I offer a simple “3-D” test for differentiating legitimate criticism of Israel from antisemitism. This “3-D” test applies the same criteria to the new antisemitism that for centuries identified different manifestations of classical antisemitism.
The first “D” is the test of demonization — as noted in the State Department report. Jews have been demonized for centuries as the embodiment of evil, whether in the theological form of a collective accusation of deicide or in the generalized depiction of Jews as money-grubbing Shylocks. Today we must take note when the Jewish state or its leaders are being demonized, with their actions being blown out of all rational proportion.
For example, the comparisons of Israelis to Nazis and of the Palestinian refugee camps to Auschwitz — comparisons heard frequently throughout Europe and on North American university campuses — are clearly antisemitic. Those who draw such analogies either are deliberately ignorant regarding Nazi Germany or, more commonly, are deliberately depicting modern-day Israel as the embodiment of evil.
The second “D” is the test of double standards. From discriminatory laws many nations enacted against Jews to the tendency to judge their behavior by a different yardstick, this differential treatment of Jews was always a clear sign of antisemitism. Similarly, today we must ask whether criticism of Israel is being applied selectively. In other words, do similar policies pursued by other governments produce similar criticism?
It is antisemitic discrimination, for instance, when Israel is singled out for condemnation by the United Nations for perceived human rights abuses while proven obliterators of human rights on a massive scale — like China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria, to name just a few — are not even mentioned. Likewise, it is antisemitism when Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross.
The third “D” is the test of delegitimization. Traditionally, antisemites denied the legitimacy of the Jewish religion, the Jewish people, or both. Today, they attempt to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state, presenting it as, among other things, the prime remnant of imperialist colonialism.
While criticism of an Israeli policy may not be antisemitic, the denial of Israel’s right to exist is always antisemitic. If other peoples, including 21 Arab Muslim States — and particularly the many states created in the postcolonial period following World War II — have the right to live securely in their homelands, then the Jewish people has that right as well, particularly given the sanction of the United Nations in setting up and recognizing the country at its founding. Questioning that legitimacy is pure antisemitism.
One recalls those 3-D movies we enjoyed as children. Until putting on special two-toned glasses, the picture was blurry. But with those glasses, the screen came alive, and everything was seen with perfect clarity. Similarly, if we do not wear the right glasses, the line between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism can become blurred, so that we fail to recognize this ancient evil, much less fight it.
But when we apply the 3-D test and ask whether Israel is being demonized or delegitimized or subjected to a double standard, antisemitism will be easily recognizable. The 3-D test offers a simple and accurate reality-check.
Read more: https://forward.com/opinion/4184/antisemitism-in-3-d/