April 2, 2009
When does criticism of Israel cross the line to become anti-Semitism? Few other questions are so hotly debated. Was former CIA agent Michael Scheuer just being dramatic when he recently fumed that “Israel-Firsters are unquestionably enemies of America’s republican experiment and will have to be destroyed”? And what about Pat Oliphant’s cartoon about Gaza that featured a headless, goose-stepping soldier threatening a Gazan mother and child with what one blogger charitably called a “Star of David-shaped shark unicycle”? Was Oliphant unfairly maligned or just inadequately medicated?
Some say anti-Semitism is in the eye of the beholder and cannot be objectively measured. And others say conjunctivitis is also in the eye of the beholder but can be accurately diagnosed. To close the gap between these camps, I offer the following test. Use it whenever you are not sure if what you are reading is anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, or an editorial in Ha’aretz.
A. What term does the writer use to refer to the Jewish state?
- The Zionist entity
B. To whom does the commentator compare Israel’s military?
- The Rebel Alliance in Star Wars
- The United States in Vietnam
- The French in Algeria
- The Gestapo in Hell
C. How soon does the word “Holocaust” appear in the comment or essay?
- Not at all
- In the first paragraph, right before “Once the Jews were oppressed, now they have become…”
- In the first sentence, contained in quotation marks
- In the paragraph about Palestinian casualties, but with a lower-case “h”
D. On which network is the commentator most likely to appear?
- Fox News
- Al Jazeerah
E. To which of the following does the commentator compare the pro-Israel lobby?
- The National Rifle Association
- Skull and Bones
- The Trilateral Commission
- The Elders of Zion
F. How does the writer refer to Hamas?
- “An Islamofascist terror outfit”
- “Gaza’s democratically elected government”
- “An unfairly maligned social service agency”
- “My good friends Khaled and Ismail”
G. Who is cited in the footnotes?
- Alan Dershowitz and Ed Koch
- Jeffrey Goldberg and Thomas Friedman
- Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer
- Noam Chomsky and Jimmy Carter
H. Where did the writer stay while doing his research?
- At the King David Hotel
- At the Intercontinental Hotel Jerusalem
- At an undisclosed location in southern Lebanon
- At the Harvard Square Hotel
I. What is the writer’s preferred solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
- One state, Jewish, with autonomy for Palestinian Arabs
- Two states, Israeli and Arab, living side by side in peace
- One state, with joint Israeli and Palestinian citizenship
- Two states, one for Arabs in Palestine, one for Jews in Eastern Europe — or, maybe, Brooklyn
J. What does the commentator see as the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East?
- Palestinian intransigence
- Israeli intransigence
- The “cycle of violence”
- A Star of David-shaped shark unicycle
Scoring: Take your blood pressure before and after reading an op-ed or listening to a speech on the Middle East. If it rises precipitously, call your doctor — and the Anti-Defamation League.