Looks like the pressure is getting to Bibi. Last week the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu as saying that Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s top advisers, were “self-hating Jews.” The Likud leader later denied having made the statement.
Apparently, the President’s firmer hand with our Middle Eastern ally is beginning to show. Obama has been openly critical in recent months of ever-expanding Israeli settlements, which he sees as a primary roadblock to peace, a stance Netanyahu has angrily rejected. Last week the U.S. joined the U.N. in condemning a series of particularly egregious evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
And there are rumors that Washington would like the Israeli government to give Bibi the heave-ho.
In using such epithets as “self-hating Jew,” the Likud government is resorting to a ploy from the Hard Right Zionist Playbook: If a Gentile criticizes your actions, he is an anti-semite; if he’s a Jew, he must be the self-hating variety—since it cannot be that your actions are wrong. By the same standard, the following would also be considered self-hating Jews: Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, etc.
Most of the American media is cowed by such tactics. That’s why we hear so little criticism of Israel here. But unlike the U.S., Israel itself still has something called “freedom of the press.” So ironically, if you want a more balanced view, you need to fly to Tel Aviv.
In case anyone has a doubt, there is a vast difference between criticizing the policies of a bullying and unrestrained Israeli government and making anti-Semitic statements that show disrespect for all Jews as a race. The former is free speech; the latter is hate speech. Modern-day Israel is a secular state; it is not the kingdom of God on earth, and it’s certainly not above criticism. One can also disagree with Israeli policies without being “anti-Israeli,” just as we can criticize the actions of our own government without necessarily being labeled “anti-American.” “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” says Proverbs.
The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel (1948) states clearly and proudly:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
One other, more pragmatic observation. If I were Bibi, I would think Mr. Emanuel would be the last person I would go out of my way to tick off. He doesn’t seem like the forgiving type.