I am encouraged by this article, not only because it lucidly rebuffs the equating of Palestinian activism with Antisemitism but also because it appeared on a University website (in Connecticut, USA).
It is important that these discussions take place on University campuses, and it is important that free speech be given full reign in these contexts. Students must be encouraged to pursue the truth about Israel/Palestine without being pilloried as racists for doing so!
Pro-Palestine does not mean anti-Semitic
By Omar Allam
The screams of an Israeli Air Force fighter jet ricochet through the barren lands of Gaza, as the sounds of explosions reverberate off the bones of 11 Palestinian children and women, who were charred to death during the air strike.
Almost 50 miles away in Tel Aviv, the Israeli military stated the target was a terrorist militant group in Gaza.
This was reported by the Huffington Post.
These air strikes were another part of the Israeli deterrence policy to create extreme preventive punishment and make any attack or retaliation too costly. U.S. media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza portrayed the war as an “endless conflict between two foreign entities” and claimed that Israel is justifiably “defending itself,” according to The Guardian.
One can only condemn the violence, as it is never the answer to any issue.
Nonetheless, western media has focused so much attention on Israel, and has ignored the Palestinian perspective on the apartheid system in the contested territory, that Americans have associated Palestinians as a terrorists and Palestinian support with anti-Semitism.
But, is someone really anti-Jewish if you criticize Israel?
To answer such a question, one would need to discuss the issue with a follower of the Jewish religion.
Stanley Heller is a semi-retired schoolteacher, and he is also a Jew. Heller, like most people, has no tolerance for Anti-Semitism. It “is a hideous crime; it’s a stupid blind hatred,” Heller said.
As Executive Director of the 30-year-old Middle East Crisis Committee, Heller also is a firm supporter in equality and human rights for all.
He explained that, “Jews were once viewed as inferiors, sub-humans, disturbers of the peace and not only by Nazis, but by lots of people and, ironically, Palestinians are facing the same type of discrimination, today.”
In Israel, there is “an ever-deepening apartheid. … Palestinians are being driven away from their homes. In addition, there is aggressiveness against any type of resistance, violent and non-violent,” Heller said. Palestinians are now confined to walled ghettos.
In Gaza, they’re subjected to a blockade of essential basic necessities, and are facing economic sanctions placed by Israel.
Heller, however, is not the only Jew advocating for basic human rights for Palestinians. There are many Jewish groups pushing for Palestinian human rights such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism, Rabbis for Human Rights, etc.
A cable released by Wikileaks showed that the officials in U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv wrote, “as part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed (…) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”
The vidence supporting human right violations against Israel is overwhelming; nonetheless there has been limited coverage over the worsening human rights conditions that Palestinians face.
Adam Antar, founder of the Students for Justice in Palestine, a newly founded organization on campus, stated, “the asymmetrical burden of casualties on the part of the Palestinians is one of the most widely acknowledged injustices across the globe. There is nothing racist about advocating for peace and justice for the Palestinians, who have been targeted simply for their existence and identity. In fact, criticizing Israeli policies supports equality and combats racism.”
The state of Israel has laws dictating the segregation of Palestinians from Israelis pertaining to where they can work, where they can live, to what bus they can get on. Similar laws were created in the post-Civil War era in the U.S. to ensure the denomination of African Americans. The Civil Rights movement is justifiably the story of our greatest American heroes, those who stood up for equality and justice. But when Palestinians try to stand up for the same goals, they are labeled as troublemakers, terrorists, and racists.
So to the question, “is someone really Anti-Jewish if he or she criticizes Israel?” The answer is clearly no.
This is an important essay by Gilad Atzmon. Certainly his central claim – that the Palestinian solidarity movement is being hijacked by a Judeo-centric agenda – will be more true in some areas than others.
There will always remain some groups that are outrightly anti-Semitic. Even so, Atzmon is surely correct – that the Zionist narrative that so dominates mainline media has had a significant influence in shaping Palestinian activism worldwide.
Is there a path back? Atzmon hopes so, but he doesn’t give us any details as to where to start.
Time for Palestine solidarity to liberate itself
By Gilad Atzmon
The Palestine solidarity movement is being hijacked and forced to swallow a Judaeo-centric agenda that has nothing to do with the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland from which they were ethnically cleansed.
Palestine solidarity activists are increasingly required to subscribe to the Judaeo-centric notion that Jews and Jewish suffering are uniquely special; that Jews alone are like no other people; that the Jewish holocaust is like no other genocide; and that racism comes in degrees of vileness depending on who the victims are, with anti-Semitism being worse than any other form of racism because it targets Jews.
Conversely, according to this Judaeo-centric worldview, when it comes to the Palestinians the exact opposite is the case.
We are expected to believe that, unlike the Jews, the Palestinians are not special at all and are just like everyone else. Palestinians, we are now required to believe, are not the victims of a unique, racist, nationalist and expansionist Jewish nationalist movement. Instead, we are told to agree that, as with Native Americans and Africans, the ordeal of the Palestinian people is the result of run-of-the-mill 19th century colonialism – just more of the same old boring apartheid.
So, we are instructed to swallow the racist notion that Jews, Zionists and Israelis are exceptional, like no one else, while Palestinians are always, somehow, ordinary, always part of some greater political narrative, always just like everyone else. Their suffering is never due to the particularity of Jewish nationalism, Jewish racism or even the domination of US foreign policy by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). No, the Palestinian is always the victim of a dull, banal dynamic – general, abstract and totally lacking in particularity.
read the rest of this article here: http://www.redressonline.com/2013/03/time-for-palestine-solidarity-movement-to-liberate-itself/
Father Roy writes:
Peers, the article pasted below has been published in Israeli newspapers. Alan Dershowitz has made a very serious charge. An accusation of this magnitude cannot be swept under a rug. Is there any truth in what Dershowitz is saying? Is there any truth in what Cardinal Maradiaga is reported to have said?
Peers, this matter cannot be allowed to fester. Let’s do some independent research: Who controls the media?
Alan Dershowitz says leading candidate for papacy is an anti-Semite
Harvard law professor says Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras blamed the Jews for scandal surrounding Catholic sex abuse, and ‘compared Jewish controlled media with Hitler’.
In a letter to the editor of the Miami Herald, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said that one of the leading candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI is an anti-Semite.
Responding to a list published last week after the resignation of Benedict, which identified Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras as a possible successor to the current pope, Dershowitz wrote: "He has blamed the Jews for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners! He has argued that the Jews got even with the Catholic Church for its anti-Israel positions by arranging for the media — which they, of course, control, he said — to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. He then compared the Jewish controlled media with Hitler, because they are ‘protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church.’"
Maradiaga, in a May 2002 interview with the Italian-Catholic publication "30 Giorni," claimed Jews influenced the media to exploit the current controversy regarding sexual abuse by Catholic priests in order to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
At the time, the Anti-Defamation League expressed public outrage at the cardinal’s comments. In a later conversation with ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, Maradiaga apologized and said he never meant for his remarks to be taken as perpetuating an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the media, and promised never to say it again.
"The Vatican has rightly called anti-Semitism a sin, and yet an unrepentant sinner is on the short list to become the leader of the Catholic Church," Dershowitz insists in his letter to the editor. "If that were to occur, all of the good work by recent popes in building bridges between the Catholic Church and the Jews would be endangered. This should not be allowed to happen."
Sonja Karkar of Australians for Palestine writes about Michael Leunig’s article, defending his cartoon, “First they came for the Palestinians …” Leunig’s article also appears below. To see the actual cartoon itself click here.
When a celebrated Australian like Michael Leunig speaks so eloquently and sensitively about the appalling situation of the Palestinian people, it does give many people pause to consider their own attitudes, long skewed against the Palestinians by decades of demonising propaganda.
Normally a man of few words, Leunig always finds a way of paring down the issues to their core to touch what is human in us. Today though he gave us more: today he explained why he cannot be silent in the face of oppression and the systematic destruction of one society by another. He may have been speaking about his moral duty as a cartoonist, but all people of conscience would have to ask themselves why they have neglected to speak in defence of a people so long maligned and so mercilessly denied justice. It will be the
beginning of the end for those perpetrating the injustices once people discover the human in themselves and refuse to quaver before the worn and age-old catch cries intended to savage reputations and ambitions and focus instead, as Leunig says, “on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.”
Sonja Karkar, Editor of australiansforpalestine.com…
Link to the original article in ‘The Melbourne Age’: www.theage.com….
Just a cartoonist with a moral duty to speak
by Michael Leunig
SEVERAL years ago I was invited to speak at Melbourne’s Jewish Museum on the subject of ”The cartoonist as society’s conscience”. I gladly accepted but within a week was informed by the museum that the invitation had been withdrawn because of my views on Israel. Although I had been somewhat critical of aggressive Israeli government policies I had never publicly outlined my broad views on Israel and was puzzled by the cancellation and bemused by the gross irony of being excluded from a discussion about conscience because I had acted with conscience in my work.
Upon reflection I wondered if an internal philosophical disagreement lay behind this peculiar cancellation. Whatever, a door had been closed to me.
I relate this tale as a backdrop to more recent circumstances in which it has been publicly inferred that I am anti-Semitic because of a cartoon I created expressing sad dismay at the plight and suffering of the Palestinians in the recent bombardment of Gaza.
As a cartoonist I am not interested in defending the dominant, the powerful, the well-resourced and the well-armed because such groups are usually not in need of advocacy, moral support or sympathetic understanding; they have already organised sufficient publicity for themselves and prosecute their points of view with great efficiency.
The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society. And the cartoonist’s task is not so much to be balanced as to give balance, particularly in situations of disproportionate power relationships such as we see in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a healthy tradition dating back to the court jester and beyond: to be the dissenting protesting voice that speaks when others cannot or will not.
My recent cartoon (“First they came for the Palestinians … “) was a lament based on the famous lines attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller that neatly highlight the way apathetic or frightened silence in the face of injustice is a dereliction of moral duty. It is interesting to note that Niemoller had been an active Nazi supporter but a decade after the war became a pacifist.
Although greatly valued in contemporary Jewish culture, the poem’s message is universal and eternal; it could apply to any oppressed group, including the Palestinians who, even with their relatively feeble rockets, are so obviously oppressed.
In spite of all the highly organised rhetoric justifying Israel’s actions, the intuitive, heartfelt moral shape of the situation is becoming clearer and more obvious to the world the longer the conflict goes on. When all is said and done, it looks like the Palestinians have been massively robbed and abused, and are engaged in a desperate struggle for survival and liberation.
Israel on the other hand would appear to be conducting an imperialistic campaign of oppression supported and substantially armed by the most powerful nation on earth. My cartoonist’s duty and conscience compel me to focus on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.
I am not against Israel but I am opposed to what I regard as its self-defeating, self-corrupting militarist policy, which is not only excessively homicidal and traumatising but sows the seeds of irreversible hatred and can never bring a lasting peace. One expects more from a prosperous democratic country. It’s as if this young nation Israel has not yet come to maturity; so delinquent, irresponsible and unwise are its actions.
I sense that the Jewish community in this country is itself increasingly divided on the question. I also suspect that the more aggressive Israel supporters fear this moral unease and quiet doubt in their community and are angered by any cartoons or commentary that might encourage such doubt. In spite of what the bullies say, I suspect they are not really upset by any “anti-Semitism” in my cartoons (there is none) but by the possible impact of a cartoon on the doubters. The better the cartoon, the more it must be discredited. What cheaper way to discredit than the toxic smear of anti-Semitism.
I am not sure whether it is legal to publicly call someone an anti-Semite without evidence but it certainly feels like hate talk to me, as well as a damaging thing to say about someone who does not agree with you. That’s often why it is said of course.
At my advanced age, I know I am not an anti-Semite, not even vaguely or remotely, but others would seem to know better as false accusers always do.
If only there was some sort of test I could sit for to clarify the situation, but there is no science to this obsessive and vapid denunciation.
It’s cynical, it’s bullying and it’s lazy. Stupidly, it’s also a case of the boys who cry wolf.
Over the years it has been implied that I am “a second degree anti-Semite”, “a new-world anti-Semite” and a “latent anti-Semite” as well as a simple old-fashioned common or garden anti-Semite. I now learn to my amazement that to make comparisons between Israeli policy and any Nazi behaviour is in itself an anti-Semitic act. So much for free speech. I say all nations that throw their military weight around, occupying neighbouring lands and treating the residents with callous and humiliating disregard are already sliding towards the dark possibilities in human nature.
My cartoons have also had me labelled a misogynist, a blasphemer, a homophobe, a royalist, a misanthrope and a traitor, to name but a few. I would sum it all up by saying: I am a cartoonist.
Michael Leunig is an Age cartoonist.