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.
In truth, it has been difficult to avoid the abject dehumanization of Gazans by the Israeli government and Israel advocates these past few months. In statement after statement, Palestinians have all but been blamed for their own mass murder.
Jacob’s article was written in response to the Israeli military’s killing of over 100 Palestinians in demonstrations in Gaza since March 30, including 14 children, and injured over 3,500 with live fire. Certainly, as the Executive Director of Tru’ah — an American rabbinical organization that seeks to “protect human rights in North America, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories” — one might have expected her to follow the lead of other human rights organizations and protest (or even call into question) Israel’s excessive use of force.
On the very same day as Jacobs’ op-ed, for instance, Human Rights Watch called for an international inquiry “into this latest bloodshed,” adding that “these staggering casualty levels (were) neither the result of justifiable force nor of isolated abuses; but foreseeable results of senior Israeli officials’ orders on the use of force.” For its part, Amnesty International called Israel’s actions “an abhorrent violation of international law” and Doctors Without Borders termed them “unacceptable and inhuman.”