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Ask the rabbi Family and Society Attitude Towards Other Nations

Antisemitism

Question
Many of the anti-Semites complain that they can not criticize us and have to be “politically correct” when it comes to Israel, etc. What should we do about this? Is it accurate?
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Antisemitism shows itself in many forms. A hatred of the Jewish people – and on a deeper level, a hatred of the moral G-dliness that the Jewish people bring to the world – is not new. It is just that the forms it takes change from time to time. In our day and age a widespread form of antisemitism is anti Israel-ism. It is no secret that many of the voices who criticize Israel are really fueled by a great hatred of the Jewish people at large. On the other hand, as you hint to in your question, true criticism of the state of Israel certainly has it's place – as we, like every country in the world, has room to improve, and constructive criticism can help us understand where that improvement needs to take place. The question is how to distinguish between true (good) criticism, and antisemitic comments? Perhaps we can outline some general ways of telling the difference - 1. Is the criticism proportionate? When finding fault with Israel, are the faults of other countries pointed out in the same measure? 2. Is the criticism true? While every story has two sides to it, sometimes the accusations leveled at Israel are just unfounded (we don't poison the wells of Arab villages, believe me!) 3. Does the criticism come with an understanding of the larger picture? For example it is one thing to level criticism at shooting unarmed people – it's another thing to ignore the fact that they were shot after stabbing innocent Jews. 4. Do the critics also praise the good things? If a critic is only willing to see the bad and not be willing to praise all the wonderful things Israel does, then it's a sign that they are less than fully honest. 5. Do the critics offer meaningful ways for us to improve? If the criticism ends with the hope that the State of Israel should just disappear, then there is room to suspect that the criticism isn't coming from a true love of Israel. With these points in hand, let those who would truly love to see the Jewish people flower in their land come and help us. Together with your love we are more than ready to hear our faults, and work together to fix them. We know that we have a long way to go until we create a perfect state. And, in fact, we even understand that the Jewish should be held to higher standards than others, in that we expect of ourselves to truly represent a G-dly perfection in the world. We know that hearing about what we can improve will only benefit us. So, like Yitro in the Torah, who with love and devotion to Israel was able to point out to Moses himself how to do a better job – we are willing to hear criticism - from those who want to help us. Blessings.
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