Antisemitism: The Tool to Silence Those Who Expose Israel and Zionism
Under Israeli control there is no justice for Palestinians, no freedom for Palestinians and no equality for Palestinians.
This is not a secret, in fact this has been known and reported for decades by various people and organizations. In a pathetic attempt to hide its apartheid nature, the Israeli government decided to ban members of twenty international human rights and Palestinian rights organizations from entering its borders. The list is so outrageous, black listing as it does highly respected human rights groups, that it even made it to the Washington Post. Israel and its supporters are not moved by the reality of apartheid and brutal violence against Palestinians, rather they are angered and even outraged by the fact that this reality is being pointed out. The common theme among all the groups banned is their commitment to human rights and the adopting of the Palestinian call for BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
In an article attempting to explain this desperate and irrational move by the government of Israel, the Times of Israel is claiming that calling Israel an apartheid regime falls under the category of antisemitism as it is defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The one document on their website that comes close to saying this is the “Working Definition of Antisemitism” and within that document there is a file that is titled The Adopted Decision. One clause within that decision reads:
“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
This is a heavily loaded statement. Within this one line there are the following assumptions:
Denying that Jewish people have a right to colonize Palestine is Antisemitism.
Pointing out that Zionism is a racist ideology is Antisemitism.
Pointing out that Israel established an apartheid regime in Palestine is Antisemitism.
- Jewish self-determination is tied to the colonization of Palestine and the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people.
- In other words, any demands for justice, equality and freedom for Palestinians falls under the definition of Antisemitism. None of this has to do with Antisemitism but rather with a desire to silence those who expose Israel and Zionism. The real “enemy” as Israel sees it now is anyone who questions the legitimacy of the Zionist project as well as those calling on the world to heed the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel.
Of the twenty organizations whose members Israel barred from entering the country, the one that is the most outrageous is the American Friends Service Committee, or AFSC , which in 1974 was awarded the Nobel peace prize for activities which included helping Jewish people flee Nazi Europe.
In a statement released after the list was published, the AFSC said, “At a time when the Israeli government is moving to expand settlements, redefine Jerusalem, and annex portions of the West Bank, support for nonviolent activism that seeks freedom, equality, and justice is critical. Therefore, as long as these and other human rights violations persist, we will continue to support Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts as effective nonviolent tools for realizing political and social change. We hope one day to see Israelis and Palestinians live together in peace. This will only happen when the human rights of all are recognized and respected.”
This brings up a crucial point that is often overlooked in the discussion on Palestine. The sought-after peace for the people who live in Palestine will only be possible once there is a political reality in which Palestinian rights are restored and respected. The slogan No-Justice, No-Peace is in fact a fundamental principle: justice is the foundation for peace and for peaceful coexistence between Palestinians, the natives of Palestine, and Israelis who are colonizers and children of colonizers. The expectation that people can live in peace while they suffer injustice is outrageous. It is also outrageous that people who impose injustice expect to live in peace while others suffer.
Accusations of antisemitism have reached an absurd stage. An accusation that is by no means small “antisemitic” has been reduced to the level of child like name-calling thrown at anyone that Israel and the Zionist groups don’t like. It is often coupled by another accusation of “holocaust denier” not towards people who deny the holocaust but rather people who do not accept the official line regarding the holocaust that is prescribed by the Zionists.
Israel does nothing to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians and any expectation that it will is naive or foolish. It is crucial that this is understood fully. Palestinian suffering is caused by very existence of Israel because it is a settler colonial project. No serious attempt to permanently alleviate Palestinian suffering can be successful without dismantling Zionism and freeing Palestine from the Zionist regime.
While the Israeli authorities might think that their abilities are effective and far reaching they are in fact ineffective and easy to fool. There have been several cases where activists who support the BDS call entered the country even as the authorities swore to ban them. As I write these words high profile leaders of Code Pink, one of the human rights organizations recently banned, entered the country and are expressing their full support to the Palestinian struggle. They visited the YAS or Youth Against Settlements center at the heart of the Old City of Hebron and the home of Bassem Tamimi in Nabi Saleh whose wife Nariman and daughter Ahed are in prison awaiting trial by Israeli military authorities.
Setting aside the ridiculous charges of antisemitism by Zionist groups, we must recognize that the ground in Palestine is burning and time is running out. In many ways Palestine today is like a wounded person, blood is gushing out rapidly and if swift action is not taken the person will die. Jerusalem is being colonized at an unprecedented pace and its Palestinian population as well as character is disappearing. The same is true in other parts of Palestine where little or no Palestinian presence remains. People of conscience must now embrace the call to impose BDS on Israel, act to end the siege on Gaza, and act to establish a democratic regime on all of Palestine, which will end the Zionist occupation and restore and respect the rights of Palestinians.