A healthy national debate over Israel and Palestine should welcome a wide variety of views and perspectives, and it should be possible to criticize Israeli actions without being dismissed as an anti-Semite, or to promote American support of Israel without being accused of buying influence. When the debate descends into an exchange of charges of anti-Semitism, you can be sure we’re not teeing up a reasoned discussion about the shape of American policy.
Being afforded the space for criticism brings with it an obligation on the part of the critics to think about the impact of their words—and tweets. And critics of the critics should be called to task when their rhetoric crosses the line to Islamophobia and racism.
Sadly, the noisy political firefight means there’s little chance of having the discussion that’s actually needed about how to end the nearly century-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Getting this right means reversing a political dynamic that rewards political grandstanding and devalues those who stand up for a future in which Israelis have security and recognition and Palestinians have freedom and self-determination.