“Smashing the zionists”: not antisemitic

The Green Party has a discussion list, open to all members, to discuss international issues. The Boycott of Israel and antisemitism have been at the centre of intense debate on this list in recent months. In the last few days, extraordinary messages have been published and these deserve scrutiny.

The discussion started with an antiracist contribution by XXX reproducing an article in Private Eye which highlighted antisemitic comments made by Redmond O’Neill, Livingstone’s chief of staff.[1] Private Eye’s piece, reproduced in XXX post included the following: “But O’Neill went on and on about the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He said they represented the ‘Zionist lobby’ and ‘we must smash the Zionists’…””

YYY thought this was not antisemitism but perfectly legitimate antizionism.[2] It is fine to use words such as “Zionist lobby” to describe the institution which represent the Jewish community in this country, and it is all right to incite to violence against them because, YYY writes: “we would not agree with organizations which support Zionism. I am open to correction here, but I think that would be a fair assessment of the Board of Deputies. I have never heard them condemn the Zionist project that is the state of Israel.”

Following a query by ZZZ [3], YYY refines a bit his definition of Zionism [4].
For YYY, “both [i.e. 1) Jewishness; 2) supporting the existence of a state of Israel] would be a necessary part of such a definition, but not sufficient. Zionism implies certain things _about_ a State of Israel, such as the infamous ‘Law of the Return’. In practice Zionism involves racial discrimination, in favour of Jews and against, for example, Palestinians ”

Summary:
i) YYY does not have any problem with “smashing the zionist”
ii) YYY thinks that any Jew who does not explicitly condemn the existence of Israel is a Zionist [a new version of the loyalty test [5], applicable to all Jews]

Incidentally, YYY is also revisionist: their definition of Zionism does not mention the historical cause of Jewish nationalism, also called Zionism, i.e. the widespread persecution of Jews in Europe in the 19th and 20th century, and YYY speaks of Israel, not as a state, but as a “project”.

The views of the Green Party activist YYY quoted below do not represent or engage the Green Party. The Green Party is an antiracist party; it cannot, and hopefully, will not, let open antisemitism, bordering with invitation to racist violence, unanswered. Such discourse has no place in an antiracist Party. The Green Party is antiracist, it is time for the Green Party executive to make sure that its policies are a reality within its own internal discussion lists.

[1] On March 21, XXX posted a contribution entitled “Antisemitism on the Left ? – or not”. This contribution was inspired by a Private Eye article. Here is XXX contribution:

I reproduce here part of an article that appears in the current Private Eye, no 1206, p.9, under the heading ‘Mayor Culpa’, It deals with ‘devastating leaks about public money going astray’ under Ken Livingstone’s administration, but also details the ‘strange alliances’ that Livingstone has been pursuing.

Greens in Lonsdon are of course being urged to give their second
preference vote to Labour.

Now I am not Jewish, but the account I read here sounds very much like
antisemitism to me.

Can anyone explain to me why I should see it otherwise?
FROM PRIVATE EYE:
“...The most senior whistleblower is Atma Singh, a member of Socialist Action and Livingstone’s adviser on Asian affairs. In 2003, his comrades urged Livingstone to ally with the Arab Muslim brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami…

Singh was stunned. He tried to stop Livingstone embracing Yusuf al-Qadarawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief theologian, who…had said of the civilian victims of suicide bombings in Israel: ‘We cannot say that the casualties are innocent civilians. They are not civilians or
innocent’. Livingstone’s staff arranged for the sheikh to visit London…Singh confronted Redmond O’Neill, Livingstone’s chief of staff.

“I objected to Livingstone saying we must work with al-Qadarawi and
others who were soft on suicide attacks on Israelis’, Singh told the Eye. ‘I
said we had a good relationship with London’s Jews and the Board of Deputies of
British Jews worked with us in the National assembly against racism. But
O’Neill went on and on about the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He said
they represented the ‘Zionist lobby’ and ‘we must smash the Zionists’…

[2] YYY disagrees, when O’Neil rants about the Board of Deputies of British Jews and say they represent the ‘Zionist lobby’ and ‘we must smash the Zionists’, it is not antisemitism, it is just normal and justified anzionism:

You refer to “anti-semitism”, but actually quote only opposition to Zionism, which is quite different.

I don’t think the Green Party is at all anti-semitic. On the other hand, I am clear that we have long been opposed to Zionism. The latter is entirely incompatible with Green views on human rights and a sustainable future.
The infamous Israeli ‘law of the return’ is just the most obvious example.

It follows that we would not agree with organisations which support Zionism. I am open to correction here, but I think that would be a fair assessment of the Board of Deputies. I have never heard them condemn the Zionist project that is the state of Israel.

Some of Livingstone’s alliances and allies are not to my taste either, but I think one has to recognise that in the second round of the Mayoral election there will only be two choices – Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson. If one wishes to express a preference, one has to take the rough with the smooth, either way. Are you seriously suggesting that Boris Johnson would be a better Mayor?

That is a choice for our members in the London Federation, but I doubt they would agree with your apparent preference, for all Livingstone’s faults and egoism.

XXX replies:

I don’t think you read my post very carefully. What I quoted was Redmond O’Neill’s claim that the Board of Deputies of British Jews ‘represented the Zionist lobby’.

Is it enough that someone claims that someone else is a member of the ‘Zionist lobby’ for that claim to be accepted as fact?

Because that seems to be what is happening here.”

Apparently, it is enough: YYY will not reply to this point.

[3] Then ZZZ stepped in and asked:

“Before we go any further into this bramble patch, can we agree on what is meant by Zionism please? I could find no reference to it in the MfSS, although it would have been there in the preamble to the Palestine & Israel motion was passed, which it was not.

I had a chat with an Israeli at the UNA-UK conference who defined a Zionist as any Jew who wants to see a State of Israel. A quick onliine definition for Zionism is given as “a policy for establishing and developing a national homeland for Jews in Palestine “.

[4] YYY is keen to provide an answer:

I think both would be a necessary part of such a definition, but not sufficient. Zionism implies certain things _about_a State of Israel, such as the infamous ‘Law of the Return’. In practice Zionism involves racial discrimination, in favour of Jews and against, for example, Palestinians.

Zionism is an ideology which the Green Party obviously does not share, believing in human rights for all now, rather than ancient theological fantasies.

[5] http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=444

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9 thoughts on ““Smashing the zionists”: not antisemitic

  1. Zkharya

    This goes to show how many nutters want to interfere with how British Jews express their affiliations in their war against ‘Zionism’. That is how such anti-Zionism will manifest itself as antisemitism. It is intended to pressure Jews to pressure Israel.

    For 2000 years antisemites defined Jews as an alien, displaced nation. Now when they are no longer displaced, but, 41%, at least, in their own national place, suddenly all those 2000 year old definitions vanish, to be dismissed as ‘theological’ or ‘merely religious’. That is the logical evolution of ‘traditional’ antisemitism. ‘Traditional’ antisemitism evolved when it was understood Jews were an alien, exiled body. When that situation changes, so too does, or must, antisemitism. The hostility must change its definitions and terms of reference. Jews are no longer a proper national group, ‘merely religious’, ‘theological’ or ‘spiritual’. Such definitions, in fact, redefine Jews as de facto Christians, since, traditionally, Christians, and, to a degree, Muslims, have defined themselves as a non-, trans- or supra-national group, Jews stuck in their ‘racial’, ‘tribal’ or ‘ethnic’ exclusivity.

    Now, suddenly, Jews are essentially ‘Slavs’, ‘Khazars’, ‘Europeans’ or ‘Americans’.

    But most such ‘anti-Zionists’ are too ignorant, stupid or obsessesed to care about such historical niceities. For such as YYY, the international ‘Zionist’ has replaced the international ‘Jew’.

    Reply
  2. miravogel

    It really puts me off balance when people like YYY make these confident statements associating Zionism with racism as if this were an accepted truth like the earth being round. It’s easy to forget sometimes to ask people like that to define Zionism, and then to anatomise their association of Zionism with racism. It is also important, and Zhkarya says, to give Zionism a historical context.

    Ben Cohen is particularly good on the Ideological Foundations of the Boycott Campaign Against Israel – I really recommend reading this. In discussing Sartre’s ‘Anti-semite and Jew’, he sheds some light on what might be going on in the minds of some Greens:

    ” Jean-Paul Sartre provided a description of an abstracted, idealized type closely associated with this convoluted reasoning. Rather provocatively, he named this type the “democrat.” In framing the problem, Sartre observed: “The anti-Semite reproaches the Jew with being Jewish; the democrat reproaches him with willfully considering himself a Jew.”

    The “democrat” is a “feeble” protector of Jews, argued Sartre, because while those Jews who discard their Jewish identity acquire a nobility in the eyes of the democrat, those who embrace their identity are by definition a danger, to themselves and to others.”

    This feels right to me – the idea among boycotters that the creation of Israel as a response to antisemitism was wrong because it was a Jewish response which created a Jewish state.

    But in the late 19th and early-mid 20th centuries, Europe’s Jews were being browbeaten, physically assaulted, had their property confiscated, and were ultimately rounded up and taken away because as Zhkarya says, they were considered alien and a force of evil. Jews before, during and directly after WW2 did not go to Palestine to take Arab land, they went to make somewhere where they could take charge of and, if necessary, defend their own lives. Antisemitism is the definitive experience which shaped Zionism, and it antisemitism which underpins what YYY refers to as “the infamous Right of Return”.

    Is Israel redundant? Has antisemitism gone away for ever? Engage makes uncomfortable reading in this respect, as does the most recent report on antisemitism from the Community Security Trust. To try to make myself clear, Jews are not victims-to-be and we should not consider them as such. But Jews have a distinctive history of persecution with a recent attempt at collective extermination, and we should acknowledge this in our consideration of Israel. And say antisemitism recedes into the dim and distant past – one thing we do not do is turn to Israel’s Jews and tell them they now have to dismantle Israel. Israel is not a project, it is a sovereign state. Hands off. All those weirdo stalkers need to find a way out of their monomania and stop pretending that their obsessive anti-Israel activism is pro-Palestinian – it isn’t (I don’t know if YYY fits this description, by the way).

    Considering these things, and given that countries all over the world are shaped along religious and ethnic lines, there are no grounds for asking Israeli Jews to cancel their country, although there is every reason to insist that countries do not discriminate between their citizens on religious or ethnic grounds, and that countries to not put the lives of their neighbours in limbo while flouting peace plans and disempowering their neighbours’ leaders by carrying on their settlement activities. A minority of Jewish settlers in the OPTs do hope to take over Palestine, and we should resist them. But they are a loud minority who do not stand for Israel.

    To talk of Zionism as YYY does here amounts to demonisation because he does not provide analysis and his statements lack substantiation or consideration of the context of Zionism. This way of talking may be increasingly widespread, but it is nonetheless sinister. It amounts to the rejection of Jews as a collectivity.

    This boycott is essentially anti-Zionist – in a very particularist way without being more generally anti-nationalist. That is why I find it chilling.

    Reply
  3. Toby

    “Indeed, in March of this year, one influential person in the party gave tacit support to the idea of “smashing” Jews who fail to denounce Israel (read the content of a couple of postings from the individual concerned – click on my name above). If this is not considered to constitute antisemitism, I would like to know what would. To take a not entirely dissimilar example, I hope nobody in the Green Party would find it acceptable for a Green Party member (senior or otherwise) to justify statements in support of “smashing” descendants of African slaves who fail to denounce Sierra Leone.”

    I am glad you are against antisemitism, but in what way is Israel like Sierra Leone?

    Reply
  4. Daniel

    The Russian pogromists had (and probably still have) a slogan: ‘Smash the Jews and save Russia.”

    It seems that the socialist antizionist antisemites have updated that slogan to read: “smash the Jews and save socialism.”

    Reply
  5. Shriber

    Those who believe that “zionism is racism” they should read the following.

    “Fadela Amara on Israel, Anti-Semitism, and Islamist Politics”

    http://wisconsinyankeeinkingdavidscourt.blogspot.com/2008/04/fadela-amara-on-israel-anti-semitism.html

    Among other things it says:

    “Amara says that when she was in Israel, she actually felt quite at home. She was invited here in June 2004 as part of a delegation of leftist women that met with Israeli and Palestinian women….

    “I felt very comfortable [in Israel]. I wasn’t the object of special stares, as often happens toward foreigners. I didn’t feel any racism, though I’m certain it exists. You have all the colors there so it’s become almost natural to see white, yellow, brown.”

    By your appearance, you could certainly pass for Israeli. Maybe that’s the reason?

    “Maybe, but I’m not used to that. Here in France, I get looks. To the French, I’m not very ‘French.’ We’re living here under a dominant culture. When your name is Francois and you’re white with blue eyes, it’s one thing. But when your name is Fatima and you’ve got a little color, the look you get is different. In Israel – because of the variety of people, I didn’t feel that. In fact, I met a lot of young people there and it happened more than once that I was talking with a Palestinian and thinking he was an Israeli or vice-versa. Luckily, some of them were wearing a Star of David, otherwise I would have been confused all the time.””

    I doubt though it will make an impression on racist antisemites like YYY.

    Reply
  6. Alec Macpherson

    ==> ancient theological fantasies

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is a classic example of how to lie. (And coming from a bunch of smurfs for jihad talking about lebensraum for their Chosen People, pretty rich.) Mainstream Zionism was alway *secular* you cupid stunts.

    Next stop, guff about Amos 3:2 and ‘Jewish supremacy’.

    But why are we surprised? During the Boer War, blame was placed on fly-blown phylacteries and shiboleths and Hebraic influences and Frankfurt gold-merchants.

    All racism is syncretic.

    Reply
  7. Chris Fox

    Concerning the similarities between Israel and Sierra Leone, the latter has at various time and in various ways been treated as a “homeland” for former Afro-American slaves since the latter part of the 18th century. There were attempts to resettle the “Black Poor” of London in the “Province of Freedom” (these were former slaves who had been granted freedom in return for fighting for the British). Shortly after that, the Sierra Leone Company was established with the encouragment of former slaves in order to resettle former Afro-American slaves there, establishing Freetown. Then some abolitionists sought to turn the country into a Utopia for freed slaves. It, or at least Freetown, became a haven for former Afro-American slaves.

    Hopefully this suggests at least some parallels with Israel. Both have a complex history bound up with concern for addressing historic wrongs, idealism, and the provision of a homeland for dispossessed people. Both were established in land occupied by others and which was under some form of imperial control. There may be other parallels, but I will leave those as an exercise for the reader.

    Reply
  8. Alec Macpherson

    Chris, I think I’m a pro-Leonist now. D’you have citations? Were, for instance, the “black poor” to go by choice?

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Green Party Increasingly Aware of Toxic Jewish Power « National Vanguard

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