April 06, 2007

Anti-zionism and antisemitism - no relations

Here's an article by Arthur Neslen in the Guardian's misnamed Comment is free space. It's a response to the UK's National Union of Students adopting a definition of antisemitism that first reared its head in Europe via the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC.) The definition clearly - and dishonestly - conflates antisemitism with anti-zionism.
it's actually a bit shocking to discover that the new definition was largely drafted by a pro-Israel advocate who gives talks on how to elide the distinction between anti-Zionism and hatred of Jews. Kenneth Stern is the American Jewish Committee's expert on anti-semitism and in Defining Anti-Semitism, a paper published by Tel Aviv University's Stephen Roth Institute, he explained how he developed the working definition "along with other experts" in the second half of 2004.

Significantly, it involved crunching religious and racial hatred of Jews with what he labelled "political" anti-semitism. This latter, he claimed, has been "otherwise known in recent years as anti-Zionism, which treats Israel as the classic Jew". Political anti-semites could thus include, for example, those who "seek to disqualify Israel from equal membership in the community of nations", presumably by means of boycott initiatives. Naturally, comparing Israel to apartheid-era South Africa is also, within Kenneth Stern's framework, "an expression of anti-semitism".....

"Anti-semitism," its report began, "is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred." Such a perception could include stereotypical or dehumanising libels about, for example:
The power of Jews as a collective - such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
But it could also include a litany of lobbyist shibboleths, such as:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (eg, by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour); Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation ... Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Jewish peace activists have always balked at this last point, dissociating themselves from war crimes committed in their names. Sadly, Ehud Olmert was not so circumspect when, on July 7, he told the United Jewish Communities that the invasion of Lebanon was "a war fought by all the Jews".
It's truly unbelievable that any union can adopt a definition of antisemitism that confuses a community whose members are linked by an accident of birth with a political movement.

Arthur's article follows one the previous day by a zionist called Mark Gardner titled The Campus Menace. To be honest I didn't read the article and I only knew of it because someone from the States emailed me to say that Linda Grant posted a comment with another anecdote of another antisemitic incident involving another member of her family.
A few weeks ago, a member of my family who works in a fashionable bar in East London, was asked to take off his star of David by the management because 'some of our customers don't like Jews.'

I told this story to a visiting Canadian on Monday night. He was speechless. When he eventually found his voice, he said that he was unable to contemplate such an incident taking place in Canada and that perhaps the scare stories about anti-semitism in Britain were not as exaggerated as he had previously believed.
I'd love to have commented on Arthur's article and I would like to have asked Linda Grant the name of the bar where antisemitism is flourishing so but unfortunately the latter got me banned from posting to the Guardian comments because she claimed that I had posted "libellous material about this newspaper [The Guardian]." Four emails from me later and the site editor deleted Linda Grant's own libellous comment but it's deeply disturbing that an email from a zionist can get a person banned from a space that calls itself Comment is free. When I can be bothered I'll post the correspondence between myself and the Cif site editor.


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