When you hear anti-Israel activists chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” or see the maps with the whole of Israel replaced by “Palestine”, those involved in attacking Israel clearly have a problem with Israel as a country that goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel policy towards the West Bank, settlements or “occupation”.
For some people, however, their politics blind them to the reality. M.J. Rosenberg is one of them. Writing in the LA Times and Chicago Tribune, he argues that “delegitimization is just a distraction”:
So why are the pro-Israel organizations talking about it? The answer is simple: They are trying to divert attention from the intensifying world opposition to the occupation of the West Bank and to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, both of which, by almost any standard, are illegitimate. They are trying to divert attention from the ever-expanding settlements, which are not only illegitimate but illegal under international law. They are trying to divert attention from the ever-louder calls for Israel to grant Palestinians equal rights.
It is intellectually shallow of Rosenberg to claim that pro-Israel organizations across the board (including HonestReporting) are highlighting the issue of delegitimization simply to divert attention away from opposition to Israeli policies.
Sure – some organizations are ideogically invested in advocating certain policies. But many more are not.
It is precisely due to the fact that it has become increasingly difficult to hold a rational debate over the issues that Rosenberg mentions without encountering extreme hatred and demonization of Israel and Israelis that pro-Israel organizations are having to address delegitimization.
Even if it were purely Israeli policies that are driving criticism of Israel then Rosenberg needs to recognize that the criticism itself has gone beyond proportionate or acceptable discourse.
When Israelis hear Zionism being attacked, they hear their right to their own nation state being assaulted rather than criticism of a particular government or Israel’s relations with the Palestinians.
Sorry M.J. but you’re obviously living in an alternate reality.