Criticism of Israel Is Not Antisemitism


John Scales Avery – TRANSCEND Media Service

Outstanding Contributions of Jewish Culture

Let us begin by recognizing the brilliant contributions that Jewish intellectuals have given to the world. Of the three great monotheistic Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Judaism was the first. Thus the religious traditions of much of the world have their roots in Jewish culture.

We should also acknowledge the remarkable intellectual achievements of thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Niels Bohr, Hanna Adler, Emmy Noether, Noam Chomsky, and many, many more. Interested readers can look at a more complete list HERE.

Jews Have Suffered Terrible Persecutions

One must also think of the terrible suffering that the Jewish people have endured, for example, exiles into Babylon and Egypt, persecutions under the Roman Emperor Hadrian, pogroms during the Middle Ages in Europe, and more recently in Russia, and finally the unspeakable genocide inflicted in the Jewish people of Europe by Nazi Germany.

These Facts Should Not Make Israel Immune to Criticism

Criticism of the state of Israel is by no means the same as antisemitism. We can acknowledge the great contributions of Jewish culture and brilliant Jewish individuals and at the same time criticize the state of Israel. There is much to criticize. The international community was unanimous in condemning apartheid in South Africa, but the state of Israel has pursued a policy of apartheid as cruel as that of South Africa – or perhaps even worse. Furthermore, Israel has repeatedly launched aggressive military attacks and wars against its neighbours, Lebanon and Syria, and is threatening to attack Iran.

Sabotaging Jeremy Corbyn

Neither British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn nor his party is antisemitic. But Corbyn is not afraid to criticize the government of Israel. For this reason, Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has taken the unprecedented step of interfering in an election by attacking Corbyn as an antisemite.

Not only is this demonstrably untrue, but also the two things are not the same. Criticising Israel is not the same as antisemitism.


John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf).


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Dec 2019.

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