Belief Beat

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about conflicts within religious groups, here’s the most heated intrafaith debate making news these days: is criticism of Israel tantamount to anti-Semitism, and if so, what does that make Jews who criticize Israel?

The first part of that question has gotten quite a bit of coverage in the wake of the international outcry over the nine activists killed during Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, and the uproar over what White House correspondent Helen Thomas meant by her remarks that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine.”

The second part — what it means when Israel’s critics are Jewish — doesn’t make as many headlines in the secular media, but it has come up in the fallout over retired South African Judge Goldstone’s investigation of the 2009 Gaza war (protesters upset about his findings threatened to disrupt his grandson’s bar mitzvah) and the discussions among U.S. Jewish leaders and organizations over whether support for Israel should remain unconditional. It can get pretty ugly, especially in the identity-cloaking blogosphere: words like “self-hating Jew,” “traitor,” and “shanda” (shame, scandal, disgrace) get thrown around, if not some references to the horrors of the Holocaust on top of that. (Remember how upset some Americans got when the Dixie Chicks criticized President Bush, 18 months after the 9/11 attacks? That’s a blip compared to some of the comments you’ll find on posts that even hint at American Jews raising questions about Israeli policies.)

Here are some links to recent stories that address this point further:

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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