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Israel has finally made anti-Semitism an empty slogan

June 13, 2024 at 8:30 am

People, including a young woman holding a sign that reads: ‘Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism,’ chant slogans and carry Palestinian flags as they arrive at Potsdamer Platz during a “Freedom for Palestine” protest march that drew thousands of participants on November 04, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

Many people in the Global South think Israel has hijacked the Holocaust and over-politicised it for its own political purposes since its creation in 1948. People in the South do not really share the burden of guilt over what Christian Europeans did to the Jewish people and their collaborators across the continent.

Indeed, Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews but it also murdered another estimated five million non Jews including Gypsies, Roma, Slavs, disabled people and homosexuals. Historically, the German State has a long history of mass murder, long before Hitler appeared – and its colonial history from Namibia to Tanzania, testify to such atrocities. This is one of the reasons why the term “Holocaust” hardly invokes the emotions it does in Europe, for example. Victims of colonialism in the Global South see not only Western double standards and hypocrisy, but also an attempt to isolate their colonial victims from others and forget about them. The majority of Africans, for instance, see the Palestinian issue as, basically, a colonial issue committed by the victims of the Holocaust against innocent Palestinians with many analogies to the African liberation struggle.

But, over the years, the term “Holocaust” became synonymous to refer only, and exclusively, to Jewish victims, while ignoring the others. This fact, well supported and propagated by Israel’s Western allies, made the entire Jewish tragedy a private matter not to be likened or compared to any other—limiting if not denying solidarity altogether.

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Instead of the Holocaust being commemorated around the world as a human tragedy perpetrated by war criminals, it became an Israeli instrument used to invoke sympathy and shame others. Anyone daring to criticise Israeli policies and practices is likely to be named and shamed as a “Holocaust denier” and, above all, anti-Semitic—the modern all-encompassing term, or silver bullet, rather, that could lead to the ending of careers and even dismissal from school!

Israel has over-instrumentalised the Holocaust to justify its own existence and everything it does to defend herself. It claims to be the rightful and only inheritor of the Jewish tragedy, giving itself a total monopoly on the use of the term and how it is used. For example, Israel will get very upset and likely to react with extreme rage if anyone, even incidentally, compared the Holocaust as a mass murder exercise to other mass murders around the world—let alone in Palestine.

Under the leadership of a Polish illegal immigrant and criminal named Menachem Begin, who served as prime minister from 1977 to 1981, Israel and its Western backers perfected the art of deceptive and insincere use of the Holocaust, Shoah in Hebrew,  as a way to justify everything Israel does to its enemies, including individuals who happen to oppose its polices.

Out of the manipulative and insincere invoking of the Holocaust at every difficult turn Israel faces,  came the other much more dangerous and dehumanising term: anti-Semitism, which has recently been used on an almost daily basis in the context of the Israeli genocide in Gaza which has killed nearly 40,000 people, and counting.

The over-use of “anti-Semitism” to describe any individual, state and world organisation, including the United Nations, made the term more of an empty slogan used to intimidate and bully others into silence. Even practicing faithful Jews risk becoming accused of being “self-haters” if they speak against Israel’s horrendous crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Criticising its occupation of parts of Lebanon and Syria is also a red line.

Abba Eban, a well-known Israeli South African- born scholar and diplomat, fed up with the depletive deployment of the Holocaust term against critiques, once said that “It is about time that we [Israelis] stand on our own feet and not on those of the six million dead.”

While Ben Gurion, founding father of Israel, once described the Holocaust victims as being “human debris” reflecting that same fact – a little harsher, though – as Abba Eban, that over-invoking the Holocaust is not going to serve Israel any better than calling adversaries as anti-Semitics.

In the context of the current Israeli mass murder in Gaza, Western elites and governments’ first reaction was to grant it unequivocal support for its claim of self defence, despite killing thousands upon thousands of Palestinian children. These hypocritical elites, in their blind support for Israel would quickly deploy the magical term “anti-Semitism” against any counter views and, to further shield Israel from any blame, they would not hesitate in invoking Nazism and its crimes against the Jewish people.

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Israeli leaders, in their first reaction to Hamas’s daring attack on 7 October, came out not only comparing Hamas to Nazis and its leaders to Hitler, but they referred to the Torah and went beyond that by calling the entire Palestinians population in Gaza as human animals and deserving to die, simply because they are only sub-humans but also because they attacked the very country that is home to Holocaust survivors—simply anti-Semites.

According to Israel’s wider understanding of itself and its own identity, every Jew, wherever in the world, should be Zionist first, Israeli second, Jewish third and a citizen of another country last. On top of that, he or she should always be ready to call adversaries or other differing views as “anti-Semitic” and Jew-hating, even if expressed in very neutral and debatable settings.

This makes the idea of loyalty to Israel supreme to any other loyalty, making the Jews in America, for example, or elsewhere, a singled out community and always suspected and targeted.

All European countries have some severe laws criminalising all sorts of anti-Semitism, yet these very laws actually help inflame the anti-Jews feelings. This is to reinforce the bizarre notion, peddled by President Biden himself, that no Jew is safe had it not been for the creation of Israel!

Yet, the frantic overuse of the charge of anti-Semite is not as frightening and terrifying as it used to be, particularly in Europe, simply because people have seen and experienced how Israel deliberately twists the meaning of the charge to silence dissent, even within its own borders.

The amount of lies, misrepresentation of facts and fake news that Israeli propaganda has been producing since 7 October, made more people distrustful of Israel than before, leading to more anti- Jewish emotions expressed in different ways, thanks to Israel’s own deeds and policies.

Yet, Israel is complaining about the rise of anti-Semitism expressions in Europe and beyond, while always playing the poor victim, forgetting that its blank use of the term “anti Semitism” contributes  a great deal towards the anti-Jewish sentiments which are, undeniably, on the rise given the daily massacres of Palestinians.

By inking this article, I will not be surprised if some readers will label me as “anti-Semitic” or “Holocaust denier” or Jew hater or all the three charges together!

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