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December 19, 2011

The dehumanizing nature of false accusations of anti-semitism

Richard Forer

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Perhaps the most dominating and confusing accusation emanating from one side of the Israel-Palestine debate is that virtually anyone who criticizes Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people hates Israel and is, ipso facto, an anti-Semite or self-hating Jew.

The libel case that Canadian immigration attorney Ed Corrigan has had to launch to defend himself against a slanderous accusation of antisemitism is a case in point.

What is it about criticism of Israel that provokes such an extreme reaction?

After all, anyone with the decency to find out what sparks the criticism would learn that the vast majority of critics, including prominent Israelis and other members of the Jewish community, are motivated not by hatred but by justice; and that their intention is not to harm the state of Israel but to prevent the state of Israel from harming Palestinians.

So where is the hatred? The hatred is in the minds of those who are afraid to ask why someone is critical of Israel. Rather than doing honest research to refute or confirm the criticism, the accuser panders to his feelings of fear, confusion and anger, all of which are animated by unexamined beliefs and images within his own mind. This mind colors his perception so that he sees the world in terms of personal victimhood versus the world’s hostility.

Because he is unconscious of this deeper thought process, the accuser can only project his perception onto the world and then assume that the world he sees proves the reality of his perception. He creates his own suffering and then scapegoats the world (in this case Palestinians and their sympathizers) for his suffering. Triggered through denial, this thought process attributes to Palestinians and their sympathizers the accuser’s own hatred.

In other words, the accuser makes the unknown “other” responsible for, or the repository of, his unresolved pain. He objectifies the other and rejects his humanity. Then he supports inhumane policies, which he justifies under the guise of Israel and the Jewish people’s security. In so doing, he brings the world’s anger down upon Israel which, in turn, reinforces and perpetuates the cycle of perceived victimhood.

The real conflict, then, is an inner one and can only be resolved through self-reflection or inquiry into the beliefs and images the accuser takes for granted that form a large part of his personal and collective identity. Without inquiring into his beliefs and images, or indoctrination, he will not be able to integrate the hard-to-believe but inescapable awareness of Israel’s treatment of non-Jews with unquestioned loyalty to the Jewish state. One consideration acknowledges Israel’s dark side. The other denies the dark side exists.

If the accuser can find the courage to commit to the truth – to the best of his ability – and take advantage of the clarifying tools of research and inquiry, he will inevitably apprehend the astonishing reality that, as regards Israel-Palestine, criticism of Israel has never been his principal concern. In fact, he has never defended Israel, at least the Israel that actually exists.

What he has always defended is an idealistic image of Israel that he unconsciously projects or superimposes upon the Israel that actually exists. This projection enables him to deny painful revelations that he would otherwise discover about Israel and about himself if only he would look at Israel and the world without the errant influence of an unexamined, or indoctrinated, mind.

The fruits of the accuser’s sincere efforts will be the transformation of fear into compassion and confusion into clarity. He will know that no behavior occurs in a vacuum and that each of us is responsible for the suffering in the world. The unnecessary and self-created boundaries of his mind will dissolve, the intelligence of his heart will awaken and he will recognize his connection to all of humankind. Finally, he will understand that peace must first manifest within his inner world before he can see its manifestation in the outer world.

Richard Forer is author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion –A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.

Forer can be contacted through his website

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