Sunday, June 26, 2005

That Old Zionist Sleight Of Hand

They're at it again. Diaspora Jewish organizations deliberately conflating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism. Or in this case, not even anti-Zionism but mere criticism of Israel.

In response to the Anglican Consultative Council's statements commending 'the resolve of the Episcopal Church (USA) to take appropriate action where it finds that its corporate investments support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis' and urging 'investment strategies that support the infrastructure of a future Palestinian State' as well as 'peace, justice and co-existence in the Holy Land', the chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews had this to say:
That Israel alone should be singled out for such treatment, particularly at a time when dialogue is beginning to prevail, shows an inequality in the treatment of the Jewish state which must raise concerns about the Church's relationship with our community.
Must it, in fact? No. No, it mustn't. The only way the Anglican Church's policies regarding the Israeli Occupation can have anything to do with its relationship with British Jewry is if British Jewry are actively involved in the Israeli Occupation. Which I would venture to say most are not.

Listen to me very carefully. This is very important. 'Israel' and 'the Jews' are not the same thing. Criticism of Israeli policy and actions cannot be logically interpreted as criticism of 'the Jews', let alone as anti-semitism. Zionists pull this gambit all the time, and we must not let them get away with it. It is a blind constructed specifically to shelter Israel from opprobrium by preemptively tarring any critic, of whatever stripe, an anti-semite.

Among other things, this construction would make every Jew in the world complicit with the crimes of Israel against Palestinians. That too is in Zionism's interest, but it is not in the interest of Diaspora Jews: this conflation actually fosters anti-semitic sentiment and actions. If all Jews are considered complicit with Israeli policies, then all Jews are potential targets of vengeance against those policies. A rise in anti-semitic violence against Diaspora Jews is of course not at all counter to Zionist interests; quite the opposite. But it is dead counter to the interests of Jews who would prefer to remain peaceful citizens of the Diaspora.

There's a ton of lit about disentangling anti-Zionism from anti-semitism. Here's a good short piece by Tariq Ali, and another by Uri Avnery, to start.

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