Jewish critics of Israel in Britain are in a bind these days. As Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland writes today, British Jews are experiencing a wave of anti-Semitism whipped up by Israel-haters.
That strikes Freedland as unfair. He thinks it isn’t cricket for those who despise Israel to foment Jew-hatred on Albion’s sacred shores. While he rightly opposes the noxious libel that Israel is a Nazi state, he also believes it’s unfair to tar British Jewry with the blame for Zionism’s offenses. You see Freedland, like many of the thugs on British streets howling anti-Semitic invectives, is of the opinion that Israelis were wrong to try and stop the rain of terrorist missiles on their territory. For him — and for the “Free Palestine” demonstrators who cry out for the blood of “Jewish pigs” — the Israelis are pretty much always in the wrong.
Mind you, he manages to articulate his critique of Israel’s right to self-defense without being ill-mannered or anti-Semitic. But he’s outraged that liberals who have done all in their power to stifle any prejudice toward British Muslims in the wake of 9/11 and the 7/7 attack on British subways, aren’t as eager to defend British Jews. He even goes so far as to say that it’s wrong to demand that Jews disassociate themselves from Israel in order to guarantee their safety. After all, no decent person expects ordinary Muslims to condemn jihadist attacks on the West, do they?
This is all well and good and quite principled on Freedland’s part. I suppose he thinks he’s earned his anti-anti-Semitism merit badge with this column. But there’s an underlying fallacy to his reasoning.
The connection he fails to make is the straight line between the Jew-haters he disdains and the argument that Israel has no right to fight back against Islamist terrorists seeking to destroy it.
Sure, disagreeing with various Israeli policies does not automatically mean you are an anti-Semite. But those like Freedland, who bray about “Israel’s brutality in Gaza and the colossal number of civilian deaths that entailed,” are themselves engaging in false propaganda and buying into the lies and distortions that are aimed at undermining Israel’s right to exist.
The point is, if you are willing to acquiesce in terrorist attacks on Jews in southern Israel where a tiny democracy seeks to protect its people against terrorism, why is it not okay to beat them up in London? Freedland may think his proud denunciations of Israel should give him the right to live and write freely on the sceptered Isle. But there’s no difference between the Jew-hatred that drives Hamas and Fatah and the prejudices that fuel the domestic ugliness he deplores. Freedland wants British liberals to break their silence and “stand firmly against anti-Jewish prejudice.”
So long as he and other liberal Brits (including a growing number of Jews) support anti-Israel prejudice, there’s no chance of convincing the Jew-haters to behave.