General Question

psychocandy2's avatar

How can I express my displeasure with the Israeli government without being accused of being anti-Semetic?

Asked by psychocandy2 (154points) June 3rd, 2010 from iPhone

People all around me, and as I learned todayby reading through questions, people here on fluther have been engaged in a heated ans sometimes acrimonious debate about the flotilla raid and the general state of Israeli/Palestinian relations. I have listened to arguments on both sides, but I notice as soon a someone disagrees with the position of the Israeli government that person is accused of being anti-Semetic.

Sure, I have heard some truly heinous things said about Israel and Jews in general, but not every critique has been based o ignorance, hate and stereotypes.

I have been afraid to state my opinion or participate in these discussions for fear of being called and anti-Semite. I am not concerned with religion (I have none) nor am I concerned with how the mess started. I am concerned with governments putting politics before people and what I see as the beginning of an apartheid government.

Ho do I express my opinion without being labeled an anti-Semite. Or if I am, explain how. I have no hate in my heart for any group.

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39 Answers

SmashTheState's avatar

You can’t. Any criticism of Israel will cause you to be accused of anti-semitism. It’s unavoidable. The entire point of this is to make people like you afraid to speak out. All I can advise is to do and say what you know to be right, and deal with the repercussions. Incidentally, the Palestinians are also semites. Interesting how one can criticize them without being anti-semitic, yes?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

People who resort to labelling and name calling aren’t worth arguing with.

That said, it is also pointless arguing with people who believe supporting people living under the rule of a terrorist organisation is a service to humanity.

Cruiser's avatar

You can if you fully understand what the definition of anti-semitic is and how it will apply given the topic you are discussing. I have the feeling you may not fully understand anti-semitism or you would not be asking this question.

josie's avatar

I doubt if you can. Look at what happens when somebody is critical of the president. This is the age of the logical fallacy. If you can’t debate an issue based on the facts present, simply accuse your opponent of some politically incorrect activity or attitude. That is usually enough to shut down the debate.

janbb's avatar

Both Jews and non-Jews are critical of Israel’s policy frequently; it is unfortunate that the label of anti-semitism gets thrown around so casually. I think if you want to be critical of Israel’s policies but not be labled anti-semitic, iti is important to have some understanding of Jewish history and the importance of Israel’s founding after World War 2. Once you are willing to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, it is legitimate to criticize ongoing policies or past actions.

zenele's avatar

As @janbb said, it’s easy to be critical of Israel’s policies without being anti-semitic. I am critical of stupid policies and decisions made by right wing, left wing and this weird coalition Israel has today. I am critical of the flotilla incident in that the commandoes sho not have rappelled into the mob to be lynched and have to defend themsleves – there must have been a smarter way to do it. I am sorry for the commandoes who were needlessly injured, and even sorry for the loss of life on board – regardless of their plan of action (though they weren’t innocent by any means – any loss of life is sad).

Israel will have to make some major changes and concessions – and fast. The more power given to Hamas because of these incidents, the less control the PA has over the Palestinians. Then, it will be only Iran – Hamas – Hizballah. Israel must do everything it can to help the PA conquer Hamas – and start the foundation of a state alongside Israel.

That wasn’t so hard, now was it. And I’m Israeli.

SmashTheState's avatar

@janbb I don’t recognize ANY State’s right to exist. Israel doesn’t get a free pass.

janbb's avatar

@SmashTheState Well, then you’re an anarchist which is certainly your prerogative.

prescottman2008's avatar

Along that same thought process, how can I express my extreme displeasure with the enormous number of illegal aliens in this country without appearing to be racist?

dpworkin's avatar

I find the position of the Israeli government to be extremely distasteful in many matters involving the West Bank (although I consider Gaza, which is notoriously hostile to the survival of the Jewish State to be a different matter.)

I have expressed my view freely here on Fluther, and have never been called antisemitic. I have, however seen many crypto-antisemitic remarks posted here under the guise of merely expressing a political view.

Marva's avatar

Maybe it’s just impossible to criticise someone, let alone a goverment, without being in their shoes? Any information you have would be unreliable, any opinion you might have is based on the media, which is based on other people’s opinions, and money trasffering hands.
The most important thing that outsiders can do, is support peace, support solutions, support the people suffering.
I agree, as Jew, with @janbb that it is a shame the anti-semic label is being thrown around, but also with our dear @Cruiser, who’s replies I always agree with.
To choose a side, form outside, is always prejudice.

An Israeli.

LostInParadise's avatar

You have to appreciate the difficult position the Israelis are in. They are surrounded by people who want to take over their country. The day that the Israeli state was founded, they were attacked en masse by all their neighbors. To make matters worse, their native Arab population is expected in the not too distant future to outnumber the Jewish population, which will force Israel to choose between being a Jewish state and being a democracy.

Marva's avatar

One more thing I would like to say, if you please:

The only reason that my govermnet did something as foolish as to get these commando soldiers, kids in their 19–20’s under mandatory service by the way, with Paintball guns, is because we care too damn much about other people’s and other countries’ opinions, we try to please everyone in order to prove that our only intrest is to keep our own borders safe.
If you came down here, for a few months, you would see that it seems Israel recieves harsh critisism, no matter what we do. Whilst commando kids and civilions get killed each week whether we take action or not. When we use bombs, after being bombed, we get harsh critisism, then we try even paintball, we get criticised, we try everything but go away, and still get criticised.
The people fighting us are provocative and fanatic, they stop at nothing, lifes mean very little to them, money from Iran is abundant, they outnumber us, but they still recieve the best medical care in our hospitals, paid from our tax money, when injured in our country, whilst attempting to provoke violence and murder.
Come out here for a few months, you will see that one of the major problems of the Israeli policy, is that we are too damn humane and we care too damn much what anyone else thinks

tedd's avatar

You could just point out that you don’t like and strongly disapprove of what the Israeli government did here. It doesn’t have to be about race or religion at all, Israel screwed up here.

I’m a supporter of Israel, and I know they go through a lot. I largely support their policies and what they do. BUT, they screwed up here. There was NO reason for military commandos to drop onto a boat full of activists and international journalists who were in international waters and were purposely avoiding the blockade and not trespassing into Israeli territory. Let alone that they botched it up miserably (pretty crappy commandos if you can’t even drop onto a boat undetected) and killed a bunch of people, whilst taking control of a ship in international waters and driving it to your port so you can arrest all 5 or 6 hundred passengers. They messed up, what they did was wrong, and a huge apology is the LEAST they should be doing.

psychocandy2's avatar

I can’t have an opinion because I’m not directly involved?

Since I’m accused of being ignorant, what is, pray tell, the “true” definition of anti-semitism?

bolwerk's avatar

There’s not a lot you can do about it. For that matter, there’s not a lot you can do about the reaction you get when you criticize any state. The way the Westphalian state preserves its legitimacy is by trying to create a cult-like following around it, fueled by patriotism and nationalism. In the wake of WWII, Germany has found itself in an identity crisis largely because it simply can’t embrace that kind of identity anymore. But even outside of nation-states, places like the United States and Canada simply replace the nationalism with patriotic jingoism. Israel is a pretty rotten example because it has successfully melded both these approaches with a public relations campaign demonizing anyone who criticizes it as racist.

But don’t feel too bad – the argument that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic is a form of antisemitism itself. It suggests that Jews should, and do, march in lockstop and all have a personal, nationalist stake in that piece of land. It’s the same type of nativist chauvinism that go the western world mired in two world wars, and that still rears its ugly head today in places like the Balkans. Plenty of perfectly sensible, even (especially?) deeply pious, Jews are very, very uncomfortable with the increasingly brutal tactics the Israelis employ and, once you get past the public face of Palestine being Hamas, you can find similar moderation on the side of the Palestinians.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

I know exactly where you’re coming from as I’ve been there myself, on those very same threads. I disagree with much of what is done by the Israeli government (and also by Hamas), yet I have absolutely no complaint about or hatred for Semites, Judaism or for Jews themselves. Unfortunately, in this ‘you’re either with me or against me’ world, it is a lose-lose proposition to suggest that you’re anything but 100-percent behind the Israeli government, no matter what kinds of atrocities they’re actually guilty of.

dpworkin's avatar

@Rufus_T_Firefly I strongly disagree. I have felt free in this very thread to disagree strongly with Israeli behavior toward the West Bank Palestinians, and no one has yet accused me of anything.

janbb's avatar

@psychocandy If you would direct your previous question to someone specific by using the @ construct, it would help you get an answer. I don’t think you were addressing all of us.

gemiwing's avatar

There’s a constructive way, and a destructive way, to discuss touchy subjects.

First- know your shit. Don’t go on about something that you ‘heard from this one guy in this one show’. Have your citations and use them- be willing to search to find, and learn, publications that have garnished respect from both sides. Picking Fox news won’t do you any favors- nor will the Huffington Post, they’re too biased for a good citation.

Make the distinction between what something is and what it is doing. Saying ‘Israel is a jerk’ creates strife, while saying “I feel that Israel did make a mistake” is constructive and leads to a discussion, instead of a free-for-all.

Make the distinction between politicians and people. Instead of ‘Israelis are acting dumb’ use ‘Israeli politicians aren’t making the right choice’. The people who live, and support, a country are not usually the people who run it. Five million people live in Happy Country, only 300 rule by elected votes. Try to remember that politicians don’t speak for everyone in the country.

Acknowledge what you think Israel has done right and find space in your written argument to point that out. All negative and no positive makes anyone listening to your argument assume you are just a blowhard, and not the well-thought individual you are.

Re-read your argument. Get some coffee, then read it again. Imagine it being read by someone who’s life is being destroyed by this conflict. Someone who’s lost children to hunger, family to bombs- and imagine what they would feel like if they were to read it. Are you proud of how you phrased everything?

If you do this- chances are you won’t be accused of being antisemitic nearly as often. Eventually someone will call you names- but then you have the knowledge that you have done these steps and chances are the issue is not with your argument- but with the person reading it.

SmashTheState's avatar

@gemiwing The fallacy that the truth can always be found in the middle of any two extreme points is the purest nonsense, and one common to the bourgeois middle class. It conveniently allows the person using it to avoid having to take a side, yet still be able to claim that she or he is taking the moral high road. It’s cowardly, it’s contemptible, and, more to the point, it’s wrong.

dpworkin's avatar

@SmashTheState So, I guess you are hear to teach us how to find the truth? Please begin.

gemiwing's avatar

@SmashTheState It’s not truth that we’re after when having a discussion about viewpoints. “Searching for truth’ isn’t what the OP was asking either. Truth is fluid and changed based on the eyes looking at it.

Why I said to find a middle of the road publication for citation purposes is to avoid the argument that would derail and take validity away from the speaker, because someone would surely say ‘you’re wrong because you got that info from Fox news’ and suddenly the conversation stops and the accusations of character begin.

Truth? Can be found everywhere. A citation that doesn’t show a severe leaning toward any camp and concentrates instead on facts? Rare as hen’s teeth.

dealrrr's avatar

it took me a long time to understand the Palestine/Israeli conflict and i may not completely and my thoughts are that Israel is creating anti-Semites every time they murder an innocent person. Palestinians have no army, no weapons to harm anyone and yet they are being murdered and tortured. it’s quite appalling what religion has done and continues to do to our species. and the argument from Israel is Palestine’s are firing rockets into their territory but they can’t even reach populated areas and no ones getting hurt by them. so Israel does a fly-by with jets provided by my tax dollars and kills a dozen innocent people. how does this help their cause? the most damage a Palestine can do is a suicide bombing. correct me if i’m wrong.

Marva's avatar

@dealrrr, What info are you basing on? missiles reach populated areas daily here!
Palestinians have no army, but Hamas is ruling in Gaza, Iran and syria rule Hamas, Hamas controlls the people thrue education, Palestinian kids of 13 year old go through Hamas training camp. We had over ten cases of a Palestinian terrorist enter a full cafe’ or market and blow himself up! killing and injuring hundreds of people, they also use nails and other materials in the explosives to cause as much injury as possible, would you have that in NY? would anyone? any country? and that’s just the begining of it.
Get your facts right before you open your mouth publicly like that, now that, is ANTI SEMITISM folks!

bolwerk's avatar

@dealrrr – the most the Palestinians can do is probably achieve a death toll the fraction of the size the Israelis achieve against them.

And religion doesn’t have a lot to do with it. The most rabid pro-Israeli “Jews” are often atheistic nationalists with authoritarian tendencies. The conflict is a pissing match.

Marva's avatar

Last note for me on this disscussion:
qouting from the words of (surprisingly) none other than Micheal Jackson:

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer:
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself,
And Then Make A Change

zenele's avatar

@bolwerk Armchair potato warriors like yourself, when they come up for air from playing video games, say really enlightening and thought-provoking things like: “achieve a death-toll” – is a death toll something you achieve? What level are you on in your game?

“The most rabid pro-Israeli “Jews” are often atheistic nationalists with authoritarian tendencies.”

So now we are quote “Jews” – not even really Jewish – and I like the rabid touch – makes us look like we’re foaming at the mouth.

I’d add some choice words for you sonny boy, but then I’d just be removed by mods. Read between the lines to feel what I think about you. Can you feel it?

SmashTheState's avatar

Oh my, and the first accusations of anti-semitism predictably start to fly.

zenele's avatar

I think there is a place for (peaceful) anarchy. I just fail to see how you actually contribute to anything – and I’d call it faux-anarchy.

I think that bullcrap might not even realize what he wrote – maybe he’s a “Christian” or maybe an “Arab”. Maybe he just smoked a bit too much and spilled his cheetos. When he comes up for air from his World of Warcraft – checking his enemies death toll – we’ll see if he was being anti-semitic or just plain idiotic.

dpworkin's avatar

@SmashTheState Oh my, and the first smarmy provocations predictably start to fly.

mattbrowne's avatar

Great question. I think it’s very easy. Just talk about specific actions of the current Israeli government. Leave out generalizations. Leave out religion. In my recent Fluther question I expressed my displeasure with the Israeli government and none of what I said is anti-Semitic. I strongly oppose anti-Semitism, because it is utterly wrong and we need to continue to fight it with the power of our words. This is what I wrote:

Why does the government of Israel reject an independent international investigation of the aid ship attack?

I don’t get it.

“Israel has rejected calls for an independent international investigation of its raids on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla on Monday that killed nine activists. The raids have sparked international condemnation, with South Africa becoming the latest nation to withdraw its ambassador from Israel in protest. Israel has defended the actions of its soldiers from the outset, saying the deaths of the activists onboard the humanitarian ships in international waters was an act of self-defence by its commandos.”

How can Israel’s government be so extremely stupid? Only an independent investigation has a (small) chance of reestablishing trust. If this is not done, everyone will think that Israel got something to hide distorting the truth. Turkey was an important ally of Israel. It seems that the current Israeli government doesn’t care about destroying all good relations with other countries. In the end, only the US and Germany will be left. How can the Israeli voters let them? Where is the outcry of the moderate Israelis? Every new house in East Jerusalem creates at least 100 new terrorists. The incident on this ship will create 100,000 new terrorists over the next years. Unless, the UN can clearly show that weapons were smuggled and the activists tried to kill the Israeli soldiers so they had to defend themselves. Or Israel is guilty of violating international law and is willing to apologize and pay compensation to the families of the killed activists.

No one is above the law. This is a basic principle.

In many of my Fluther posts I made it completely clear that Israel is facing a very dangerous lunatic enemy. Hamas is a democratically elected terrorist organization promoting the one true religion in its ugliest form. Just to be clear who the opponent is here. I completely understand the concern of weapons being smuggled into Gaza. I’m a friend of Israel and I also appreciate all peaceful Palestinians (hopefully voting for peaceful governments). I’m concerned about Israel because this current government seems getting closer and closer to lunacy as well. Again I don’t understand how the current Israeli government doesn’t care about destroying all good relations with other countries. This is a diplomatic suicide.

Israel is a democracy. Israel appreciates pluralism. Where is the opposition? Where are the intellectuals whose voices do count? This lunacy has got to stop.

I just don’t get it.

Do you have an explanation why the Israeli government is so stubborn? What do they have to lose accepting an independent international investigation? The reputation can’t get any worse.

The bestselling Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell today accused Israel of murder, piracy and kidnapping after describing how the aid ship he was travelling on was seized by Israeli forces this week. Mankell, whose detective novels featuring the commissar Kurt Wallander have sold almost 30m copies worldwide, was aboard the Swedish ship Sofia, one of six ships in the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza. The 25-strong crew, including Mankell, were all arrested and held in custody.

The rest is here

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

@dpworkin – Disagree all you like, that doesn’t make my statement any less true. Everyone’s experiences here are different, but I have been incorrectly and unfairly singled out as anti-Semitic by certain pro-Irsael members simply because I disagree with and detest some of the heavy-handed tactics currently embraced by the Israeli government.

dpworkin's avatar

@Rufus_T_Firefly Unfair? Aww. Kiss it and make it better?

Response moderated
bolwerk's avatar

@zenele – I’m sorry, but you obviously know a lot more of the world of cellar-dwellery than I do. “lol ded arabs battleload”

Take some lithium, kid. I could care two wits whether authoritarian Zionists or the similarly noxious militant Hamas brutes they want to bomb out are really members of the faiths they say they are, or if they are only nationalistic thugs fighting over a piece of real estate they both have longstanding ties to. Either way, Israel is more or less a secular state and Zionism, by its very definition, is nationalism – not religion.

And, yes, Israel slaughters people. So do opponents of Israel. Both achieve a death toll. It’s a pissing match between a bunch of children who should not be in charge of anything or anyone, least of all military equipment. It surprises many people, but the worst of them gave up on religion a long time ago. They just exist to beat the other now in the name of king and country.

bolwerk's avatar

Looking beyond the nationalistic sanctimony, it occurred to me, on second thought, what’s interesting about @zenele‘s post is its implicit (reverse?) antisemitism. It assumes that I’m automatically Christian or Arab* – presumably I’m excluded from being Jewish because I call both sides on their thuggery. I’m none of the above, of course, but I know plenty of Jews who are disgusted by increasingly heavyhanded thuggery of Israel. I guess they’re antisemitic too.

@zenele implicitly assumed that all Jews ought to march in lockstop in support of Israel, like a swarm of bees or ants. At the risk of bringing up Godwin’s law, I wonder how many of the posters here could identify who else thought that way.

* With scare quotes around both words; of course, Arabs aren’t a religious group, but s/he probably isn’t educated enough to know that either.

kritiper's avatar

As near as I can figure it, you can’t.

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