Socialist Worker

Criticism of Israel does not equal antisemitism

by Barrie Levine
Issue No. 2416

Thousands of Jews have taken part in protests for Palestine

Thousands of Jews have taken part in protests for Palestine (Pic: Duncan Brown)


On the back of Israel’s vicious assault on Gaza, there has been growing debate about whether we are witnessing a rise in antisemitism.

There are also accusations that any criticism or protests against the state of Israel are inherently antisemitic. 

Israel purports to act on behalf of all Jews but in fact its basis is the political ideology of Zionism. Criticism of Israel is not in itself antisemitic.

Many Jews in Britain and around the world are hugely critical of the Israeli state and the violence it perpetrates.  

The “Jewish Bloc” on the recent massive Gaza demo in London is evidence of this. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that left wing Jewish groups in Britain are thriving.  

Jews standing up and saying “Not in my name” undermines antisemitism, not strengthens it. But the presence of anti-Zionist Jews is not enough.  

There has been a rise in disturbing antisemitic incidents in some parts of Europe. 

Evidence from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights indicates a rise in recorded antisemitic incidents when Israel has engaged in attacks on Gaza.  

Such incidents need to be seen against the background of the recent growth of far right and fascist organisations. These use racism targeted at minorities including Muslims and Jews. 

In Britain the role of the left and strong anti-racist and anti-fascist organisation has been a bulwark that has helped block the growth of the far right and fascists witnessed elsewhere. 

We need to continue to actively fight racism in all its forms. 

Whether it’s the more recent rise in the mainstream of Islamophobia or the resurgence of other forms of racism including antisemitism.  

There is no contradiction between this and supporting Palestinian rights.


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