Israel: I’m afraid it is about antisemitism

Alec Dubro
4 min readMay 18, 2019

The progressive campaign against Israel is indeed rife with antisemitism

I’m Jewish and I’ve spent a good deal of time, effort and money opposing Israeli actions. I’ve marched with Palestinians; written an anti-occupation op-ed for Ha’aretz and received a blizzard of hate mail; been put on a list of Jewish traitors; contributed annually to Jewish peace groups and alienated family members. I think Israel is engaged in a deadly and illegal campaign against a subjugated population. And I can’t stand Netanyahu.

But after more than a half century of dealing with this conflict, I just have to say it: Yes, I think much of the left criticism of Israel is riddled with unacknowledged antisemitism. How do I know this? Because of historical and personal experience, I feel it. And so do most Jews.

And I say this at a time when the left seems wholly supportive of American Jews in every other aspect — unless they support Israel. It seems like a paradox but antisemitism is neither consistent nor always apparent. In the case of Israel, the question is not whether any particular action or statement aimed at Israel — say, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement — is antisemitic. Rather, it’s the entire gestalt of making Israel into the worst human rights violator on the planet. And if it’s not, why is it being singled out in this way?

Lately, it seems that half of my Facebook posts on foreign affairs are fulminations — sometimes unfounded — about Israel. Israel has become a poison to add to the brew when you need to vilify a political enemy. For instance, during a union organizing campaign at Starbucks, I had activists tell me that proof of the coffee seller’s malignancy was that it had “opened stores in the West Bank.” Starbucks had done no such thing; in fact, for financial reasons, it had closed its few stores in Tel Aviv years earlier. But the mere mention of Israel was enough to taint Starbucks not just as a recalcitrant employer, but as the imagined perpetrator of political and moral crimes, just as Jews have too often been.

Israel is such an exemplar of state evil that its name is often an epithet. I’ve recently become a fan of Canada’s all-time most popular sitcom, Corner Gas. It’s set in a fictional Saskatchewan Podunk called Dog River. There…

Alec Dubro

Alec Dubro was a warehouse worker. He was also a Rolling Stone record reviewer, a journalist and president of the National Writers Union