Making anti-Semitism respectable: Unfair criticism of Israel

One-sided and unjustified condemnation of Israel has become acceptable in international circles.

Rabbi Menachem Genack,

Rabbi Menachem Genack
Rabbi Menachem Genack
INN:BG

A new low was reached recently with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro’s outrageous and one-sided criticism of Israel. Speaking before the annual INSS conference in Israel, Shapiro said, “Too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities, too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”  

These remarks came the same day of the funeral of Dafna Meir of Otniel, an innocent mother of six murdered by a Palestinian terrorist.  This callous timing underscores just how wrongheaded and unfair this criticism was. Israel is in the midst of defending itself against a wave of unprovoked murderous stabbings that target soldiers, security officers, and civilians, and is taking measures that any other country confronted by such a situation would take. 

To be fair to Ambassador Shapiro, he has always had a good working relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and is a stalwart friend of Israel. Moreover, Ambassador Shapiro has since apologized for the timing of his speech, but he has not backed away from its substantive content.  That is because his public statements reflect the Administration’s positions, and he was clearly echoing similar statements made last month by Secretary of State Kerry at the Saban Forum; this makes the Ambassador’s most recent pronouncement even more troubling. 


The pundits lately have been justifying the vicious attacks on some amorphous notion that the Palestinian perpetrators are frustrated and driven to despair because of the failure of the peace process.
Yes, Shapiro is right, there is a double standard, but not the one he describes. The double standard is that Israel is frequently criticized for defending itself, while there is little criticism for the Palestinian leadership that encourages and praises the stabbings and lionizes the perpetrators. What justification is there for the cold-blooded murder of an innocent mother of six, killed in her own home? Where is the outcry from world leaders? Where is the condemnation of Mohammed Abbas and the Palestinian leadership? 

The wave of stabbings was originally justified by the Palestinian leadership on the basis of allegations that Israel was threatening to take over Al Aqsa Mosque, a total fabrication that was repeatedly denied by Prime Minister Netanyahu to no avail. Having gotten as much mileage as they could from the Al Aqsa nonsense, the pundits lately have been justifying the vicious attacks on some amorphous notion that the Palestinian perpetrators are frustrated and driven to despair because of the failure of the peace process to yield any results.  This despite Israel’s numerous peace overtures including unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, offer to cede 97% of the 'West Bank', stoppages of construction in the 'West Bank', and more, all met by stony silence from the Palestinian leadership. 

And what about Shapiro’s remarks concerning Israel’s attitude toward Israeli attacks on Palestinians?  Even though Israel is in the midst of violent civil unrest in which Israelis are cruelly victimized by Palestinians, the Israeli government condemns Israeli vigilantism, the Israeli court system is attempting to deal with it and punish the few Israeli extremists, and the overwhelming popular response by the Israeli public to Israeli vigilantism is revulsion.  The Obama Administration is not impressed, and insists that Israel is not doing enough.  At the same time that the Israeli leadership and citizenry reject extremism, the Palestinian leaders, media, and population praise the stabbings, encourage the violence, and treat the murderers as heroes. About this, President Obama has said little.

The US Administration sets the tone for how other government leaders view and describe Israel’s actions, and unfair criticism of Israel from the Administration constitutes a demonization of Israel on a moral level that gives cover to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments in Europe and affects how Israel is viewed around the world.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, speaking before the Security Council, appeared to justify the epidemic of brutal stabbing attacks roiling Israel when he noted that, “it is human nature to react to occupation,” as though frustration is an excuse for murder. The Foreign Minister of Sweden, in a recent interview, managed to blame Israel for the murderous ISIS attack in Paris that claimed 129 victims when she stated that one of the root causes for the attack was that “Palestinians see no future,” an absurd assertion that not even ISIS itself claimed and which the Swedish government is now trying to sweep under the rug.. One-sided "moral" condemnation of Israel has become fashionable, a trend sadly encouraged by the attitude emanating from our own Administration.

Just last week, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Obama made a stirring speech in which he pointed out the evils of anti-Semitism. We are sure he is sincere, but his policies, coming as they do from Israel’s closest ally, unintentionally endow anti-Semitic sentiment with a veneer of respectability that is quickly seized upon by all those who are eager to demonize Israel.




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