March 26, 2006

Zionists single out Israel

I'm just looking at Mike Marqusee's blog on the Guardian's comment is free space. He says, and I know he's not the first to do so, that whilst Israel's supporters accuse its opponents of singling Israel out it is Israel that singles itself out. He was responding to an article by John Mann where he wrongly, and tediously, conflates anti-zionism and anti-semtism.
I know many of those in Mann's corner criticise the boycott proposals for "singling out" Israel, but the reasoning here is tortuous. First, it's a complaint that can be made about any single issue campaign or almost any boycott of anything. Secondly, it is Israel's supporters who persistently "single out" the country by arguing that its "unique" situation excuses its monumental record of violations of human rights norms, international law and UN resolutions. Third, it seems not even occur to those who make this charge that people around the globe might "single out" Israel not because of hatred of Jews but compassion for Palestinians and plain unadulterated healthy outrage at the decades of injustice to which they've been subject.

Mann notes the anti-semitic hate mail he receives and links it - without supporting argument or evidence - to what he calls "the insipid [sic] growth of anti-semitism on the left under the cloak of anti-Zionism". As I'm sure he must know, the hate mail comes from all quarters. Every time I write about Israel I am inundated with abusive and threatening emails from Zionists. As a Jew, it's my experience that in London I am under threat not from Muslims or leftists but from the more fanatical wing of the Zionist movement.

Anti-Zionism may at times be a "cloak for anti-semitism" (just as support for Israel may be a cloak for anti-Arab or anti-Muslim racism) but Mann's method is assume that it is so unless proven otherwise. This is McCarthyism: the illogic of guilt by association, with the clear aim of de-legitimising or silencing part of the political spectrum.
I don't know what to make of the Guardian hosting blogs. Who has time to moderate the comments. Some are worth a look at but some are just absurd. Anyway have a see.

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