Anti-Semitism

Mentioning Hitler in the same interview as Israel is completely silly. What was Ken Livingstone thinking? But some would argue any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

Prospect magazine came too close to that when it asked, at what point does legitimate criticism of the Israeli government turn into unfair singling out of the country—and of Jewish people generally? Of course I “single out” Israel. I have never taken any action about Chinese oppression of the Uighurs or of Tibet.

Any activist has to pick their causes. What speaks to your heart? As well as LGBT and Green Party emails, I get Palestinian Solidarity Campaign emails forwarded by a man, because another friend saw there was a demonstration in Swanston one weekend and suggested I go. Two friends have been to Israel with the Ecumenical Accompaniment programme. I am in favour of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions certainly of Settlement produce, though I am unsure about other Israeli produce.

Even if Hitler was a Zionist in 1933, it reflects no more on Zionists than his vegetarianism. Livingstone’s other remark, that there is a well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israel policy as antisemitic, is arguable. I get PSC emails, and I am sure there are emails on campaigning against BDS, including on how to play the “Anti-Semitism” card. The foulness of anti-Semitism, which has roots throughout the history of Europe back to the blood-libel and even the Roman empire, must not be obscured by trivial attacks on well-meaning Palestine campaigners.

A commenter on that Prospect article thought my concern with Israel “unfair singling out”, “unless you can show there is something more oppressive about the Israeli occupation than, say, China’s occupation of Tibet”. Behind its paywall, you expect the comment threads on Prospect to be better. I have no knowledge of China in Tibet. I have other things to learn about.

So, some false accusations are thrown against the BDS side.

I expect better of Israeli Jews. Some whom I see on BBC4 documentaries have British names and accents. Precisely my fellow-feeling with them, rather than racist Othering, makes me feel they should not oppress the Palestinians so.

What of generalisations about Israeli Jews? I feel they should take action to stop the oppression of the Palestinians. I feel it is wrong to use the accusation of racism to shut down arguments. Is the generalisation unfair? Not all are anti-Semitic.

Naz Shah was suspended from the Labour Party for having shared a facebook status calling for Israeli Jews to be deported en masse to the US, before she was elected MP. I disapprove; but find the Prime Minister’s statement that you have to accept there are circumstances in which [Trident’s] use would be justified, far more repugnant. If you disagree, refute my arguments, do not simply try to blacken them with the boo-word “anti-Semitic”.

After I wrote that, I read the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s q&a on antisemitism and BDS.

8 thoughts on “Anti-Semitism

    • What do you think of the treatment of Palestinians in West Jerusalem? Or the Settlements taking Palestinians’ water and land?

      This is a British response to British disingenuous analysis of slightly careless language for generalisations which might be called “Anti-Semitic”, leading to pontification about “Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party”, a generally false accusation. Like so many of my posts, it is about language and disagreement.

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      • Then yes, we can agree. As for the treatment of Palestinians (I’m tempted to use quotation marks) in West Jerusalem … Well, if the Jewish people had been given greater Israel from the start, there wouldn’t be much of a problem now. The Jews turned a sparsely populated wasteland into an oasis. It’s not as if there were some substantial indigenous “Palestinian” population in the region going back a thousand years that’s now being mistreated by the evil Jews.

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          • Jewish immigration to the region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries greatly expanded capital formation and infrastructure development. Arabs then began immigrating in large numbers. The poor “Palestinian” farmer being forced off his land is more likely a second generation Jordanian well compensated for his land. That’s why I’m tempted to use quotation marks.

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            • By the way, I read the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’s q&a on anti-Semitism. Bless your faith in the essential goodness of people, but there’s a sharp knife under that olive branch. Now, when will they get rid of that ugly dome and rebuild the Temple?

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            • Is that not biased? Did no one have to leave (or feel they had to leave) their homes? Isn’t that a bit like saying the Cuban upper classes could/should have stayed in Havana after the revolution? Or the Iranian upper classes could/should have stayed in Tehran? Or communists could/should have stayed in Franquist Spain?

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