Far right Israeli Justice Minister & UK Justice Secretary agree on BDS

Israel’s justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, who in 2015 published on Facebook a call for a genocide of the Palestinians, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure,” has employed rhetoric about BDS that has been echoed by UK Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove. In fact, her language is temperate compared to Gove’s.

Shaked said supporters of movements such as the non-violent BDS, which calls for putting economic and political pressure on Israel in a bid to force it to comply with international law and gain rights for Palestinians, are “using the same kind of anti-Semitism but instead of saying they are against the Jews, they say they are against Israel.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, Shaked said:

In the past, we saw European leaders speaking against the Jews. Now, we see them speaking against Israel. It is the same anti-Semitism of blood libels, spreading lies, distorting reality and brainwashing people into hating Israel and the Jews

Shaked had spoken earlier in the day at an international symposium in Warsaw marking the 80th anniversary of the Nuremberg Race Laws adopted by Nazi Germany.

Gove has also misrepresented a boycott of Israeli goods and institutions, claiming it involves:

the shunning of Jewish academics, the boycott of Jewish goods, the de-legitimisation of Jewish commerce. We have seen these all before. And we know where it takes us.

Continue reading “Far right Israeli Justice Minister & UK Justice Secretary agree on BDS”

Jewish MK accused of ‘stoking anti-Semitic propaganda’ with ethnic cleansing claim

In a further example of the conflation of criticism of Israel’s policies with antisemitism, the Likud lawmaker Nava Boker has compared Member of Knesset Dov Khenin to ‘Jews throughout history,’ whom she suggests were to blame for ‘bolstering’ anti-Semitic propaganda. Khenin called this accusation the ‘height of insolence.’

Via Times of Israel:

The sole Jewish Knesset member from the Joint (Arab) List has come under fire for accusing Israel, in an interview with Sky News, of demolishing Palestinian homes as a means of “ethnic cleansing” in the West Bank.

MK Dov Khenin’s comments were broadcast at the beginning of the week, although he later said it was recorded some time ago.

Likud lawmaker Nava Boker accused Khenin of stoking anti-Semitic propaganda against Israel, telling Army Radio on Tuesday:

The only ethnic cleansing being carried out is in his delirious mind. With his deceitful expressions he is joining a long line of Jews throughout history who bolstered anti-Semitic propaganda with false claims.

Khenin responded that he did “have very serious criticism of the Israeli government,”

But from that to make accusations of anti-Semitism? That is the height of insolence.

The images from the Jordan Valley are terrible images — children whose homes are destroyed, their tents are evacuated there… It is a grave thing to say [ethnic cleansing]… [but] the reality is very grave.

The reality in the Jordan Valley is one in which they are expelling the Bedouins, evacuating them from their places of residence. They are not being allowed to build. When you evacuate Arabs and in their place you build settlements for Jews, that is a reality that must be addressed.

Baroness Deech: Muslims more antisemitic than far right Holocaust deniers

In an extraordinary article for Ha’aretz, the outspoken Israel apologist Baroness Deech has stated that it is right to treat ‘right-wing anti-Semites’ and ‘Holocaust deniers’ as ‘buffoons of no importance.’

Yes, there are right-wing anti-Semites and there are Holocaust deniers, but they have for long been treated as buffoons of no importance — which is true — and being of the “Right” they are not taken seriously, whereas to be of the “Left” is to be righteous, sanctimonious and beyond criticism or reproof.

She also calls renowned historians and scholars of the Middle East, including Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappe ‘renegade Jews.’ (see note below)

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.41.04Deech bemoans the lack of a ‘further investigation of [antisemitism’s] causes and roots’ before making it clear she believes its roots lie in Muslim majority communities.

The Baroness has been keeping a wary eye on the U.K. census:

The U.K. census of 2011 revealed that Bradford’s population was 24.7% Muslim, and no doubt it’s higher by now. There are wards of Bradford, Blackburn and Burnley (the suspended councilors’ constituencies) where British Muslims reach 70% of the local population.

She then blames British politicians for ‘appeasing their Muslim voters,’ specifically upbraiding Corbyn for not acknowledging that anti-Semitism is ‘special’ and has ‘roots in the religion and culture of Islam.’ Deech then implies that our government is putting at risk the lives of British Jews by allowing Muslims to make their home here.

So we have a failure of education, a craven attitude towards the supposed beliefs of Muslim voters (set to worsen as migration increases)…

The Baroness calls the non-violent, Palestinian civil society boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement ‘the program of the destruction of the only Jewish state, with its 6 million Jews conveniently gathered together,’ thereby invoking the spectre of a second Holocaust.

Deech refers to the recent ICM poll on ‘British Muslim opinion’ that has been widely criticised for its flawed methodology. Its findings have further been distorted by Islamophobic groups such as the pro-Israel ‘charity’ Campaign Against Antisemitism, which produced a report racially profiling Muslims. As Ashitha Nagesh wrote in Metro last month:

British Muslims aren’t anti-Semitic

According to the results, 61 per cent of people questioned viewed Jewish people favourably, while an additional 14 per cent of British Muslims had a sort-of middling opinion of Jewish people.

This might not seem like a lot – 61 per cent isn’t 100 per cent, after all – but it’s almost exactly the same as how favourably the Muslims surveyed viewed Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, and people who are not religious.

Anti-racists and anti-fascists reading the Baroness’s words will recognise the parallels with early 20th century social attitudes to – and government racial profiling of – British Jews.

Note: The Oxford English Dictionary definition of ‘renegade’:

  • Having treacherously changed allegiance: a renegade bodyguard
  • Having abandoned one’s religious beliefs: a renegade monk. Used in conjunction with ‘Jew’ its archaic meaning is equivalent to apostate.

Elly Fryksos

Don’t say ‘Zionist’, but do ‘Twibbon’ it

Jon Lansman, a founder of the Momentum campaign group, has said the ‘left must stop talking about Zionism‘, and instead “use ‘Israeli nationalists’ or ‘Israeli fundamentalists’ or better yet ‘Netanyahu’s regime’.”

Then today this initiative is launched by ‘We Believe in Israel’:

Zionism month is a joint initiative by We Believe in Israel and the Zionist Federation aiming to spread understanding both of the historical logic and context behind the Zionist movement and the creation of Israel, and promoting the contemporary necessity for Jewish (and other peoples’) national self-determination.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.55.39

Chief Rabbi claims Zionism ‘axiom of Jewish belief’

The Rabbi thereby implies that settler-colonialism and ethnic cleansing are ‘integral’ to Judaism: a dangerous claim. Theodor Herzl founded the modern political ideology of Zionism in the late 19th Century. See more here.

Via the Jewish Chronicle:

Writing in the Telegraph, Rabbi Mirvis said it was “astonishing” that those on the hard-left of British politics were “presuming to define the relationship between Judaism and Zionism despite themselves being neither Jews nor Zionists.

“The likes of Ken Livingstone and Malia Bouattia claim that Zionism is separate from Judaism as a faith; that it is purely political; that it is expansionist, colonialist and imperialist.

“It is unclear why these people feel qualified to provide such an analysis of one of the axioms of Jewish belief. But let me be very clear. Their claims are a fiction. They are a wilful distortion of a noble and integral part of Judaism.”

Directly addressing those who had sought to “redefine…vilify…and delegitimise” Zionism, Rabbi Mirvis wrote: “Be under no illusions – you are deeply insulting not only the Jewish community but countless others who instinctively reject the politics of distortion and demonisation.

Zionism is a belief in the right to Jewish self-determination in a land that has been at the centre of the Jewish world for more than 3,000 years. One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.

Read the Telegraph article in full here.

Lansman says ‘Left must stop talking about Zionism’

Jon Lansman, a founder of the Momentum campaign group, has written an article in Left Futures stating:

I […] think the Left should stop talking about “Zionism” or “Zionists”. As Herman argues, ‘Zionism has become a dirty word for many on the left. It has become synonymous with Israel itself, the racist practices of the Israeli state.”’ […] Abandoning use of the term “Zionist” will not be enough on its own. There needs to be clarity, guidance and even training about what is appropriate.

If this suggestion receives any kind of official support from the Labour Party, it will have a chilling effect on free speech. Below are two responses from Free Speech on Israel members:


The piece appears to be just about use of language. But the whole issue is all about language, definitions and emphasis, there’s bound to be a lot more besides.

He says we can have “robust criticisms” of “Israeli government policy” but mustn’t alienate the critical British Jews who mostly (60%) still identify as “Zionists”. But anything more systemic or fundamental is out of bounds: “Zionism” which “has become synonymous with Israel itself” should not be targetted because there is “more to Zionism” than racism and apartheid.

Rather than using exact language to target the Zionists who created and defend Israel, Jon suggests a range of euphemisms such as “Israeli fundamentalists” or, ideally, “Netanyahu’s regime”.

Not only does this confirm “Zionism” as a forbidden word to be labelled anti-semitic; not only does that validate the brouhaha about attacks on Zionism being really attacks on Jews; not only does that limit free speech on Israel; it ALSO disables essential language tools in a way that, ironically, funnels the argument towards genuine antisemitism.

So who do we blame for the 1948 Nakba and the 1967 mass expulsions less well known as the Naksa, which shaped today’s map? Surely not Israeli fundamentalists who were yet to come, and certainly not Netanyahu who was yet to come and will one day be gone. If we can’t use their own word — Zionism — to explain 70 years’ worth of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and the deeds of all its apologists and backers, we are left pointing at an entity called “The Jewish State”. Or just Jews.

But we don’t want to do that, because not all Jews are Zionist (or even vaguely pro-Zionist), and not all Zionists are Jews: some 30 million are Christian Zionists, and there’s any number of fascists who hate Jews but admire the weapons, the walls and the prisons of Israel, and increasingly hate Muslims even more than they hate Jews. Continue reading “Lansman says ‘Left must stop talking about Zionism’”

A plea from British Palestinians

This article appeared in MEMO

British Palestinians want anti-Semitism eradicated and sanctions on Israel
Professor Kamel Hawwash
3 May 2016

Excerpt: ‘…We British Palestinians stand with our Jewish fellow citizens in their fight against anti-Semitism and our joint fight against any form of racism in this country and elsewhere. We ask them equally to understand that we support peaceful means for ending Israel’s occupation, racism and its refusal to implement the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to our country. The BDS movement is a peaceful tool for achieving this. Labelling it and therefore many Palestinians as anti-Semites is inaccurate, wrong and dangerous. Please stop it. It does not help to achieve peace. It is both possible and reasonable to want anti-Semitism eradicated and still campaign for sanctions on Israel until it ends its occupation and oppression.’

Is it antisemitic to ask if Israel has ‘right to exist’?

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz tackle the question on Mondoweiss, in the context of the current ‘controversy over whether certain criticisms of the state of Israel can be considered anti-Semitic.’

Saying Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state is not anti-Semitic

Excerpt: ‘… This is obviously a battle ground; and we have a clear position: We think it is legitimate and not anti-Semitic for critics to make such an argument. Given the principle of separation of church and state, such an argument has a long pedigree in modern political philosophy. Moreover, Israel’s history shows that creating and maintaining a “Jewish state” has entailed ethnic cleansing of Palestinians on a regular basis, including in East Jerusalem and broad portions of the West Bank to this day, in order to maintain a Jewish majority in certain areas. In practice, the Jewish State in Israel/Palestine has meant an ethnocracy where Jews are given special and exclusive rights over other citizens and non-citizens under the sovereignty of the Israeli government. This is a system that we (Horowitz and Weiss) reject for political, personal and moral reasons that are in no way connected to vilifying or discriminating against Jews, the traditional definition of anti-Semitism.

Of course, many other people oppose these definitions of anti-Semitism as well.

Palestine Legal has an excellent FAQ on the State Department definition that notes that it blurs criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. The FAQ addresses the “right to exist” idea:

Likewise, any criticism of Zionism—which questions Israel’s definition as a state that premises citizenship on race, ethnicity, and religion — is considered anti-Semitic under this redefinition, because such speech can be seen as “denying Israel the right to exist” as a “Jewish state” that privileges its Jewish citizens over others

Palestine Legal points out that blurring Jewishness and Zionism are essential tactics of Israel supporters:

[C]criticism of the Israeli state is not based on the Jewish identity of most Israeli citizens or leaders; it is based on the nation state’s historical and present day actions. Despite these important distinctions, some go to great lengths to lump Jewish people and the Israeli state together, arguing that Jews and Israel are inherently connected, and that any attack on one is an attack on the other.

Yossef Rapoport, who self-defines as a Zionist, asks the same question.

Read the article in full  here.

Excerpt: ‘…does the current State of Israel have a right to exist as a Jewish state? I’m not sure, and it is definitely not anti-Semitic to doubt it. It is not its Jewishness that puts Zionism under this spotlight; for me, there is really nothing inherently wrong with Jews having a state they can call their own. Rather, it is two generations of occupation and the denial of the rights of refugees that put a question mark about Israel’s legitimacy.

[…] The permanency of the occupation goes into the heart of Israel’s legitimacy, because there are as many Palestinians who live between the sea and the river as there are Jews, but Jewish sovereignty is maintained by denying citizenship to most of those Palestinians. To ask for equal rights for all who live on the land cannot be branded anti-Semitic, even if it would end the Jewish state. Continue reading “Is it antisemitic to ask if Israel has ‘right to exist’?”

Finkelstein on Freedland ‘who regularly plays the antisemitism card’

Read Jamie Stern-Weiner’s full interview with Norman Finkelstein here.

The ‘antisemitism’ accusations are being driven by the Conservatives ahead of the local and Mayoral elections. But they’re also being exploited by the Labour Right to undermine Corbyn’s leadership, and by pro-Israel groups to discredit the Palestine solidarity movement.

You can see this overlap between the Labour Right and pro-Israel groups personified in individuals like Jonathan Freedland, a Blairite hack who also regularly plays the antisemitism card. He’s combined these two hobbies to attack Corbyn. Incidentally, when my book, The Holocaust Industry, came out in 2000, Freedland compared it to Mein Kampf. Although he appears to be, oh, so politically correct now, he didn’t find it inappropriate to compare a book by the son of Nazi holocaust survivors to Mein Kampf. We appeared on a television program together. Before the program, he approached me to shake my hand. When I refused, he reacted in stunned silence. Why wouldn’t I shake his hand? He couldn’t comprehend it. It tells you something about these dull-witted creeps. The smears, the slanders – for them, it’s all in a day’s work. Why should anyone get agitated? Later, on the program, it was pointed out that the Guardian, where he worked, had serialised The Holocaust Industry across two issues. He was asked by the presenter, if my book was the equivalent of Mein Kampf, would he resign from the paper? Of course not. Didn’t the presenter get that it’s all a game?…

Norman Finkelstein on Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal

You can read the article in full here

The American Jewish scholar behind Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal breaks his silence
3 May 2016


[…] What about when people who aren’t Jewish invoke the [Nazi] analogy?

Once the Nazi holocaust became the cultural referent, then, if you wanted to touch a nerve regarding Palestinian suffering, you had to make the analogy with the Nazis, because that was the only thing that resonated for Jews. If you compared the Palestinians to Native Americans, nobody would give a darn. In 1982, when I and a handful of other Jews took to the streets of New York to protest Israel’s invasion of Lebanon (up to 18,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed, overwhelmingly civilians), I held a sign saying, ‘This son of survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Auschwitz, Maijdenek will not be silent: Israeli Nazis – Stop the Holocaust in Lebanon!’. (After my mother died, I found a picture of me holding that sign in a drawer among her keepsakes). I remember, as the cars drove past, one of the guys protesting with me kept saying, ‘hold the sign higher!’ (And I kept replying, ‘easy for you to say!’).

If you invoked that analogy, it shook Jews, it jolted them enough, that at least you got their attention. I don’t think it’s necessary anymore, because Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians now have an integrity of their own. They no longer have to be juxtaposed to, or against, the Nazi holocaust. Today, the Nazi analogy is gratuitous and a distraction.

Is it antisemitic?

No, it’s just a weak historical analogy – but, if coming from a Jew, a generous moral one.

Last week, Ken Livingstone took to the airwaves to defend Naz Shah, but what he said wound up getting him suspended from the Labour party. His most incendiary remark contended that Hitler at one point supported Zionism. This was condemned as antisemitic, and Labour MP John Mann accused Livingstone of being a ‘Nazi apologist’. What do you make of these accusations?

Livingstone maybe wasn’t precise enough, and lacked nuance. But he does know something about that dark chapter in history. It has been speculated that Hitler’s thinking on how to solve the ‘Jewish Question’ (as it was called back then) evolved, as circumstances changed and new possibilities opened up. Hitler wasn’t wholly hostile to the Zionist project at the outset. That’s why so many German Jews managed to survive after Hitler came to power by emigrating to Palestine. But, then, Hitler came to fear that a Jewish state might strengthen the hand of ‘international Jewry’, so he suspended contact with the Zionists. Later, Hitler perhaps contemplated a ‘territorial solution’ for the Jews. The Nazis considered many ‘resettlement’ schemes – the Jews wouldn’t have physically survived most of them in the long run – before they embarked on an outright exterminatory process. Livingstone is more or less accurate about this – or, as accurate as might be expected from a politician speaking off the cuff. Continue reading “Norman Finkelstein on Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal”