Sunday, April 21, 2024

Every major "criticism of Israel" is based on antisemitic assumptions. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

If you analyze the major criticisms of Israel, you will discover that every one of them is based on unstated but very real assumption that reveal not the truth about Israel but the anti-Jewish bias of the accusers.

These criticisms are framed in such a way that the truth, which are not antisemitic, is not even considered. As a result, facts that contradict the antisemitic assumptions are discarded and only the cherry-picked facts that support the antisemitism are mentioned.

This pattern becomes startlingly clear when you look at the major criticisms of Israel with both the antisemitic and non-antisemitic assumptions in mind.

Here are some examples.


The charge: Israel is a settler-colonialist state where Jews arrived from outside and claimed the land for themselves, pushing out the natives.

The unstated antisemitic assumption: Historically, Jews are not a people or a nation, and today's Jews have no history in the Land of Israel. 

The truth they want their audience not to consider: The Jews have been a people and a nation since Biblical times, a people whose lives remained centered around the Land of Israel in their daily prayers and dreams for millennia. 

When you remove the false antisemitic assumption, you see that the Jews were returning to their ancestral lands, not invading land that was never theirs. That is a narrative that the critics ignore and exclude from discussion. 

The charge is based on antisemitism, and when you remove the antisemitism, the accusation disappears.

"Pinkwashing," "Aidwashing" and others

The charge: Israel only pretends to hold progressive-friendly positions and engages in liberal, progressive activities (like being gay-friendly or sending doctors to disaster areas) in order to distract from and hide its crimes from the world.

The unstated antisemitic assumption: Jews are deceptive and liars.

The truth:: Jews generally tell the truth at least as much as other people, and it would be difficult to lie in an open, free society without serious repercussions. 

These kinds of charges cross the line into conspiracy theories, where the entire nation of Israel is colluding to fool the world and its entire purpose is immoral. The praiseworthy things it does are converted into evil, and the assumptions do not allow any other explanation that does not damn Israeli Jews.


The charge: Israel is an apartheid state that systematically discriminates against non-Jews.

The unstated antisemitic assumption: Zionist Jews are Jewish supremacists who believe that they are better than every non-Jew.

The truth: Israel's entire purpose is to provide a safe haven for Jews who have been persecuted for centuries, but there is no desire nor are there any laws that discriminate against non-Jewish citizens of Israel. Israel, like every other nation, does give legal preference to citizens over non-citizens, but they apply to Jew and Arab alike.

Nearly all examples of discrimination one finds in major human rights reports accusing Israel of apartheid assume that Israel's discrimination against non-citizens is based on Jewish supremacy and not on favoring citizens above non-citizens. Once you remove the false assumptions, and re-read the reports, you see that the "evidence" was based more on the antisemitic assumption than on the truth, and every single example given has an explanation that does not involve Jewish supremacy.

Genocide and other war crimes

The charge: Israel routinely and constantly commits the worst war crimes: genocide, violations of the principles of distinction and proportionality, deliberately attacking civilians and especially women and children as well as protected civilian objects like schools and mosques.

The unstated antisemitic assumption: Israeli Jews are racists who not only don't care about the lives of Arabs, but actively intend to attack them.

The truth: Israeli Jews just want to live in peace and security and do not want war. But when wars are forced upon them, they do everything possible to minimize civilian deaths, prioritizing the lives of their own citizens, as every other nation would do.

All of the war crimes examples rely on mind reading. The  exact same military act can be legal or illegal depending on the mindframe of the military commander; if he or she makes a decision about whether a target is military or civilians, or whether the numbers of civilian victims would be disproportionate to the value of the military target, as long as it is based on the best currently available information and it is in line with what any reasonable military commander would do under similar circumstances, it is legal. 

The crimes of genocide and the others are similarly not based on numbers of victims but on the intent of the attacker (as the Genocide Convention makes clear.) If one assumes malicious intent, then one concludes that the crime was committed. 

Here's where the antisemitism is the most obvious. The competing ideas that (Israeli) Jews are generally moral and that Jews are generally immoral are not a coin flip. They do not require the same levels of proof. The bar is much higher to assume malevolence than to assume an innocent explanation, whether we are talking about civil or military matters. Even giving them equal weight is effectively antisemitic. One needs far more proof to claim that Israeli Jews are engaged collectively in the worst human rights crimes imaginable than to assume that they are normal people in difficult circumstances who are doing the best they can. Dismissing any alternate hypotheses to Jewish evil out of hand is antisemitism. 

The South African case at the ICJ assumed that Jews are malevolent. When Bibi Netanyahu invoked Amalek, the South Africans used that as proof of intent to wipe out Palestinians, when in the very same speech Netanyahu made clear that he was referring to Hamas  Their other evidence of intent that they submitted likewise depended on the assumption of Israeli evil.  If the charge had not rested on antisemitic assumptions, meaning that if the South Africans had believed that Jews are no better or worse than any other people, the case falls apart - because every piece of evidence would be seen to have had a non-malevolent explanation.  

Torture of Gaza detainees

Recently, UNRWA wrote a short report describing alleged torture by in Israeli detention facilities of Gaza detainees. 

I have no idea whether any of these allegations are true. If Israeli authorities are guilty of torture against the law, they should be punished. 

But in this report, and all the media reporting about it, the context and lived reality of Israelis is ignored. Israel's High Court has ruled on torture cases, it imposed limits on what can be done but it also allows exceptions in cases of necessity. Its 1999 ruling prohibited certain specific kinds of torture but admitted that the question is not black and white and also, crucially, discussed the Israeli angst at living with terrorism and the difficulty of ruling when a detainee might have crucial information that can save people's lives.  Its 2017 ruling allowed, after the fact, "moderate physical pressure" to compel a man to admit where there were explosives labs and a suicide belt that was already smuggled to Tel Aviv and waiting to be used. 

None of the NGOs attacking Israel's alleged actions mention that there is a "ticking bomb" in Gaza - every day that the hostages are not found makes their survival less likely. Again, I don't know whether the interrogation techniques cross the line or not, but without that context, Israelis look like monsters instead of people trying desperately to save the lives of innocents who were abducted by Hamas.

The implicit assumption in these reports is that using techniques like sleep deprivation are unquestioningly illegal. It isn't true, and Israel lives in unique circumstances after October 7. Whether there is real torture happening, and whether it is legal, is something for the courts to decide, but the automatic assumption that Israel is guilty when it has a very liberal judicial system that admits the complexities behind these cases  shows that those making the accusations today are not giving Israel or Israelis any benefit of the doubt. 

Which is, again, antisemitic. 

"Sderot Cinema"

Even minor issues reveal unspoken antisemitic assumptions. 

In 2014, news media became obsessed with picture of Israelis from Sderot bringing lawn chairs to a hilltop to watch airstrikes on Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. The stories were framed as Israelis cheering the deaths of Palestinians. 

The unstated antisemitic assumption was that Jews are heartless monsters who cheer the deaths of Palestinians. 

But that is not what was happening. The people watching and cheering had been the primary victims of Gaza rocket attacks, and they were hoping that this war would end their being tethered to living within a fifteen second dash to bomb shelters. They were cheering Israel attacking terror groups that had tormented them, not civilians. 

The unreported truth is what exposes the antisemitic assumption. But the reports were framed in a way to exclude the truth, as they were with all the other examples of implicit antisemitic assumptions that form the basis of much of the world's criticism of Israel. 

One sees this every day. Israel does X, and the only explanation allowed to be discussed is Reason Y which implies inherent Israeli evil. 

The critics don't admit that there may be another side to the story. This is deliberate. 

The dehumanization inherent in these antisemitic assumptions

To a large degree, social science research is qualitative (analyzing non-numerical data to understand people's social realities). This typically involves the researchers interviewing subjects to understand their own perspectives, and as is typically described, together they construct their realities and truths by talking together about them (social constructivism.) 

The social scientists who believe in social constructivism rely heavily on researchers interviewing the subjects from the groups under study, and they interpret their answers to try to define what the subjects' reality is. 

Strikingly, the research that accuses Israel of crimes like apartheid and genocide almost never takes into account how Israelis see reality. 

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, let alone South Africa's government, generally don't  interview Israelis for their perspectives on Palestinians when they write their anti-Israel reports. They don't synthesize different sources. They don't try to understand the way that Israeli Jews think.  If they would follow their own methodologies, they would be forced to accept that Israeli viewpoints are just as valid and reflective of reality as anyone else's - and that would undermine their entire agendas. The bedrock of social science research, treating all subjects as woethy of respect and to be able to describe their lived realities,  is almost completely missing from the major sources of supposed Israeli crimes that are widely cited.

It appears that to these researchers, Israelis are not worthy of being studied with the same respect given to African tribes or inner city single mothers. Instead, they create assumptions of Israeli evil and base their conclusions on those antisemitic assumptions. 

The house of cards

In academia, papers will refer to earlier papers as if those papers were established as true. Many academic papers treat the "settler colonialism" charge as established fact that can be built upon in more papers. We see the same thing in the NGO and media worlds as well, with cross-referencing of the "apartheid" slur as if it is universally accepted. 

Similarly, Nicaragua's application against Germany in the ICJ assumes that Israel is guilty of genocide even before any ICJ ruling on the matter, and further claims that Germany is guilty as well:
In this Application, Nicaragua requests the Court to adjudge and declare that Germany by its conduct with respect to the serious violations of peremptory norms of international law taking place in the OPT (a) has not only failed to fulfil its obligation to prevent the genocide committed and being committed against the Palestinian people – including those in its component part in the Gaza Strip – but has contributed to the commission of genocide in violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (hereinafter “Genocide Convention”);
It's not hard to see that this is the point for many of Israel's critics: they don't intend to report on any reality but to create one where Israel's guilt is not in question.

Just like a house of cards, if the foundation of the accusation is a lie, the entire edifice collapses. Which is why we see so little interest in calling out or testing the underlying assumptions: a lot of people depend on these lies, whether for prestige or funding or their own desire to attack Israel.

Everyone has implicit assumptions about the world. It cannot be avoided. It is apparent, however, that the implicit assumptions used by Israel's critics are one-sided and antisemitic; they create a framework that excludes any argument and any facts that contradict those assumptions. 

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

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