By Daniel Chejfec
Much has been said, especially in the last few years about whether being anti-Israel means to be anti-Semitic, and I think it's important to look at the issue. First of all, what does it mean to be anti-Israel?
Some people oppose Israeli policies in the occupied territories and speak out very loudly about it. In this case, one has to admit that opposing Israeli policies is not necessarily anti-Semitic, but people oppose the policies from different angles.
Some people oppose specific policies while supporting the Jewish State. Their rationale is that some policies implemented by the Israeli government might be detrimental to the security and wellbeing of the Jewish State. These people are definitely not anti-Semitic.
Other people oppose specific policies because they are bothered by the Jewish State implementing them. Most of these individuals do not oppose similar policies implemented by other countries. This unveils a differential standard when it comes to Israel and hints to a deeper opposition than just specific policies. When a differential standard is applied to a specific group, it's called discrimination. When it comes to discrimination, anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism are indistinguishable from anti-Semitism.
Other people oppose Zionism because they deny the National character of Jewish Identity, and insist that Judaism is only a religion. Some of these individuals are Jewish; in this case, these individuals have decided to shed the National component of their Jewish identity and reduce their Jewish identity to a mere religious one. While I would have a lot to say as to why I believe they are wrong, these individuals should be seen as Jews who disagree with Zionism, and not as anti-Semites. Ironically, the very concept of anti-Semitism doesn't fit at all in their world view since Jews are seen as individuals with no ethnic association among themselves.
Other Jews oppose Zionism and Israel because the Messiah has not come and they believe that the restoration of Jewish political sovereignty over the Land of Israel in the absence of the Messiah constitutes an affront against God and the Torah. Again in this case they should be seen as Jews with an alternative view (although again I would personally disagree with them)
Some non Jews oppose Zionism because they are oppose to Jews having an equal stand with others in the world stage. This constitutes discrimination and reeks of anti-Semitic prejudice.
Other non Jews cannot accept Jews as self-assertive because it challenges their pre-conception (prejudice) of Jews as submissive and/or submitted to others. Zionism challenges this believe because it is in itself an assertion of Jewish self-determination. Therefore, these individuals oppose Zionism with all their might. They are anti-Semitic because they treat Israel and Jews with different standards than the ones they apply to others.
There are other non Jews who are convinced that Jews run a conspiracy for world wide domination and that Israel and Zionism are instruments of this conspiracy in the same way that Communism was before in Western societies and Capitalism was for those of the Marxist persuasion. This prejudice is based on irrational beliefs, and these individuals will see only those facts that they believe support their views, and they will even reject alternative interpretations of those facts. They start from the assumption that they know the truth and that the Jews will try to twist it. For this people, Israel controls the US and manipulates world politics. They will be impervious to facts or reason. One of them, Florence Graff from Wappinger Falls published a letter last Saturday that started with the phrase "I am sick and tired of Israel and AIPAC" and went down from there. I have to concede to her that at least she admits from the get go that her position is based on irrational beliefs and not on facts. She is. however, anti-Semitic of the Classical persuasion.
I could go on, but I believe I made my point. While there are legitimate ways and legitimate reasons for some people to oppose specific Israeli policies, when that opposition is based on the application of differential standards it becomes prejudice and anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, after about 60 years of reprieve, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head in America and a growing number of those opposing Israel do so as a way to express anti-Jewish prejudice and hate that is becoming again acceptable in our society. We need to stand up and speak out. For American Jews supporting Israel today is not merely an issue of ideological conviction, but one of self-preservation because what happens to Israel today, will happen to the rest of us tomorrow.
You have the right to disagree with some Israeli policies, but we need to recognize the common ground on which we defend the right of the Jewish people for self-determination and the role of Israel as the political and National State of the Jewish People. I stand with Israel - do you?