Sunday, February 14, 2010

Israelis and Antisemitism

We read from Martin Sugarman in the UK Independent that the European Union and the British Parliamentary Committee on antisemitism have defined antisemitism as “including conflating or comparing Israelis or the Israeli government with Nazis, portraying Palestinians fallaciously as victims of a Holocaust or genocide, like the Jews, and juxtaposing images of the Holocaust alongside images of Palestinians killed or injured in wars with Israel”.

So, we have a definition of antisemitism that effectively prevents legitimate criticism, and representation of Israelis as carrying out illegal acts, like those of the Nazis, and indeed differing from them only on their scale—whence the only justification of the word “fallaciously”—though not on any scale of human decency. Yet that is what the Israelis have done and continue to do to the Palestinians, and so anyone supporting the Palestinians with justified criticism and visual examples of their treatment by Israelis is antisemitic! Such a definition of antisemitism is absurd, and ought to be withdrawn, if indeed Sugarman is right.

The races described by the word “semite” include the Arabs, but probably not Israelis, who seem mainly now to be Slavs. It means that to be truly antisemitic, to be opposed to Semites, is oppressing Arabs, who are the mass of Semites alive today. The Zionists in Israel are therefore being antisemitic, probably more so than anyone who opposes Israel’s conduct.

An example of the injustice of this definition of antisemitism is given by Maggie Foyer. Her Arab friend Bilal is in hospital with a fractured spine and skull after being attacked on his land by Zionist Israelis. They took his land for Jewish settlement. He will get no compensation for his injuries or his lost land. His village was attacked repeatedly in a few months by gangs of lawless Zionist thugs. If Jews elsewhere in the world than Israel feel threatened by antisemitism, they should be glad they are not the Semites called Palestinians, who are suffering appallingly at the hands of those constantly playing the antisemitism card in self interest. But they will cry in alarm that Ms Foyer is an antisemite.

Why, even, it is antisemitic to deny the right of Israel to exist? Civilized nation states represent all of their citizens, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. When they do not, they have been broken up, like Austria Hungary, and in more recent times the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. What is unusual about the State of Israel is that the government of a land refuses to accept some of the land’s native people, while claiming to represent a collection of people, the Jews, from many other lands whose ancestors have never been there. The Nazis were glad to accept as Germans the people of many other places in Europe and the USSR regarded as ethnic Germans, though they had never lived in Germany. Jews, German or otherwise, were still considered as untermenschen.

Equally, there is nothing wrong and nothing racist about being opposed to the existence of a Zionist State of Israel, that Zionists make out as being antisemitic. In urging it, no one is “insulting or racially abusing them, or defacing the graves of their departed”. Urging a united state of Palestinians and Israelis, with neither privileged, is to oppose discrimination, not to uphold it. Jewish and Arab musicians can act like civilized people in Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra, the “West East Divan”. Are Zionists saying Barenboim is antisemitic or a self-hating Jew. If so, they just expose their own unremitting hatred—usually kept hidden by the smoke and mirrors of alleged antisemitism!

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