The war in Gaza has quieted down, and the effectiveness of Operation Protective Edge is being debated in the Israeli media. Unfortunately, if history is to be any guide, the quiet will not last and the debate will rage on.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is probably the most contentious and complex issue of our time. However, the range of debate here in America is disappointingly narrow and often driven by raw emotion.
In Israel, one is able to criticize Israel, but not here in America. Some readers will scan to the bottom of this letter and correctly conclude from my last name that I am not Jewish and deem my opinion on this matter improper. It is silently assumed that Americans of non-Jewish decent are to uncritically support Israel or keep silent. To breach this credo is to venture into dangerous territory and possibly subject oneself to allegations of anti-Semitism.
Some passionate supporters of Israel erroneously conflate legitimate criticism of Israeli policy in the occupied territories with anti-Semitism. Jews who are critical of Israel are effectively marginalized as well by being branded “self-hating.” The combined effect of this line of thinking is an intellectual Iron Dome where all incoming criticisms of Israel are immediately shot down via argumentum ad hominem.
In essence, critics of Israeli policy will have their character assassinated rather than their arguments listened to and refuted based on their merit. It is ironic that some of the staunchest non-Jewish supporters of Israel routinely complain about being written off as racist for critiquing President Obama. Perhaps they ought to look in the mirror.
The persecution of the Jewish people has a long history, and anti-Semitism is a very real menace that must be fought. There are those who will denounce Israel at every turn out of a bigoted ideology. However, let’s not unfairly malign every person with a contrary opinion on Israeli policy.
As Americans — the leading benefactors of Israel — we all have a seat at the table to this debate.