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November 14, 2017 5:40 pm

J Street U: Calling for Israel’s Destruction Isn’t Always Antisemitic

avatar by Shiri Moshe

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Demonstrators at an anti-Israel protest in Chicago. Photo: Jonathan Hoenig.

The president of the student group J Street U has argued that it is “unfair” to describe all those who seek to end Israel’s existence as antisemitic.

Zoe Goldblum’s comments were sent last week “on behalf of the leadership of J Street U” to the House Judiciary Committee, as it held a hearing on antisemitism on US college campuses.

A senior at Stanford University, Goldblum heads the National Student Board of J Street U — the campus group of the lobbying group J Street, which describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”

In her letter, Goldblum acknowledged that antisemitism “is a real and serious problem on some of our college campuses and in communities across our country.”

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“Yet applying the label of ‘anti-Semite’ to all those who oppose the existence of the State of Israel is unfair and unhelpful overreach that ignores the nuances and sensitivities of a complicated political debate,” she argued.

Goldblum cautioned that such an effort would position “supporters of Israel as enemies of free speech,” thereby empowering “anti-Israel voices on our campuses.”

Her comments were pointed out on Twitter by Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights lawyer and pro-Israel advocate.

Ostrovsky told The Algemeiner, “It is astonishing that J Street, an organization that claims to be pro-Israel and pro-peace, could imply that it is ‘unhelpful’ to label those who oppose Israel’s existence as ‘antisemitic’ or that this is a ‘complicated political debate’ with some ‘nuance.’ There is no complication or nuance here whatsoever.”

“Even with all the debate today about what defines antisemitism, there is universal consensus amongst all those who truly care about Israel and fighting bigotry and hatred that, at its most basic, calling for the destruction of the State of Israel is a blatant and unequivocal form on antisemitism,” he added. “For J Street to imply otherwise, only serves to embolden antisemites and those who oppose Israel’s existence.”

The pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon expressed similar criticism, writing that calls for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state and the denial of Jewish rights to national self-determination “invokes age-old antisemitic tropes in a slightly newer package.”

“Most of the modern antisemites claim that the Jewish people are not a people to begin with, in order to justify that they don’t have the same human rights of other peoples,” the blogger noted.

“There is no nuance in saying that Israel should not exist,” Elder of Ziyon continued. “It demands that Jews in Israel be treated the way that Jews in all the Arab nations are treated — meaning that they would be largely expelled from the region.  It is advocating ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East.”

J Street did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

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