Opinion

Suddenly It’s Okay to Be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic

When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists.

An anti-Trump sign at the Florida Capitol, Tallahassee, November 16, 2016
Phil Sears / Reuters

All of a sudden it’s not so terrible to be anti-Semitic. Suddenly it’s excusable as long as you hate Muslims and Arabs and “love Israel.” The Jewish and Israeli right has issued a sweeping amnesty to anti-Semitic lovers of Israel – yes, there is such a thing, and they’re en route to taking power in the United States.

So now we know: Not just pornography but also anti-Semitism is a matter of geography and price. Right-wing American anti-Semites are no longer considered anti-Semites.

The definition has been updated: From now on, anti-Semites are only found on the left. Roger Waters, a courageous man of conscience without stain, is an anti-Semite. Steve Bannon, a declared racist and closet anti-Semite who has been appointed chief strategist in the Trump White House, is a friend of Israel.

Jewish and Israeli activists who left no stone unturned in their effort to discover signs of anti-Semitism, who viewed every parking ticket for an American Jew as an act of hate, who moved heaven and earth every time a Jew was robbed or a Jewish gravestone was cracked, are now whitewashing an anti-Semite. Suddenly they’re not convinced we’re talking about that particular disease.

Alan Dershowitz, one of the biggest propagandists in this field, has already come out in defense of the racist Bannon. In a Haaretz piece late last week, Dershowitz wrote that the man whose wife said he didn’t want their children to go to school with Jews isn’t anti-Semitic. “The claim was simply made by his former wife in a judicial proceeding, thus giving it no special weight,” Dershowitz wrote, with specious logic.

After all, Dershowitz’s former research assistant, an Orthodox Jew who later worked with Bannon, assured him that he had seen no signs of anti-Semitism in Bannon. And suddenly that’s enough for Dershowitz. Suddenly it’s possible to separate racism from anti-Semitism.

Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, naturally hastened to join the party. Over the weekend, he said he expects to work with Bannon. And boy, does he expect to work with that racist. After all, they’ll agree about everything: that there’s no Palestinian people, that there’s no occupation, that the settlement of Yitzhar should remain forever, that leftists are traitors.

For Dermer – ambassador of the illegal outpost of Amona, friend of the Tea Party and boycotter of J Street; a man who if the bilateral relationship had been normal would have been declared persona non grata by the United States – the new appointments are like the dawn of a new day.

He’ll feel so at home with Frank Gaffney, another hater of Muslims who’s likely to receive a senior appointment in the new administration; he’ll be so happy working with Bannon. And Mike Huckabee is exactly his cup of tea. Dermer, after all, was given the Freedom Flame Award by the Center for Security Policy, a hate group that proudly flies the flag of Islamophobia.

These racists and their ilk are Israel’s best friends in the United States. They’re joined by the racists of the European right. If you discount the guilt feelings over the Holocaust, they’re the only friends Israel has left. When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists. That ought to have aroused great shame here: Tell us who your friends are and we’ll tell you who you are.

These racists love Israel because it’s carrying out their dreams: to oppress Arabs, to abuse Muslims, to dispossess them, expel them, kill them, demolish their houses, trample their honor. This bunch of trash would so dearly love to behave as we do.

But for now this is only possible in Israel, so it’s the light unto the nations in this field. What happened to the days when Jews in South Africa went to prison with Nelson Mandela? Nowadays Jewish activists in America support the new rulers the racists and anti-Semites.

The Palestinian-American author Susan Abulhawa wrote on Facebook over the weekend: Palestinians are calling white nationalist Bannon an anti-Semite, while AIPAC and Dershowitz think he’s not such a bad guy. What more proof do you need that Zionism is a face of white supremacy, and ultimately antithetical to Judaism?

Last summer, Abulhawa was deported via the Allenby Bridge. And she’s right. The United States and Israel now share the same values – and woe to that sense of shame.