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Letter: Peace in the Middle East does not occur sans debate

There has been a recent deluge of outrage over comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib that have been judged to be anti-Semitic.

Now to be clear, anti-Semitism is a scourge and a stain on humanity, and should be called out wherever it rears its ugly head.

That said, criticism of the policies of the government of Israel towards the Palestinians under their control is not anti-Semitism. Nor is the current Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which attempts to pressure the state of Israel to improve its treatment of Palestinians.

Unfortunately, some supporters of Israel call out any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism, in an effort to negate the legitimacy of the criticism of those policies. Reflexively crying “anti-Semitism” scares politicians, and leads to the general reluctance of the political class to discuss this situation openly.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), also mentioned in this controversy is well known as a dedicated supporter of Israel, wields serious influence in our politics and is not reluctant to play hardball when it feels that Israel is threatened.

It is not anti-Semitism to point this out. We can’t let this topic continue to be a “third rail” – too hot and dangerous to touch. If we are to ever have a chance to straighten out the mess that is the Middle East, we have to be able to discuss these issues openly and without fear.

Eric A. Gallion

Blasdell

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