Column: Hidden anti-Semitism

By Elie Dvorin

Despite the Israeli pullout from Gaza, the opening of the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt and the creation of a more centrist political party by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the anti-Israel rhetoric has not subsided at all. On the contrary, it seems to have heated up – and college campuses are no exception.

Yet there is one major difference between Israel’s two major critics. While the international community, often led by the Arab bloc in the United Nations, has minced no words regarding their desire for Israel’s destruction as a Jewish state, the critics in academia have put forth a far more subtle form of criticism. The majority of their attacks, cloaked in a veil of informative political discourse, have crossed from the realm of legitimate criticism to anti-Semitism.

To acknowledge the hardship of Palestinians living in Gaza or the West Bank is not anti-Semitic. Nor is it anti-Semitic to realize the difficulty of having to cross security checkpoints when traveling to or from work, as many Palestinians do. But what separates legitimate criticism or concern is when one holds Israel to a standard to which he or she holds no other nation simply because Israel is a Jewish state.

Case in point: The “blame Israel (and the United States) first” crowd argues that Israel is racist for not granting Israeli citizenship to Palestinians. Sure, these anti-Zionists claim they’re interested in the welfare of the Palestinians that comes with citizenship rights. But what they know but won’t admit openly is that granting Israeli citizenship to Palestinians would make them the majority in Israel’s population.

If it were citizenship rights that these people were concerned with, they would rally against the new Iraqi constitution. The constitution allows for citizens of any country, except Israel, to hold dual Iraqi citizenship. Furthermore, the Iraqi Jews that had their citizenship and property stripped by the Iraqi government in the 1940s are not eligible to reclaim their citizenship, even though all others who had their Iraqi citizenship taken are eligible to regain it. But the anti-Israel crowd is not interested in principles. They’re concerned with the state’s destruction. That’s anti-Semitic.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Another case in point: After years of suicide bombings carried out by Palestinian terrorists, Israel built a security fence to keep terrorists from the West Bank from infiltrating into Israel. Almost immediately, opponents of Israel cried bloody murder. Here at the University, I heard comparisons to not only the Berlin Wall, but also the electric barbed-wire fences at the Nazi death camps. Never mind the fact that the number of terrorist attacks has decreased by more than 90 percent since the fence was built. Israel’s opponents, not acknowledging the lives that have been saved, view the fence only as an inconvenience to Palestinian access and travel.

Clearly, the people who call for the removal of the fence are operating under the double standard that’s indicative of anti-Semitism. I’ve never heard these people protest the wall that Saudi Arabia built at the Yemen border to keep out people and unauthorized goods. Nor have I seen them rally to tear down the wall Thailand built at the Malaysian border, or Morocco’s border in the Western Sahara. Because they don’t care about borders or fences in principle – only when it can spell the end of the Jewish state do they vocalize their opinions.

These episodes demonstrate only a select few of the numerous ways that anti-Semites use criticisms of Israel to cloak their true beliefs that a Jewish state has no right to exist. Academia has become the venue in which a sick love child is produced by the marriage of anti-Semites and self-hating Jewish intellectuals. Recognizing the infeasibility of openly calling for the destruction of Jews or Israel as a Jewish state, these people single out Israel and hold it to an impossible standard of conduct – one that would effectively destroy the state. This deceptive “academic” technique makes their anti-Semitism even more vile and dangerous since casual observers dismiss it as legitimate discourse, sometimes even the well-intentioned.

Elie Dvorin is a senior in Communications. His column appears every Monday. He can be reached at [email protected].