Anti-Semitism

Is Pears Institute fit for purpose?

London-based Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism claims its founding principle is that the study of anti-Semitism is vital to understanding all forms of racism, prejudice and xenophobia. Strange then that both the institute and its partners have misunderstood the nature of contemporary anti-Semitism (i.e. anti-Zionism) and aligned themselves with organisations and academics that are hostile to the State of Israel.

In 2013, Pears Institute organised a conference on boycotts. According to the organisers, the conference was “an academic forum to better comprehend the causes and content of boycott movements and to advance understanding of whether and how BDS [boycotts, divestments and sanctions] sits within the debate on contemporary anti-Semitism.” Instead, the conference was an opportunity for professional Israel haters to air their views, namely London School of Economics’ Dr John Chalcraft, who refers to Israel as an apartheid state, and Philip Marfleet, of University of East London, who characterises Zionism as imperialism.

Moreover, as Jonathan Hoffman, writing in The Jewish Chronicle, has pointed out, Pears Institute “sees nothing wrong with hosting Israel traducers such as Jacqueline Rose who makes anti-Semitic comparisons between Jews and Nazis.”

“It seems to me,” says Rose, “that the suffering of a woman on the edge of the pit with her child during the Nazi era, and a Palestinian woman refused access to a hospital through a checkpoint and whose unborn baby dies as a result, is the same.”

What is staggering is the fact that David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute, refuses to criticise Rose. Rather, he bemoans her critics’ “vicious attacks.” So much for understanding why anti-Semitism is a problem in the 21st century. But should we be surprised? After all, in a recent interview with David Semple for the Jewish Media Agency, Feldman denied that BDS is inherently anti-Semitic:

“The BDS movement is a presence among people who feel that they want to protest against Israel’s policies. I think the BDS movement is a broad church. It attracts support from some people who would like to see a one-state solution, but I think many people are attracted to BDS because they strongly oppose Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories […] I haven’t seen the evidence to suggest that movement as a whole should be characterised as anti-Semitic” [emphasis added].

Now, it seems to me that Feldman is either in denial or has not experienced BDS first hand. I have, however. During the summer of 2014, shops, banks, universities, theatres and entire towns in the UK were targeted by a contingent of BDS bullies comprising Islamic fundamentalists, anarchists, hardcore leftists, self-styled peace activists and Pakistani gangsters. In Manchester, where I am based, the Jewish community witnessed an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism. In the city centre, BDS protestors enjoyed making anti-Jewish slurs such as “Jews killed Jesus,” “dirty Jewish pigs,” and “Zio-Nazis.” Some BDS campaigners spoke fondly of Hitler and made Nazi salutes. There were several obscene comments about the Holocaust. Jews were physically attacked, threatened and intimidated. Stores with connections to Israel were barricaded, raided and vandalised.

The situation in London was just as bad. On several occasions, tens of thousands of BDS campaigners bullied their way through London’s streets, intimidating passers-by and verbally abusing Jews and anyone else who got in their way. Indeed, Douglas Murray, writing for The Spectator, described these rallies as “disgusting” and “anti-Semitic.” These protestors, he says, are nowhere to be seen when Isis ravages Iraq or Boko Haram commits atrocities in Africa.

The fact that Pears Institute and its director are unable to see the connection between BDS and anti-Semitism is not just worrying, it is a undoubtedly a betrayal of their mission to understand anti-Semitism in all its forms.

There are other problems that need addressing too. Pears Institute was established by the Pears Foundation, which proudly states that it is a “core funder of the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), which works with students to promote conflict analysis and resolution through experiential education.” In fact, OTI is a crypto-Palestinian movement in which students are introduced to anti-Semites such as Aziz Duwaik, the Hamas Speaker in the Palestinian Legislative Council, and George Rishmawi, co-founder of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement.

Some Jewish students have expressed concern that OTI’s “experiential education” is tantamount to brainwashing and anti-Israel incitement. As one student explained, OTI is advancing anti-Israel views “under the 
guise
 of 
academic
exploration.” Moreover, “its veneer of academic legitimacy” is “hampering 
the
 type
 of hard self‐reflection
 that
 administrators
 and
 academics
 on 
campus 
must
 undertake 
to
 address
 the
serious 
problem 
of
 campus
 anti‐Semitism.”

Pears Foundation also finances Crisis Action, an organisation that bewails the blockade on Gaza and wants an EU boycott of goods from Judea and Samaria. Indeed, Crisis Action cites Jewish housing projects in Judea and Samaria as “one of the key obstacles to peace and a source of large-scale violations of international law and human rights.” No mention is made of why the Gaza blockade is in place or why the real obstacle to peace is the decades-old Palestinian Arab refusal to negotiate with or recognise Israel.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that Pears Foundation supports the core costs of the New Israel Fund (NIF) office in the UK and projects in Israel. NIF claims it is opposed to the BDS campaign but will “engage in dialogue with an important organisation that signs one letter supporting divestment rather than summarily dismissing them.” Or as it states on the NIF website, it will not fund BDS activities but will support organisations that “conform to our grant requirements if their support for BDS is incidental or subsidiary to their significant programs.” In the view of Jeffrey Goldberg, in an article for The Atlantic, these are “weasel words” that suggest NIF is not wholly committed to Israel’s existence. NIF, he points out, continues to fund groups that support BDS “so long as they don’t support BDS too much.” In my view, NIF’s approach to BDS is not only disingenuous, it is likely to provoke mistrust among those who would otherwise support NIF.

Taken together, there are real concerns about the Pears Institute and the Pears Foundation. On one hand, both organisations talk down the role BDS and pro-Palestinian activism play in the production and dissemination of anti-Semitism; yet at the same time, they actively support or provide a forum for Israelophobia and anti-Semitism. Their role in public policy making and in the education of students should be questioned by anyone who is concerned about anti-Zionism and the resurgence of Jew-hatred in the 21st century.

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ANTI-ZIONISM IS INCITEMENT TO RACIAL HATRED

images_news_2012_04_26_freedom-center-poster_300_01There is to be a debate in Manchester town hall about flying the Palestinian flag following a 2,500-strong petition. The idea was put forward at the height of 2014 conflict in Israel/Gaza but critics say it would harm community relations. The move is bound to anger Communities Secretary Eric Pickles who recently claimed that councils which invent their own “municipal foreign policy” by flying the Palestinian flag are behaving “irresponsibly.”

Meanwhile, anti-Semitic incidents have soared by 80 per cent in Manchester over the past year. Incidents have included verbal abuse, physical attacks, vandalism, desecration of cemeteries and the boycotting of Kedem, a Jewish cosmetics shop. In 2014, 269 anti-Semitic hate crimes were recorded in Manchester – up from 131 in 2013 and 127 in 2012. Together Manchester and London represent three-quarters of all anti-Semitic hate crime in Britain.

According to Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, anti-Semitic reactions to tensions in the Middle East are the single biggest contributing factor. “We know from our figures that international events – such as the escalation of hostilities in Gaza – have had a significant impact within our communities and has motivated a large number of these hate crimes,” he stated.

Manchester has a good record when it comes to tackling hate crime. According to police, a hate crime is a crime committed against someone because of their disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation and transgender identity. For the first time in the UK, police in Greater Manchester will officially record if a person who belongs to an alternative sub-culture has been a victim of hate crime.

This begs the question, should Greater Manchester Police lead the way once again by categorising anti-Zionist rhetoric and imagery as a hate crime? After all, the fifty-day protest outside Kedem in Manchester last year was clearly designed to incite racial hatred. When an individual or group threatened to harass a person or a group of people because of their pro-Israel attitudes, that is incitement to hatred. In the case of the Kedem protests, incitement took the form of words, pictures and videos. It also included information posted on YouTube and other social media.

In other words, much of the violence committed against Jews in Manchester during 2014 can probably be attributed to anti-Zionism. Of course, anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism, but it also something more. It is a hatred of the State of Israel and her supporters – both Jew and gentile. Because many anti-Zionists like to claim they’re not anti-Semitic, we also have to make a distinction. Without defining what it is we are trying to combat, how can we ever hope to defeat it? Anti-Zionism must be exposed as a particular kind of hatred if it is to contested.

Moreover, because a tiny minority of Jews are anti-Zionist, the term ‘anti-Semitism’ can be problematic. Anti-Zionism and anti-Zionist, then, are useful epithets that can be directed at both gentiles and Jews who incite hatred against the Jewish State and her supporters. In my view, anti-Zionism should be treated with the same public disgust as homophobia and misogyny. In other words, anti-Zionists should be publicly and legally ostracised.

Under UK law, “incitement to racial hatred” was established as an offence by the provisions of of the Public Order Act 1986, although it was first established as a criminal offence in the Race Relations Act 1976. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 made publication of material that incited racial hatred an arrestable offence. Laws against incitement to hatred against religions were later established under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. The offense of “incitement to racial hatred” refers to deliberately provoking hatred of a racial group, distributing racist material to the public, inciting inflammatory rumours about an ethnic group, for the purpose of spreading racial discontent, making inflammatory public speeches and creating racist websites. All of this can be applied to the proliferation of anti-Zionist rhetoric and imagery in Manchester and elsewhere.

II

Let us not forget that Zionism was born out of Europe’s inability to accept Jews into their societies. After crusades, inquisitions, forced conversions, countless pogroms and the industrialised murder of six million Jews, the only option left to the Jewish people was/is to have a homeland. Now after having achieved the goal of Jewish self-determination in the Middle East, along comes anti-Zionism, which essentially denies Jews to a homeland. So where are Jews expected to go? Europe has made it clear that Jews are not welcome. Therefore, with nowhere else to go, the only logical alternative is the disappearance of the Jewish people. That is anti-Zionism and it is a form of racial hatred.

In other words, the core of the anti-Zionist worldview is the irrational and hateful belief that the Jews are not entitled to exist as a people, especially in their historic homeland in the Middle East.

Of course, criticism of Israeli policies – like criticism of any other country – is part and parcel of rational public discourse. Indeed, Israel’s media and Knesset members are not afraid of critiquing their own society. But drawing comparisons of Israel to that of the Nazis is a form of hate speech. Terms of abuse such as “Zio-Nazi” and “Zionists are the Nazis of the Middle East” should be classed as hate speech. Defacing the Israeli flag with a swastika is incitement to hatred and must be seen as such.

Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation is incitement to hatred. Denying Israel’s right to exist and/or calling for the State of Israel to be dismantled or destroyed is a form of hate speech. Calling for a war against an entire country and attempting to abolish the Jewish State is incitement to genocide.

Until the police and the authorities understand that anti-Zionism is a particular problem, then no progress will be made. Perhaps one solution is to tackle anti-Zionist on campuses. When he was Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks spoke about the intimidation of Jewish students in Britain as “part of a long, slow, insidious process intended to undermine academic freedom and it must not be tolerated.”

For example, the University and College Union (UCU) has repeatedly called for a boycott of Israeli academics. In May 2011, UCU members voted to disassociate itself from the EU working definition of anti-Semitism. In disgust, four leading Jewish academics in Scotland quit the UCU and the British government called on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate the union. At the same time, the UCU was given notice of the intent of a Jewish UCU member to sue for breach of the UK Equality Act (2010).

According to Lesley Klaff, senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University, by allowing anti-Zionist expression on campuses, university authorities are in breach of their own equality, diversity and anti-harassment policies in relation to Jewish staff and students. Such policies, she says, “are required by law to promote equality of opportunity for minorities and to protect them from harassment and ethnic hostility.”

Another solution to the problem of anti-Zionism is to demonstrate to students that supporting Israel is liberally progressive. Israel is a world leader in innovating green technology and the advancement of animal welfare. It has a free press, a trade union movement and several co-operatives. Women are guaranteed gender equality, Israeli Arabs have the right to vote and homosexuals enjoy full civil rights. These values, which are in short supply in the Middle East, are exactly the kind of values which progressives and students should champion.

At the same time, Israel advocates must continue to protest against the presence of anti-Zionist guest speakers at university events, and challenge the charities, organisations, NGOS and churches that set up their Israelophobic stalls during Freshers’ week. We also need to educate people. We must explain to students that it was Islam, not Zionism, that colonised Palestine in the seventh century and built a mosque on the Temple Mount. We must explain to people that the Palestinians and the Arab states collaborated with the Nazis and then rejected the UN partition plan because they didn’t want to share the land with Jews. We must point out that on at least six occasions since 1948, the Palestinian Arabs have refused the offer of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

In short, a sustained campaign is needed – a campaign which highlights the progressive nature of Zionism and exposes the reactionary intolerance of those who wish to dismantle the only democracy in the Middle East. Meanwhile, we need a debate in the UK and the wider European Union over whether legislation is needed to to outlaw racist hate speech, which is used to incite violence.

Do British Jews have a future?

Israel_-_Boycott,_divest,_sanction

Speaking at a service in London to commemorate those killed in the terror attacks in Paris, British Home Secretary Theresa May has said the UK must redouble its efforts to “wipe out anti-Semitism.”

She added: “I never thought I would see the day when members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom would say they were fearful of remaining here in the United Kingdom.”

So do Jews in Britain have a future? Yes, they do, but only if the British – especially politicians and the media – do something about their Israelophobic bigotry.

The driving force behind contemporary anti-Semitism is anti-Zionism. This prejudice usually involves prejudicial, stupid and vitriolic condemnation of Israel, with absurd characterisations of the Jewish state as an apartheid nation that tortures Arab children.

This is little different from accusing Jews of poisoning wells or using the blood of Christian children to make Passover bread.

Far too often, universities, political institutions, charities, churches and media outlets provide a platform for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists to disseminate their hatred of Zionism and therefore Jews.

If Theresa May is really committed to safeguarding British Jews, then she will speak out against the one-sided criticism of Israel and the culture of incitement before innocent Jews are killed in a kosher supermarket in London or Manchester.

In other words, the anti-Zionist hate speech must be challenged at the highest level.

 

 

 

ZIONISM – RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE

Zionism is a noble aim. It is the ultimate expression of Jewish identity and sovereignty. But because of Islamic supremacists, Palestinian nationalists and left-wing Jew-haters, the words “Zionism” and “Zionist” are dirty words. People use the word “Zionist” as an insult, in the same way the words “fascist” and “Nazi” are hurled at anyone who dares to disagree with them. In the media and in political discourse, the word “Zionism” has acquired (unfairly) implications of “oppression” and “racism.”

Zionism – both as word and as concept – needs to be reclaimed by those who support Israel. “Zionism” and “Zionist” must be relegitimised so that they can be once again used in public discourse without negative connotations. But first of all, we must understand what Zionism is and grapple with the complexity of the term. After all, it means slightly different things to different people.

So what is Zionism? Zionism derives from the word Zion, which is the Hebrew name for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and was the seat of the first and second Holy Temple. It is the most holy place in the world for Jews, seen as the connection between God and humanity. At its simplest, Zionism is a nationalist movement of Jews that supports the creation of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the Eretz Israel.

Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, formed the World Zionist Organization and promoted Jewish migration to “Palestine” in an effort to form a Jewish state. His vision was to secure international legitimacy for the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own and actually building the national home.

Anti-Semites, however, fail to see the positive connection between Jewish nationalism and Zion. Instead, they derive their definition of Zionism from the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purports to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It is still widely available today, especially in the Middle East. Indeed, many Arab and Muslim regimes and leaders have endorsed the book as authentic. The 1988 charter of Hamas infamously states that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion embodies the global plan of the Zionists.

In order to circumvent the erroneous definition of Zionism found in the The Protocols, we must understand the many different and positive types of Zionism that have inspired and galvanised Jews throughout history.

II

Ancient Zionism is the name given to the biblical origins of the Jewish people’s connection to the Eretz Israel. The first “Zionist” was God who ordered Abraham to leave his father’s home and to travel to Canaan, where God said, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:3-7) and “I will give to you and to your offspring […] the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (17:8). The key text of Ancient Zionism is the Tanakh. The yearning for the land of Israel can be found in the Jewish songbook, the Psalms: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem” or “when the Lord brings about our return to Zion, we will be like dreamers.” Jewish benedictions (blessings) also hope for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

The bond between people and land is expressed through the literature of the Bible (and subsequent Jewish writings) and was strong enough to maintain a sense of national identity following the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem by the Romans in the first century. As a people, the Jews left Israel neither spiritually nor physically. Even after the Roman invasion, a remnant of Jews remained, particularly in Galilee.

Over the centuries individual Jews or Jews in their hundreds returned to the land of Israel. A Jewish community in Hebron was founded in the seventh century. In 1210, several hundred rabbis, known as the Ba’alei Tosefot, re-settled in Israel. In 1263, Rabbi Nachmanides established a Sephardic community in Jerusalem.  Spanish Jews came to Eretz Israel in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 16th century, large numbers of Jews migrated to the northern city of Safed, which became a major centre of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah. and Polish Hassidic Jews arrived in the 18th century. Between 1808 and 1812 disciples of Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer settled in the Galilee before settling in Jerusalem. In the 1830s, Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, an Orthodox German rabbi, was in favour of the Jewish re-settlement of the Land of Israel in order to provide a home for the homeless eastern European Jews that would support itself by agriculture. He also favoured a Jewish military guard for the security of the Jewish colonies. Kalischer spearheaded a movement called the Lovers of Zion, the inspiration for what became known as practical Zionism (see below).

Religious Zionism maintains that Jewish nationality and the establishment of the State of Israel is a religious duty derived from the Torah. As opposed to some ultra-Orthodox Jews who claim the redemption of the Land of Israel will occur after the coming of the messiah, religious Zionists maintain that human acts of redeeming Eretz Israel will bring about the messiah. Religious Zionists form the backbone of the settler movement in Judea and Samaria.

Political Zionism stressed the importance of political action and deemed the attainment of political rights in “Palestine” a prerequisite for the fulfilment of the Zionist enterprise. Political Zionism is linked to the name of Theodor Herzl, who considered the Jewish problem a political one that should be solved by overt action in the international arena. His aim was to obtain a charter, recognised by the world leadership, granting the Jews sovereignty in a territory owned by Jews. The Basle Program, drawn up in accordance with these principles, states that Zionism aims to establish “a secure haven, under public law, for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.” Organisational and economic mechanisms such as the Zionist Organization and the Jewish National Fund were established to carry out this program. Interestingly, Herzl wasn’t particularly interested in reviving Hebrew as a national language. Indeed, some Zionists professed a preference for German.

Practical Zionism emphasised the practical (rather than the political) means of attaining Zionist goals, such as immigration to Eretz Israel, rural and agricultural settlement and educational institutions. This approach originated in the Hibbat Zion or Lovers of Zion movement in the 1880s. This movement, which preceded Herzl’s political Zionism, was established in Eastern European countries in the early 1880s. After Herzl’s death in 1904, practical Zionism gained strength. The champions of this doctrine were the members of the Second Aliyah, who settled in Palestine at this time. They founded rural settlements, some along cooperative principles. They built modern towns and established the first industrial enterprises.

Later on a combination of these two main approaches was produced and is known as Synthetic Zionism. This is a doctrine that coalesced at the eighth Zionist Congress (1907). Chaim Weizmann (who later became the first President of Israel) was its principal champion. This merger advocated political activity coupled with practical endeavour in Eretz Israel. It also stressed Zionist activity in the Diaspora, such as modernised education, collecting money for the Jewish National Fund and active participation in national and local elections.

Cultural Zionism was an ideology espoused by Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg in the late 19th and early 20th century. He believed that the Zionist movement should place its emphasis on the development of a Jewish national culture. Although national independence was important, the majority (or a significant bloc) of Jews would remain outside of the land of Israel.  Therefore, Israel should become a cultural and spiritual centre that is beacon to the world. He promulgated the view that Hebrew should be revived as a spoken language for “Palestinian” and diaspora Jews in order to create a genuine Hebrew literary culture. In this regard, Ginsberg was highly influential, especially since Herzl didn’t have much use for Hebrew.

Labor Zionism was the belief that a Jewish state would not be created simply by appealing to the international community or to Britain, but rather that a Jewish state could only be created through the efforts of the Jewish working class settling in Eretz Israel and constructing a state through the creation of a progressive Jewish society with rural kibbutzim, cooperative agricultural communities and an urban Jewish proletariat. Originally proponents of socialism and a Greater Israel, modern Labor Zionists, such as the Labor Party, tend to be favourable towards capitalism and the two-state solution.

Revisionist Zionism was initially led by Ze’ev Jabotinsky. His foremost political objective was to maintain the territorial integrity of the historical land of Israel and to establish a Jewish state with a Jewish majority on both sides of the River Jordan. The idea of partitioning the land was anathema and so Jabotinsky and his followers rejected proposals to divide “Palestine” into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Revisionist Zionism supported firm military action against the Arab gangs that attacked the Yishuv in Palestine. This hardline position led to split in the movement and some members established the Irgun, a paramilitary group. Predominantly secular in outlook, revisionist Zionists supported economic liberalism and opposed Labor Zionism. Revisionism is the precursor of the Likud Party.

Revolutionary Zionism views Zionism as a revolutionary struggle to ingather the Jewish exiles from the Diaspora, revive the Hebrew language as a spoken language and re-establish a Jewish kingdom in the Land of Israel. As members of Lehi (a militant Zionist group) during the 1940s, many adherents of Revolutionary Zionism engaged in guerrilla warfare against the British administration in an effort to end the British Mandate of Palestine and pave the way for Jewish political independence. Many revolutionary Zionists envisaged a kingdom of Israel rather than a state, with a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Revolutionary Zionists generally espouse anti-imperialist political views, thereby defying left/right categorization.

Christian Zionism (formerly known as Restorationism) is a belief among some (especially conservative evangelical) Christians that the return of the Jews to the land of Israel is in accordance with Biblical prophecy. Some Christian Zionists believe that the “ingathering” of Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus.

Muslim Zionism is very rare but growing. Pro-Israel advocacy groups such as Arabs for Israel and British Muslims for Israel have been formed within the past ten years. Individual Muslims who dare to publicly support Zionism are former radical Islamist Ed Husain and the Bangladeshi journalist Salah Choudhury. And there are a number of Muslim clerics (such as Britain’s Imam Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini) who believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land is in accordance with the teachings of Islam (see Qur’an 5:21). Kurds, Berbers and Circassians (all of whom are non-Arab Muslims) have voiced support for Israel. The Arab Druze population in Israel is highly supportive of Zionism. Many Druze have attained top positions in Israeli politics and serve in the Israel Defense Forces. There is also a growing number of Arab Christians in Israel who recognize the Jewish character of Israel and want to enlist in the IDF.

III

What does Zionism mean today? Is it still relevant? In my mind, the importance of Zionism is demonstrated by the growing number of Jews leaving France for Israel.

Indeed, the persistent stain of anti-Semitism in the fabric of European society demonstrates the importance of the Zionist project. Following the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris in which four Jews were killed, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home.” He has a point.

Is Israel any safer than France? Perhaps not. After all, terror attacks in Jerusalem and rockets from Gaza are occasional hazards. But at least Israel is home. And it’s a home where Jews have the right to govern themselves, to practice their religion and maintain their identity. Isn’t this what Zionism is about?

Of course, America is always an option for those who wish to leave Europe. But America has its own problems with anti-Semitism, anti-Israel boycotters and Islamic terrorism. Put simply, Israel is the only place in the world where the Jewish people are free to live as Jews. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, especially at a time when Islamic terrorism is plaguing the West.

Some may argue that leaving Europe is an admission of defeat. I would argue that it is an opportunity to live in a society where Jewishness is the norm, not the exception. I would also add that returning to Israel would greatly help the Jewish state gain the upper hand in the demographic stakes.

Zionism has nothing do with global domination or oppression of the Palestinians. It is about one thing and one thing only: the survival of a Jewish homeland in a world where anti-Semitism refuses to go away.

Europe’s loss is Israel’s gain

_59208978_parisjewishschool_apFrance has a big problem and I am not talking about the future of the eurozone. I am talking about the ugly problem of anti-Semitism that has seen French Jews flee their native country for the safety of Israel and the UK.

Natan Sharansky, chair of the Jewish Agency, says that 2,254 French Jews moved to Israel during the first five months of 2014, compared with 580 in all of 2013 –an increase of 289 per cent increase. And in light of recent events the number of Jews leaving France is expected to rise.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is calling on French Jews to “come home to Israel” after the spate of Islamist terror attacks in France.

“To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home,” he said in a televised statement.

Many of those who make Aliyah cite Muslim anti-Semitism as the reason for leaving France.

To illustrate the point, a recent report by the Service de Protection de la Communaute Juive (SPCJ) contains the shocking observation that in the days following the Toulouse murders in March 2012, there was an average of nine anti-Semitic incidents every 24 hours. After the bombing of a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, there were a further 28 incidents in the following week.

The report by the SPCJ makes it clear that the number of anti-Semitic attacks outweighs the number of other racist attacks. In fact, the increase in anti-Semitic acts in France in 2012 was more than eight times higher than the increase of other racist and xenophobic acts. This clearly shows that France has a problem with anti-Semitism, rather than racism in general.

Another survey, this time from the European Jewish Congress, found that France had more anti-Semitic incidents in 2013 than any other country in the world, with Jews the target of a staggering forty per cent of all racist crimes in France.

French Jews speak of a climate of fear. Most of the attacks take place on the street and on public transport. Many Jews say they are afraid to read Hebrew books on the trains or wear a Star of David in public. Paris is the worst place to live if you are Jewish. Indeed, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the capital vastly outstrips Judeophobic incidents in Marseille, Lyon and Strasbourg.

But even in places where there are fewer anti-Semitic incidents (such as Marseille), the attacks are disturbing and are strangely reminiscent of fascist Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. The following is an excerpt from the SPCJ report:

A Jewish young man and his friend is yelled at by a group of individuals: “We are for Palestine; we don’t like Jews; we’re gonna kill you. We’re gonna exterminate you all.” The two men keep walking when about 10 individuals storm onto them. The victim is hit on the head, which makes him fall. He is then kicked all over the body while on the ground. They steal his gold Star of David. He suffers from a sprained neck, an internal haemorrhage and needs stitches near the eye.

This is shocking but typical of the wave of anti-Semitic attacks sweeping Europe. But the media is eerily silent on the issue. It’s as if newspapers and TV broadcasters don’t quite believe this is happening. Or perhaps they just don’t care.

While many French Jews have got on a plane to Israel to escape the violence, some have sought sanctuary in the UK, which is surprising given the level of British hostility towards Jews and Zionists. Even so, many French Jews have decided that London is a good place to be, with St John’s Wood and South Kensington being the most favoured places of refuge.

Britain’s former chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has spoken out against Judeophobia in Europe, saying that “the position of Jews in Europe today is very difficult.” He has expressed deep concern that the legal question marks over circumcision and shechita have left Jews wondering whether it is possible to remain in Europe.

The sad truth is that Europe has never looked after its Jewish communities. Even after the Holocaust, the political establishment prefers to demonise the Jewish people, particularly settlers in Judea and Samaria. And instead of spending money on tackling anti-Semitism, the EU donates millions of euros to the feckless Palestinians who spend the cash on anti-Semitic textbooks in order to indoctrinate Arab schoolchildren.

I sincerely hope that those Jews who have sought sanctuary in the UK find peace and quiet in the suburbs of St John’s Wood and Kensington. But anti-Semitism in Britain – often masquerading as anti-Zionism – is a real and growing problem. An unholy mix of left-wing Israelophobia, Islamic Jew-hatred and political apathy over the fate of Jews in Judea and Samaria has severely distorted political discourse in the UK. Indeed, there is not a single mainstream national newspaper that is friendly towards Israel. Nor is there a mainstream political party that has the guts to stand up to the Palestinian lobby.

So, I will not be too surprised if French Jews in England realize their mistake and decide to make Aliyah. Of course, Europe’s loss will be Israel’s gain. And here lies the paradox. Muslim anti-Semites long for the day when “Palestine” (i.e. Eretz Israel) is Judenrein. But their hatred of Jews is having the opposite effect. More and more Jews are going to Israel. The fact that Muslims and their anti-Zionist fellow travellers are responsible for Jews making Aliyah is an unsettling irony.

A violation of the Jewish people’s biggest tragedy

A Facebook page (“I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists”) supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign has uploaded a modified image of Jewish concentration camp survivors holding anti-Zionist placards.

BDS-flyer

The manipulated picture shows prisoners of the Nazis holding up signs that read “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza,” “Free Palestine” and “Gaza the world’s biggest concentration camp.”

 

What can one say about this image? Cruel? Disgraceful? Obscene? No words can really sum up this picture. It is beyond words. An image such as this can only provoke a feeling of horror. The viewer senses that something sacrilegious has taken place. It is a malevolent violation of the Jewish people’s biggest tragedy.

Of course, the purpose of the image is to disturb and distress. It is meant to provoke widespread revulsion. And so it does. But it does more than that. It invokes a kind of moral panic – and that is why it’s so difficult to talk about the photo. No matter how many words we use, there is something inexhaustible about the image, always something that remains to be said. That’s what horror does to us. It renders us speechless, senseless, unable to formulate a satisfactory response.

[The original image, before it was manipulated, can be viewed at http://www.ushmm.org/lcmedia/photo/lc/image/66/66297.jpg]

 

The Palestinianisation of Britain

imagesThe Palestinian issue has enabled Britain to reconnect with its medieval Jew-hating past.

Anti-Semitism in modern Britain hit an all-time high in July. Figures published by the Community Security Trust showed there were 302 anti-Semitic incidents reported in July 2014, a 400 per cent rise from the 59 reported in July 2013. A further 150 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in August 2014, the third-highest monthly total on record. Most of the offenders were of Asian and/or Middle Eastern appearance, raising fears that support for Palestinian nationalism is driving this new wave of anti-Semitism.

Of course, hatred of Jews in Britain is nothing new. In 1144 there was the first report in history of the blood libel. Anthony Julius, writing in his book Trials of the Diaspora, finds that the English were infinitely imaginative in inventing anti-Semitic allegations. He says that England became the “principal promoter, and indeed in some sense the inventor of literary anti-Semitism.”

In 1278, Jews in England were seized and imprisoned in various castles throughout England. While they were imprisoned, their houses were ransacked. Some 680 were detained in the Tower of London. More than 300 were executed in 1279 and eleven years later, King Edward I expelled the Jews from England.

Modern anti-Semitism is the product of Yasser Arafat’s 1960s invention of Palestinian nationalism. Arafat’s legacy has been to encourage generations of people to incite violence against the Jewish people and to inculcate delegitimisation, defamation and discrimination.

One of the most curious aspects of Arafat’s nationalism is its hybrid ideology, which is part reactionary religious creed, part revolutionary rhetoric. Either way, it is viciously anti-Semitic and continues to attract Britain’s disaffected youth – paradoxically, Muslims who believe in sharia law and anarchists who believe in no law at all.

This is the curious thing about Palestinianism. It is an ideology that adapts accordingly.  You don’t have to a Palestinian or even a Muslim to follow this ideology. You can be a liberal or a neo-Nazi; a Presbyterian or hardcore atheist; an intellectual or a college dropout. In fact, you can be anything you want to be, just as long as you hate Jews.

Palestinianism is very inclusive and fashionably heterodox in its hatred. Christian and Muslim Palestinianists both believe in a replacement theology in which their respective faiths supersede Judaism. Liberals dislike Israel because they perceive the Jewish state as exclusivist. And socialists abhor Israel because the Jewish state is a military power with close links to the US.

The rise in anti-Semitism in Britain has received little attention, partly because much of the abuse is carried out by Muslims who are sheltered by the liberal elite, who accuse critics of Islamophobia or racism. Muslims who attack Jews claim it is retribution on behalf of their “brothers” in Gaza and the “West Bank.” And the liberal elite agrees.

Buildings and bus shelters in Britain’s university districts are plastered with pro-Gaza posters. Palestinian flags hang from the windows of student houses. Anti-Israel events are advertised around campuses. Students are permitted to invite anti-Semitic speakers, such as Hezbollah representative Ibrahim Mousawi and Abu Usamah, a radical Muslim cleric who admires Osama bin Laden.

Campus life is a microcosm of Britain and Jewish students in the UK have long spoken of an atmosphere of intimidation. Sadly, the political will to protect Jewish students from the effects of Palestinian nationalism does not exist. Instead of protecting their Jewish students, academics and student unions are too busy pursuing the Palestinian agenda by promoting boycotts and divestments.

The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has spoken of the intimidation of Jewish students in Britain as “part of a long, slow, insidious process intended to undermine academic freedom and it must not be tolerated.” Regrettably, it will be tolerated as long as academics and opinion-formers in the media spread the lie that Israeli Jews are imperialist bullies with no historical connection to the land of Israel or Jerusalem.

In the British media, Israel is disproportionately blamed for all the ills of the Middle East. It is amazing how many column inches are devoted to Israel/Palestine. Far too often, media outlets provide a platform for radical Muslims who espouse hatred of Israel and Jews. And on so many occasions, the BBC broadcasts anti-Israel stories that are based on manipulated images, staged events and unsubstantiated rumours.

What is particularly sickening is the way British politicians continue to criticise Israel and romanticise the Palestinians. For example, Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, has deliberately distanced himself from the Jewish community by condemning Israel’s right to defend itself, thereby strengthening his appeal to Muslim voters.

Much worse was the recent House of Commons motion to recognise Palestine as a sovereign entity. Listening to the debate, you would be forgiven for thinking that the creation of a Palestinian state will inaugurate a period of world peace and utopian brotherhood. It would be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous.

In contemporary British discourse, the Palestinian issue is totemic. The fixation with Gaza, east Jerusalem and the “West Bank” has propagated the outrageous but popular belief that Israel is the world’s worst human rights abuser since the Nazis. But casting Israel in this role is no different from accusing Jews of killing Christian children for their blood or blaming Jews for Germany’s military defeat in 1918. The level of abuse levelled at Israel today is just another manifestation of an age-old disease.

If we want a healthy body politic, politicians and the media must resist the urge to automatically side with the Palestinians. Rather than focusing their energies on Israel’s perceived misdemeanours, people in influential positions must think twice about presuming Israel’s guilt. Moreover,  it is incumbent on the media to start highlighting the corruption in the PA-controlled West Bank and the incitement against Jews in Palestinian schools, to name just two issues.

In other words, the one-sided criticism of Israel and the culture of incitement need to be addressed before some crazed pro-Palestinian activist goes into a synagogue and kills a rabbi or blows up a Jewish business. We’ve seen such things happen in Europe and Israel. It can happen in Britain too. For the sake of peace, anti-Zionist incitement must stop.