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Is There Anti-Semitism in the Divest-from-Israel campaign?
Some people have asked if there are anti-Semitic undertones in the divest-from-Israel campaign. In order to answer that question, we first have to examine campaign, the motivation, the desired target and effect. Sure, it is easy to make the charge of anti-Semitism or racism, but you have to make sure the charge is legitimate before making it.

Looking at the campaign, there is no doubt that it is meant to destroy Israel itself because it is geared toward destroying Israel's economy as part of the larger and official Arab boycott of Israel as organized and enforced by the Arab League's Central Office for the Boycott of Israel located in Syria. The Arab League views the creation of Israel as "'Al Nagba," or "The Disaster," which is hardly an endearing term to describe the creation of the modern state of Israel.

Israel has a tenuous peace with Egypt that is only preserved by $2B annual US aid to Egypt, but that is the exception, not the rule. Overall, Arab countries and the vast majority of Arabs around the world want to see nothing more than the complete destruction of Israel. This is not a new revelation. The question is if there is a link between being anti-Israel and being anti-Semitic.

First, we must look at the terms 'anti-Semitic' and 'anti-Semitism. There is an Arab campaign that claims Arabs can not be anti-Semitic because they are Semitic people too. The problem with that claim is that the origin of the words is based entirely on hatred of Jews and has nothing to do with Arabs, thus making the argument disingenuous. The Oxford Dictionary states that the first known usage of the word "anti-Semite" was German in origin and during the Nazi era.

The word "anti-Semitism" has always specifically referred to Jews and only Jews from a linguistic standpoint. Therefore the word "anti-Semitism" is in direct reference to Jews and only Jews. Those wishing to change the definition are really trying to remove Israel as a central part of Judaism.

Linguistically, we see that anti-Semitism refers only to Jews, but that's not all. The greatest civil rights leader of our times, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commented on the issue.

Dr. Seymour Martin Lipset, who is currently the Hazel Professor of Public Policy of George Mason University and a professor at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, wrote an article of interest over thirty years ago. The noted sociologist and political analyst wrote an article "The Socialism of Fools: The Left, the Jews and Israel" which was published in the December, 1969 (page 24) edition of Encounter magazine, and was reprinted in other publications.

The article states: "Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr., was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge...One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, "Don't talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism!"

On a religious note, Zion, meaning Israel, is a central part of the Jewish religion and can not be separated out from it. Jews, no matter where they are in the world, pray in the direction of Jerusalem. The Bible uses the word Zion as a direct reference to the land of Israel and Jerusalem. Much of Jewish law can only be practiced in Israel and Israel is a central theme in Jews prayer. Attempts to remove Israel from Judaism are comparable to removing the cross from Catholicism.

Nationally syndicated columnist and radio talk show host Dennis Prager authored the book "Why The Jews? The Reason For Antisemitism" with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin in which they wrote: "There is only one possible reason people isolate Israel of all the countries in the world to deny its right to existence. That is because Israel is the only Jewish state. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism…"
A more historically significant quote is from the Holocaust era: "In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." - Pastor Martin Niemoller

Pastor Niemoller brings up an important point. Historically, the US looked at terrorism as something that only happened in Israel, but now it is happening here. Now divestment is aimed at Israel, but it could also be pointed here some time in the future. Hitler claimed not to hate Jews but rather just loving Germans. Are we fooled by those who just claim to be politically correct?

That leaves the more fundamental question: Is There an underlying Anti-Semitism in the Divest-from-Israel campaign?
© 2005 Divestment Watch