If You Want to Criticize Israel, First Support Its Right to Exist
Imagine yourself sitting in a college classroom excited to learn more about the world around you. Your professor has invited an Italian speaker from Italy to share his love for his country.
Your high hopes for this conversation are instantly disregarded when several students in the class interrupt the discussion. Instead of listening and asking important questions, they decide to stand up and demean Italians and their country before exiting the event.
Meanwhile, Italian students in the class immediately feel isolated. They do not know who they can turn to, and worry no one will support them against these baseless attacks.
Surely, anyone who witnessed this would label it as bigotry against Italians and their home country. This same response would be true if any country and its people were singled out and unfairly targeted.
That is, of course, unless it comes to Israel and the Jewish people.
On campuses across America, antisemitism is rising drastically, and it often festers from the belief that the Jewish homeland does not have the right to defend itself.
Those who ascribe to this belief are anti-Zionists, meaning they stand in opposition to Israel’s existence. Although they do not argue that any other country is illegitimate, regardless of how corrupt and bloody its origins, they adamantly single Israel out in this manner.
I first encountered this on my campus when Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) members compared life in Israeli society to the racism experienced during apartheid in South Africa.
To further spread misinformation, members of this anti-Israel group constructed a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) wall in the center of my campus. As students passed, SJP members claimed that Jewish people were colonialists, completely ignoring they are indigenous to the land.
This hatred continued when I hosted a CAMERA on Campus speaker to discuss his time serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. Instead of attending the event and contributing to a critical conversation, members of SJP first acted as if they were attendees. They then stood up, waved anti-Israel signs, and walked out before the speaker could even share his views.
Members of these anti-Israel groups do not want to have a conversation, because they realize they do not have facts to support their arguments.
For example, they ignore that the Jewish people are indigenous to Israel by overlooking the reality that there has been a continual Jewish presence in Israel for the past 3,000 years. They also ignore that the name “Palestine” was actually given to the territory by Roman conquerors who overtook the land in 70 CE.
Anti-Israel campus groups attempt to economically strangle Israel through BDS campaigns by stating that Israel is a racist nation. Evidence, however, shows that half of Israel’s Jews are not white, and that one out of every five Israelis is not a Jew. This minority group consists mostly of Israeli Arabs, who are provided with the same rights as Jews and serve in its government at all levels.
Further adding to this list of factually incorrect arguments, anti-Zionists claim that Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, is standing in the way of peace in the Middle East. This misconception completely disregards the five times Israel has officially offered land in exchange for peace, which were all summarily rejected.
These facts are not presented as proof that Israel is a perfect nation. Like any country in the world, Israel faces its own difficulties and deserves to be criticized for its faults.
However, instead of being evaluated equally, Israel is constantly singled out by those who seek to harm its existence. As a result of this injustice, antisemitism continues to rise as Jews face increased attacks against both them and the Jewish state.
For those who seek to criticize Israel, all that I ask is for you to hold it to the same standard you choose to apply to all countries. I ask that you support its right to exist to allow it to make improvements, instead of advocating for the destruction that erases its ability to do so.
Taylor Roth serves as the Digital Media Associate for Christians United for Israel and the founder of its University of Florida chapter. She also is a fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.