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When is criticism of Israel legitimate?

No democratic states should consider themselves immune to rebuke but no one should be discussing their right to exist either. Op-ed.


Clearly, not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic. As the late American sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset explained, no democratic states should consider themselves immune to rebuke. “Israel is a liberal democratic state,” he said, recalling that, “in ancient Israel, the Biblical prophets devised the art of self-criticism.”

A useful key in determining whether the criticism in question is legitimate or just antisemitism disguised as such was offered by journalist Edward Rothstein, who suggested examining the “standards of justice.” When they are “applied in profoundly distorted fashion, when those distortions put the literal survival of a society at stake, and when murders are taking place and explicitly encouraged declarations are being made that may even fit university standards for ‘hate speech,’ it is safe to say the rhetoric is no longer honest criticism, but, rather, antisemitism,” he said.


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