Is criticism of Israel antisemitic?

Criticism of Israel or of the policies of the Israeli government is not automatically antisemitic. For example, anyone is free to reject or criticise the Israeli government's policy regarding the Palestinian territories. This happens in Israel, too.

Even taking action against Israel or in favour of the Palestinian cause is not automatically hateful towards all Jews and therefore not necessarily a form of antisemitism. In theory, it should be possible to disagree about everything that has to do with the State of Israel. Among Jews, too, opinion is often divided.

But it is increasingly difficult to have a proper discussion about 'Zionism' or a normal, critical debate about Israel. Positions have hardened. Emotions run high. Look around on the internet or on social media: Israel is frequently compared to Nazi Germany. You will read things like: what Israel is doing to the Palestinians now is the same as the systematic extermination of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War.

The comparison is not only inappropriate, it is also wrong and offensive. Although the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has claimed victims, it cannot be compared to extermination. Making such comparisons really is antisemitic.

Criticism of Israel often ties in with antisemitic myths and symbols. You may come across hurtful, hateful cartoons about rich Jews or about Israel pulling the strings behind the scenes. Using those images and symbols to criticise Israel evokes memories of persecutions from the past, of the Holocaust. They fit in with the long history of antisemitism.