Israel-splaining

US Politics

Zack Beauchamp has a long piece up at Vox, titled “The anti-Semitism controversy roiling the UK Labour party, explained.” It says that Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech on anti-Semitism Thursday that turned out to be a “debacle” and a “mess,” because the Labour Party “is having trouble drawing the line between acceptable criticism of Israel and outright anti-Semitism.”

Beauchamp went on to offer a typical catalog of alleged anti-Semitism from Labourites. Here’s one item:

Corbyn himself made matters worse, by implicitly comparing Israel to ISIS in his speech.

 “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations,” Corbyn said.

Yowch.

Another: A screenshot from former Labour parliamentarian Naz Shah’s Facebook page, comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa, the segregated American South, and Germany under Hitler.

Read very narrowly, Shah’s comments aren’t talking about Jews outside Israel. But the issue here isn’t that Shah is condemning UK Jews in Hitler-like terms, but rather that her attacks on Israel have been so vitriolic as to veer into what many see as anti-Semitic territory.

Screenshot of MP Naz Shah's Facebook post on Israel and Jim Crow South and Hitler, from Guido Fawkes

Screenshot of MP Naz Shah’s Facebook post on Israel and Jim Crow South and Hitler, from Guido Fawkes

Or these statements from Jeremy Corbyn that “raised eyebrows.”

Most notoriously, Corbyn once referred to members of Hamas and Hezbollah — both US-designated anti-Israel terrorist groups — as “friends,” and invited Hamas representatives to speak in Parliament.

Beauchamp’s catalog is typical: In the British argument over whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, the pro-Israel side lumps in defensible statements, dumb or insensitive statements, and actual antisemitic statements from the anti-Zionists into one big pot, as co-author Johnson observed before, in a post asserting that “Anti-Palestinianism” is surely as serious a moral failing as anti-Semitism. But no one is ever called on that.

[Commentators say] it’s anti-Semitic to deny “Israel’s right to exist” without seeming to realize that Israel wouldn’t exist as a Jewish state without ethnic cleansing and discrimination.

Because nobody cares about anti-Palestinian bigotry.

No other human rights movement I can think of is automatically accused of being racist. The underlying assumption is that Palestinians just don’t matter that much, so anyone who expresses moral outrage or uses the normal tools of protest, like boycotts, can’t possibly be motivated by human rights concerns. They must be antisemites or at least examined very closely for antisemitism before being given a clean bill of health.

Vox just continues that pattern. Liberal Zionists place themselves on a pedestal, grandly informing us who is an anti-semite based on just how critical they are of Israel. It never crosses their mind that the shoe could be on the other foot– people can and should judge them as racist for implicitly assuming that Palestinians only have as many rights as liberal Zionists are willing to grant them.

About Phil Weiss and Donald Johnson

Phil Weiss and Donald Johnson are NY writers and regular contributors to this site

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33 Responses

  1. yourstruly
    July 2, 2016, 4:12 pm

    As BDS tightens the screws on Israel no surprise that the racist state responds by resorting to the old saw that the best defense is a good offense. Unfortunately for Israel the offense it chooses is that of saying we’re not the racists, you BDS’ers are; racist antisemites, that is, for falsely labeling us colonizers and practitioners of apartheid, Unfortunately here, because the evidence supporting the charge that Israelis are colonizing Palestine and enforcing apartheid on its people, the Palestinians, is overwhelming. Which puts Israel in the awkward position of having to recite the specific accusations that BDS is making in order to deny them. But in doing this Israel will be making the case for its opponents. Sooner rather than later Israel will find that its strategy has stoked public interest in what’s really happening re: Palestine/Israel. And once this happens, game over, farewell, goodbye, so long, apartheid state.

    • JWalters
      July 2, 2016, 7:05 pm

      Excellent analysis.

    • Pixel
      July 4, 2016, 1:09 pm

      “Palestine/Israel”

      I applaud your use of the inverted descriptor.

      Words matter. Word order matters.

      Its a simple change that makes a powerful and important statement.

      It’s use should become the new standard with MW, yet again, leading the way.

  2. Steve Macklevore
    July 2, 2016, 5:18 pm

    This is yet another excellent article by Phil and Donald – THANK YOU.

  3. yonah fredman
    July 2, 2016, 5:20 pm

    Off topic. Elie Wiesel died today and before mw skewers him for his right wing zionism, I just wanted to say a few words. First: I’ve never been in prison and certainly never been kept prisoner in a death camp. Wiesel was young when he was swallowed by that monstrosity. Hungarian jews had the advantage of short stays in the camps. Most were interred in the summer of 44.
    Not to measure tragedies or traumas, but he saw his father die and parted from his mother and sister at the camp gates.
    There was the lifelong contradiction between remembering and “no business like shoah business”. How to be loyal to the past and loyal to the future. How to be loyal to the rabbis and their studies and the texts, but also angry at god and the rabbis too.
    Jews who spoke with Yiddish accents had the aura of authenticity about them to me as I grew up in america in the mid to late 20th century.
    The usual Jewish honorific is zichrono livracha, of blessed memory. Which feels very inappropriate. The memory is not a blessing. The other phrase used is olov hashalom, pbuh, peace be upon him. Peace be upon you, Elie!

    • Mooser
      July 2, 2016, 8:20 pm

      ” I just wanted to say a few words. “

      Please, go ahead. All the empathy, sympathy, understanding and forgiveness you have lavished on others will, like “bread cast upon the waters”, come back to you as cupcakes.
      There won’t be a dry eye in the house.

      • yonah fredman
        July 2, 2016, 10:44 pm

        Hey moosser, congrats. You were able to respond to one of my comments without using my name once. Though the archives have been decimated you have been able to repeat my name 1130 times in just two years. Since your output has been only 15,000 I was shocked that I was the recipient of one out of every 15 of your analyses, until I realized that sometimes you like to repeat my name five or more times.

      • Mooser
        July 2, 2016, 11:02 pm

        ,” until I realized that sometimes you like to repeat my name five or more times.”

        It’s a wonderful name, “Yonah”. No hard sounds, just smooth and mellifluous. You are very lucky to have it. Say it loud, and there’s music playing! Say it soft, and it’s almost like praying.

      • amigo
        July 3, 2016, 3:10 pm

        “Jews who spoke with Yiddish accents had the aura of authenticity about them” -yonah

        So are these folks who speak with a yiddish accent “Yidlanders”. Where exactly is that .Does it have borders and a constitution and is Yiddish the official laungage.Do any non yids live there and are they citizens.Are there Yiddish communities.Is the “YDF ” the second most moral in the world .

    • RoHa
      July 3, 2016, 12:24 am

      “How to be loyal to the past and loyal to the future. How to be loyal to the rabbis and their studies and the texts,”

      Loyalty to the truth does not seem to have been a concern.

      “Jews who spoke with Yiddish accents had the aura of authenticity about them”

      Authenticity? Do you mean this in an art collector’s sense or an existentialist philosopher’s sense?

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2016, 12:58 pm

        “Jews who spoke with Yiddish accents had the aura of authenticity about them”

        Wait a minute, I’m lost.
        Who is it that’s supposed to be impressed by our Yiddish-accented authenticity?
        Non-Jews or other Jews?

    • biggerjake
      July 4, 2016, 10:27 pm

      Why don’t you save your eulogy for the article by Marc Elis about Elie Wiesel?

      In fact, why don’t you save it for some other publication that shares your lack of moral compunction?

      Wiesel was a charter member of the holocaust industry, and a perfect example of someone who exploited real Jewish suffering for his own selfish agenda.

      “They” – that is people such as Edgar Bronfman, President of the World Jewish Congress – according to Finkelstein, a “blackmailing gangster.” People such as Daniel J. Goldhagen, author of the successful book Hitler’s Willing Executioners – “Holo-porno,” according to Finkelstein. People such as the historian Martin Gilbert, whose book Never Again Finkelstein calls “Harry Potter, Part IV.” People such as Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel, who Finkelstein says “fabricates – that’s a nice word for lie.”

      Elie Wiesel: Zayn vort zol zayn a shtekn, volt men zikh nit getort onshparn.

  4. JWalters
    July 2, 2016, 6:54 pm

    Vox is hasbara on Israel. Here’s their idea of “Everything you need to know about Israel-Palestine”, on “How did Israel become a country in the first place?”
    http://www.vox.com/cards/israel-palestine/1948-partition

    Ezra Klein should hang his head in abject shame.

    But I suppose it might have been difficult to refuse someone who said, “You’re an up and coming reporter and analyst, so we’ll bankroll you a news website. All we ask is you be nice to the war profiteers hiding behind the Jews.”

    Ezra could get some added relevant material here
    http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/a-history-of-silencing-israeli-army-whistleblowers-from-1948-until-today/

    and from online “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

  5. Mooser
    July 2, 2016, 8:15 pm

    OT, but worth a look: Some Israel Scientology-splaining
    I wonder how Scientology outreach is faring among Palestinians. The article doesn’t say.

  6. Citizen
    July 2, 2016, 8:32 pm

    Zionists say Corbyn is guilty of moral relativism, daring to equate Zionism vs Judaism/Jewish Humanism and Radical IslamISIS, et al vs. Islam.

    • RoHa
      July 3, 2016, 12:18 am

      Thereby demonstrating that they do not understand the concept of moral relativism.

  7. eljay
    July 2, 2016, 9:41 pm

    … “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations,” Corbyn said. …

    But every day in every way Zio-supremacists do their damnedest to conflate all Jews with Israel and Israel with all Jews, and to ensure that all Jews are responsible for the actions of some Jews.

    In the eloquent words of Zio-supremacist JeffB:

    “There is nothing anti-Semitic with blaming Jews for stuff that Jews institutionally support. … Not holding the Jews responsible for Jewish policy on the excuse that “well some Jews didn’t agree” is denying them agency.”

    I simply cannot understand why Zio-supremacists hate Jews so much.

  8. michelle
    July 3, 2016, 12:48 am

    .
    it isn’t ‘slander’ if it’s true
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  9. Ossinev
    July 3, 2016, 10:34 am

    Jeremy is mild mannered and ineffectual. Not a heavy puncher or a streetfighter. What was needed at the start of and throughout this “anti -JSIL/anti – Zionism = anti Semitism propaganda farce was precisely that – a left wing heavy hitter and street fighter to punch the JSIL Firsters in the goolies and call them out for being the hypocritical liars that they are. Not the most popular of men for a number of reasons of course but I can think of one such person George Galloway who would have ripped them to shreds in any debate on the “issue”.

    There are around an estimated 270,000 Jews in the UK out of an overall population of 64 million. I used to think naively that the UK did not have anything like the levels of Zionist control over the media and the range of political parties in the country compared with the US. Having witnessed the crap being generated by Zionists and Zionist supporters over this alleged “anti – semitism ” in the Labour Party I have definitely changed my mind. The big turning point was reading the front page of Fridays Times newspaper which at a time when the country is going mental over the implications of Brexit devoted half the front page to this irrelevant non story. It was compounded by reading about and seeing the “Labour” MP Ruth Smeeth having a patently advanced planned sobbing fit when she was accused of doing something which had f… all to do with Jews,Judaism or JSIL and storming out of a Labour Party conference which was presenting the findings of the totally pointless Labour Party review into allegations of “Anti- Semitism”.

    The current Chief Rabbi in the UK and the former, Jonathan Sachs , also weighed in . The latter who up until now I had believed to be a balanced and reasonable British citizen also revealed himself IMHO to be just another lying,hypocritical JSIL Firster referring to Corbyn`s so called “demonisation of Israel,an outrage and unacceptable.”

    All these people are revealing their prime loyalty as being to a foreign state. If they are so concerned or worried about the rampant anti – semitism (not) in the UK they should pack up and p… off to the Land of Desecration. Hopefully they will leave behind a large number of their principled and conscionable brethren who have always truly embraced the UK as their homeland,cherish its values and traditions and have contributed so much and will continue to contribute so much to it in the future.

  10. Jane Porter
    July 4, 2016, 9:31 am

    Look,it’s time to be aware that “anti-Semite” or anti-semitism is an old word designing anti-jews in the beginning of the 20th century and on.
    It’s really “passé”.
    Actually the real Semites are the Jews and Arabs belonging for centuries to the Arab peninsula. Being Jew or Muslim doesn’t mean
    you are a Semite.
    So concerning Israel/Palestina, historically the palestinian arabs and jews who lived in Palestina(included the jews from Iraq and other Arab lands are the only ones intitled to call themselves Semites.
    Not nethanyahu & Co coming from East-Europe.
    the only

    • Mooser
      July 4, 2016, 3:16 pm

      “Actually the real Semites are the Jews and Arabs belonging for centuries to the Arab peninsula.”

      Yup, after the Flood, Noah’s son Shem really cut a swath among the ladies and fathered two peoples.
      Could it be that “Semites” is a spurious term, the product of 18th or 19th Century attempts to make history somehow fit the Bible? Just asking!
      “Semites” stuck, but “the use of Hamites (Noah’s other son)” seems to have faded.

      • RoHa
        July 4, 2016, 11:48 pm

        “the use of Hamites (Noah’s other son)” seems to have faded.”

        Thanks to the anti-Hamites.

      • Mooser
        July 5, 2016, 12:46 pm

        “Thanks to the anti-Hamites.”

        It was a close-run thing. Ham, it was said, was going to get together with the Swiss and come through the wry!

        I hope this comment isn’t deleted for being antisemiotic.

      • WH
        July 5, 2016, 6:08 pm

        “Anti-Hamites” made me laugh out loud.

  11. Rashers2
    July 4, 2016, 9:57 am

    The crusade against “anti-Semitism in the [British] Labour Party” seems to have been and be a canard from its inception to the recent publication of the Shami Chakrabarti report on this “anti-Semitism” and beyond: the real text appears to be, “More elected representatives from the Labour Party than from the Conservative Party voice concerns about the behaviour of Israel vs. the Palestinians and more Labour representatives than Conservative place equal Palestinian rights on their political agendas; Labour is therefore the priority target.”
    The first to admit that I have little idea of what the Labour party looks like from the inside, I don’t have to be an “insider” to recognise an all-too-familiar phenomenon of attempting (successfully, it would appear) to portray the slightest criticism of Israel, its policies or Zionism itself as “anti-Semitism”. The surprise should be that anyone is surprised; and that the original allegations have been dignified with the commissioning and publication of a report, some of the conclusions of which appear distinctly suspect.
    Among the deeply questionable matters in Ms. Chakrabarti’s report is e. g. the conflation of the terms “Paki” and “Zio-” as “racist” epithets. “Paki” is an abbreviation for “Pakistani” and, my distaste for political correctness notwithstanding, I agree that it is – largely because of the contexts in which it is commonly employed and the users – most frequently used in a pejorative and unacceptable fashion; rather as “Pals” is used by some English-speaking Israeli Jews to mean “Palestinians”. Its use is thus unacceptable.
    Someone should’ve explained to Ms. Chakrabarti that Zionism is neither a race nor a religion and that, if someone criticises or denounces Zionism, they are speaking about a political creed or ideology. Political beliefs and egregious acts which may derive from them are not protected against criticism by any form of anti-racist fence or barrier; and, more to the point, neither should they be – ever!
    Any person using the prefix “Zio-” whether my coinage of Zio-path[y]” or other correspondents’ “Zio-caine” or “Zio-logic” in criticising Israel, its Zionist policies or merely describing or conjecturing on a collective psychosis which has brought Israel to its present, depraved condition should be perfectly free to do so without fear either of spurious accusations of “racism” or of being hauled before some kind of McCarthy-ite Star Chamber.
    The authors are correct that a more resolute personality than Corbyn, faced with this entire, manufactured episode, would quite possibly have confronted the complainants, Zionist apologists for Israel, robustly and demolished their arguments rather than feeling compelled to commission a report, the conclusions of which appear to recommend serious curtailments of legitimate political expression.

    • Mooser
      July 4, 2016, 8:54 pm

      “or other correspondents’ “Zio-caine”…”

      “Ziocaine”? That’s going just a little too far, don’t you think?

    • RoHa
      July 4, 2016, 11:53 pm

      “some kind of McCarthy-ite Star Chamber.”

      Nice mix of historical references.

      • Rashers2
        July 6, 2016, 8:43 am

        I thought it more apt than reference to any Congressional committee; I probably should have put the expression into ” “.

  12. Ossinev
    July 4, 2016, 12:01 pm

    He has been keeping a surprisingly low profile since his appointment probably because he knows that he would be torn to shreds by the wide range of intelligent non – Zio sycophants in the UK TV media. But just when the anti – semitism in the Labour Party farce appears to be dipping to the bottom of the wave again up pops the Yahoo`s pet wallaby Regurgitev:
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.728755

    Don`t panic folks – let`s be clear he will make it all clear.

  13. JulianaFarha
    July 4, 2016, 1:58 pm

    I’m late to the party but thanks for this piece. Putting aside the yammering over at Vox, the point about the racism implicit in the anti-Palestinian rights ‘position’ is critically important and isn’t made often enough. That’s probably a testament to how tenuous the Palestinian claim to basic rights is for most people. As I’ve written on my blog, equating criticism of Israel and the Zionist project with anti-Semitism isn’t just a strategy. Its resonance is also proof that for many people support for the Palestinians can only be imagined as a stick to beat Israel with, and not a worthy goal unto itself.

    • Donald
      July 5, 2016, 2:55 pm

      I’m late to commenting on my own post (I was out of town), but your comment captures exactly the main points we are trying to make. The anti-Palestinian rights movement is implicitly racist and it’s long past time for people to be pointing this out. You said it better than we did.

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