Witt: ‘Anti-Semitic’ gets tossed around too much

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Anti-Semitic is a very nasty term.

It is one that gets bandied about with too much abandon, especially by politicians who seek to gain some advantage over their opponents by attaching the label to them.

Of course, anti-Semitism exists in this country and in several countries throughout the world. It is not a hidden impulse. In many places it exhibits itself through violence, through graffiti, even through governmental policies.

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Unfortunately, any utterance against the state of Israel is too easily construed to be a condemnation of the Jewish religion.

That is what politicians bank on when they attach the term to their opponents, banking on linking any utterance against the state of Israel to an attack on the religion of a people.

But discussing or even questioning the actions of the state of Israel do not necessarily conflate with anti-Semitism.

After all, Israel has been found guilty of actively spying on the U.S. — as probably most of this country’s allies also do — in efforts to solidify its position in the Middle East.

There is an active political action group, AIPAC, which constantly works within the halls of government to help formulate policy favorable to Israel.

Israel occupies a special place in the workings of the U.S. government and in the minds of the American people, the former because of Israel’s role which is seen as a leavening agent in the turmoil which pervades the region (a feeling which is probably exactly the opposite of reality), and the latter because of the country’s Biblical link to Christianity.

Historically, Israel, as a state, did not exist for nearly 2,000 years, the area being subjugated to rule under many different suzerainties throughout that period.

It was not until 1948 the state of Israel was officially re-established by vote of the United Nations, replacing it for Palestine.

For centuries, Jews had lived in Palestine, apparently in relative peace and harmony.

Following the end of World War II, the nations of the world were finally exposed to the results of the Holocaust (although its existence was never a complete secret during the war) and a universal guilt overtook those nations who sought to assuage that guilt.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 did much to facilitate the establishment of the state of Israel as it declared the desire to establish such a state.

The Balfour Declaration by Joseph Schneer goes into great detail about how this declaration came about.

But is it inconsequential to question whether or not the United Nations, even acting as one body representing most of the world’s nations, had the ultimate right to declare Palestine, a land long ruled by an Arab population, a new state, one obviously devoted to a single religion?

Today, the link between Israel and the United States is probably as strong as it has ever been. Yet, the very existence of Israel is a major factor keeping this country embroiled in the politics and animosities of the region.

It is regrettable two religions must be so at odds in such a small corner of the world, with sacred sites for each competing for the same ground, but it appears destined to remain so, ad infinitum.

But examining the how and the why of the state of Israel does not make one an anti-Semite and any such link should be abandoned.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.