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Support for Israel Doesn’t Excuse Antisemitism


David Schraub, a colleague in The Third Narrative activist community, lectures at the University of California – Berkeley School of Law.  The following is excerpted from his latest article in Tablet, “THERE IS NO POSITION ON ISRAEL THAT ABSOLVES OR EXCUSES YOUR ANTI-SEMITISM“:

Donald Trump ran as the alt-right’s candidate of choice. He began his campaign by telling Republican Jews that “you’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.” He has promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. His campaign literature and tweeting repeatedly featured antisemitic dog whistles in the form of attacks on “globalists” and “sheriff’s stars.” He regularly retweeted neo-Nazis. He has presided over an unprecedented resurgence of right-wing anti-Semitism the likes of which have not been seen in America in my life time, and his response to that ascendancy has been to provide aid and comfort to white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and avowed racists of all stripes.

Is Donald Trump antisemitic? For too many on the right, that question can be reduced into a single statement: “Donald Trump is a strong supporter of Israel.”  . . .

I cannot tell you how sick I am of hearing this. Of course, there’s the fact that “supporter of Israel,” in these statements, nearly always means “supporter of Netanyahu’s particular brand of noxious right-wing illiberalism”—something no more synonymous with “pro-Israel” than Trump’s American iteration of the same is with “pro-America.” But leave that aside. Being a supporter of Israel, defined appropriately so that it isn’t coterminous with whatever hallucination Naftali Bennett had this week, is a good thing and an important component of being an ally to Jews more broadly. But it is just that—a component—it is not the whole game. And there’s something gross about dismissing anti-Semitism concerns of Jews in the U.S. by explaining how much one likes Jews when they’re 6,000 miles away.

Leftists, of course, have their own versions of this. The persistent refusal to examine anti-Semitism as even a potential component of their “criticisms” of Israel is something I’ve written on repeatedly and is at this point cliche. And sometimes they go further: defending extreme anti-Zionism not just as consistent with, but as an instantiation of, fighting against anti-Semitism. This was evident when Mondoweiss defended Helen Thomas’s demand that Jews in Israel “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Poland by saying this would have the “happy consequence” of leading to a “rebirth” of Jewish culture in Poland (quipped one Jewish writer in response: “I’m deeply touched by this gesture of philanthropic ethnic cleansing.”).   . . .

Click here to read this entire article at Tablet.

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