Tuesday, April 15, 2008

State Department Concedes the Obvious: Some Israel criticism is anti-Semitic

[One of the obvious truths is that, on the one hand the overwhelming majority of criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism, but on the other hand in the vast majority of cases it's virtually impossible to be sure whether specific unwarranted criticism is motivated by anti-Semitism rather than ignorance or poor judgement.

This leads to one of the ironies that inhibits supporters of Israel from making accusations of anti-Semitism while the Israel-haters love to falsely accuse others of rushing to make such accusations.

The State Department and this article from JTA don't refer to another truth, that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic.]

U.S.: Some Israel criticism is anti-Semitic

Ron Kampeas

Washington (JTA) -- The Bush administration has taken the groundbreaking step of identifying some virulent criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism, as it warns that anti-Jewish attitudes and incidents are on the rise worldwide.

In a new study, the U.S. State Department cites Tel Aviv University's Stephen Roth Institute in reporting an increase of serious anti-Semitic incidents, encompassing physical attacks and vandalism, from 406 in 2005 to 593 in 2006.

The new study, "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism," also cites a range of other nongovernmental organizations to show dramatic increases in Latin America, Australasia and Europe, including a 31 percent spike in incidents in Britain from 2005 to 2006 and a 35 percent jump in Argentina during the same period.

The report goes quite far in warning about the intensification of anti-Semitic rhetoric among governments and international elites, and its policy recommendations are unusually strong for State Department reports, which generally refrain from pronounced language.

Its boldest venture is to name some attacks on Israel as anti-Semitism. In addition, the report marks the first time that the U.S. government has made it a policy to apply the label of anti-Semitism to some criticism of Israel.

"Anti-Semitism has proven to be an adaptive phenomenon," the report said. "New forms of anti-Semitism have evolved. They often incorporate elements of traditional anti-Semitism. However, the distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that -- whether intentionally or unintentionally -- has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israelnd Iraq.

Among other examples, it notes cartoons in the Greek and Arab press depicting Israelis as Nazis, as well as statements by Greek and British politicians to that effect. Some examples date as far back as 1991, and the report also includes examples of graffiti without reporting whether it is sanctioned or tolerated by the responsible authorities.

More could have been done to rate how different nations tackle anti-Semitism, said Paul LeGendre, the senior associate for fighting discrimination and hate crimes at Human Rights First, the only major human rights watchdog that deals with hate crimes.

"Ukraine is a country that we're particularly concerned about at the moment," LeGendre said by way of example.

LeGendre said its government has condemned outbreaks of anti-Semitism, but "it doesnareness.

"I hope this keeps it on the radar screen and lets other government know that the U.S. sees this as an important issue that needs to be taken seriously," LeGendre said.

The report, which was sent to Congress last month, culminates four years of research launched in 2004 after U.S. lawmakers passed a bill commissioning such a report. The process was accelerated in 2006 when President Bush named Gregg Rickman the first U.S. special envoy on anti-Semitism.

Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, welcomed the report, as did some members of Congress.

"All too often, legitimate criticism of the State of Israel can veer into naked anti-Semitism characterized by vile hate speech,aust denial as a vehicle for anti-Semitism, focusing particularly on the role Iran's government has taken in its propagation. It also targets the United Nations system, saying the double standards some of its constituent bodies display toward Israel promote a hostile environment for Jews.

"Regardless of the intent, disproportionate criticism of Israel as barbaric and unprincipled, and corresponding discriminatory measures adopted in the U.N. against Israel, have the effect of causing audiences to associate negative attributes with Jews in general, thus fueling anti-Semitism," it says.

The report noted the singling out of Israel for condemnation by the U.N. General Assembly and, in particular, the U.N. Human Rights Council, as well as the tendency to keep Israel out of regional groupings, hampering its efforts to accrue legitimacy. At the same time, it commended the recent increase in General Assembly condemnations of anti-Semitism.

The willingness of the authors of the anti-Semitism report to speak out stands in contrast to the relatively muted tone of the State Department's human rights assessment. Last year's human rights report saw the elimination of rankings such as "poor," "very poor," "improved" or "not improved" that were applied to foreign governments. This year's report is even less venturesome, simply describing reports of abuses as "credible" or "reputable," and relaying the data.

That might be a function of the U.S. government itself facing an increase of allegations of abusive behavior, according to Human Rights First.

"The problem," the organization said in a statement, "is not so much that the reports fail to tell it like it is, but rather that because of the United States' own polices on torture, rendition and detention, the Bush administration is less able to combat human rights abuses abroad."

1 comment:

M.R. said...

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, like all that we see in the corporeal world, stems from a particular root in the Upper World. All of existence is divided into internality and externality, within Humanity this is represented by Israel and the Nations of the World. Israel in this context does not refer to the physical nation, but rather to all people who have a desire to return to their source and spiritual root in the Upper World. The Jews have a responsibility to correct themselves internally so that they can receive the Light from above, solely for the purpose of passing it on to the Nations of the World. As long as the Jews do not fulfill this mission, the Nations of the World subconsciously feel that Israel is not doing what it should and therefore deny its right to exist. The Nations of the World rely on Israel to perform this role and that is why Israel exists. If Israel succeeds, the whole world will receive the Light through them and they will love Israel and value its existence. However, if Israel continues to remain under the control of Egoism, the world will suffer even more and hatred of Israel and the Jews will continue to rise. For more information see: http://www.laitman.com/2008/03/the-un-a-stronghold-of-anti-semitism/