Forum discusses how antisemitism is being weaponised

June 19, 2024
Protesting in Djilang/Geelong against ZIM shipping on May 25. Photo: @matt.hrkac/Free Palestine Geelong Facebook

A Socialist Alliance and Green Left forum on “How Zionism weaponises anti-Semitism” on June 15 attracted 45 people.

Amin Abbas, a Palestinian activist from Free Palestine Melbourne, opened by describing the two Jewish co-presenters, Nachschon Amir and Tammy, as “courageous” to speak out against Zionism.

Such people, he said, are important for solidarity and “keeping an open and inclusive movement” to fight Israel’s war in Gaza.

Palestinians “are resisting an occupying force, not a race”, he said. Zionists have falsely managed to conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism, by asserting that “Israel is acting on behalf of all Jews”.

He said Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians, including stealing their land, has led to the idea that “Palestinian lives don’t matter”.

Nashchon Amir, who was raised a Zionist and fought in the Israeli Defense Force during the First Intifada (1987-1993), said once he left Israel his views completely changed.

Living in Australia for 15 years, Amir has become a supporter of Palestinians’ rights and self-determination.

He said Israeli children are taught about the Holocaust to underscore their belief in their “Jewishness”. They are also taught that “Palestinians, or Arabs, hated us because we were Jewish”.

However, he said there was never any discussion about the occupation of Palestine.

He felt the next generation after his had been even more manipulated by Holocaust memories. He fears a rise in antisemitism as children are taught that “everybody hates the Jews”.

Outside Israel, according to Amir, Zionists have taken advantage of European guilt over the genocide of Jewish people during World War II.

He said this is why the conflating of anti-Zionism with antisemitism has been so effective in vilifying Independent MP Jeremy Corbyn, a long-term Palestinian supporter and former leader of the British Labour Party.

Tammy, a Jewish anti-Zionist activist, who went to a conservative Jewish school in Naarm/Melbourne, agreed that the Holocaust is used to intensify fears about antisemitism, which can increase the Jewish community’s paranoia.

She said young people do not realise this is not normal and, consequently, “antisemitism keeps people subjected”.

Tammy said fear about antisemitism is manipulated when asked questions such as: “Who would hide you if there was another Holocaust?”

Consequently the Holocaust is “seen as the worst atrocity ever and it makes them [the Jews] feel exempt from committing atrocities”.

She spoke about how Zionism had influenced Jewish cultural and political history. Memories of historical, progressive Jewish experiences are repressed and the replacement of Yiddish with Hebrew has meant that Yiddish traditions and culture are lost.

Tammy said there is a belief that “Hitler didn’t win; we survived”. But, she said, in reality, “Zionism is finishing what Hitler started.”

Sue Bull, a national co-convenor of Socialist Alliance and activist in Free Palestine Geelong, said Labor and Liberal MPs are “alleging the very activists fighting to defend the Gazan people from mass slaughter of being antisemitic”.

She outlined how antisemitism is weaponised when Palestinians, the indigenous victims of Zionism, are “vilified as terrorists, Muslim extremists and antisemites”.

This parallels the experiences of First Nations people who, after their land was stolen, were demonised and dehumanised.

Bull said that the millions of people, worldwide, who take to the streets to support Palestinians every week, are making apartheid Israel, United States imperialism and its allies including Australia “very nervous”.

“This is why we can’t rest until Palestine is free,” Bull concluded.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.