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    Cries of anti-Semitism shouldn’t be used to stifle criticism of Israel

    In his April 27 op-ed column “Kansas killer a throwback, but anti-Semitism still thrives,” Jeff Jacoby equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. It is a strained argument.

    Conceding that the recent killings in Overland Park, Kan., are a fringe phenomenon, Jacoby shifts attention to Israel. He writes that comparisons of brutal Israeli actions against Palestinians with Nazi atrocities against Jews are being used as a “bludgeon” against the Jewish people, wielded by “sophisticated and educated Westerners.” He equates this with “hostility to Zionism.”

    In truth, it is the equating of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism that is used as a bludgeon to beat down any criticism or even rational discussion of the Jewish state.

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    Decent people, Jews and non-Jews alike, will oppose the continuing effort by Zionists to expropriate Palestinian land and dispose of its people as so much historical refuse, not because Zionists are tantamount to Nazis — they are not — but because it is the only decent response to this flagrant injustice.

    Noble Larson

    Arlington

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    Jeff Jacoby does a great disservice to the struggle against anti-Semitism by conflating criticism of Israel with bigotry. Indeed, people who equate Israeli behavior with Nazism are practicing anti-Semitism, the demonization of Jews. But criticism of specific Israeli policies, such as its 47-year military occupation of the West Bank or its unequal treatment of Palestinian Israeli citizens, is not anti-Semitism. Are we to believe that Israel or any country is perfect and that any criticism is inadmissible?

    Hurling the bigotry accusation at Israel’s critics shuts down honest discussion. By crying wolf so indiscriminately, Jacoby insults all those Jews who suffered or died at the hands of real anti-Semites. When a real wolf — that is, a true manifestation of anti-Semitism — appears, the risk is that people will not take the threat seriously.

    Marie M. Hoguet

    Brookline

    We must keep in mind that many Palestinians and their supporters are committed to the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jews. Israel has shown remarkable restraint in dealing with terrorists, particularly if you consider the American response to 9/11.

    Sidmcd

    Posted on BostonGlobe.com