THREE D'S OF ANTISEMITISM
If you can understand that “criticism” of a state such as Iran or Afghanistan can veer into Islamophobia, then you can certainly understand that “criticism” of Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, can easily veer into antisemitism.
A useful method of gauging whether criticism of Israel is antisemitic or not is known as the “Three Ds of Antisemitism,” as outlined by Soviet Jewish refugee and political prisoner, human rights activist, and former Israeli politician Nathan Sharansky: delegitimization, demonization, and double standards cannot be regarded as legitimate criticism.
In this post, I will specifically address the widespread, irrational, pervasive, borderline comical demonization of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state.
BUT FIRST — WHAT DOES DEMONIZATION MEAN?
Demonization is “the portrayal of something as evil or as worthy of contempt or blame.” Demonization vilifies and dehumanizes the other.
Demonization is considered the oldest propaganda technique.
Jews have been demonized for some 2000 years, since we were unfairly and collectively blamed for the crucifixion of Jesus. Our long and painful history of persecution was contingent on our demonization and dehumanization.
LET’S GET SOME FACTS STRAIGHT
Once you actually know the facts, the demonization of Israel as this supremely and uniquely evil entity seems all the more absurd.
ISRAEL IS THE WORLD'S ONLY JEWISH AND JEWISH-MAJORITY STATE. There are 20 Christian states and 158 Christian-majority states. There are 26 Muslim states and 57 Muslim-majority states.
ONLY ISRAEL HAS JEWISH SYMBOLISM AS ITS STATE SYMBOLISM. 31 countries have Christian symbolism and 21 countries have Muslim symbolism on their flags.
ISRAEL IS NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY WHOSE NATIONAL AND ETHNIC IDENTITY IS CLOSELY INTERRELATED. Other examples include Armenia, Turkmenistan, Greece, and many others.
ISRAEL IS NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY WITH A LAW OF RETURN FOR PEOPLE WITH A SPECIFIC NATIONAL, ETHNIC, AND CULTURAL IDENTITY. Other examples include Greece, Armenia, Austria, Finland, France, Ghana, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, and more.
ISRAEL SCORES 77/100 ON THE FREEDOM SCALE. That means there are 134 countries with less human rights than Israel. There are 195 countries in the world.
150 COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD ARE EMBROILED IN TERRITORIAL CONFLICTS. Israel is literally just one out of 150.
AT LEAST 96 COUNTRIES HAVE DECLARED INDEPENDENCE AFTER 1947. Israel is just one of them. Many, like Israel, have thousands of years’ worth of history, such as Armenia, which declared independence in 1991.
COLONIAL POWERS DREW UP EVERY SINGLE BORDER IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Yet only Israel is accused of being a British invention.
MOST ONGOING WARS ARE EXPONENTIALLY DEADLIER THAN THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT. For example, the war in Ukraine has been nearly 12x deadlier for Ukrainians and the war in Syria has been 69x deadlier for Syrians than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been for Palestinians.
WHILE ISRAEL IS SECOND ON THE US-FOREIGN AID RECEIVING LIST, Israel is required to reinvest most of that aid into the American economy, something that is not required of other foreign aid recipients.
Israel has many grave issues but the characterization of Israel as this uniquely and supremely evil entity has no basis in reality and is rooted in the ancient tradition of demonizing and scapegoating Jews for any and all world problems.
THE WORLD'S OLDEST HATRED, PROJECTED ONTO THE WORLD'S ONLY JEWISH STATE
"Now that there is one [Jewish country], antisemitism is rising from its ashes, or rather from Our ashes, and it’s called anti-Zionism. It has applied to individuals, now it applies to a nation." - Herbert Pagani, "A Plea For My Land," 1975
It is absolutely no coincidence that much of the “criticism” and rhetoric against Israel borrows largely from 2000 years’ worth of antisemitic tropes. It is no coincidence at all that Israel is consistently scapegoated for any and all of the world’s problems, that anything positive Israel does is ascribed sinister intent, that Israelis are frequently characterized with antisemitic stereotypes, and more.
The projection of antisemitic tropes and conspiracies onto the Jewish state — or a hypothetical Jewish state — long predates the establishment of the State of Israel. It’s also not legitimate criticism by any stretch, but rather, antisemitism by a different name. It’s important to note that antisemitism has long hid behind euphemisms, and this (so-called “criticism of Israel”) is just one of many.
In the 1870s, antisemites, particularly in Germany, decried the growing political Zionist movement as an element of the supposed Jewish plot for world domination. For example, Wilhelm Marr, the notorious German antisemite who coined the word “antisemitism,” wrote that the First Zionist Congress in 1897 was “a foul Jewish swindle.”
Hitler himself stated in 1941, “[Germany opposes] a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which is nothing more than a national hub for the destructive influence of Jewish interests.”
A LITTLE HISTORY
As stated, this virulent demonization of the State of Israel, or of a hypothetical Jewish state, long predates the State of Israel, which very much suggests that this demonization has little to do with actual Israeli policies and a lot to do with antisemitism.
With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s, the Germans associated Zionism with “other alleged vices of the Jews.” Hitler himself despised Zionism, unsurprisingly viewing it as a continuation of a broader Jewish conspiracy of world domination. The German philosopher Eugen Dühring claimed that Zionism was a global threat in 1930, stating: “[A hypothetical Jewish state would necessitate] something like a second Roman clearing action...where the matter would be brought to an end in an entirely different and far more comprehensive sense.”
It was the Soviet Union, however, that legitimized the projection of antisemitism onto Israel on a global scale. Because, following the Holocaust, antisemitism became heavily associated with Nazism, the Soviets began persecuting Jews under the guise of anti-Zionism instead.
The Soviets disseminated massive antisemitic propaganda campaigns in Southwest Asia and Africa to rally the support of Arab and/or African nations, as well as incited proxy conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors. For example, in the 1950s, the Soviets circulated literal Nazi propaganda films across the Arab world, with the stated aim of exporting “rabid, demented hatred for American Zionism” in the Middle East.
Interestingly, however, the Soviets were never covert about the fact that their “anti-Zionism” was actually just antisemitism. In the 1960s, Soviet propaganda (such as newspapers) made blatantly antisemitic claims, including: “The character of the Jewish religion serves the political aims of the Zionists,” “Zionism is inextricable from Judaism, rooted in the idea of the exclusiveness of the Jewish People,” comparisons of Judaism to the Italian mafia, and claims that Israel was merely a means to an end of Jewish imperialism and world domination.
LITERALLY, WHAT'S WITH THE HYPERFIXATION?
This is the Pakistani passport. Pakistan is currently at war with India and has in the past been at war with Bangladesh and Afghanistan. But the Pakistani passport is “valid for all countries of the world except Israel.”
Israel is 3929 kilometers away from Pakistan. The two countries have never been at war. In fact, the two countries have covertly cooperated on security issues in the past, though publicly Pakistan maintains the illusion that it does not recognize Israel. There is one Jew living in Pakistan today. The fixation on Israel is absolutely absurd and serves only to mobilize its population against the world’s only Jewish state.
HATRED OF ISRAEL IS ONE OF THE 3 CORE TENETS OF THE IRANIAN REGIME. According to Iranian-American policy analyst Karim Sadjapour, the three ideological pillars of the Iranian regime are “compulsory hijab, death to America, and death to Israel.” Israel and Iran do not even share a border.
LITMUS TESTS. While progressives do not demand of other marginalized minorities to denounce their countries of origin (or the countries from which their culture originates from), Jews in the west are increasingly required to denounce Israel to even just exist in progressive spaces.
SCAPEGOATING. Just as Jews have long been blamed for all of the world’s ills, Israel is now blamed for everything from police brutality in the United States to C0V!D.
THIRTEEN COUNTRIES BAR ISRAELI PASSPORT HOLDERS FROM ENTRY. Six countries do not allow entry to people with an Israeli entry stamp on their passport. Most of these countries are embroiled in wars of their own which have absolutely nothing to do with Israel, yet only Israelis are barred entry.
ONLY JEWISH NATIONALISM — OUT OF THOUSANDS OF NATIONALISMS IN THE WORLD (INCLUDING PALESTINIAN NATIONALISM!) — HAS EVER HAD A UN RESOLUTION CONDEMNING IT.
AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Criticism of Israel is not antisemitism. “Criticism of Israel” that uses antisemitic tropes, demonization, and double standards *is* antisemitic. Subjecting the only Jewish state and the only Jewish-majority state to a different standard than all other countries is rooted in antisemitism.
As of 2013, the State of Israel, the only Jewish majority state, where nearly 50% of the world’s Jews live, was condemned in 45 resolutions, accounting for 45% of ALL UN resolutions. In 2020, alone, Israel was condemned in 17 resolutions, compared to 6 resolutions for the rest of the world combined.
Whatever one thinks of Israel’s policies, it’s impossible not to see the double standards. Israel is a country the size of New Jersey with just 9.2 million people (for comparison, the United States has 329.5 million people, France has 67.39 million people, Egypt has 102.3 million people, and there are about 9 million people in New York City alone). It’s ludicrous that such a small country with such a small population could account for nearly 50% of the world’s injustices.
Between 2015-2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 140 resolutions on Israel versus 68 for the rest of the world combined.
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