Another important piece, posted in its entirety again (sorry, Beast).
Mike last week put up on his blog a piece about a very good article by the Jewish Socialist Group tackling the issue of Israel and accusations of anti-Semitism. They pointed out that Jewish identity or heritage was not identical with the state of Israel, and that many of the pieces that were the targets of such accusations, actually weren’t anti-Semitic but poorly worded criticisms of Israel. There was also the problem that while those making the accusations of anti-Semitism criticised the people they accused of not distinguishing between Jews and Israel, they were also guilty of doing exactly the same.
In fact Netanyahu made a speech in which he expressly made that identification, in order to denounce criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic. He stated that Jews everywhere constituted Israel, and Israel was Jews. This would have shocked and dismayed Edwin Montagu, the Jewish cabinet minister in Balfour’s government, who opposed the Declaration of British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Montagu was afraid that by doing so, this would automatically make Jews foreigners in their British homeland. It also wouldn’t impress Dr Jonathan Miller. Miller’s ancestry is Lithuanian Jewish, yet when someone once introduced him as a Jew on television, Miller replied, ‘I’m a Jewish. I have no interest in being a minority.’ Netanyahu’s remarks about this identity of the state of Israel with the Jewish people have been repeated on Right-wing and Zionist sites around the world. It was, for example, repeated on the extreme Right-wing Canadian Conservative website, Five Feet of Fury when he said it several years ago.
So be aware. When the Conservatives and Blairites accuse critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic, some of them may be consciously using Netanyahu’s semantic sleight of hand in order to put such criticisms off-limit, whatever they say to the contrary. This needs to be strongly resisted. No country, not Israel, not America and not Britain, should be above criticism simply on account of its people’s ethnicity, and it is disgraceful that such accusations have been against what are perfectly reasonable criticisms of Israel.
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