Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic. We have said it a thousand times, and we should say it a thousand times more. But to understand the difference between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism, one must go back a few to an article, one of many, published against Israel. It was not criticism of Israel. It was criticism of a "child murdering community". It was not published in a journal of the Nazi Party in Bavaria. These obscene words were written in the Independent newspaper in Britain. A newspaper for enlightened people, for progressive thinkers.
How exactly did Israel become a "child murdering community "? Well, according to the most extreme version, and the most manipulative, which is based on sources operating under the auspices of Hamas, about 1,800 people were killed during Operation Protective Edge. Let us suppose that this is not a lie. Of that number, 24 percent, it is claimed, were under 18. This is a far higher proportion than the proportion of minors in the actual population, but let's say that this is true as well. Let's go with the Hamas data. And according to calculations published in The New York Times, 16 percent of those killed in Gaza were aged below 15.
How did Britain conduct itself in its last major conflict? Well, British troops were involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The British medical journal "The Lancet", which is so acceptable to the British progressive forces, claim that this war, not an occupation that lasted for many years, caused 100,000 deaths. And, according to the same publication, 46 percent of that number were under 15. That is 46,000 children. Not youths, children.
In other words, there was a 46-percent mortality rate for children by the British, 16 percent by Israel. In the case of the UK, which is part of NATO, we can go a little further back, and remember what happened in the bombing of Belgrade in 1999 during the war in Kosovo (Operation Allied Force). The results are the same. Approximately 500 soldiers were killed, and 1,200-1,500 non-combatants, hundreds of them children.
And while Belgrade complained of severe harm to innocent people and children, the late Robin Cook, then foreign secretary responded: "How dare they now produce crocodile tears for people killed in the conflict for which they themselves are responsible."
Neither the Iraqi nor Serbian armies used children as human shields, nor did they officially announce that they were using children as human shields, as did Hamas. They also did not issue an instruction manual demanding that fighters use concentrations of civilians, as did Hamas. In Baghdad, Basra and Belgrade did not fire rockets at London and Manchester from its schools, as did Hamas. Nevertheless, the British, along with the Americans, caused a far higher number of child deaths, both in relative and absolute terms.
But the Independent newspaper has determined that there is one community in the world that it is permissible to brand as a "child murdering community". This is not the first time that the phrase is has been bandied about in Europe. The tune is all too familiar. Criticism of Israel, it is worth saying again, is not anti-Semitism. But this progressive British newspaper has clearly shown that sometimes, just sometimes, it is not a criticism, or even new anti-Semitism. Sometimes, it is the old anti-Semitism in all its glory.
Ben-Dror Yemini is the author of the new book "The Industry of Lies", due out in the coming days by Yedioth Ahronoth publishers.