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Letter to the Editor: Criticizing Israeli Policy Is Not Antisemitic

In the past several months, we’ve seen increasing protests against Israel’s actions in Gaza. We have also seen these protests brutally shut down in the name of fighting antisemitism. But are these protests actually antisemitic, or is that label a disingenuous attempt to quell legitimate criticism?

My Jewish ancestors immigrated from Russia in the mid-1800s to escape antisemitic violence. My great-great-grandfather, Abraham Mooser, opened a dry goods store at Temple and Beaudry in Los Angeles. A short time later, he moved not too far from Ocean Park to become the first Jewish business owner in Santa Monica and later the postmaster of Ocean Park. Around that same time, the LA Times reported that “Two thousand Jewish families were driven out of Balta, and their houses wrecked recently by the Russians. They made a regular picnic of it, taking two days to complete the fiendish work.”

LA Times from 1882

This was the antisemitism Abraham Mooser knew first-hand. He would be outraged by the way “antisemitism” is being used today: not to protect Jews, but to protect political agendas.

War-mongers and right-wing Zionists (the majority of which are not Jewish, but white Evangelical Christians) are using Jews to justify continued support of a country that has killed thousands of women and children, committed countless war crimes, and continues to illegally seize land in the West Bank. Protests (in which Jews play a significant role) are expressing legitimate desire to stop the flow of our tax and tuition dollars to fund these horrors.

We must be able to have conversations about what we can and cannot condone in this world. When we call the slightest critique of Israel “antisemitic,” it not only shuts down these conversations but obscures true antisemitism that is sadly alive and well in this world. It gives antisemites who want to harm Jews simply because they are Jewish a shield to hide behind and makes Jews around the world less safe. Holding Israel accountable for their actions is not antisemitic; it’s essential.

Respectfully, Dr. Chelsea Mooser

in Opinion
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