Jewish Journal


April 2, 2009

Anti-Zionism or Anti-Semitism?


You may have noticed in the comments below the KPFK post or those regarding Pat Oliphant’s goose-stepping, shark-toothed cartoon last week this frequent complaint: “To use ‘antisemitism’ as a response to all things that negatively reflect upon Judaism is cowardly and wrong.”

I generally agree that some Jews are far too quick to label as anti-Semitism any painful criticism of Israel. I wouldn’t, however, discredit my argument, as this commenter did, by next referring to Israel as an “apartheid state.”

Anyway, Andrew Silow-Carroll, the editor of the New Jersey Jewish News, has a great column this week in which he provides a worksheet for determining when criticism of Israel crosses over into anti-Semitism. “Use it,” he advises, “whenever you are not sure if what you are reading is anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, or an editorial in Ha’aretz.”

Of the 10 questions, here were my five favorite:

B. To whom does the commentator compare Israel’s military?

  1. The Rebel Alliance in Star Wars
  2. The United States in Vietnam
  3. The French in Algeria
  4. The Gestapo in Hell

C. How soon does the word “Holocaust” appear in the comment or essay?

  1. Not at all
  2. In the first paragraph, right before “Once the Jews were oppressed, now they have become…”
  3. In the first sentence, contained in quotation marks
  4. In the paragraph about Palestinian casualties, but with a lower-case “h”

D. On which network is the commentator most likely to appear?

  1. Fox News
  2. CNN
  3. NPR
  4. Al Jazeerah

E. To which of the following does the commentator compare the pro-Israel lobby?

  1. The National Rifle Association
  2. Skull and Bones
  3. The Trilateral Commission
  4. The Elders of Zion

F. How does the writer refer to Hamas?

  1. “An Islamofascist terror outfit”
  2. “Gaza’s democratically elected government”
  3. “An unfairly maligned social service agency”
  4. “My good friends Khaled and Ismail”

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