Israel

“…by accusing Israel of ‘white supremacy’, the anti-Zionists sound like that old tongue-in-cheek definition of anti-Semitism…”

There are already enough reasons to be critical of Israel, if you are so inclined, without inventing slanders like “white supremacy.” Liberal Zionists, for example, see Israel’s control of millions of non-citizen Palestinians not only as a hardship for Palestinians but a threat to Israel’s own Jewish and democratic character. Their critique — shared with a weakened but persistent left in Israel itself — is one side of a debate in which reasonable people can take part. You can disagree, but you understand that the critics are serious in their concerns and can summon a strong factual argument in their defense.

But by accusing Israel of “white supremacy,” the anti-Zionists sound like that old tongue-in-cheek definition of anti-Semitism: “disliking Jews more than is necessary.” They yank the debate into a territory where it doesn’t belong. Nothing in Zionism assumes Jews are white, and indeed Israel’s Jewish population — four-fifths of a country that includes a substantial minority of Arab citizens — includes a range of ethnic groups hailing from Europe, North Africa, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Ethiopia and India.

And the “white supremacy” gambit is shoddy scholarship and a tactical disaster. It casts the conflict as a simple case of segregation and civil rights, and not as a clash of national identities. So you can be proud of yourself as a good leftist if, in the name of intersectionality, you rally all kinds of dispossessed groups and discriminated-against people behind your anti-Israel cause, but you do nothing to bring Israelis and Palestinians any closer to peace.

Andrew Silow-Carroll, “The Left Has an Israel Problem. Have an Anti-Semitism Problem?”, Jewish Journal (15-20 September 2017), 11.