Can something be anti-Semitic and not anti-Semitic at the same time? — Some points about anti-Jewish sentiments and the British left

While most forms of anti-Jewish sentiments and behaviours are undebatable, at the heart of the ‘Anti Semitism on the Left’ controversy is the complex question of whether criticism of Israel or Zionism is charged by, and/or charges, anti-Jewish sentiments. As Israeli, British and Jew-ish, I touch on this complexity, while warning comrades and Jews of three effects of the debate.

First, that the outcry of these issues underestimates or distracts others from the more dangerous and immediate racism (against Jews and others) in the Right, due to being played by (or playing into) the ‘balancing’ mainstream media tendencies.

Second, from the way in which relatively-disproportionate coverage of anti-Jewish racism, in comparison to more urgent, broad and violent forms of British and European racism, is itself racist, too (e.g. Windrush, Grenfell, Acid attacks, drowning refugees, selling arms, etc.).

And, third, of avoiding the type of victimhood that this allows, one which makes excuses for racist practices and tendencies in Israel, and ignores our past mistakes of not doing enough to tackle them. We must therefore allow, even encourage, criticism and accountability of Israel/Zionism.

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4 Responses to Can something be anti-Semitic and not anti-Semitic at the same time? — Some points about anti-Jewish sentiments and the British left

  1. yosefhandal says:

    Agree. Will you be writing on the Israeli context of the nation-state basic law? Would be interesting to learn about the specific domestic political context that this bill was passed, and if it was a political “win” for the ruling party with regards to upcoming elections. I wrote about the bill here:

  2. ponetium says:

    I live in Israel and am immigrant from former USSR, so I know a bit about experiencing institutional racism. I feel like “antisemitism” is used here to ignore any kind of criticism. When everything negative is antisemitism, it is easy to ignore the criticism. Growing up with “everyone hates the Jews” is so toxic, and it is taught in schools.

    • Eyal says:

      True. But in Israel antisemitism is nearly inexistent. I wrote with the UK in mind, where anti-Semitic Jewish sentiment is not institutional.

    • Eyal says:

      But I agree that it is often. Yet, as I demonstrated, is more complex.

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