This is a subject that won’t go away, and however much I read about it, there always seem to be yet another case, yet another article or yet another tweet, where the writers or speakers either deny that they are antisemitic or put the blame for antisemitism on the Jews themselves. Israel too, as “the Jew among the nations” is a convenient scapegoat and in the modern post-colonial era it is common to blame her actions, and at times her very existence, for antisemitism.
I present here some recent cases illustrating my point.
At the first-ever UN conference on antisemitism, Saudi Arabia (!) blamed Israel for the rise in antisemitism:
“Colonization and occupation fuels antisemitism… occupation is an act of antisemitism. It threatens human rights and human kind,” said Saudi Arabian ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi, who spoke on behalf of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Countries.
Al-Mouallimi also condemned all words and acts that lead to “to hatred, antisemitism, Islamophobia.”
Why bring up Islamophobia in a conference about antisemitism? That was surely intended to minimize Jewish suffering. It is gratifying to note Ban Ki-Moon’s words, though I doubt that anyone at the UN is really taking them to heart:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon struck a different tone, arguing that “grievances about Israeli actions must never be used as an excuse to attack Jews.”
Even more impressively, US Ambassador Samantha Power spoke strongly about the oldest hatred:
US Ambassador Samantha Power, noting that nearly two-thirds of religion-driven hate crimes in the US target Jews, said the world must take action against “this monstrous global problem.”
“When the human rights of Jews are repressed, the rights of other religious and ethnic groups are often not far behind,” Power said.
As mentioned above, Ban Ki-Moon’s un-politcally correct but welcome words notwithstanding, Hillel Neuer of UN Watch says that while the antisemitism conference is welcome, the UN must examine its own actions as a contributor to antisemitism:
At the last special UN session on anti-Semitism, held in 2004, Kofi Annan criticized the UNGA’s negative role in “equating Zionism with racism,” acknowledging that “the United Nations’ record on anti-Semitism has at times fallen short of our ideals.”
Yet according to new data released today exclusively by UN Watch, the UN General Assembly this year has continued to demonize Israel, subjecting it to 20 condemnatory resolutions, compared to only three on the rest of the world combined, being one each on Iran, Syria and North Korea.
“If the UN is truly serious about combating anti-Semitism, then it must internalize the French Prime Minister’s warning about how the demonization of the Jewish state leads to hatred and violence against Jews,” said Neuer.
In the media, Sky News outrageously suggested that Jews fuel antisemitism – on Holocaust Memorial Day! With pictures of Gaza in the background rather than of the concentration camps. This takes chutzpah to levels of which the UN would be proud. CifWatch reports:
Sky News reporter Adam Boulton asked Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis three separate times if Israel causes antisemitism, during a short interview conducted on International Holocaust Memorial Day. As Boulton was interviewing Mirvis about the significance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, viewers saw video in the background of Palestinians in the rubble of Gaza during the summer war, under the headline: “Auschwitz remembered”.
Here’s a screenshot from a YouTube clip of part of the interview:
Additionally, as Chief Rabbi Mirvis attempted to point out, the Sky News reporter got it completely backwards. It is the extreme antisemitic ideology of Hamas – whose charter calls for the murder of Jews – which continues to fuel the continued violence.
More broadly, Israel doesn’t cause antisemitism.
Rather, Israel serves as an alibi by anti-Semites to deflect the charge that they are racist towards Jews.
BBC Watch reports on a disgusting tweet by the BBC itself when it tweeted “maybe it’s time the Holocaust should be laid to rest”. i.e. why don’t you Jews just stop whinging?
In fact, the provocative question posed in that promotion was not the “one big question” discussed in the edition of the programme … No less contentious than the wording of that tweet was the fact that the programme’s subject matter was allowed to be exploited for opportunistic promotion of political propaganda by Nira Yuval-Davis of the University of East London.
“And part of the problem that we see is that on the one hand we see how Israel is using – very cynically unfortunately – this very important memory of the Holocaust. […]
[…] the fact [is] that the prime minister of Israel, whenever there is a diplomatic visit, he’s taking people to Yad Vashem – the memorial museum – and in order to show them this [is] what happened to Jews in the Holocaust as a preventative measure for any critique of Israeli policies.”
The BBC Watch article explains tht Nira Yuval-Davis, despite her Israeli name, is an outright anti-Zionist BDS activist. There is also a video of the program if you have the stomach to watch.
Honest Reporting too weighs in on the matter.
How did the original question, “could something like this happen again?” and the stated emphasis of the program change so drastically? That it has indicates something insidious within the BBC.
In light of this and Tim Willcox’s appalling questions to the child of a Holocaust survivor, it seems that insensitivity is something that the BBC is getting rather good at.
HR Managing Editor Simon Plosker adds:
What or who exactly does the BBC want to lay to rest? Holocaust survivors? The memory of six million Jewish victims of Nazi genocide? …
The BBC originally asked could something like the Holocaust happen again. Asking whether people should forget about the Holocaust could very well increase the possibility of it happening again.
The Guardian meanwhile (no surprise there) has a blind spot when spotting antisemitism, even when talking about the Holocaust!
The official Jan. 27th Guardian editorial on the significance of commemorating the anniversary of the camp’s liberation seems determined to honor the memory of the Jewish victims, yet appears at a loss to explain why they were murdered, and thus fails in the most important task of any serious meditation on the Holocaust: what moral lessons we must learn.
First, note the gratuitous swipe at Israel.
Though they acknowledge that “a people who came close to extinction cannot be blamed for not wanting to put their fate ever again in other hands”, editors nonetheless can’t resist accusing unnamed Israeli leaders of “exploiting” the Holocaust.
Here too, Honest Reporting spots how the Guardian blames Israel for antisemitism:
So The Guardian infers that Israeli leaders have sometimes abused and exploited the Holocaust to excuse Israeli actions. The Guardian then excuses the Arab refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the Middle East by inferring that the creation of the modern State of Israel was a result of European guilt over the Holocaust rather than the inevitable self-determination of an indigenous people in their homeland.
For all the lip service paid to Jewish suffering, The Guardian cannot disguise its anti-Israel dogma and its role in promoting the very conditions of vulnerability that Jews in Europe today find themselves in.
It’s depressing to think that 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, antisemitism is both growing stronger and becoming more fashionable in polite circles than ever before. What is even more disheartening is the blame-the-victim attitude of the anti-Semites. You would think that if they feel so strongly about the Jews they would be happy to “own” their hate and proudly admit it. But no, they have to try to deny it for the sake of their own (im)moral conscience and blame the Jews for the hatred that the anti-Semites pour on their heads.