historical, economic, legal, political, and cultural life. The aim is to undermine the sovereignty, security and very foundations of Israel's existence. Israel represents the “Jew among nations”.
Today, the anti-Israel double standard is predicated largely upon the sad fact that so many people have fallen victim to the Big Lie Technique, accepting false assertions by Israel’s enemies to some degree. The double standard particularly thrives where its applicants succeed in their cynical attempt to distinguish anti-Israel expression from ordinary Jew-hatred.
If only we had the self-respect to be pioneers of a Big Truth Technique. Sadly, most Jews lack the concern or knowledge necessary to unmask latent anti-Semitism. Worse yet, many American Jews who care about Israel choose to ignore the fact that a critical mass ofunashamed Israel-haters has gathered under their partisan tent. Could all this be relevant to the criticism directed at Mk Yogev? If so, doesn’t that make us guilty of a self-defeating double standard of our own? Is it any surprise then that Secretary Kerry seems to pass no moral judgment upon European boycotts and instead has reportedly contributed to their efforts in order to leverage Israel?
Just a few more double standards to consider before calling it a day:Given that virulent anti-Semitic attitudes persist in many countries where few if any Jews remain to be found, how can anyone think it reasonable to expect that those who hate Israel will abandon their desire for her destruction in the event of a peace agreement?
Why was it anti-Semitic for the Nazis to seek a Judenrein Europe, yet repeated Arab calls for a Judenrein Palestinian state remain entirely uncriticized?
Why do placating statements made by Arab leaders in English tend to matter, while their incendiary statements made in Arabic don’t?
How can the United Nations and its apparatuses ignore the suffering of so many millions of innocent people around the world, yet allow the routine slander and demonization of Israel to stand on its agenda?