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Abraham Foxman is the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a position he has held since 1987.  He has worked for the organization since 1965. In 2006, he was awarded[…]

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

Question: Are all criticisms of Israel anti-Semitic?

Abrahamrn Foxman: Israel probably has more criticism per square foot, square rnperson than any country in the world.  It’s a Democracy, they can be rncriticized, nobody is immune from criticism and no you don’t become an rnanti-Semite just because you criticize the Jewish state.  But, there wasrn Natan Sharansky, one of the prisoners of conscience from the Soviet rnUnion who set a certain standard, which I think sort of applies.  He rnsaid, well if your criticism denigrates or demeans Israel or it rnchallenges its right to exist, that’s not criticism because people don’trn go around asking whether Poland should exist, or China should exist, sorn if the question is the criticism goes to the point of Israel’s rnlegitimacy, that’s not criticism, that’s at this point anti-Semitism.  rnIf it goes to – if it sets a double standard, and basically there’s thisrn issue now of boycotts and I’ve seen boycotts, student boycotts, church rnboycotts of Israel, and the reason is we are for human rights and we rnwant to show the world that we... and I’d say fine, if you want to use rnboycotts to express yourself, to strengthen human rights, fine.  But, ifrn Israel is the only country that you select to use the boycott to rnenforce human rights and you ignore China, and Cuba, and Sudan, and rnSaudi Arabia, where there are violations galore of human rights, women’srn rights, gay rights, religious rights, etcetera, then that’s not rnlegitimate criticism of Israel.  That’s bigotry, that’s anti-Semitism.  rnNow if you make a list of 10, 15 countries and you include Israel I willrn argue that Israel has equal rights for women, has respect, has a rnjudicial system, Palestinians can come to the... and all that, but okay Irn can live with that.  But when the only country... when you look at the rnUnited Nations, okay you want to criticize Israel fine, but when 40 rnpercent of the agenda of the United Nations human rights, so called rnhuman rights council, is only Israel that’s anti-Semitism.

Recorded on June 11, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman