Israel, Antisemitism, and Self-Thinking Gentiles

Photograph Source: AVRAM GRAICER – CC BY-SA 3.0

The modern rules regarding what constitutes acceptable discourse on any topic, let alone the Middle East, seem to center on how people’s feelings are impacted by how others feel. So I feel safe in saying that I have no idea how to discuss Judaism and Zionism and the absolute right for Israel to exist in security without pissing most everyone off.

What’s more, living in an age where “God gave this to us!” is considered a provable argument, my being a satirist who read the Bible cover to cover and found it mostly hilarious certainly won’t help de-infuriate the situation. But here goes.

There are all kinds of Jews with all kinds of opinions and they often label each other in demeaning ways. Peter Beinart is willing to endure the slander of being called self-hating for his views because as a Jew, he is entitled to his opinion. But I believe an underappreciated aspect of the conversation is the way self-thinking Gentiles tend to self-censor rather than participate because they feel unentitled to offer their honest opinion.

You don’t need to be Gore Vidal or Edward Said to think it’s becoming easier and easier to miscategorize legitimate criticism of Israeli policy as antisemitism. To somehow turn acknowledging the Nakba into a latent form of Holocaust denial. So if you’re like me you tend to not mention things. That the Irgun and the Stern Gang weren’t canvassers, or that Count Folke Bernadotte didn’t spend the 1950s in a suite at the King David Hotel, or that Rachel Corrie did not perish in a landscaping mishap.

Evangelical Christians, untroubled by such rationality, don’t have this problem. They get to fanatically drool over a militarily militant Israel as the necessary precursor to Jesus eventually meandering his way earthward to sit atop a throne of skulls beside a sea of boiling bones. Though they fail to mention that many of those boiling bones they lust for will be from unconverted Hebrews. Which as codicils go seems a bit of a red flag.

But again, this is my problem (and maybe it’s a non-existent one for anyone who doesn’t find hypocrisy hypocritical), so let’s talk about me. I don’t seek to hold Israel to a higher standard. There are more than enough injustices and refugee camps in the world without having to fixate on Israel or Saudi Arabia or Iraq or any nation which emerged from Arthur Balfour’s distracted protractor.

The truth is if Palestinians also had obsequious Capitol Hill support, decades of narrative-enhancing editorial coverage, and limitless financial backing from scabrous billionaires seeking to cleanse their souls by embracing Yahweh’s lease agreement containing a 3,000 year sublet option I’d be filled with equanimity around settling the whole dispute.

However, the country is growing dangerously more isolated, paranoid, and theocratic. No wait! THAT’S THE UNITED STATES! Israel claims to be both a Jewish and a democratic state… without a constitution or defined borders. Which may require a level of smiting and co-opting unseen since the age when Babylon imposed their one-kingdom solution. So I guess the really important thing is to ensure that nuclear weapons never fall into the hands of a fascistic terrorist like Iran’s Ali Khamenei but remain in the hands of semi-non fascistic semi-non terrorists like Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump?!?

Actually. Spike that graph.

It should be obvious to anyone paying attention that the United States has as much right to be called an honest broker in the Middle East as W.C.Fields’ Sheriff John Huxley had for being called “Honest John.” With regard to the Palestinian people, America more accurately represents the senior partner in The Three Stooges law firm of DEWEY (U.S.) CHEATEM (Abbas) & HOWE (Arab world).

Palestinians are subjected to a thousand and one daily humiliations and maybe they always will be. Maybe they are not even a people. The powerful will always describe the powerless in whatever way they choose. But the least everyone can do, while olive groves are plowed under and razor wire strung and water resources diverted and innocent children suffocate in the cramped squalor of Jenin, is be unafraid to throw verbal stones at the obscene level of unconditional money our country gives Israel to finance apartheid adjacent humiliations.

It should not require much thought to oppose gratuitous barbarity. I feel anyone’s entitled to say that.

Jerry Long is a writer, actor, podcaster and political satirist who, with his brother Joe, has worked with Adam McKay on numerous projects. He can also be reached at