Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic?
Reader responses to my articles are overwhelmingly positive – wonderful feedback encouraging me to do much more.
Most negative remarks are for my justifiable criticism of Israeli apartheid ruthlessness, its occupation harshness, its decades of denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights.
I’ve been called anti-Semitic, a self-hating Jew and other pejoratives. One emailer said he reported me to his government for my views on Israel. It takes all kinds.
I’m very ordinary, no one of prominence. My pro bono writing and media work began in retirement.
Academics, journalists and others employed in the West risk dismissal for criticizing brutal Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians, for waging preemptive wars at its discretion, for cross-border attacks on Syrian targets, for denouncing its high crimes gone unpunished.
A previous article discussed Israeli-born/dual US-Israeli citizen actress Natalie Portman’s refusal to attend a Jerusalem award ceremony in her honor, saying:
She chose not to go because she “did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu,” adding:
“(T)he mistreatment of (Palestinians) suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values.”
“Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”
Strong remarks from a prominent US actress, making headlines in Israel and the West.
Criticism came quickly. Extremist Likudnik minister Yuval Steinitz said her refusal to attend the award ceremony and criticism of Netanyahu “bordered on anti-Semitism,” adding:
She owes Israel an apology for “boycotting” the country, for “play(ing) into the hands of the haters of Israel and those who aspire to destroy the State of Israel.”
“(T)he fact that the greatest haters of Israel jumped for joy over her announcement that she’s not coming…the fact that either she doesn’t care or she didn’t take it into account deserves full condemnation.”
Minister Gilad Erdan turned truth on its head, saying “it seems (Portman has) been influenced by the campaign of media misinformation regarding Gaza.”
There’s nothing misleading about brutalizing two million Gazans, about over a decade of illegal blockade solely for political reasons, about a deepening humanitarian crisis, about Israeli soldiers killing or wounding nonviolent demonstrators, many permanently disabled from assaults on their bodies using live fire.
Doctors reported horrific wounds not seen since Israel’s 2014 preemptive aggression on the Strip.
A Doctors Without Borders team described “devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat. The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities.”
Islamophobe US rabbi Shmuley Boteach called Portman a bigot in a full-page Washington Post ad. In similar fashion, he blasted pop star Lorde the same way for cancelling a Tel Aviv concert.
In a letter published by London’s Guardian, over 100 well-known writers, actors, directors and musicians, expressing support for her refusal to perform in Israel.
Lorde, Portman, and other prominent figures joined growing numbers of Jews, notably younger ones, especially in America, expressing criticism of unacceptable Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.
Their liberating struggle won’t be won in world capitals. Their best chance is from growing numbers prominent and ordinary people, especially Jews, no longer willing to tolerate Israeli ruthlessness.
In response to Portman’s boycott of an Israeli award ceremony in her honor, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti said the following:
“This latest rebuff to Israeli cultural events and accolades, coming from an Israeli-American superstar, is arguably one of the strongest indicators yet of how toxic the Israel Brand has become, even in some liberal circles in Hollywood.”
“I can sense our South Africa moment coming closer.” Maybe it’s inevitable one day.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”