Former BBC journalist Robert Cohen has written a useful article on the website “Micah’s Paradigm Shift” giving three pieces of advice to British left-wingers (though it applies equally across the political spectrum) on how to make honest criticisms of the Israeli government without causing offence.
His three pieces of advice are:
- Never mention Hitler and Israel in the same sentence. Ditto Zionism and Nazism.
- Remember, one person’s settler-colonial project of land appropriation is another person’s expression of national self-determination.
- Resist conspiracy theories (especially those involving the words ‘Zionist’ and ‘controlled’)
You might also want to read his article:
“There’s a way to talk about Israel that’s honest and defensible even though it won’t avoid you escaping every accusation of antisemitism. And then there’s a way to talk that leads you into a massive bear trap of your own making.
Language and history are incredibly important when it comes to Israel/Palestine and being sloppy with either gets you into a heap of trouble that ought to be avoidable.
Too often I see those in solidarity with Palestinians lose the plot and allow opponents to grab the agenda and deflect attention from where the suffering really exists.”
Read the full article here:
Here’s another article from a serious (but entertaining) American website called ‘This Is Not Jewish’. If you want explanations, click the link to their website and you will find a fuller version of their 20 ‘don’ts’.
As they said they had listed them “in no particular order”, we’ve put them in an order that is more topical for the current debate.
- Don’t draw any parallels with Germany, Hitler, the Nazis etc
- Don’t say “the Jews” when you mean Israel.
- Don’t say “Zionists” when you mean Israel.
- Don’t claim that anti-semitism is eradicated or negligible.
- Don’t say Islamophobia is worse.
- Don’t call Jews you agree with “the good Jews.”
- Don’t use your Jewish friends or Jews who agree with you as shields.
- Don’t demand that Jews publicly repudiate the actions of settlers and extremists.
- Don’t accuse Jewish people living in the UK, the US or elsewhere of dual loyalties or treason.
- Don’t claim that the Jews control the media or banks or any country that isn’t Israel.
- Don’t claim that Jews are ethnically European.
- Don’t claim that Jews “aren’t the true or real Jews.”
- Don’t say that since Palestinians are Semites, Jews/Israelis are antisemitic, too.
- Don’t depict Israelis visually as Jewish stereotypes.
- Don’t use the phrase “the chosen people”.
- Don’t claim that Jews have no real historical connection to Israel/the Temple Mount.
- Don’t depict the Star of David as an equivalent to the Nazi swastika.
- Don’t use crucifixion imagery.
- Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar.
- If a Jewish person accuses you of antisemitism, don’t say ‘Oh my God, Jews think any criticism of Israel is antisemitic!