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General Articles
Should Criticism of Israel Be Equated with Anti-Semitism?


Editorial Note

Our post on Academic Freedom and Operation Protective Edge in Gaza has received a number of comments from readers.  One, from John Kelly, a professor of chemical engineering at the Faculty of Engineering of University College Dublin (UCD), a veteran pro-Palestinian advocate and a vehement critic of Israel, raises two important issues thus meriting a response. 


First, Professor Kelly states that our post suggests that all criticism of Israel should be equated with anti-Semitism.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Over the years, IAM has constantly stated that even harsh criticism of Israel is a legitimate part of the discourse and should not be labelled anti-Semitic.  The only exception to this rule is provided by the European Union's “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” that is currently used by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).   According to the working definition, comparing Israeli behavior toward Palestinians to that of Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews, is considered a new form anti-Semitism.  We are including the link to the document for Professor Kelly to peruse


Second, Professor Kelly accuses the IDF of committing horrible war crimes during the current Gaza operation and states that “Israel will pay a horrible price”. There is no disputing the fact that Palestinians civilians suffered grievously during the still ongoing conflict; pictures of innocent women and children killed and maimed touch the hearts of decent people everywhere.

The pertinent question, however, is who is responsible for this suffering.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad are jihadist terror groups that follow the strategic doctrine the Koranic Concept of War of Brigadier General S. K. Malik of the Pakistani High Command.   Malik states that in fighting the enemy, there should be no distinction between uniformed combatants and civilians. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards adopted Malik’s strategy developed tactics of suicide bombings, first used in Lebanon in the 1980s, and then by Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Israel, starting in the early 1990s.  After Israel build the separation barriers, rocket and missiles attacks on Israeli civilians have become the weapon of choice.    

More interesting, Brigadier General Malik asserts that Muslim civilians should see themselves as willing combatants whose sacrificies will be qualify them to become shahids, martyrs.  Hamas has used this assertion to position itself in densely populated area, mosques, schools and hospitals, effectively turning civilians into human shields.   For instance, the central command of Hamas is known to be located under the Shifa Hospital in Gaza.  The miles and miles of tunnels were dug under residential areas.  

Fighting a terror group that adopted the Koranic Concept of War is inherently difficult.  The IDF is called upon to abide by the Geneva Conventions that call for maximum protection of civilian population.  Indeed, to minimize casualties, the military dropped leaflets, made phone calls and texted residents.  While most left, some were blocked by operatives and some decided to stay on their own accord. Hamas, who spent millions of dollars on constructing a most elaborate system of tunnels, did not built one shelter for civilians, The UN schools that housed thousands are a poor substitute for proper concrete and steel reinforced shelters; some were hit during the operation, mostly because terrorists - in a bid for protection - located their positions nearby or by an errant Israeli munition.  In spite of tremendous strides in precision weaponry, no war is free of mistakes, including several instances of death by friendly fire in the IDF.


As a terror group, Hamas is primarily dedicated for its ideological goal of destroying Israel - a goal clearly spelled in its founding charter.  Responsibility for the welfare of the population under its control is a distance second.  While pleading poverty, the group found untold millions to build the sophisticated tunnel infrastructure and purchased missiles from North Korea, among others.   Stiff levies - of up to twenty five percent - are imposed on all commercial activities in Gaza and an array of taxes flows into the coffers of Hamas, providing a plush life style for the leaders.  Criticism of the authorities is punished very severely and no public protest is allowed.  Indeed, during a rare demonstration against Hamas’ conduct of the Gaza conflict, thirty protesters were shot.

As a scientist, Professor Kelly should appreciate the above fact. As a fair-minded person, he should concede that Israel is not the only one to blame for the tragic events unfolding in Gaza.  Such an admission is necessary if he wants to part company with the group of hard-core pro-Palestinian advocates, the ones for whom Israel can never do any right and the Palestinians can never do any wrong.”

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Re: Academic Freedom and Operation Protective Edge in Gaza
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 23:52:48 +0100
From: john kelly
To: IAM e-mail

Please please, will you and anyone else who is listening stop equating anti Israel with anti semitism. 

They are two totally different things altogether and when used, it is an admission of failure in one’s argument.  

The Jewish race has made enormous contributions to the cultural, scientific, and artistic activities in the world since time immemorial despite the most terrible persecutions, but in Israel, their record of human rights violations on the Palestinian people is appalling and in Gaza, it is criminal, and I believe the Israeli Government will pay for that with terrible consequences. 

It is sad that the Israeli Government ignored the plea of the world renowned Jewish violinist, Yehudi Menuhin, when he addressed the Knesset having received the Wolf Prize with the words:

The wasteful governing by fear by this Government , by its contempt of the basic needs of life, the steady asphyxiation of a dependent people, should be the very last means to be adopted by those who know only too well the awful significance, the unforgivable suffering of such an existence, It is unworthy of my great people, the Jews, who have striver to abide by a code or moral rectitude for some 500 years”.

Professor Emeritus John Kelly
University College Dublin

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    1.  Yes! It is anti Semitism!
     From Israel Bar-Nir, Sent in 05-08-2014
    2.  Riled
     From Steven Sherman, Sent in 05-08-2014
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