This is a topic that is extremely beyond the scope of this blog post, but I’ll outline one important contemporary question being asked about it.
Anti-Israel sentiment: modern antisemitism or social justice?
A major question particularly on American college campuses is whether one can be anti-Israel and not be anti-Semitic. The answer is probably yes, but there are some important nuances to consider.
- Is one against Israeli policies or against Israel’s right to exist?
Answering yes or no does not make one anti-Semitic. One should always question the policies of an existing government and there is nothing wrong with doing so. However, denying Israel’s right to exist may be where we wander into anti-Semitic territory. This is a debatable claim and the question at the root of the dilemma on American college campuses.
Denying Israel’s Right to Exist:
- Not acceptable
If denying Israel’s right to exist is merely being anti-colonialist, it’s certainly an acceptable position. However, I happen to fall into the category of people who believe that denying Israel’s right to exist is not merely anti-colonialist sentiment. This is a debatable claim. My argument is rooted in the undeniably harsher criticisms placed upon Israel relative to those against the other remnants of colonialism (Hawaii, Australia, the USA, etc). Social justice movements have focused ignored the ‘right of return’ of countless indigenous peoples and have chosen to focus heavily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is once again a debatable claim and my familial affiliations may have some bearing on what stories I happen to focus my attention on. However, assuming the truthfulness of my observations, my logic is as follows:
- If arguments against Israel’s right to exist extend beyond anti-colonialism, anti-Israel sentiment is partially motivated by antisemitism
- Anti-Israel sentiment is more vocal and more militant than other anti-colonialism movements
C. The additional vociferousness and militancy directed against Israel must be rooted in antisemitism.
Now, one could oppose the validity of this argument by claiming that 1) Israel is worse than other remnants of colonialism, 2) other forces besides anti-semitism could explain the extent of Israel’s transgressions, or 3) anti-semitism is justified. I don’t believe there is truth behind any of these arguments.