buruma212_Sean GallupGetty Images_israelflaggermany Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Case for Israel Remains Valid

The surge in anti-Semitic violence around the world following the outbreak of the war in Gaza has reignited the debate over whether Israel's existence puts diaspora Jews at risk. Although some Jews reject any link to Israel, disentangling Jewish identity from the Jewish State is not that simple.

NEW YORK – In 2009, the late British historian Tony Judt argued that Israel’s identity as a uniquely Jewish state was “bad for Israel” and “bad for Jews elsewhere who are identified with its actions.” While his remarks incited controversy at the time, the global reaction to the ongoing Hamas-Israel war in Gaza appears to have proven him right, as Jews around the world find themselves blamed for Israel’s alleged “genocide” against the Palestinian people.

Over the past six months, reports of the atrocities in Gaza have been followed by spikes in anti-Semitic incidents in cities like London, New York, and Vienna. Synagogues have been defaced with hateful slogans, Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated, and individuals identified as Jews have been harassed.

To be sure, many Jews are actively participating in antiwar protests calling for a free Palestine “from the river to the sea,” and it is wrong to conflate any criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s far-right government with anti-Semitism. But it is also true that some people have rushed to label Israel’s conduct in Gaza as genocide with an eagerness unseen in reactions to mass violence in places like Syria, Sudan, or even Ukraine. This disproportionate attention suggests that criticizing Israeli actions may serve as a relief for those who are tired of being made to feel guilty about the Holocaust.