Antisemitism is a smokescreen

Former Green Male Principal Speaker Derek Wall campaigns against Israel on his blog. He hasn’t managed to avoid antisemitism and doesn’t appear to try. He very much admires Joel Kovel, somebody who admits, in the prologue to his book Overcoming Zionism, to being stricken with an anti-Jewish worldview (contracted at his aunt’s funeral!):

“…my quarrel with Judaism took shape about the themes of chauvinism and entitlement, and in this way extended to the critique of Zionism. The antipathy began viscerally in the Synagogue and at my aunt’s funeral, and over the years, grew into a worldview” (p.6)

Since then he has busied himself “negating the various threads of [his] Jewish identity” (p7). You’ll come across similar books by ex-Muslims writing against existing Muslims, denying their diversity, saying “Trust me, I know these people – they’re all authoritarian chauvinists”. It is obviously wrong to make an association between what goes on in your family and what a group of people joined by religion or ethnicity do throughout the world. Joel Kovel is quite openly an antisemitic kook, and anybody who doesn’t realise that has their own prejudices to deal with.

Unfortunately Derek Wall feels so secure within the current anti-Zionist-anti-Jewish climate that to a recent commenter who raised concerns about antisemitism, the green activist, writer and economist responded simply and confidently:

fuck off Zionist twat.

That is unrecognisable as politics. It is simply hateful.

Post-script – a couple of days later Sarah drew attention to this article by Mudar Zahran, and you can see that in parallel with anti-Israel activists along Derek Wall’s lines, but never intersecting, Zahran is also protesting antisemitism’s use as a smokescreen. He begins:

“The concept of the “evil Jew” has made a well-disguised comeback: Criticizing Israel and Zionists, is now deemed a legitimate option to cursing Jews and Judaism. Not only is it open, socially acceptable and legal, but it can actually bring prosperity and popularity. This new form of anti-Semitism 2.0 is well-covered-up, harder to trace and poses a much deeper danger to the modern way of life of the civilized world than the earlier crude form of it, as it slowly and gradually works on delegitimizing Jews to the point where it eventually becomes acceptable to target Jews, first verbally, then physically — all done in a cosmopolitan style where the anti-Semites are well-groomed speakers and headline writers in jackets and ties; and not just Arab, but American and European, from “sanitized” news coverage of the most bloodthirsty radicals, to charges against Israel in which facts are distorted, selectively omitted or simply untrue, as in former President Jimmy Carter’s book on Israel.

Why would a Palestinian be writing this? The answer is simple: The Palestinians have been used as fuel for the new form of anti-Semitism; this has hurt the Palestinians and exposed them to unprecedented and purposely media-ignored abuse by Arab governments, including some of those who claim love for the Palestinians, yet in fact only bear hatred to Jews. This has resulted in Palestinian cries for justice, equality, freedom and even basic human rights being ignored while the world getting consumed with delegitimizing Israel from either ignorance or malice.”

Read on.

Update 1: see Shami Chakrabati’s recent observations about the apolitical, pejorative, and antisemitic use of the word ‘Zionist’.

Update 2: Modernity has more on some dodgy far right and antisemitic Green associations. Come the day we turn our backs on this stuff.


3 thoughts on “Antisemitism is a smokescreen

  1. Pingback: Derek Wall, Joel Kovel And The Green Party. « ModernityBlog

  2. Rangjan

    This is interesting but I followed the links and read around this and it seems that you made at least 2 mistakes:
    (1) Someone can reject Judaism as a religion but not be “anti-Jewish”.
    (2) Wall was provoked by a troll who he assumed was a Zionist. It doesn’t follow that he was being anti-semetic by calling the troll a “Zionist twat”.

    1. Mira Vogel Post author


      “Someone can reject Judaism as a religion but not be “anti-Jewish””
      I’d contest that. Someone can decide not to become an adherent of Judaism but espouse a live-and-let-live attitude. Nobody would suggest such a person was anti-Jewish. Someone can decide they do not like this or that aspect of one of the denominations of a Judaism. There might be a fight, but the very act of distinction problematises anybody calling them antisemitic. But single out Judaism as a whole for special condemnation as if it were a harm, and make a project of it? That’s antisemitism. It may seem mundane these days, but nevertheless, it’s antisemitism.

      “Wall was provoked by a troll who he assumed was a Zionist.”
      A former principal speaker “provoked” into an aggressive outburst by an anonymous poster making a single brief comment – the very first comment of a discussion thread under a blog post? A most unstatesmanlike short fuse, for a start. For seconds, there was nothing to identify the poster as Zionist, and to assume that s/he is to say that the only reason to disagree with the cultural boycott of Israel is a Zionist agenda. That is prejudice talking. When Wall uses the term as a cuss word, he’s cussing out something close to the hearts of most of the world’s Jews. Moreover to use the post-Holocaust Jewish state nationalist project as a cuss word is to deny any case for it whatsoever. You can disagree with the Jewish state nationalist project, but to both single it out among other state nationalisms (e.g. Scottish, Palestinian) and treat it as pernicious? Not good.


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