Setting the Record Straight on Israel

Editor’s Note: This editorial is in response to a column in The Dartmouth entitled “Israel is Not Above Reproach,” by Isaac Green ’17.

I would like to set the record straight regarding the many unfair criticisms that “Israel is Not Above Reproach” made about my own article.

You pointed out that that I did not mention Muslims in my article, even though it was published on the day that President Trump announced his Executive Order targeting refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations.  As a former staff member of The Dartmouth, you clearly know that my op-ed went to print well before that announcement was made. But in any case I ask, why is it “utterly irresponsible” to write about the plight of the world’s Jews, a plight that is unmatched in human history? Is it “utterly irresponsible” to believe that history can repeat itself, as it often does, in arguing that we must be ever-vigilant in the fight against anti-Semitism in our time? Let me ask you, Mr. Green: is it “utterly irresponsible” to argue that those who engage in anti-Zionist rhetoric — and believe that the State of Israel has no right to exist — are anti-Semitic? I think not. Those who engage in this rhetoric single out the world’s only Jewish State among all the nations of the world and subject it to mass-condemnation. Even Israel’s Arab neighbors, whose citizens’ “lives are at risk from extremism, violence and bigotry,” are not targeted with the same hostility or persistence as the State of Israel.

The liberation of the Temple Mount at the conclusion of the Six-Day War.

The liberation of the Temple Mount at the conclusion of the Six-Day War.

You start your article by making broad assertions about my op-ed, including that I argue that “criticism of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism.” Not once did I make this claim. My point is not that all critics of Israel’s policies are anti-Semites. To the contrary. I feel strongly that anyone should feel free to express their views about Israel’s policies—both opponents and supporters. But on many college campuses today, supporters of Israel do not feel free to express their views. In many cases, their classmates and administrations overtly silence them. While opponents of Israel can freely make unsubstantiated and often outlandish claims that seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, supporters of Israel are derided as racists under the guise of political correctness. And those supporters are most often Jewish students and faculty.

You also write that “Kauderer suggests that Jewish people are the religious group that most needs defending in today’s society,” and that “Kauderer seem[s] to feel no obligation to ensure that the oft-repeated motto “Never Again” is extended to all those whose lives are at risk from extremism, violence and bigotry.”  Why should combating bigotry, whether it be anti-Semitism or racism, be a zero-sum game? We can and should combat anti-Semitism while remaining vigilant against other forms of bigotry. Current ideas about political correctness make it acceptable to be anti-Semitic.  Your argument seeks to trivialize the rising levels of overt anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States and that is incredibly dangerous. History often repeats itself, and your casual dismissal of this rising anti-Semitism is what is truly “utterly irresponsible.”

You also fail to acknowledge the new form of anti-Semitism. You make the outrageous claim that anti-Semitism “was contained a long time ago,” as if it is a relic of the past. You could not be more mistaken. You make this claim as news outlets from The Telegraph to The Jewish Daily Forward to Breitbart report that Jews are leaving Europe in record numbers. You make this claim as traditional anti-Semitism has risen to record levels in the U.K. and France, and is steadily on the rise in the United States. Alongside this overt anti-Semitism, an equally dangerous form thrives on college campuses. It seeks to attack the world’s Jews by denying that a Jewish State has the right to exist, and singles that state out among all the nations of the world. When the United Nations condemns the State of Israel while ignoring the atrocities committed by other nations, that is the new anti-Semitism. When academics on college campuses focus on the State of Israel for alleged human rights violations while conveniently ignoring the violations of its neighbors and other nations around the world, that is the new anti-Semitism. And when supporters of Israel are silenced in the name of political correctness, the new anti-Semitism gains a legitimacy it should not have. You speak of “Never Again.” Standing idly by as a new anti-Semitism creeps toward legitimacy is the ultimate violation of that doctrine. 

Liberation: General Dwight D. Eisenhower at the newly liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp.

Liberation: General Dwight D. Eisenhower at the newly liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp.

Lastly, your claim that people like me with the gall to publicize anti-Semitism are “pouring the majority of our resources into squashing the last embers of a fire” continues your article’s trend of trivializing it. You seem to think that anti-Semitism is no longer real, and that the world’s Jews are under no threat. Again, you are very mistaken. I will continue to be vigilant in combating anti-Semitism — in both its subtle and overt forms — because, in the words of Maajid Nawaz, the chairman of the U.K. think tank Quilliam, “No surer sign of rising fascism have we had in our history than the scapegoating of our Jewish communities. Alarm bells should be sounding, and yet they are not.” I will never forget the Holocaust that led to the systematic execution of six million of my fellow Jews. For that reason, I will do my utmost to prevent American Jews from spreading falsehoods that endanger their brethren around the world.                                              

  • Parent ’16

    Thank you for this. Please continue to write and know that many share your views.

  • piper60

    If you assert that so-and-so cannot sin, you are simultaneously declaring that so-and-soi s not human!