Stop global gaslighting of Jews, Israel

by Ted Deutch

Two months after the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, Israel’s well-documented reports of the atrocities of Oct. 7 continue to be questioned and even outright rejected as falsehoods.

Despite video evidence — recorded by the terrorists themselves — Hamas apologists continue to deny the killing of babies and the rape of women.

Opinion pages and social media have been rife with condescension. People somehow feel comfortable telling Jews that calling for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state isn’t antisemitic, that antisemitic terrorism is actually resistance and that Jews provoked the slaughter of more than a thousand of their own. This must end.

If our society is to counter antisemitism effectively, it must first be understood. The American Jewish Committee’s newly republished Translate Hate glossary is designed specifically for this purpose. It is a tool to help people understand the true nature of antisemitism and why so many terms freely thrown around online are often antisemitic and dangerous to the Jewish community.

Take, for example, gaslighting. When Jews are told by others that what they have experienced is not antisemitism, that is gaslighting. It can present as telling Jews they cannot experience intolerance or bigotry because they are “powerful” or “privileged” — labels that often themselves come from antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jews. Human rights advocates usually defer to vulnerable minorities to define what bigotry against them looks like; Jews alone get pushback when they define antisemitism as they see it.

Gaslighting, along with an additional dozen other terms, was recently added to AJC’s Translate Hate glossary. These new entries include “settler colonialists” and “Globalize the Intifada,” which join pernicious slogans such as “From the river to the sea.”

The idea that Israel is a white settler colonialist state is born of ignorance. The opposite is true — Jews have called Israel home for millenniums. Historical and archaeological evidence have proved a continuous Jewish presence in the land, and this connection between Jewish people and the land of Israel is embedded throughout Jewish rituals.

The term “settler colonialism” also implies the intention to replace or even eliminate indigenous people. Zionism does not fit this model, since Jews themselves are also native and indigenous to the land of Israel and Zionists never had the goal of eliminating the Arab population living in the region. The founders of modern-day Israel accepted the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, which divided British Mandatory Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Unlike European settler colonialists who settled colonies to enrich their motherlands and maintain a connection to their home countries, Jews who came to Israel were escaping persecution in Europe and returning to the land of their ancestors.

Far from a legitimate form of resistance, calls to “Globalize the Intifada,” in fact celebrate terrorism. Both the First and Second Intifadas were organized campaigns of violence against Israeli civilians — including suicide bombings of cafes, buses, and hotels. Those calling for a global intifada are, knowingly or not, advocating for terrorism and more dead Jews.

“From the River to the Sea” is a rallying cry for terrorist groups such as Hamas and their sympathizers. It demands the establishment of a state of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, erasing the State of Israel and its people. This is not a call for peace, nor for a two-state solution; it is a call for one state, free of all Jews. Its goal is ethnic cleansing.

This battle for truth is not an academic exercise. If people doubt Jews when they define antisemitism, it’s no wonder they doubt Israelis, even when the overwhelming evidence of antisemitic terror stares the world in its face.

The Israeli government, aware of the double standard to which it is held, cannot afford to be careless with facts. Hamas, on the other hand, an internationally recognized terror organization created to destroy Israel and massacre Jews, too often receives the benefit of the doubt despite a long history of exaggerations and fabrications, coupled with rape and murder.

Just two months into the Israel-Hamas war, how many times have Hamas apologists had to backpedal after sharing false information? From the accusations of mass murder to allegations of false flag attacks, claims of Israeli duplicity have been proven false time and again.

Reports of Hamas’s brutality, on the other hand, have been repeatedly documented and proved.

The rush to judgment against Israel was evident after the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital. International news outlets at first accused Israel of purposely bombing the hospital and killing 500 people, a narrative provided by a single source: Hamas.

It turned out, of course, that the explosion was caused by a rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. News sources were forced to rescind their initial reporting, but they didn’t learn their lesson.

Barely a month later, Israel was accused of exaggerating, if not lying, about a Hamas command center at the Al-Shifa Hospital. Yet, true to their word, the Israeli military provided evidence of a substantial tunnel network and weapons caches at the site.

There is no doubt that Israel is a reliable source and that Hamas is not. So what could explain why a terror organization gets the benefit of the doubt where a democratic nation does not?

Antisemitism.

Truth and accuracy in language matter, especially in times of great suffering, and we all must commit to seeing the situation with clear eyes.

Who do you trust to accurately report on the events on the ground? Mass-murdering, propagandizing, genocidal terrorists? Or Israelis who lived through the atrocities of Oct. 7?

Who do you trust to define antisemitism? Jews, who have suffered under it for millenniums, or non-Jews who don’t understand that pain?

Some of today’s most common anti-Israel rhetoric is actually a mutation of older forms of antisemitism.

Jews, unfortunately, understand all too well how to translate the anti-Jewish hate that has reared its ugly head for millenniums. We just need the world to listen.

Ted Deutch is CEO of the American Jewish Committee.