The Israeli ambassador’s letter (6 April) is a good example of how Israel and its apologists seek to dismiss legitimate criticism by conflating it with antisemitism.
Rather than acknowledge, much less deal with, the grounds on which Israel faces widespread and justified criticism – including the illegal settlements on Palestinian land, the military occupation of the West Bank, and now the shooting of unarmed civilians in Gaza – Mr Regev, by denouncing what he calls “the obsessional and irrational hatred of the Jewish state”, seeks to characterise Israel’s critics – who include many Jews – as antisemites.
Mr Regev and those he represents perhaps need to understand that it is possible to recognise and defend the state of Israel as a legal entity, with all that this entails in terms of its sovereignty and integrity, without remaining silent about its abuses of human rights and of international law. These are the real elephants in the room.
• Mark Regev says: “When Zionists are portrayed as a sinister and malevolent influence on British democracy, we see a modern manifestation [of antisemitism].” In 2017, Shai Masot, a political officer at the Israeli embassy, was caught on film offering to help “take down” Alan Duncan MP, a well-known supporter of Palestinian rights. Masot also spoke of his efforts to set up pro-Israel groups including a proposed Young Labour Friends of Israel. People can make up their own minds whether this was “sinister” or “malevolent”. But it does appear that Masot was being paid by Israel to exert covert influence on British democracy under diplomatic cover. Regev apologised at the time for what Masot had done but now seems to have changed his tune.
Jeh Kumar is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals.