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Anti-Israel and the Myth of Anti-Semitism

Photo by Elvert Barnes
Photo by Elvert Barnes

[In Israel] you have a head of state who happens to be a maniac. And he goes around saying, "I represent all of world Jewry." He said, "I'm going to Paris and I'm representing all of world Jewry. When I'm going to Congress to speak about the so-called threat of Iran, I'm representing all of world Jewry." So then you're going to fault people for taking him at his word? When I say, "We should attack Iran. I'm representing all of world Jewry." When I say. "We should attack Iraq, I'm representing all of world Jewry." When I say, "We should attack Lebanon again." When I say, "We should attack Hamas again, or Gaza again, I'm representing all of world Jewry." So you have a manaic who claims to represent all of world Jewry. And then people take him at his word and say, "OK, if he represents all of world Jewry, then Jews are a problem." That's the logical conclusion. So if there's anyone who's causing the problem [of anti-Semitism] it's the state of Israel and its head of state who keep claiming that their murderous actions are in the name of world Jews. There's a simply way to solve the problem. Stop calling yourself "the state of the Jewish people" because you're not. You're the state of Israel. And stop claiming that you represent all of world Jewry because world Jewry did not vote for you. Nobody gave you that title. It's not surprising that in the face of a state that calls itself "the State of the Jewish people" and the head of state who claims to be acting [in the name of world Jewry] that there are going to be anti-Semitic incidents. Does that make it anti-Semitism? I don't know.
Norman Finkelstein

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Anti-Israel and the Myth of Anti-Semitism


By Robert Fantima
To believe some news reports, one would think that a second Holocaust is upon us. Anti-Semitism, we are told darkly, is rearing its ugly head in a degree not seen since Nazi Germany. This poses a threat not only to all Jews, but also to all freedom-loving people around the world.

It is, once again, time for a reality check. Opposition to Israeli polices does not equate to anti-Semitism. Author and lecturer Norman Finklestein, the son of Holocaust survivors, put it succinctly in 2006, when he said this: “Whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle its apologists sound the alarm that a “new anti-Semitism” is upon us.” Let’s look at some of the recent events that have sparked the current anti-Semitism hysteria.

The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. This is a global effort to focus attention on the brutal apartheid regime of Israel by not doing business with companies operating in the occupied West Bank. It also includes the very successful efforts to convince entertainers and academics not to appear in Israel. It is not anti-Semitic; it is simply pro-freedom, and that means freedom for Palestine.

Southampton University was scheduled to host a conference this month, entitled ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’. Organizers say that the conference will “engage controversial questions concerning the manner of Israel’s foundation and its nature, including ongoing forced displacements of Palestinians and associated injustices”. This conference incurred the wrath of the Zionist right, with statements saying that the aim of the conference is to delegitimize Israel. In a serious blow against academic freedom, the university has withdrawn its support for the conference.

During last summer’s genocidal onslaught by Israel against Palestine, university Professor Steven Salaita tweeted his displeasure and disapproval of that mass murder. He had been offered a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and he and his wife had both resigned their positions, and sold their house in anticipation of the move to Illinois. However, at the last minute, the offer from the university was rescinded, due to those very tweets. By criticizing Israel, he was accused of being anti-Semitic.

Accusing people who support the BDS movement of being anti-Semitic has become all the rage in Zionist circles. Some examples:
* Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said last month that the BDS movement is “the 21st century form of 20th century anti-Semitism.” He further said, astonishingly, that criticism of Israel is the same thing as criticism of Jews. Zionists are desperate to make that connection, in the vain hope that it will successfully cause people to hesitate criticizing Israel, not wanting to be labelled anti-Semitic. Unfortunately for them, society has, for the most part, moved past that point.

* New York Senator Charles Schumer (D) said this: “It is very suspicious that those who promote boycotting Israel do not seek boycotts against any other nations in the world.” That is like saying that people who donate exclusively to the American Cancer Society don’t care about heart disease. They have simply chosen, for any of a variety of reasons, to support that cause. People involved in the BDS movement focus on Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

* Former Pink Floyd band member Roger Waters, an outspoken critic of Israel’s apartheid regime, and a supporter of the BDS movement, has denied being anti-Semitic. In response to comments made by Gerald Ronson, chairman of the Jewish Community Security Trust, suggesting that Mr. Waters was an anti-Semite, Mr. Waters said this: “On a personal note, Mr Ronson, my father, the son of a coal miner from County Durham, pulled himself up by his bootstraps, eventually got a degree from Durham University, went off and taught divinity, history, and English in Jerusalem between 1935 and 1938, and subsequently died in Italy on February 18, 1944 fighting the Nazi menace. Do not dare to presume to preach to me, my father’s son, about anti-Semitism or human rights.”
One wonders why there isn’t any talk about anti-Arab attitudes. Let’s look at some recent evidence.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister, in discussing the perceived loyalty or disloyalty of Israeli Arabs, who comprise approximately 20% of Israel’s population, said this on March 8: “Whoever’s with us, should get everything. Those who are against us, there’s nothing to be done — we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head. Otherwise we won’t survive here.”

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