Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is well-known as an Israeli groupie. Even Israelis will be surprised at his desire to introduce a law making boycott of Israeli goods an antisemitic hate crime. Robert Fisk asks if he would prefer critics of Israeli policies not to use such a peaceful means of protest and advocacy for Palestinian rights.
‘Anonymous’ has threatened before to launch a cyber war against Israeli computers. This time it succeeded in hacking and suspending websites, though not in affecting any used by the Israeli state (or at least, that’s what the government says). This is, by and large, a peaceful protest. But it is tinged by antisemitism by reference to The Jews and a Holocaust (see Brian Klug below).
Brian Klug examines the claimed rise in antisemitism in Europe during last summer’s Israeli attack on Gaza. Looking at the contemporary usage of the word he argues that for it to be meaningful it must have the figure of ‘the Jew’ at the heart of it. Although for many Israel can represent The Jew, Klug argues they must be separated – and warns against the danger of supporting a ‘patently unjust military action’.
In his submission to the Parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism Tony Klug recognises instances of classic antisemitism – hatred of Jews as Jews – but argues that Palestinians would have hated any religious group that created a state in their country and ruled over them. It is in Jews’ best interest to distance themselves from the propensity of the Israeli government to infringe Palestinian human and political rights.
Gilad Atzmon is widely admired as a jazz saxophonist and more narrowly admired as a critic of Israeli policies. Although he himself is Jewish his criticisms depend on caricatures of Jewish identity which are indistinguishable from classic antisemitism. Following Jewish protests, his Manchester gig has been cancelled.
The All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Antisemitism has issued the result of its inquiry saying that to dismiss its reality in the UK is ‘a sop to the antisemites’. It gives surprisingly short shrift to the argument that the degree of antisemitism is directly related to public awareness of the nature of Israeli power over Palestinians.
Journalist Tim Willcox, in a live interview with a French Jewish woman at the march republicaine, commented “Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.” She had not identified herself as pro-Israeli and he should, of course, had said Palestinians suffered at the hands of Israeli Jews. But the attempt driven by paper tiger CAA to have both Willcox, and Ofcom – which refused to condemn the comment as either antisemitic or colluding with antisemitism – is again stoking fears which justify its own raison d’etre. Clip of interview included.
In a submission last month to the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, JfJfP’s executive committee carefully distinguishes between antisemitism – which has deep roots in Europe and is rising – and criticism of Israeli policies. which is necessary and commonplace in Israel itself.
Nationalism can begin as a left- or right-wing movement, or neither; it is almost invariably populist-defined by finding an ‘other’ to be against. So whatever their potential for advancing democracy, nationalist movements carry the danger of harnessing racism. Anshel Pfeffer thinks nationalist movements are more of a threat to Europe than crazed jihadis.
JfJfP’s executive committee has issued a statement on antisemitism to clarify the distinction between antisemitism, which exists and is always abhorrent, between the state of Israel and Jewish people round the world, and criticisms of the Israeli state. Jewish leaders who equate Jews with Israel do not help.
The lure of IS to some young men and the repugnance at Israel’s war on Gaza have both fuelled an increase in antisemitism says Larry Derfner, who argues that we should pay full attention to antisemitism and the threat of jihadism. Plus CST’s latest report on antisemitic incidents this summer and a note on antisemitism or Anti-Semitism.
This account of how news reporting about Israelis/Palestinians ignores the latter but attributes all agency, and fault, to the former is by former AP correspondent Matti Friedman, a Canadian domiciled in Jerusalem. Its mix of perceptive points and increasingly contentious argument provides an insight into the beleaguered feeling of Israeli Jews.
There seems to be an expectation that when Israel is on the warpath, hostility to all Jews will burst out. Of course it doesn’t help that the Jewish establishments in Europe and the USA identify with Israel – but in the Anglophone world at least there are scores of Jewish groups which shout loudly Not in My Name. This is heard by fellow demonstrators and the two writers here who insist opposing Israeli policy is not antisemitic.
There is historic antisemitism based on punitive Christian fantasies; there is modern antisemitism which is more often a response to actuality – punitive measures against Arab muslims carried out in the name of the state of all Jews, viz Israel. One Israeli think-tank has been warning of the effects of Israeli policies on Jews outside Israel since 2002 but it has yet to be grasped by the Israeli government.
The distinguished French Moroccan writer Tahar ben Jelloun deplores a rise in antisemitism in France, deplores the failure amongst the young to distinguish between Jews and Israel, Jewish and Zionist. Israeli colonialism, arrogance and impunity makes it worse. Only a Palestinian state will bring security he says.
There has been some hysteria in recent weeks about “a tide of antisemitism” engulfing Europe in the wake of the war on Gaza.
Here Tony Lerman republishes a piece by Stephen Belier which reflects on what is happening: “Let us call these protests ‘anti-Israeli’, ‘anti-Zionist’, or even, at a stretch, ‘anti-Jewish’, but I do not think they have the same causation as historic antisemitism, and it is misleading to continue dragging this term in here.”
An anonymous blog, written in 2011 or 2012, titled This is not Jewish has been trending – often retweeted – on Twitter this week reports a BBC department. It is not known whether that indicates anxiety or confidence about criticising Israeli policies. One of Germany’s best-known experts on antisemitism says panic about antisemitism should not be confused with any actual increase in its incidence.
Before the raid on the Mavi Marmara by the IDF (nine people killed) Turkey and Israel had cordial relations, with Turkey being a favourite tourist destination for Israelis. Since then, PM Erdogan has been establishing himself as a defender of moderate Islam in the Middle East. Anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian feeling is still strong in Turkey, which tips over into antisemitism in some quarters. Can Erdogan keep the lid on it, or is he – or the Israeli press – stoking it?
Victories for the far-right in the EU elections, despite their antisemitic record, have caused little concern in Israel writes Ben Caspit. It might boost immigration to Israel – and the far-right shares Israeli hostility to all things Muslim, including/despite the Islamic antisemitic strain.
Those of us who are concerned about actual cultures or incidences of antisemitism should be comforted by the findings of the ADL’s survey, trumpeted as a shocking finding of global antisemitism. With the help of the Wall Street Journal and Amira Hass we can find out what was skilfully omitted from the report.