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How Israel weaponises anti-Semitism to block Middle East peace

Israeli soldiers keep watch near the Separation Wall in the West Bank [Apaimages]
Israeli soldiers keep watch near the Separation Wall in the West Bank [Apaimages]

One of Israel’s most powerful weapons against the voices of Palestinian rights has been the exploitation of Jewish history — the Holocaust included — to justify its own atrocities against non-Jews. The Holocaust is undeniably one of the worst human tragedies in human history, an evil horror in which Nazis sought to cleanse the world of Jews and their religion.

The hatred that fuelled Nazi atrocities before and during World War Two were undoubtedly driven by anti-Semitism. Since then, though, anti-Semitism has been weaponised by Israel, not just to confront the Holocaust deniers, the neo-Nazis and the hate filled anti-Semites, but also to undermine the righteous movement of justice to restore the inalienable rights of Christians and Muslims in Palestine.

Any criticism of Israel is now being denounced as “anti-Semitism”. The specious accusation has become wrapped-up in the American national debate against, ironically, increasing numbers of “hate crimes”. Why? Because pro-Israel lobbyists want Americans to close their eyes to Israel’s rejection of the universal principles of human rights when it comes to Palestinians.

The pro-Israel lobby asserts that the state is “singled out” for criticism, above the grievances against all other nations, but that is simply not true. Israel is the only nation that claims to be a “democracy” and bastion of freedom while engaging actively in Apartheid-style racism and discriminating against some of its own citizens and other people because of their race and religion.

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This phenomena is occurring on many battlefields for justice, including the USA, the government of which is critical to the empowerment and survival of Israel’s right-wing, extremist policies.

The lobby is pushing legislation in the US Congress to punish Israel’s critics, requiring anyone who wishes to do business with the American government to sign a letter stating that they do not engage in the “boycott” of the Zionist state. The phrase “boycott of Israel” is so broad it includes rejecting the rule of law, such as in opposing Israel’s illegal Jewish-only settlements, which are built on lands stolen by Israel from Christian and Muslim Palestinian civilians.

The congressional law was introduced by pro-Israel Congressman Peter Roskam, who was thrown out of office in the recent elections after serving for 12 years as Israel’s primary congressional lapdog. Roskam was rewarded for his loyalty to injustice with hundreds of thousands of dollars in pro-Israel political action committee (PAC) donations. Last year alone, Roskam received more than $175,000 in Israeli PAC contributions.

However, the Roskamesque assault is being played out in many American state legislatures where 25 have, unbelievably, adopted the same anti-Boycott requirements. Federal judges in two states, Kansas and Arizona, have declared this to be a violation of the US Constitution and the right of every American to speak out against injustice, including the injustices of a foreign country. Israeli money, though, slows down the process of justice and suppresses the efforts of those who advocate justice and true democracy.

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Recently, the mainstream media has been focused on terrible incidents of hate and anti-Semitism. Many reports showcase examples of how the US Neo-Nazi movement has empowered and enabled violence against Jews, African-Americans, gays and other minorities. Rarely mentioned among the victims are Arabs and Muslims, who are also targets of this “alt-Right” resurgence.

Incredibly, openly pro-Nazi sympathisers have run for public office in American elections; in Illinois, for example, one pro-Nazi candidate received more than 56,000 votes, 29 per cent of those cast in the 3rd Illinois Congressional District. What could motivate more than 56,000 Americans to cast votes for an avowed Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathiser?

The election results reflect the success that Israel has in using twisted accusations of anti-Semitism to stifle pro-Palestinian advocacy. Israel is distorting hate and twisting the true meaning of hate and anti-Semitism, by diluting Nazi hatred against minorities including Arabs and Muslims. Israel will do anything to undermine pro-Palestinian activists who challenge its obvious human rights violations.

I believe that hate is increasing in America precisely because pro-Israel activists are weaponising hate and anti-Semitism to undermine the fight for Palestinian justice. Instead of helping Israel, though, the strategy is backfiring, as does all injustice that challenges the international rule of law.

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The line is so blurred that Americans can no longer distinguish between real hatred and justice, which might explain why more than 56,000 Americans — whose parents and grandparents fought against Nazism during World War Two —supported an avowed anti-Semite and Nazi sympathiser.

This is happening across America. In California recently, politicians pandering to Israel and its PACs denounced the University of California (UCLA) for allowing the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) society to hold a convention there this week.

SJP is being falsely accused of promoting “anti-Semitic views” but the truth is that the students are a clarion call identifying injustices and immoral abuses that many Americans, including politicians, have chosen to ignore in deference to Israel. It’s hard to imagine, but true, that in America you can vote for a Nazi running for public office, but be punished if you criticise a foreign government that embraces Apartheid hatred and empowers racist injustice against Palestinians and other non-Jews.

You can choose to credit the neo-Nazis for their campaign achievements in winning record numbers of votes. Or you can put the blame where it belongs, on the shoulders of pro-Israel activists who exploit racism, hatred and anti-Semitism for their own selfish political agenda. We need to acknowledge that Israel is weaponising anti-Semitism in order to block Middle East peace and justice.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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