Friday, January 9, 2009

Between the Lines: Criticism of Israel May Not Always Reflect Anti-Semitism, But It Usually Does

First of all, recognize the distinction between anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel.

One can theoretically be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic, but such cases are extremely rare, restricted to those who are post-nationalists and oppose all nationalism.

For example, someone who supports the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state is clearly not post-nationalist, so anyone who supports such a state while opposing the right of Jews to have their own state is undeniably anti-Semitic.

Criticism of Israel is another matter; one can certainly be critical of certain actions taken by Israel without being anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist.

On the other hand, most criticism of Israel is clearly motivated by anti-Semitism, although it's difficult to be certain, beyond any reasonable doubt, in most individual cases.

One exception is reported in the article below, published by the International Herald Tribune.

In this instance, in a reprise of the worst of fascist Italy under Mussolini, an Italian union called for boycotting Jewish-owned shops in Rome.

The union does not even restrict itself to shops owned by supporters of Israel, but all Jewish-owned shops.

We owe a vote of thanks to the union, for again making it clear most criticism of Israel is based on anti-Semitism.

To their credit, Italian politicians and mainstream unions reacted with outrage.

Outrage in Italy at call to boycott Jews

ROME: Italian politicians reacted with outrage Thursday to a proposal by a small union calling for a boycott of Jewish-owned shops in Rome to protest Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The FLAICA-CUB union, which claims to represent thousands of workers in shops and malls, said in a statement it would promote a boycott of businesses "tied to the Roman Jewish Community."

The union suggested shoppers should focus the protest on clothing stores, many of which are traditionally owned by members of the capital's small community.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno "firmly condemned" the initiative, saying it was reminiscent of the boycotts against Jewish shops organized by the Fascist regime as part of its anti-Semitic policies in the 1930s.

In a show of support, the right-wing mayor went shopping for shirts and ties in a Jewish-owned clothing store.

Center-left politicians and mainstream unions also criticized the idea, with former Premier Massimo D'Alema calling it "grave and absurd." The Jewish Community said it would take legal action under Italy's anti-racism laws.

Government officials and Jewish groups across Europe have expressed concern that the conflict in Gaza may spill over into anti-Semitic acts, with attacks reported against Jews and synagogues in France, Sweden and Britain.

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