Israel boycott not anti-Semitic

Monday, April 18, 2011

I know many Jews feel deeply threatened by the boycott, divestment sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

It feels like a threat to eliminate Israel. For so many Jews, Israel is a guarantee of survival, so BDS is a threat to Jewish survival and ipso facto anti-Semitic.

But principled opposition to the state of Israel is not anti-Semitic. Boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel are not anti-Semitic. BDS is not aimed at Israel or Israelis or Jews as such; it is aimed at the institutions of the state of Israel until it abides by international law.

South Africa, while it adhered to apartheid, was a world pariah. Once it rejected apartheid, it was embraced by the nations of the world. So it will be with Israel when it rejects colonial domination and accepts and lives with the Palestinians on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Israel is in breach of international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in so many ways: torture, collective punishment, transferring settlers to land under occupation, refusal to allow Palestinians displaced in the wars of 1948 and 1967 to return to the land of their birth, disproportionate response to attacks, illegal destruction of Palestinian homes, crops and olive groves; continuing alienation of land; the illegal blockade of Gaza; systematic discrimination in access to land, education and resources within Israel and ongoing military occupation.

It is fundamentally dishonest to attack opposition to Israel as anti-Semitic. It is intended to silence legitimate criticism. It also makes it impossible to challenge the real anti-Semitism that is, unfortunately, on the increase. This is largely fuelled, but not caused, by Israel‘s atrocities against the Palestinians.



Jews against the Occupation supports the broad-based call from Palestinian civil society for boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel until it abides by international law.

We call for targeted BDS aimed at all individuals and organisations in Israel and elsewhere which materially or otherwise support the continuing occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of Palestinian human and national rights.

It is the only non-violent way to put real pressure on Israel. It is in the proud tradition of Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

Criticism of Israel in the name of justice and human rights is much more in line with traditional Jewish ethics than the narrow focus of a chauvinist Zionist movement.

"Never again" must mean "never again" for all people, not just Jews.

We better honour the millions murdered by the Nazis by standing by those traditional values than selling our souls for illusory security based on armed might.

[Vivienne Porzsolt is spokesperson for Jews against the Occupation in Sydney and has worked for many years for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. For more information visit: www.jao.org.au .]

From GLW issue 877

Tags:

Comments

not treated with contempt

I agree with most of what was written above under "BDS not anti-semitic?" "Israel Boycott" and "Whos bullying who?"

However I disagree about assertion that Marrickville Council and Greens treated local Jewish community with contempt. While ultimately they were persuaded by the solidarity groups which push GBDS as the only way to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, they did listen to other points of view, and did treat us with respect. It would have been good to hear some public acknowledgment of the offence and worry caused to the local Jewish and Israeli communities, and we haven't heard that yet. Maybe we will.

I agree with much of Vivienne's article, too--except for the support of the BDS movement. The sloganeering one-sided rhetoric of the movement, and their slippery goals, will have to be substantially revised; and they will need to unequivocally acknowledge the rights and history of Jewish Israel, as well as of the Palestinian people, if they expect to gain support from moderates outside the middle east, or from Jews- other than the handful on the very far left.

BDS is not Antisemitic ?

What an umitigated crock !

As Dr David Hirsh (lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London) so eloquently put it...

Jews were forced out of European and Middle Eastern countries by racist boycotts and violence, including exclusions from universities. They went to Israel as refugees not imperialists. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was never inevitable and neither nation is free from responsibility for the oppression and the bloodshed. If the conflict is to be ended, it will be through the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Israel and Palestine are not, like South Africa, a single but divided nation. Compare the ANC charter, which guaranteed in advance rights for minorities in a democratic state, to the Hamas charter, which calls for the killing of Israelis and the creation of an Islamist state.

The boycott campaign is not motivated by anti-Semitism, but wherever it goes, anti-Semitism follows. One of its leaders, Bongani Masuku, a Cosatu official, has been found guilty by the South African Human Rights Commission of hate speech. Jews around the world are routinely treated as supporters of apartheid if they dare to oppose the boycott campaign.

When you educate people to boycott only Israel, when you tell them that all Israelis are responsible for human-rights abuses, when you mobilise a global campaign to say that Israel is uniquely racist, and when this campaign becomes central to progressive politics globally, you are, whether you know it or not, incubating anti-Semitic ways of thinking. When ears are closed to concern about anti-Semitism on the basis that such concern is a marker of secret support for Israeli human rights abuses, then you know there is a problem.

Many Jewish groups support BDS

There is nothing anti-semitic about BDS. Its aims are

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

It's target is the state of Israel, an apartheid state that systematically discriminates against Palestinians.

Which is why a growing number of Jewish organisations internationally back it See: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/47299

Very very very very few Jews support BDS

I hate it when BDS supporter say that there is a growing list of Jewish supporters of BDS. This is utter crap. There are 13 million Jews world wide and all that the BDS supports can get it short list of names.

Israel Boycott

‘Anti-Israel is not always anti-Semitic’? REALLY!!
The Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary says that anti-Semitism means "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group." This definition is useful because it reminds us that Jews are more than simply adherents of a particular religion; i.e., they are also an ethno-cultural group, a tribe, a people.

But is there a "firewall" between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel? Like other countries, Israel has features that invite criticism, but crafting a fair critique is troublesome because it requires something approximating respect for natural justice, application of generally applicable norms, reference to the general practice of states, and giving reasons to support particular judgments. Thus, criticizing Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic. But it is untrue to say that there is a logical distinction that prevents a persistent pattern of bitter criticism of Israel from being anti-Semitic. To the contrary, the
methodologies applied in more than a half-century of modern human-rights law make it clear that a persistent pattern of targeting Israel with discriminatory criticism is anti-Semitic.

MODERN HUMAN-RIGHTS methodologies are astute enough to examine not only a pattern of impugned behavior but also the likely effects of that pattern. Consider the following:

(1) Jews have been an historically victimized people for more than 2,000 years, just as African-Americans and the aboriginal peoples of Canada have been historically victimized.
(2) Now containing half the world's Jewish population, Israel is the historic and current homeland of the Jewish people, just as Greece is the home of the Greek people. When these two points are considered in terms of modern human-rights methodologies, the conclusion is that a persistent pattern of discriminatory criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic because it is likely to harm Jews.

An imaginary watertight compartment separating Israel from the Jewish people is as improbable as trying to uncouple the notion of China from the Han Chinese people or Turkey from the Turkish people. This is an important point because the hallmark of the modern anti-Semite is precisely reliance on the unpersuasive claim that there is a clear line that prevents a persistent pattern of anti-Israel criticism from being anti-Semitic. To the contrary, statistical evidence links critics of Israel
to anti-Semites. Public opinion polls tend to show a correlation between respondents who strongly oppose Israel and those with marked negative feelings toward Jews and Judaism. Furthermore, police records from Europe and elsewhere reveal spikes in anti-Semitic incidents coincident with major military actions involving Israel - e.g., in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza in 2008/2009 - and anti-Israel terrorist groups also target local Jews in foreign countries, as in the 1994 attack on the
Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires. Thus, those who explain or justify anti-Semitism by pointing to alleged misdeeds by Israel are simultaneously acknowledging the link between the State of Israel and the Jewish People.

Modern anti-Semitism, then, means being comfortable persistently targeting Jews and/or Israel and persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a more exigent standard than applied to other peoples and countries. Friends of Israel may also be said to "target" the Jewish State, in the sense that they, too, are disposed to pay more attention to Israel than to other countries. However, they are unlikely to seek to tar Israel by persistently expecting more from it than from other countries; to the contrary, friends are likely to defend Israel by applying a less demanding standard. Anti-Semites, on the other hand, focus on Israel with the aim of portraying it in a negative light. Their underlying motivation is sinister, in that they do seek to tar Israel to fabricate justifications for extreme measures likely to harm Jews, whether in Israel or abroad.

Because of many explicit pejorative references to Jews and Judaism, the texts of both the Christian gospels and the Muslim Koran have directly played a role in spawning civilizations with exceptional attitudes toward Jews and Judaism. In the Western and Islamic worlds, many individuals find it natural to harbor distinctive (often negative) views about Jews and Judaism. However, there is often a lack of awareness that the prevailing cultural software has been so significantly infected
by the virus of anti-Semitism. For this reason, many individuals remain comfortable persistently targeting Jews and/or Israel and persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a more exigent standard than applied to other peoples and countries.

Shouting "Dirty Jew!" or attacking Jews in pogroms or sending Jews to die in concentration camps are obviously anti- Semitic acts. But many individuals in the Western and Islamic Worlds have a blind spot that prevents them from recognizing anti-Semitism in other toxic manifestations. Here it helps to recall the Holocaust. That horrendous crime traced its immediate origins to 1933, when German leader Adolf Hitler began a program of well-organized discrimination that singled out Jews via legal and bureaucratic expedients. In the same way, modern anti-Semites contrive strategies to
support persistent patterns of bitter discrimination against Israel, e.g., in organs of the United Nations. The strategy is to demonize Israel by judging it according to a more exigent standard than applied to other countries. The ultimate goal is to justify the destruction of Israel and the killing of the Jews there.

THE AD HOMINEM argument of being Jewish or having Jewish parents (even concentration camp survivors) is no logical defense to a charge of anti-Semitism. Today, many Jews fail to understand that the meaning of anti-Semitism includes any persistent pattern of discrimination against Jews and/or Israel. Many falsely imagine that, because they themselves are Jewish, they have a special license to freely engage in these patterns. However, the harm done by such Jews is as real as that
done by the anti-Semitism of non-Jews. In fact, anti-Israel discrimination by Jews can do even more damage, because Jews can gain greater credibility by trumpeting their own Jewish credentials.

Human-rights methodologies offer nothing to suggest that either "the Right" or "the Left" has a dispensation legitimating these discriminatory patterns. This means that anti-Semitism cannot be justified with reference to an alleged greater good to be derived from Nazism, fascism, socialism, communism, environmentalism, anti-colonialism, the Non-Aligned movement or any other cause or ideology. Nonetheless, many enemies of Israel remain astonishingly confident in their
mistaken belief that their preferred doctrine entitles them to indulge in such discrimination, while immunizing them from a charge of anti-Semitism. This is a pitiful and hollow illusion. Intellectual honesty and decency demand that we decry the anti-Semitism of those who are comfortable persistently targeting Jews and/or Israel and persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a more exigent standard than applied to other peoples and countries

"Self hating Jew" argument?

Quoting:
"THE AD HOMINEM argument of being Jewish or having Jewish parents (even concentration camp survivors) is no logical defense to a charge of anti-Semitism."

Well maybe if we're speaking strictly logically, but actually, this whole long diatribe is reminescent of the old canard about "self-hating Jews" - it is a cowardly way to tell Jewish critics of Israel to shut up.

This idea that Palestine supporters are "persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a more exigent standard than applied to other peoples and countries" just amounts to saying, other countries get away with murder and ethnic cleansing, so why can't Israel? It's a shallow, mercenary argument and worthy of contempt from anyone who supports human rights.

BCC

Whos bullying who

As a local affected by the Israel Boycott, I attended Marrickville Council last night. I was appalled at the hateful bullying of councilors and the hyper aggressive stance of BDS supporters to those that dared disagree with them.

Unable to get into the main chamber last night I took a position in the vestibule with a lot of others, where I was hissed at, elbowed in the back, heard one fellow make homophobic remarks after an against speaker spoke of gay rights, we had a guy calling out "Hezbollah" to much sniggering.
A man waving a Israeli flag (in a sea of BDS placards) was jeered through the evening, being told that that is the Devils Flag, one punter to much mirth called out "we know youse done 911" we were accused of being murderers and liars.
At the end of the night a car zoomed past the crowd assembled out side the council building with a passenger screaming "F**k Israel".

Not one speaker against the BDS accused the proponents of the BDS of being Anti Semitic.
None of the clrs who spoke for the BDS were subjected to howls of abuse as those who voted against were.

Our local greens clrs carry on about being under attack and harassed, well the local Jewish community in Marrickville has been put under attack, we over the last few months and amplified last night are constantly accused of being Right Wing Zionists and absurdly in the context of last nights meeting, bully's. Were accused of subverting democracy, owning and controlling the worlds media and our nations leading politicians etc etc all the now usual smears.
I hate to break it to you but the Inner west Jewish community doesn't secretly control the Labor party and Murdoch Press we are not all rabid Zionists, most of us don't even believe in God, in fact many of us have even been involved in green and left politics.

We have a right to be heard, we have a right to be consulted in our own community regarding policy's that affect us. Marrickville Council and Marrickville Greens have treated us with complete contempt.

The BDS is a weapon of war with no aims outside of escalating conflict, last nights council meeting was a perfect example of this and why the BDS is gone and will hopefully now disappear from Australian politics.

BDS is peaceful

It's nonsense to call the BDS campaign "a weapon of war". It's a peaceful campaign of withdrawing support from Israel. It's not escalating anything but peace. You can disagree with it for all sorts of reasons, but calling it that is just plain stupid.

Let us get about our ethnic cleansing in peace

As usual, the supporters of Israel wish us to look at anyone's crimes, real or imagined, but their own. Pointing the finger at someone else does not make one innocent.

Arab xenophobia & Terrorism preceded occupation for DECADES.

LOOK IT UP.

Long before Jordan illegally occupied Jewish property in Jerusalem, Arabs were murdering Jews & Christians in the Holy Land. In August 1929, Arabs ethnically cleansed the Jews from Hebron. Decades earlier they attacked and shot the brother of Johann Grossteinbeck, American author John Steinbeck's grandfather!