“I’m not anti-Semitic, I just hate Israel!” people say (in so many words). I love what Paul Johnson says: “Scratch someone who’s anti-Israel, and it won’t take long before you reach the anti-Semite beneath.” I know full well there are people who are anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic. (So does Johnson.) It’s just that I think they are fewer in number than people generally suppose.
Paul Johnson is, for my money, one of the wisest authors around. He has tackled small things, including Americans, Jesus, the Jews, Christianity, Heroes. OK, not so small. Huge topics; topics that get to the heart of our world. Paul Johnson is versatile, and writes some of the best prose I’ve ever found on important people, ideas, and events in history.
What Johnson says, in other words, carries weight. In the matter of those who claim only to be “anti-Israel” (or those who use the term “anti-Zionist”), I think the situation is pretty clear. The real test for anyone who claims to be “only” anti-Israel” or “anti-Zionist” is to ask if they would make the same argument against truly repressive and vile regimes.
Say, Hamas. Or Cuba. Or Syria. Or Sudan. Or Iran. Or Communist China. Or any of the many bad actors in this world. Some would hold all nations to the same exacting standard of moral perfection that many critics of Israel bring to the table. Good for them; they may just be dreamers, not anti-Semites. I suggest that such people are quite few in number.
Most others, however, would be quickly revealed to have a gaping double standard: Israel can’t do X; it’s bad bad bad. Nary a mention of the heinous things, much worse than “X,” that many other nations do as a matter of routine. As a matter of state policy.
Treating the Jewish state differently (quite differently, especially at the United Nations, which seems to have an obsession with her) than others can only be logically explained by…anti-Semitism.