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gorillapaws's avatar

What is an appropriate way to criticize the policies and actions of the State of Israel and the influence of the Pro-Israel lobby without being antisemitic?

Asked by gorillapaws (23513points) 1 month ago

I’m aware of the antisemitic tropes about Jews. I’m aware that many Jews are particularly sensitive to this topic due to being the victims of antisemitism. That said, the State of Israel is not the same thing as Judaism. Crtiticising Netanyahu’s policy, speech or actions isn’t the same thing as criticizing people based on their faith or ethnicity.

There is a very real Pro Israel lobby in the US and it plays a large role in US politics:

“One of, if not the most, powerful international issue lobby is that of the pro-Israel crowd. Well-financed and politically powerful, the pro-Israel lobby is a major force on American foreign affairs that looks to continue America’s military and fiscal support of the Jewish nation-state.”

Many on the left have a problem with politicians taking money from all lobbyists and special interests (including the pro-Israel lobby). They also have major problems with both the human rights violations and violations of international law taking place by the State of Israel and it’s extreme right wing leadership.

There has been a very cynical effort to weaponize antisemitism against critics of Israel’s policies and actions. This is being directed at people who are not antisemitic and many happen to support Bernie Sanders—a man who would be the first Jewish president. It is my belief that this is being done with the intent to create a chilling effect on speech critical of Israel.

So how does someone speak critically of the pro-Israel lobby without upsetting people who have been the victims of antisemitism?

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23 Answers

Patty_Melt's avatar

I would preface such comments with some sort of disclaimer, with no disrespect to the religious beliefs of any involved people…

KNOWITALL's avatar

Use correct verbiage such as pro-Isreal lobby/ lobbyists/PAC’s. The American people are not as ignorant as many of you seem to think.

rebbel's avatar

In matters like these I most of the times feel that prefaces miss their goal, or worse, seem (or be deemed) to only make stronger the effect that you were trying to avoid (if that makes sense…).
“I have nothing against muslims, really….
But I can tell you that all that live in my block, were prioritized over the autochtone inhabitants in getting their house, don’t have jobs, and are benefitting from welfare and free health care”.

JLeslie's avatar

Try to enlist someone who is seen as trustworthy to do the speaking for the movement. This might be a Jewish American, or someone seen as having always been a friend to the Jews, or minorities in general. When presenting where Israel has gone too far, back it up with explanations and also have some balance with showing understanding where the Palestinians have some culpability also. I really believe both sides are right and both are wrong.

I can talk about where I feel Israel is wrong without watching my P’s and Q’s with my parents or husband, because they know I believe in Israel’s right to exist, that I care about the Israeli people, and I care about the Palestinians too. They know any criticism I have is from a place of trying to understand all sides, and trying to use the golden rule. If I’m talking to people who don’t know me, I need to use disclaimers, explanations, and understand I might be misunderstood. It really depends who your audience is.

I’ve mentioned the documentary Precious Life on fluther before. The Israeli doctor in the movie when he goes to take care of wounded during a bombing that has sparked up with the Palestinians the doctor says along the lines of it’s too much, meaning that Israel is going too far, and he is Israeli. I don’t think anyone would doubt the doctors loyalty to Israel, even though he is criticize what was being done at the time by the military under orders by the Israeli government.

kritiper's avatar

Speak in general terms without mentioning Jews.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Why…do the Jewish have such an apparent force…?

JLeslie's avatar

What does apparent force mean?

mazingerz88's avatar

Explain one’s personal thoughts and feelings about Israel. One’s understanding of the history of the Jews. Put your bias out there if there’s any. Most importantly, be SINCERE. And then make your argument.

LostInParadise's avatar

It does not help that many who are pro-Israel are also anti-Semitic.

JLeslie's avatar

@mazingerz88 I’m just curious which part of history of the Jews exactly, and why do you leave out the history of the Palestinian people?

KNOWITALL's avatar

In my area, we are raised to either love the Jews, due to religion, or if your folks are racist, to despise them. My mom is in Pro-Isreal groups and if it came down to it, many Americans would support any effort to preserve Isreal. Trump or no Trump, thats how it is.

flutherother's avatar

@KNOWITALL Do you mean Israel?

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie “What does apparent force mean?”

I don’t want to put words in @Dutchess_lll‘s mouth, but I think there are several factors that make the pro-Israel lobby so effective and powerful in DC.

1. There is a group of evangelical Christians that are looking forward to the end of the world when Jesus is going to come and take all of the “good Christians” (i.e. them) to heaven. They can’t wait for this and Jerusalem plays a role in this prophesy (that’s the quick version at least).

2. The war profiteering sector of the market loves this conflict. Conflict is profitable and one of the worst things for business would be if the Israelis and Palestinians were able to come to a long-term peaceful resolution. This conflict is great for cable news ratings, advertisers, for driving wars like the wars in Iraq, 9/11, Syria, and now possibly Iran. Promoting the right-wing agenda of the current Israeli administration will ensure that this conflict continues indefinitely.

3. Tangentially, related to #2 is the fossil fuel industry which also benefits from these conflicts in the Middle East. A peaceful Middle East means we won’t have the political cover to invade countries and steal their oil.

4. Our political system is dominated by money (sadly for most of the Democratic party, in addition to all of the Republican party). These pro-Israel groups have a lot of funding (at least in part due to 1–3) and they aren’t shy about spreading it around. They’ve managed to get unconstitutional laws passed that ban boycotts against the state of Israel. We’re also moving our US Embassy to Jerusalem. The silence from our elected officials opposing these horrific policies is deafening. I would call that a significant political force.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@flutherother I said Isreal/ Jews, I should have said Isreali Jews, sorry.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie “Try to enlist someone who is seen as trustworthy to do the speaking for the movement. This might be a Jewish American, or someone seen as having always been a friend to the Jews, or minorities in general.”

Bernie Sanders and Natalie Portman both receive strong criticism that they’re “self-hating jews” and secretly antisemitic. I’m not sure identity politics is the answer.

e.g. Israeli Minister Says Natalie Portman Bordering on Anti-Semitism as Actor Defends Awards Boycott

mazingerz88's avatar

@JLeslie The whole history (cultural, political, social, religious) of the Jewish people from ancient times to the present.

It seems to me some people who criticize the state of Israel merely understand it from the moment it was created. To them it’s as simple as the Jews stealing land from Palestinians so give it back and get lost.

I didn’t include learning about the Palestinians since the question mainly was about Israel.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

This is insane.

kritiper's avatar

What does “apparent force” mean??

Dutchess_lll's avatar

You can’t put words in my mouth @gorillapaws because I have no idea what the hell is going on!

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL I think @fluthother is correcting how you spelled Israel.

@mazingerz88 So, are you a Zionist, you think the Jews get the land because they were there first? Is that what you mean? Or, are you including what was done to the Jews in the Holocaust for instance? Maybe you mean all of it? I’m just curious because I’m not a Zionist per se, and I do point out to people Israel is know to retaliate ten fold when attacked because the Jew when Israel was created were already in a “never again” mind set not only from a military point of view that Israel would defend her borders in a way that countries would learn not to f*** with them, but also around the world the Jewish people not wanting anything like that to ever happen again to any group.

@gorillapaws It’s true that self hating or antiSemitic is something Jewish people get accused of and I think it’s horrible! I hear it all of the time on the left about Trump’s SIL and daughter, and they even say Ivanka isn’t really Jewish, and I don’t care how much I disagree with them on things, in my opinion they are Jewish. If she converted and is raising Jewish children then she is Jewish as far as I’m concerned. Among families and friends these things are said about each other if a relative says something they perceive as antisemitic.

I agree there is money and oil in the equation. I also think there is US self interest geopolitically to have a democracy in the middle east and an ally that can fly planes and launch rockets.

You have probably seen me write before that when Israel was created by the UN I think many of the countries who were in favor liked the idea that the Jews would go to Israel. It was a way to get rid of the Jews from their own countries.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Oh, sorry, it was early, before I finished my coffee.

mazingerz88's avatar

I was raised Catholic and now presently agnostic. I sympathize with both sides and wish sustainable peaceful life and prosperity for both.

flutherother's avatar

Criticizing the policies and actions of the State of Israel does not necessarily make you anti-Israel never mind anti-Semitic. Also, the power of AIPAC is a US issue rather than an Israeli issue and is part of the undue influence big money and special interest groups have on American democracy.

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