Israel again

Wow. You suggest that Israel may not in fact be responsible for all the world’s problems, or even all the Palestinians’ problems, and it’s like a dentist’s drill striking a nerve. The hostility, the barely-disguised hatred of Israel by so many on the “left”– not just of Israeli policies, but of the very idea of Israel– is something to behold.

I agree with much of what Morgoth posted in defense of Israel, though I don’t care for his abusive language. Nor do I much care for being labeled a racist or a fascist for defending the right of Israel to defend itself. But there’s something about Israel that seems to make almost everyone at least a little crazy, and some people a lot more so.

The Israeli author Amos Oz, a long-time peace activist and a critic of Ariel Sharon, said something very perceptive in an interview with Ha’aretz a few months ago: “…apart from Israel, there is not one country in the world that exists on condition. Israel is told, If you behave in such-and-such a way, you have the right to exist. If not, you don’t have the right to exist and the whole thing was one big mistake. Behave well– you will live; behave badly– you will be dismantled… ” (The entire interview, which also features author David Grossman, is worth reading.)

Whenever I hear or read the familiar refrain, “You can’t criticize Israel without being called anti-Semitic,” my reaction is: By whom? Please identify these mysterious persons who go around accusing everyone who criticizes Israel of being against the Jews. Briefly here’s how I see it: I don’t believe criticism of Israel, even the most intense criticism, is anti-Semitic. But anyone who holds Israel to a different standard than he holds every other country– who criticizes Israel for doing bad things while ignoring or excusing countries that do far worse– has some explaining to do. Anyone who calls Sharon a murderer and a war criminal, for example, needs to hold every other world leader– say, Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro– to precisely the same standard. If not, the burden of proof that he’s not anti-Semitic is on him.

I said in my introductory message here that– having lived in Israel for eight years– I have strong but complicated feelings about the place, and I realized some of the readers of this blog wouldn’t always like what I said. I appreciate Harry’s forbearance in letting me express my views. I hope that sometimes I can offer a perspective or a bit of information that may not have appeared in the part of the media that is generally hostile to Israel.

I also hope nobody thinks I’m trying to cut off disagreement with my views. I’m interested in being challenged by people who offer original thoughts and avoid name-calling and labels. I’ll try to keep my arguments on the level of ideas and I ask others to try and do the same.