October 6, 2011

The Palestinian Cause and Antisemitism

The issue arises whether antisemitism has infiltrated into pro-Palestinian politics.  The argument now heard is that to fight antisemitism is “anti-Palestinian.”  Little has been done to challenge the argument.  As a result, an impression grows that pro-Palestinian activism promotes antisemitism.

Of course, criticism of Israel and its policies does not constitute antisemitism.  It must also be acknowledged that some Western anti-Zionists genuinely speak out at the defamation of Jews.  Some understand that support for the Palestinian cause will surely diminish if it becomes identified with genocidal racism.  Historically, explicit and undisguised antisemitism was generally opposed in their circles, but there are increasing examples of change.  This is especially the situation in Europe, and increasingly in the USA among the Western anti-Zionist elites, for lack of a better term.  (Suggestions welcome!)

One clear indicator of tolerance of antisemitism within pro-Palestinian politics regards Hamas, whose founding Covenant spews Jew hatred and whose officials repeatedly make genocidal threats.  To support Hamas’s political agenda against Israel, pro-Palestinian activists deny antisemitism, do not openly and vociferously call for Hamas to change, and even paint Hamas’s critics as racists and “Islamophobes.”  In my own experience, it matters little about the substance offered to illustrate behavior, of which I believe many are truly ignorant, but more to do with the ideology and "solidarity." 

The most cynical pro-Palestinian activists are not afraid to associate their cause with antisemitism.  Rather than harm the cause, they believe tapping into age-old notions of scheming, controlling, corrupting Jews helps to attract passionate supporters.  Objecting to antisemitism is presented as a Jewish trick and part of a conspiracy against Palestinians.  Look at virtually any comment thread at Mondoweiss or Comment is Free.

In any case, antisemitism dressed as a “pro-Palestinian” politics is growing and effectively unchallenged.  It has become mainstream.  To quote Atzmon: “The Tide Has Changed.“  Atzmon is supported by Mearsheimer and Falk, and there are so many other instances.

Over at CiF Watch, a post today reveals some of these "tide changers" who apparently signed a letter publicized by the Guardian.  Signed by dozens of anti-Israel activists, it argues that the EU not allow Israel to host an under-21 European soccer tournament and, more broadly, should exclude the Jewish state from the community of nations.

The letter is signed, among others, by:
Ken Loach, a film maker who’s accused Israel of adopting a policy of Nazi-like ”racial purity”,

Miriam Margolyes: A UK actress who has argued that Israel’s behavior causes antisemitism and makes her ashamed to be a Jew.

Nurit Peled: An Israeli academic who is opposed to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, characterizes Zionism as inherently racist, and has justified suicide bombing as “the direct consequence of the oppression, slavery, humiliation and state of siege imposed on the Palestinians.”

John Pilger: An Australian journalist who routinely compares Israel to Nazi Germany, and even once even participated in a cross-border terrorist raid by members of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Jean Ziegler: Vice-president, advisory committee of the UN human rights council, who has promoted the work of Holocaust Denier Roger Garaudy, has referred to Israel’s leaders as “state terrorists”, and has depicted Israel in Nazi terms.
Apparently, these "moral voices" have declared Israel has no right to be treated as a member of the community of nations and should be completely isolated by the international community.  Wonder if the same can be said for some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Burma, and North Korea?

Back to the main point.  When advocates routinely conflate opposition to antisemitism with hatred of Palestinians, and neglect promotion of antisemitism and anti-Semites within their midst, then the connection between pro-Palestinian activism and antisemitism is reinforced and the question raised is the Palestinian cause now essentially antisemitic?

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