A Nation Apart

I’m not among those who believe that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. It isn’t. I’m familiar enough with Israelis to know that many of them are the first to criticize their own government. Having said that, there are plenty of polite circles in which it’s hard to hear anyone utter a word on behalf of Israel at all. One example is the hothouse environment I found myself in yesterday at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association of North America in Boston. I wrote about it in The New York Sun.

MESA had two academics came out in favor of boycotting Israel and two against, but even those critical of the boycott were highly critical of Israel. Here was the take of Joan Scott, a critic of the boycott, on criticizing Israel: “the big question is the control the Israel lobby has over the language of anti-Semitism … the control they have over the notion that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. That’s what’s holding the senators and the Congress in place.” 

My favorite line of the night came from Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian proponent of banning Israel’s academics. He said the reason critics of Israel face the accusation of anti-Semitism is “because of Zionist influence in the media.” Let me get this straight: Barghouti and others get called anti-Semites because the Zionists control the media!

There’s no question there are many Jews, at least in the circles in which I travel in Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, and Somerville, Mass. who are very critical of Israel. But since 1948, support for Israel has become an important part of Jewish life in America. Does that render every Jew a Zionist? And if it does, whom, exactly, is Mr. Barghouti suggesting controls the media?

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One Response to “A Nation Apart”

  1. Antibush Says:

    Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren’t a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? What is he doing to us, and what is he doing to the world?
    What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
    We have lost friends and influenced no one. No wonder most of the world thinks we suck. Thanks to what george bush has done to our country during the past three years, we do!

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