In the December election in the UK, the disparity between rich and poor; our response to the Climate Emergency; and the future of the United Kingdom all need to be central themes of the campaign. The one issue that does not need to be part of the debate is antisemitism. The charge is leveled against Corbyn because he will change policy re Israel.
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Bernie Sanders’ editorial, “How to Fight Antisemitism,” strikes many right notes with today’s progressives, but Nada Elia says his shockingly anachronistic understanding of Israel shows the two-state delusion is a hard one to give up.
Forward Opinion Editor Batya Ungar Sargon insinuated Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib shared anti-Semitic material on social media, when they posted a cartoon by Carlos Latuff showing Trump and Netanyahu silencing them. This is not the first time Ungar Sargon has led the assault on those very few who dare challenge Israeli policy head-on.
Pro-Israel groups and Republicans have been lying about Ilhan Omar’s boycott bill and it seemingly just paid off. The State Department has updated its working definition of antisemitism to include comparisons between current Israeli policies and those of the Nazis.
A silent vigil in DeWitt, NY held in solidarity with the weekly “Great March of Return” protests in Gaza has been criticized as antisemitic by some in the local Jewish community. Ira Glunts has attended the protest and untangles the charges against the group.
Robert Cohen debates Melanie Phillips on BBC radio. “The Jews are the only people for whom the Land of Israel was ever their national kingdom,” she says. He says, “That’s a muddle” of Zionism and Judaism.
The City of Vancouver, Canada might seem to be an odd place for a battle over the IHRA definition of antisemitism. But that is exactly what happened in the last week, and it all concluded with a temporary victory for free speech, human rights, and common sense.
Lawmakers in New Jersey have introduced an antisemitism bill that would prohibit certain criticism of Israel in public schools and universities. The proposed legislation comes on the heels of similar bills being passed in South Carolina and Florida. The legislation takes its cues from the State Department.
In her new book, Deborah Lipstadt says, “Zionism is the national liberation movement of Jews,” and therefore those who oppose the idea of a Jewish state are anti-Semitic. She distorts the values of anti-Zionists, who are for democracy not ethnic states, and offers an ideological justification for the displacement of Palestinians.
Clare Maxwell writes, “At a time when real anti-Jewish rhetoric and violence is growing in the country, we all need to stand up, condemn it, and find ways to protect Jews and other threatened religious groups. But disingenuous accusations of anti-Semitism that are hurled at Palestinians, or at human rights activists can cause damage as well. I know this because I’ve been there.”
Jonathan Cook says that elites in the U.S. and Europe have moved on from their once-defensive posture that Zionism is not racism. Now, they are on the attack. Their presumption is that anti-Zionism is synonymous with racism and across the West there are efforts to codify this into law. Nowhere is this clearer than in France where Emmanuel Macron recently threatened to outlaw anti-Zionism.
By colluding with antisemites worldwide and weaponizing the term “antisemitism” to inappropriately include anti-Zionism, Zionists have transformed a very real and ongoing threat to Jews into a political tool that serves their own settler colonialist goals.
“If denying Jews the ‘right of self-determination’ is evidence of anti-Semitism, then what should we call denying the same right to those indigenes who have lived in Palestine for centuries?” Joel Doerfler on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Next week the UK Labour Party’s governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), will be voting on whether to adopt examples of antisemitism put forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in its definition of antisemitism. Pete Gregson wrote to all 26 NEC candidates to seek their views on the vote. Of the 12 responses that came back, 5 were for adopting the full IHRA definition and examples, 6 were for no change, and 1 was unsure. Of those in favor, he posed the question “If it’s passed and I said Israel is a racist state, would I get expelled?”
A coalition of 24 Palestinian civil society groups, including the largest trade unions, professional associations and refugee networks, released a statement urging the UK Labour Party and trade unions to reject the “biased, anti-Palestinian” IHRA definition of antisemitism which seeks to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. The definition they say, “aims to silence criticism of Israeli policies that clearly violate Palestinian human rights.”
Last week an unprecedented intervention occurred into the debate in the UK over the definition of antisemitism. Over 80 community, professional and rights-based organisations representing black, minority ethnic and diaspora peoples decried what they say is the framing of antisemitism in a way to ‘silence’ Palestinians, and other migrant groups, from speaking about their history.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday called the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a bitch,” and referred to him and his family as “settlers” during a meeting with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, further straining the rift between the Palestinian officials and the White House.
On November 7, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings over the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a bill that would broaden the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel. Dr. Barry Trachtenberg, the Chair of Jewish History at Wake Forest University, argued that the act’s definition of antisemitism was deeply flawed because it defines all accusations of American Jewish dual-loyalty as inherently antisemitic. Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center accused Trachtenberg of providing ”cannon fodder for antisemites”. In many ways, the exchange between Cooper and Trachtenberg mirrored the debate the American Jewish community has been having about dual loyalty since the establishment of Israel.
After many months of speculation, Michael Kaydar, a Jewish teenage resident of Ashkelon in Southern Israel, has been charged with carrying out the JCC bomb threats. One aspect of the story, and its connection to an Israeli, that has not been discussed is the intense loathing of the Jewish Diaspora in classical Zionist thought. Kaydar has opened a chasm in the relationship between Israelis and the Jewish Diaspora and reignited the most elementary questions about Jewish identity in the supercharged atmosphere of Trumpworld Fascism and its intense racism; a racism which is not limited to White Christians, but is also present in their Israeli Jewish counterparts.
Many have noticed how Donald Trump ignored a question about antisemitism at his press conference on Wednesday. Few have noted how Benjamin Netanyahu supported him.
All over the world people who challenge Zionism are being accused of antisemitism. You might imagine the one group of dissidents who are safe from this kind of delegitimization is the Israeli Jews—they are not. This cruel irony, when exposed, may actually play a productive role in decoupling antisemitism and anti-Zionism. As actual antisemites take positions of power in the US government while maintaining a pro-Israel stance, the need to oppose the false accusations of antisemitism becomes ever more vital.
“Europe will forever be tainted”, wrote Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer in the wake of the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo magazine and the kosher supermarket in Paris. “It will always be the continent of expulsion, blood libels, numerus clausus, ghettos and the Final Solution.” European Jews’ feelings of insecurity are real and can’t be easily dismissed. But they are not an argument for an ethnically-exclusive state in the Middle East. Our modern communities must be built on multiculturalism and human rights, Antony Loewenstein argues.
Chicago Friends of Israel, a Zionist group at the University of Chicago, has scheduled an open meeting with school administrators at the school chapel next Wednesday over Gaza. The title of the event is “An Open Meeting to Discuss Issues…
I had two dreams about antisemitism last night. I wish I could figure them out. They haven’t upset me today, but I’ve thought about them. The first one was in a southern setting, a picnic area in the woods, with…
Richard Witty, who has a sneaker for Chabad (so do I; I had fun in the Chabad House in suburban Philly), sends me this Haaretz column by the usually reliable Bradley Burston in which he is shocked by the Mumbai…