Finally, by delegitimization, the authors refer to the denial of Israel’s very right to exist. “While criticism of an Israeli policy need not be anti-Semitic,” they write, “the denial of Israel’s right to exist is always anti-Semitic.”
The Sharansky-Dermer test for distinguishing legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism has become sadly, infuriatingly relevant again because over the past half-year—from around the time of the 2014 U.S. midterm elections through Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent speech to Congress, the Israeli election, and the Iran framework deal—the Obama administration has assumed something akin to a wartime footing, politically speaking, against Netanyahu and Israel.
The administration has methodically prosecuted a campaign of accusation and threat that has revealed a florid, aggressive contempt for Netanyahu and the millions of Israelis who have returned him for the fourth time to the premiership. Obama and his advisers have been quoted in the press as calling Netanyahu a “chickenshit,” a “coward,” and a “racist.” They have accused him of publicly spitting in Obama’s face, undermining Israeli democracy, and risking “chaos in the region.” They have warned that “there will be a price” to pay and have speculated that the price may include downgrading the U.S.-Israel alliance, rescinding the U.S. veto for anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, and quietly encouraging the European Union and the Palestinians to wage diplomatic and economic war on the Jewish state.