Is Criticizing the Government Make You AntiIsrael or AntiSemite?

  • 1 minute read
  • • by Sharon Koifman
  • • December 2, 2022

C’mon, stop it. You know that I know that you know that I know that you are criticizing in bad faith.

With the exception of hot events like Syria and Ukraine, when was the last time you criticized a foreign government? It’s not like you care about the poverty status or oil prices in Israel.

You care about the policies in relation to the Palestinian people, and those policies have not changed much in both the left-leaning or right-leaning parties. You choose to use Rhetoric created by people trying to destroy Israel, almost ignore all of the crimes committed against the Palestinians by their own leadership, and deny that Jews have any indigenous connection.

Your criticism clearly shows that you are not concerned with Israelis’ rights to defend themselves.

There is nothing wrong with criticism, but there is clearly more to your rhetoric than just innocent criticisms of a democratic government.

This is an unusual challenge that often comes with more sophisticated Haters who no longer want to claim to be Anti-Semitic or even Anti-Zionists.

Suddenly, it is no longer a discussion about hating anyone but simply criticizing the government’s policies or just offering some criticism. It’s a pretty innocent political discussion.

Yet there are a few challenges with this “so-called criticism.”

First of all, we need to question who is the person who is criticizing. If you are not a Jew or Palestinian and have no stakes in Israel, why are you criticizing Israel?

I’m not saying that as a foreigner, you don’t get to say your opinion, but there simply seems to be a disproportionate amount of opinions about “the Israeli government” rather than, let’s say, Mauritania government, who has actually enslaved people.

Actually, most of the criticism I hear from people and the media, relates to the local country where the person is from, Israel and the US. Now, I understand the US because it is the biggest world power. But, as I wrote in the article “Is Anti-Semitism Anti-Zionism?, I asked the question, “with all the issues across the world, including the Palestinian leadership itself, why do we have to go out of our way to pick on the only Jewish state?”.

But let’s say you do have a stake in the topic, whether you are a Jew or an Arab. Maybe you have a family in the region, or maybe you are one of those truly rare people who is aware of all world issues and still thinks Israel is a worthy topic to discuss. Finding out if criticizing the government makes you Anti-Israel is a bit tougher to analyze, and we will need to break it down. So here are some rules to help you.

  1. If you criticize the Israeli government significantly more than the incredibly evil and oppressive Palestinian leadership, UNRWA, Hamas, Iran, and Qatar, who are clearly responsible for the Palestinian suffering. Yes, you are Anti-Israel.
  2. If you are repeating rhetorics that were created by the Anti-Israel Marketing Machine, whether Apartheid, Genocide, Neo Colonialist, Imperialist, etc… You are not critical of the government. You are Anti-Israel
  3. If you use the term occupation indiscriminately, without actually clarifying what it means, considering that for most haters, occupation means all of Israel, you are not critical of the government. You are simply Anti-Israel. (note. I feel that the term occupation, in general, is Anti-Israel, but I can understand that it is at least an open debate regarding the Disputed Territories.)
  4. If you deny the indigenous connection of Jews to Israel with 3300 years of continuous active presence and 1300 years of being the majority. You are not criticizing Israel. You are promoting Anti-Semitism.
  5. If you have concerns with how Israelis treat Palestinians, but you can’t suggest alternatives that will keep Israelis safe and still have some kind of autonomy on their land. You are not criticizing the government. You are sacrificing Jewish lives.
  6. If you mention disproportionate forces but don’t offer alternatives to how Israel should protect itself from indiscriminate missiles against its country. You are sacrificing Jewish lives.
  7. If you are not concerned about poverty in Israel and the price of groceries, don’t act like you really have any concern for Israel. You are strictly concerned with the conflict.
  8. Although if you are concerned with issues like poverty and the price of groceries in Israel but only nitpick when the government of Israel or Israelis do something bad. You are Anti-Israel.
  9. If the Israeli government can never do right, whether it comes from the left or right, you are not criticizing the government. You hate Israel. The reality is that while the left and right governments disagree on so much, when it comes to the policies about the conflict, it is all fairly similar.  2-3 of the biggest parties are usually voted in by the mass majority of Israelis who share similar opinions about the conflict.

That’s the summary rule of thumb: If the critic denies Israel the right to defend itself and the right to exist in its indigenous homeland while using rhetorics of people and organizations that want to commit the next genocide, this is no longer criticism but straightforward Anti-Zionism.

So if you go through all these rules, you will find that the majority of so-called critics of Israel are simply haters in disguise or ignorantly influenced by Hater in Disguise. If you don’t know if the person fits the mold, try asking the critic some of the questions.

Yet the truth is, it’s not always a perfect science to pinpoint or to prove what makes a person a full fledge hater instead of a simple critic. It’s not always easy to remember these rules or implement the rule of thumb properly. Yet we see that the haters are getting more sophisticated. They spew bullshit lines like the one we mention here that criticize the government and not the people. Or they are not Anti-Semites, they simply care about the Palestinians. But as an intuiti

And this is what I want to explore a bit deeper, the argument in bad faith.

A few years ago, I saw a mini-documentary on NBC news about transgender athletes.

I know, forgive me. Dealing with Israeli politics is complicated enough. There is no need to bring transgender rights into the mix. Yet, it was simply the best example I could find.

So in Connecticut, a high school track and field runner Selena Soule filed a lawsuit against the city because she needed to compete with transgender Female athletes Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, that dominated the sport in her school and pushed her out of the top rankings.

This would prevent her from getting better scholarships and competing on a higher level. The arguments that she brought to the table are truly thought-provoking. I don’t want to get too deep into it because it is beyond our scope, but no matter what side you are on the debate, it’s hard not to sympathize with all three athletes.

Yet something in the middle of the documentary triggered me in the wrong way when they started interviewing Selena’s lawyer, Christina Holcomb. While Mrs. Holcomb was presenting the case for Selena, she was also part of an organization called Alliance Defending Freedom.

With a quick Google research, you will find that this is a Christian religious group. Selena’s lawyer was not a human rights lawyer, and she was not a champion of women’s rights. She was representing a church and all the standard politics that come with that: Pro-life advocacies, anti-LGBTQIA+ rights and the assumption that Marriages should only be between men and women.

For Christina Holcomb and her team, being involved in this case was not about protecting the rights of women in sport, it was about reducing transgender rights wherever they could.

This is what I call arguing in bad faith and one of the challenges with some great debaters. They do a great job putting holes in their opponent’s arguments, even sometimes making some real legit points. Yet as the opponent, you have the uncomfortable feeling that this is about much more than just this specific point, but you don’t always have the skills to point it out.

Sometimes we talk to people who can out-debate circles around us, but we know they are full of shit. Or even more unfortunate is dealing with people who actually are not haters but have been influenced by people who argue in bad faith.

If you are talking to that type of person and not equipped with a proper response, it is ok to say:

“Look, you are a great debater, and I don’t have the tools, but you clearly don’t care about Israel or the Palestinians for that matter. You disproportionately and unconditionally attack the Israeli government, and any person with common sense can see that you are arguing in bad faith against Israel. There is also a possibility that a person has influenced you in bad faith. One for sure, you are not just criticizing the government, you are promoting hate against Israel. Unlike some misconceptions, you don’t always have to prove something that is pretty obvious in front of you and you can tell the person in front of you “that while you can’t prove it is pretty clear from what you have to say.” If you can feel the bad faith, other people that are listening, can feel it too.  Just simply pointing it out reaffirms that small voice in their head.

Unfortunately, the haters are getting more and more sophisticated, and that, unfortunately, comes to most Human Rights issues across the world not just Israel and Palestine. But sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to use some intuition and common sense to call them on their bullshit.

Coming soon…

Coming soon…

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