Jennifer Oriel, Anti-Semitism’s licit disguise on the Left, February 17. 2016, The Australian
Anti-Semitism’s licit disguise on the Left
The success of Labor rationalists in thwarting a ban on politicians’ travel to Israel provides welcome relief from the standard irrationality of the Socialist International on foreign affairs.
In a stymied motion, Labor Friends of Palestine sought to ban MPs’ and Young Labor members’ subsidised travel to Israel. Biased agitation against the Israeli state is a chief characteristic of the new anti-Semitism, where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is invoked to justify hostility towards Jews and resurrect racist stereotypes while avoiding prosecution under anti-racism legislation.
Anti-Semitism is a type of racism denounced readily in the West when associated with neo-nazism, or the far Right. But the new anti-Semitism is more consistent with socialist agitation against liberal democratic statehood; it is to threaten the existence of Jews by denying the legitimacy of the Israeli state.
Recent research conducted by the Melbourne-based Online Hate Prevention Institute measured the new Jew hatred in its report Measuring the Hate: The State of Anti-Semitism in Social Media. OHPI found Twitter played host to the greatest volume of anti-Semitic material. While 49 per cent was classified as traditional anti-Semitism, comprising racial slurs and conspiracy theory, 34 per cent reflected the newer form.
Seventy years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism should have been eradicated. Instead, it is on the rise. There was a 61 per cent increase in anti-Semitic activity in London last year.
A Brandeis University survey found nearly 75 per cent of Jewish students in US colleges had experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism.
Much Jew hatred on campus finds political legitimacy in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and other expressions of hostility to the existence of Israel.
Members of the international Left present the new anti-Semitism as a rational critique of Israeli state policy, invariably viewed as punitive to Palestinians. Yet they offer simultaneous support for the policy of Islamist regimes, such as Hamas, that seek the annihilation of Israel, while claiming to be social justice warriors, untroubled by the cognitive dissonance apparent.
Thus, the Australian Greens support Gaza without challenging its governance under Hamas, which incites genocide, persecutes gays, subjugates women and conducts extrajudicial executions.
In the most recent anti-Semitic statement from Gaza, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar calls for the forcible removal of Jews from Palestine. Using the academic parlance of postcolonialism, Hamas officials label Jews “occupiers” and encourage Palestinian youth to rise up against them.
Led by a coalition of European socialists and Greens, the EU also has called for recognition of Palestine without stipulating the illegitimacy of Hamas.
Emboldened by its success in the European parliament, the red-Green alliance is articulating its allegiance to Islamism and the new anti-Semitism more openly.
At their conference last year, the Scottish Greens called for Hamas to be removed from international terrorist lists, labelling Israel the “racist apartheid” state.
In November, Dutch Socialist Party chairman Jan Marijnissen blamed the Paris jihadist attacks on the Israeli conflict with Palestine.
The irrationality of Europe’s red-Green coalition against Israel is reflected in Australian politics, where the Greens and Labor Left readily distort reality in gross displays of contemporary anti-Semitism.
The failed BDS campaign championed by campus activists, socialists and Greens was superseded by the “What is the cost of a free trip to Israel” campaign, associated with the now failed Labor motion. It gained traction on Facebook among groups such as the Sydney Staff for BDS, the National Tertiary Education Union Members for BDS and the Australian Palestinian Professionals Association.
The APPA hosted the notorious event at which former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr railed against politicians travelling to Israel on the urgings of “the lobby”. Carr said a politician was elected to the NSW upper house: “And the lobby was in his door offering him an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. It’s disgraceful.”
Before the Carr event, the APPA recommended on Facebook a YouTube clip with the national anthem of Palestine accompanied by the text: “Long live Palestine. Palestine will regain it’s (sic) hounor (sic) and Jerusalm (sic) will be the capital and Al Aqsa will (be in) danger no longer and the world will see that (I)srael will have to pay for all (its) deeds painfully.”
The state of Israel is a living testament to Jewish survival. It is proof positive against the anti-Semitic conspiracies proliferating online that reduce Jews to subhuman status. The success of the Jewish people, their extraordinary rise from centuries of genocide to successful statehood, should be regarded as a triumph of enlightened humanity.
Instead, a new alliance of Islamists and the socialist Left has embarked on a course of anti-Semitism that seeks to deny Jews their hard-won homeland. Israel is not immune to bad policy and no state is above criticism, but we should regard attacks on its core legitimacy as an attack on the perpetuity of the Jewish people. There is no room for the new anti-Semitism in our new century.
Jennifer Oriel is speaking on How to Challenge Media Bias, at the Beth Weizmann Centre, Melbourne, this evening.