Last Updated: 8th March 2009, 7:31am
Today being the official end for another year of Israeli Apartheid Week, let's address the absurd lament from its enthusiasts that you can't criticize Israel today without being labelled an anti-Semite.
Bull. First, let's dispense with "anti-Semite" -- a confusing term since Arabs can be Semites and many Jews aren't.
Instead, let's call it what it is -- "Jew hatred."
So, can people criticize Israel without being accused of Jew hatred? Of course.
Jews and non-Jews, living both in Israel and the Diaspora, criticize Israel all the time without being accused of Jew hatred.
Some of the strongest criticism can be found in the influential Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.
In fact, it always amuses me when Jew haters send me e-mails citing Jewish writers criticizing Israel -- their "logic" being that Israel is so evil, even Jews are attacking it.
First, unlike in much of the Arab/Muslim world, in Israel, criticizing the state isn't a one-way ticket to prison, torture or death.
Second, unlike in much of the Arab/Muslim world, Jewish religious leaders aren't known for issuing death threats against writers who offend them, which also tends to cut down on internal criticism.
By contrast, Jews criticize Israel all the time.
I think Israel's settlement of the West Bank, pursued for decades by both Labour and Likud governments, has been morally wrong, a strategic mistake and a major impediment to peace.
I believe the Israeli policy of bulldozing the family homes of terrorism suspects is an example of collective punishment, in effect, a war crime.
I don't like the Israeli system of proportional representation, which forces mainstream parties to make deals for power with small, extremist ones, whose policies are often racist to both Arabs and Jews.
None of that makes me a Jew hater.
As my Sun Media colleague and friend Michael Coren cleverly puts it, not all criticism of Israel indicates Jew hatred, but all Jew haters criticize Israel.
What's more, they criticize Israel exclusively and obsessively and never with any context.
The Jew hater never admits or mentions that if Israeli policies seem brutal to Canadians, part of the reason is that Israel resides in a much rougher neighbourhood -- the Mideast, not North America.
The Jew hater never admits or mentions that the Occupied Territories were occupied for a reason -- the repeated attempts of its Arab neighbours, starting on the day after Israel was created in 1948, to drive it into the sea.
The Jew hater condemns Israel for brutalities against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, while remaining silent about atrocities carried out against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims by other Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. That's because the Jew hater isn't motivated by love of anyone else, just hatred of Jews.
Taking his or her cue from Hamas, the Jew hater no longer even pretends to support a two-state solution in the Mideast -- an independent Palestine living in peace beside a secure Israel -- but today advocates a "one-state" solution, arguing the very idea of a Jewish state is racist.
To be sure, arguing in favour of a one-state solution isn't in itself evidence of Jew hatred.
It could be motivated by idealism, although, in my view, painfully naive.
The way to flush out the Jew haters, however, is to ask them whether they would make the same argument in favour of eliminating, say, the Islamic character of The Islamic Republic of Iran?
If the response is stunned silence or indignant doubletalk, that's a Jew hater.
Admittedly, it's harder to smoke out Jew haters than it used to be.
In the old days, they were pretty obvious -- the folks in love with Hitler, who simultaneously argue Jews control the world, the banks, the media and Hollywood, and who started the Second World War in order that ... uh ... Hitler could kill six million Jews in the Holocaust, which ... uh ... never really happened anyway. (Hey, I said they were Jew haters, I didn't say they were smart.)
Today, however, Jew hatred more often comes in the guise of a professed concern for human rights.
Except, of course, for Jews.
I'm just wondering. It's OK for us to criticize Israel so long as we also criticize the Arab countries surrounding Israel. It's not OK to criticize Israel based on its own actions.
If I wish to oppose the Alberta
Tar Oil-Sands Project, I guess I will have to include a comment about the Ayrabs controlling all that oil in the Middle East.