Is All Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic?

If criticism of Israel's policies demeans or degrades the country—or questions its legitimacy—then it's anti-Semitic.
  • Transcript


Question: Are all criticisms of Israel anti-Semitic?

Abraham Foxman: Israel probably has more criticism per square foot, square person than any country in the world.  It’s a Democracy, they can be criticized, nobody is immune from criticism and no you don’t become an anti-Semite just because you criticize the Jewish state.  But, there was Natan Sharansky, one of the prisoners of conscience from the Soviet Union who set a certain standard, which I think sort of applies.  He said, well if your criticism denigrates or demeans Israel or it challenges its right to exist, that’s not criticism because people don’t go around asking whether Poland should exist, or China should exist, so if the question is the criticism goes to the point of Israel’s legitimacy, that’s not criticism, that’s at this point anti-Semitism.  If it goes to – if it sets a double standard, and basically there’s this issue now of boycotts and I’ve seen boycotts, student boycotts, church boycotts of Israel, and the reason is we are for human rights and we want to show the world that we... and I’d say fine, if you want to use boycotts to express yourself, to strengthen human rights, fine.  But, if Israel is the only country that you select to use the boycott to enforce human rights and you ignore China, and Cuba, and Sudan, and Saudi Arabia, where there are violations galore of human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, religious rights, etcetera, then that’s not legitimate criticism of Israel.  That’s bigotry, that’s anti-Semitism.  Now if you make a list of 10, 15 countries and you include Israel I will argue that Israel has equal rights for women, has respect, has a judicial system, Palestinians can come to the... and all that, but okay I can live with that.  But when the only country... when you look at the United Nations, okay you want to criticize Israel fine, but when 40 percent of the agenda of the United Nations human rights, so called human rights council, is only Israel that’s anti-Semitism.

Recorded on June 11, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman