Why should Israel's overseas policies be immune from criticism? What's so special about Israel that any critique is immediately condemned? Is Israel always right in what it does? Does it not behave like other states today and historically - and carry out aggressions against threats, real or imagined?
The German Nobel laureate, Gunter Grass, is the latest to be condemned as an anti-semite for daring to suggest that Israel is an aggressive state that has frequently violated international law, defied the United Nations, presided over or committed war crimes and is currently threatening military aggression against Iran's nuclear programmes.
A few years back, two leading American scholars, John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt, of Chicago and Harvard universities, respectively, faced the most vituperative treatment from Israel and her friends, for writing a book that, problematically in my view, suggested that an Israel lobby that extended from US Jewish organisations to Christian Zionists - dominated American foreign policy. For that, they were condemned as anti-semites. It was only their relative seniority that kept them in their posts - they were candid enough to admit that themselves. And they predicted in very precise terms the treatment they would receive once their ideas were published.
Another state that brooks no criticism of its foreign policy from non-nationals is the United States; its home-grown critics are condemned as un-Americans, foreign critics as anti-Americans. By launching so much flak at critics, however, both Israel and its chief military and financial sponsor, the US, seek to deflect attention from their actual deeds, dismissing critics as racists (which is not to deny that there are also racists who operate under the cover of honest critique). But by tarring all critics with the same brush, both America and Israel seek to continue with their policies of aggression against other states or peoples.
According to Amnesty International: "Israel's military blockade of Gaza... left more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children trapped in the Gaza Strip, an area of land just 40 kilometres long and 9.5 kilometres wide.
"Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages have left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. As a form of collective punishment, Israel’s... blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law."
During its 2008/9 war on Gaza, "The Israeli army used white phosphorus, a weapon with a highly incendiary effect, in densely populated civilian residential areas of Gaza City, according to indisputable evidence found by an Amnesty International fact-finding team...
"When white phosphorus lands on skin it burns deeply through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn until deprived of oxygen." The white phosphorous was supplied by US arms firms.
White phosphorous is not illegal under international law but was condemned when deployed by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in 1991; but was then used in 2004, bu US troops in Fallujah, Iraq.
Illegal Settlements: No foreign government, including the US, recognises Israel's settlements in Sinai, the West Bank or the Golan Heights, nor in East Jerusalem. Yet, Israel continues to defy the International Court of Justice, the UN and the Oslo Accords.
Iran is accused of a determination to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth", an intention normally attributed to President Ahmadinejad, who is rightly condemend by all right-minded observers, including large sections of Iranian society. Yet, in practice, it is Israel which is busy denying life and human rights to Palestinians.
Despite the attention to Iran's nuclear programmes, Israel has long possessed nuclear weapons and long range intercontinental ballistic missiles. It also has refused to sign the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, citing "national security".
Why would Iranian nuclear weapons be qualitatively different from those possessed by Israel, Pakistan and India and, indeed, by North Korea, Britain, and the United States?
Has North Korea, the only other official US/Israel 'enemy' state, used its nuclear weapons? Behaved in a manner unlike any other state might? The lesson of North Korea, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and of Colonel Gaddafi's Libya, is that nuclear weapons provide the ultimate security against American or Israeli attacks and aggressions.
And that's why Iran's attempts - however undeveloped they might be - to build a nuclear arms capacity are so threatening - they would provide an ultimate line in the sand against external aggression. They cannot cite 'national security', however, to legitimise their policies, even though they have witnessed forcible regime change in their next door neighbour, Iraq, and in Libya, neither of which possessed the ultimate security guarantee.
Iran's nuclear programmes are part of the blowback that the USA and Israel reap for past aggressions in the Middle East.