18 December 2017 14:24

Is every Israel criticism anti-Semitism?

Everyone who criticizes and does not approve the Israeli state is not anti-Semitic and should not be understood like that.

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Since the US President Donald Trump unilaterally declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, there have been various protests in Germany as well as in many parts of the world. Anti-Semitism has been once again debated in the country upon the burning of hand-scraped cloth pieces that symbolize Israeli flags in various demonstrations in Berlin.

After reflected the images of the burning flag in the press, many politicians, especially the Jewish Community, Prime Minister Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere, requested the prohibition of such demonstrations and the punishment of people who burned the flags. As a result, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel protest have been fallen in the same category. The sensitivity created by the massacres against Jews in Germany's past has an effect on this, of course.

According to the German Penal Code, those who damage the flag of a foreign country in a public area can be levied a fine or punished up to two years in prison. But it depends on the circumstances. If the damaged flag is hanged in an embassy before, for example, this article comes into play. However, there is no penalty for burning a flag which is bought from a store as in demonstrations or a hand-drawn flag. Nevertheless, an investigation was initiated against 10 demonstrators participating in the action. Although the investigation has not been started because of "burning a flag", it is no secret that this is in the background.

Of course, it is not a pleasant situation to burn a flag that represents a nation, a people and a country independently. However, it should not be exaggerated when it contains the protest against the administration of the country, not a hostility and hatred against a nation/belief; it should not be drawn in different directions.

In this case, it is now important to question why the flag of a country is burned and to draw conclusions from it. It is even more important to think about the practices that lead to the reaction of countries and rights, and to produce correct conclusions.

There are no statistics on which country's flag is burned in the world. But it is highly probable that the most burned is the US flag. Those who react to the policies of the US try this way of expressing themselves and spreading their message to a wide range of people. It does not mean that the peoples of this world are envious of those who live in the US. It does not mean that the peoples of this world are bearing hostility towards workers who live in the US. In fact, it expresses the reaction to practices of the government, the state.

Today, among people who burn Israeli flags, there are of course anti-Semitic, that is, those who hate and bear enmity towards the Jewish people. This is not a case to be accepted or slurred over. However, everyone, who criticizes the state of Israel and does not approve of their actions, is not anti-Semitic and should not be understood like that.

But, especially when we look at the debate in Germany, it is seen that the number of people, who put anti-Semitism and Israeli criticism in the same category, is not few. However, the most important thing that Jews, who were deterritorialised and experienced Holocaust during the Hitler fascism period, can do is to establish an Israel, whose flag is not burned, and that gain the friendship of the neighbouring peoples, not the hatred of them.

Anti-Semitism can be prevented by convincing the Israeli state of its actions against the Palestinian people, by supporting the two-state settlement process, by asserting that East Jerusalem is Palestine’s, West Jerusalem is Israel's capital, and most importantly by ensuring the peaceful coexistence of Jewish and Muslim peoples. Supporting what Israel does every day and labelling every protest as anti-Semitism do not solve the problem, however, it is making the situation even worse.

As a result, it seems to be the only solution to support the strengthening of those who advocate living together with the Palestinian people peacefully in Israel.