Anyone who ventures to criticise
Israel's behaviour is in danger of being branded one of two things.
If Jewish, they will be damned as a "self-loathing Jew". If a Gentile,
then the apologists for Israel will find an anti-Semite lurking
in the undergrowth.
Those who assert that they are
anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic will be told that the distinction
they make is just a cover for their anti-Semitism. A British
Jewish woman, writing in the local newspaper, recently stated:
"We are the same Jews. I am not an Israeli but have children living
in Israel. Therefore, of course, when anti-Israel feelings are
voiced, they are one and the same as anti-Semitic feelings - just
in a different wrapper" (The Argus, 7-9-06). There is not much
logic to her assertion, but it is an assertion which is very commonly
made by many Jewish defenders of Israel.
Anti-Semitism is a particularly
pernicious form of racism directed at Jewish people. To accuse
anyone who expresses anti-Israel views as racist displays ignorance
at best, but it also suggests that the racism in question is actually
lurking in the accuser, and not the accused. It also devalues the
term 'anti-Semitism', and in doing so gives succour to racists.
Unfortunately, racism is rife in
Israeli society. Given the extremely close relationship between
the US and Israel, Israel could well be thought of as the Deep
East to America's Deep South of the pre-civil rights era.
Take for example the words
of Israeli Environment minister, Gideon Ezra, a Kadima member of
the coalition government. In a cabinet meeting on aid to communities
in northern Israel, affected by the recent war, he is quoted as
have to make a distinction and ensure that the Arab communities
in the north do not get all the money for the educational plan." Fortunately,
for the reputation of Israeli democracy, the Education minister
disagreed. The report in Haaretz continues:
a special cabinet to present a plan by the Education Minister
on the rehabilitation of the north, Ezra said that the Arab towns
and villages "carried on as normal" during the war, and, as such,
there was no need to hand out any money to them.
'Education Minister Yuli Tamir [Labour] slammed Ezra for his comments, saying "I
can't believe that a minister in Israel would dare say such a thing regarding
Israeli citizens."' (29-8-06) No decision was taken at that meeting.
Kadima is the dominant party in the coalition government.
Of course, all
societies and all cultures are susceptible to racism, but let's
be clear that Israel is no exception, and in fact a rather bad
example of a society blighted by racist and bigoted views that
stretch into government.
That's why Britain's
uncritical support for Israel is so damaging to the prospects
for peace, and so counter-productive.