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Unmasking Antisemitism: The Three Ds

Updated: Apr 9

Antisemitism is surging. Since October 7th, 2023 the ADL has reported a 337% increase in antisemitic incidents. And yet, correctly identifying antisemitism sometimes remains difficult due to its subtle manifestations and the normalization of certain behaviors. Particularly, the conflation of Israeli criticism with antisemitism demands our attention. In these cases, we must undertake the challenge of distinguishing criticism from prejudice. 

Israeli human rights advocate and politician Natan Sharansky offers the “three Ds” as an invaluable framework to help differentiate between criticism of Israel and antisemitism. 

The Three Ds 

To find clarity amongst blurred lines, we look to the 3 Ds. Each criterion denotes antisemitism. 

  1. Demonization 

  2. Double Standards

  3. Delegitimization

Demonization: The First “D”

Historically, Jews have been scapegoated and demonized, depicted as the source of the world’s problems. Demonization, achieved through metaphors and stereotypes, portrays Jews as inherently evil. 

In the medieval period, Jews were demonized through rampant accusations of blood libel, well poisoning, and host desecration. 

In the 1930s and 40s, Nazi propaganda campaigns demonized Jews, displaying them as subhuman beings with animalistic features. They represented Jews in the media with an open hostility that helped create an atmosphere of tolerance toward Jewish violence. 

In contemporary America, rhetoric suggesting Jewish control of the media perpetuates the stereotype that Jews are both undeserving of power and yielding it for evil, fostering an atmosphere of intolerance.    

When assessing rhetoric, ask yourself: are Jews being demonized? Is Israel unfairly portrayed as evil?

No legitimate criticism of the state of Israel should include its demonization.

Double Standards: The Second “D”

Double standards involve holding Israel to a different, harsher standard than other nations.  

When critiquing Israel, ask: is this criticism justified, or are similar policies in other countries overlooked? 

The United Nations’ disproportionate focus on Israel’s human rights record, while neglecting that of  China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, exemplifies double standards. 

Delegitimization: The Third “D”

Critiquing aspects of Israeli politics is legitimate. However, denying Israel’s right to exist is antisemitic. Denying Jewish self-determination by delegitimizing Israel constitutes antisemitism. 

It’s vital to approach anti-Israel rhetoric with caution and knowledge. Combating antisemitism requires our collective vigilance. Utilize the “three Ds'' framework to identify antisemitic rhetoric and stand up to hatred.

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