Israel And Defining Anti-Semitism

In response to an Irish Times editorial on the British Labour Party’s anti-Semitism controversy A damaging, hurtful battle, (published Monday September 10th), the Ireland Israel Alliance offered a counterbalanced view, (published Wednesday September 12th), and reproduced here.

The issue of contemporary racism surrounding the British Labour Party’s decision to accept the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism certainly resonates beyond Britain but to say that much of it is directed against Muslims and people of colour rather than Jews is avoiding the very real issue surrounding this whole war of words.

IIA blog - Israel and defining anti-Semitism

It should be remembered that Israel was not created as a response to the Nazi genocide. The initial immigration of Jewish refugees to Palestine began in 1882, with a second wave returning just prior to the First World War, both as a direct result of vicious persecution.

Anti-Semitism is growing again within Europe and Jews are genuinely concerned and, in many cases, deeply worried. Worried enough, that many have already packed their bags, grateful they have a home they can call Israel.

It is unfair to suggest that the current right-wing government relies on “West Bank settler parties” to stay in power. Israel is a multi-ethnic and diverse society. Its Jews have returned from places as far afield as Russia, India, Ethiopia, Iran, South America, Europe and the U.S., to name but a few, and like all liberal, democratic societies its voter affiliations cover a very wide spectrum.

While there is much fatigue within Israel at Netanyahu’s leadership, on issues of national security, Israelis feel that nobody else appears able to take on the challenge of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, who openly seek the destruction of this tiny state, similar in size to Leinster.

Indeed, it is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel. Israelis spend an inordinate amount of time criticising their own government policy. What is anti-Semitic however, is denying the right of Jews to live collectively in their ancient homeland with the same rights as everyone else, and to describe the circumstances around its foundation as racist.

by Jackie Goodall

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