Israel Seeks to Criminalize Criticism

Facing growing condemnation for anti-Palestinian racism, Israel has gone from accusing its critics of anti-Semitism to exploring ways to criminalize a boycott movement intended to create a real democracy for Jews and Arabs, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

From the 1920s on into the 1990s, the Zionists controlled the storyline in the West on the Israel-Palestine conflict. This meant that their version of history was the only version as far as most of the people in the West were concerned.

Consequentially, they had an uncontested media field to label the Palestinians and their supporters as “terrorists” – the charge of anti-Semitism was not yet widely used. Also, as a consequence of their monopoly, the Zionists did not bother to engage in public debate.

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office, Oct 1, 2014. The meeting was described as chilly, reflecting the strained relationship between the two leaders. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office, Oct 1, 2014. The meeting was described as chilly, reflecting the strained relationship between the two leaders. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Then, over the last 20 years the Zionists slowly lost their monopoly. In part this was due to the fact that in 1993 the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and renounced terrorism, and in the following years many of the Arab states made or offered peace. However, the Israelis did not respond in kind. In particular they failed to respond in a fair and just way to U.S.-sponsored peace efforts. Why so?

The answer to why the Israelis did not, in good faith, take up multiple historic opportunities to make peace with the Palestinians lies in the very nature of the Zionist movement. From its beginning, and certainly from the establishment of the State of Israel, Zionism has been driven by dreams of colonial expansion and religious exclusiveness.

Each of these goals is seen as part of Zionism’s God-given mission, and they still prevail.

Professor David Schulman of Hebrew University, writing in the New York Review of Books (April 23, 2015), describes the consequences of this situation, “the Israeli electorate is still dominated by hyper-nationalist, in some cases proto-fascist, figures. It is no way inclined to make peace. It has given a clear mandate for policies that will further deepen Israel’s colonial venture.”

As a consequence, Israel’s credibility with an increasing number of people in the West has eroded. This erosion led to a relatively short period of time in the early 2000s when the Zionists attempted to counter the situation by engaging with their critics in public debate. However, the majority of time they lost.

Israel’s barbarous behavior on the ground, combined with the fact that their historical version of events was shown to be full of holes, condemned them to an increasingly weak defensive position. This proved to be intolerable to the Zionists, so they withdrew from the debating field.

And, as they did, they began to level charges of anti-Semitism against their critics, even those who are Jewish. These accusations of the worst sort of racism have been with us ever since – which is really ironic because much of what Israel is being criticized for is its own racist, apartheid nature.

This was an important change in tactics for Israel because it opened the way to misusing Western laws to Israel’s advantage. Just as the charge of terrorism has often been misused in a broad and sweeping manner (for instance, leveled against non-violent supporters of Palestinian charitable organizations), so the charge of anti-Semitism can potentially be used in an almost unlimited fashion by over-aggressive, pro-Zionist Western prosecutors against any critic of Israeli behavior.

The Boycott Movement

In the West, much of the organized criticism of Israel now comes from campaigns aimed at promoting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of the Zionist state.

So robust has the BDS movement grown that Gilad Erdan, Israel’s newly appointed Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs, and Public Diplomacy, has described it as one of the most “urgent issues” facing Israel. Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, has described the developing academic boycott, just one part of BDS, as a “strategic threat of the first order.”

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has taken it upon himself to set the tone of Israel’s counter-attack on BDS. He has declared that there is an “international campaign to blacken Israel’s name” and he alleges that it is not motivated by Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians but rather seeks to “delegitimize Israel and deny our very right to live here.”

In other words, he is claiming that present criticism of Israel is really an attack on its existence, and not on its behavior. For Netanyahu this has to be a form of anti-Semitism.

As Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, describes Netanyahu’s argument, “If you criticize me you are anti-Semitic. If you accept any kind of punitive measure or sanctions against Israel, you want to destroy Israel.” That is how the prime minister avoids confronting the facts.

As bad as this is, it gets even worse. Declaring the goal of BDS to be the elimination of Israel allows the Zionists to use their influence with Western legislators to make cooperation with the boycott subject to penalties.

In the United States, AIPAC, the most powerful of the Zionist lobbies, is working on legislation similar to that used against Iran and also the Arab boycott of Israel in the 1970s. This legislation would penalize businesses, both at home and abroad, that favorably respond to calls for boycott.

If this works we can expect the Zionists to go further and try to subvert the U.S. Constitution’s free speech provisions and then go after individuals as well as businesses. In this regard, efforts are also under way in Canada and France.

Money Magic

Finally, there is the assumption that money can destroy Israel’s critics. This is a special belief of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate and enthusiastic backer of Netanyahu.

Adelson has taken aim at activity critical of Israel on U.S. college campuses. In the first week of June 2015, he and his supporters convened a “Campus Maccabees Summit,” the purpose of which was “to develop the conceptual framework for the anti-BDS action plan [on college campuses], assign roles and responsibilities to pro-Israel organizations, and create the appropriate command-and-control system to implement it.”

Fifty activist Zionist organizations attended the conference, as did 20 donors, each of whom pledged $1 million to the cause over the next two years.

Prime Minister Netanyahu personifies the problem with Zionist thinking. He is wholly self-centered and seemingly incapable of recognizing, much less taking responsibility for, Israel’s racist behavior. Thus, with the Zionists having spent the last 100 years planning and then actually doing what was needed to deny as many non-Jews as possible the “very right to live in” Palestine, Netanyahu now accuses others of doing the same thing to him and his kin – and labels it a criminal act.

The truth is that most Western critics, including supporters of BDS, are not trying to kick the Jews out of Israel. They are trying to bring maximum pressure on the Israeli government to stop kicking non-Jews out, to stop territorial expansion in violation of international law, and to start acting like the democratic state it so questionably claims to be.

Speaking strictly for myself, I don’t believe any of these goals are possible unless Zionism is in fact kicked out of what is now Israel. That is, the ideology that drives Israeli racism and colonial expansion must be done away with, in the same way that apartheid was brought down in South Africa. That did not result in South Africa being destroyed or all white South Africans being deported. But it did result in a democracy being imported. The same scenario is necessary for Israel.

No doubt many Israelis and their supporters would equate this goal of extirpating Zionism with promoting another Holocaust. This is not so, but they are scared enough to label the effort of bringing a real democracy to Israel as anti-Semitic, and to try to get it declared it illegal in the West.

Finally, besides the public outcry over anti-Semitism, the Zionists are working behind closed doors – the closed doors of American state and federal legislatures and university board rooms – where they do not have to face serious debate. This might prove the most dangerous of their maneuvers.  For behind closed doors the Zionist monopoly resurfaces and truth is all the easier to suppress.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

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21 comments for “Israel Seeks to Criminalize Criticism

  1. Mark
    June 10, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Modern Israel was made possible only because of planned Zionist terrorism meant to expel the non-Jews from Palestine. The continuing land grabs in the West Bank and Jerusalem are only possible because of what is still the killing and terrorization of Palestinians today.

    The Idea that facts can’t be openly discussed, and one can’t make a choice not to do business with Israel or even criticize Israel — is as ludicrous as the idea that Zionist Israel’s past and current day terrorism and land thefts is or was legitimate.

  2. Joe L.
    June 10, 2015 at 10:44 am

    A lot of this stuff is double-speak! It is “free speech” to draw insulting pictures of the prophet Muhammad but if the same thing was done outside of a Jewish synagogue then it would be called “anti-semitism”. Here in Canada, I have seen that the Steven Harper government, the Conservatives, want to make the boycott Israel movement in Canada fall under Canada’s hate speech laws – I think that is insane. Does Harper really want to throw me in jail if I don’t want to buy a Sodastream machine – that is ridiculous? Here is a link to an article written by CBC News:

    CBC News: “Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters” (May 11, 2015):

    “The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

    Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions.

    If carried out, it would be a remarkably aggressive tactic, and another measure of the Conservative government’s lockstep support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    While the federal government certainly has the authority to assign priorities, such as pursuing certain types of hate speech, to the RCMP, any resulting prosecution would require an assent from a provincial attorney general.

    And it would almost certainly be challenged under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, civil liberties groups say.

    The government’s intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

    Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws “anywhere in the world.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ottawa-cites-hate-crime-laws-when-asked-about-its-zero-tolerance-for-israel-boycotters-1.3067497

  3. Gardner
    June 10, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Daniel Pipes’ brownshirt organization, Campus Watch, has been working toward suppressing free speech on American college campuses when that speech is considered critical of Israel. In what has been described as “McCarthyesque intimidation,” teachers can be demonized, labeled anti-semitic, and even fired for objectively discussing the facts of Israel’s behavior and policies.

  4. american200
    June 10, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Do not accept illegitimate authority.
    If the majority of people ignore ridiculous and unjust/unfair laws then they won’t be laws for very long.

    However I like that the I-People are trying to criminalize American’s freedoms…..excellent way to piss off more Americans and draw attention to the I-Fifth Column.

  5. american200
    June 10, 2015 at 11:46 am

    ” Finally, besides the public outcry over anti-Semitism”

    I am tired of the fake anti Semitism nonsense too.
    Every time I see the howls about how all the world is anti sematic and to blame for all the Jews travails I shuffle thru my cards to see which one I want to play in this game they’ve set up…..should I use the jewish ‘anti gentilism’ card, or the ‘anti all others’ card or the ‘ anti Christians’ card or the ‘dual loyalty’ card or the 2000 year old ‘traitor’ card as a trump?

    OTOH perhaps not playing the game at all is best.
    As someone described recently how Jews/Israelis/Zios play chess like pigeons—they strut on to the board, knock over all the pieces, crap all over the place and then declare themselves the winners.

  6. Celestino De Barros
    June 10, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    The anti Semitic ploy has had its time, at first it was considered a fair argument, as time passes by ,people are getting the impression that this argument is no longer acceptable in light of Israels behaviour .It is being used as an excuse to stop any form of argument or criticism in favour of the oppressed, in other words the Jewish diaspora is behaving like spoilt children who know they can do whatever they please because the law protects them and The brawny protector is close behind.
    Simple but efficient tactic, but in order to implement this an enormous army of Lawyers were brought into action to make this reality come true.
    The western world should be aware of this situation and its consequences, the manipulation by a country inside a country….

  7. Christoph Rebner
    June 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Author defends free speech of people he calls Zionists with this article?

  8. Albert
    June 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    What about antiGENTILISM?
    ————————————-
    PROsemitism ——- If there is an “antisemitism” there must be : “PROsemitism” PROsemitism must be a supporter of “semitism”, which ODDLY means Judaism even though most Jews are NOT semites and SUNNIsemites and SHIITTEsemites and CHRISTIANsemites are ignored. So, what are you supporting if you are a PROsemite? Well first of all we must define Judaism:
    Judaism is neither a race or a religion, it is Xenophobic Tribalism.
    XENOPHOBIC: n.
    A person unduly fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples.
    TRIBALISM: n.
    1. The organization, culture, or beliefs of a tribe.
    2. A strong feeling of identity with and loyalty to one’s tribe or group.
    So right off the get-go you hate all NON-Jews, NON-members of YOUR group(TRIBE).
    THAT means, that if I am not one of the TRIBE, you do not like me.
    Since Jews brand all NON-Jews “gentile” and automatically denigrate them, to be PROsemitic one must by definition be ANTI-GENTILE.
    They hate all NON-Jews so fundamentally, that they have to SPECIFICALLY NAME what they grudgingly term “RIGHTEOUS GENTILES”. Those are NON-Jewish HUMANS that went so far out of their way to help/save Jews that the Jews were FORCED to ACKNOWLEDGE the humanity of that specific ‘gentile”. You see, PROsemites do not acknowledge the EQUALITY of spirituality and humanity of “gentiles”
    According to the SPLC & ADL an organization is a “HATE GROUP” if it has
    “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people”.
    Jews have HATED CHRIST and his followers for 2,000 years. Go ask your Jewish friends to “acknowledge” Jesus Christ.
    Jesus Christ was an anti-semite according to the Temple Priests who HEREM(excommunicated) Him just prior to crucifixion.
    JUDAS ISCARIOT was a Jew —- in good standing with the Temple Priests.

    Israeli Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, from the settler party Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) gave an interview [Heb] to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv 12/30/2013 on his party’s stance against gay marriage.
    Here’s a snippet from the interview. Remember, this man is a high ranking government official in the only “democracy” in the Middle East.
    Q: What will you do if the Knesset votes on a bill legalizing gay marriage?
    A: No way. Also, a Jew cannot marry a gentile.
    Q: Is that the same thing?
    A: We don’t recognize either of them. And anyway, a Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he’s gay.

    • Peter Loeb
      June 11, 2015 at 6:09 am

      THANKS

      Particular appreciation is due to Lawrence Davidson for his analysis
      as well as to “Albert” for his clarifications (slightly Christian-centered
      but invaluable).

      The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem for 16 years to his own death,
      Rav Kook (b 1865-d.1935), emphasized that
      the spirit of God and the spirit of Israel (Jewish Nationalism) were
      identical. It was a rightest, militaristic, xenophobic belief. The Palestinians
      or any others were by definition irrelevant to the superior Zionists.
      Much of these beliefs are pretty much the predominant views in
      Israel today (and its supporters elsewhere) not only through
      organizations in Israel but because these views have become
      more and more the mainstream.

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA
      i

    • June 11, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      “Jews have HATED CHRIST and his followers for 2,000 years. Go ask your Jewish friends to “acknowledge” Jesus Christ.”

      Well Christians throughout history have not been blameless. Many Christians have judged all Jews as being “Christ killers”. And Christians have traditionally believed that those who for whatever reason don’t come to “accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior” in this lifetime, including Jews, and including people of other religions, are thereby condemned to hell for all eternity.

      And many people who went along with Hitler were “good” and devout Christians.

      • June 11, 2015 at 9:47 pm

        And let us not forget that there were such things as the Crusades and the Inquisition.

        • Anonymous
          June 12, 2015 at 7:35 am

          Do you mean like the Christian-Zionist crusade that’s been interfering with rational politics in the US since Ronald Reagan convinced them to enlist — while their purpose is seemingly to condone and enable an unlimited number of modern Zionist war crimes through the power and at the expense of the USA and to the dtetriment of many innocent others?

          • June 12, 2015 at 7:25 pm

            I wasn’t specifically thinking of the modern Christian Zionists; however I very definitely agree that any Zionists, Christian or Jewish, are very reprehensible people.

            The Christian Zionists basically think they have God’s plan all figured out, and that they are among the special people soon to be raptured away while the rest of the world goes through the “Great Tribulation”.

            Israel for them basically fits into their idea of how God’s plan will work out regarding what they think are the “end times” that we are now supposedly in. They do not care at all about what is really going to happen to the Jews, let alone the Palestinians. They believe that Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, anybody who does not come to “accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior” in this lifetime is going to be condemned to hell for all eternity, and that is fine with them.

            I think the Christian Zionists would want to help bring on the “end times” and the “great tribulation” just so they can be raptured. I think Jesus had some words for such people: “It must needs be that trials and tribulations will come, but woe to those by whom they come. It would be better for such to have a millstone thrown around their neck and be thrown into the sea…”

            So yes the Christian Zionists are among the worst and most reprehensible of Christians.

      • Peter Loeb
        June 12, 2015 at 6:02 am

        TO MIKE H:—-

        And many people who went along with Hitler were Zionists in
        the “Judenrat” (Jewish Council of Jewish Elders).

        See: Leni Brenner : ZIONISM IN THE AGE OF THE NAZIS

        Leni Brenner: 51 DOCUMENTS: ZIONISM COLLABORATES
        WITH THE NAZIS

        (Note: The “Judenrat” (“Council of Jewish Elders”) ran the ghettos
        on behalf of the Nazis. When the Chairman of of a Judenrat
        rides around a Jewish ghetto with Himmler in H’s limousine there
        can be no secrets…Who do you think is calling the shots? Place—
        Lotdz.)

        —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

        • June 12, 2015 at 7:53 pm

          Yes I agree that the Zionists are evil and reprehensible people, not much (if at all) better than the Nazis. What the Zionist Israelis are doing, and wanting to do, to the Palestinians is no different from what the Nazis did to the Jews.

          However not all Jews are Zionists. Far from it. And I disagree with painting all Jews with the broad brush that Albert above was painting them with.

          I am an ex-Christian. I used to be a Christian but am no longer. I have some personal reasons for being very unhappy with the faith. I feel that my supposedly having a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” had not been of help to me in enabling me to deal with some difficult and painful issues in my life.

          And I definitely reject the belief, held among conservative and evangelical Christians, and especially fundamentalist Christians, that a person is “saved” and can enter heaven by “accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”, and only by doing so, and only in this present life. In other words too bad for those who do not do so in this life, for whatever reason, including those who happen to guess wrong by adhering to religions other than Christianity. That belief is one that attacks and maligns all people who are not Christians, who do not come to “accept Jesus Christ” in this lifetime.

          If that isn’t an example of the tribalism (i.e. hating, or condemning all non-Christians) which Albert attributes to all Jews, I don’t know what is.

          Some Christians (definitely not all) are very obnoxious and reprehensible people. There are reasons that somebody might, if not hate Jesus Christ, at least feel indifferent toward him (like I do), and there are reasons that some people might come to hate followers of Jesus Christ, that have absolutely nothing to do with being Jewish.

          Incidentally I would consider myself to be a Deist. I have reasons for not being an atheist. However I definitely have problems with adhering to any of the “revealed” religions, particularly the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and I definitely have problems with accepting any alleged revelation from God, such as the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran, as actually being such.

          Incidentally, speaking of Abraham, I think that God is an evil and wicked tyrant if he actually demanded that Abraham go sacrifice his son to test Abraham’s willingness to obey God (even if Abraham was told at the last minute not to). I will not believe that God actually had anything to do with such a thing. That is one of many very reprehensible stories of atrocities, supposedly committed or sanctioned by God, that occur especially throughout the Old Testament. Anybody using his or her critical facilities would reject any such stories as being part of any “Word of God”.

  9. Sherman
    June 10, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Nope, Lawrence Davidson is no anti-Semite. He is simply warning everyone about an all powerful secretive Zionist plot.

    • american 200
      June 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Nothing secret about it.
      They are very open about the fact that they expect the entire Non Jewish world to renounce their own interest, security and welfare in favor of all wishes and demands of the morally and mystically superior but eternally victimized and totally innocent world wide nation of Jews.

      They are a destructive Cult. They and their Isr-orgs should be McCarthized and marginalized thru senate hearings on ‘un-American’ activities.

    • Light
      June 13, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      If you were being serious I would have highly recommend reaserching it and then making a deduction based on it rather believing nonsense that the Russians created at the turn of the last century. We all know what that led to.

      If you don’t know what I am writing about then it really does s
      how your lack of competence on this topic.

      • Anonymous
        June 14, 2015 at 8:29 pm

        Dear light, please enlighten us as to the specifics of which you speak — searching through various interpretive views of historic events could lead to a different conclusion than the one(s) you’ve drawn.

        Such a vague rebuttal is little more that a denial with a clue as to what you’re inferring. If the correct understanding and version of history were as obvious as you suggest then historians would always be in agreement on which facts are most relevant or even contain an ounce of truth.

  10. tony
    June 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    The first ‘recorded’ case of ‘Anti-Semitism’ can be found–surprise, surprise–within the very first book of the Torah (Old Testament) itself in ‘Genesis’, where Pharaoh has just discovered that Abraham lied to him in describing his wife Sarah as his ‘sister’ (and therefore a virgin) in the interest of selling her as a concubine (sex slavery) within Pharaoh’s harem. After Pharaoh’s household comes down with some mysterious ‘illness’ (the torah doesn’t say what kind of illness, but the fact that Pharaoh ties it to Sarah leaves little doubt as to what it was) Pharaoh confronts Abraham with his trickery and then orders both him and his ‘sister’ Sarah kicked out of the country.

    So there you have it. The first case of Anti-Semitism.

    • Mark
      June 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Rather than being an account of “anti-Semitism” as you describe — the account of record you cite may actually be propaganda generated by the writers.

      With so many religions, and assuming even one is an account that God would concur with or condone, that means the rest are corrupted by power seeking men amounting to little more than “stuporstitions” being promoted for the benefit of the promoters.

      The “anti-Semite” card has been so overplayed and intentionally unjustly applied, the use of it is a badge of truth telling honor in some instances while being totally meaningless in others.

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