Just What Is a 'Jew-washer', Anyway?

Yitzhak Santis and Gerald M. Steinberg brought the term mainstream in the July issue of the New York Jewish Week, but is it accurate?

In the July 24 issue of the New York Jewish Week, you’ll find an article by Yitzhak Santis and Gerald M. Steinberg that begins:

“At the Pittsburgh General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) earlier this month, a motion to adopt a boycott of three companies for doing business with Israel was hotly debated and narrowly defeated. At this Christian gathering, a group of ‘young Jewish activists’ provided important ‘testimony’ supporting the motion to isolate and demonize Israel. These were the ‘Jew-washers’ — very visible actors in many such political attacks on Israel, particularly in Christian frameworks.”

Santis and Steinberg state clearly what, for them, a “Jew-washer” is, but where in the world does this odd term come from? What does it have to do with being an anti-Israel Jewish activist in a Christian framework? And just what are you washing when you “Jew-wash,” anyway?