After the Washington congresswoman Pramila Jayapal referred to Israel as “a racist state” at a far-left conference last week, Michelle Goldberg—one of the New York Times’s anti-Israel columnists—rushed to her defense. Amidst a flurry of anti-Zionist libels, Goldberg disingenuously described Jayapal’s statement as a “gaffe.” She also expressed the familiar opinion—one shared, inter alia, by her fellow political commentator Nick Fuentes—that, “when it comes to American politics,” Israel is “protected by a thick lattice of taboos.” Abe Greenwald comments:
Israel is defamed in the dominant press, boycotted by politicians, athletes, and celebrities, denounced by global bodies, demonized on campuses, dragged through the social-media mud, and criticized by increasing numbers of Israelis and American Jews, including Zionists. If this is a country protected from criticism, just imagine if critics were free to speak their minds.
The claim of a taboo against criticizing Israel is itself an anti-Semitic trope, the most obscenely common and casual one there is. But think of what it really means: you’re just calling people anti-Semitic because they’re saying things the Jews don’t want you to hear. No one put it more primitively than [Congresswoman Ilhan] Omar, who tweeted “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” (Don’t worry, she “apologized.”) The claim takes as a given that Jews have a stranglehold on media, politics, and money, and can therefore control the national discourse. Michelle Goldberg’s own paper trades in it regularly and has for a long time, even as it throws up headline after headline describing Israel as a racist autocracy.
This is no claim for Israel’s victim status. The Jewish state can take it. Swing away. Give it your best shot. The critics aren’t doing a very good job. Despite all the calumnies and hit jobs, Israel is thriving and building alliances. That’s because it isn’t protected by some invisible mesh of censorship. It’s defended by Iron Dome, the IDF, the faith and innovation of its people, and the workings of its rugged democracy. Joe Biden, having struck out with the scolding approach, has just invited Netanyahu to the United States. Let’s see just how restrained Israel’s critics are about that.