A Response to Rabbi Elli Sarah
Please read this article in full on Tony Greenstein’s blog
Excerpt: … Elli Sarah has written an essay entitled ‘Why Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism – but criticising Israel isn’t’. Her essay is a good example of how people can genuinely believe that what they write is profound and original, even though it is little more than an echo chamber for the received wisdom of establishment politicians and their media outlets. Clichés and hackneyed phrases are dressed up as original.
Elli Sarah’s thesis is that anti-Semitism equals anti-Zionism. It is a rather common theme. Abe Foxman of America’s right-wing Anti-Defamation League said, ‘Anti-Zionism 99 percent of the time is a euphemism for anti-Semitism.’ Elli Sarah is not being new or innovative in her thesis. All that she is missing from her essay is a description of Jewish anti-Zionists as self-haters’ and traitors.
I have a different take. Anti-Zionism is never anti-Semitism. They are polar opposites. If anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic then it isn’t anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionists as individuals may, rarely, be anti-Semitic but anti-Zionism is a political ideology that is as different from anti-Semitism as chalk from cheese.
Rabbi Sarah has a saying on her website ‘At its heart, Judaism is about… trouble-making. ‘Unfortunately this is not true, and Rabbi Sarah is the best example of why Judaism today is a religion of conformity, obedience and racist apologetics. Judaism has not had had the equivalent of the Catholic’s liberation theology or even the Protestant Reformation.
When Jewish refugees from the pogroms in Czarist Russia came to these shores, they were met with open hostility by the Rabbinate. Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler described the immigrants as“criminals… mentally or physically afflicted.’ [Geoffrey Alderman, The Jewish Community in British Politics, p.187, Clarendon Press]
One would have to go back to the prophets to find religious figures prepared to admonish the false priests and the worshippers of the golden calf. That is why the Zionist movement is more happy with the Book of Genocide (Joshua) than the Book of Prophets.
The ability to cloak superficiality in the clothes of profundity is a useful skill. It’s how people like Andrew Neil and David Aaronovitch make a living. However it only serves to reinforce peoples’ prejudices whilst turning most people off politics altogether. Its trade is in cynicism.
Ms Sarah’s essay asserts that which it tries to prove. The theme that anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism is the constant of every gutter Zionist and rabid nationalist. The kind of people who march with their blue and white flags wrapped around them shouting ‘Israel lives’. They proclaim their righteous nationalism in Palestinian blood.
Ms Sarah graciously allow us the right to criticise the policies of Israel (but not too many of them) but we are forbidden to question where these policies and practices originate. We can condemn the sinner but not the original sin.
I began to consider my response to Elli Sarah after having written a tribute to one of the most remarkable Jewish women in the past half century, the late Hedi Epstein, who died last Thursday aged 91. Hedi was on the Kindertransport that took nearly 10,000 Jewish children out of Nazi Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to London in 1938-39. Her parents and most of her family died in Auschwitz. At the time the Zionist Organisation opposed the Kindertransport. David Ben-Gurion, the then Chairman of the ZO wrote that:
Elli Sarah doesn’t have a clue why Ben Gurion wrote this or if she does she won’t be letting on because it would mean admitting that on the even of the holocaust the Zionist moving was desperately trying to prevent German Jews reaching any other refuge than Palestine, which the British had all but closed to new immigration. The Zionist response to the Evian Conference which Roosevelt had called in 1938, on the even of war, was one of unmitigated hostility. In the fairy tale history that is now painted of that period the idea that, as Ben Gurion said, it would be better for the refugees to die than go anywhere other than Palestine is not one that is admitted to.
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