Antisemitism in 3-D
Differentiating legitimate criticism of
Israel from the so-called new anti-Semitism.
By Natan Sharansky
week I took part in a conference on anti-Semitism in Europe. Hosted by the
president of the European Commission Romano Prodi, the conference brought
together leaders from around the world determined to fight the new wave of
anti-Semitism that has engulfed Europe over the last few years.
question is how the sincere intentions of the participants to combat this
evil can be translated into effective action.
experience has convinced me that moral clarity is critical in taking a stand
against evil. Evil cannot be defeated if it cannot be recognized, and the
only way to recognize evil is to draw clear moral lines. Evil thrives when
those lines are blurred, when right and wrong is a matter of opinion rather
than objective truth.
what makes the battle against the so-called new anti-Semitism so difficult.
To the free
world's modern eyes, classical anti-Semitism is easily discernible. If we
watch films that show Jews draining the blood of Gentile children or
plotting to take over the world, most of us would immediately recognize it
movies, produced recently by the government-controlled media in Egypt and
Syria and broadcast via satellite to hundreds of millions of Muslims around
the world, including millions of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, employ
motifs and canards that are familiar to us.
But the new
anti-Semitism is far more subtle. Whereas classical anti-Semitism was seen
as being aimed at the Jewish religion or the Jewish people, the new
anti-Semitism is ostensibly directed against the Jewish state. Since this
anti-Semitism can hide behind the veneer of legitimate criticism of Israel,
it is much more difficult to expose.
over the past year, whenever we have criticized particularly virulent
anti-Israel statements as being rooted in anti-Semitism, the response has
invariably been that we are trying to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel
by deliberately labeling it anti-Semitism.
emerged from this conference was an admission by European leaders themselves
that not all criticism of Israel is legitimate. This recognition was evident
in the remarks of President Romano Prodi, German Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer and other officials.
If not all
criticism is valid, how then do we define the boundary line?
the following test for differentiating legitimate criticism of Israel from
anti-Semitism. The 3D test, as I call it, is not a new one. It merely
applies to the new anti-Semitism the same criteria that for centuries
identified the different dimensions of classical anti-Semitism.
The first D
is the test of demonization.
came in the theological form of a collective accusation of deicide or in the
literary depiction of Shakespeare's Shylock, Jews were demonized for
centuries as the embodiment of evil. Therefore, today we must be wary of
whether the Jewish state is being demonized by having its actions blown out
of all sensible proportion.
example, the comparisons of Israelis to Nazis and of the Palestinian refugee
camps to Auschwitz -- comparisons heard practically every day within the
"enlightened" quarters of Europe -- can only be considered anti-Semitic.
draw such analogies either do not know anything about Nazi Germany or, more
plausibly, are deliberately trying to paint modern-day Israel as the
embodiment of evil.
D is the test of double standards. For thousands of years a clear sign of
anti-Semitism was treating Jews differently than other peoples, from the
discriminatory laws many nations enacted against them to the tendency to
judge their behavior by a different yardstick.
today we must ask whether criticism of Israel is being applied selectively.
In other words, do similar policies by other governments engender the same
criticism, or is there a double standard at work?
anti-Semitism, for instance, when Israel is singled out by the United
Nations for human rights abuses while tried and true abusers like China,
Iran, Cuba, and Syria are ignored.
it is anti-Semitism when Israel's Magen David Adom, alone among the world's
ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross.
The third D
is the test of deligitimization. In the past, anti-Semites tried to deny the
legitimacy of the Jewish religion, the Jewish people, or both. Today, they
are trying to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state, presenting it, among
other things, as the last vestige of colonialism.
criticism of an Israeli policy may not be anti-Semitic, the denial of
Israel's right to exist is always anti-Semitic. If other peoples have a
right to live securely in their homelands, then the Jewish people have a
right to live securely in their homeland.
the 3D test I suggest we recall those 3D movies we enjoyed as children.
Without those special glasses the movie was flat and blurred. But when we
put on our glasses the screen came alive, and we saw everything with perfect
In the same
way, if we do not wear the right glasses, the line between legitimate
criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism will be blurred and we will not be
able to recognize this ancient evil, much less fight it.
But if we
wear the special glasses provided by the 3D test -- if we check whether
Israel is being demonized or deligitimized, or whether a double standard is
being applied to it -- we will always be able to see anti-Semitism clearly.
moral clarity, I have no doubt that our efforts to combat this evil will
prove far more effective.
Aish.com (First published in The