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Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic?


Someone emailed this to me right after Christmas, and as it is a controversial topic in many Christian circles, I decided to hold off posting it until after the holidays.

Well the holidays are over and there’s nothing like a good sticky topic to start off the new year right!

I joke, but its actually a very serious topic, especially for believers.

Read it if time allows, feel free to offer your thoughts as Christians.

IS CRITICISM OF ISRAEL ANTI-SEMITIC?

By Rev. Ted Pike

newswithviews

Five hundred international lawmakers, diplomats and academics met in Jerusalem Dec. 16-17 to consider the threat of “mushrooming” criticism of Israel. “The Global Forum for Combating Global Anti-Semitism” was hosted by the government of Israel. Its premise is that criticism of Israel, her government, and military policies toward Palestinians is anti-Semitic if it is “strong” or uses Nazi/apartheid imagery.

This criterion for anti-Semitism is shared by the Anti-Defamation League and its Office of Global Anti-Semitism in the US State Department. In fact, ADL head Abe Foxman and the State Department’s Hannah Rosenthal (Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism) were honored guests at the conference.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman quoted Foxman and said much of the world has “crossed the line” from legitimate criticism to an epidemic of anti-Semitism. Diaspora Foreign Minister Yuli Edelstein also spoke for Israel. He warned that global anti-Semitism “has been able to gain endorsement from academics, media outlets, and even political parties.” Edelstein went so far as to say:

to be ‘anti-Israel’ is to be anti-Semitic. To boycott Israel, Israeli professors and Israeli businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism!…Look at the reality Israelis face when traveling to international athletic, business and academic events. More and more, when they arrive in Sweden, Turkey, England, and even the United States, they must lecture and perform before hostile or even violent crowds, requiring police protection. We must not hesitate to expose this hatred for what it is. It is a strong and vile form of xenophobia [fear of foreigners]. It expresses itself through violence, mockery and exclusion. It is directed toward the outside, toward that which is different, in appearance, speech or prayer.” “It is discrimination against Jews, because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism.” (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 16, 2009, “Verbatim: Anti-Semites Have Warped Tiny Israel Into Goliath”)

In its 2008 report to Congress, the Office of Global Anti-Semitism says “classic anti-Semitism” is the New Testament belief that Jews masterminded the crucifixion of Christ 2000 years ago. (See U.S. Government, Talmud Mock New Testament) ADL says anti-Semitism is harsh criticism of Israel. ADL agrees with the State Department and the government of Israel that anti-Semitism is visual or verbal comparison of Israeli leaders or military to Nazis. Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary defines anti-Semitism as “fearing Jews or Jewish things.” Israel is a quintessentially Jewish thing. Thus, fearing Israel, its leaders, or military is anti-Semitic.

Are beliefs of Christians and critics of Israel’s policies really an ominous scourge which should be silenced by governments worldwide?

Lest We Forget

In 1982, largely in response to sporadic rocket attacks from the north, Israel killed at least 19,500 in three days of saturation bombing of refugee camps in southern Lebanon. ADL was Israel’s PR bulldog then, as it is today. ADL and the Israeli government downplayed the casualties and damages at Sidon as well as Beirut.

Yet Stan Mooneyham—highly respected leader of World Vision International, a Christian relief organization—managed to penetrate the area much sooner than other Western observers. He reported:

If the Israeli figure of 165 killed in Sidon is accurate, I saw all but 10 of those bodies in one school basement still unburied three weeks after the invasion. That says nothing about the township of Ein-el-Hillweh just outside of Sidon which had a normal population of 60,000 and was obliterated by saturation bombing…There is no Ein-el-Hillweh anymore. Never before have I seen such total destruction, not even in Minagua, the earthquake-stricken capital of Nicaragua. If the world’s war-makers and peace-makers want to see what saturation bombing looks like, they should look here. Israel, a country skilled in making the desert blossom like a rose, knows how to turn rose into desert. . .it’s one of the major massacres of modern times.

As the head of an international relief organization bringing $400,000 of medical and relief supplies to victims of this modern holocaust, Mooneyham was astonished that Israel refused to allow distribution of such necessities, even two weeks after fighting ended and the area was secure! He explicitly described the smell of rotting bodies, the pervasive wreckage and grief of large communities blitzed out of existence.

Mooneyham’s viewing of Lebanon prompted him to make an ominous comparison:

“The sheer magnitude of this one visible piece of the Israeli war machine is incredible. David seems determined to become Goliath.” (World Vision Magazine, September, October 1982)

Is this Christian observer’s account anti-Semitic?

According to Israel, ADL, the US State Dept., and Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary, it is.

In 1982, ADL and Israel argued that, considering Israel’s “right to defend herself,” her military response of saturation bombing on southern Lebanon was necessary, just, and proportionate. Virtually all politicians, big media, and all major Christian leaders (except for Mooneyham) were either silent or defended Israel.

After “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza last year, most evangelicals similarly agreed with ADL and Israel that Israel’s “right to exist” was challenged by sporadic rocket fire from Gaza and her response of bombardment and continuing blockade has been appropriate.

Ever Broadening Definition of Anti-Semitism

In contrast to the defective definitions we have considered, actual anti-Semitism is the racist belief that all Jews are genetically subversive, degenerate and corruptive. Hitler taught that to a generation of Germans.

But it is not anti-Semitic to protest what you sincerely believe to be grievous injustice by Israel’s leadership. All the Hebrew prophets, including John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, did so. In fact, it was always the false prophetic majority who blessed ungodly Jewish leadership unconditionally. This perfectly describes the evangelical position over the past century.

If you listen to critics of Israel today, you will virtually never hear them criticize Jews according to racist criteria as Hitler did. (Sixteen international and European humanitarian and human rights groups have just released a report critical of Israel’s “collective punishment” of the Gazans. A similar report by Amnesty International is typical of many.) Rather they complain of human rights abuses by Israel. They say the Palestinians have been driven to fanaticism and terrorism by Israeli oppression. Whether or not you agree, such criticism can’t be properly termed anti-Semitism. Yet more than a billion of such dissidents are now labeled as anti-Semitic by Israel, ADL, and our US State Dept.

Israel’s name-calling of critics during the recent Jerusalem conference is dangerous and irresponsible. It ignores the possibility that many (including Jews) use strong words out of love for Israel and the Jewish people. They may employ “tough love” language to bring Israel to what they believe is reality. They want Israeli leaders and war makers to realize the extreme danger their policies and actions might have on the future of Israel and the safety of all Jews. Many Jews are concerned that Israel’s actions may cause a massive backlash of actual violent and vulgar anti-Semitism worldwide. Instead of softening, Israel gives concerned Jews and the world only two options:

“Don’t strongly criticize Israeli policies and be our friend, or oppose our actions and be branded a hateful anti-Semite.”

Israel’s two simplistic options threaten millions. Under ADL’s hate crimes laws in countries such as Germany and Canada, the accusation of anti-Semitism can easily embroil the victim in financially devastating litigation, huge fines and even imprisonment if convicted.

Evangelical Christians are also directly threatened by broad, incriminating definitions of anti-Semitism.

ADL’s Dept. of Global Anti-Semitism accuses hundreds of millions of evangelical, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and other Christians of being “classic anti-Semites” for believing the New Testament account of Jewish complicity in the crucifixion. (See U.S. Government, Talmud Mock New Testament) Tens of millions of evangelicals still support Israel unconditionally and inherit a 20th century pro-Zionist tradition to which Israel owes the bulk of its nationhood and success.

But they are now, incredibly, viewed by the US State Department and Israel’s public relations arm, ADL, as anti-Semitic. They are already regarded by Canada as “anti-Semitic hate criminals” if they speak their convictions publically.

Who remains free from possible suspicion of anti-Semitism? Only people with no opinion at all or those too cowardly to open their mouths. At the rate ADL and Israel are expanding the definition of anti-Semitism, an “anti-Semitic hate criminal” could soon be anyone who does not support whatever Israel does—even if it is outrageously evil.

How will ADL respond if alleged anti-Semitism increases?

I’ll make a New Year’s prediction.

Unless ADL is restrained through worldwide exposure and criticism, it will introduce a new bill into Congress, probably called The Global Anti-Semitism Prevention Act. As an adjunct of ADL’s recently passed federal hate crimes law, this law will make it a federal felony for any American to “strongly” criticize matters Jewish, including the Jewish role in the crucifixion or present Israeli policies.

Tragically, just as most evangelical “watchdog” groups allowed ADL’s federal and 45 state hate laws to pass over the past 20 years (for fear of ADL reprisal against in-depth hate law education), they will probably allow this bill to become law—still fearing being labeled anti-Semitic. In one fell swoop, ADL, the U.S. government and the state of Israel will possess a federal statute in America (also to be passed in Canada, Europe, and Australia) making the greatest lovers of Jews in human history—tens of millions of evangelical Christians—into “anti-Semitic” enemies ripe for prosecution.

If that happens, Jesus foretells what comes next: “they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons…for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:12)

Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

24 comments on “Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic?

  1. By the way, that “sporadic” resistance in Lebanon left over a thousand Israeli soldiers dead. I suppose they were all killed with flowers and international condemnations?

    • Ricardo, before you ask why your other lengthy comment wasn’t posted, let me explain;

      This isn’t a topic about Israel having the right to defend itself–its a question concerning our right to question or criticize what we believe is wrong or immoral actions by the Israeli government without the risk of being branded anti-semitic.

  2. …the office of Global Anti-Semitism says “classic anti-semitism is the New Testament belief that Jews masterminded the crucifixion”.

    Anybody who believes such a thing has either not read the Bible or has, but not understood, that it was God Himself that masterminded the crucifixion – according to His foreknowledge of man’s sin prior even to the foundation of the earth. Not specifically Jewish or Gentile sin, but man’s sin.

  3. One of the reasons why criticism of Israel is often antisemitic is that different standards are frequently expected of her than any other country.

    I’ve just seen a figure that says NATO troops in Afghanistan killed 646 civilians in the first 10 months of 2009. But I haven’t heard any calls in the UN for a war crimes investigation there. And I dread to think about the statistics for Iraq.

    Israel isn’t perfect and the 1982 Lebanon war (as referenced above) is often felt to have been ill-judged. But the US has done some pretty stupid things over the years as well.

    • One of the reasons why criticism of Israel is often antisemitic is that different standards are frequently expected of her than any other country.

      Dave, what do you believe these different standards are….who holds Israel to them, and why?

  4. The American Right, including those religiously so, frequently accuse the Left of “playing the race card.”

    In what way is this not the same thing?

    In all cases, ethical and moral matters should be viewed on their merits, not on who the parties are. To condemn Israel automatically is probably anti-Semitic, but to condemn specific acts for specific reasons is not.

    • In all cases, ethical and moral matters should be viewed on their merits, not on who the parties are. To condemn Israel automatically is probably anti-Semitic, but to condemn specific acts for specific reasons is not.

      Thanks Wickle.. that’s my position too.

  5. to me to be anti-israel does not mean to be anti-semitic. its not exactly the same. for example in usa every year dies 1300 jews , 1300(!!!) murders based on nazism, but its not about israel… its just this irrational, unintellegent hatred we cant fight with…

  6. Here is Mr Foxman making a plea for donations. He says 1 out of 3 europeans believe the international economic crisis is a result of Jewish power and influence. Really !! I’ve heard of a lot of reasons for it but actually never that one.

    https://secure2.convio.net/adl/site/Donation2?df_id=2540&2540.donation=form1&JServSessionIdr004=xeq9y4del5.app44a&s_src=fp

  7. If me questioning their policies is anti-semantic, then call me as such.

    I don’t care.

    I will continue to question their national policies and I will continue to pray and send money and supplies into that country. I pray to God that I would be so fortunately and blessed to be called as a missionary to Israel.

  8. I wanted to thank all who commented (so far) for the spirit by which you have done so. (Even when opinions differed!)

    Its a touchy subject in some Christian circles, born out of one’s theology or personal views concerning eschatology. I knew that when posting it.

    carry on… 🙂

  9. PJ, to answer your question about different standards, it is both individuals, the media, NGOs, and the international community that expects Israel to behave differently to other countries and condemns them when they don’t.

    As an example, compare last year’s Gaza war to the Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamil Tigers. Gaza was a major international story resulting in a UN enquiry (an extremely biased enquiry in the view of many) and calls for war crime prosections. But at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war around the same time, government troups viciously attacked the Tamil people – the UN’s figure is 6,500 civilian Tamil deaths (about five times the total number of gazan palestinian deaths, a disputed number of which were terrorists). I saw no TV news headlines, no front page stories, no international condemnation of Sri Lanka, no calls for Sri Lanka to be abolished, etc etc. If that isn’t double-standards, I don’t know what is.

    The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia came up with a widely-accepted definition of antisemitism, which can be seen at:

    http://www.european-forum-on-antisemitism.org/working-definition-of-antisemitism/english/

    An extract from it reads:

    Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: … Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. …However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

    • Just to add that the criticism leveled at Israel is not similar to that leveled against any other country (democratic or otherwise). Israel receives far more criticism than any other country, because she is the subject of a concerted campaign of delegitimisation, masterminded by arab countries that regard the whole of the mid-east as Islamic land and cannot accept a Jewish state there.

    • Thanks for the reply Dave…

      The media does play a huge role in the US in what we’re told–no doubt about it.

      If the internet has taught me anything, its taught me that what we are shown in the news here, isn’t always what the rest of the world is being shown, concerning specific situations. Last years Gaza war is a good example. That was why i posted news items during and after, from other reputable news sources around the world. The internet has opened up a whole new way to get our information now, thankfully. It makes it harder to spin the news…

      PJ, to answer your question about different standards, it is both individuals, the media, NGOs, and the international community that expects Israel to behave differently to other countries and condemns them when they don’t.

      I believe a lot of this is purely political. Many other nations [in the middle east and elsewhere] have believed for years that the US supports Israel, without questioning many of their actions, for self-serving reasons….in order to maintain a substitute US military force in the area. In exchange, Israel has received billions of $$ (with no strings attached) every year in economic and military aid from the US. Oil has been one reason we as well as European allies have needed Israel as a “base” in the ME.

      (i won’t go into the politics any further…it serves no point in this topic)

      What has resulted though, from this relationship, is a desire to down-play any perceived wrongs done by the Israeli government or military. This has also resulted in anyone who ‘does’ criticize their actions being called anti-semitic or ‘haters’ of Israel.

      And to be honest, i think the Israeli government has learned over time, to use this in attempts to stifle any criticism of their actions.

      “Don’t strongly criticize Israeli policies and be our friend, or oppose our actions and be branded a hateful anti-Semite.”

      And now, speaking strictly as a Christian, i do agree with the author who wrote,

      But it is not anti-Semitic to protest what you sincerely believe to be grievous injustice by Israel’s leadership. All the Hebrew prophets, including John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, did so. In fact, it was always the false prophetic majority who blessed ungodly Jewish leadership unconditionally. This perfectly describes the evangelical position over the past century.

      As Christians in the west we have, in the end, done Israel great harm.

      We have, by unconditionally supporting decisions and actions by the Israeli government, which in many instances were wrong, cut off our own nose to spite our face.

      It has resulted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, being more or less banned from being preached to lost Jews openly in Israel. We (Christians) have given the Israeli people the impression they don’t need Jesus Christ!

      Salvation comes by repentance–if we as Christians are telling a people [by our actions or inaction] they have nothing to repent of, we are not in truth helping them.

      And Dave, that is real antisemitism.

      I agree with the last sentence of the extract you posted,

      However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

  10. Alarming but important to know what ADL and its friends at US State Dept. are asserting, and redefining anti-Semitism. So thanks for posting this, pj.

    The way I understand it: The modern secular state of Israel is not the covenant Israel of God. It is a humanist government of humanist people in rebellion against God, created by humanist men after WW2, endeavoring to occupy the land given by covenant to Abraham’s descendents, but without living by the covenant, which is the condition of the covenant blessing of living in peace in that land, people in need of salvation by the gospel of Jesus (just like other governments of other unregenerate men and women.) The modern secular state of Israel is destined for terrible destruction by God’s judgment, as are all governments of men, though a remnant will be saved through Christ out of a coming judgment. We must love Jewish people, as we must love all men, preaching the Gospel and doing good to all.

    Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
    But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

    • The way I understand it: The modern secular state of Israel is not the covenant Israel of God. It is a humanist government of humanist people in rebellion against God, created by humanist men after WW2, endeavoring to occupy the land given by covenant to Abraham’s descendents, but without living by the covenant, which is the condition of the covenant blessing of living in peace in that land, people in need of salvation by the gospel of Jesus (just like other governments of other unregenerate men and women.)

      Amen Vicki…i agree 100%.

      If only all Christians in the west understood this, it would ignite a passion in the western church to spread the gospel in Israel, instead of unconditionally supporting their government.

  11. [quote]If only all Christians in the west understood this, it would ignite a passion in the western church to spread the gospel in Israel, instead of unconditionally supporting their government.[/quote]

    Because, you know, we wouldn’t want those heathen Jews who refuse to repent to defend themselves against oppressed Palestinians who ‘sporadically” kill a thousand Israeli soldiers in wars of aggression we refuse to define properly as we complain of being called anti-semites. Darn those right wingers who support those Zionist Nazi mass murdering thugs! And, you know, it’s not anti-semitic to totally distort history to say outright lies or to suggest that they are mass murderers!

    • As usual Ricardo, sadly, you miss the entire point 😦

    • Thousands of Israeli soldiers being killed by Palestinians?

      Just what color is the sky in your world?

      In the most recent war, fewer than one hundred Israelis were killed, including those killed by friendly fire and those killed by Palestinian rocket fire over the last several years.

      Many times that many Palestinian civilians were killed.

      While it might well be anti-Semitic to distort history against Israelis, it is no less bigotry to distort it against Palestinians.

    • Wickle, the date mentioned regarding the “sporadic” irrelevant, innocent, but heroic Palestinian resistance was 1982. What conflict is that? Do you know? How many Israeli soldiers died between 1975 (I think, going from memory), up to the PLO’s ammassing of some 15-18 thousand terrorists on the border of Lebanon, up until the end of the conflict around 1985? Try using google, and then come back and tell me that I’ve distorted history.

  12. the date mentioned regarding the “sporadic” irrelevant, innocent, but heroic Palestinian resistance was 1982. What conflict is that? Do you know?

    1982 Lebanon War – called Operation Peace for Galilee by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War and First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982 when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon. .

    Casualties

    It is estimated that around 17,825 Lebanese were killed during the war, with differing estimates of the proportion of civilians killed. Beirut newspaper An Nahar estimated that 5,515 people, both military and civilian, were killed in the Beirut area alone during the conflict, while 9,797 Syrian soldiers, PLO fighters, and other forces aligned with the PLO, as well as 2,513 civilians were killed outside of the Beirut area.[33] Approximately 675 Israeli soldiers were killed.

    Once again Ricardo, the post [and question] concerns,

    Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic?

    A yes or no will do. 🙂

    • I just found the same article, which I guess is from Wikipedia. It seems to only be citing the immediate conflict. However, taken as a whole, from beginning to end, the death toll is beyond a thousand. I think, if memory serves, it was about 1200.

      To answer your question, it depends if the criticism is actually valid or not. Accusing Israel of mass murder, when clearly there was a massive buildup of enemy forces in Lebanon from 1975 on up, including constant terrorist attacks and kidnapping attempts, then obviously criticism is ridiculous. Even leftist journalists admitted that Israel was bombing valid targets. Houses packed full of explosives. Hospitals surrounded by enemy fighters with anti-tank and air weapons. I fail to see how anyone can tell an army how best to fight its own wars. But I suppose, if said in a certain way, it can not be anti-semetic… But when you cover up context and facts, as did this article, calling a major conflict a reaction to mere “sporadic” rocket fire, when obviously there was so much more, that is clearly evidence of something more deceptive and evil. I would call THAT anti-semitic, as it is pushing an agena; It’s Not valid criticism.

      If criticism is on a factual basis, then it is certainly good and proper. However, most of the criticism leveled against Israel is not-facual, or relies on a distorted view of history and facts.

  13. Aha…you just can’t help yourself, can you Ricardo.. 🙂

    Instead of answering the simple question, “Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic?”, you HAVE to include your personal opinions on Israeli wars and conflicts–

    This is why i told you i held back from posting 2 of your earlier comments.

    How about another question, which may help you to see this topic in perspective:

    -Is it antiAmerican to criticize our governments actions?

    -Is it antiAmerican for others outside the US to ever criticize our governments actions?

    Think before you answer that Ricardo… for i saved a few ‘real doozies’ from you since Obama was elected.

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