Does Criticism of Israel Mix with Anti-Semitism? Global Answers From Jews

Published July 25th, 2018 - 01:47 GMT
(AFP/File Photo)
(AFP/File Photo)

By Randa Darwish

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This is how anti-Semitism is defined by the intergovernmental organization, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). But the definition has also been perceived by some governments and organizations as equating criticism of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with anti-semitism.

A few days ago, 40 Jewish social justice advocacy organizations from 15 different countries released a joint statement, which argued for distinguishing anti-Jewish racism from opposition to Israel’s policies and its occupation in Palestine.

“It is more important than ever to distinguish between the hostility to or prejudice against Jews on the one hand and legitimate critiques of Israeli policies and system of injustice on the other.”

The letter was released as a result of rising concerns around the targeting of pro-Palestine organizations, particularly the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Signed by groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, Boycott from Within, European Jews for a Just Peace, Independent Jewish Voices (UK), Jews for Justice for Palestinians and dozens of others, the statement addressed governments and all institutions, demanding that they take effective steps to defeat the “white supremacist nationalist hate and violence” behind Israel’s human rights violations.

This coincides with a growing conflict in the UK, as the Labour party announced their adaptation of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, with their own added clauses. This step prompted conflicts within the Jewish members of the British Parliament and the Labour Party.

The statement was perceived by mixed reactions among the international community, Israel and Palestinians.

On the other hand, several voices condemned the statement, arguing that anti-Zionism alternates with anti-Semitism and both lead to each other.



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