Why Israel Receives Such Disproportionate World Attention and Criticism

Israeli sovereignty and military power means Jews are refusing to play the role assigned to them by Christian, Marxist, and Islamic ideologies

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Why does Israel attract so much attention and criticism relative to other states involved in much bloodier conflicts? For a long time, I was in the camp that it wasn't primarily related to antisemitism, but to leftist anticolonialist ideology, hatred of the U.S. by proxy, and so on. While such things are factors, I've changed my mind about the importance of the role that Israel as a state of the Jews plays in the attention Israel gets, and I wrote a blog post for the Times of Israel about it.

In short, people are fascinated by Jews, after two thousand years of exile and oppression, having sovereignty and wielding collective military power. Many people are enthralled by it, which accounts for some of the attention. But many more around the world, especially in the Christian and Muslim world, are repulsed by it, for reasons that are ultimately antisemitic.

The relevant antisemitism is rarely Nazi-like right-wing antisemitism. Rather, it's expecting Jews to behave in ways that conform to ideological expectations with roots in Christianity, Islam, and Marxism. As explained in the Times of Israel piece, the relevant ideologies have something in common, which is that they can't abide Jews having a sovereign, militarily powerful state in Israel.

One point worth I thought I would highlight here: while Israel-haters like to go on and on about Israeli "hasbara" (public diplomacy, less charitably interpreted as propaganda), the ideologies I discuss are products in large part of much more intensive state-sponsored antisemitic campaigns run over the decades by the Vatican, Czarist Russia, Nazi Germany, the USSR, and various Arab and Muslim states. The USSR's antisemitic propaganda campaign against Israel has had especially dramatic influence. Young leftists today repeat slogans from Soviet propaganda organs Izvestia and Pravda of fifty years ago without even being aware of their provenance.

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  1. People need scapegoats to deflect their own inadequacies. Jews have been a great target for scapegoating over the years because they didn’t conform to prevailing social norms.

    1. It is important for the Jews to unflinchingly look at all the factors in the Holocaust. One was weakness. The reply would be, Jews against the Wermacht is ridiculous. The Jews deciding to put up a tiny resistance did very well against this bloated, bureaucratic military.

      Weakness does not require going against the armed forces. I would not even have bothered assassinating the Nazi hiaerchy. They were mere employees and agents of the 20 oligarchic families.

      The Jews should have brought Biblical justice to those 20 families, down to the last kitten, in 1933. The Nazis announced their intentions, and were not lying. They hanged dozens of high Nazi officials. The real leadership of Germany was so powerful, they were immunized from their crimes against humanity. Not only immune, but enriched. They were recruited by the Allies to rebuild the German economy. The Nazi hunters spent decades going after camp guards. None went after these families. One family invested $5000 in the Nazi election campaign, and got millions in government contracts from the Nazi regime. Every belief of the Nazi Party was their belief.

      This would be a new model for war. Stop killing millions of peasants and working people. They just want to go home, and to take care of their families. Kill the oligarchs and their entire families. End the conflict in days. To deter.

      1. You could say, the past. Heck no, the dumbass lawyer profession killed Osama Bin Laden, a figurehead. The oligarchs who conceived and financed 911, profited by shorting airlines, are still alive, enjoying their harems, in their beautiful palaces, lawyer dumbasses. I cannot stand the stupidity of this occupation.

        1. I enjoy the Left support of Islam. It is a relion stuck in 700 AD, with the norms of that time.

          The Catechism is the basis of the Common Law. It would be great to replace it the Sharia. 90% of it is really good.

    2. Behar,
      Stop talking to yourself

  2. Unsolved Mysteries. Why do Jews vote for the Democrat Party, the mortal enemy of Israel?

    One explanation is that the Jews of NYC vote for the Democrat Party, as is the cultural norm in that shithole. The Jews of Florida live in Miami, another Democrat shithole. One cannot overcome one’s local culture, no matter how self -defeating and threatening to the existence of Israel. The small Jewish population there could have changed the election of 2000, with the 537 vote margin of Florida.

    One feature of high density cities is rent seeking. One has to hire people to do the smallest task to generate jobs for worthless parasites. So fixing your own toilet deprives a union member of a living, and the culture frowns on it. Thus, they vote for the rent seeking, big government Democrat Party.

  3. I’m not an Israel hater, though I’m also not entirely convinced the US has a dog in that fight. I think far more fault goes to the Arabs than the Jews, and I would not want Israel to disappear.

    All that said, I think one major reason Israel is singled out is that Judaism holds itself out as a religion of treating people well rather than badly. If, say, Saudi Arabia treats its subjects and the people of other nations badly, well, Saudi Arabia never claimed to be a bastion of human rights. It’s what one expects from Saudi Arabia, so when Saudi Arabia lives down to expectations, people shrug and say that’s just Saudi Arabia being Saudi Arabia.

    It’s different when you have a country that claims to be founded on principles of human rights. It’s the same dynamic as Republicans claiming to be the party of traditional family values, only to then have one GOP politician after another exposed as having the sexual mores of an alley cat. Had the GOP not claimed to be the party of traditional family values, no one would care. So it’s the hypocrisy, rather than the actual deeds.

    Now, all that said, I’m really not sure what Israel can do differently. It really is surrounded by other countries that want to destroy it, and it really is subject to terrorist attack after terrorist attack.

    1. Krykry. You are a Democrat, and a mortal enemy of Israel. You should be on a Mossad list.

      1. David: you are mentally ill. Get help.

        1. Stale KGB response, typical of Commies.

          1. The KGB, like a broken clock, was occasionally right. Get help.

            1. Get a brain for a new response. I forget. Not a lawyer. Have a blessed day, Sir.

        2. K_2,
          Behar is beyond help, better to mute him.

    2. “Judaism holds itself out as a religion of treating people well rather than badly.” Really not any more than Christianity or Islam. It’s more, as I discuss in my piece, that Muslim and Christian theology and culture expects Jews to be victims (and some Jews themselves have embraced victimhood as an ideal, though not many in Israel).

    3. “All that said, I think one major reason Israel is singled out is that Judaism holds itself out as a religion of treating people well rather than badly. If, say, Saudi Arabia treats its subjects and the people of other nations badly, well, Saudi Arabia never claimed to be a bastion of human rights. It’s what one expects from Saudi Arabia, so when Saudi Arabia lives down to expectations, people shrug and say that’s just Saudi Arabia being Saudi Arabia.”

      You are probably correct in many cases. But my rejoinder to such a person is, that means all you really care about it exposing supposed hypocrisy, not human rights. The worst human rights abusers on the planet get a pass, because, “heck what do you expect of them anyway?”

      1. I don’t disagree with you, and there are also lots and lots of other moving parts. We are as gentle with Saudi Arabia as we are because we need their oil; if SA had no oil we’d have taken a much harder line. And if Cuba had oil, we’d have been best friends with them for decades already. And, if not for the Evangelical Christian lobby, we probably wouldn’t care much about Israel. These things tend to be inter-connected.

        But I think hypocrisy, real or perceived is a big part of it too. It’s really tough for Israel to claim to be a liberal democracy with Western democratic values while it’s systematically destroying the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinians. And the political reality may be that Israel has no real choice; as I said earlier, it really is surrounded by people who want to destroy it.

        1. It’s really tough for Israel to claim to be a liberal democracy with Western democratic values while it’s systematically destroying the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinians.

          I’d like you to propose what Israel should do insteadt. The PLO wants to create martyrs & continue the “struggle”. They do not seem interested in improving the quality of life for Palestinians. If the PLO were to reverse that (start working to improve their situation and stop attacking) do you think Israel would continue as is? Or do you think Israel would say “How can we help you and simultaneously improve our own security situation?”

          And the political reality may be that Israel has no real choice; as I said earlier, it really is surrounded by people who want to destroy it.

          That may have been true 50 years ago. Today, they have a large number of allies in the region. Jordan, Egypt, UAE & Bahrain now with the Abraham Accords, and more. At this point, I think Israels only real enemies are Iran Ayatollahs, the PLO, and some smaller groups.

          1. Israel could simply pull back to the 1967 borders + Jerusalem, build a wall, and treat Palestine as an enemy state until Palestine agrees to a peace deal and controls the attacks.

            People are really dense about this, but Israel’s problem is the settlements. There’s a significant percentage (though far from a majority) of Israel’s population which has a dream where Israel takes over Palestine and/or most of Palestine and annexes it, and the Palestinians are either driven out entirely or subjugated under Israel’s will. And those people have power in Israel’s multi-party electoral system. So Israel- including left wing as well as right wing governments- has coddled those people and expanded settlements. And Israel has made a bunch of arguments about how the settlement issue is just about “Jews wanting to live everywhere”, when the whole world understands that the ultimate end of the project is to put “facts on the ground” to prevent the ceding of territory to the Palestinians.

            And because of that, Israel can’t just impose a defensive strategy, because it has to protect all those Jews living out there in the West Bank. Which means Israel has to impose a bunch of rules and restrictions and internal borders, has to have two sets of rules for Jews and Arabs, and has to have a substantial military presence out there to prevent terrorism.

            That’s the problem. That’s why Israel gets so much criticism. Because it’s perfectly obvious that Israel has a rich government that can say to the settlers “you either move back to Israel proper so we can get out of the West Bank, and we will resettle you here, or you are on your own out there”, and then protect all of its citizens. But Israel doesn’t want to do that because of its internal politics and extremist groups.

            Having said that, what complicates it all is anti-semitism. Israel really is held to double standards, and there’s a ton of hateful anti-Jewish rhetoric directed at it. And you have to be able to call people on that, no matter what one thinks of Israel’s settlement policy.

            1. Israel did that with Gaza. How did that work out for Israel?

              1. Actually pretty well. There are occasional rocket and tunnel attacks, but (1) nobody had any illusions that nobody was going to try to launch attacks from Gaza, (2) Iron Dome works really well, and (3) Israel has found tunnels and shut them down.

                1. “There are occasional rocket and tunnel attacks”

                  Which kill Israeli citizens and children……..Between 2000 and 2010, Palestinian attacks have killed more than 1000 Israelis. In a population of just 8 million. That would be like terrorist attacks killing more than 40,000 Americans, if it was population proportional. Think about it like 9/11….ten times in a row.

                  What do you think the US would do to a country that had that level of terrorist attacks upon it? Not just once…not just twice…but 9-11 style attacks ten different times in ten years.

                  1. 1. Palestinian attacks from where?

                    2. The “proportional deaths” argument that Israel sometimes makes is unmitigated dishonest BS. Really, it’s contemptible.

                    1,000 people dead is terrible. But it’s 1,000 people. It’s not 40,000. And it is a lie to turn it into 40,000- a lie that is designed to make the Palestinians a lot worse than they are.

                    If there was a village with 10 people in it, and one of them died, you can’t say “that’s like 30 million Americans dying”. Because it isn’t. That would be a lie.

                    1. “1. Palestinian attacks from where?”
                      So what? You actually think that is an excuse. If you do, you’re not worth listening to.

                    2. Palestinian attacks from Gaza.
                      Per capita comparisons are the norm when comparing nearly everything- from effectiveness in combating COVID-19 to economic well being.

                    3. The point was about security after the Gaza pullout. How many Israelis have actually been killed by Gaza-based terrorists since the pullout?

                2. Apart from what others here have posted, has Israel gotten any credit for its pullback? In all of the actions it has taken in Gaza since then, has anyone said, “Gee, they pulled back completely, even forcibly removed theie own settlers, so the Palestinians there have only Hamas to blame for their plight?”

                  Or have they simply received more condemnation and smears?

                  You know the answer. Which undercuts your thesis. If Israel did what you suggest, it would have Gaza on steroids, and every time Israel would “treat Palestine as an enemy state” as you say, it would simply be villfied more.

                  I am a great believer in empiricism. The land-for-peace formula you advocate has been proven to be an empirical failure. That intelligent people still espouse it just goes to prove how easily intelligent people are mislead by their own perceived cleverness, and by groupthink.

                  1. I given them credit for the Gaza pullback.

                    But the settlements are indefensible, so its understandable why many people don’t give them credit for it.

                3. The Iron Dome is far from working really well.

                  1. Israelis say it is, and I believe them.

            2. Israel could simply pull back to the 1967 borders + Jerusalem, build a wall, and treat Palestine as an enemy state until Palestine agrees to a peace deal and controls the attacks.

              How about any concession by Israel must be preceded by guarantees of peace and an agreement that Israel has a right to exist? What’s the rationale for giving up bargaining chips for nothing?

              1. How about any concession by Israel must be preceded by guarantees of peace and an agreement that Israel has a right to exist?

                That makes zero sense, because the “concession” you are talking about is Israel not doing what it should have never been doing in the first place.

                1. It is fine that you are a Hamas, Iranian apologist. Just admiit is outright.

                  1. That is a contemptible libel, and you are a complete immoral douchebag for throwing that accusation at a total stranger.

                2. That makes zero sense, because the “concession” you are talking about is Israel not doing what it should have never been doing in the first place.

                  Israel was being shelled from the Golan Heights and in order to stop this they conquered the Golan Heights. Now you would say that it makes zero sense to refuse to relinquish the Golan Heights to people who refuse to recognize their right to exist?

                  Your position seems to be that Israel should be willing to return to the 1967 borders without guarantees of peace and a statement by their enemies acknowledging their right to exist, and that refusing to give up their negotiating leverage until these things have been guaranteed to them makes zero sense. I don’t think that this is a strategy that you follow in your own person negotiations.

                  1. There’s a distinction between “not returning” territory for security purposes and settling it.

                    If Israel pulled out all the settlements but left the walls and barriers, I might defend your point. But Israel COMPROMISES its security by putting settlers out there, and it does it for religious and political reasons, not security reasons.

                    1. What fault do you find with the argument that Israeli settlements do not violate international law?

                3. That makes zero sense, because the “concession” you are talking about is Israel not doing what it should have never been doing in the first place.

                  Ending longstanding conflicts often turns on both parties conceding positions they never should have taken in the first place.

                  You’re right. Israel shouldn’t have built the settlements. Neither should Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have declared and maintained a state of war against Israel, refusing to recognize its existence, and committing themselves to its destruction for more than seventy years. Nor should some of those countries have been reliable state sponsors of terrorism against a fellow UN member state.

                  What’s wrong with Israel conditioning its concessions on reciprocal concessions of positions adopted and actions taken with as little and often less moral justification as Israel’s?

                  1. Neither should Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have declared and maintained a state of war against Israel, refusing to recognize its existence, and committing themselves to its destruction for more than seventy years.

                    Huh? A lot of those countries haven’t even existed for 70 years. When, I would like to know, did Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Malaysia, or the Sudan declare war on Israel?

                    (I know for a fact that Iran hasn’t committed itself to the destruction of Israel for over 70 years, because it actually had diplomatic relations with Israel up until the Islamic Revolution of 1979.)

                    1. Sudan actively participated in the 1948 war against Israel, sending six infantry companies to join the Egyptian invasion force.
                      During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Algeria sent an expeditionary force to fight Israel, including 59 aircraft (Mig-21, Mig-17, Su-7), an infantry platoon and an armored brigade (with an estimated 19 artillery weapons).
                      These things are easily Googled, take the time to educate yourself.

                    2. I know for a fact that Iran hasn’t committed itself to the destruction of Israel for over 70 years

                      And how do you understand the statements they have made regarding the eradication of Israel?

                  2. “A lot of those countries haven’t even existed for 70 years.”

                    Pardon me. All currently in a declared state of war. Some for more than 70 years.

                    Happy?

            3. You’re essentially demanding Israel submit to a suicide pact. You’re not stupid so I have to assume you know that so that must be the point – genocide but you can pretend your hands are clean.

              1. Nope. I think the settlements are the suicide pact. They are eventually going to end in a very bad way for Israel as a Jewish Democratic state, and their presence has already led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Israelis.

                1. ” their presence has already led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Israelis.”
                  How about an authoritative citation?

                  1. It’s pretty obvious that the settlements entangle Israel in the West Bank in ways that create vulnerabilities, as well as inflaming and recruiting people into anti-Israel terrorism.

                    1. anti-israeli terrorism predates settlements by several decades.

            4. Disproportionate Issues with Israel did not begin in 1967, and violence and antisemitism against native Jews well predated 1948.

              Certain groups are now even trying to mainstream total eliminationist rhetoric like “from the River to the Sea”.

              1. Quite true. But in 2021 the problem is settlements.

                1. [I]n 2021 the problem is settlements.

                  Here’s the caption from an old MAD magazine cartoon titled “2008 Olympics”:
                  The Israeli long-jump team was unable to practice, after Hamas claimed sovereignty over the little pit of sand the jumpers land in.

                  1. Who the heck cares what Hamas claims? Israel’s settlement policy is Israel’s problem.

                    1. The people facing near-daily rocket fire from Hamas care a great deal. You , living 6000 miles away, don’t care.

                    2. Who cares what Hamas claims? Everyone who wants peace should care. Hamas is the popular representatives of about 40% of local Palestinians, and would probably win a free and fair election over the other 60% if the PA ever allowed one to be held. And Hamas continues to stand for, not just Islamic control over Israel, but genocide of the Jews. That can’t just be hand-waved away. The PA talks a good game, but they have neither the authority nor the power to speak for Palestinians as a whole.

                      I believe allowing and validating the settlements was/is an immoral and self-destructive blunder. But settlements or no, Israel has yet to have a partner any sane country would rely on to keep any negotiated peace.

            5. I think if you want Israel to pull back to the 1967 borders (not sure why that one in particular) it’s going to be dependent on peace with PLO. At this point, it’s a bargaining chip to hold. It’s not smart to give away something of value for nothing in return. In fact, it might even encourage the PLO to continue. Now, as some part of a second phase? That might have a chance.

              Can you explain or provide info on a “two sets of rules for Jews and Arabs”? Or do you mean “one set for Israelis and one set for non-Israelis?” I keep seeing this claim but I’ve never seen anything on what in the legal code this refers to.

          2. Expel the Arabs within its borders?

        2. ” It’s really tough for Israel to claim to be a liberal democracy with Western democratic values while it’s systematically destroying the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinians. ”

          Just like France, Australia, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and every other liberal democracy could be said to be “systemically destroying” some group’s lives.

          Oh, the US too.

          1. Yup. No argument there. But our hypocrisy doesn’t mitigate Israel’s hypocrisy.

      2. You can’t shame someone who doesn’t care

  4. I lived in Russia in the late 90s and was surprise at the level of antisemitism from regular “nice” Russian citizens. It was beaten into them over decades of propaganda.

    1. See Culture. Many of our beliefs are equally delusional and nasty.

  5. David Bernstein, wait for the hate mail to flow. Your personal realization of the motives behind Israel hating are going go over like a fart in Church. Do not be surprised to be on the receiving end of a campaign of cancel culture, or worse.

  6. >that Israel as a state of the Jews >especially in the Christian…

    ?? U.S. Christians have long been Israel’s biggest supporters.

    1. But not European Chrisitans. They are still very anti-semitic, albeit not as anti-semitic as the Muslim world. Why the U.S. should be different than Europe is an interesting question.

      1. I think the question is what happened in America to change things, because it’s not so long ago that American Christians were every bit as anti-Semitic as European Christians. I grew up in the South in the 1950s and I can assure you that the same people who hated Blacks also hated Jews with equal fervor. I actually remember hearing an elder in my church say that his only objection to the Holocaust is that it didn’t actually succeed in eradicating all Jews. When I was in the Third Grade, I remember a teacher reading to us from the Gospel of Matthew where “the Jews” tell Pilate about Jesus, “His blood be upon us and upon our children,” and she then told us that the Jews suffer because of what they did to Jesus. This was mainstream then; these are not isolated nuts.

        Wasn’t much better up North. Jewish law schools like Brandeis exist because a lot of other law schools wouldn’t admit Jewish students.

        So I think the question is not why the US is different from Europe. I think the question is why the US changed.

        1. K_2,
          What changed, was the vision of Israel as the only regional power committed to fighting gthe rabidly anti-American radical Islamists that seem committed to destroying Christian minorities in the Middle East.

        2. US evangelicals support Israel because it must exist for the End Times to begin.

          It may be the most mathematically cynical thing ever.

          1. Yours is the cynical vastly oversimplified view, a caricature of evangelism.

    2. American evangelicals are hardly representative of the wider Christian world.

      Antisemitism, while still definitely prevalent in the USA, is also less open than in Europe, no less elsewhere, due to the wide assimilation of Jews in American culture, politics, media, and other professional areas. However, with a political shift leftward in the USA, matters are deteriorating, Who would have ever though we’d see so many videos of Jews being beaten in the streets of cities like NYC and LA as we did very recently.

  7. Whenever there is controversy with Israel 99.9% of the time has to do with the displacement of Muslims, US geopolitical aid in that, spying etc. Overwhelmingly leftwing and muslim with leftwing rhetoric in western countries and islamic grounds more overseas. I don’t think I’ve seen an Israel critic on ‘Christian grounds’ except for the internet. Catholic antiIsraelites, maybe in the history books. I’m sure a few contemporary Catholics are antisemitic although I don’t know of any prominent champion of ‘Catholic Israeleoskepticism’.

    1. Whenever there is controversy with Israel 99.9% of the time has to do with the displacement of Muslims, US geopolitical aid in that, spying etc.

      Much does indeed have to do with displacement of Muslims. But isn’t a fair amount of that justified?

      1. I’m just questioning the implication that there are hordes of people making their daily bread as antiJewish Christians/Vaticanites these days. In my experience, most contemporary Christians tend to like Jews a lot more than the reverse. Especially the more secular Western jews.

          1. I said hordes of activists who make their break primarily or significantly on antiJew positions similar to what is on the left. Obviously if you look enough you can find someone from any group who believes in any position.

            1. You wrote ” I don’t think I’ve seen an Israel critic on ‘Christian grounds’ except for the internet. Catholic antiIsraelites, maybe in the history books. ” – I broadened your horizons a bit. It is far from the only example, of course.

      2. displacement of Muslims. But isn’t a fair amount of that justified?

        But didn’t all the displacement come as a result of Arab attacks? But for that, Israel would still have 1948 borders with a population mostly made up of Arabs. The demand for the return of 5,000,000 refugees and descendants (30,000 is probably the maximum number of original refugees still alive today) is simply a different version of the demand for the end of the State if Israel. At the 2000 Camp David summit Israel offered to let 100,000 back in and to contribute $30 billion to resettle the remainder but the other side rejected that in order that it remain a festering wound that they can leverage against Israel, and it has indeed been politically potent. The Arab League has a policy of refusing to grant citizenship to them. As long as they actively prevent these people from resettling elsewhere and refuse to acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist this will remain an international incident, which is exactly what Israel’s opponents want. What do you recommend that Israel do?

  8. I’m not claiming this is the totality of the explanation but there are two other huge effects at play here.

    1) Israel is criticized, in large part, because it feels like it’s part of the American/western European cultural sphere and thus a participant in the same broader conversation. I mean consider the way American democrats and republicans criticize the other side (or even UK parties) with an emotional zest they wouldn’t dream of using to criticize North Korea or Malaysia.

    Part of human nature is that we feel more intensely about those who are enough like us but who aren’t on our side (they represent threats who might gang up against us) than truly distant others who are part of a totally different social world.

    2) Israel is, ultimately, a democracy and has politics that feel familiar and potentially open to influence in a way that the Saudis or Egyptians aren’t.

    —-
    I don’t deny that maybe some people’s criticism comes from an anti-semitic place but I think a large fraction of criticism comes from the opposite place: the feeling that Israelis are a fundamentally reasonable and understandable people who are enough like us to be seen as susceptible to persuasion and/or morally persuadable agents (rather than being dismissed as simply evil, e.g., NK).

    1. I think this is right.

      There is a sort of “How on Earth can do this?” feel to the criticism that isn’t there when talking about North Korea or Russia, for example.

      1. There is a sort of “How on Earth can do this?” feel to the criticism that isn’t there when talking about North Korea or Russia, for example.

        One wonders whether these people realize that even the Western democracies have acted brutally when they go to war, especially wars they perceive to be of their survival. Ask the people of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Or any German city that Bomber Harris had in his sites.

        Heck, you can ask the people of Vietnam or Baghdad, wars that were not wars of survival for the United States.

        1. One wonders whether these people realize that even the Western democracies have acted brutally when they go to war, especially wars they perceive to be of their survival. Ask the people of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Or any German city that Bomber Harris had in his sites.

          Yes, we did, and then we were so horrified that we made a whole bunch of treaties, from the UN Charter to the Geneva Conventions, to outlaw those ways of fighting wars. And we expect democracies, in particular, to keep their treaty commitments.

          1. Do you think the United States violated the UN Charter or the Geneva Convention during the Iraq War? Please specify.

            While doing that, please specify what violations of these Israel has committed in, say, the last 20 years.

            1. Not what I was talking about, but sure, just off the top of my head:

              1. The US violated art. 2(4) of the Charter and the Geneva Conventions’ rules against torture.

              2. Israel violated art. 49 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention by, respectively, transferring parts of its population into occupied territory and destroying Palestinians’ houses, as well as arguably a big chunk of part IV of Protocol I by indiscriminately shelling civilian objects.

              And I can’t believe that I have to say this, but none of this is affected by the large numbers of crimes committed by the people they were fighting at the relevant times. One crime does not excuse another.

              1. 1. The US violated art. 2(4) of the Charter and the Geneva Conventions’ rules against torture.

                When did the US do this?

                2. Israel violated art. 49 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention by, respectively, transferring parts of its population into occupied territory and destroying Palestinians’ houses, as well as arguably a big chunk of part IV of Protocol I by indiscriminately shelling civilian objects.

                To violate Article 49, the occupier must transfer the population of the occupier from its own country to the occupied zone. However, Eugene Rostow (former Under Secretary of State, former dean of Yale Law School, and author of Security Council Resolution 242) said that Article 49 had not been violated: “The Jewish settlers in the West Bank are most emphatically volunteers. They have not been “deported” or “transferred” to the area by the Government of Israel, and their movement involves none of the atrocious purposes or harmful effects on the existing population it is the goal of the Geneva Convention to prevent.”

                Article 53 allows the destruction of buildings “where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” A civilian structure loses its protected status when it is used for military purposes. A home that serves as a Hamas command post or hides a tunnel entrance is by definition not a civilian structure any longer. Furthermore, according to the Israel Supreme Court:

                “military needs should be understood at the time in which fighting or armed activity takes place. In this sense, systematic terror activities which constitute part of a strategy or armed struggle fall within said definition… the demolition of a house for the purpose of preventing it from being used once again for terror purposes… should be considered as a ‘military need'” (Gross, 227-228). The question is, as aforesaid, a question of proportionality, and it has already been clarified here that the above authority of the military commander should not be used in a disproportionate manner…

                With respect to “indiscriminately shelling civilian objects,” can you reference a specific incident in which the shelling was indiscriminate?

                1. 1. The US invaded Iraq.

                  2. Given the historical precedent that is the reason why art. 49 was included in the Geneva Convention (Nazi Germanification of occupied Poland), it would be absurd to restrict transfer to forcible transfer. (Which would be a pretty odd thing for an occupying power to do.) Incentivising the citizens of the occupying power to move into occupied territory must be captured as well, otherwise the provision would be absurd.

                  3. The most recent Gaza incident, for example. Proportionality assessment is a thing people.

                2. O, forgot your point about art. 53.

                  You know full well that Israel destroys people’s houses left, right, and centre, without even claiming that the property in question was used for military operations.

                  https://statistics.btselem.org/en/demolitions/pretext-unlawful-construction?stateSensor=%22west-bank%22&structureSensor=%22true%22&demoScopeSensor=%22false%22&tab=overview

                  1. 1. The US invaded Iraq.

                    And how did invading Iraq constitute torture?

                    it would be absurd to restrict transfer to forcible transfer.

                    Take it up with the authors of Article 49:

                    ART. 49. — Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

                    The comment of Eugene Rostow removes all doubt.

                    The most recent Gaza incident, for example.

                    Can you supply a reference supporting this, from a neutral source?

                    You know full well that Israel destroys people’s houses left, right, and centre, without even claiming that the property in question was used for military operations.

                    Then it should not be difficult for you to supply a neutral reference to this.

        2. BL,
          I guess that you excuse German and Japanese brutality and duplicity.

          You may have a point regarding Nagaski. There was no military point in dropping the second nuclear bomb

          1. I don’t know where you got that. My point is that war is brutal, even where necessary. That applies to Israel as well as other Western countries.

            1. ” My point is that war is brutal, even where necessary.”
              That is obvious, hard to disagree with.

              1. Yes, but many of Israel’s critics like to forget that. War is brutal. Israel has been forced to wage war many times. That actions are brutal does not mean they are not justified.

                1. On the other hand, Israel hasn’t been forced to wage war since several years before I was born. (And many of you can attest, simply based on my history commenting at the Volokh Conspiracy, that I’m not that young.)

    2. Yet one often hears that Israel did not learn from the Holocaust. One would think it’s the perpetrators who need to learn from the Holocaust, not the victims.

      1. And the “Israel is Western” doesn’t explain how much attention Israel gets, more than other Western-oriented countries involved in conflicts.

        1. No, I don’t believe it explains all of it but much of that is a combination of a few factors:

          1) Both pragmatically and anti-semiticly motivated actions taken by the arab states to draw attention to Israel to distract attention from their oppressive rule. Having the Arab league pushing propaganda about Israel ensures that immigrants to US and Europe come with a lot of baggage about the conflict.

          2) Many other conflicts either don’t involve western powers in a leading role (hide behind advisors, drone strikes etc..), involve some kind of invitation or status of forces agreement, or don’t show the dirty reality of urban conflict in a major media market (when they do, e.g. Dessert Storm, they draw lots of criticism). Not to mention that so many of us Americans (less so in Europe…dunno about motives there) have either lived in Israel or have family who do ensuring that events there will get covered in dept.

          3) International law is slanted in favor of the US (Europe knows better than to push too hard on US re: international law violations) and the EU (EU elites make the laws and run the court).

          As I said I’m not denying there are actors with anti-semetic motivation (obviously by the arab states and iran and it wouldn’t surprise me re: EU) but my sense is that most of the attitude in the US is downstream of these other effects. It’s not that most of the activists protesting Israel are anti-semetic (though some are) it’s that they are eager to be outraged about something and these factors amplify the mechanism I mentioned at the top.

          1. It being why it draws more attention than other conflicts western powers are involved in).

            And, to be clear, I’m not saying I’m super certain of all those factors but the point is that there are differences that make the situation sufficiently unlike other cases to confound drawing any conclusion about motives in the US with high confidence.

        2. more than other Western-oriented countries involved in conflicts.

          Like who?

          1. Like the US, or the UK, like France in the 50s and 60s

            1. There are quiet a few – Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus, or Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, or China in Tibet,
              And no, those occupations don’t get nearly the same level of criticism as Israel.
              You could check the number of anti-Israeli occupation resolutions in by the UN, and compare to the above list

              1. None of those countries are plausibly what David Bernstein meant by “Western oriented”.

                As for the UN specifically, you know as well as I do that there are good institutional reasons why nobody ever criticises China there. Money talks. (And so do vetos, by the way.)

            2. France in the 50s is hardly present tense, and if you think Israel gets more criticism than the US you really need to put down that joint.

              1. France is not currently involved in a major conflict, but when it was, it did not receive similar criticism
                Show me the number of anti US or anti-UK resolutions the UN has passed, compared to anti-Israel
                Show me the number of anti-US or anti-UK reports HRW has written, compared to Israel

                1. You literally had to read one comment up from where you were responding to see me remind people of the concept of a veto at the UN. Is reading really that hard?

                  1. Veto only exists at the UNSC, not the GA. I am sure you will quickly follow up with a long list of anti-US, anti-UK GA resolutions, UNHRC decisions, UNESCO declarations, etc.. that is comparable to those targeting Israel.

                    Look , it is not even remotely close – https://www.timesofisrael.com/un-condemned-israel-17-times-in-2020-versus-6-times-for-rest-of-world-combined/.
                    Your attempts to claim parity are pathetic.

                    1. UNGA resolutions aren’t reflective of “world attention” (to quote the headline of this post) in any way, shape or form. UNSC resolution or GTFO.

  9. I may be misinterpreting what you are saying, but it seems like you are saying that criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestine is antisemitic. Am I understanding that correctly?

    1. No, I don’t think you are. He’s saying that criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism, and offers as evidence the lack of similar criticism directed at other occupations.

      1. How many other occupations are there that are really similar? Maybe the (now ended) occupation of East Timor by Indonesia, but people *were* critical of that, and East Timor (now called Timor L’Este) finally won its independence. You might cite the occupation of the Crimea by Russia or of Goa by India, but those examples aren’t really really similar, because those occupation appear to have the support of the affected population. You could cite the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco, but a lot of the people criticizing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank also criticize Morocco’s occupation of the Western Sahara. (The UN, the African Union, and the Non-Aligned Movement, for example, recognize the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination.) And a lot of the people critical of the occupation of the West Bank by Israel are similarly critical of the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by India.

        1. There are quiet a few – Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus, or Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, or China in Tibet,
          And no, those occupations don’t get nearly the same level of criticism as Israel.
          You could check the number of anti-Israeli occupation resolutions in by the UN, and compare to the above list

          1. China’s “occupation” of Tibet is analogous to Israel’s occupation of Galilee, not its occupation of the West Bank. (That’s because Galilee is recognized as part of Israel, just as Tibet is recognized as part of China. And whether or not the Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara gets “nearly the same level of criticism as Israel,” it certain gets “similar criticism,” which is what your 1:01 post denied.

            “The Turkish occupation of Cyprus” (northern Cyprus, actually) is not like the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, but rather more like the initial Israeli occupation of the territory set aside for the “Jewish State” in General Assembly Resolution 181 (II), and its occupation of adjacent territory (such as Nazareth, Acre, and the corridor leading from Lydda to Jerusalem) in the 1948-49 war. And if the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus doesn’t get the same kind of attention as the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, that’s because the overwhelming majority of the “occupied” population of northern Cyprus doesn’t object their situation–except insofar as they haven’t been annexed to Turkey proper. The only people on the West Bank calling for annexation to Israel are those in Israeli settlements.

            1. This is wrong on so many counts, I don’t know where to begin .
              When China first invaded and conquered Tibet, far from being recognized by the UN , it was condemned as an illegal military invasion and occupation.
              Cyprus was an independent nation and a UN member when Turkey invaded it. It is not remotely similar to the status of Israel declaring independence as the successor state to the British Mandate in Palestine, in a territory allotted to it by the UN. There is no provision in international law that allows for invasion and occupation of another nation’s sovereign territory, if the citizens of that territory don’t object, even if that was true. But it is of course not true. The reality is that Turkey expelled the Greek Cypriots form Northern Turkey who opposed its rule, and transferred its own population to the island, so now there is a majority who supports their occupation That would be like Israel expelling the WB Palestinians to Jordan, and then running a referendum in the Israeli settlements and claiming the population supports its occupation .
              The lack of similarity the OP (and my 1.01 post ) complains about is that “Israel Receives Such Disproportionate World Attention and Criticism” (read the title again if you need to) it is of course possible to find a handful of criticisms of other occupations, but it is not similar in scope and scale to the ones Israel receives, which is what DB complains about..

              1. China/Tibet. Tibet is not “occupied.” It is part of China, and has been subject to Chinese suzerainty since no later than the 18th century, and perhaps since the Yuan Dynasty. It has never been included in the UN’s list of non-self-governing territories. After the Chinese Resolution of 1911, the government in Peking lost effective control over Tibet, when became de facto (but not de jure) independent until 1950, when the People’s Liberation Army reasserted Chinese control over a semi-autonomous Tibet. After the Tibet uprising of 1959, the UN General Assembly passed resolutions (Resolutions 1353 (XIV) in 1959, 1723 (XVI) in 1961, and 2079 (XX) in 1965)) that, among other things, “[d]eplore[d] the continued violation of the rights and freedoms of the people of Tibet,” but they never asserted that what China did constituted an “invasion” or “occupation.”

                Turkey/Northern Cyprus. It’s patently obvious that the partition of Cyprus into a Greek and a Turkish state is obviously at least “remotely similar” to the initial partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state; you can’t claim that the partition of a single territory into two ethnically defined states isn’t a similarity shared by the two instances. Bbut to move to the issue under discussion: You point out that the situations of Turkey/Northern Cyprus//Israel/West Bank would have been more parallel if “Israel expell[ed] the WB Palestinians to Jordan, and then [ran] a referendum in the Israeli settlements and claim[ed] the population supports its occupation.” Indeed they would have. But in that event we wouldn’t see the recurring conflict between the occupying authority and the resident population that is the occasion for most of the criticism of Israel’s occupation. Conversely, if the Turks hadn’t ethnically cleansed the Greek Cypriots from their third of the island, you’d probably hear a lot more criticism of their occupation of that third. In any event, your drawing attention to the difference between the two occupations simply confirms my point that they really aren’t all that similar.

      2. ” He’s saying that criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism, and offers as evidence the lack of similar criticism directed at other occupations.”

        What similar occupations? Israel captured territory from nations that attacked it, then decided to keep the land, and the people on it, so that if the invasion(s) were repeated, the invading forces would have to go through the Arabs first before they could get to Israel proper. The Russians pulled this approach after defeating Germany. They’ve held the land for five decades. (the Russians gave theirs back to the Germans after four decades.)

    2. You don’t need an answer. Your mind is made up.

      1. My mind isn’t made up. zztop8970 clarified it for me and I agree with that.

      2. I think it is probably better practice not to assume what others are thinking, which is why I asked for clarification.

        1. But you asked your question in exactly that way. I assumed nothing. I read what you wrote.

          1. I asked the question as what I thought he was saying and asked if that was correct: “Am I understanding that correctly?” How is my mind made up when I explicitly asked if I was understanding him correctly?

            1. There is no Israeli occupation of “Palestine,” so reject the premise of the question.

              1. Thank you, David. I thought the point was obvious, but starlord deliberately misunderstands.

              2. Are you engaging in the revisionism of claiming that Israel occupies no territories, or the revisionism of claiming that the occupied territories are someplace other than “Palestine”?

  10. To better illustrate Bernstein’s point, consider what the Chinese have been and are continuing to do to the Uighurs. That is actual genocide, and has been described as such by the US State Dept., and I believe other countries as well.

    How many UN resolutions have been introduced, let alone passed, about that vs. those passed against Israel’s behavior?

    If the answer is, “that’s Communist China, what do you expect?” then please admit that you don’t care a rat’s patootie about human rights. The Uighurs have as much human rights as the Palestinians. What you really care about is making Israel look bad. Maybe because you expect more from Israel than China. Or maybe you are afraid of Chinese economic and military might.

    But human rights concern, it is not.

    1. No need to travel so far as China to find human rights violations that expose lack of concern for human rights. Just consider the relatively recent experiences of the United States involving torture (in some cases, torture of innocents), endless detention without trial, an attack against the wrong country, and murderous mercenaries.

      Some Americans, believe it or not, continue to venerate the people who engaged in, facilitated, or appeased torture — to the point of making them federal judges, or placing them in important government positions.

      What kind of people would do that?

      Carry on . . .

      1. Would you say that the U.S. and China are equivalent with respect to responsibility for human rights abuses?

        1. No.

          Would you say that the torture, endless detention, attacking the wrong country, and use and coddling of murderous mercenaries constituted human rights abuses and war crimes?

          1. It’s hard to answer such a question in the abstract, since facts obviously matter. Could you be specific?

            1. Lame. Which one of the things he listed do you think the US hasn’t done?

              1. I don’t have the burden of substantiating his accusations.

                1. No, you don’t. Didn’t stop you from speaking up in his defense, which you ALSO didn’t have the burden of doing… until you did it.

        2. “Would you say that the U.S. and China are equivalent with respect to responsibility for human rights abuses?”

          Depends on which exact human rights abuses you’re concerned with at that exact moment.

          China has a few pretty severe situations that are occurring in present times.
          We have fewer at present, but there’s no shortage of human rights abuses in our history. Trail of Tears, say…

          1. are you under the impression that China does not have similar human rights abuses in their history?

            1. Did you read that in what I wrote, or just find it a convenient tangent to exit on?

              1. Ah. It was the “run away” one.

    2. And commenters like Human Rights Watch (which Professor Bernstein loathes because of its criticism of Israel) denounce China for its “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang (https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/19/break-their-lineage-break-their-roots/chinas-crimes-against-humanity-targeting#).

  11. I think for many regular non-Jewish Americans like me, it is much simpler. My viewpoint, and that of most of my non-Jewish friends, is that I don’t really care about Israel one way or another. I wish Jews and Israel well in general, but their problems are not my problems, nor do I feel any particular obligation to defend or support Israel unless it happens that America’s interests and Israel’s interests overlap, which is rarely the case in reality.

    Unfortunately, Israel’s problems become my problems when my tax dollars go to Israel, and when my childhood friends go to fight in overseas wars in the Middle East that are, in my opinion, partially at the behest of Israel with little or no benefit to America, and my friends come back from these pointless enterprises as broken wrecks. There is no end in sight to any of it.

    Moreover, America’s unwavering and reflexive support of Israel in anything and everything it wants to do, whether justified or not, has played a huge role in gradually wrecking America’s overseas perception and moral standing. This has a direct impact on me when I go abroad, as whatever ill-advised adventures America gets involved in are imputed to me.

    I think if Israel stopped dragging America into its problems, the actual number of remaining antisemites in the US would be miniscule. No doubt antisemitism in the Middle East is still going strong, but I think that for most of those in the ME who hate both the US and Israel, it isn’t “hatred of the US by proxy”, but rather the reverse: they hate the US only incidentally precisely because it is such a strong supporter of Israel.

    1. partially at the behest of Israel with little or no benefit to America

      Don’t overlook the military value of Israel as an ally who will allow us to use it as a base for military operations, and the importance of that military capability to Middle East stability.

      a huge role in gradually wrecking America’s overseas perception and moral standing.

      Because Israel should not exist and any country opposing this view has lost moral standing?

      1. > Don’t overlook the military value of Israel as an ally who will allow us to use it as a base for military operations, and the importance of that military capability to Middle East stability.

        Sure, if we must be involved in constant Middle East wars, and if it is somehow our responsibility to ensure stability there (and what a great job we’ve done so far), then I’m sure Israel makes for a useful military base location. I contest the premises, though.

        > Because Israel should not exist and any country opposing this view has lost moral standing?

        I never said that, nor do I believe it. I think Palestine is a fantastically complex problem. I think that abroad, America has lost a lot of standing because it is perceived, rightly or wrongly, that it is biased in favor of Israelis over Palestinians, that it always casts its votes in the UN in favor of Israel’s position, whatever it might be, etc.

        1. I contest the premises, though.

          A third of the world’s oil comes from the Middle East. Here’s one approach: we should let anybody who wants to, and is able to, cut that oil off and make whatever demands they want. It doesn’t affect us. Only 15% of the U.S. oil imports come from the Persian Gulf and we can withstand a cutoff of that source. The U.S. should not be the policeman of the Middle East. If others who depend on that oil want to get involved, let them. We should end military alliances in the area. If Iran were to invade Saudi Arabia in support of a local Shia uprising we would deplore that diplomatically, but beyond that any action would be inappropriate. If the whole Middle East erupts into war it’s just not a security interest of ours.

          Does this describe your view? To what extent do you think that our military alliances and military presence in the Middle East are in our national interest by having the effect of keeping war from breaking out? To what extent, if any, it is in our national interest to have reliable bases in Israel from which to operate?

          1. Great questions.

            > To what extent do you think that our military alliances and military presence in the Middle East are in our national interest by having the effect of keeping war from breaking out?

            In theory, I’d agree we have a minor to moderate security interest in preventing this from happening. In reality, I don’t see any evidence that our 20 years of war have even been a net benefit to the region, let alone evidence for the hypothetical proposition that things would be much worse if we hadn’t intervened. (And still further, the idea that the cost-benefit tradeoff was worth it).

            It may help you to know that I’m 33 years old. 9/11 happened when I was in 6th grade, these wars have been going on for over half my life, and it was my generation who actually fought in these wars. By virtually all accounts that I know of, including people who were actually there, the whole thing has been a counterproductive waste of lives, money, and time. The ideas that “we need ME oil”, “theoretically ME stability could implicate American security interests”, “we have a cultural and ideological affinity with Israel” and many other such things ring very hollow to me.

            > but every Israel resolution in the U.N. is intended to berate Israel…

            I have no idea whether this is really the case — it would be very hard to neutrally determine — and I don’t really care. What I care about is my interests and America’s interests. In this regard, I see US support of Israel as a geopolitical liability. This is completely independent of what are the merits (or lack thereof) of the arguments on all sides of Israel’s various conflicts.

            1. IF, an it’s a big “if”, you see the choices of the Israeli government as some being good, some being bad, you have to realize that invariably supporting Israel means supporting some bad stuff.

              When you get some people (who know who they are, or should) who reflexively label ANY criticism of ANY Israeli government action as “anti-semitic”, besides the trivialization of actual antisemitism, it also implies explicit support for everything that particular government does, good,bad, or utterly insignificant.

        2. I never said that, nor do I believe it.

          Yes, but every Israel resolution in the U.N. is intended to berate Israel and insist that they accede to the demands of their enemies but without requiring the enemies to concede Israel’s right to exist. Would you have us vote in favor of those? You apparently believe that our “lost moral standing” is due to our refusal to support such resolutions.

          1. Israel can settle the question of Israel’s “right to exist” by existing. It makes no difference whatsoever whether the various Arab countries respect Israel’s right to exist in any way other than by refraining from invading. Israel is currently a nuclear power, which should be sufficient to keep non-Israeli military forces out of Israel.

      2. “Don’t overlook the military value of Israel as an ally who will allow us to use it as a base for military operations, and the importance of that military capability to Middle East stability.”

        Yeah. Look at ll the times the U.S. has been able to launch critically-important military operations from bases in Israel over the last six decades, and how important those US operations have turned out to be in assuring stability in that particular region of the world.

        “Because Israel should not exist and any country opposing this view has lost moral standing?”

        Whether or not Israel should exist is a problem that is THEIR problem to solve. The only reason Americans have an interest is because some Americans have a religious fixation on the area. The Americans who don’t particularly care who occupies that patch of ground don’t have to care.

        1. Yeah. Look at ll the times the U.S. has been able to launch critically-important military operations from bases in Israel over the last six decades, and how important those US operations have turned out to be in assuring stability in that particular region of the world.

          This appears to be sarcastic, as if it is obvious to you that our military presence in the Middle East has not promoted stability.

          The only reason Americans have an interest is because some Americans have a religious fixation on the area.

          So if we have no military or national security interest then we should remove our military presence from the Middle East?

          1. “as if it is obvious to you that our military presence in the Middle East has not promoted stability.”

            This is obvious to anyone with even a tangential relationship with reality, which is probably how you missed it. Oh, our involvement in Iraq promoted stability, in the sense that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria we created was relatively stable, except in the Kurdish areas.

            “So if we have no military or national security interest then we should remove our military presence from the Middle East?”

            duh. Fire up the De Lorean, and tell Cheney that in 2002.

    2. The USA did go to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for Israel. Israel largely believed most of the US’s commitment in these countries was foolish, and always believed that Iran should remain the focus (along with most Sunni Arab, American ally countries).

      1. The US went to war in Afghanistan for Israel? Really? What was Israel’s interest in getting the Taliban taken down in Afghanistan?

        1. It was a typo, as should have been clear from the rest of the comment. The wars had absolutely nothing to do with Israel.

          1. Thanks for clarifying.

    3. Is it really your position that Iraq, Afganistan, Iran, Owama bin Ladin, Saddam Hussein, the Islamic State, the Syrian civil war, the Ethiopian and Somalian civil wars — all the various things that have actually resulted in American troops going into the region – are all Israel’s fault?

      Do they also control international finance? Recessions? COVID?

      Israel has by and large been at the periohery of the major conflicts the US itself has been involved in in the region in the last several decades, not the center.

      1. > Is it really your position that…

        No, it isn’t. I think there are many reasons that it was thought, incorrectly, to be a good idea for the US to be involved in the region, and Israel has only added fuel to the already-existing metaphorical fire, to pursue its own interests, as it is perfectly entitled to do. That is why I wrote “*partially* at Israel’s behest”.

        > Do they also control international finance? Recessions? COVID?

        Sigh. This sort of thing is why it’s hard to have an honest conversation about these issues.

    4. I disagree with your premise on a variety of levels, but no point getting into all that here. Basically, the criticism you offer is associated with right-wing types like Pat Buchanan, and this used to be where most of the distaste for Israel came from. But nowadays, Republicans are overwhelmingly pro-Israel, and the hostility to Israel that matters (the antisemitic David Duke types don’t matter, politically) comes from the red-green alliance, and is based primarily on the factors discussed in the Times of Israel piece I link to.

      1. Thanks. If there is anything useful I can offer here, it’s the perspective of Millennials on these issues as best as I understand them. Since we do not have any meaningful political power, no doubt any critique I might offer, even if it’s representative, which I can’t be sure of, it wouldn’t “matter” politically.

        Your piece in the Times invokes many grand narratives about Zionism, historical aspects of various faiths, etc. These types of concerns, which I know are important to many other people, are completely foreign to people of my age group. We are concerned with pragmatism, and the general wisdom of America’s involvement in the Middle East, whether on behalf of Israel or otherwise. It seems to be a generally lost cause. This is one of the few points of unanimous agreement I can find among my friends on all parts of the political spectrum (FWIW, I’m center-left).

        1. Gotcha. But fwiw, the “pox on both their houses, just leave the U.S. out of it” are not the sort of critics I’m talking about, nor are they the ones that drive wildly disproportionate coverage of Israel in the media.

          1. I hate badgering authors. Still, I found your statement that “The relevant antisemitism is rarely Nazi-like right-wing antisemitism. Rather, it’s expecting Jews to behave in ways that conform to ideological expectations with roots in Christianity, Islam, and Marxism.” to be very vague, and the Times article did not clarify it for me.

            In the media, extreme views reign. But behind every extreme view, there is a much larger audience who doesn’t necessarily endorse the extreme view, but sees some point of affinity with that extreme view. My hypothesis essentially is that for every person who appears to endorse extreme anti-Israel or anti-semitic views propagated in the media, there are 10 more who are simply tired of America’s endless wars. If they have no better narrative to latch on to, they might just latch onto the antisemitic version.

            1. “If they have no better narrative to latch on to, they might just latch onto the antisemitic version.” Well, given that major world powers have spent billions propagating such versions, they just might. But you say that as it it’s okay, when it’s not. And fwiw, unlike, say, the French, Koreans, Bosnians, and many others, Israel has never in fact asked US troops to fight on its behalf, and indeed Israel has never *wanted* US troops to fight for it. As another commentator noted, the Israeli government was not even in favor of the US targeting Iraq (it might have felt differently about Iran), much less did it ask the US to do so.

              1. > But you say that as it it’s okay

                I respect your time, but I have to clarify this. I never meant that it’s okay in any moral sense, just that it’s true as far as I can see in a factual sense: the absence of any good reason for why we have spent 20 years in the Middle East, particularly for young people like me, has left a narrative void. If that void is not filled by a good, realistic, believable narrative, then it will be, for some people, filled by bad narratives. And in the media market, where there is demand, there will be supply.

                I wish there were a somewhat credible and unbiased source of information on Israel, what it is doing and why, and why we are even there (either in the Middle East in general, or in Israel in particular), that I could learn from and present to my friends. But all the sources of information I can find about the topic are extremely partisan one way or another. Maybe all of this is obvious to people 20 years older than me. But the case for doing all this was never really presented to my generation. “The US unflinchingly supports Israel on a bipartisan basis” has just been taken as a given for all my adult life, with no obviously good reasons ever presented for it.

                If my level of ignorance can be taken as representative, it’s no wonder BDS and so on have taken off in my cohort. No one bothered to tell us why any of these actions are being taken, if indeed there is a good reason.

      2. ” Republicans are overwhelmingly pro-Israel, and the hostility to Israel that matters (the antisemitic David Duke types don’t matter, politically) ”

        Leftwing antisemitism doesn’t matter, either, if you just handwave away the ones that display it.
        Your continued insistence on conflating support for Israel as proxy for antisemitism (or lack thereof) remains unconvincing.

    5. “which is rarely the case in reality.”

      don’t ever apply for a job that requires a deep understanding of geopolitics

      1. Would you care to tell me why I’m wrong? It’s my viewpoint — I genuinely don’t see many points of common interest, aside from the standard Bush-era rationalizations and justifications, which I find unpersuasive.

  12. Politics reminiscent of the Marxist view of history as fundamentally the result of class struggles seems to be resurgent today. In its original incarnation it was the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Various critical theories have recast this in other terms, replacing the dominant economic class with other proposed dominant groups, such as men or the white race. Some of this has been cynically said to be connected to a “grievance industry” and an “outrage culture,” whereby people make a living by fanning the flames of discord.

    For people grown used to viewing the world in terms of the evil dominator class and their heroic victims it is not difficult to associate Israel with the evil side of this equation. They certainly would seem to fulfill all the requirements if capitalism is seen as the scourge of mankind, and also if dominance hierarchies are seen in racial terms. Then add in the support of those harboring latent antisemitism and you have the beginnings of a group having a loud voice.

  13. “Why does Israel attract so much attention and criticism relative to other states involved in much bloodier conflicts? For a long time, I was in the camp that it wasn’t primarily related to antisemitism”

    This seems unlikely, given your current tendency to identify anti-semitism every time the wind blows.

  14. Isn’t this more about Israel getting a disproportionate amount of world support especially from Christian and Muslim countries?

    Without that, I don’t know if Israel’s action rise to the world stage.

  15. David, here are my reasons for feeling strongly about Israel. I don’t expect to persuade you, but perhaps you’ll see that I’m not antisemitic.
    Some of my ancestors are Jewish. I was a strong supporter of Israel at the time of the 1967 war, and an even stronger supporter during the 1973 war. I absolutely believe Israel has the right to exist as a nation. But I also believe that the Palestinian people have that same right. They currently don’t have a viable state, in part because of their own irrational and immoral acts, but in part because of the policies of the Likud party that has governed Israel for the last three decades. The Palestinian people (particularly those in Gaza) live in a condition that, in my view, seems close to that of the Blacks under the apartheid regime in South Africa prior to Mandela. I know of no other place in the world where people live in a similar condition. That seems fundamentally wrong to me. I think it’s a big deal, even though the Palestinians bear some share in the blame for bringing it about. To the extent that the Israeli government is complicit in perpetuating that situation (and I think it is), it seems appropriate to me that the world should pay particular attention to Israel, not because of antisemitism, but because it’s a serious problem in need of a solution. I certainly don’t hate the nation of Israel, but I strongly disagree with many policies of the Israeli government in the last 3 decades.

    1. They currently don’t have a viable state, in part because of their own irrational and immoral acts

      Do you think that their history of starting wars and their constant demand for the abolition of Israel has something to do with it? Who would agree to a hostile state being created right next door?

      The Palestinian people (particularly those in Gaza) live in a condition that, in my view, seems close to that of the Blacks under the apartheid regime in South Africa prior to Mandela.

      What was wrong with what the Palestinians were offered in the 2000 Camp David talks? It fell through because Arafat wouldn’t give up the right of return of 5,000,000 descendants of the original refugees (30,000 is probably the maximum number of original refugees still alive today). Israel offered to accept 100,000 to contribute $30 billion to resettle the remainder. No doubt other countries would also pitch in but the Arabs won’t allow it. They have refused to grant citizenship to any of these people, in order to ensure that the situation remains a festering wound. So who’s responsible for the apartheid?

    2. Speaking of apartheid, the academic blog EJIL:Talk has just started a symposium on the recent Human Rights Watch report arguing that Israel is responsible for committing the crime of apartheid within its boundaries and in the occupied Palestinian territories.

      (Which is an interesting theoretical question, because apartheid doesn’t come up a lot in day-to-day practice.)

      https://www.ejiltalk.org/category/symposia/

      1. Interesting that the report they highlight that makes charges against Israel of apartheid was produced by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The “Israel and Palestine Country Director” of HRW is Omar Shakir, a well-known “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) activist whose goal is to delegitimize Israel. Somehow I think that the tenor of that report could have been predicted.

        Of course, the substance of the crime of apartheid has to do with racial discrimination, raising the question as to whether the Israelis and the Palestinians are different races. HRW, surprise, concludes that “race” should be interpreted loosely, and that discriminating against people on the ground of social stratification is really enough. The referenced article, however, points out that if the drafters of the Apartheid Convention had intended to include groups other than racial groups they could easily have stipulated that. According to an article in Science Daily, “Jews are the genetic brothers of Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, and they all share a common genetic lineage that stretches back thousands of years.” So how can they be seen as different races?

        1. Good questions all, and I’d imagine you’ll be able to read some answers in the rest of the symposium.

          That said, I would point out that it is hardly unexpected for someone who has concluded that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid to advocate boycotting Israel. That’s called putting your money where your mouth is, right next to Greta Thunberg not flying and Republicans not hiring illegal immigrants to clean their houses and look after their kids.

          1. Republicans not hiring illegal immigrants

            Republicans have a long history of being in favor of more relaxed immigration standards, precisely because they wanted to get the benefit of lower wages, both personally and in commerce. It was the Democrats who traditionally opposed allowing in more low-wage immigrants because they drove down the wages of their constituents – labor and the poor. Now apparently the labor unions have dropped their objections (perhaps they see future members) and the Democrats have decided that if the immigrants will vote Democrat they can win elections and then appease the poor with government largesse to make up for the greater competition for low-wage jobs. The surprise is that the poor have gone along with this.

            1. when your analysis requires deciding that your ideological opponents’ plans must involve how illegal immigrants will vote, that’s a sign of, well not so much bad-faith, as dementia. Here is the way politics works in America:

              The Democrats want to tax away YOUR money and give it to people who are poorer than you. The Republicans want to tax away YOUR money and give it to people who are richer than you. You get to pick which one you like better.

        2. Since there is no scientific definition of race, saying that they’re not scientifically different doesn’t really advance the discussion. Under one set of traditional racial classifications, Arabs (like Jews) are Caucasians, and thus of the same race as each other and Irish and Spanish and German and Czech people. But so what?

          Note that under U.S. law, Jewish and Arab can each be considered races. See Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb. But again, so what?

          Let’s say that (what is alleged) would better be called “ethnic” discrimination rather than “racial” discrimination. Would that change anything other than a label? That’s not the same thing as mere “social stratification.”

          (I do not by any means concede that Israel is engaged in apartheid. But I disagree with that on the substance of what apartheid was, not on semantics about what race is.)

          1. The article I referenced also pointed out that ‘race’ is defined different ways in different contexts. Some who are looking for a looser and more inclusive definition use material from human rights law. However, the Apartheid Convention (which does not define ‘race’) is in the area of international criminal law, which has different aims than human rights law and is governed by the principles of strict legality, foreseeability, and specificity. It is questionable to interpret a criminal provision by referring to a concept of human rights, even though they may use some of the same terminology. “The former must always be interpreted strictly, while respecting the procedural rights of the accused, while the latter will generally be interpreted broadly in order to provide individuals more rights and freedoms.”

          2. ” Under one set of traditional racial classifications, Arabs (like Jews) are Caucasians, and thus of the same race as each other and Irish and Spanish and German and Czech people.”

            Under another, even more traditional, classification, both the Jews and the Arabs are descended from Shem, and thus “anti-Semite” accurately describes both sides when they are in conflict.

        3. “Interesting that the report they highlight that makes charges against Israel of apartheid was produced by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The “Israel and Palestine Country Director” of HRW is Omar Shakir, a well-known ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) activist whose goal is to delegitimize Israel. Somehow I think that the tenor of that report could have been predicted.”

          Gasp. A person who is opposed to Israeli apartheid wrote a report that criticized Israeli apartheid after being critical of Israeli apartheid before writing the report? NO FUCKING WAY! I don’t believe that such a thing could ever happen!

    3. ” I was a strong supporter of Israel at the time of the 1967 war, and an even stronger supporter during the 1973 war. I absolutely believe Israel has the right to exist as a nation.”

      Sure they have a right to exist (to the same extent that any other country has a “right to exist”) The complaint is that for several decades they have taken and held hostages. It has kept the various Arab powers from launching invasions through those particular borders. But it hasn’t brought actual peace.

  16. I’ve no doubt that some percentage of Israeli criticism is due to antisemitism, just as I’m sure that a good deal of criticism of muslim countries and actors is predicated on anti-muslim animus. It seems like a fairly trivial point. There is also a fair amount of defending the actions of the Israeli government by labeling any criticism of it as antisemitic. There is also a good many Republicans who use criticism of Israel by the left as a tool for peeling off American Jewish support for the Democratic Party.

  17. Interesting piece. I think you were saying traditional Christian anti Semitism is rare ie Jews were condemned to wander for killing Christ and should remain in that state. I agree this a marginal view nowadays and in general right wing anti Semitism is still quite marginal. I also get the sense the left wing media in the US at least chooses to focus disproportionately on that type and not so much on the far more prevalent left wing anti Semitism. This includes left wing Jewish media which is particularly coy about the fact most hatred of Israel comes from their progressive “allies” and not the conservative enemy.

    The history of Marxist antiSemitism was really interesting. That stuff about the Jews not being a real ethnic group, of being essentially parasitic off other groups from the start, reminds me so much of Nazi ideology I wonder if Hitler actually got that from Marx!

    These days I don’t know how anyone can be an intellectually honest and consistent progressive Zionist. I agree with antiZionist progressives that Zionism is now essentially a reactionary and conservative ideology; I simply disagree that this is a bad thing. Now that Jews have their own state and homeland they should darn well keep it and not let the barbarian hordes have it. My next wish is for Zionists to see that their natural allies are other nationalists in the Western world fighting to maintain their ancestral homelands and civilization in the face of wokeism.

    1. “I think you were saying traditional Christian anti Semitism is rare ie Jews were condemned to wander for killing Christ and should remain in that state. I agree this a marginal view nowadays and in general right wing anti Semitism is still quite marginal.”

      To reach this conclusion, all you have to do is ignore various right-wing groups’ publicly stated antisemitism. It is, of course, in no way hypocritical to ignore your side’s flaws while complaining loudly about the other guys’ exact same flaws. Not at all.

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