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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Professors say misuse of ‘anti-Semitic’ overshadows Palestinian suffering

(Collegian File Photo)

On Wednesday, November 29, in the Integrative Learning Center at the University of Massachusetts, three professors spoke on the exploitation of the term “anti-Semitism.” The panel was sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Media Education Foundation and the departments of communication, philosophy, history, African-American studies and women, gender and sexuality studies.

Two are professors at UMass, Sut Jhally in the communications department and Joseph Levine in the philosophy department. The third, Vijay Prashad, is a professor of South Asian history and international studies at Trinity College.

Jhally spoke initially about how this event manifested, and how, in conjunction with this event, there was another panel discussion planned to take place at the exact same time called “Antisemitism and Islamophobia: Historical Perspectives and Civic Engagement Against Hate in 2017.” He said,  “I’ve never had this happen before, where someone is so threatened by an event that they organize an alternative event at the same time.”

Regarding the origins of this event, Jhally said, “The reason for this event was the extraordinary reaction to a talk earlier in the semester given by Thomas Suárez.” The talk with Suárez surrounded his book “State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel,” which talked about the Jewish state of Israel and its relations with Palestine.

He then drew the focus back onto his interest in how the Israeli and Palestinian conflict has been depicted in American media, its representation and its narrative. He believes that the issue in these depictions is that discussion is often halted through accusations of anti-Semitism and racism toward those who are critical of Israeli policy, specifically right-wing Israeli policy.

Jhally described this issue as “a very, very effective silencing mechanism,” as it silences those accused for the fear of being deemed a racist or anti-Semite, he said.

The general issue presented by Jhally is that this mechanism manipulates the oppressive, violent and fearful history of Jewish people and “distracts from what the state of Israel, not Jews, what the state of Israel is doing to the Palestinians.”

Jhally says that the term “anti-Semitic” can be used harmfully, as it presents a danger to deflect attention from Palestinian suffering and victimization through the refocusing of the situation to Israeli victimization.

Jhally predicted the event would be deemed “anti-Semitic” but proclaimed, “Do not let them become invisible. Do not let the Palestinians become invisible and do not let the fascist expression of anti-Semitism go unchallenged.”

Prashad took over, reading from a four-part passage. The first included an email from Rabbi Alissa Wise regarding anti-Semitism in America. It mentioned President Donald Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville.

He concluded from the email that “the real anti-Semites, namely the fascists, who go by the name alt-right, get a free pass while those who are against anti-Semitism and who are critics of Israeli state policy are labeled anti-Semites.”

The second part of the passage he read was about the asymmetrical violence of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians. He spoke on conflicts in which one side was at a disadvantage, including what he described to be a lack of justice in the wake of the 1984 daily riots in Delhi.

Prashad told his own story of being deemed an “anti-Semite” in the third passage. As a result of his reporting on issues like asymmetrical violence, Prashad has also been labeled with the term. Consequences included emails to the university where he was employed, urging his removal from positions of authority.

He also delved into the dilemma of how once someone is labeled an “anti-Semite” there will constantly be “that smell on them” hindering one’s reputation.

The last part was called “Human Beings” and it pertained to “Operation Pillar of Defense” in which Israeli forces bombed Gaza for eight days. He ended his speech by saying, “how tragic… that in this progressive age people do not follow the rule assigned to humans.”

Levine spoke last on “the real fear that is pervading the Jewish community” also referencing the events of Charlottesville and the chants shouted on the streets, “Jews will not replace us.”

Levine’s speech was anecdotal, touching on his experiences as a Jewish person who was surprised by how little anti-Semitism he has experienced throughout his years of work and travels. He said while he has had little experience with the term, he fears that one day it can all change, highlighting the misuse of the term “anti-Semitic,” which he believes could legitimize and give rise to real values pertaining to the label.

Levine then touched on the “principled conscientious Jews who have loudly denounced the oppression of Palestinians,” and solidarity activists who are Jewish. He pointed out that “this was not a Jewish issue. This was an Israel Zionist issue.”

There were three premises he wanted to denounce that related to the state department’s definition of anti-Semitism. They included how Jewish people constitute a nationality and not a religious group, that Palestine is the historical homeland of the people who now call themselves Jews, and that state ought to be organized by anything other than civic conceptions of nationality.

Following Levine’s talk, the panel was opened to a questions and answers.

Ben Avrahami, who is a junior biology major at UMass, expressed his concern for the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, saying “I want to find a solution.” Avrahami also hopes for a more open discussion on the issue from both sides.

Bonnie Chen can be reached at [email protected].

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  • H

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  • T

    Tom SuárezDec 4, 2017 at 8:57 am

    For the record:
    My response to Yisrael Medad’s critique of my book:

  • Y

    Yisrael MedadDec 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    My comment is to this assertion: “this mechanism manipulates the oppressive, violent and fearful history of Jewish people and “distracts from what the state of Israel, not Jews, what the state of Israel is doing to the Palestinians.”. This, I would agree, is not an anti-Semitic comment. But it is an example of purposeful manipulation of history to the extent that Jhally opens himself either to a charge of ignorance, stupidity or willful propagandizing.

    There is no need to argue whether or not there is or there is not a “Palestinian people”. There were. And they were Jews, Arabs, Christians, and others who received Palestinian nationality following the 1925 Act passed by the Mandate. Before that, Arabs who resided in the territory of the historic Jewish national home had defined themselves, they and not others, as Southern Syrians. If not for the Jews, there would be no “Palestine” as a geo-political entity.

    Despite a decision of internal legal; standing by over 50 countries to reconstitute the Jewish national home, Arabs of Palestine immediately engaged in terror which primarily targeted unarmed civilians, mostly women, the elderly and children, starting in the 1920 riots in Jerusalem and on to Jaffa 1921, Jerusalem 1921, throughout the country in 1929, 1936-39 and 1947-48. Judea, Samaria and Gaza were ethnically cleansed of Jews.

    Anti-Semitism or not, Arabs didn’t like Jews very much, And in continuing their terror in the 19 years of 1948-1967 when they possessed “Palestine” but preferred to attack the Jews of Israel, what then can we call their activity?

    As for Tom Suarez, I invite the students to read my review of hios book:

  • E

    Ed Cutting, Ed.D.Dec 1, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I think you will find that Jhally, et al explicitly prohibit this.

  • N

    NITZAKHONDec 1, 2017 at 8:17 am

    This panel reminds me of a cartoon I saw some years ago. A man is watching TV and sees the TV saying “And now for our program ‘All Sides of the Issue’; here’s our panel, a Communist, a Socialist, a liberal, and a progressive.”

    How about inviting the parents of Hallel Ariel, the 13 year old girl stabbed to death in her bedroom? Or someone who could talk about Hadas Fogel, the three month old stabbed to death in her crib?

  • N

    NITZAKHONDec 1, 2017 at 5:30 am

    The Arabs are the colonizers in a land where Jews have continuously lived for millennia; they were the Johnny-come-latelies, migrating in as the Zionist movement’s economic boom needed workers.

    Were the Arabs Indigenous to Mandatory Palestine?

    Up until the formation of Israel, there was no “Palestinian” identity.

    An Invented People

    ‘Palestinian’ Is a Fabricated Nationality

    When The Arabs Became The “Palestinians” – The Invention of a People

    Block quote:

    But after the war of 1967 the Arabs suddenly “recalled” they were “Palestinians”. The idea belonged to the PR experts of the Soviet KGB. The plan of the PR campaign and the ideological base were brilliantly prepared and elaborated in the Soviet Institute of Oriental Studies whose director was Evgeniy Primakov. Primakov, the professional Intelligence officer, spoke Arabic very well and had been working for many years in different Arabic countries under the “cover” of a journalist of the official Communist Party newspaper “Pravda”. All the media of the Soviet satellite countries immediately wept over the “poor Palestinians whose land was stolen by the cruel Jews”. This idea about the “poor Palestinians” was immediately supported by the leftist media in the West. After 3 years of the massive PR campaign, with the media crying over the “poor Palestinians”, Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat rendered passionate speeches in European universities, in the United Nations Assemblies and at the political meetings about how he, “a native Palestinian”, was robbed and humiliated by the “Khazar Jews”. The appeared-from-nowhere “Palestinian people” was firmly rooted in the minds of people in Western Europe.


    The Koran itself says Israel belongs to the Jews:

    Why Won’t Muslims Believe The Quran Which Says Temple Mount Belongs To Jews?

    And a Kuwaiti journalist cites the Koran in discussing the Jews in the land and how it belongs to them:

    Ultimately, the Arabs could have had a state long before, if it weren’t for the Koran and it’s 1,400 year old codified hatred of Jews. After all, if it were the “occupied territories” – the actual legal term is disputed territory – there wouldn’t have been violence against Israel prior to 1967… but there was. If it were Israel’s existence that was the issue, there wouldn’t have been violence against Jews… but there was. E.g., the Hebron Massacre, the Nebi Musa riots. So unless Israel’s “occupation” also involved time travel, the reality is that Muslims hate Jews and want them dead.
    ** Title: The Middle East Problem

    And Israel is not an Apartheid state.
    ** Title: An Arab Muslim in the Israeli Army
    ** Title: Does Israel Discriminate Against Arabs?
    ** Title: PragerU One Muslim had his eyes opened about Israel
    ** Title: A Black South African on Israel and Apartheid

    Ultimately, there is no “Palestinian” state because they don’t want peace. Well, yes they do – they want peace of dead Jews and a destroyed Israel.

  • A

    ArafatNov 30, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    The Israel-Bashing Industry’s “Intellectuals”
    by Giulio Meotti
    March 16, 2016 at 5:00 am

    These novelists hold a deep, uninformed, irrational hatred. Instead of backing the only country that gives full rights to all its citizens, they are instrumental in attacking not only Israel but the Jewish people.

    What is notable is that every single time, these most illustrious writers “forget” to say why Israel built those fences, checkpoints and roadblocks in the first place.

    Saramago, while he was visiting Ramallah, chose not to see and talk about the Israeli restaurants, malls and hotels turned into carpets of human bodies. The wholesale slaughter of Jews was the only reason Israel had to send tanks and soldiers back into the Palestinian cities after the Oslo Accords. Saramago did not mention the context; he preferred to give credence to a distorted, demonizing vision.

    What is the only country about which can be said that its very existence is disputed? Clue: Not Zimbabwe, not Tuvalu, not even overrun Tibet. Which country’s boundaries, bought with blood in wars initiated by others, are challenged by all nations, who now seem determined to destroy it through boycotts, unjust defamation and purported “laws” that are applied to no other nation?

    Which country fully respects the rights of women and every kind of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, notwithstanding that it is condemned at the United Nations for being “the worst violator of women’s rights” — worse than Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan?

    Which country provides its own enemy with water, electricity, food and medical treatment? Its military, to avoid enemy civilian casualties, warns its enemy to evacuate buildings before attacking them, and — instead of simply carpet bombing the enemy as all other nations do, including most democracies — sends its own soldiers possibly to die in ground operations?

    The country is Israel — the only country that even famous writers, intellectuals and Nobel laureates target, demonize and criminalize.

    There was a time when Nobel laureates for Literature, such as the German Heinrich Böll, the French Jean-Paul Sartre and the Italian Eugenio Montale, rushed to denounce injustice. Earlier, in the name of best Europe’s values — justice, freedom and solidarity — they condemned the threats to the State of Israel’s existence.

    But today, these novelists hold a deep, uninformed, irrational hatred towards the same place. Instead of backing the only country that gives full rights to all its citizens, they are instrumental in attacking not only Israel but the Jewish people. In Germany, Hitler’s Mein Kampf is the new best-seller. In Europe today, you can even find a great number of books that wipe Israel off the map. And a provincial council near Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, banned Israeli books from local libraries.

    In the chorus of those who speak from journals, poems and novels, there have been a few noble exceptions. The Albanian writer Ismail Kadaré, a Muslim candidate positioned every year to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, turned down a request to boycott the tiny Jewish State. Israel, he says, faces “the threat of disappearance,” and he compared Israel to Albania under Nazi occupation. Also the author of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling, refused to add her name to the list of Israel’s boycotters.

    Their brave, solitary gestures highlight the sluggish, uninquiring conformity of the “intelligentsia’s” campaign to pile unmerited calumnies on Israel.

    Worse, supposed “intellectuals” often spout raw anti-Semitism while giving a pass to the truly barbarous people among us. If the Nobel Committee had any decency, it would revoke the prizes it awarded for “Peace” to such “humanitarians” as Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat. It is painful to watch the Nobel Committee make a fool of itself year after year, and it is painful to watch these so-called intellectuals be so unaware and filled with prejudice against the people who least deserve it.

    An Italian writer, Dario Fo, a laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, just gave an interview to the newspaper, La Repubblica. Fo, talking about the Jewish patriarch, Moses, said: “Moses was killing women and children because they worshiped idols.” Mr. Fo went on blaming “the Jews’ brutality against those who follow other religions, as it happens today.” Excuse me? Is it the Jews who are burning people alive, drowning them in cages, slitting throats or crucifying anyone for following a different religion?

    Mr. Fo’s comparison is as wrong as it is ghastly. It is not the Jews who suicide-bomb Palestinian buses, cafes, wedding halls and discotheques. It is not the Jews who now try to mow down Palestinians with cars or stab them in the street. It is the reverse — and has been for years.

    The daily newspaper La Stampa charged Dario Fo with “recycling anti-Semitic stereotypes.” Fo is not new at this. In the 1970s, in one of his theatrical operas, “Resistance: Italian and Palestinian people speak,” the future Nobel Prize laureate compared Nazism to Zionism and the Palestinian fedayeen terrorists to the anti-Fascist partisans.

    A few days after the 9/11 attacks, Fo also said that,

    “the great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty — so what is 20,000 dead in New York? Regardless of who carried out the massacre, this violence is the legitimate daughter of the culture of violence, hunger and inhumane exploitation.”

    Who gave this famous writer the right to defame, earlier, not only Israel’s name but also 9/11’s victims?

    Another Nobel prize-winning novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as the Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Eggers, are among a group of international novelists who will contribute to a book of essays next year about “50 years of Israeli occupation” that will be published by Harper Collins, one of the publishers that wiped Israel off the map.

    The book is part of an initiative by Breaking the Silence, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which makes sweeping charges against the Israeli army “based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay ‘testimonies.'” while refusing to disclose the names of the Israeli soldiers who “testified.” Worse, it is being funded specifically “to incriminate the IDF” (Israel Defense Forces) and, was explicitly directed by European charities to prove that Israel acted improperly. In an article entitled, “Europe to Breaking the Silence: Bring Us As Many Incriminating Testimonies As Possible,” the watchdog group NGO Monitor disclosed that:

    Contrary to BtS’ claim that “the contents and opinions in this booklet do not express the position of the funders,” NGO Monitor research reveals that a number of funders made their grants conditional on the NGO obtaining a minimum number of negative “testimonies.” This contradicts BtS’ declarations and thus turns it into an organization that represents its foreign donors’ interest, severely damaging the NGO’s reliability and its ability to analyze complicated combat situations.

    Are these “prestigious” writers aware of the organization’s predetermined bias which is going to fund their new book?

    There is also, of course, the problem of double standards and hypocrisy. These writers did not decide to put their pen at the service of the Syria’s civil war victims or the Christians and Yazidi who are suffering a genocide in Iraq. No, these writers targeted Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, and its supposed “occupation” — which they fail to disclose was backed by the Palestinians themselves in the Oslo II Accord of 1995, Chapter 3, Article XVII Jurisdiction [1], which in fact turned the Palestinian people into the most protected Arab population in the entire Middle East. Go to Ramallah and Jenin and you will see the difference between how they live compared to the people living in Aleppo, Sana’a and Mosul.

    The most prolific novelists in the Israel-Bashing Industry are, sadly, the British. “Sadly,” especially as Iran has within the last month raised the bounty offered on the head of a British citizen, Salman Rushdie, by another $600,000, in addition to the $3 million issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. That brings the incentive for murdering a novelist to roughly $4 million. About that, the British government has been shamefully silent. The only condemnation so far seems to have come from the Iranian journalist, Amir Taheri, the British journalist, Douglas Murray and from PEN.

    Another “intellectual,” John Berger, a Booker Prize winner, called for artists to decline being published by Israeli publishers and to undertake a boycott of the Jewish State. Harold Pinter, the late Nobel Laureate playwright, has gone so far as to declare Israel “the central factor in world unrest,” presumably forgetting about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Sudan. Showing how thin is the line separating criticism and anti-Semitism, Tom Paulin, poet, essayist and academic at Oxford, said Jewish “settlers” in Israel “should be shot dead.” A Scottish National Poet, Liz Lochhead, also joined a group calling for the boycott of Israel.

    Dozens of the world’s literary stars, including Nobel laureates in literature such as J. M. Coetzee, Herta Mueller, Orhan Pamuk and the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney, added their names to a petition against Israel’s “occupation’s giant, cruel hand.” What is notable is that every single time, these most illustrious writers “forget” to say why Israel built those fences, checkpoints and roadblocks in the first place.

    Donald Trump wants to build a wall with Mexico, the Arab sheikhdoms are closing the border with Oman, Spain built fences to keep out Moroccans, India is walling off Bangladesh, South and North Korea share a fortified border, Cyprus is divided by walls and Belfast is a fenced city of barriers.

    But only Israel’s fence — built for defensive, humanitarian reasons, merely not to get blown up — is condemned by the International Court of Justice and receives round-the-clock coverage on CNN and front page stories in the New York Times. Why? Because the security barrier that saves lives was perverted by unjust people into an unjust barrier, with no mention of what happened to Israelis before that fence was put up. To paraphrase attorney Alan Dershowitz: If you made a fair and objective list of all the countries in the world that comply with human rights, from best to worst, Israel would have to be near the top, among the best.

    One of the most chilling accusations against Israel has come from a northern European writer, Jostein Gaarder, an ostensible humanitarian, whose book, “Sophie’s World,” was translated into 53 languages, and with 26 million copies sold. Penning an article in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Gaarder wrote:

    “If the entire Israeli nation should fall … and part of the population must flee to another Diaspora, then we say: may their surroundings stay calm and show them mercy. Shoot not at the fugitives! Take not aim at them! They are vulnerable now — like snails without shells! … Give the Israeli refugees shelter; give them milk and honey!”

    Gaarder envisages the expulsion of the entire Jewish people from their land, and again dependent on European charity — in recent years not exactly a commodity in great supply.

    Israel has been humiliated also by a German writer and Nobel Prize for Literature, Günter Grass, who published a poem in several European newspapers, in which he treated Israel as the purveyor of all ills and the instigator of every type of disorder. According to Mr. Grass, it is Israel that threatens Iran with a nuclear genocide, not the reverse.

    This sanctimony should not have come from that writer: Grass, in fact, served in Nazi Germany’s armed SS force and defined East Germany’s Communism “a comfortable dictatorship.”

    After a visit in the Palestinian Authority’s de facto capital, Ramallah, during the Second Intifada, after there were about 1,500 Jewish dead from terrorism, another winner of Nobel Prize for Literature, José Saramago, stated that the Israeli blockade of Ramallah was “in the spirit of Auschwitz” and “this place is being turned into a concentration camp.” A year later, Saramago commented that the Jewish people no longer deserve “the sympathy for the suffering they went through during the Holocaust.”

    Nobel laureates who demonized: German novelist Günter Grass (left), who served in Nazi Germany’s armed SS force, claimed that Israel that threatens Iran with a nuclear genocide. Portuguese novelist José Saramago (right), gave credence to a distorted, demonizing vision that culminated in the perverse comparison between Hitler and Israel.
    Mr. Saramago, while he was visiting Ramallah, chose not to see and talk about the Israeli restaurants, shopping malls and hotels turned into carpets of human bodies. The wholesale slaughter of Jews was the only reason Israel had to send tanks and soldiers back into the Palestinian cities after the Oslo Accords. Saramago did not mention the context; he preferred to give credence to a distorted, demonizing vision that culminated in the perverse comparison between Hitler and Israel, and the transformation of the Jewish State — the historical home of the Jews for nearly 4000 years, and lately the only sanctuary not to turn away Jews being persecuted or rounded up for death — into an “imperialist base.”

    It is by repeating lies that Europe even accepted the big Mohammed al-Dura lie: a boy supposedly riddled to death with Israeli bullets, but there was not one drop of blood! Not only that, but after he was dead, he moved his hand to look out. Quite a feat. For a time, the lie even became the favorite table conversation for Europe’s upper classes.

    This is how millions of Europeans have been persuaded to see Israel as the aggressor and the Palestinian terrorists as the victims. They read the inverted, Orwellian revision of history every day on the front pages. Look at what is happening now during this “Third Intifada”: it is filled with knives, stabbings of Jews, even charts on the internet showing where to stab a Jew to do the most damage. The many dead Israeli civilians and soldiers have totally disappeared from the television screen, but when Israeli soldiers shoot a Palestinian in the process of stabbing a Jew, they are labelled by a corrupt and racist media as “illegal executioners.”

    What would these supposed intellectuals do if citizens were being stabbed in London, Rome or Berlin? The “intellectuals” and the media seem to be trying to make the Jews unable to defend themselves. The “intellectuals” and the media are preaching for Israel’s destruction.

    Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

  • D

    Daniel WatermanNov 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Great article but it does not do justice to the full, extensive harm resulting from falsely labeling critics of Israel anti-semities. I published the following recently:

    Fake vs. Real anti-Semitism 2.0 (Copyright) Daniel Waterman, 6th April 2017.


    “An anti-Semite used to mean a man who hated Jews. Now it means a man who is hated by Jews.”
    — Joseph Sobran

    The following article was written in response to a surge of accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘Holocaust denial’ levelled at Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone (to hear what he actually said, follow the link in the footnote[1]), Jacqueline Walker, Tony Greenstein and many other prominent and less prominent members of Labour UK and Momentum. All of the accused have publicly criticised Israel and Zionism. These accusations could pose a serious obstacle to efforts to steer Labour back towards its socialist-humanist ideals. As such, they could potentially undermine Labour at the polling booth. In addition, however, misuse of the term anti-Semitism, and especially misuse by members of the Jewish community, could potentially backfire and seriously harm the Jewish community itself. But false or exaggerated claims of anti-Semitism may have serious impacts in other unexpected areas as well. Among others, we should be seriously concerned about the following:

    Critics argue that the adoption of an unnecessarily sweeping definition of anti-Semitism that includes criticism of Israel turns it into a rather ‘blunt’ instrument. The definition is by no means unanimously supported by members of the Jewish community and many critics have pointed out that its broadness and/or vagueness could lead to arbitrary application or to the inclusion of behaviour and language that are not strictly speaking targeted at, or intended to harm Jews. This definition was agreed last May at a conference of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The problem with the UK Governments adoption of this definition is pointed out by Walter Armbrust, “the government of the United Kingdom has “adopted” IHRA’s definition in a quasi-official manner, and has therefore put itself in a position to tell us when it thinks a speaker or a topic is anti-Semitic, or to encourage others to do so. Crucially, this does not come in a vacuum.” The fact is that the present Tory government is in the midst of a significant political and economic crisis surrounding Brexit and the devastating consequences of many decades of neoliberal economics. With elections looming, accusations of anti-Semitism provide powerful weapons for discrediting political opponents and stifling legitimate political debate. According to Armbrust “the government’s position on the IHRA definition must be put in the context of its ‘Prevent’ legislation, which has been the law since 2015. Prevent is ostensibly part of a counter-terrorism strategy, but in every way it actually feeds radicalization by encouraging or in some cases requiring universities to censor speakers and to conduct surveillance on students.” Although the IHRA provides a disclaimer that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic” its adoption by the UK Government effectively empowers non-governmental institutions like the media, or Jewish organisations, to define whether something is anti-Semitic or not. This results in “exactly the conflations of political speech with anti-Semitism that so many have protested.”[2]

    Among the many other risks attached to the arbitrary broadening of definitions of anti-Semitism to include Israel, Zionism and other cultural, political or ideological artefacts is the differentiation of anti-Semitism from other forms of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, faith, skin colour, sexual preference etc. In particular, we run the risk of elevating anti-Semitism and its horrific historical legacy above other, equally horrific forms of discrimination. Thus we also risk failing to see commonalities between these distinct forms of racism, hate speech and/or discrimination are to recognise how they are connected (i.e. what conditions lead from racist or discriminatory language to violence). In short, overly broad use of the term anti-Semitic devalues the term and renders it meaningless. This in turn may desensitize us to its more specific significance thus increasing the risk of denial or disinterest when real instances of anti-Semitism that truly merit our attention occur.
    This broadening of the term anti-Semitism to include legitimate criticism of Jews, Jewish organisations, Zionism and Israel sets a dangerous precedent by equating Jews as a people, religion, culture or race with a political entity — the Israeli state. This confusion is a serious issue for two reasons: firstly, for a political entity like a nation state to function normally in relation to other national entities and international institutions and agreements it must be possible to address that state, its responsibilities and rights. This includes the possibility of criticism. Secondly, it implies that the Israeli state represents all Jews, that its actions are always and necessarily in the interests of Jews, that its actions are ‘legitimate’ or even ‘ethical’ thereby obfuscating the fact that many non-Jews live in Israel, including Palestinian Christians and Muslims, Druze and Bedouin, non-Jewish immigrants. In addition, even among Jews there are very fundamental cultural and ideological differences. Support for the State of Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ and for its policies, the occupation and ruthless oppression of Palestinians, etc. is by no means unanimous among Jews — either in Israel or the diaspora.
    Arbitrary accusations of anti-Semitism have been and are used to silence legitimate debate and criticism of Israel, Zionism, Jewish institutions and people of Jewish descent, regardless of intent, factual correctness, or legitimacy of the criticism (yes, one can criticise a Jew/Jews without being an anti-Semite. One can even criticise Jewish culture, religion, beliefs without being anti-Semitic. We need to differentiate between criticism (legitimate or not) and hate speech, or discriminatory language, both of which are deliberately intended to hurt or harm and or to promote racist beliefs and attitudes. Even if criticism is not legitimated by fact it remains within the ambit of the right to free speech and does not necessarily amount to hate speech or discriminatory language.)
    Arbitrary use of accusations of anti-Semitism to discredit individuals (the harm here is that the accusation is so stigmatising that it is almost impossible to defend against because any attempt to counter it can be construed as evidence of unconscious bias. In addition, the accusation is even levelled against Jews, implying that their statements or actions are harmful to the Jewish community. When levelled against Jews, the term ‘self-hating Jew’ is often employed. This accusation is deeply insulting and absurd.) In some instances, accusations of anti-Semitism could therefore arguably be construed as a form of hate speech themselves!
    Arbitrary accusations and challenges of a racist nature, e.g. questioning whether a critic is ‘Jewish’ or Jewish ‘enough’ or whether they have displayed enough anger at racism and discrimination and whether they have a ‘right’ or sufficient ‘expertise to speak about Jews, Israel, the Holocaust etc. For example, anyone who is not Jewish can be automatically discredited, irrespective of their expertise, sympathy, political credentials or the factuality of their statements, merely because they ‘have not had the historical benefit of suffering and oppression that is, according to the official narrative, our collective historical legacy’, in other words, the speaker is not sufficiently sensitized to the ‘historical conditions’ necessary to comprehend the necessity of resorting to violence and subterfuge.
    Arbitrary use of accusations of anti-Semitism to discredit political parties. This question seems beyond doubt since accusations have focused overwhelmingly if not entirely on the Labour party even though it is patently absurd to assume that anti-Semitism is entirely limited to those on the left of the political spectrum.[3]
    Arbitrary use of accusations of anti-Semitism to stifle legitimate public debate in museums, art galleries (yes, seriously!) schools, media and Universities, i.e. the shutting down of classes and/or extracurricular activities deemed critical of Israel or Zionism. This includes the silencing of academics who are outspoken critics of Israel like Steven Salaita (US) Ilan Pappe (Israel) NUS leader Malia Bouattia (UK) etc.[4] [5] [6] [7]
    Arbitrary use of accusations of anti-Semitism to silence opposition to the Israeli occupation of West-bank and Gaza, to distract from criticism of Israeli military operations and increasing oppression of Palestinians and increasingly of Jewish supporters of BDS, academics critical of Israel etc.[8]
    In addition to all of the above it is increasingly clear that there are close links between those making the anti-Semitism accusations and Israeli political and financial elites. E.g. Haaretz reports that “Ruth Smeeth MP worked for Israel lobby group BICOM, as did Alex Chalmers who kicked off the ‘Labour anti-Semitism crisis’ with his false allegations against members of OULC.” BICOM’s founder and former chairman is British billionaire Poju Zabludowicz, who’s father built up the Israeli arms company Soltam.” The self-interest is glaringly obvious and it positively reeks of cronyism and corruption.[9]
    Finally, it is also glaringly obvious that some Jewish and Israeli/Zionist organisations effectively blanket out any coverage of an alternative Jewish perspective. As Jonathan Rosenhead remarks in Haaretz “It is as if the Jewish organizations which take a sceptical or downright critical view of Israel – Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jewish Socialist Group and others – do not exist.”[10] In other words, a substantial element of opposition within the Jewish community both in Israel and abroad are being treated as if the don’t exist. This is a serious issue for those simultaneously claiming that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle-east. Apparently the principles of democracy do not extend to free speech about Israel!

    For each of the above there are literally hundreds of examples online and it is a waste of my time attempting to substantiate them. Those who have falsely used the anti-Semitism argument have proved time and again that they are not interested in facts or reasoned argument. Readers who are interested are welcome to research all claims made here. They will find substantial evidence to support my claims.
    There are of course legitimate historical reasons for concern about anti-Semitism and the possibility of legitimate criticism being ceased upon for anti-Semitic purposes. But it is specifically the portrayal of ‘Jews’ or the ‘international Jewish Community’ as a monolithic block that are potentially most harmful to Jews. From this portrayal it is but a small step to the kind of generalisation and stereotyping that really promote racist ideology. The attempt to silence criticism of Israel and Zionism within the Jewish community and to emphasise the oneness of Jews and their identification with Israel is just such a case. This deliberate policy can be traced throughout the history of Israel, for instance in statements by Abba Eban,a key figure behind the 1948 UN partition agreement. Indeed, as early as 1973 Eban was already identifying the rise of a new ‘anti-Semitism’ with left-wing politics:
    Recently we have witnessed the rise of the new left, which identifies Israel with the establishment… Let there be no mistake: the new left is the author and the progenitor of the new antisemitism. One of the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all. Anti-Zionism is merely the new antisemitism. The old classic antisemitism declared that equal rights belong to all individuals within the society, except the Jews. The new antisemitism says that the right to establish and maintain an independent national sovereign state is the prerogative of all nations, so long as they happen not to be Jewish. And when this right is exercised not by the Maldive Islands, not by the state of Gabon, not by Barbados…but by the oldest and most authentic of all nationhoods, then this is said to be exclusivism, particularism, and a flight of the Jewish people from its universal mission. [11]
    In other words, as early as 1973 Israeli representatives were already adopting an agenda of avoidance and denial with respect to a quite legitimate critique of the left concerning the colonialist aspect of Israeli nationalism and its policies with regards to questions of Palestinian human rights and Palestinian claims to sovereignty. Strikingly, Israel was demanding recognition based on historic precedence but unwilling to concede precedence to Palestinians as well.
    But there are other problems with the attempt to conceptualise Jews, Jewish culture and the nationalist enterprise as a monolithic whole. Firstly, it uncomfortably echoes Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda accusing Jews, no matter what their personal affiliations or social-economic class of conspiracy of purpose. According to such theories Jewish bankers and industrialists were conspiring with the working classes, including communists and socialist movements to undermine Western civilisation. Of course the Soviets had their own specific variations on this theme. Such lies very effectively undermined social movements by infusing them with anti-Semitism and driving working classes into the hands of right wing authoritarian political parties.
    In addition, the portrayal of Jews or Israelis as united in their support of the nationalist agenda belies the historical complexity and truly extreme differences underpinning relationships between different sectors of the Jewish population. This glossing over of differences is dehumanising and gives rise to frightening misconceptions that many in the Jewish community struggle to explain. For instance, it is not uncommon to hear people say: “Look at the Jews! They went through the Holocaust and now look what they are doing to Palestinians!” This statement is based on a false perception of Jews as a single homogenous community and belies both the complexity of the legacy of the Holocaust and the complex relationships between Jews from a wide diversity of backgrounds, including some who never experienced persecution or imprisonment in Concentration Camps. In fact, the percentage of actual survivors of the camps is rather small among the general Jewish population and although their experience is central to the creation myth of the state of Israel as a ‘safe haven from persecution’ historical evidence suggests that Jewish leaders were extremely cynical towards Jews who ‘did nothing to save themselves’ and authorities in Israel did far less than they could or should have done to help survivors. To this day it is still uncertain to what extent funds allotted to survivors by governments and Jewish organisations reached them. Many survivors are still destitute, and in many instance, funds were appropriated by Jewish organisations or used to further the aims of the state.
    Furthermore, generalisations tend to belie the complexity of the historical and political conditions that have shaped relations between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people. If it can be said, for instance, that some elements within the Jewish community and the Israeli government endorsed policies of ethnic cleansing and land appropriation then it is also true that other groups openly campaigned for a more inclusive society, attempting to forge closer ties with the Palestinian community. The Jewish community worldwide and Israeli Jewish citizens are sharply divided along a number of lines, and these divisions are quite obviously of enormous significance in attempting to understand the present conflict. Ultra nationalist and fundamentalist religious political parties have continually played an influential role in Israeli politics by pledging support for the larger political parties as a means of securing all kinds of commitments for funding, for exemption from military service, for the construction of settlements etc. These sharp differences and open conflicts between different sectors of Israeli society have undoubtedly contributed to political uncertainty and lack of decisive leadership on matters pertaining to Palestinian rights and sovereignty. For example, to this day the status of the ‘occupied territories’ remains uncertain; have they been incorporated into the state of Israel and are Palestinians entitled therefore to the same rights as Israeli Jews, or are the Palestinians still under occupation and therefore subject to the rule and protection of international law?
    Quite apart from that is the complexity of the substantial influence of Israel’s relationship to the US, which intersects with US military strategic and economic interests in the Middle-east and with the military and technological cooperation between the two states. At times it really does seem as if Israel is actually holding the USA to ransom, as when sharp disagreements arose between Benyamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration over agreements to curtail Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The influence of the Jewish community in the US as a force promoting close ties to Israel is substantial. In part, it is undoubtedly motivated by convictions that Israel needs the support of the USA and by ignorance of the extent of Israeli human rights violations. On the other hand, there can be little doubt that American Jews have played a substantial role in filling the ranks of ultra-nationalist and religious settler groups in Israel.
    With a view to the above we should note that concern to avoid being construed as anti-Semitic while sounding criticism of Israel, or Zionist policy places those on the left of the political spectrum in an impossible position. On the one hand they have to be constantly vigilant against saying anything that can be construed as anti-Semitic while at the same time trying to exercise a critically important right — the right to free speech. But it is not just the right to free speech that is at stake: it is also supremely important and fundamental to political exercise that we be able to express and debate legitimate concerns and criticism. This is also true with respect to e.g. Israel’s human rights record, and about the role of Jewish institutions and Jews in general.
    In addition, the study of history and politics necessitates drawing comparisons between different cultures and societies in different times. Nazi Germany is the benchmark for a particularly extreme episode of ethnocentric totalitarianism. Understanding and coming to terms with the role of ethnocentricity and racism in the rise of totalitarianism and genocide is crucial not only to our survival as a species but also to efforts to create a just society. When critics point out parallels between Israel’s conduct towards Palestinians and Nazi policies they are not so much suggesting that Jews are identical to Nazis (although some may well believe this) but indicating that there are important lessons to be learned about human nature and the systemic conditions underpinning the rise of totalitarianism, racism and genocide. Expressing one’s legitimate concerns about such parallels is by no means anti-Semitic. Neither can we forgo such comparisons merely to appease those who are so identified with a state, government, political or religious ideology that they treat any attempt at critical inquiry as a personal affront. Accusations of anti-Semitism draw on historical comparison just as much as certain criticisms of Israel! This is exactly what prompted Israeli president Reuven Rivlin to use his Holocaust remembrance day speech to remind Israelis that vacuous accusations of anti-Semitism are demeaning to the memory of the Holocaust. [12]
    In addition, accusations of anti-Semitism can be used to manipulate political debate and decisions. Emboldened by the success of this strategy, supporters of Israel have mounted a very effective campaign within Labour UK. As recent revelations by an undercover investigative team from Al Jazeera suggest, these smear campaigns appear to be led and financed by Israeli institutions (the Israeli embassy in London and hence the Israeli government itself, and, very likely, Hasbara organisations within Israel). [13] (Hasbara refers to public relations efforts to disseminate abroad positive information or propaganda about the State of Israel and its actions).
    Unfortunately, they are also led and financed by teams of dedicated volunteers within the Jewish community. Some of them are real thugs who are prepared to use violence (e.g. followers of Meir Kahane and members of the Jewish Defense League JDL which is officially designated ‘violent extremist Jewish organization’ in the USA), others well-meaning but very naive individuals. [14]
    The existence of such fanatical and potentially violent Jewish organisations, as well as of groups whose actions are coordinated towards support for Israel, is historical fact and it is no secret. It is, in some respects, a logical consequence of the complex strategic situations that arose, in particular after the Second World War, when Jewish organisations began cooperating to exercise political pressure, first for the partition of Palestine and to enable immigration and then for recognition of the State of Israel and for its armament. The problem here is that many within the Jewish community as well as communities of well-wishers such as Christian religious organisations that support Jews and Israel out of a sense of shame or sympathy are extremely naive about Israel’s infractions. As a consequence, they are completely unable to sound criticism of Israel or Jewish Zionist organisations.
    To accomplish this state of affairs where criticism of Israel is automatically self-censured, Jewish organisations have worked ceaselessly to promote a hegemonic narrative emphasising Jewish oppression, victimisation and heroic survival throughout the ages and always against overwhelming odds. (This is the main narrative of the Six Day war, that Israel, like David, managed to rally and defeat a more powerful enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth —the Israelis were well equipped and organised, the enemy was not well equipped and their attacks were badly coordinated. But we do like a good story don’t we!). The existence of anti-Semitism, its supposed ineradicability, fuels a consciousness within Israel that feeds on fear. Within this narrative, Jews are not just incidental victims of socio-economic conditions but ‘eternal’ victims, hated and feared for who we are.[15] As such, they can never be deposed or replaced by others, e.g. Palestinians. Consequently, Palestinian resistance to oppression and ethnic cleansing, to dispossession and to the lack of political representation, represents a form of ‘anti-Semitism’ within the modern Israeli-Jewish narrative. It is important to acknowledge what this narrative actually accomplishes: the narrative of victimisation facilitates denial of the basic political and economic injustices perpetrated against Palestinians. “We don’t want to oppress them, but we can’t help it that they hate us and want to ‘drive us into the sea’!” (The projection of guilt onto the victim is a well-known psychological mechanism. Indeed, Palestinians were driven into the sea to escape in the 1948 ‘war of independence’).
    However, an even more insidious problem is that accusations of anti-Semitism have been and are employed to shape the political field itself. This is not merely a question of attempts by a foreign power (Israel), or by a single interest group (Jews, Zionists), to defend Israel — it is part and parcel of a much broader set of measures that promote the interests of wealthy and political elites by undermining public resistance to neoliberalism. The clearest evidence for this comes from the media: the unanimity with which the capitalist media have documented every possible instance of ‘anti-Semitism in the Labour party’ suggests a concerted effort to either bring about a defeat of Labour or to isolate key members — those working to facilitate a return to Labour’s socialist humanist roots. And what a coincidence — literally all those accused of anti-Semitism and/or the crime of Holocaust denial are also long-standing ‘lefties’ whose reputations are beyond rebuke! In fact, some of them are also Jewish or coloured or both! Furthermore, the recent surge of accusations of anti-Semitism primarily —if not exclusively— targets members of the Labour party, not the Tories. This is not a coincidence, it signals a merger of two overlapping interests: firstly, the defeat of the political left and secondly, the silencing of criticism of Israel. In both cases, the interests of wealthy and powerful elites coincide. Israel is a small country but its economic and military industrial interests are shared with other global elites. No, I am not talking about a Jewish conspiracy now, I am talking about CRAPITALISM. (As I will argue below, Jews are emphatically not the main beneficiaries of the Israeli establishments power games, indeed, as a community we stand to lose a great deal from Israel’s posturing, threats, distortions and interferences).
    So, what is really going on?
    Among the potential consequences of the current vogue for accusing anyone we don’t like or agree with, or simply wish to discredit or rid ourselves of, of anti-Semitism we must include the following:
    · Erosion of free speech. a) the boundary of what constitutes anti-Semitism becomes overly broad as well as vague, and does not merely affect critics of Israel but potentially also influences speech on a wide range of subjects relating to Jews, Judaism, Zionism, Israel, Palestine, the Middle-east, banking, the Rothschild’s, food (yes, seriously, there are disagreements about whether falafel is an Israeli or an Arabic dish), art, poetry etc. etc.
    · ‘Weaponising’ of the definition of anti-Semitism — turning it into something that can be used to silence, accuse or discredit others. A statement by the Jewish Socialists’ Group (28 April 2016) explains exactly what is going on: Accusations of anti-Semitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of anti-Semitism. This is despite Corbyn’s longstanding record of actively opposing fascism and all forms of racism, and being a firm a supporter of the rights of refugees and of human rights globally.

    Distortion of our understanding of anti-Semitism by emphasising its historical uniqueness and ignoring its continuity with other forms of racism and discrimination.
    Silencing of legitimate criticism of Israel and Jewish organisations
    Shutting down of public debate including erosion of civil rights in Israel[16]
    Posing an obstacle to our ability to formulate effective policies for bringing about peace in Israel-Palestine
    Silencing of those critical of and pushing for an end to neoliberal policies (because, on the whole, Israeli elites rely more on money and military strength than on diplomacy and forthrightness).
    Political interference against critical voices in media, arts[17], academia and politics.
    Empowering of fundamentalist racist, religious and extremist nationalist groups such as Lehava which campaigns against mixed marriage, Kach and Kahane Chai (founded by ‘Rabbi’ Meir Kahane, a racist supporter of forcible transfer of Palestinians), Eretz Yisrael Shelanu (transl. ‘the Land of Israel is ours’, a political party actively seeking to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state), Yisrael Beiteinu, (transl. ‘Israel is our Home’, a far right political party supported mainly by Russian Jewish immigrants). In all of these instances, secular political parties have made significant concessions in order to gain support at elections. As a consequence, religious groups wield significant political power. The claim that Israel is a secular state is, in this sense, not entirely true.

    This list is by no means exhaustive and its contents are debatable, however I believe it is fair to say that these issues are very very serious, particularly in light of the following facts;

    Israeli military aggression, its build up of (nuclear) arms and threats of intervention against other sovereign states such as Iran as well as its actual military interventions in Lebanon and Syria
    The illegal occupation of Palestinian lands which has been condemned in no uncertain terms by the UN
    The violation of Palestinian human rights
    The use of collective punishment against Palestinians
    The discrimination of Palestinians Israelis living within the 1967 boundaries
    The deeply racist policies and inciting language of prominent members of the Knesset
    The ousting of elected Palestinian members of the Knesset
    The racism directed against various Israeli minorities, including Jewish minorities like the Falash Mura, refugees, immigrants and Palestinian Christians
    The illegal occupation of the Golan heights and the ethnic cleansing of its pre-1967 population of approximately 130,000 Syrians including their erasure from history books and the destruction of over 200 villages [18]
    The illegal oil exploration in the Golan heights
    The well documented culture of corruption and impunity among Israel’s political elites
    The narrative of victimisation that centres on Jewish suffering during the Holocaust
    The continual claim that the international community is inherently anti-Semitic
    Intrusive Israeli intelligence activities
    Multiple and coordinated interference with foreign policy
    Interference in support of far-right (political) organisations including the PVV in the Netherlands (Geert Wilders is a fervent supporter of Israel and has been welcomed there with open arms).
    The tampering with industrial processes such as in Iran’s nuclear reactors using digital tools and hacking (Stuxnet)
    The disgraceful and childish conduct of Israeli officials at the UN
    Disgraceful and contemptuous attitudes towards human rights activism and organisations including BDS and BLM!
    The marketing of Israeli arms, technology and intelligence around the world, including to authoritarian governments
    Refusal to negotiate with Hamas, despite the fact that Hamas was legitimately elected in democratic elections.
    Interference with the PA and Palestinian security forces.
    Blackmail of Palestinian prisoners and gays to pressure them into spying for Israel
    Land grabbing, the construction of physical barriers such as roads, walls, fences and settlements
    The unequal distribution of water resources
    The illegal spraying of herbicides on Palestinian agricultural land
    The use of white phosphorus, among others, during the shelling of a UN school in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, in 2009. Although not strictly speaking ‘illegal’ according to international law, white phosphorus can cause horrific wounds and its use in heavily populated areas was both unnecessary and provocative.[19]
    The deliberate flooding of outlying regions of Gaza with sewage
    The destruction of water treatment facilities
    The many instances of false allegations of ‘knife-attacks’
    Summary execution after ‘alleged’ attacks
    Extrajudicial killing of people allegedly posing a security threat to Israel or preparing terror attacks
    The use of brute force aerial bombardment in heavily populated areas of Gaza
    The flooding of Gaza’s supply tunnels with salt-water, implemented by Egyptian forces but doubtless with approval by Israeli authorities which renders the salt-table to high for agricultural production and constitutes both a crime against humanity and a crime against the environment
    The deliberate destruction of waterwells using ‘skunk’ which amounts to a form of chemical warfare: according to Dinah Mulholland, press and campaigns officer for the Labour Party in Ceredigion, “the Israeli military has ‘weaponized’ water, spraying chemicalized ‘skunk’ water into the water tanks of Palestinian protesters, making it unsafe to use.” November 13, 2016
    The spraying of urban areas with skunk, including into arbitrary homes
    The chopping down of olive trees and destruction of Palestinian crops
    The unfair collection of taxes that rightly belong to Palestinian authorities and institutions
    The arming of settlers who effectively become paramilitary organisations that undertake independent action against Palestinians and that coordinate and sometimes take the lead when IDF personnel are at hand
    The terrorising of Arab stall holders and shop owners in Nazareth and Hebron
    The creation of exclusion zones in areas designated for religious activities including the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa complex as well as Bethlehem
    The illegal ‘archaeological’ excavations taking place under the Al Aqsa mosque (the Dome of the Rock)
    The construction of the ‘security wall’ and fences on Palestinian lands that bisects communities and makes travel difficult or impossible
    The gating off of sections of East Jerusalem that effectively turns Palestinians into prisoners
    The ‘numbering’ of Palestinians with the aid of a special registration card system which confines them to certain areas
    The prevention of travel between West-Bank and Gaza
    The creation of segregated roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use
    The use of special military tribunals against minors
    Arbitrary detentions without proper legal representation based on ‘secret’ information
    The detention of conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the IDF
    The bombing of Gaza’s electric plants and water purification installations which has led to widespread water shortages and will lead to a serious humanitarian crisis soon
    Israeli involvement in the genocides in Sudan and Rwanda, assistance to former Argentinian dictatorship, etc.[20] [21] [22] [23]
    Advocacy of forcible expulsion and Genocide by leading religious and political figures such as Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira who’s book Torat HaMelech details the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, providing guidance on whether and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew. According to the author, “Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and should be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” “If we kill a gentile who has has violated one of the seven commandments… there is nothing wrong with the murder.” Citing Jewish law Orthodox Rabbi Shapira declares: “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.” Shapira and his cohorts have so far refused to be interrogated by the secret service. Israeli politicians have kept quiet. Despite these statements the Israeli ministry of Social Affairs has quietly continued to fund the rabbi’s Yeshiva located in a West-Bank settlement.[24]
    The use of torture as described by the UN convention of Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and various other treaties, including the use of torture against minors.

    Aside: The above list is by no means complete but it paints a rather bleak picture of the Israeli state and public opinion in Israel and within the Jewish community. Many Israeli’s including many of my good friends, are unaware of the extent of state organised crimes, due in part to the insularity of many sectors of Israeli society. But this is merely to furnish a justification for something that I personally find incomprehensible and extremely reprehensible, namely the fact that Israeli Jews and the Jewish community worldwide have for so long managed to ignore, diminish or justify these crimes. When some Palestinian’s resorted to suicide bombing this was ascribed by many in the community to inherent ‘hatred’ and anger about their having ‘lost their land’. This is a serious misrepresentation of the motives for Palestinian desperation and the rise of fanaticism which is a consequence of political failure. To understand this political failure one needs a theory of sorts.
    The trick played by Israeli politicians has been to ‘de-politicise’ the language and theory available to Jews to understand the conflict. Thus, for many within the Jewish community the conflict is cultural and territorial rather than being about political representation and economic equity. And many people within the community magically manage to maintain the illusion that Israeli capitalism is somehow beneficial and that the wealthy and powerful elites within our community are ‘on our side’. Nothing could be further from the truth; time and again these wealthy and powerful elites have demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice the interests of the masses for their own benefit. Despite strong socialist roots, the Jewish Labour movement has largely remained silent on the ruthless capitalist and neoliberal policies of the Israeli state, therefore effectively depriving the Jewish community of the political consciousness necessary to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a product of those policies and not of any irresolvable cultural differences. In addition, without a political understanding of the conflict it is very difficult for the mass of Jews to recognise divisions within their society as consequences of their political and economic alienation.
    Below a veneer of democracy, Israel is ruled by wealthy and powerful elites who have ruthlessly benefited from the ‘conflict’. There are disappointingly few within the Jewish community willing to acknowledge this fact. But those who do ought to consider the extent to which the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really more a product of injustices within Israeli-Jewish society than of a conflict of interests between Israeli’s and Palestinians. The naïve hope that Israeli capitalism can provide security leads to increasing reliance on military technology and subterfuge and blinds us to injustice as a product of uncontrolled neoliberal economics. Unfortunately, Israeli reliance on a narrative of ‘internecine’ or ‘cultural conflict’ provides fertile ground for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Such theories rely heavily on ignorance of the true nature of the economic and political system that oppresses both Jews and Palestinians, albeit in different ways. The term ‘self-hating Jew’ is, in this sense, a political instrument for the silencing of left-wing Jewish dissent. It is never used against right-wingers.
    Without some sort of theoretical understanding of how society works, we tend to dismiss individual incidents in the conflict as isolated ‘deviations from the norm’. The norm is all too often defined by our sense of how things ought to be, or how we would like them to be. As such, an incident like the execution of a wounded Palestinian, Abdul Fatah Sharif, at point blank range by IDF sergeant, Elor Azaria, in March 2016, becomes incomprehensible, the act of a loner, a madman, something isolated from the language of politicians and the media. And when something is irreconcilable with our understanding of the world —an understanding that is to significant extent facilitated by popular culture, political speech and media, it is often ignored. As a consequence, we fail to do the math.
    Many in the Jewish community have failed to do the math, failed to see the present situation as an outcome not merely of ‘Palestinian hatred or jealousy’ but of situations that involve us, our actions, our silence, our choices and hence, our responsibility. Consequently, we come to view ourselves as victims. But it is only by embracing response-ability that we can truly come to terms with a historical legacy in which an idealistic national project was transformed into the neo-colonialist-capitalist venture it is today.
    Altogether, these activities give grave cause for concern. We cannot avoid talking about them merely because Israel and its supporters have defined any such debate as ‘anti-Semitic’. We are, after all, not just concerned for the safety of Israel and Jews but for the safety of all of humanity. Palestinians, Africans, refugees etc. are, needless to say, part of that deal.
    Secondly it should be noted that the conduct of Israel and Zionist Jewish organisations described above truly risks aggravating anti-Semitic sentiments: it all too easily confirms anti-Semitic stereotypes and generalisations such as those espoused by the Nazi’s and today by conspiracy theorists. Is it possible that the conduct of the Israeli state and Jewish organisations actually encourages ‘anti-Semitic canards’? My problem here is that at least some of the criticism of Israel and Jewish organisations being bandied about by conspiracy theorists is true! But generalisation of such theories to all sectors of the Jewish community certainly is not! But how can we possibly fend off or explain such behaviour to a public that have been conditioned, by Israeli Zionist propaganda, to consider the actions of the ‘Jewish state’ as synonymous with those of Jews everywhere?
    Above all, Israel’s lack of ethics and its all too apparent failure to acknowledge the true meaning of anti-Semitism as a form of racism rather than a historically unique expression of eternal hatred of Jews provide fertile grounds for the rise of extremist and fundamentalist views within the Jewish community. This has already happened and these sentiments have already profoundly shaped the political landscape of Israel and its military strategies. The use of the army to police what is effectively popular resistance is a massive error. Armies are not intended for policing, they are intended for military confrontations. Not only does the use of the IDF in the occupied territories and Gaza strip display a callous disregard for Palestinian rights and life, it traumatises an entire generation of young Jews who are effectively called upon to police Palestinian children with machine guns. Even if the conflict were to end tomorrow, its legacy stands to drag on much longer as an entire generation have become brutalised and desensitized. PTSD is rife among members of the IDF.[25] Not to speak of what military interventions have caused and will cause among Palestinians. This strategy inflames racist sentiments and leads to increasing militarisation of the conflict and dehumanisation of Palestinians. It seems specifically designed to pre-empt any possibility of reconciliation. And it is mirrored in the racist language and incitement of high ranking members of the Israeli military and the Knesset, thus providing racist sentiments with an aura of legitimacy, exactly as happened in Germany in the 1930s.
    If one were to devise a strategy that is absolutely certain to backfire against Jews in the long-term, one could not come up with a better strategy than that outlined above. And the same can be said of the completely arbitrary accusations of anti-Semitism being levelled at precisely those members of the community whose integrity and commitment to human rights is, effectively, beyond doubt. Once these figures are removed from the political field, the Jewish community have lost their most important and effective allies. As the case of Germany in the 1930s demonstrates, money and power simply do not match solidarity as a source of security. When solidarity is lost, as when we think and act only in the interests of our own safety, prospects begin to look rather bleak. As the poem by Martin Niemöller reminds us:
    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    The lesson for the Jewish community is therefore that accusations of anti-Semitism will almost certainly backfire, rendering the term useless and depriving the claim of its legitimacy. One is reminded of Aesop’s Fable, ‘The Boy who Cried Wolf’: the moral stated at the end of the Greek version is, ‘even if you tell the truth, no one will believes you’. Given the serious nature of anti-Semitism, or rather all forms of racism, we are compelled to act on it, not only to protect the victim but to protect society itself. The accusation is therefore not a trifle to be used whenever one feels indignation.
    At the same time the self-serving nature of such false accusations undermines real solidarity. Members of the Jewish community must recognise that the type of scapegoating we are witnessing today against Islam and members of the Muslim communities of Europe is closer in nature to the anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany than any ‘anti-Semitic slurs’ real or imaginary. The fact is that the strategic position of Jews in Europe is vastly different today from that facing them in the 1930s. This is not, as many believe, due to the military might of Israel, but precisely due to the recognition afforded human rights and the efforts to promote equality and justice. Thankfully, we are beginning to see real recognition of this fact in efforts by Jewish and Islamic communities reaching out to one another in the US and UK.
    The question is why the Jewish community as a whole is so deeply divided about displaying solidarity with Muslims. In my view this is the unfortunate consequence of understanding the Palestinian Israeli ‘conflict’ as one involving two vastly different ideologies or cultures. In other words, the standard narrative avoids any mention of justice as a source of conflict. This enables members of the Jewish community to maintain their denial of the vast disparities of power between Israel and the Palestinians and at the same time to avoid confronting the historical facts about how Palestinians were first ethnically cleansed from their own lands and then became second-class citizens in their own country. The two important terms that apply here are colonialism and capitalism. And for some reason, a majority of the Jewish community seem to have become blind to these words and what they reveal about the nature of the conflicted situation they find themselves in.
    This blindness is glaringly evident when Jews or Jewish organisations use accusations of anti-Semitism against politicians of the left. In other words, their actions are not so much helpful to Jews as that they are really useful to the right of the political spectrum and to the wealthy and powerful elites around the world whose interests are best served by neoliberalism rather than socialism. What this means is that by helping to undermine socialist politics, Jewish organisations are effectively empowering precisely those elements of society that also gained the most from the rise of Nazism. Wow!
    This is why I, as a Jew, declare my solidarity with Ken Livingstone, Jacqueline Walker and Tony Greenstein, and so many others, Jewish, Israeli and Gentile, who have been accused of anti-Semitic speech because they support Jeremy Corbyn and his efforts to bring Labour back round to its socialist humanist roots.
    A few weeks after writing this article I was contacted by Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of an organisation dedicated to promoting peaceful dialogue on the subject of Israel and Palestine. In ‘Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East’ sets out to present a ‘balanced’ overview of the grievances on both sides of the conflict as a means of drawing his audience into a more empathic debate on possible solutions. What follows are Lerner’s remarks about what he terms the ‘one-sidedness’ of this article and my answers.

    ML: Why is it that you mention only the negative things about Israel but none of the positive things, and do not mention the role of Tikkun, J Street, Jewish Voices for Peace, B’teselm, New Israel Fund, and the many many other organizations in the Jewish world that have opposed and critiqued Israeli policy either from within the position of being overtly Zionist (J Street) or from the position of being pro-Judaism (Tikkun)? I wonder if you might want to rectify this a bit before I send it out to others for review, since it seems as if you are showing little recognition either of a. the traumas of the Jewish people that may be playing a role in all this (see, for example, my account of the struggle in Embracing Israel/Palestine) and b. the role of Hamas in terrifying Israelis after the bombing of Israel throughout the summer of 2014, and c. the role of Jews as the primary refugee of the European world for 1700 years and of the Arab world for at least 1000 years. I make these points not as arguments against your main point, but rather to suggest that were you to show a bit more compassion for the Jewish people it could be easier to have your perspective taken seriously, which I hope it will be, since Tikkun has been making similar points for our entire 31 years in existence, and because we also do not want to see the Jewish people become an accomplice to right wing victories anywhere (though it also should be noted that Jews voted 70% for Hillary Clinton in the U.S., and that if that can’t be counted on for UK, there needs to be more reason than just the misuse of anti-Semitism charges which have been happening in the US as well for many many decades).
    DW: Hello Michael, thank you for your questions below which I will try to answer:

    I don’t think it is true that I don’t mention the role of Jewish organisations like Tikkun, though I don’t enumerate them. I state very clearly that there is by no means unanimity among Jews about the current policies of the Israeli Netanyahu government. Of course one must presume that readers are familiar with or willing to inquire into the existence of alternative voices and organisations else they will not take an interest in the article at all. However, there is a more important point:

    a) I am not comfortable with the ‘balanced’ perspective that you give in Embracing Israel/Palestine. I appreciate that it provides a starting point for consideration of each sides ‘suffering’ and losses and as such also, perhaps, a somewhat easier way to familiarise people on the Israeli/Jewish side with the arguments and possible solutions. However, the disproportionality in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is striking and ever more so as we proceed. And as I proceed to study the literature and more and more is being published all the time, I am struck by the racism of many of Israel’s leaders, and by their callous disregard for human life. I think it is becoming evermore clear that Palestinians were never offered a realistic chance to become equal citizens and that the attempt to erase their history and to silence debate on what transpired during the ‘war of independence’ is in part to blame. And then the silence of the world in the face of an enormous injustice compounds the ’trauma’ for Palestinians. So, the perspective I am adopting is that the conflict is less between the ‘common people’ or ‘working classes’ on both sides, than between elites on both sides, who have largely benefited from the conflict. This is a somewhat crude Marxian analysis but I believe that war is a product of internal tensions and contradictions more than of cultural differences or unwillingness to accomodate each other among the working classes. And this also explains some of the disporportionality we are witnessing today as the bombing of Gaza provides a means of testing weapons and strategies and showcasing them to the world and prospective buyers.

    b) I also believe that it is high time that we embrace our own responsibility as a community and stop trying to assuage our consciences by continually pointing to the shortcomings of the other side. I think a radical, unilateral, admission of responsibility can provide breakthroughs in the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Our power, as individuals and groups, is precisely our ability to take responsibility for what we ourselves do, not for what others do in response which leads only to more chicken and egg discussions about ‘who started the whole thing.’ (Who cares? Its about how to end it, right?)

    c) Finally, concerning your last point, the question of ‘trauma’. Michael, all my grandparents died in the camps. I grew up with a mother who was hidden during the war. She was 5 when the Germans marched into Holland and her parents were deported. After the war, the sole survivor was her 30 years older sister, Annetje Fels Kupferschmidt. (Who just happens to be one of the founders of the Netherlands Auschitz Committee). My mom was traumatised and I am as well, despite never having anything happen to me at all. I am traumatised because my mother was traumatised and because I found out about what happened to my grandparents and extended family when I was 5 years old and it infected my understanding of the world. The female lineage on my mothers side, which is really important, was severed and I have always felt I missed something there. It affected my relationship to my mother in ways that also had a profound impact on my life. Nonetheless, I inherited strong humanitarian values and a sympathy for the underdog and my awareness of what is going on in the world has led me away from any ethnocentric perspectives towards a universal humanistic perspective. This is not the one embraced by a majority of Jews. It never has been. On the whole, Jews like Spinoza who embraced such universalism and questioned the narrow minded superstitions of their community set themselves up against the community. Just look at a more recent example, Einstein, and what he has to say on Israeli nationalism. Secondly, I lived in Israel and served in the army, and I am not aware of a ‘trauma’ in any meaningful sense of the term. Unless you are referring to the extent to which Israelis are accustomed to war and the threat of terror, which they for the most part seem to take in their stride. It is amazing the extent to which people can get used to violence and injustice and insensitised to it. I was. The notion of living in constant threat of annihilation is a pretense Michael. Underneath it, if we analyse it, is a deeper sense of guilt. I have seen the same kind of guilt among the superrich of Brazil. It leads to bizarre behaviour, excesses of drug use and consumerism that are unethical within a context where a large majority are suffering. There is guilt in the Israeli psyche and that guilt is logical, it is justified because we should not be comfortable with what we have done, or what has been done in our name, and with the ever increasing injustices committed against Palestinians. So, if there is trauma, I would say the major trauma in Israel today is that there is, underneath everything, an overwhelming sense of guilt and failure and disempowerment that can be directly attributed to the nations political leaders and its wealthy elites. The more vociferously we declaim our innocence, the more certain it is that our mode de vivre is given by unconscious guilt.

    — Copyright: Daniel Waterman, April 2017.
    This article was first submitted to Haaretz as a comment on the following article:
    “The Stench of the Anti-Semitic Old Right That Hangs Around Ken Livingstone” Colin Shindler, Apr 06, 2017,

    Daniel Waterman
    Loosduinseweg 721
    2571AM The Hague
    e-mail: [email protected]
    [1] Ken Livingstone: I’ve never heard anyone in Labour say anything antisemitic – audio interview with Vanessa Feltz, 28/4/2016
    [2] ‘Prevent’, free speech and anti-Semitism, ‘Prevent’, free speech and anti-Semitism, Walter Armbrust, 15 April 2017,
    [3] Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem, Jonathan Freedland, 18/03/2017,
    [4] Swedish art show withdraws drawing deemed anti-Semitic, Yifa Yaakov, 17/03/2012
    [5] Some of Britain’s top universities are becoming no-go zones for Jews, Baroness Deech claims. Camilla Turner, 23/12/2016
    [6] Israel linked to suspension of Palestine course at UC Berkeley, Nora Barrows-Friedman and Ali Abunimah, 16/09/2016,
    [7] NUS leader Malia Bouattia condemned by MPs for ‘outright racism’, Rachael Pells, 15/10/2016,
    [8] BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions)
    [9] British Billionaire Zabludowicz Testifies in Netanyahu Graft Case, Yaniv Kubovich Apr 09, 2017,
    [10] In Defense of Ken Livingstone, Jonathan Rosenhead, 12/04/2017,
    [11] Eban, 1973, pxxv.
    [12] Chemi Shalev, April 24th, 2017, Rivlin Uses Holocaust Day to Challenge Netanyahu’s Darkness and Despair.…,
    [14] JDL group profile from National Consortium for the Study of Terror and Responses to Terrorism Archived August 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
    [15] Where this line of reasoning takes us from a Jewish paranoiac perspective is difficult to tell. Does it reach all the way back to our being the supposed killers of Christ? Is there some unconscious guilt about the rejection of Christs message and the stubborn clinging to old testament ‘eye fora an eye’? Do Gentiles envy our success? Our intellectual achievements? Our capacity for suffering?
    [16] Israeli Ministry Trying to Compile Database of Citizens Who Support BDS, Barak Ravid, Mar 21, 2017,
    [17] Israel’s culture war – BBC Newsnight,
    [18] The Disinherited, Shay Fogelman, July 30, 2010,
    [19] “Red Cross: Israel’s use of white phosphorus not illegal”. JPost. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2009.
    [20] Israeli Arms Exports to Rwanda During 1994 Genocide to Stay Secret, Supreme Court Rules, Gili Cohen Apr 12, 2016,
    [21] Israeli arms ‘helping to fuel South Sudan war,’ says UN, October 20, 2016,
    [22] Argentine-Israelis Urge Israel to Disclose Past Junta Ties, Gili Cohen, Mar 21, 2016,
    [23] Yitzhak Mualem, Between a Jewish and an Israeli Foreign Policy: Israel-Argentina Relations and the Issue of Jewish Disappeared Persons and Detainees under the Military Junta, 1976-1983. ewish Political Studies Review 16:1-2 (Spring 2004),
    [24] How to Kill Goyim and Influence People: Israeli Rabbis Defend Book’s Shocking Religious Defense of Killing Non-Jews, Max Blumenthal, August 29, 2010,
    [25] It is difficult to find exact figures on the number of combat soldiers in the IDF who have or are suffering from PTSD related to their duties. Data on this subject is subject to military censorship and manipulated in public statements. For example, PTSD is presented as resulting from ‘terror’ attacks. The term PTSD, I have argued elsewhere, has been carefully crafted to present the condition as a result of conditions beyond the subject’s control. This not only de-politicises the term, but also strips it of any ethical significance. E.g. it ignores the degree to which responses to a situation are shaped by ethical concerns or by political awareness. If a soldier is cast into a situation where he or she is effectively being called upon to police a political conflict in which children and elderly or unarmed civilians are involved, the definition of PTSD as ‘mental disease’ does not adequately explain the response. New computer models have been developed by the IDF to train soldiers to cope with PTSD, but these computer models will undoubtedly not suffice to address the inherent moral dimensions of the situations soldiers have been exposed to.

    The above article can be read at far more leisure here:

  • T

    Tom SuárezNov 30, 2017 at 5:42 am

    My great thanks to professors Jhally, Levine, and Prashad, and the various sponsors, for this panel, and to Ms. Chen for this report. Is there a video that can be posted for those who, like me, were unable to attend?