Supporting Palestinian rights is anti-Semitic because Israel wants it to be

The irony is that Zionism and antisemitism are each other’s best recruiting tools.

Last stop to Palestine

“The alarming uptick in incidents has been recorded in the aftermath of renewed violence in Gaza.”

In recent weeks, there has been a rise in antisemitic incidents in the United States and in Europe. 

Synagogues were vandalized with swastikas in England and with rocks in Germany, and Orthodox men were allegedly harassed in New York City by a group shouting “kill all the Jews” — one of at least two attacks in the city recently.

These are just a few of the despicable incidents that have led to condemnation from President Joe BidenHuman Rights Watch and others.

The troubling rise in hate is both the continuation of a trend and a break from it.

Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. reached record levels in 2019, according to the Anti-Defamation League, but an alarming uptick in incidents has been recorded in the aftermath of renewed violence in Gaza.

At the same time, some, including MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, have observed a shift in the Israeli-Palestinian discourse in America.

Democratic supporters of Israel are seemingly less afraid to condemn Israel’s killing of civilians in Gaza — including dozens of Palestinian children.

Historically, criticism of the Israeli government has been linked to antisemitism.

But it’s not nearly that simple.

By conflating Judaism and Israel, the Israeli government created a paradox in which Israel’s actions are beyond critique.

The irony is that Zionism and antisemitism are each other’s best recruiting tools.

Israel is the self-proclaimed “nation-state of the Jewish people.”

That has been added to the country’s basic law (the Israeli equivalent of a constitution).

The Israeli Declaration of Independence also promises that the new nation “would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew.”

That promise has been codified in the Law of Return that allows any Jewish person in the world to claim an Israeli citizenship.

Conflating Israel with Judaism — and Israelis with Jews — is unfair and leads to tropes about dual national loyalties.

Dual citizen Paul Wolfowitz

But conflating Israel with Judaism — and Israelis with Jews — is unfair and leads to tropes about dual national loyalties.

It also conflates a diverse religion with the politics and policies of a single country.

But Israel engages in this conflation all the time.

The official mission statement of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations says it “represents the State of Israel, its citizens and the Jewish people on the global stage.”

In 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined world leaders in a rally in Paris after the horrific attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket claimed by the Islamic State group.

Afterward, Netanyahu proclaimed, “I went to Paris not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people.”

It is this conflation between Israel and Judaism, one that is baked into the foundation of Israel and perpetuated by its leaders, that leads to a problematic tautology: Israel’s leaders represent all Jewish people, and thus by definition any criticism of Israel must be criticism of all Jewish people — and hence antisemitic.

This tautology allows accusations of antisemitism to be weaponized, particularly against people who speak up about Palestinian rights — sometimes in ridiculous ways.

Just look at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who has been beating the antisemitism drum for weeks.

Yes, the same Greene who once blamed wildfires on Jewish space lasers and now compares mask mandates to Nazi gas chambers.

The fact that Greene, despite her own record, felt comfortable weaponizing antisemitism as an alleged defense of Israel while spewing antisemitic remarks shows how cynical the discourse about this heinous form of racism has become.

The same dynamic plays out in foreign policy, as Netanyahu finds allies in antisemitic leaders in Poland and Hungry.

As long as they don’t criticize Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, it’s all kosher.