The New McCarthyism: The Suppression of Criticism of Israeli Policies

Source: Liz Jackson of Palestine Legal, quoted in Salon, December 2

Similar to the Red Scare, anyone in 2015 who wants to take a public position that may be perceived to be critical of Israeli policy has to consider the personal and professional risks. We call this the new McCarthyism.

Will I be smeared and falsely accused of being anti-Semitic or being pro-terrorist? Will I lose my income and my reputation? How will my parents be affected? Can I risk jeopardizing funding for other important projects I’m connected to? This is the reality.

Anyone who wants to express questions about Israeli policy must question whether they can risk the practical consequences of being on a blacklist.


5 responses to “The New McCarthyism: The Suppression of Criticism of Israeli Policies

  1. Of course this is appalling if true, but where is it alleged to be happening? Where is the evidence? Salon has its critics…


    It is very real for many Reform and Secular Jews who are troubled by human rights and political developments in Israel. Social media makes the rifts in families and communities more visible. I know I have to practice self censorship in order to maintain communication with sections of my family. Been standard practice for over a decade. But I am fortunate in having a supportive Rabbi (Temple is sponsoring Syrian Refugees) and being able to support “Bending the Ark” a US Progressive Jewish Movement engaging in US policy pushing back on immigration challenge, Muslim identity cards, and supporting Black Lives Matter. But direct critique of Israeli policy remains very perilous. Haaretz journalists who do so now need bodyguards. Reaction to critiques by North American “hard line” Netanyahu supporters too can be visceral or worse.

    • Wow, I had no idea this ran so deep. Guess I’ve been naïve, imagining that the distinction between anti-semitism, and criticism of Israeli government policy and actions, is obvious. Clearly real life isn’t as simple as that. I stand corrected.

  3. How about being a “climate change denier”? You might face a criminal charge, a fine, a ten year ban on uttering anti-green thoughts and maybe even jail. This in a legal case sponsored by the sainted Stephen Lewis and some other free-thinkers.

  4. David Schatzky

    @Fred Langan: The prohibition against climate change skepticism is truly scary. It reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon years ago of a little boy in a blazer and tie standing in the principal’s office. The principal says to him: “You can’t wear that here, This is a free school.”

    Likewise, if it’s taboo to express differences with Israeli policy that’s a very sad state of affairs. It flies against the Jewish tradition of freedom of expression. The old style cheder (Jewish school) rewarded the student who could win an argument loudly against the teacher. They didn’t make him stand in a corner. How things have changed.