To the editor:
(re: “Is it a fair question? Or is it just hate?” Sept. 3)
As a humanistic Jew, I have been appalled by the increases in anti-Semitic activity. These include murderous attacks on synagogues, and the march of neo-Nazis with torches chanting, “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville.
But the criticism — even condemnation — of Israeli policies by the Democratic Socialists of America or others is not anti-Semitic. Israel is not a “democracy.” Its state rules over a large number of Palestinian Arabs throughout the “occupied territories” who have no say in the Israeli government.
If the United States were to declare itself a “white Christian” state, as Israel is a “Jewish state,” would we regard it as a democracy?
It is in response to Israel’s undemocratic and repressive domination of the occupied territories that the boycott-divestment-sanction movement was founded. In itself, it does not reject the continuation of Israel as part of a two-state solution. However, many have noted that Israel’s expansion into the West Bank has been extreme, with more and more settlements, roads, military checkpoints and so on, to such an extent that a two-state solution may have become impossible.
A single, democratic state — the home of two national communities — may have become the only solution by now, due to Israel’s own actions.
Although I’m a libertarian-democratic eco-socialist, I am not a member of the DSA, and certainly not of the Democratic Party. The questionnaire they wrote to candidates for the city council was clumsy. It read as if they were opposed to the right of people to travel to Israel at all. Actually they meant to oppose the paid-for pro-Israel junkets for politicians to travel to Israel.
This is hardly anti-Semitic.
U.S. Jews have an unduly romantic view of Israel. Many use the horrors of the Holocaust to justify a mostly European population taking over the land of a “Third World” people. Israel has been praised for its major support to the United States in its region.
Given the nature of U.S. policies in the area, this is not really a compliment. The Democratic Party has, by and large, been a fierce defender of Israel, no matter its mistreatment of the Palestinians. It is not surprising that Democratic politicians such as Ms. Jessica Haller would cover themselves in pro-Israel boilerplate.
But the universalistic tradition of the Hebrew prophets teaches us to oppose all injustice, and to speak up for all the oppressed.