The trajectory of a long-running campaign that gave birth this month to the preposterous all-party British parliamentary report into anti-Semitism in the UK can be traced back to intensive lobbying by the Israeli government that began more than four years ago, in early 2002.If there's anything new in this article it is that Cook goes on to show how the antisemitism allegation is being used to drum up support for an attack on Iran.
At that time, as Ariel Sharon was shredding the tattered remains of the Oslo accords by reinvading West Bank towns handed over to the Palestinian Authority in his destructive rampage known as Operation Defensive Shield, he drafted the Israeli media into the fray. Local newspapers began endlessly highlighting concerns about the rise of a "new anti-Semitism", a theme that was rapidly and enthusiastically taken up by the muscular Zionist lobby in the US.
It was not the first time, of course, that Israel had called on American loyalists to help it out of trouble. In Beyond Chutzpah, Norman Finkelstein documents the advent of claims about a new anti-Semitism to Israel's lacklustre performance in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. On that occasion, it was hoped, the charge of anti-Semitism could be deployed against critics to reduce pressure on Israel to return Sinai to Egypt and negotiate with the Palestinians.
Israel alerted the world to another wave of anti-Semitism in the early 1980s, just as it came under unprecedented criticism for its invasion and occupation of Lebanon. What distinguished the new anti-Semitism from traditional anti-Jewish racism of the kind that led to Germany's death camps, said its promoters, was that this time it embraced the progressive left rather than the far right.
The fresh claims about a new anti-Semitism began life in the spring of 2002, with the English-language website of Israel's respected liberal daily newspaper, Haaretz, flagging for many months a special online supplement of articles on the "New anti-Semitism", warning that the "age-old hatred" was being revived in Europe and America. The refrain was soon taken up the Jerusalem Post, a rightwing English-language newspaper regularly used by the Israeli establishment to shore up support for its policies among Diaspora Jews.
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