16 October 2016

Jewish Board of Deputies Says Anti-Semitism Means What We Say it Means - Even if it’s Different From Yesterday

‘Words Mean What I Want Them to Mean – the Only Question is – Who is Master?’

The Zionists just hate free speech - as it's hard to justify murdering Palestinians, demolishing their homes, locking up their kids -  better to cry 'anti-Semitism'
Israel was Apartheid South Africa's closest military ally - Israel gave S Africa nuclear technology and built a large arms factory there - is this too part of today's Jewish identity?
Even though the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency has dropped the EUMC Working Definition on anti-Semitism, Zionist groups have been keen to hang onto a definition that was first formulated by the American Jewish Committee.  For example Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center was quoted as saying that‘Those who fight anti-Semitism have lost an important weapon”. 

One of the reasons that the Working Definition met such vehement opposition was that it equated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.  In particular its statement that ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ was  absurd since Jews are a religion not a people or nation.  The idea that Jews form a separate nation from those they live amongst is anti-Semitic. 

Likewise the suggestion that ‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’  is equally absurd.  History is based on comparisons and there are many comparisons that can be drawn between Nazi Germany 1933-1941 and Israel, not least the fact that Zionism seeks the expulsion or removal of Palestinians from Palestine/Israel and the permanent privileges that are accorded to Jews, the master race in Israel, compared to Palestinians.  There are many other comparisons, for example the hatred of ‘miscegenation’ mixed-race Jewish and non-Jewish relationships

However the Working Definition was right to suggest that ‘holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.’  The fact that the Board of Deputies of British Jews continually seek to associate Jews with Israel’s racist and genocidal policies is indicative of the fact that Zionism and anti-Semitism are two sides of the same coin.   

This week’s Jewish Chronicle has an article in which the Board of Deputies condemns students at the School of Oriental and African Studies for holding a discussion ‘which aims to separate anti-Zionism from antisemitism.’  The Board doesn’t like the idea that you can separate opposition to Israel and its inherent racism from hatred of Jews.  The fact that the Board’s stance directly contradicts the Working Definition’s proposal that associating Jews with Israel’s war crimes is anti-Semitic is neither here nor there, because as Humpty Dumpty said When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

It is not surprising that the Board should object to a discussion whose title is ‘Decoupling Judaism and Zionism in Palestine Advocacy’.  After all Zionists spend all their time trying to propagate the lie that if you oppose Zionism, the racist philosophy that treats Palestinians as the untermenschen of Israel, then you are anti-Semitic.

Even worse, the discussion also aims to draw the line between ‘combating the weaponisation of anti-Semitism and identifying real instances of anti-Semitism.’  Quite understandably Marie van der Zyl, Deputy President of the Board finds an ‘attempt to redefine anti-Semitism for hostile political ends’ nothing less than outrageous.  Zionism if course never attempts to use anti-Semitism in a hostile political manner.  Zionism is a gentle political creed that preaches brotherly love to all good (Jewish) people on Earth.

Ms Zyl is quoted as saying that for the ‘vast majority of British Jews’  the State of Israel is a fundamental part of their identity.  Criticism of Israel cannot help but be anti-Semitic according to this definition.  There is, of course, just one small flaw in this argument.   Criticism of a religious identity or indeed any other identity is not racist.  It is the essence of free speech and Zionism hates nothing so much as free speech.  In Israel every newspaper and periodical is subject to censorship in order to prevent any criticism of the fundamentals of Israel society.  This is, of course done under the rubric of ‘security’.

In Israel censorship has taken on levels undreamt of.  The age of digitalisation of archives has meant that thousands of documents, which were previously available to academics have now, fallen under the remit of the Chief Military Censor.  In Classified: Politicizing the Nakba in Israel's state archives, Shay Hazkani, who was Israel Channel 10’s military correspondent from 2004-8 estimated that about one-third of documents that were de-classified in the 1980s have been re-classified starting from the late 1990s, when the archives were digitized.

Censorship is a Zionist habit.  In Israel Palestinians are regularly detained and imprisoned, often without trial, for writing something that is considered ‘incitement’.  Jews, however foul and racist they are on social media, however many death threats they make, are never detained or jailed.

Ms Zyle is quoted as ‘utterly condemning’ the event.  The overtly Zionist Union of Jewish students, which makes Israel advocacy a condition of affiliation of Jewish societies, saw the SOAS discussion as ‘further proof of some in the student movement denying Jewish students the right to define anti-Semitism and their own relationship with Israel.’

Quite how a meeting on separating out anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism challenges the right of the poor Zionist dears to define their own identity is a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle.  But there is a serious point here.  If people define themselves in a way that is reactionary, racist, chauvinist etc. is it racist to challenge them and criticise that identity?  Some Roman Catholics see opposition to abortion and contraception as part of their identity.  Is it racist or chauvinist to support a woman’s right to choose?

Many Africans define their own religious identity to include Female Genital Mutilation.  Is it racist to oppose FGM?  Some Muslims see the burka or niqab as part of their identity.  Is it racist to oppose these articles of clothing.  Perhaps opposition to the Hindu custom of Suthee, the burning of widows on their husbands funeral pyres was also racist?

The idea that criticism and condemnation of a racist ideology is itself racist is absurd.  Literally words have lost all meaning. Afrikaners used to try and pretend that Apartheid was inherent to their identity.  Zionism seems to agree with that proposition.  After all Israel and Apartheid South Africa had the closest of relationships.

As the Zionist movement in this country tries to emulate its American cousins, so it goes onto the offensive in trying to outlaw all political opposition to Zionism.  In this it is increasingly backed up by the political establishment in both parties.  See for example Partisan Report on Antisemitism discredits Home Affairs Select Committee

Tony Greenstein 

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