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NIAS-Wesseling series 1

The Danger of Conflation in Light of the Israel-Hamas War

Since 7 October, there has been a worrying increase in individual and political attempts in Europe to curb criticism of Israel or support for the 'Palestinian cause'. The stated aim: to prevent anti-Semitism. But how does this actually define anti-Semitism, ask NIAS fellows Jessica Feldman and Ayşenur Korkmaz, and with what consequences for Israelis and Palestinians on the one hand and European Jews and Muslims on the other?

The echoes of hush are getting louder. Since Hamas’s atrocious attack on October 7 and Israel’s near-immediate retaliatory bombings that have killed more than 20,000 Gazans, Europe has seen a surge in both state and private efforts to restrict criticism of Israel and pro-Palestinian protests.

Several European governments, including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary, have restricted pro-Palestinian protests or enforced a blanket ban on them altogether. Even cultural events featuring Palestinian voices, sometimes completely unrelated to the war, have been suddenly silenced. The Frankfurt Book Fair canceled an award ceremony for the Palestinian author Adania Shibli. The German television network ARD canceled the screening of an award-winning Palestinian movie, Wajib, due to concerns over its “narrative perspective.” The London Metropolitan Police called off a presentation by Nathan Thrall about his book on Palestinian life in Abed Salama.

Restrictions and erasures like this raise red flags: blindly aligning Palestinians with Hamas and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism risks fueling further polarization in European societies and obscures precise definitions of anti-Semitism. This is incredibly dangerous. Jessica Feldman and Ayşenur Korkmaz explain why.

Read more on The Dutch Review of Books