What I have to say about Israel

I have, for a long time, found it distressing that very liberal Jews are very hawkish about Israel. That they support things happening in Israel they would oppose were it Slobovia or Berzerkhistan. The pain of anti-Semitism is very real for us, and the history is very present. I think it is a mistake to interpret criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, just as it is a mistake to interpret criticism of the U.S. government as unpatriotic.

And yet.

I was listening to progressive radio, the topic was the current Israeli war on the Gaza strip, and within a couple of minutes, I heard “If the Jews don’t like it, too bad,” and “Bloomberg is either a Jew or an American.”

So don’t even try to tell me that anti-Semitism isn’t a component of liberal opinion on the issue. Don’t even try.


  1. MJ Ray says:

    Are the Palestinians a Semitic people too? (As in the Bible claims them to be descended from Shem also.) It’s pretty hard not to be anti-Semitic, no matter how you view the current Israeli invasion.

  2. Deborah Lipp says:

    This is a common misunderstanding. The Semitic peoples are the Arabs and Jews. But any dictionary will tell you that “anti-Semitic” does not mean being prejudiced against Semitic peoples. It means being prejudiced against Jews.

  3. MJ Ray says:

    Any dictionary? Webster and WordNet both have a broader definition: http://www.dict.org/bin/Dict?Form=Dict2&Database=*&Query=anti-semitic

    Surely it’s obvious that “anti-semitic” should be seen as a combination of “anti-” and “semitic”, regardless of US politics?

  4. Deborah Lipp says:

    The use of the word “anti-semitism” to mean hatred of Jews has nothing to do with US politics, it has to do with linguistics. It is the correct word and in fact is the only word in the English language that means hatred of Jews.

    The link you provide confirms that, giving two definitions, one of which is “hatred of Semites, especially Jews,” and one of which is “hating Jews.”

    Surely it’s obvious that when you combine two words they sometimes have a unique meaning beyond the original two words? “Sleep with” does not mean “sleep” plus “with.” “Fireman” is not a fiery man.

  5. TinkTheTank says:

    I don’t get anti-semitism. I just don’t.

    And I really don’t see how criticizing the Israeli government equals anti-semitism to some people. Do they also think I hate Muslims because I don’t agree with Iran’s government, either? And then if I don’t like Muslims, why would I be so concerned with this Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    Perhaps the person you heard on the radio was anti-semitic, but it doesn’t mean that the movement to for a Palestinian state is inherently against all things Jewish.

  6. Deborah Lipp says:

    the movement to for a Palestinian state is inherently against all things Jewish.

    I never said it was. There is such a movement even among Israelis.