Peace with Realism

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Conclusion: The Right to Criticize Rightly

We have looked at just a few examples of Jewish anti-Israel writing, but these are by no means unique, and there are many more out there expressing similar sentiments. Since there is no significant visible Palestinian self-criticism, it is important to understand what this means, since self-criticism on only one side may easily be taken as an indication of that side's being in the wrong. That is certainly the hope of the pro-Palestinian propagandists who cultivate Jewish recruits.

We have identified three themes in much of this writing that explain it without implying Israel must have the morally weaker position. These three themes are: misguided idealism, fear of anti-Semitism, and discomfort with one's Jewish identity. The first has its roots in Jewish tradition and is both an expression and a distortion of the prophetic social conscience. The second two are understandable results of the Jews' having been for many years the target of anti-Semitism.

It is very important not to frame the discussion in polarized terms. Deconstructing unfair criticism of Israel does not preclude fair criticism. Indeed, Israel's own parliament represents the entire political spectrum, where criticism of the country and its policies is often the order of the day. It is neither disloyal nor anti-Semitic to criticize Israel, as long as that criticism expresses both fairness and a respect for the complexity of the political situation.

One can reasonably take a position that both sides have erred and both must assume some share of responsibility. But this is not the usual tone of the Jewish Israel-haters. It often seems as if Israel can do no right and the Palestinians no wrong. And this justifiably raises suspicion. Any position that demonizes Israel and exonerates the Palestinians flies in the face of reality and must be questioned. It tells us far more about those who hold the position than it does about Israel.

Right now Israel's enemies are getting away with a very cynical public relations maneuver: You can demonize Israel, then when Israel's supporters protest, you accuse them of calling you an anti-Semite, even when they don't. The next step is to find Jews who are willing to express their own hatred for Israel. Then you can assert that because Jews are saying the same things, you're not an anti-Semite, even when you are. Israel should be criticized when warranted, but when Israel is criticized, it's important to examine the nature of that criticism and to understand what actually may be driving it. The appearance of so much Jewish Israel-bashing on non-Jewish anti-Israel web sites should tell us something. The Palestinian public relations intifada has become very sophisticated indeed.

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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
Peace with Realism