The Week (US)
Israel: Why American support has changed
Eleven days of bombing Gaza might have cost Israel the unqualified support of a majority of Americans, said Osita Nwanevu in NewRepublic.com. The killing of at least 230 Palestinians and the destruction of more than 1,000 buildings—including 17 hospitals and the offices of the Associated Press—have led to a “turning point” in Americans’ willingness to publicly criticize Israel. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)—“typically a reliable defender of Israeli policy”—said he was “deeply troubled” by the killing of Palestinian civilians, while the moderate J Street advocacy group criticized President Biden for not pressuring Israel more strongly for an earlier cease-fire. The group is now saying Biden should reverse President Trump’s Israel policy by declaring Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory illegal and reopening the American consulate in East Jerusalem. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed blocking the planned sale of $735 million in U.S. weapons to Israel—a proposal that a Gallup poll found last week a surprising 49 percent of Americans support. For many of the 7 million American Jews, said Arielle Angel in TheGuardian .com, criticizing Israel has long felt like a “betrayal” of our religion. But after watching Israel’s right-wing leaders bomb civilians in Gaza, U.S. Jews, especially young progressives like me, are beginning to question the story “many of their elders had told them” about the struggle over the Holy Land.
Perhaps you should remember why Israel bombed Gaza, said Bret Stephens in The New York Times. The terrorist group Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel in hopes of slaughtering Jews. Israeli bombs were directed at rocket launchers and Hamas leaders, who hid themselves and their weapons among civilians in a deliberate attempt to raise the casualty count. Anyone naïve enough to think “that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism” should consider the rash of 26 reported instances of violence against U.S. Jews in recent weeks: pro-Palestinian activists and bigots chanting “Death to Jews” while assaulting Jewish diners in Los Angeles, throwing fireworks in New York’s heavily Jewish Diamond District, attacking a yarmulkewearing man in Times Square, and pelting a Jewish family in Florida with garbage while shouting “Free Palestine.” This “wave of Jew hatred” is being fueled by the American left, which views Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as the oppressed, said David
Harsanyi in NationalReview.com. But “don’t be fooled.” Rather than relying on old anti-Semitic tropes, today’s anti-Semites find it convenient to demonize the Jewish state, while ignoring or excusing the brutality and corruption of Palestinian leadership.
The brutal attacks on Jews in the U.S. and Europe represent a true “crisis,” said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times, but they can’t be used to “shut down criticism” of Israel as inherently antiSemitic. It is not. Many progressive Jews in the U.S. are deeply troubled by Israel’s “entrenched occupation” of the West Bank and its “relentless oppression” of the Palestinians. As Eric Goldstein of Human Rights Watch points out, Israel no longer pretends the penning up of Palestinians in misery, poverty, and powerlessness is “temporary” until a peace deal can be achieved. Israel now is a true apartheid state. America’s Black Lives Matter protests have sensitized progressives to “systemic oppression,” said Will Bunch in Inquirer.com. “It’s hard to imagine there’d be such open support for the Palestinian cause” without the BLM movement. Many Americans now viscerally recoil from images of Israel’s militarized police roughing up Palestinians or “firing flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets inside a sacred Jerusalem mosque.”
Criticism of Israel can be legitimate, said Jonah Goldberg in The Dispatch.com, but let’s face it: “The rules for Israel are different.” Last year, “73.9 percent of all condemnations by the U.N. General Assembly” were directed at Israel. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been bombing and starving the people of Yemen, and Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya “is far more brutal than the worst excesses—real or even alleged—of the Israeli Defense Forces.” China’s genocide of the Uighurs, North Korea’s brutal oppression of its own people, the authoritarian crushing of dissent in Cuba and Venezuela—all are rarely criticized in the U.N. or by human rights groups. You might call this “structural anti-Semitism.” It is different from hatred of Jews per se; structural anti-Semitism is the belief that Israel itself is illegitimate and “has no right to behave like a normal country” by defending its citizens against attacks. “If you always start with assumption that the Israelis are wrong,” no matter what their enemies do, you might not be anti-Semitic, “but you’re on the side of structural anti-Semitism.”