Palestinians are tired of conversations about our barbarism and irrationality — we’re trying to survive exclusion and privation.
Let’s look at things a different way. Support of Israel requires deference to legal discrimination, inequitable models of citizenship, and massive displacement based on ethnic background. Can’t Zionists, then, rightly be accused of racism? We never get to ask that question. They occupy a normative position in American political discourses and so their civility is guaranteed.
Author’s note: On May 18, Rabbi Jill Jacobs published an essay in the Washington Post purporting to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and “anti-Semitism.” In the essay, she posted two of my tweets to suggest that I am anti-Semitic [spoiler: I am not]. Since August, 2014, the Washington Post has run numerous articles similarly impugning my character. The paper has never offered me space to write in my own voice, despite numerous inquiries. I submitted an essay to the Post’s Outlook section responding to the issues raised in Jacobs’ piece, but the paper declined to run it. That essay, as submitted, follows.
When Israeli soldiers open fire on unarmed demonstrators, as they have been doing for over a month in the Gaza Strip, Americans are implicated in the violence, for the United States arms and funds those soldiers. Yet liberal supporters of Israel insist on complicating this straightforward proposition.
They often do so by accusing Israel’s critics of anti-Semitism. On the one hand, Israel’s liberal champions brand themselves allies of Palestine; but on the other hand, they defame and sabotage Palestinians. It is no longer tenable to have it both ways.
I was shocked to find myself implicated as anti-Semitic in a recent article by Rabbi Jill Jacobs—not the first time she’s made the claim. A little history serves to illustrate why the accusation is so troublesome.
In 2014, I was fired from a tenured academic position because pro-Israel groups deemed some of my tweets deploring the bombing of Gaza to be anti-Semitic. The case erupted into a national controversy, during which observers of various ideological leanings showed that claims of anti-Semitism were false and manipulative. The problem is widespread. Numerous Palestinians lose jobs or cannot find work because of outside pressure. Accusations like Jacobs’s, then, have serious repercussions. They deter inquiry and dissent. At times, that seems to be their purpose.