Antisemitism and criticism of Israel | Letters

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Elspeth Knights and Clare Morley respond to Howard Jacobson

I do not share Howard Jacobson’s bewilderment when Zionism is denounced (In the shadow of an unseen enemy, 7 April). Until the international community, including Israel and Palestine, has agreed where Israel is on the map, it will be criticised. Its place became a matter of doubt in the 1960s, when Israel no longer confined itself to its internationally agreed borders. Israel might be perceived as a refuge by Jews worldwide, but refuges do not expand to take over neighbouring territory.

This expansion has been justified in some popular discourse by a crude interpretation of Zionism that takes the Bible as divinely ordained property deeds for existing and potential Israeli territory. That non-religious rationalists and people with different views of religion demur is hardly surprising. I appreciate why, in the light of mid-20th century history, the Israeli state might be unreservedly supported, and why, in the light of its disproportionate action against civilians, its wars and its walls, it is also opposed. I am aware that antisemitism is used in anti-Israeli propaganda, but I reject any conflation of rational criticism of Israel’s foreign policy with antisemitism.

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