Separating anti-Semitism from Anti-Zionism

By Lillian Rosengarten | (Informed Comment) | – –

The distinction between Zionism and Judaism remains in constant need of clarification and discussion. Fanatics closed to discussion believe in their moral superiority and create political terror so as to silence and deny. The charge of “delegitimizing Israel “ requires one to question what the Israeli government is hiding and whether Israel has not delegitimized itself through decades of illegal human rights abuses. I believe these abuses have contributed profoundly to the rise of true anti-Semitism in the world today.

Propaganda has successfully blurred the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. With adeptness and manipulation they have succeeded in spreading a form of fear to Europe and the United States. Use of the Holocaust as propaganda also invites fear and hysteria.

Netanyahu drew thunderous applause (speaking before the US congress) that followed the words loudly proclaimed as if he owned them: “Never Again.” I felt sick as he spoke of the deadly rise of anti-Semitism, a hatred of Jews bound together with the destruction of Israel. “Never Again,” a powerful and highly charged statement, was used here to create a lie in the suppression of the crimes of Israeli Zionism, covered up and justified as a means to “defend itself.”

What? To defend itself from a repeat of Hitler’s progrom to rid Europe of all Jews? Is that the vision of a Jewish State only, a place of safety for Jews to be protected from a hostile world, with walls, and born from the blood of apartheid and ethnic cleansing? Is this not insanity to pursue an agenda with complete disregard to human values except for Jews?

Now as Europe and the United States struggle to wake up, to question the blind support of Israel, those who speak out and say “No,” continue to be vilified. Israel’s shouts of “anti-Semite” are attempts to drown dissent. Can one really believe there still exists the possibility of another incarnation of the Nazi Holocaust? Zionist Jews in the US express fear of such an occurrence and see the “Israeli Jewish State” as the solution to extinction. Is this not reinforced by fear tactics created by a government intent to manipulate and frighten through the abuse of the memory of the Holocaust?

It is not difficult to observe the strong emotional responses, particularly in Jews and Germans, upon hearing reference to the ashes of the Holocaust as a justification for Israel to “defend itself. ” Germany continues to suffer from guilt of its Nazi past that has prevented a humanitarian response to the Israeli occupation. Instead Germany remains complicit with Israeli victim propaganda and the endless crisis of human rights violations and a half -century of Palestinian occupation. “Never again” can only be a cry against nationalism and racism in any form that leads to degradation and violence. To use this statement for personal aggrandizement is an affront to the victims of the Holocaust.

We observe how the memory of the Holocaust has been ignited as cries of “anti-Semite” increase and create fear. Useful for the purpose of taking the focus off internal brutal assaults, land stealing, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, it is an Israeli distortion in my view, to justify the actions of the Zionist government. It creates fear and provides strength to the dream of a Jewish state only. True anti-Semites hate Jews. Rising up against Israel is about standing against an ideological, nationalistic and racist government.

I feel particularly as Jews we have a responsibility to remain vigilant and to speak out against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The pursuit of a just society is a fundamental concept of Judaism, which teaches involvement and concern with the plight of our fellow human beings. Every life is sacred and we are obligated to do what we can to help others. The Torah states, “neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.“ (Lev. 19:16) There is nothing anti-Semitic about speaking out against the suffering perpetrated on the lives of Palestinians.

Lillian Rosengarten is the author of “Survival and Conscience: From The Shadows Of Nazi Germany To The Jewish Boat To Gaza” (Just World Books 2015)
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5 Responses

  1. “The manipulative use of the charge of “anti-semite” is being used to counter moral objection to instances of Israel’s despicable behavior. The meanings of language evolve from de-facto usage, not from authoritative definition, therefore, by it’s use to shield immoral behavior, the meaning of “anti-semite” will gradually come to be accepted as “against immoral behavior”.

  2. I hope this courageous article rising from the Jewish Community itself does not instead fall to earth in silence. Thank you Dr. Cole for publishing it. And thank you Alec for the redefinition of “anti-Semite”. It is perfectly appropriate in this context.

    I don’t pretend to speak for the for the scholarly community, but I’ve read in this field virtually every day for decades. I’m convinced that the situation has grown so dire and the threat of a protracted new Israeli war against Hezbollah and perhaps the Lebanese Army is so dangerous that not taking measures to preempt it will be negligent and will do great damage to the United States.

    Twice before the Israeli Zionists have indulged huge spasms of ethnic cleansing, in 1947-48 and 1967. The period since 1967 has continued the latter in slow motion. It is not a separate event. Despite subterfuge their intent has not changed. Both times the associated wars were used as covers for those crimes and as justifications for criminal behaviour, a pattern which has not changed a bit. Planning for it went back a decade before Israel declared her independence.

    The new knife intifada and recent events on the northern border are very unlikely to pass without massive retaliation. And the question will be whether it will include mass expulsion of the Palestinian People into surrounding countries. That is the nightmare scenario which must be keeping Barack Obama awake at night. Once it’s begun the problems facing us will escalate exponentially.

    The American People and their Administration not only have interests in stanching a new regional conflagration which could involve Turkey and Saudi Arabia too, but obvious duties to do their best to prevent it. To use the military analogy this means a political and legal counter-offensive here in the U.S. and in the UN. Below is a law journal article about five years old. It evaluates the weaknesses in FARA enforcement which would need to be faced to force registration upon AIPAC. As I read it, the greatest difficulty would be a certain amount of rejiggering of the attitude, funding, and manpower allocations inside the Justice Department. That’s a matter of administration and discipline. It is not a prohibitive failure of the black letter of FARA itself. It’s really pretty simple. You just enforce the law in the interests of protecting American democracy if nothing else and fight it to the bitter end without fears about the outcome.

    link to law.upenn.edu.pdf

    Then come European economic sanctions based on a landmark new UNSC Resolution declaring the independence of Palestine which we do not veto.

    Technically that’s pretty simple too. And we have a truly brilliant statesman in the Whitehouse now which we haven’t had since the early 1960s. We have no real choice but to rely upon him to do the right things to protect us and our democracy.

  3. Can one really believe there still exists the possibility of another incarnation of the Nazi Holocaust?

    Yes, easily. Count the number of genocides since the end of WWII. What about that number makes you certain that more won’t occur?

  4. “I feel particularly as Jews we have a responsibility to remain vigilant and to speak out against the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The pursuit of a just society is a fundamental concept of Judaism…………………………………”

    B’tselem, the Jewish human rights organization that investigates Israeli government human rights violations against both Jews and Palestinians, had their Jerusalem office building today burn in a suspected arson. Firemen are evacuating persons trapped on upper floors.

  5. Racism, violence and slaughter in Israel/Palestine must end. The US, Germany and the UN are needed to assist Israel to dismantle the occupation. What will it take before hope is lost?

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