02 May '16..
Criticizing an Israeli action or policy is not anti-Semitic.
But demonizing Israel in a hate-filled rant with language not used against any other country in the world besides the Jewish state could very well be.
That’s just what Rachel Smalley, a prominent journalist in New Zealand, did a few years ago during the 2014 war in Gaza. (I’ll come back to that.) Now, she claims that accusations of anti-Semitism are out of line.
She was commenting on Naz Shah, a British MP who was recently suspended from the Labour Party for an anti-Israel Facebook post. Smalley took to the New Zealand Herald to ask:
Why is it that a criticism of Israel is so often viewed as a criticism of the Jewish faith? You can criticise any government in the world, any regime, and state, and it goes unnoticed – except Israel. You cannot criticise Israel without being attacked for it.So why indeed would anyone think that Smalley’s remarks in 2014 were anti-Semitic?
In 2014, I was very critical of the IDF when it bombed a United Nations school in Gaza, which was sheltering some 3000 civilians, despite the fact the UN had given the IDF the co-ordinates for that school many, many times to ensure it wasn’t targeted.
Still, it was bombed and people were killed.
And when I criticised Israel for that, the response was extraordinary. The letters, the emails, the abuse was quite unlike anything I’d had before – apparently I was anti-Semitic!
For starters, here’s a Facebook post from her show at the time:
Further, the New Zealand blog Whale Oil quoted Smalley saying:
I can’t report the situation in Gaza with balance anymore because there simply is none. Israel’s actions are abhorrent. The killing, the targeting of civilians, the toddlers and the babies who are dying every day. It reveals the Israeli regime for what it is – a callus anti-Palestinian killing machine.This is more than criticism over a military attack in which civilians were regrettably killed. This is an irate demonization of Israel. Perhaps the most telling line of her entire rant is when she asks:
Israel’s conflict should be with Hamas, but it’s not. It’s with the Palestinians. Almost two million people who live in the Gaza Strip, entrapped and caged in an area that is 40 kilometres long by ten kilometres wide. The bombardment of Gaza is akin to caged lion hunting in South Africa. There is no escape – only terror as bombs and bullets rain down.
The Israelis say they ‘regret’ when a civilian is killed. Rubbish! They regret nothing. They put no value on a Palestinian life.
“Is there a more arrogant and antagonistic administration in the world today?”
Yet Smalley is astonished that some responses to her vehement diatribe accused her of anti-Semitism.
For comparison, a few weeks ago, Smalley wrote on another foreign policy issue: the conflict in Syria (Syrian Conflict Changing Our World.)
You will not find her describe the Islamic State or any of the other groups responsible for hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths as “killing machines.” She does not label Assad’s murderous regime as the “most arrogant and antagonistic in the world.” She does not say that the parties to this devastating conflict “put no value“on Syrian life.
It’s not anti-Semitic that Smalley ignored reporting how Hamas used schools, hospitals, apartment buildings and mosques as places to store weapons, fire rockets, and cover tunnels — the real cause for the large number of Palestinian casualties. This only says she’s a flawed journalist.
However, when she combines one-sided, factually inaccurate journalism with words and phrases that she does not use anywhere else — that is what gives people a reason to question whether she is, in fact, anti-Semitic.
Whether or not she crossed the line of anti-Semitism herself, Smalley’s sleight-of-hand attempt to cloak her misleading accusations in the mantle of “legitimate criticism” is disingenuous.
Honest Reporting - Defending Israel From Media Bias
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