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