Friday, October 21, 2011

The Pro-Palestinian Cause and Charges of Antisemitism

The Israel-Palestine conflict is quite a complex one. There are two peoples who both lay claim to the same land. The backers of both sides often have a large amount of emotional and political investment in their cause. However, the pro-Palestinian cause is often labeled antisemitic. While we live in a world where antisemitism still exists, to label the entire pro-Palestine cause as antisemitic is ludicrous as it distorts the meaning of the word antisemitic, shows the ignorance of those who label the pro-Palestine cause as such, and ignores the problems that certain Israeli policies have had on the Palestinians.

The word antisemitism is used so much when discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict that the meaning has become distorted, thus a the word itself must be defined. The word means “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group”. [1] Antisemitism is hatred or hostility towards the Jewish people, not being against certain Israeli government policies, thus when the pro-Palestinian cause is labeled antisemitic, the word is being distorted and used to negatively label political opponents rather than actual antisemitism.

Labeling the pro-Palestinian cause antisemitic actually shows the ignorance of the people who engage in such activity. Many define the state of Israel through the lens of it being a homeland for the Jewish people and subsequently see any attack on Israeli policy as an attack on Jews as a group. This is quite foolish as one must separate the government from its people. Criticizing the polices of a government is not criticizing an entire people. One is no more antisemitic for criticizing Israeli government policy than they are anti-American for criticizing American foreign policy.

In accusing those who stand up for Palestinian rights as antisemitic, supporters of Israel show that they cannot separate the Israeli government from the Israeli people and that they cannot see how certain Israeli policies not only harm Palestinians, but are also self-defeating to Israel. One example of this is Israel’s recent plan to build a new settlement consisting of 2,600 homes. [2] This, coupled with the fact that Israel is moving to legalize settlements in the West Bank [3],  is one of Israel’s self-defeating policies. By moving to legalize settlements on what is internationally recognized as Palestinian land, it does not aid in the move towards peace, nor does it make Israel safer. Rather, it exacerbates already strained tensions and emboldens Palestinians to violently resist Israel.

Israel’s policies often have negative effects on ordinary Palestinians. These negative effects on regular Palestinians would fit into the category of externalities, as the main goal is not to hurt ordinary Palestinians, but rather to lessen the power or influence of those who wish to do harm to Israel. Nonetheless, these policies still have negative effects on regular Palestinians. One such example in the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has caused “Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages,” leaving “four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid.” [4] While the reason for the blockade was to end Hamas rocket attacks and to decimate Gaza’s economy [5], the blockade took a major toll on the Gazan economy.

The pro-Palestinian cause is fighting for the people of Palestine. For their right to self-determination, to have a state, and to not be under occupation by the Israelis. That it not antisemitism. That is the right thing to do as it advocates a viable solution for both Israeli and Palestinians.



Forthcoming articles: Rating Agencies and Their Effect On The Global Economy and Israel, Palestine, and A Separate Peace.

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