EDITORIAL

Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic

May 6, 2018 — Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) at a London rally protesting a visit by Israel's prime minister. PHOTO: Alisdare Hickson
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When outspoken Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called attention to Zionist influence on Congress, the frenzy of right-wing and liberal politicians and media was something to behold — good and bad. Bad, because a chorus of voices absurdly charged her and anybody else critical of Israel with being anti-Semitic and “un-American.” And good, because a few fresh congressional voices — women of color notably — dared to defend Palestinians’ right to life, land and liberty.

Let’s be clear, though. First, anti-Semitism is real, and it is a growing scourge that must be fought. And second, the Zionist lobby in the U.S. has weight but it does not pull the strings in the unequal U.S.-Israeli relationship.

To appease the riled mob, House Democrats passed a resolution that condemns many forms of bigotry, including Islamophobia for the first time. But nowhere is mentioned the rights of Palestinians.

Israeli soldiers killed 190 unarmed protesters in 2018 during the Great March of Return — many of them teenagers and young children — and injured many thousands more. Isreali snipers deliberately targeted children, people with disabilities, medics, and journalists. The U.S. assists in such repression with $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel.

Oh yes. It is legitimate and necessary to condemn the atrocities of both Israel and the U.S. against oppressed populations, dissenters, and religious minorities.

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