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Are You an Antisemite if You Oppose Israel’s Apartheid Policies?

Palestinian children 2

“Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice towards, or discrimination against Jews. This sentiment is a form of racism, and a person who harbors it is called an antisemite.” Wikipedia

I have no hostility to, prejudice towards, or discrimination against Jews. Not one scintilla. I have never uttered one word that could be considered antisemitic, yet in recent weeks I have been accused of hatred for the Jewish people. Evidently, unless you blindly and without reservation support the military, political, and religious objectives of Israel, you are guilty of antisemitism.

Defenders of Israel love to use the “antisemite” label to cut off all discussion about Israel’s eight-decade-long apartheid practices. During the United States’ immoral wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, President George W. Bush famously tried to cut off all discussion and debate by saying “You are either for us or against us.” Who wants to be considered un-American during a time of war, right? This is exactly what is happening now with Israel’s war against Palestine. Either you are on Israel’s side or you are an enemy of the Jewish people.

I am against all war. As a pacifist, I see war as a failure of human imagination; an inability to solve conflicts without violence. While I grudgingly admit that self-defense is, on rare occasions necessary, few wars are prosecuted for self-defense reasons. When nation-states wage indiscriminate war, the result is always failure. There are other ways to settle conflicts, but we humans tend to take the easy way out by using violence, bloodshed, and carnage to settle our disagreements. That’s what Hamas did, and that is what Israel is currently doing.

Peace in the Middle East is possible, but until the West sees Israel as part of the problem, peace is impossible. Israel must be held accountable for their crimes (as must Hamas), and as long as they are given a pass, blood will continue to flow in the streets. Driven by Bible verses, Israel will not stop until they take ALL the land God promised to Israel in the Old Testament. There’s no room for a two-state solution, and as long as that is true, Palestinians will continue to push back against Israel’s apartheid practices.

As long as dead children keep piling up in Gaza, I will not turn a blind eye to Israel’s murderous behavior. Further, I hold the United States and President Joe Biden responsible for the war. As long as Israel has the U.S. standing with them and funding their military, they will continue to do what they are doing. Cut off the money and tell Israel that we will NOT defend them if they expand this war to Lebanon and Iran. As long as their bully big brother stands behind them in support, the bloodshed will continue and could lead to the deaths of American soldiers.

Call me an antisemite all you want, but I will continue to care about the deaths of children and other innocents far more than I care about being labeled a Jew-hater.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    Yes, the anti-Semite charge is used far too often. If there is racial prejudice against Jews, then yes, that is anti-Semitism. But if one is merely disagreeing with a nation’s policy? That is no not anti-Semitism. If you disagree with a policy in Canada you are not called an anti-Canadian racist. If you disagree with a policy in Brazil you are not called an anti-Brazilian racist. But if one disagrees with a policy in Israel? What is the difference?

  2. Avatar
    Leonard Ostrander

    Thank you Bruce for your wise words on the Israel/Palestine conflict. I am in total agreement with you. The USA has backed Israeli expansionism since day one. We Americans collectively created this monster. As a matrilineal Jew, I am neither an antisemite nor a self-loathing Jew. As an American, my patriotism is both limited and conditional. Humanity first!

  3. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I was raised Roman Catholic and (mis)spent some of my youth as an Evangelical Christian before becoming the atheist I am today. But I am also a matrilineal Jew who knows enough of our history to understand why Jews—whether they are ultra-Orthodox, secular or somewhere between—would want a homeland.

    I do not, however, support Israel’s actions or this country’s enablement of them. The far right—many of whom are actually anti-Semetic—cynically support Israel as a “necessary evil” to their own agenda. And people everywhere else on the political spectrum are afraid of being labeled anti-Semitic which, in some circles (like academia) is like being accused of sympathizing with Communists during the McCarthy era.

  4. Avatar

    Holding a national government to accountability is not racist. Holding terrorist organizations to accountability is also not racist. It baffles me that in 2023 with all our technological advances, groups of people hate each other due to beliefs in ancient mythology that has created a tribalism that affects the entire world. Aren’t we smarter than this? Apparently not.

  5. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    You are correct about Hamas and Israel. You have a right to disagree with the war policies of Israel without being called an antisemite. Both the Islamic groups like Hamas and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups want to kill the OTHER off completely and have everything for themselves. Unfortunately groups like this have existed throughout the human history I have studied.

    The big problem is the civilians on both sides get stuck in between and tortured and killed by the war. I do not have a solution to this problem.

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