Archive for the ‘Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism’ Category

Rewriting the Lexicon

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

This piece, by the Rt Hon Dr Dennis Macshane, was first published in the Jewish Chronicle on 02/06/11

Usually it is the right which gets cross whenever the EU appears to be telling Britain what to do. Now it is the impeccably left-wing university teachers’ union, UCU, that is shaking its fist at the EU in a spasm of angry rejection of a European initiative. In a move that needs a Swift or an Orwell to do full justice to its cant, the UCU annual congress has endorsed a call to repudiate the European Union’s widely accepted definition of antisemitism.

It is now the widely-accepted global benchmark for the tricky task of defining modern Jew-hate.

The definition declares, reasonably it might be thought, that “justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of an extremist view of religion” or “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” or “allegations of Jews controlling the media ” (a favourite BNP trope) or “accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nation” are all example of antisemitic discourse.

At first sight this is beyond parody as the trade union of professors sets itself up as a lexicographers’ committee to re-write a dictionary definition it does not like.

The UCU assault on a widely accepted and useful definition of antisemitism which accepts criticism of Israel, is both foolish and indeed morally repugnant. Denial of a definition of antisemitism is not the biggest challenge facing Jews today. But it shows how language and discourse are changing, as once again Jews become targets for political contempt and dislike.

Denis MacShane MP chaired the House of Commons inquiry into antisemitism and is author of “Globalising Hatred. The New Anti-Semitism” (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)

‘Kauft nicht bei Juden’ will worsen the conflict

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
This piece, by the Rt Hon Dr Dennis Macshane MP, was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 29/11/2010

Kauft nicht bei Juden – “Don’t buy from Jews” – is back. The call to boycott Jewish commerce is Europe’s oldest political appeal. Once again, as the tsunami of hate against Israel rolls out from the Right and the Left, from Islamist ideologues to Europe’s cultural elites, the demand is to punish the Jews. That the actions of the Israeli government are open to criticism is a fact. But what are the real arguments?

Firstly, that Israel is wrong to defy international law as an occupying force on the West Bank. But what about Turkey? It has 35,000 soldiers occupying the territory of a sovereign republic – Cyprus. Ankara has sent hundreds of thousands of settlers to colonize the ancient Greekowned lands of northern Cyprus. Turkey has been told again and again by the UN to withdraw its troops. Instead, it now also stands accused of destroying the ancient Christian churches of northern Cyprus.

Does anyone call for a boycott of Turkey, or urge companies to divest from it? No. Only the Jews are targeted.

Or take India; 500,000 Indian soldiers occupy Kashmir. According to Amnesty International, 70,000 Muslims have been killed over the past 20 years by these soldiers and security forces – a number that far exceeds the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the same period. But the Islamic ideologues focus on Jews, not Indians.

May we talk of the western Sahara and Morocco, or Algeria’s closure of the border there, making life far worse than that of Palestinians in Ramallah or Hebron? No, better not.

Voltaire – anti-Semite that he was – should be alive today to mock the hypocrisy of the new high priests calling anathema on the heads of Jews in Israel.

Second, the desire for peace in the Middle East is a global priority. But peace requires recognition of the Jewish state of Israel. There are 40 member states of the UN which have the words “Muslim” or “Islamic” in their names. No one challenges their right to exist or defend themselves.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Its reward was to have the territory turned into a new launch pad for rockets intended to kill Jews.

More rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza than V1 or V2 rockets at London in 1944. No one blamed Winston Churchill for responding with all the force he could, as cities like Hamburg or Dresden faced the wrath of the RAF. But if Israel takes the slightest action against the Jew-killers of Hamas, all the hate of the world falls on its head.

Third, it is hard to see how peace can be made with an Israel that so many seek to brand an “apartheid state.”

I worked in the 1980s with the black trade union movement inside South Africa. We lay in ditches as the apartheid police patrolled townships hunting for political activists. I could not swim at the same beach as my wife, a French-Vietnamese, because of the racist laws. Muslims and Jews swim off the same Tel Aviv beaches. They can stay in the same hotels, be elected to the same parliament, and appeal to an independent judiciary for justice.

BY DEFINITION, an apartheid state has no right to exist. It cannot be a member of the UN. The campaign to call Israel an apartheid state is a campaign to make it a non-state. How can peace be made with a state whose opponents say should not exist?

In Britain, there are calls by journalists and professors to boycott the Israeli media or universities. But Israeli writers, journalists and professors are the main opponents of the counterproductive policies of their government. To boycott them is to hand even more power to the haredi and Russian nationalists who now control Right-wing politics in Israel.

By any standard, the attacks on media freedom, on women, on gays or on lawyers is 1,000 times worse in Iran or Saudi Arabia. There is no democracy in Syria or Libya, limited democracy in Jordan, and open anti-Semitism displayed by the Muslim Brotherhood movements in the Arab world. Is there any call to boycott these states, their journalists or professors? No. The call – rightly – is for engagement, contacts, debate and discussion. Many even argue for talks with Hamas, although its charter, with its strident anti- Semitic language, could have been written by a Nazi.

But talks with Jewish politicians, lawyers or intellectuals must be boycotted. This policy of making the Jewish citizens of Israel into objects of global hatred will only make the Middle East crisis worse. If it was directed evenly at all states which occupy and oppress territories, it might have some basis in morality. If the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions movement also called for sanctions against the new anti-Semitism of the extreme Right in Europe, it might make sense. The openly anti- Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary parades in its fascist uniforms. Anti-Semitic politicians are elected to the European Parliament. The German politician Thilo Sarrazin can describe Jews as having “different genes” from other people. And now Europeans, of all people, once again cry Kauft nicht bei Juden.

Those who dislike Israeli rightwing policies must find other language than that of classical anti- Semitism. I am not Jewish. As a British MP, I work with thousands of Muslims in my constituency. I am more often in mosques than in churches. I am proud of my Muslim friends who are MPs, peers, municipal councillors or prominent as journaIists, lawyers, doctors and intellectuals. The 20 million European Muslims face new hates which must be combated. But there is no profit for them in joining the hate campaigns against Jews in Israel.

As Europeans we must reject the old language of boycott and economic campaigns against Jews. Israel, Palestine and Europe must all have a 21st century future, and not return to the hates of the past.

Antisemitism; My View

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

This article by Ruth Gledhill is reproduced from the winter edition of the Council of Christians & Jews Common Ground. Ruth Gledhill is the Religious Affairs correspondent of The Times.

The ‘new’ or ‘post-modern’ antisemitism is not a phenomenon easily addressed in a world looking for simple certaintieswith which to counter increasing complexity. Antisemitism is the oldest hatred, but it was only in 2004 that Europe’s racism monitoring centre came up with the working definition used today: Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Today the issue of antisemitism has slightly fallen off the radar. Islamaphobia has become more ‘fashionable’, if that is the right phrase. The effectiveness of Holocaust education in schools means that new generations are growing up aware as never before of the implications of such prejudice. Out there on my ‘beat’ as Time religion correspondent, at dinner parties, over coffee, I increasingly encounter the view that antisemitism is no longer the ‘problem’ it was. ‘It is time for the Jews to move on,’ an acquaintance told me recently. If only it were that simple!

In fact the problem is in some respects as bad as it has ever been. But it is more complicated and, as a result potentially more dangerous. The latest rise in antisemitism is connected to the conflict in Gaza. But even in the last months of this year, the average number of incidents being reported has been higher than usual.

Anti-Zionists defend their stance with well-known arguments and it would be unreasonable to argue that all, or even any anti-Zionists, are antisemites. A few are themselves Jewish. The problem is that anti-Zionism can feed into strands of innate antisemitism in society where they might still exist, even in our post-Holocaust world, and hence the upwards blip in attacks whenever Israelc omes in for strong criticism in the news.

Irish people were not targeted in Britain when the IRA was rampantly terrorist. Russians are not targeted here when Russia is in the news for controversial action in Chechnya. People of Chinese ancestry are not beaten up each time the Chinese government moves to crush dissent. Muslim friends of mine do, however, find themselves harrassed in a number of ways after controversial events abroad, sometimes to the point where they are afraid to leave their homes. Racism has to be resisted, under whatever guise it appears. It is a matter of basic human rights that Jewish people in Britain, be not held to account for actions committed in a conflict overseas. Equally, Jewish people like everyone else have the right to hold any view they wish about the conflict in Israel, and even if they support Israel and identify completely with Israel as a state, they have the right to take that position without being assaulted for it.

Really what we have today is not a ‘new’ antisemitism, so called by the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks. It is the old antisemitism, back in a new form. As CST’s Mark Gardner says: It is different. It is more complicated. It is postmodern.’

Understanding and Addressing

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Understanding and Addressing the Nazi Card Download EISCA

Geneva II – Farce or Tragedy? By Dominic Lawson

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Dominic Lawson is a member of the EISCA Advistory Board. This article originally appeared in the Sunday Times.

If you attend a circus, you should expect to see a clown – and if you get into the ring with him, you shouldn

What did the UN walkout achieve?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Some say the action played into Ahmadinejad

Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in the ‘New South Africa’

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Milton Shain (2007). Covenant.

Contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism in South Africa are explored. The perseverance of traditional antisemitic notions of Jewish conspiracy is seen to be largely absent in the public domain, whilst questions remain about the language and iconography visible in some anti-Zionist positions. Concerns about Islamist antisemitism are highlighted.

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Race, Tolerance and the NUS

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Alan Elsner (1977). New Statesman. Reproduced by Paul Bogdanor.

The contemporaneously written article highlights attempts in the mid 1970s to utilise the National Union of Students no platform to racists policy against Zionism and against Jewish Societies at Universities in Britain.

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No left turn: Israel east and west

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Robin Shepherd (2005). Antisemitism and Xenophobia Today (AXT).

Taking the primary example of Poland, the author balances strong concerns about traditional antisemitism with the relative absence of virulent anti-Zionism in Central and Eastern Europe. Contrasting this with the situation in Western Europe, the causes of, and relationship between contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism are considered. Issues such as political ideology, pro and anti-Americanism and post-colonial guilt are raised. 

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Antisemitic Motifs in Belgian Anti-Israel Propaganda

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Joel Kotek (2002). Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism.

The negative images of Jews that sometimes appear in Belgian anti-Zionist propaganda are explored. Incorporations of the ‘capitalist Jew’ motif and of the ritual murder myth are highlighted. Holocaust inversion against Israel, and the association of antisemitism and anti-Zionism with the far left and anti-globalisation movements are considered.

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