A "disgusting" claim of anti-Semitism has been made against a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust because of his solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-Canadian physician renowned for his work on trauma and addiction. On Saturday, he conducted an interview with Britain's Prince Harry during which the latter shed light on his mental health struggles and spoke about his book, Spare.
The right-wing media have been very critical of the interview, especially Harry's decision to be interviewed by Maté because of previous comments made by the 79 year-old in solidarity with Palestine. A self-declared anti-Zionist, Maté has long spoken of his journey from being a Zionist who believed in the need for a Jewish state after the Holocaust to becoming a harsh critic of the state of Israel. Many Zionist Jews have had a similar journey after discovering the brutal reality of the occupation and the violence and human rights abuses carried out to preserve Israel's system of apartheid.
Writing in 2014 following Israel's deadly military onslaught against the besieged Gaza strip, Maté spoke about how the "Beautiful Dream of Israel has Become a Nightmare". He mentioned his trip to Gaza and the West Bank where he saw multi-generational Palestinian families weeping in hospitals around the bedsides of their wounded and at the graves of their dead.
"These are not people who do not care about life" wrote the physician. "They are like us — Canadians, Jews, like anyone: they celebrate life, family, work, education, food, peace, joy. And they are capable of hatred, they can harbour vengeance in the hearts, just like we can."
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He slammed the mainstream narrative about Gaza and the media misrepresentation. "There is no understanding Gaza out of context." Although Hamas rockets are "unjustifiable", they exist within the context of "the longest ongoing ethnic cleansing operation in the recent and present centuries" and "the ongoing attempt to destroy Palestinian nationhood."
Describing Israel's ongoing settler colonialism, Maté said: "In Israel-Palestine the powerful party has succeeded in painting itself as the victim, while the ones being killed and maimed become the perpetrators."
Predictably, Mate's interview with Harry was slammed by pro-Israel groups and his past remarks in solidarity with Palestine were highlighted in order to smear him as an "anti-Semite". American news site TMZ ran with the headline "Alleged anti-Semitism afoot". The tabloid cited Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, who blasted Harry for his affiliation with Maté. Cooper told the Jewish Chronicle: "Whoever made the arrangements to have this individual appear with Prince Harry, did him no favours. If Prince Harry knew this man's record and still chose him for the interview, our Centre would criticise the prince for such an inappropriate choice."
Defending his father, Aaron Maté said on Twitter: "@TMZ and others: if you're depraved enough to suggest that Gabor Maté is 'anti-Semitic' for supporting Palestinian rights, you should at least inform your audience that he's a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust."
.@TMZ and others: if you're depraved enough to suggest that Gabor Maté is "anti-Semitic" for supporting Palestinian rights, you should at least inform your audience that he's a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. https://t.co/y3rwexWbh6 pic.twitter.com/Ch7pEYfJ4M
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) March 4, 2023
Social media users expressed solidarity with Maté and slammed the anti-Semitism smear as "disgusting".