6/20/2005

Anti-semitism vs. civil criticism

Staunch defenders of Israel have created an interesting defense strategy so that critics of the Israeli government cannot speak against it without being accused of "anti-semitism."

"Anti-semitism," by definition, means prejudice against Jews. This definition is very straightforward and clear. It does not say anything about the Israeli government, which, like the United States government, is a civil order. When I criticize the brutal actions of the Israeli government, my many Jewish friends know that I mean no harm or criticism or prejudice toward them. They know I support the Israeli peace and justice movement and that my many criticisms of Israel are directed toward the Sharon government and its regional policies. I am practicing civil criticism. Same as I do here in the USA.

The term "anti-semitism" is often used incorrectly as an umbrella term to cover civil criticisms of Israel. How convenient! When former CIA analyst Ray McGovern gave his testimony at the informal Downing Street Memo hearing, he spoke briefly about Israel and recalled how he once suggested to his CIA boss that Israel may have financed 9/11, after which his boss called him anti-semitic for making that suggestion. Washington Post hack Dana Milbank used this off-subject remark to try to discredit McGovern's otherwise credible statement regarding the subject of the hearing -- the Downing Street Memo.

McGovern was in no way demonstrating prejudice toward Jews. He was making a comment of civil criticism that other intellectuals have made about 9/11 conspiracy theories involving the Israeli government. McGovern's only mistake was that he spoke off-topic on a hot-button issue and gave the critics an opening for a personal attack -- and his best defense now will be the dictionary. The worst thing he can do is to cave in to his critics or back down from his statement.

Personally, until convincing new evidence comes to light -- perhaps through a new independent 9/11 commission -- I still think Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia were involved in the planning and financing of 9/11, but McGovern is entitled to his opinion and he may have had access to secret information not available to ordinary citizens. There are a number of theories regarding Israel, including McGovern's, that a Google search can lead you to, but I just do not see the documentary proof at this point. Israel is already a chief U.S. ally and a heavily armed state -- perhaps even with nuclear weapons -- that can quickly respond to any emerging nuclear, chemical, or biological threat from its Arab neighbors without outside assistance. We owe it to ourselves to keep fighting for an independent 9/11 investigation. The Bush commission may have been bipartisan, but it was not independent, and the results turned into a whitewash and a cover-up of the truth.

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