‘That’s Where the Line Is Drawn’: Noa Tishby Explains Difference Between Antisemitism, Criticism of Israel on ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’
by Shiryn Ghermezian
Noa Tishby, Israel’s special envoy for combating antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel, broke down the fundamental differences between antisemitism and being critical of the state of Israel during her appearance on Friday on HBO’s talk series Real Time With Bill Maher.
During the “overtime” segment of the show, Maher asked questions submitted online by fans that were then discussed by his panel of guests, which included Tishby, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who is also co-chair of the Forward Party. One such question was directly for Tishby, and the former actress was asked to explain how people can differentiate between “legitimate criticism” of Israel and antisemitism.
Tishby began by explaining that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism,” which garnered loud applause from the studio audience.
“There’s nothing wrong with criticizing the Israeli government, the Israeli government’s policies, politicians,” she continued, “[but] if you’re trying to dismantle the Jewish state; if you’re trying to go against the existence of the state of Israel, that’s where the line is drawn. Sadly, there are a lot of people who are criticizing Israel, and that’s totally fine, but there are a lot of people that are saying Israel is not a legitimate country. And that is unacceptable.”
Slotkin added that it is not antisemitism to care about the wellbeing of Palestinians in Israel, to which Tishby agreed. The Congresswoman explained, “I think that sometimes people go too far and they say any criticism of Israel is antisemitism [and] every concern about the Palestinians is antisemitism, and that’s also BS.” Tishby said she fully supports Slotkin’s remarks.
In 2021, Tishby published a book called Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth.
Earlier in the show, she and Maher discussed the Israeli government’s plans for a judiciary overhaul, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which Tishby believes is “going too far.” Tishby also said the protests currently taking place in Israel against the government’s judicial reform are an example of “democracy on full display.”
She added, “the biggest problem within the Israeli system is that there’s no constitution, so right now, what we’re seeing is a conflict between the government and the Supreme Court. The government wants to take too much power basically and overrule the Supreme Court decision by a simple majority, and the Israeli people are rebelling against this. This is quite amazing what’s happening.”