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Criticism of Israel is not Anti-Semitic – but it quickly leads there

A controversial anti-Israel conference held in Ireland raised once again an old debate over when criticism of Israel is legitimate, and when it is a thin cover for deeply rooted anti-Semitism. This debate is important because to effectively combat anti-Semitism and protect Europe's Jewish communities, it is necessary to distinguish between criticism of Israel, anti-Zionism, and simply Jew hatred. In this op-ed for the European Jewish Press, I offer critical tools to decide whether something is legitimate critique, anti-Zionist or outright anti-Semitic.

I then discuss an overlooked incident, where three men fire-bombed a German synagogue claiming it was in protest over Israeli military actions. The German court refused to recognize this act as anti-Semitic. I claim that while many times the line between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic are blurry, this incident and the court decision were extremely troubling as they assume that all Jews are in some way responsible or connected to Israeli actions. This is text-book anti-Semitism and therefore was imperative the court recognize this and denounce the act as pure and unacceptable anti-Semitism.

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