The UK hasn’t been kind to Israel lately. A cartoon in the Sunday Times depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a bloodthirsty killer, and was printed on Holocaust Memorial Day. MP David Ward compared Israelis to Nazis and Respect party member Lee Jaspers referred to Israel as a “racist oppressor.”
This prompted the BBC to make Israel a main feature on their Sunday Morning program. They called Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet to argue on the side of Israel. However, it appears he was the only one they called. Everyone else seemed to be against him.
Responding to the question posed by the program, “Is Criticism of Israel Anti Semitic?” Rabbi Schochet replied: “It would be absurd to suggest that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic. It would also be absurd to suggest that Anti Semites don’t use Israel as the whip with which to lash out against Israel. Somewhere in between the lines unquestionably get blurred.”
Opposing him aggressively was Tony Greenstein, a Jew who heads the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. He claimed that Israel is behaving like Nazis and therefore the comparison is legitimate.
In a subsequent interview with a Jewish blog Rabbi Schochet said, “I’ve been up against him before. He gets hysterical. I just let him talk and discredit himself with his own ramblings.”
Other members of the audience also attacked the rabbi, who was ready with a response. “Let me give you a lesson in Anti-Semitism,” Schochet told a Muslim audience member: “When something is universal and one person is singled out, that’s bigotry. Even if you believe that Israel is guilty of whatever violations, to single them out when there are far worse violations all over the Middle-East, is blatant prejudice against Israel which is unequivocally underpinned by Anti- Semitic sentiment.”
“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle-East. Contrast the spectacle of the recent elections and the current coalition building process underway in Israel with the way Egyptians are still rioting violently on the streets because of their constitution. But let’s condemn Israel. Contrast the way Israel will convict soldiers proven guilty for human rights abuses – such as Lt. Col. Omri Burberg who was responsible for firing an unprovoked rubber bullet into the leg of a 27-year-old Palestinian Ashraf Abu Rahme – and the way many Palestinians hail their soldiers heroes when they fire fatal bullets at Israeli soldiers. But let’s condemn Israel. It now emerges that women are systematically raped in parts of India, and stoned to death for the ‘crime’ of being raped in Somalia, but let’s condemn Israel. There’s civil war raging in Syria with thousands of women and children being killed with only limited and occasional criticism emerging from world leaders. But if Israel supposedly puts a foot wrong, the condemnation is loud and robust. The current President of Egypt refers to Jews as apes and pigs and still gets courted around Europe. If Netanyahu dared to use similar language against Muslims, do you think he would be tolerated in the same way?”
He further added: “Does all this mean that Israel always does things right? By no means! Does this suggest that there is a systematic approach to delegitimizing Israel? Absolutely!”
Watch the video of Schochet below: