Jewish Journal

Not criticism, anti-Semitism

by Noga Gur-Arieh

July 17, 2014 | 8:32 am

Crossing the thin line between criticism and anti-Semitism, courtesy of Twitter.

So many people around the world lost their lives in armed conflicts, but all eyes are on Israel, which is often being compared to the Nazis. This is where criticism becomes anti-Semitism.

In the past couple of weeks, hundreds of people died in Yemen, as a result of clashes between the Yemeni army and Shi'ite Muslim fighters. As of the beginning of the week, the death toll in syria’s civil war stands on 170,000, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. As of yesterday, the death toll from a suicide car bombing in Afghanistan's eastern Paktika province has climbed to 89, with more than 40 people wounded. Meanwhile,all eyes are on Israel, where the army responds to more than 1,000 missiles fired at civilians by a terror organization operating in Gaza (with the support of another terror organization operating from Lebanon.) In 8 days, about 200 Gazans who were used by Hamas as human shields, and one Israeli who went to deliver food to soldiers on the Gaza border line – lost their lives.

As countless people over the world lose their lives to terror organizations, world leaders and celebrities choose to criticize the Israeli government, or, if they don’t have time to use their heads, simply Tweet #FreePalestine. To top that, the U.N Human Rights Committee also neglects all other areas in the world, and spend their meetings condemning Israel.

How come people who consider themselves human rights activists put all their efforts on the West Bank/Gaza “occupation,” when in the rest of the world far more terrible things happen? How come the Israeli army, which takes measures in avoiding civilian casualties and keeps Israel’s border crossings to Gaza open for medical supplies, humanitarian aid and other goods to be transferred to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, is being condemned more than other armies around the world, butchering civilians without even blinking? How come Israel is the only state being often compared to Hitler’s Germany?

There is an answer to this. When people say it, they are being criticized for hiding behind cheap excuses, but sometimes it is simply the way it is. When people criticize Israel for violating human rights without criticizing any other government doing so – it is anti-Semitism. When people accuse Jews of acting like Hitler – it is anti-Semitism, point blank. Not all people saying those things are aware of their statements anti-Semitic reek, but like any other type of racism, it comes from a small, dark place we sometimes can’t even notice.

This anti-Semitism is not direct and straight forward. It does not compare Jews to vermin or directly ask people to carry on Hitler's legacy. It does something much worse: this anti-Semitism uses an innocent and peaceful rhetoric to gradually delegitimize the state of Israel and the right of the Jewish people to their own country. It creates hatred toward the Jewish people as a whole by modernly turning us into a villain of some sort. With a fair share of lies a peaceful rhetoric, “the Israeli Jew” becomes a person to blame for all the world's suffering, and the Holocaust turns into an event that is only second to what the Palestinians are going through nowadays.

Not to say Israel can’t be criticized. It can and it must, like any other country on this planet, but a line must be drawn. If Israel and Israel alone is being criticized for doing something that happens in other places at a much larger scale, it is not criticism and not “human rights caring.”  Just watch how gradually the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack goes hand in hand with the hashtag #HitlerWasRight

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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