An Open Letter to the Anti-Israel Left

by Julie Nathan

10th February 2016

This letter is addressed to that small fraction of the political Left which not only criticises Israeli government policies or practices but also demonises and denigrates Israel at every opportunity and thus denies its legitimacy.

We see you, we hear you, day after day, making your ignorant, bigoted and malicious accusations against Jews and Israel. You claim to be speaking for human rights and for justice, but your words and actions betray you. You are haters, liars and bullies.

You presume to define our Jewish identity to suit your own sensibilities and convenience. You assert that Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism. You say we are only a religious group and deny our 3,500 year old history as both a national and a faith community. In short, you presume to tell us who we are – a liberty you would not dare to take with any other group – and you are wrong.

You say you have nothing against Jews. You say you are only against Zionists. You categorise us into “good Jews” who oppose Israel and “bad Jews” who support Israel. This is your cynical, sinister way of offering acceptance only to those Jews who are so lacking in knowledge or moral fibre that they are willing to embrace your hollow caricature of what it means to be Jewish. You are against the millions of Jews, the overwhelming majority, who are proudly Jewish and support Israel’s right to exist as the State of the Jewish people.

You are guilty of ignoring, minimising and obfuscating the antisemitism within your ranks. You claim to be anti-racists but will not condemn the all too obvious anti-Jewish racism which is manifested every day by adherents of the anti-Israel movement – on websites, on social media, at demonstrations, in public lectures, talks and speeches. When this antisemitism is exposed, you go into hysterical denial, accusing those who expose the ugly anti-Jewish racism you have helped to spawn of trying to stifle public criticism of Israel. As if there is any shortage of public criticism of Israel.

When Jews are attacked or murdered in Istanbul, Mumbai, Toulouse, Paris, and elsewhere, you blame the victims – you say “Israel is the cause of antisemitism”. You say “If Israel behaved better, then Jews throughout the world would not be attacked.” Yet you would not dream of blaming the victim for any other form of racism or racially-motivated violence.

When Jews are murdered in Israel, you defend it, excuse it, minimise it and at times condone it. You demonise Israeli Jews. You say they are “occupiers, oppressors”, whether they live in a remote outpost on the West Bank or in Tel Aviv. These Jews, you claim, are “settlers” who steal Arab land. You say all of Israel is Arab land. You cry: “Resist!” You give succour and encouragement to those who murder Jews.

You say “Israel is illegitimate. Israel must go.” You say “the Jewish state has no right to exist.” The only state in the world you say must be destroyed is the one and only Jewish state. The right you claim for all other peoples, that of national self-determination, you deny to the Jewish people.

You call Jewish Israelis “invaders, occupiers, colonialists, and settlers”, even though 80% of them are native born. You call them a “western implant to control the Middle East.” You tell them to “go back” to Poland and Germany – the graveyard of our people. Your true message is abundantly clear.

You talk of indigenous rights, yet deny the fact that the Jewish people, and our Hebrew language, culture and religion, are indigenous to the land of Israel. You ignore the fact that Jews have continuously lived in the land of Israel for 3,500 years. You ignore our national, religious, and cultural origins in, and continuing connections to, the land of Israel.

You ignore or belittle Jewish concerns. You ignore the fact that for millennia Jews were ostracised and oppressed, persecuted and massacred, a powerless people, a numerically small people, existing at the whim of popes, caliphs and kings, and the mobs of the host society. You expect us to forget what it is like to be stateless pariahs, an alien nation in the midst of other nations. You demand that we become stateless once again.

You say you are not anti-Jewish, only anti-Israel. Yet the false accusations you make against Israel are the same as those previously made against Jews. You say that Israel and “the Zionists” control the banks, the politicians, the media; that they lust after Palestinian/gentile blood, and are satanic in every way. Within the rubric of “anti-Zionism”, you have repackaged and redistributed every collective, racist lie that was ever told about Jews.

You call us Nazis. You equate the Jewish Star of David with the Nazi swastika. You equate Zionism with Nazism. You equate Jewish Israel with Nazi Germany. You equate us with the murderers of our people. You lie and demonise. You do not polemicise against us for the sake of the truth. The truth does not interest you. You say these things deliberately in order to re-traumatise us. Knowing that we are still haunted by the genocide perpetrated against our people more than 70 years ago, you implicitly call for another genocide against us by equating us with the perpetrators.

Your words mean: “as Nazi Germany was destroyed, so too it is morally just to destroy Israel.” Your words say: “if the Israelis and Zionists are so evil, then maybe Hitler had good grounds for committing genocide against the Jews.” Your words say: “if Hitler had succeeded in wiping out the Jews, then there would be no Israel.” Your words say: “in retrospect, Hitler was doing the world a favour.” The murder of six million Jews in Europe was not enough to satisfy your blind, self-righteous hatred. You are preparing the way for the murder of the six million Jews in Israel.

You call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until Israel bends to your demands and self-destructs. You lie when you say that BDS is only about Palestinian rights and justice, knowing full well that the BDS movement aims at eliminating the Jewish state. You do not care about Palestinian Arabs when their fellow Arabs oppress or kill them. Only when you can blame Israel do you speak up. Of all the countries in the world, you only target Israel for boycotts, divestment and destruction.

For you it is an inconvenient truth that Israel is a liberal democracy with equal rights for all, including LGBT people, who are free to live as they choose. You ignore that in neighbouring countries, gays are hung on cranes or thrown off buildings. You ignore that planting trees in Israel is an age old Jewish commitment to reinvigorating the barren land. So, in the depths of your moral and intellectual bankruptcy, you accuse Israel of “pink-washing” and “green-washing”. You twist and distort every good thing about Israel. To you, demonising Israel is more important than gay rights or the environment.

We see you, we hear you, day after day. Your lies about Jews and Israel is a rehash of the false accusations against the Jewish people and Jewish religion in previous centuries. The terminology has changed, but the sentiment, the actions, and the venom, remain the same. You come from the same mould as the Pharoahs, Crusaders, Inquisitors, Almohads, communists, fascists, Nazis, and Islamists. You are the contemporary standard-bearers of a long historical line of prejudice, envy and hate. Hang your heads in shame.

Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.