The Charles Freeman affair demonstrated yet again the link between anti-Israel sentiment, and anti-Semitism, as if we needed another example. Is it possible in the U.S. to be critical of Israel, or even to be anti-Israel without being an anti-Semite? Yes it is. For example, one could simply subscribe to a position that Israel is a liability to the U.S., and therefore the U.S. should drop it as an ally, and instead work on improving relations with Israel's enemies. In my opinion such a theory is highly flawed, but it isn't necessarily anti-Semitic. But if your criticism of Israel relies at least in part on condemning the "Israel Lobby," the "Jewish Lobby," AIPAC, or whatever term you choose to use, expect to be seen as an anti-Semite. Why? Because anti-Semites have long argued that sinister Jewish cabals exercise undue influence in the world. If your criticism adopts the same sort of language, it is not unreasonable for people to assume that you might be an anti-Semite.
Anti-Israel types, particularly on the left, are indignant that pro-Israel political opponents (even pro-Israel compatriots on the left),often see them as anti-Semitic. They regard the charge as a slur, even though they use the same language as anti-Semites, indulging in conspiracy-theory thinking that exaggerates the influence of Jews, and focusing on that supposed influence while dismissing other obvious factors as unimportant. This is particularly ironic coming from left-wingers, who regularly accuse political opponents of racism, homophobia, sexism, or whatever, with little or no evidence to back up such charges. Yet when they use the language of anti-Semitism, they are appalled that people would dare accuse them of being anti-Semites. Now it's possible that they aren't actually anti-Semites. They could be illogical, or just plain stupid. Sometimes it is difficult to tell. But if you act like an anti-Semite, expect to be called one.
Here's a scenario to think about. It's 2022; the GOP has the presidency, and U.S. aid and support for Africa is a major political issue. A significant portion of the political right wants to sharply reduce our aid efforts in Africa, but there is broad bipartisan backing for African aid, particularly among African-Americans. The Republican president appoints someone to the National Intelligence Council who is a former Ambassador to China, has tight and questionable ties to the Chinese government, as well as to another country that is inimical to African interests. Plus he's on record stating that a recent egregious Israeli massacre of Palestinians was necessary and justified. And he wants to cut-off or sharply reduce aid to Africa. His nomination creates a firestorm and he's forced to withdraw. His right-wing supporters scream and howl about the "African American Lobby," or the "Black Lobby," and how it has undue influence over U.S. policy. They ignore every other criticism of the ambassador and maintain that this experienced realist thinker was torpedoed because of the Black Lobby. What are the odds that the same people supporting Freeman now would be screaming racism in response to that argument?
“Walking Dead” grumble thread: How does 20 more years sound?
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