IS CRITICIZING ISRAEL ANTI-SEMITIC?
April 23, 2002
Letters to the Editor
Anderson Valley Advertiser
12451 Anderson Valley Way
Boonville CA 95415
Why is it the every time Israel stands accused of some atrocious human rights violation--such as the horrific massacre that is slowly being revealed in Jenin--out comes the Holocaust to silence critics? The examples are numerous: one egregious specimen appeared recently on the op-ed pages of our local mainstream newspaper, The Sacramento Bee. An essay by Herbert London ("World's outrage over Israel reveals darker sentiments," 4/18/02), a right-wing pundit with the Hudson Institute, suggested that questioning Israeli actions reveals "deep-seated" anti-Semitism. What rubbish.
Consider the courageous Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, which has documented numerous crimes--home demolitions, destruction and theft of property, detentions, assassinations, torture--during the latest incursion by Israeli Defense Forces into the West Bank. Condemning IDF restrictions on access to the West Bank, B'Tselem declares that its latest "report paints only a partial picture and does not necessarily reflect the worst of the human rights violations being perpetrated."
Consider Yael Dayan, a Labor Party Knesset member and the daughter of former Israeli general Moshe Dayan, who addressed 15,000 Israelis attending a Peace Now rally on April 6 in Tel Aviv to condemn the ongoing occupation and Sharon's militarism. "Our (peace) camp is not ashamed and is coming out," declared Dayan. "Sharon and Netanyahu do not have any monopoly--not over the peace, not over bereavement, and not over the army."
And finally consider the "Refuseniks," the Israeli Defense Force reservists who have pledged not to serve in the occupied territories, leading to the imprisonment of 36 of these battle-hardened veterans. "We hereby declare that we shall continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel's defense," is the pledge made by these soldiers, who now number more than 400. "The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose--and we shall take no part in them."
Would Herbert London or other Israeli apologists dare to accuse any of these critics of Sharon's bloody military policy of "deep-seated" anti-Semitism? The cynical use of the Holocaust to justify a genocidal campaign against Palestinians is an insult to the memory of the more than 6 million Jews and others murdered in Europe.
There are numerous Jewish American intellectuals who oppose current Israeli policy who never seem to appear on the Bee's op-ed pages. Say, for instance, Norman Finkelstein (the son of Holocaust survivors), or the always insightful Norman Soloman, or dare I suggest Noam Chomsky? (Of course, I understand that writers such as Edward Said or Ali Abunimah are clearly beyond the bounds of the Bee's tolerance, though they would remarkably elevate the discourse.)
Questioning Israeli policy is NOT evidence of anti-Semitism. Israel CAN'T fight its way to peace. More state terrorism, funded by US taxpayers, is NOT the answer.