State Department’s Anti-Semitism Report


The State Department has reported that increased anti-Semitism in 2011 was manifested by, among other things, “conflating opposition to certain policies of Israel with blatant anti-Semitism” (“The State Dept. Report Cites Tide of Anti-Semitism” Aug. 3). It is a fair question is ask to what extent statements of the present administration may have contributed to the heightened criticism of Israeli policies and the attendant anti-Semitism.

I do not believe that President Barack Obama or his administration would consciously take any action, or issue any statement, that would contribute to the level of anti-Semitism. Also, as Jewish Week Editor Gary Rosenblatt correctly points out, “even Obama critics (at least the rational ones) note that strategic and military cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem has never been higher than during this administration” (“Romney vs. Obama: Who Loves Israel More,” Aug. 3).

But strategic and military cooperation is separate and distinct from the administration’s criticism of Israel. And grateful as we must be for such cooperation, it is still a fair question to ask whether the administration’s criticism of Israel policies may have, as an unintended consequence, contributed to the heightened opposition to Israeli policies, and the conflated anti- Semitism.

Thus, for example, when Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009 and stated that “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” while at the same time uttering not a single criticism of Palestinian conduct, that may have had unintended consequences. Likewise, when the State Department shared details with the press in March 2010 of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s berating of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a 45-minute phone conversation that, too, may have had unintended consequences. And when in May 2011, Obama delivered his Arab Spring speech, focusing on the demand that Israel return to its indefensible pre- 1967 borders, that speech may have had unintended consequences.

One may reasonably ask whether these and other similar critical statements by the administration may have unintentionally contributed to the heightened opposition to Israeli policies and attendant anti-Semitism, that was identified in the State Department report.