I dedicate this essay to Hajo Meyer (1924-2014) anti-Zionist, political activist, Auschwitz survivor and hero in the struggle for Palestinian freedom. His words continue to inform me and his actions comfort my sorrow.
“An anti-Semite used to be a person who disliked Jews. I am not anti-Jew. I am anti-Zionist”
“Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism. “
Zionism has always equated any criticism with anti-Semitism, delegitimization or worse. It serves as propaganda to maintain the illusion of Jews as “victims.” Ultra Nationalists who believe in their moral superiority create political terror in order to silence and deny.
Who could imagine in 1945 following the defeat of Nazi Germany, there would be within a few short years a bizarre escalation, a toxic spread of anti-Semitism inflamed in part by a country with two faces. One face claims to be “the only Democracy in the Middle East” while the other face engages in an agenda embracing a genocidal occupation that spans across three generations of Palestinian children born in captivity. This is the face of Zionism with its dream of a Jewish State for Jews only, “Palestinians not allowed.” There is an alter ego where truth breaks through all forms of denial. A painful truth that many are still unable to accept as a viable reality. It is the agenda of Israeli Zionism that inflicts the horrors of disenfranchisement and genocide onto an entire population of Palestinians, unwanted, hated and considered “inferior.”
It is impossible for this German Jew to avoid a comparison between Israeli Zionists’ unwillingness to embrace the humanity of Palestinians as human beings like themselves with aspects of the Nazi quest for a racially-pure Germany.
Who would have imagined following the end of World War 2, how once again emotional manipulation akin to domestic terrorism, could successfully create a new culture of fear and hysteria strategically targeting Jews? What is tapped is deeply imbedded hysteria that lives dormant within Jewish consciousness. It is here where fears of annihilation and victimization wait once again to be ignited. Zionist intention is to gather Jews from around the world to support and live in the “Jewish State,” using this powerful message of indoctrination. We have heard it spoken: a Jewish state is the only place on earth where Jews can be safe and no longer victims.
I cannot be this Jew. As a refugee, I identify with the homeless displaced Palestinians, refugees forced to flee from their land and homes to be occupied, destroyed and surrounded by prisons, walls, checkpoints armed soldiers and illegal settlements. Because Zionism in 1948 was founded on a racist ideology of the superiority of “chosen people,” I must raise some obvious questions.
Do Jews who have themselves been victimized, have the moral right to occupy and disenfranchise another people? Why have they learned nothing? More pressing for the moment, how could it happen that anti-Semitism is used to defend the Zionist agenda? There exists deep psychological implications to be explored, studied, written about and discussed openly in order to bring light to an unbearable moral abyss.
We who are Anti-Zionist and not anti-Jewish (and/or) Jewish ourselves must resist dangerous attempts to discredit opposition by promoting a “false” anti-Semitism while attempting to blur the reality of unending racist violence against Palestine and Palestinians. This form of domestic terrorism uses not only Holocaust guilt but lies in order to justify and/or maintain an illegal, brutal occupation. I believe to argue whether anti-Semitism exists or does not exists is a spurious issue lest we fall into a trap and lose our focus. The rise of anti-Semitism is real. There is a part that disturbs me deeply. That is its use to obscure the truth about a violent unhinged regime that has created the Palestinian Nakba. That is not to pretend there is no true anti-Semitism. It is spreading along with Islamophobia. Perhaps Zionism itself is anti-Semitic for it discriminates against Semites and includes Jews themselves. Zionism is not a religion but a political movement. Working for justice and the end of the occupation is not anti-Semitic.
I want to discuss an incident that recently occurred at Bard College, in order to exemplify my previous discussion. “Israel supporter refuses to share Bard stage with Dima Khalidi and cites stereotypes about Jews smelling bad,” published here on Oct 24, 2016.
Hannah Arendt, for whom the Bard Center for Intellectual Inquiry is named, stated that free speech is at the heart of political discourse. She added that only in the freedom of our speaking on the topic for discussion, does the world emerge in its objectivity and visibility from all sides.
Was the organizer of “Real Talk,” Roger Berkowitz not aware he was suppressing free speech and an intellectual exchange when he failed to stand up against the outlandish demand by Kenneth Marcus to not appear together with Dima Khalidi? Why? Someone who supports BDS must be an anti-Semite? Marcus has shown us once again the face of hatred recycled over and over again by propaganda and the racist agenda of Zionism.
What would it have taken for Professor Berkowitz to break the silence, to say “no, this is not acceptable?” What stopped him, fear? The response of wealthy Jewish donors? I am offended at the disgraceful behavior of Kenneth Marcus. This is the antithesis of everything Arendt believed in.
It is ironic and bizarre that Marcus founded the Louis Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law several years ago to combat anti-Semitism. He states he is an advocate for free speech. Disingenuous and dangerous are his assertions that undermine the powerful non-violent BDS movement with cries of anti-Semitism to squelch and destroy. Meant to inflame he compares BDS to the (“pre extermination” Marcus’ words) Nazi boycotts of Jewish stores in the 1930’s, a truly ludicrous comparison used to inflame fear. Kenneth Marcus shows the true face and ugliness of Zionism and in this case, his utter contempt and distortion of Dima Khalidi, a Palestinian-American woman, lawyer and activist for Palestinian human rights. Marcus succeeded to stop all discussion as cries of anti- Semitism were once more recklessly thrown about.
October 24. Lillian Rosengarten. Website: lillianrosengarten.com