OK to criticize Israel

OK to criticize Israel

Hurray for Martin J. Raffel’s helpful column on the many ways to support Israel (“For critics of the Jewish state BDS is not the answer, but what is?” May 3). 

I think there is something fundamentally wrong with any state that privileges one ethno-religious group over another. In Israel, the national interests of the Jewish people are prioritized above all others. That is the country’s founding principle, and it manifests every time the state bulldozes a Palestinian home in Jerusalem to make room for a Jewish neighborhood, and every time a Bedouin village in the Negev is destroyed so trees can be planted or a Jewish town built. 

These terrors happen within Israel, and they are not simply a matter of bad policy. Rather, this violence is fundamental to the character of a state that distinguishes between Jewish and Arab nationalities, and assigns different rights to each.

During childhood my Reform rabbi taught me it’s OK to criticize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, but we never considered the notion that Israel didn’t have the right to exist. You have a right to criticize anything, that’s freedom of expression (if you live in a democracy, that is). However in doing so, you also open yourself up to the right of another person to pass judgement on your beliefs as well. As Abraham Foxman, past national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said, “Israel is not immune from being criticized. Israel is a sovereign nation. It can make mistakes. And people can criticize it with impunity.”

As they say, “If you can’t take the heat, stay outta’ the kitchen.”

Phyllis Bernstein 

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