"Some of my best friends are Jews"
There are some politically active people in the Melbourne Jewish community and I do what I can to circulate their material when I can. One of their movers and shakers, Ralph Zwier, has recently written a small article on the old, old controversy about people saying "Some of my best friends are Jews". That remark is, rather paradoxically, usually interpreted as indicating that the person uttering it is antisemitic. So although Ralph and I have had an amicable and frequent correspondence for some time, you can understand why I would never dare to call him one of my best friends!
But isn't that a bit paradoxical? What are genuinely philosemitic people supposed to say? Are they supposed to say: "None of my best friends are Jews"? There is actually an answer to that in the Bible. I find it in three of the Proverbs of Solomon the Wise: "He who flatters a man spreads a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5 R.S.V.); "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27: 6. R.S.V.); "He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue" (Proverbs 28: 23 R.S.V.). In short, a true friend is CRITICAL, but constructively so. So by that standard I think I stand up rather well, in that I have on several occasions (e.g. here) remarked that Jews as a whole tend to be politically stupid and have endeavoured to point to wiser paths that they might follow.
But that does that wash? I perfectly understand that many Jews might see me as being simply impertinent and ignorant. So is it the case that Gentiles are damned whether they speak either good or ill of Jews? Nearly but not quite. Ralph Zwier's point is that antisemites say things which indicate that they have BENEFITED from Jews. the obvious corollary is that a real philosemite would actually do things the other way around: He would do things that benefit Jews rather than seeking benefits FROM Jews. And I think that is a completely commonsense observation. My way of supporting the Jewish community is to defend Israel in any way I can and to donate to Israeli charities. And, Yes, I do have some Jewish friends whom I value greatly.