GOLDSTEIN: Criticizing Israel isn't anti-Semitism — hating Jews is

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Every time a shooting war between Israel and Hamas breaks out — the latest is the fourth one since 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza — Jew haters whine they can’t criticize Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism.

That’s absurd.

Some of the harshest criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians comes from Jews in Israel.

One brutally honest example is Israeli film director Dror Moreh’s 2012 documentary The Gatekeepers in which he interviewed six former heads of Shin Bet — Israel’s internal security service.

Clearly, none of these men — Avraham Shalom, director of Shin Bet from 1980-86; Yaakov Peri (1988-94); Carmi Gillon (1994-96); Ami Ayalon (1996-2000); Avi Dichter (2000-05) and Yuval Diskin (2005-11) — hate Jews.

They describe in the film how they carried out targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders and other terrorists, acknowledging innocent Palestinians were killed as well.

They explain their use of mass arrests and coercive interrogation — condemned by human rights groups as torture — to gather intelligence, admitting it has led to the deaths of some detainees.

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They don’t apologize for what they did, but they condemn Israeli governments for making it necessary by failing to negotiate an independent Palestinian state with the Arabs after the 1967 war, and for expanding Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories.

They believed Israel’s best chance for peace — the Oslo Accords — was foiled not by Hamas, but by what they describe as Shin Bet’s greatest security failure — the 1995 assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir, a radical, Orthodox Jew who they say was incited by extremist Israeli politicians and rabbis.

The harshest criticism of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians comes from the late Avraham Shalom, responsible for one of Israel’s most infamous security scandals.

He ordered the summary execution of two captured bus hijackers because he didn’t want their trials turning them into Palestinian folk heroes.

Asked about Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians, Shalom says it has brutalized Israelis:

“The future is bleak … where does it lead? To a change in the people’s character, because if you put most of our young people in the army, they’ll see a paradox. They’ll see it strives to be a people’s army … involved in building up the country. On the other hand, it’s a brutal occupation force, similar to the Germans in World War II. Similar, not identical … We’ve become cruel to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population, using the excuse of the war against terror.”

What these men say, however critical of Israel, shares nothing with the anti-Semites beating Jews, chanting death to the Jews and screaming Hitler should have finished the job in anti-Israel demonstrations last week.

The late British Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, head of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has explained where that kind of hatred comes from.

“First, let me define anti-Semitism. Not liking Jews is not anti-Semitism. We all have people we don’t like. That’s okay; that’s human; it isn’t dangerous. Second, criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitism …

“Anti-Semitism means denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews … It takes different forms in different ages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of … Israel. It takes different forms but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist …”

Those are the anti-Semites.

lgoldstein@postmedia.com

 

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