If Israel were nicer there’d be no anti-Semitism

March 3, 2009

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It would be silly for us to ignore the statistics. Israel makes Peace Treaties – anti-Semitic attacks abroad decrease. Israel makes Wars – anti-Semitic attacks rise. The formula would seem to suggest that if Israel were to make peace with the Arabs, then Jews around the world would be allowed to wear their kippot in public again. J. J. Goldberg and Antony Lerman begin to explore this ‘equation’ in our Face2Face.

It would seem there are a few reasons why this conflation between Israel’s actions and Jewish security around the world might be flawed. First, as far as we know, of the many Jews beaten up in Europe since early January, none of them were asked their opinion of Israel’s foreign policies beforehand. They were attacked for being Jewish, and not for their stance on Operation Cast Lead. Second, the all-too-easy slide from Israel critique to classic anti-Semitic motifs cannot be ignored. From the binding of Swastikas to Stars of David, the endless Holocaust/Nazi comparisons, and the anti-Gaza play that calls itself Seven Jewish Children (see our 8th Jewish Child addition in our blog) – is it so difficult to criticize Israel without resorting to anti-Jewish rhetoric?

Finally, if we were to accept the connection between Israeli actions and anti-Semitism around the world, what does this mean in the real world? What exactly should Israel do, that would make anti-Semites happy? Presumeably an anti-Semite, like any other kind of racist, would never be impressed by anything the Jewish state might do. But even if we understand anti-Jewish attacks as an extreme form of criticizing Israel for not allowing the Palestinians a state, then what should Israel do with its own democratic process, that hasn’t exactly called for immediate withdrawal from disputed territories? If Israel is, in any way, implicated in anti-Semitic attacks, then how can it reduce them without compromising its own existence as a sovereign state?

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