According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “anti-Semitism” is hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.
One hundred years ago this month, the Anti-Defamation League was founded to fight anti-Semitism.
Sadly, this noble purpose has gone tragically astray.
The ADL recently released its list of the top 10 Anti-Israel Groups in America. According to Abraham Foxman, ADL National Director, “The groups are fixated on delegitimizing Israel and convincing the American public that Israel is an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated.”
These top 10 anti-Israel groups are:
- ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)*
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Friends of Sabeel-North America*
- If Americans Knew/Council for the National Interest
- Jewish Voice for Peace*
- Muslim Public Affairs Council
- Neturei Karta
- Students for Justice in Palestine*
- U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation*
According to the ADL, these groups were selected based on their ability to organize, sponsor and endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel; their sponsorship of and participation in anti-Israel rallies, panel discussions or conferences; and their ability to pursue anti-Israel policy initiatives and lobbying efforts against Israel. The ADL’s full report is available.
I know six* of the ten groups fairly well, have attended their meetings, read their materials, and talked with their members. They’re critical of Israel’s policies towards Palestine and Palestinians, and want the occupation to end, but they don’t spew anti-Semitic venom. Their criticism is directed towards Israeli government policies, not towards Jews or the Jewish faith. In fact, some of these groups have many Jewish members.
Somewhere along the way, the ADL confused criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism which is really unfortunate. When REAL anti-Semitic hatred rears its ugly head, people may not howl in protest after growing numb from these false cries of “wolf”.
So why does the ADL fear criticism of Israel?
The Mayo Clinic identifies a particular personality disorder – called the “avoidant personality disorder” – as a person with a hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection. “People with avoidant personality disorder experience a long-standing feeling of inadequacy and are extremely sensitive to what others think about them.”
Is Israel suffering from a feeling of inadequacy? Judging by its disproportionate response to the Palestinian resistance, year-in and year-out, it might be fair to conclude that Israeli military leaders have an over-sized love affair with high-tech weapons, indicative of latent feelings of inadequacy.
Certainly, Israel — more accurately, the Israeli government and politicos — are extremely sensitive to what others think about the State of Israel. The term-of-art they use is “delegitimization” or “delegitimizing.” They probably experience this most acutely at the United Nations where the majority of nations, as well as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, criticize Israel for its illegal expansion of settlements into the occupied Palestinian territories. The U.S. repeatedly vetoes any resolutions at the U.N. critical of Israel.
If I had the State of Israel on my therapeutic couch, I might delve into the history surrounding the establishment of the State (1946-47) and the Nakba. Guilt? Remorse?
Israel will only mature as a nation if it takes some of this well-meaning criticism to heart and learns how to reflect on its own actions. The future depends on its ability to end the occupation in a just and fair manner, not castigating those for leveling criticism against the occupation.
Israel’s best friends might very well be the groups on this list above, and not those who are enabling her to continue this dysfunctional (not to mention ILLEGAL) occupation.