Can One Be Anti-American About Israel?

Does Criticism of Israel equate to anti-Americanism?

Apparently, criticizing Israel is anti-American; to extrapolate – to bring back the simplicity of the Bush years – criticizing Israel now means that you hate freedom and apple pie and baseball. To say that the illegal occupation of Palestine is immoral and counter-productive means, in essence, that you are a terrorist. You are with them not us. You are against every American value because you criticize Israel, or something like that.

Antony Lowenstein highlights a Wikileaks article on what it means to be anti-American:

Discussing a draft declaration from South American and Arab State leaders, a United States government operative lists a series of “anti-American digs” against the US and Israel that were later excluded from the text.

The Wikileaks document discusses a declaration from South American and Arab State leaders in 2005, from which several references to American and Israeli policy were dropped by Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Patricio Zuquilanda. As Mike Soron says, this is an “unusually clear  window into a USG operatives’s worldview at the time.” The Wikileaks document – naturally – does not say that anti-Israel comments equate to anti-Americanism, but both sets of comments were noted and excluded. Perhaps more interesting is the type of comment that was deemed anti-Israel and thus appropriate for deletion:

  • Emphasis that Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders;
  • Noting that Middle East peace requires a nuclear-free region; and
  • Consideration of the 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice concerning the Apartheid Wall in Palestine.
None of these comments can be logically classified as anti-Israel. They are legitimate criticisms of specific Israeli policies that are backed up by international law and international institutions. Criticism of policy cannot be considered anti-Israel or anti-American. It has nothing to do with the rejection of Israel or the United States as countries, but rather with specific choices made by the government. Are those criticizing Obama’s health plan anti-American as well? Moreover, should the United States be in charge of deleting criticism of another country from the internal documents of third-party countries? Would the United States exclude criticism of France or Britain from international documents?
Photo from Egyptian Stories

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