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Calling out the injustices of Israeli Government actions does not constitute anti-Semitism

Two organisations – the Israel Institute of New Zealand and the NZ Jewish Council – have again accused groups and individuals – including Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman – of anti-Semitism for speaking out against unjust Israeli government actions. 

We at Sh’ma Koleinu/Alternative Jewish Voices challenge the allegation that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic per se. We are committed New Zealand Jews who support the core Jewish values of social justice, fairness, and human rights.  When a state does not live up to these principles, we will stand up and criticise it. Criticism of Israeli policy and actions of a secular government for violating human rights is justified, and cannot be construed as anti-Semitism.

In reference to the current issue, Israel occupies the Palestinian territories. The responsibilities of an occupying power are matters of law, not opinion, Israel’s failure to meet its legal or moral obligations to five million Palestinians is a matter of growing international protest.

Our view is that Golriz Ghahraman, Jewish Voice for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, Alternative Jewish Voices and others can justifiably refer to this practice as a form of ‘medical apartheid’.

Making accusations of anti-Semitism to critics who speak out against Israeli government actions is a common tactic employed to shut down debate, deflect criticism and avoid addressing the substance of the argument. The weaponisation of this phrase ‘anti-Semitism’ is a corruption of the term. Let us return to the real meaning of anti-Semitism – a hatred of Jews and Jewishness – place it alongside other hatreds, and take up the work of anti-racism together.

Alternative Jewish Voices wants New Zealand to understand that the views promulgated by the Israel Institute of NZ and the NZ Jewish Council – which closely align with the current right wing government in the State of Israel – do not represent the views, principles and values of all of NZ Jews.

We ask that media outlets ground their writing in the law of occupation, not solely in the views of groups like the Israel Institute of NZ and NZ Jewish Council, whose use accusations of anti-Semitism to shut down legitimate criticism.


Statement by:  Sh’ma Koleinu / Alternative Jewish Voices collective , 10/1/21

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