We are now well accustomed to anti-Zionists equating Israel with Nazi Germany, accusing Israel of colonialism, apartheid and any human rights violation one can think of.
But something new is emerging. Previously, some would claim they do not deny Israel’s right to exist, they are just critical of the Israeli occupation and of certain Israeli government policies. This then developed into an out in the open rejection of Zionism – the right of a Jewish state or state for the Jewish people to exist and a growing acceptability of this position.
Notwithstanding the double standard of singling out Israel for specific condemnation for its commitment to its Jewish character whilst remaining silent about every other ethno-national state, it is only Israel that is condemned for this and has a global campaign to delegitimize it through BDS. This double standard brings it into the U.S. State Department and European Union’s EUMC most widely accepted definition of forms of modern manifestations of anti-Semitism.
However, it doesn’t end there. Those subscribing to this view, deem it therefore perfectly acceptable to treat Israel and Israelis as one would Nazism and Nazis. We recall George Galloway walking out of an Oxford University debate when he discovered one of the participants was an Israeli citizen.
Boycotting and demonizing Israelis has now extended to include diaspora Jews who identify in any way with or are supportive of Israel, which is the overwhelming majority of Jews in both the UK and the US. They have now become seen as legitimate targets.
Anti-Zionists attempt to justify these anti-Semitic positions by finding people of Jewish descent or marginalized Jewish groups like the Neturei Karta (whose members participated in an Iranian organized Holocaust Denial conference in 2007), the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network or Jewish Voice for Peace in order to make their hatred kosher.
Now that the Jewish diaspora are seen as guilty for their identification and support for Israel it is no surprise that in January 2017, a German court ruled that an attack on a synagogue was not an anti-Semitic hate crime, but was due to anger at Israeli policies.
Since John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s book ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign
policy‘ was published in 2007, it has become mainstream for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to be recycled against British and American Jews.
In January 2017, Al Jazeera aired a 4 part “investigation” of Britains “Israel lobby.” The series sought to demonize pro-Israel politicians as having extraordinary power and influence over the British government and of misusing anti-Semitism to silence criticism of Israel.
This is not the first time that a documentary was aired in Britain of this kind. In 2009, Channel 4, Dispatches broadcast a documentary called “Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby” that suggested that “supporters of a foreign power” were bankrolling UK politicians to support policies favorable to Israel and attacked British Jewish institutions including the Zionist Federation, BICOM, the Jewish Leadership council and the Jewish Board of Deputies.
Shortly after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq the BBC broadcast a documentary titled “Israel’s secret weapon” in March 2003. This was amidst the controversy over whether Iraq did or didn’t have any WMD’s. The documentary turned attention to Israel. The message and the timing by which it was aired suggested that the country that did have WMD’s that perhaps everyone should be paying attention to was Israel and not Iraq. Iraq wasn’t the real danger because they didn’t find any WMDs there, but Israel does. The combination of demonizing coverage of Israel and dangerous conspiracy theories about rich, powerful, Jewish Israel supporters is making anti-Semitism mainstream.
This all falls under what Jonathan Sacks referred to as anti-Semitism mutating with the moral authority of each era. In the Middle Ages Jews were hated for their religion, in the modern era for their race and in the post Holocaust era they are hated for their beliefs. The authority of the current era is human rights. Hence all of the accusations of human rights violations against Israel and de facto all Jews who support them.
In the Middle Ages, anti-Semitism was very similar to todays form. Jews were theoretically offered a choice. They could abandon their Jewish beliefs and become Christians and then be accepted. Today, Jews are told that they have no problem with Jews as long as they condemn Israel and actively fight for the Palestinian cause to destroy it. That is the only ‘kosher Jew’ to the anti-Zionists.
However, there are some new developments that may be bringing us back to an anti-Semitism that resembles the more racial form. In the modern era, the choice was taken away. Jews were rejected because they were not considered to be white, or European, they were irredeemably guilty by their birth.
Now that in the mind of the anti-Zionists, the Jews are viewed as the oppressors and no longer victims, the next stage is a campaign to deny that the Jews were ever victims at all. Not only that they were never victims, but that they were in fact their own oppressors. We see this in the instances of Holocaust denial, or accusations of exploiting the Holocaust for Israel’s benefit, which was a major aspect of Norman Finkelstein’s work, ‘The Holocaust Industry,’ or to claims of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis.
Amidst the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis in the British Labour party, Ken Livingstone was suspended for suggesting that Hitler supported Zionism, invoking works by American Trotskyist writer, Lenni Brenner.
We have seen efforts by the Palestinian Authority to delegitimize not only Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, but the significance of Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem to Jews at the United Nations. As well as denial of Jewish history in the Land of Israel.
The Khazar theory, based on Arthur Koestler’s book ‘The Thirteenth Tribe,’ has become increasingly popular as a means to demonize particularly Ashkenazi Jews, falsely claiming that they are not descended from the biblical Israelites, but are converts to Judaism from the Kingdom of Khazaria in the 8th Century.
The claim has been used by conspiracy theorists and anti-Zionists to undermine Jewish origins in the Land of Israel and the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
Another progression has been the courting by pro-Palestinian activists of African Americans to support the Palestinian cause. In 2016, the Black Lives Matter movement officially adopted BDS, and accused Israel of “apartheid” and of conducting a “genocide” against the Palestinians. This has come hand in hand with a broader dissemination of propaganda that not only subscribes to anti-Jewish Khazar conspiracy theories that denies Jews their own history, but it now blames Jews for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Which was advocated by Labour MP Jackie Walker which led to her first suspension from the Labour party.
Forgetting the fact, that these same Jews were of the most active in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s fighting alongside African Americans for equality and the statements of leaders such as Martin Luther King who knew very well that anti-Zionism was used as a front for anti-Semitism.
Not only have diaspora Jews been at the forefront of standing by blacks in America, Israelis too have also worked hard to provide aid and expertise and to improve relations with many African countries to assist African governments tackle issues throughout the continent.
Regarding Jews and the slave trade such claims are a product of groups like the Nation of Islam, a branch of the Black Nationalist Movement in the United States and its propaganda. Who published a book titled The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. Eli Faber, professor of history at CUNY and author of Jews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight criticizes the claim that Jews were involved disproportionately to their numbers. “The numbers just aren’t there to support the view,” said Faber. “Jews were involved, but to an insignificant degree. That doesn’t absolve them of that guilt, but everyone made money off African slaves: Arabs, Europeans, Africans.”
A New Statesman article from August 2013 reported, “In February 2003 a UNESCO Conference on “Arab-Led Slavery of Africans” was held in Johannesburg.
The Conference’s final communiqué condemned slavery in all its forms, but went on to declare that “the Arab-led slave trade of African people predates the Trans-Atlantic slave trade by a millennium, and represents the largest and, in time, longest involuntary removal of any indigenous people in the history of humanity.” Since then a silence has descended on the debate.
Yet, in spite of the fact that Arab led slavery continues even today, this has not prevented the Black Lives Matter movement from taking their oppressors under their wings and betraying the Jews who have fought more than any other non-black group for their rights.
If this wasn’t bad enough, it has been taken one step further. Now that the Jews very history and identity has been delegitimized and denied, they are now not only accused of collaborating with their own and others oppressors, but they are now transformed into those oppressors themselves and the worst of them.
The most obvious example is Nazi race theory, where Jews suffered the worst crimes against humanity for not being white Europeans, because they were branded as an inferior race. However, prior to this particular theory, other race theories in Europe about the Jews even regarded them as being black. American Cultural and Literary Historian, Sander L. Gilman in his book, ‘Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews’ writes:
“The myth of Blackness was then applied to the political reality of the Jews, who were assuming a promised status in Europe. The Jews became the ‘white Negroes,’ as Otto Von Bismark’s friend Hermann Wagener observed in 1882, because the demands of the Jews for political and social equality created in the privileged group, the Germans, the need to see the Jews as politically subservient and immutably different. This image of the Jews as black is, however, not merely the product of racist biology of the late nineteenth century, even though the examples that have been cited to this point reflect the rhetoric of pseudoscience. For the association of the Jews with Blackness is as old as Christian tradition. Medieval iconography always juxtaposed the black image of the synagogue, of the Old Law, with the white of the Church. The association is an artifact of the Christian perception of the Jews which has been simply incorporated into the rhetoric of race. But it is incorporated, not merely as an intellectual abstraction, but as the model through which Jews are perceived, treated, and thus respond as if confronted with the reflection of their own reality. Adam Gurowski, a Polish noble, observed in his 1857 memoirs that ‘numbers of Jews have the greatest resemblance to the American mulattoes. Sallow carnation complexion, thick lips, crisped black hair. Of all of the Jewish population scattered over the globe one-fourth lives in Poland. I am, therefore, well acquainted with their features. On my arrival in this country (the United States) I took every light-colored mulatto for a Jew.’ In the eyes of the non-Jew who defined them in Western society the Jews became the blacks.”1
In the 18-1900s in Europe a group was considered guilty for not being white. In today’s post-colonial world, western societies are hyper-sensitive to any form discrimination against a perceived persecuted minority, particularly if they are not white. Anti-white racism is almost universally dismissed. By transforming Jews into whites it has enabled anti-Semitism into enter the mainstream.
A society like Britain or America accepting Jews and their successful integration into those societies has led to a new charge that Jews do not have the right to complain about anti-Semitism because they have “white privilege.” Jews being liberated from state sponsored persecution and the society shedding itself from its past bigotry – rather than being seen as something to be proud of for both the Jews and those societies, it is seen as something Jews need to feel guilty about, apologize for and in turn take the primary responsibility for the historic and present wrongs committed against themselves and others.
In 2016, the world lost Elie Wiesel, one of the most vocal Holocaust survivors we had, and with his departure we are seeing a further escalation of Holocaust denial and attempts to deny Jewish victimhood and persecution. In the end of 2016, Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim Students Association activists at Ryerson University in Canada protested a proposal to introduce a Holocaust Education Week, one has to be willfully blind at this stage to not see the facade that whilst it is possible in theory for someone to be an anti-Zionist and not an anti-Semite, in most cases if examined carefully, this is rarely the case.
Coupled with the transformation of Jews into whites, Zionism is now being defined as a form of “White supremacy,” and on every front, the old prejudices that enabled the scapegoating of the Jews in the past by their being perceived as a powerful, dangerous global force are being recycled and have become socially acceptable once again.
The bottom line is that people reject the reality of Jews as a victim, whether in Israel or the diaspora. The content of the accusations against Jews today is different but the outcome is exactly the same. Yesterday it was convenient to demonize Jews by claiming they were black, today it serves their goals to turn them into whites.
- Gilman, S (1986) Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews, The Johns Hopkins University Press: United States pp.7-8