Scottish PSC: “a bit anti-Jewish”

June 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm (anti-semitism, conspiracy theories, Cross-post, history, israel, palestine, scotland, sport, stalinism)

By Dale Street (cross-posted from Workers Liberty)

Why do some people think that campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinians is “a bit anti-Jewish”? This is the question (supposedly) addressed by an article in the spring newsletter of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC).

Of course, we can and should support Palestinian rights without being at all anti-Jewish. But there are many reasons why some people think that the dominant form of what passes for Palestinian solidarity is “a bit anti-Jewish” (or maybe rather more than just “a bit”).

Some people may have found it “a bit anti-Jewish”, for example, when the SPSC marked Holocaust Memorial Day by reading extracts from a play (“Perdition”) which claimed that the Holocaust was made possible by Zionist collaboration with the Nazis.

Commemorating another Holocaust Memorial Day by giving a platform to a pro-Hamas supporter of suicide bombings who has advocated that Israeli Jews should “go back to Germany” (Azzam Tamimi) might have struck some people as “a bit anti-Jewish” as well.

Expressions used by the SPSC’s media officer might also be seen by some people as being “a bit anti-Jewish”:

“Israel is a hydra-headed monster, arrayed against this monster are the forces of human progress. As soon as the scales fall from the eyes of international Jewry with regard to the racist and fascist ideology that is Zionism, the world will begin to emerge from the iron heel of war and brutality in the Middle East.”

And then there is the SPSC’s spirited defence last year of one of its members, charged and found guilty of racially motivated breach of the peace after abusing a Jewish student. (His appeal, heard earlier this year, was thrown out in less than a minute.) This too might seem “a bit anti-Jewish” to some people.

Other reasons why what passes for ‘Palestinian solidarity’ might be deemed “a bit anti-Jewish” include: incorporating traditional anti-semitic tropes into criticisms of Israel; judging Israel by standards not applied to other countries; forming alliances with anti-semitic organisations; and refusing to recognise national rights for Israeli Jews.

But none of the above is dealt with in the article in the PSC newsletter – despite the fact that these represent the actual substance (or some of it, at least) of the charge of anti-semitism which is raised against a certain form of ‘Palestinian solidarity’.

Instead, but all too predictably, readers of the article are treated to a particularly crass version of a Zionist conspiracy theory (i.e. in order to rebut the charge of anti-semitism, the writer employs a traditional anti-semitic trope).

“Those who accuse us of anti-semitism can be divided into roughly two groups,” explains the writer.

“One is calculating and prepared to use any lies to further their own interests,” he continues, “the Israeli elite benefit from favoured relations with the EU and billions of dollars in aid from the USA.” In other words, and more succinctly: rich Jews.

Included in this group are “many Israeli politicians (who) are well aware of the effect on someone’s career of being labelled an anti-semite and exploit this fact ruthlessly whenever they can.”

Anti-semitism, by this logic, is not a real phenomenon. It is a false accusation made in bad faith by “the Israeli elite” and “many Israeli politicians” in order to promote their own interests and stifle criticism of Israel.

The other group “who accuse us of anti-semitism” are “mainly Jews brought up on scare stories about how non-Jews are, by definition, anti-Jewish and ready at a moment’s notice to turn on their Jewish neighbours.”

“The complexity of history,” the writer continues, without a trace of irony, “is blacked out by the Zionist censor’s pen.”

“Who knows,” for example, “the story of the Jew Leon Trotsky, elected to represent Russian workers in St. Petersburg in 1905, despite the Tsar’s deliberate strategy of organising police-led massacres of Jews?”

Yes indeed! Every non-Jewish primary school pupil in Glasgow knows “the story of the Jew Leon Trotsky.” Only the Jewish ones, left in ignorance by a few strokes of the “Zionist censor’s pen”, are unaware of the 1905 St. Petersburg Soviet!

Even by the SPSC’s own standards, this is a dire level of argument: somewhere in the world there is a Board of Zionist Censors, controlling everything read by Jews in order to ensure that they do not discover “the complexity of history”.

Thus, one group of Jews raises the accusation of anti-semitism out of malice, and the other out of ignorance. It’s as simple as that!

Suggestions that advocates of ‘Palestinian solidarity’ could be tainted by anti-semitism are also dismissed as insulting to the anti-fascist heroes of ‘Palestinian solidarity’ campaigning:

“We are the ones who have successfully challenged right-wing revisions of the Holocaust which attempt to question the number killed or the very existence of the extermination programme. … We stand on the shoulders of the generations who organised and fought for a better world before us.”

But what of ‘left-wing’ revisions of the Holocaust, in which the latter is portrayed as a joint Zionist-Nazi endeavour, which Zionists exploited (“ruthlessly”, as the SPSC writer would put it) in order to establish Israel? The SPSC is not only silent about that form of revisionism, but actually propagates it.

But all this is of no account to the SPSC.

Having dismissed to its own satisfaction accusations of anti-semitism as lacking in substance, it can now continue with its vital building of ‘Palestinian solidarity’.

After last Saturday’s Israel-Scotland Women’s Euro qualifying game (cue chant: “Without guns, you’re rubbish”), the SPSC has launched a retrospective campaign against Glasgow’s Kingswood Bowling Club:

“Human rights activists and BDS activists only discovered through the pages of the ultra-Zionist ‘Jewish Telegraph’, and after the event, that an Israeli bowling team had played against a Scottish team at Kingswood Bowling Club in Glasgow last week.”

“Please call or text the secretary or e-mail him and tell him courteously that you object to Kingswood Bowling Club hosting an Israeli team at the same time that Israel denies Palestinians enough water to maintain crops.”

Anyone wanting to know what a Zionist, and presumably therefore “ruthless”, bowling team looks like can click here.

John Wight addressing anti-war (sic.) rally in July 2006

The SPSC’s John Wight: a Nazi-quoting antisemite.

19 Comments

  1. Jim Denham said,

  2. GAD said,

    “Anti-semitism, by this logic, is not a real phenomenon.” What logic might this be? Whether you think that anti-zionists, or more specifically the SPSC, are anti-semitic or not, their statement does not suggest anti-semitism is not a real phenomenon. Just that they are not anti-semitic. Which is different.

  3. modernity's ghost said,

    Whenever you mention the possibility of antisemitism to some “anti-Zionists” you’ll often hear the following:

    1. “you are just saying that to close down debate”
    2. “this is part of the Lobby’s attempt to stifle criticism of Israel”
    etc

    The real possibility that something *could* embody or relate to anti-Jewish racism simply does not connect with that mindset.

    If you want evidence of that, simply search for the number of people that have tried to sanitize Ahmadinejad’s racism.

  4. Sagan said,

    Why should anyone be surprised? Scotland is a deeply antisemitic. People blurt it out, in conversations which have nothing to do with politics or Israel, Palestine or the Middle East in general.

    During a perfunctory conversation about Eurovision, my interlocutor went off on one: ‘I fuckin hate Jews … blah blah … at Christmas we we were laughing about how my grandfather used to kill Jews in the war’.

    Another time, someone exclaimed ‘fucking Jews, Hitler should have finished the job’, then expressed a desire for a new Hitler to see fit through to completion. When I protested, he shrugged.

    Yet another person said ‘well they did murder Christ’

    SPSC full of Jew-haters? Of course it is.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    GAD: ‘“Anti-semitism, by this logic, is not a real phenomenon.” What logic might this be?”

    The logic, as Street’s article spells out, that explains away antisemitism as a false accusation made in bad faith by “the Israeli elite” and “many Israeli politicians” in order to promote their own interests and stifle criticism of Israel.

    That particular argument (frequently heard in Chomskyite “anti-imperialist” circles) does, indeed, “suggest [that] anti-semitism is not a real phenomenon.”

    I honestly don’t understand what it is that you don’t understand, GAD.

  6. GAD said,

    “explains away antisemitism”. Well, there’s the tautology. You are anti-semitic – you deny you are anti-semitic – ergo you deny the existence of anti-semitism. It’s bollocks really. That was the logic I was questioning and your reply does nothing to help understanding.

    Many Israeli politicians do use the “anti-zionism = anti-semitism” line to promote their interests and stifle criticism of Israel, as do supporters like yourself. Sometimes criticisms are valid, sometimes not. But it’s certainly a handy rhetorical device for those who defend the Israeli state.

    If you can paint all Palestinian solidarity work as inherently anti-semitic I guess it makes your job easier.

  7. Juan P. Lewis said,

    There’re so many fruitcases in Palestinian solidarity groups that sometimes you wonder whether they’re not part of an Israeli conspiracy to discredit the Palestinian cause.

  8. flyingrodent said,

    Why should anyone be surprised? Scotland is a deeply antisemitic. People blurt it out, in conversations which have nothing to do with politics or Israel, Palestine or the Middle East in general.

    I’ve lived in Scotland all my life, in East Lothian, Dundee and Edinburgh, and I’ve also spent a lot of time working in Glasgow.

    So I can say that this wild assertion is one big pile of utter horseshit. I can count the anti-semitic taunts I’ve heard in general conversation on no hands.

    Of course, it’s possible that I’m such an intimidating person that these countless racist lunatics keep their views to themselves all the time when I’m around.

    It’s also possible that you are a fantasist and a nutter. Let’s do a quick calculation – odds that Scotland is boiling with race hate that stops happening when I’m around vs odds that you are a whackjob.

    I’m inclined to go with the latter explanation, since it would be inkeeping with the general tone of your comment.

  9. Jim Denahm said,

    GAD: “Many Israeli politicians do use the “anti-zionism = anti-semitism” line to promote their interests and stifle criticism of Israel, as do supporters like yourself”. This is bollocks, GAD.

    1/ Very few people (even including “Israeli politicians,” though there are a very few) make that crude equation between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
    2/ I most certainly do not. And I defy you to find an example of me doing so.

  10. Jim Denham said,

    Rodent; “It’s also possible that you are a fantasist and a nutter. Let’s do a quick calculation – odds that Scotland is boiling with race hate that stops happening when I’m around vs odds that you are a whackjob”;

    Rodent: there is a further explanation that you seem to have left out of your calculation; that you are willfully oblivious to, and/or ignorant of, the racism (well, specifically, antisemitism) that may occasonally occur in your presence.

    I’m inclined to go with the latter explanation, since it would be in keeping with the general tone of your comment.

    • flyingrodent said,

      So Jim, which do you think is more likely – that my entire life, I’ve failed to spot rampant racism, or that your commenters are hysterical idiots?

      That is, do you think it’s more likely that the entire nation of Scotland is obsessed with hating Jews, despite the fact that Judaism is so obviously a subject of vanishingly small minority interest, or…

      That some idiots tell fibs on the Internet?

      Have a good think here, pal. The wrong answer is going to make you look very, very silly indeed.

  11. Sagan said,

    @ rodent

    I wouldn’t expect you to notice anti semi tim in your cosy little liberal existence. All three incidents happened.

    I also recall attending a May Day event in Glasgow where a third of the stalls were devoted to Cuba, which I didn’t really get – as I’m not inclined to illusions about deformed workers’ states, it’s ok as far as it goes but it’s hardly a utopia. The other two thirds were devoted to the zionist entity, the greatest evil in the universe, because there’s nothing else which should concern communists in these times. But that’s what you get when you marry Stalinism and Roman Catholicism.

  12. Sagan said,

    *antisemitism*

    Fucking autocorrect on this fucking tablet…

  13. Rosie said,

    I also live in Scotland. I would say that the only time I’ve heard anti-semitism was from someone in the SPSC. I’m with Rodent in saying that it’s a non-issue here. Anti-Englishism or Anglophobia, now that’s a different kettle of haggis.

  14. flyingrodent said,

    I wouldn’t expect you to notice anti semi tim in your cosy little liberal existence…

    You have no idea who I am or what kind of life I lead, you muppet.

    I also recall attending a May Day event in Glasgow… two thirds (of stalls) were devoted to the zionist entity

    So you went to an event for people who are prone to getting up on their high horse about the middle east and there were people there getting up on their high horse about the middle east.

    From this we are to believe that Scotland is a deeply antisemitic but that nobody, apart from yourself, has noticed.

    I’m going to take an educated guess between a) the entire country of Scotland having terrifying and previously-unsuspected racial obsessions and b) you being a chump and say that you are a Grade A zoomer, sir. Some kind of mental, although I’m not sure which – paranoid delusions, perhaps.

  15. Clive said,

    GAD says: ” Well, there’s the tautology. You are anti-semitic – you deny you are anti-semitic – ergo you deny the existence of anti-semitism. It’s bollocks really. That was the logic I was questioning…”

    But that isn’t the logic the article criticises at all. What the article says is that the PSC claim there are two groups of people who say anti-semitism is a problem, and both of them argue in bad faith, ‘ergo’ – presumably – there is no such thing.

    But this is barely even logic. Even if the claims made about these two groups are true, what if there is a third group?

    And there is. Or at least, if you accept that anti-semitism exists at all, there must be a third group. Or more.

    How about you GAD? Do you think it is possible that someone might, sometimes, complain that something is anti-semitic and be right? Or are they always wrong? If someone denies they are anti-semitic, is this a sufficient answer? Surely not, as the possibilities would be endless. (“You’re racist!” “No I’m not.” End of argument. Etc).

  16. Canon Newman Friend of the IRA said,

    The problem those white Christian type pretend socialist British Palestinian supporters have is dishonesty. They should just have the courage to admit they are anti-Jewish and anti-semetic and get on with their shite. I am sure some of them would wear the Adolf TShirt if politics were different.

  17. Sarah AB said,

    Clearly there is antisemitism in Scotland, and tolerance for that antisemitism too. But that doesn’t mean that one might not quite possibly avoid coming across examples in one’s daily life. I lived in Scotland for three years and I only remember one example, admittedly a rather extreme one in a sense, of a man who was obviously mentally disturbed accosting me at a bus stop and starting a conversation about how Hitler had a point. I was teaching in a university, but one apparently not afflicted by PSC stuff – having said that,one of the three or four most memorable students happened to be Palestinian but our discussions focused on literature and he certainly never said anything antisemitic. This was back in the mid 90s, I should add.

  18. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

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