Joseph Massad writes in Middle East Eye:
In recent years, amid the increasing success of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, pro-Israel voices have expressed much concern about the “antisemitic” motives of all movements opposing Israeli settler-colonialism, state racism and military occupation.
The pro-Israel accusers want to correct the record, asserting that antisemitism is not a right-wing ideology anymore, but rather one that is endemic on the left.
This is not a new strategy, but an old Israeli state-sponsored scheme to attack Palestinians and defame critics of Israel in the US and European left who began to level criticisms against Israel after 1967.
In the two decades between the establishment of the Israeli settler colony and its 1967 invasions of Syria, Jordan and Egypt, the white US and European left was enchanted with the country, defending it at every turn against the claims of the expelled and suppressed indigenous Palestinians whose lands and livelihoods it had usurped.
However, after the 1967 invasions, the rise of US civil rights and liberation movements, and student uprisings in France and elsewhere, the situation began to change. A minority of the white left in the US and Western Europe began to voice criticisms of Israel for the first time, alarming the Israeli leadership and pro-Zionist circles in the US and Western Europe.
Eban’s identification of Israeli colonial and racist policies with Jewish tradition was part and parcel of Zionism’s implicating all Jews in Israel’s actions
While more recently, the Israeli government has devoted huge financial resources to challenge such criticism – including $72m to combat BDS – its response in 1972 was less drastic, if not less effective. At an annual conference in Israel sponsored by the American Jewish Congress, former Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban laid out the new strategy: “Let there be no mistake: The New Left is the author and the progenitor of the new antisemitism … the distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all. Anti-Zionism is merely the new antisemitism.”
If gentile critics were castigated as anti-Semites, Eban described two US Jewish critics (Noam Chomsky and I F Stone) as suffering from a complex of “guilt about Jewish survival”. Their values and ideology – meaning anti-colonialism and anti-racism – “are in conflict and collision with our own world of Jewish values”.
Eban’s identification of Israeli colonial and racist policies with Jewish tradition was part and parcel of Zionism’s implicating all Jews in Israel’s actions and ideals.