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Anti Semitism in the Gaza protest movement?

2006: Canberra protest - Israel invades Lebanon

By Dave Riley

As sure as I've got a hole in my bum, any attempt to blame Israel for any crimes committed against the Palestinians is going to be perverted to a outraged accusation of anti-Semitism.

That scam is now rather threadbare as it is not strong enough to cover up the gross nature of the Palestinian subjugation.

But you get the same response today with squeals that the rallies world wide contain placards and the like which are indeed "anti-Semitic". So if these positions are tolerated by this movement then what sort of movement is it supposed to be?

A couple of weeks back this was indeed the topic on discussion on the GLW discussion list under a heading, Zionists as Subhuman - Ugly hate at Melb Rally.

In reply the always very astute Mike Karadjis, who has written extensively on the Middle East the Balkans, ferried this useful response onto the list.



In case there are any confused folk out there....


KISAN writes:"Stop the Sub-human Zionist Landgrabbing Barbarians Mass Murder in Palastine" reads one large banner from the event. The Neo-Nazi language so typified from Neo-Nazi Websites like Rense.com (which is a favored source of articles for some on the Muslim Brotherhood / Left Alliance like Romi in this list) is so acceptable that it can be on display with no challenge at so-called Left Wing Rally's."

Kisan also notes:
" http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Xl68kP4wo Between 3:20 - 3:40 a Headscarved Muslim Woman shouts out to some Jewish counter-demonstrators:" Go Back to the Oven, you need a big oven!"
And other such garbage (from Kisan, that is).

People should be aware that "Kisan" is a professional Islamophobe in the fullest sense of the term. Everything he has ever posted has been anti-Islamic, only. Now, of course, "Islamist" regimes or movements should be as open to criticism or condemnation as any other. So for example, he might post a message on some particularly grisly execution the Iran regime is carrying out, and such information is useful for leftists to be concerned about.

However, when it is one-sidedly anti-Islamic, it is hardly surprising that when the Zionist regime launches a monstrous murderous attack on schools, hospitals, dozens of police trainees, mosques, universities, every other conceivable piece of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, Kisan does not even have the heart, or even the brain (to save face, to pretend a little), to make any condemnation at all; as his obsession is with evil Muslims, his ONLY comment is aimed immediately at a couple of examples of quite clearly wrong anti-Jewish comments from shocked and outraged Arabs or Palestinians, in an attempt to depict the entire ovement against Israel's Nazi-style blitzkrieg as being anti-Jewish.

Let's admit it shall we Kisan: the people in Gaza are Muslims, so they deserve all their getting, don't they?

He posts a link to a demonstration somewhere in the US where one Arab or Palestinian woman responds to some Zionists across the road "Go Back to the Oven, you need a big oven!" Is this comment unacceptable, racist etc? Of course it is. It is one comment made by one person in the course of a heated shouting match. It has nothing whatever to do with the
general flavour of the protest at all, but you'd have the time to open the bloody Youtube link to find out, so anyone without the time to do that might take Kisan's spin on it (that is, anyone not aware of who he is).

What is the context of this woman's racist comment? Is it a slogan she is chanting throughout the protest, with protest organisers not doing anything about it? No. It is a demonstration by human beings positively outraged beyond comprehension by actions of the Zionist entity in turning the whole of Gaza into one big oven, and even more outraged, as the rest of us humans feel, by the total support this permanent aggressor state gets from the US govt and media, whereby the Palestinian victims are regarded to be sub-human, people who have no rights to life at all. The sheer frustration of seeing this year after year occasionally boils over in some people into unacceptable statements.

But in this case, it did not come out of nowhere, did it Kisan? Is it even possible that, while these horrified people - and we are talking about an Arabic woman at that demo, who for all we know may have relatives being blown up in Gaza - were out demonstrating against this
Nazi-style blitzkrieg, there were a group of people, reportedly human beings (and it doesn't matter what religion they were), who were demonstrating IN SUPPORT of the Israeli government, right at this point! Do you get that Kisan? Across the road, taunting these human beings, were a group of hate-filled, racist, neo-fascist scum, who could have quite easily just decided to stay home that day, but instead decided to turn up deliberately to taunt the traumatised humans and to SUPPORT frying Palestinians. It would be the exact equivalent of a Ku Klux Klan demonstration to celebrate the era of lynching in the US at a time when hundreds of black people were being massacred. You don't expect anyone to get angry that these fascists are demonstrating IN FAVOUR of Israel subjecting the Gaza Palestinians to a giant oven, and respond with some quip about ovens?

Does it justify it? Not one bit. We are socialists and do not hold Jews resposnible for the crimes of the Zionist regime, just as we don't hold al Muslims responsible for the crimes of some Islamist regimes, unlie Kisan, apparently. WE condemn the Holocaust as the greatest crime against humanity, and when we make comparisons between it and current Zionist actions, despite the obvious difference in scale, it has nothing to do with "anti-Semitism" (as if Olmert, Livni etc have ANY right at all to identify with the victims of the Holocaust), but on the contrary, it has everything to do with identifying with the victims of the Holocaust, we are identifying the plight of the Palestinians with that of Jews of the past because they are both subjects of terror and genocide. Anyone who doesn't get, I can't help you.

But to not even try to understand where stupid and racist comments like this come from shows a wilful ignorance that is hard to comprehend from anyone posing as a leftist. It seems to me that Chris Hedges might be able to explain the "terrible rage" born of terror and humiliation better than I can in this superb quote which Kisan might want to think
about:
"The use of terror and hunger to break a hostile population is one of the oldest forms of warfare. I watched the Bosnian Serbs employ the same tactic in Sarajevo. Those who orchestrate such sieges do not grasp the terrible rage born of long humiliation, indiscriminate violence and abuse. A father or a mother whose child dies because of a lack of vaccines or proper medical care does not forget. A boy whose ill grandmother dies while detained at an Israel checkpoint does not forget. A family that loses a child in an airstrike does not forget. All who endure humiliation, abuse and the murder of family members do not forget. This rage becomes a virus within those who, eventually, stumble out into the daylight. Is it any wonder that 71 percent of children interviewed at a school in Gaza recently said they wanted to be a âmartyr? [Source]


Did you understand any of that Kisan? Did you get the last sentence? That "71 percent of children interviewed at a school in Gaza recently said they wanted to be amartyrs? I guess for you that simply means they are inflicted by evil "Islamist" ideology, so when one of these
people hit by this "terrible rage" launches a suicide attack in Israel, or another clumsy rocket across "the border" (as if it isn't their country they are barred from across the "border," as most Gazans are refugees from 1948 Israel), that is just another example of "Islamist fanatacism", isn't it? Or will you learn a thing or two from Hedges eloquent article?

Of course I used this quote to give context to the minor issue of your demagogic use of a single shouting match at one demo to slam the whole movement as anti-Jewish, but of course it is more relevant to this broader issue. On which Kisan writes:
"It is strange to see the embrace by "the Left" here of the most fascist elements available, ie: Hamas (the religious fascist group) and the scorn and hatred directed against the actual left-mostly secular Fatah movement who are condemned by the reactionaries here as traitors. It is Fatah who can make peace with Israel by accepting it's existence on some portion of the current Israel and Hamas who want to wipe it out until as the Hadith in their charter says the stone will call out that a Jew is hiding behind it and a Muslim will kill him."

Kisan thinks Hamas is "fascist", but will never use that word against the Zionist entity. Hamas is of course as open to criticism as is anyone, and noone here is uncritical , though how much you concentrate on criticising at the moment when that movement is leading a fight for the very surivialof the Palestinian people is another question. But Kisan knows that the question has been debated here before, and he knows the arguments, so he is being dishonest. He knows the reason many of us became more supportive of Hamas than in the past (aside from our general suport as leaders of the Palestinian struggle) was precisely because of a number of changes Hamas made in the direction of being *less* stereotypically "Islamist," *less* "religious fascist" as he puts it, including its long term *ending* of suicide bombing (despite this never being reciprocated by Israel), its call for a long-term 'hudna' (ceasefire) with Israel if the latter agreed to internaitonal law and withdrew to its 1967 borders to allow a Palestinian state on 22% of Palestine (despite Hamas' correct belief that this can be no permanent solution), the fact that after being democratically elected, Hamas offered a coaltion with Fatah (which Fatah rejected), did not launch into any furious "Islamist" legislation or repression, did not enforce chador, formed alliances with left-wing Palestinian factions, stood a Christian on its election slate, and made clear that Jews were not the enemy and that all three "people of the book" could share the land, and so on. Never mind, all of this is just window dressing for Hamas to deceive gullible leftists, because we are such a strong force that we can help it prevail so that it can then enslave the world.

As for our "hatred" against Fatah "who can make peace with Israel by accepting it's xistence on some portion of the current Israel", this reveals your lack of sense re this issue. Fatah and the PLO accepted a Palestinian state on 22% of Palestine with Arafat's speech to the UN in 1974 and Israel has rejected it forever, and has continually made it impossible, has continually annexed massive chunks of the occupied territories with its colonies ("settlements"), is continually expelling Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem, and you think Fatah can make peace with Israel, as if it is in Fatah's hands rather than Israel's hands? By "accepting it's existence on some portion of the current Israel"? Do you have any idea what you are talking about at all? What "portion"? Since Fatah has long, long ago accepted Israel on 78% of Palestine but Israel has never reciprocated, since even Hamas, despite your dishonest propaganda about its aims, has accepted a 'hudna' with Israel on 78% of Palestine, meaning that the remaining issues can be worked out peacefully, which "portion" should they accept? Do you mean Fatah might accept the Israeli version of "two states," the separated Palestinian bantustans on about half the occupied territories, about 12% of Palestine, as was offered Arafat by Clinton and Barack in 2000? But Arafart correctly rejected this. Is Arafat also an extremist? Abbas is criticised here for things like blaming Israel's current massacre on Hamas rather than on Israel, something Arafat would not have done, whatever his errors. He is also cricised for taking US arms and money to overthrow the Hamas government that was democratically elected by the Palestinian people, whatever the errors of Hamas, and regardless of what many of us might think about Hamas and Fatah on paper..

Of course, this will fall on deaf ears from you, and I've said far too much in response to a Muslim-eating troll like yourself. However, hopefully some of these points are useful in case there are any confused folk out there.

MK




7 Com:

redwein | January 15, 2009

Dave, I'm both a Jew (of the spiritul atheistic variety) and a Socialist, a longtime critic of Israeli policy, and saddened and angered not only by the current horror being perpetrated on innocent Palestinians in Gaza (and the West Bank), but by the US mainstream political and media support of this horror. As a Jewish baby boomer who, like most, was drilled with the story of the Holocaust and trained with the mantra, "Never forget," I always have felt that the lesson to be learned from the Nazi genocide (not just) of Jews was that to maintain any moral high ground, we must try to treat others with love, must strive for a democratic world and certainly must never be silent in the face of, let alone commit, crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, some Jews took the "Never forget" lesson and have given it a twist of paranoia, which enables them with clear conscience to punish anyone they deem The Enemy. They equate Palestinians, in fact all of Islam, with Naziism.

On the other hand, the Holocaust was a real historical occurrence during which half the Jews in Europe were wiped out, so your casually finding unacceptable someone saying "Back to the ovens" and your assumption that this was not representative of many people who may stood with the person who said it, is in itself unacceptable. I wonder if anyone there, on the pro-Palestinian side of that demonstration, questioned her regarding her vile remark. There is clearly hate on both sides of this, and there are cool heads who deal in facts. If I had been at that particular protest, I surely would have been on the side of the woman who made that comment, and I just as surely would have confronted, if not slapped, her. The correct response is not to casually not accept such a sentiment, but to condemn it outright and in no uncertain terms. What the Israelis are doing is a horror, of course, but also let's not start getting into ad nauseum comparisons to figure out which oven is worse, the one in Gaza or the one in Auschwitz.

Dave Riley | January 15, 2009

redwein: "If I had been at that particular protest, I surely would have been on the side of the woman who made that comment, and I just as surely would have confronted, if not slapped, her."

Is slapping people how we should deal with any anti Semitic remarks, placards or the like in the Gaza protest movement? Or for that matter with anyone we disagree with?

What about those who rally in support of Israel and cheer on this slaughter, do we slap them too?

redwein | January 16, 2009

The answer is "No!" We don't slap anyone; but I certainly would feel disgusted if someone standing by MY side, opposing the unconscionable assault on Gaza which some, I, would call a genocide, felt it necessary and at all fruitful to resort to anti-Semitism as a response. My experience in dealing directly with racism or bigotry in general is that confronting it with reason yields better results. I've had firsthand experience with this so I know what I'm talking about. And I shun violence except as a tool of self-defense, though my sentiment in the face of real anti-Semitism (or any bigotry) must always be to confront it. Just as I would confront the paranoid perceptions of anti-Semitism that sometimes stream from the Jewish, and now and again, the Christian "Israel-loving" community.

But, Dave, the other question I raised was whether anyone else standing with this woman on the pro-Palestinian side of the demonstration, while obviously there to condemn Israel's siege of Gaza if not the broader reality of Occupation, would also not tolerate Hate coming from their own side of the protest. "Go back to the ovens" is an extremely hateful remark and lowers the person who said it to the level of (would-be) persecutor. Silence in the face of it lowers everyone who is silent to the level of (would-be) standers by in the face of genocide.

It also happens to be a politically very stupid attitude to take. While presently the plight of Palestinians is getting more international attention than at any time I can recall (though still clearly not enough and certainly not enough here in the US) why burn the newly acquired capital of world sympathy on the pyre of anti-Semitism? Many, and most recently, George W. Bush vis a vis 9/11, have taught the lesson of what wasting such capital can cost.

Dave Riley | January 16, 2009

But you are playing the Zionist game of trying to fit up the movement with the language of a few as though protest is an absolutely ruled & regimented procedure of political statement.

That sort of discipline does not exist in any spontaneous campaign that I've been in which is usually a very open to all comers.

Locally here, the oganising coalition is made up of traditional peace activists, socialist outfits and people from Middle Eastern, mainly Palestinian background.

What you do is lay down the demands of any action -- and that takes a political debate. But that's the parameters of the protest action.

By opening up the process as democratically as you can you in a sense behoove the participants to adhere to a generic protocol of keeping to the protest's charter.

Everything else is hypothetical until it happens. You ask about the actions of anyone standing with the woman? I have no friggin idea! I'm thousands of kilometres away in another country!

But you are trying to lay this trip on me as though it is my pre-ordained role to be spokesperson for an international movement that now has mobilised tends of thousands across all continents.

Rest assured that if there are any banners or outbursts that are anti-Semitic some one is going to find them and maybe photograph them. But then doesn't Zionism often argue that all actions against Israel are anti-Semitic anyway?

But there has a to be a real sense of proportion here\ given that this movement is much larger than the sum of all its parts.

I know you don't, but accusing me of anti-Semitism won't effect anything I do. But to accuse a movement of harboring anti Semites, or sponsoring protests at which one or two individuals are said to advocate anti-Semitic ideas works wonders in denigrating the movement as a whole and cheapening its advocacy. It is designed -- it is designed -- to undermine the movement.

No doubt these anti-Semitic actions sentence all protests with that supposedly crippling hesitancy: what if we protest, won't we be seen as anti-Semitic or so aligned? Shit! I'm not protesting because the movement harbors anti Semites?

The same game is played out across the board: don't join that protest because there are communists in it; protesting against Iraq or Afghanistan invasion only aligns you with the Islamists....

{You get a version of it on the left: I hate protesting for Palestine because that means I will be seen to be aligned with Hamas.]

This is the ideologically way politics works. It plays on liberal, pragmatic or ethical hesitancies to make alignments very unsure.

Our role, on the left, is to not only argue the case against Zionism, but to also point out that there is no Zionist consensus either in Isreal itself or among world Jewry.

And in terms of political developments that's very important.

redwein | January 16, 2009

Point taken Dave, though the game you refer to is not a "Zionist" game; it's just a game. You find it everywhere in all types of movements and your use of the adjective "Zionist" here belies something a bit bizarre. Also I'm not laying any trip on you; I never suggested it was YOUR responsibility, did I? But I am suggesting it better be someone's responsibility, otherwise let's throw all ideals out the window. Spontaneity and ideals can and do coexist in the context of protest. And obviously I'm not changing my position regarding Zionism or Israel's (criminal) assault on Gaza, nor would I cut short my participation in a protest in which one or two people expressed a sentiment such as "Back to the ovens." nor avoid one out of fear that such language might be used. But the occasion of such a comment would be for me, and I hope for you, a teaching moment. I would not hesitate to confront someone making such a remark because it is rooted in ignorance at best, and systemic anti-Semitism at worst, it can't be tolerated in any case, and it ultimately hurts the goals of Socialism generally and solving the current crisis specifically.

If the whole of the movement were rooted in such a sentiment, in fact, the movement would be doomed to failure because it would be based not on high-minded Socialist ideas, the same ideas that many Socialist Jews had regarding the kind of Israel they wanted pre-1948, but on neo-National Socialism.

One of the great things Socialists can and must do, from a place of principle, is teach the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. But a (tacit) acceptance of anti-Semitism subverts the high ground on which we stand. The fact that we can't control the expression of anti-Semitism doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to condemn its validity.

Dave Riley | January 16, 2009

Much as I'd like to proceed with a discussion about modern anti-Semitism compared to the anti-Semitism that has roots in medieval Western society. And compare the role of the Jews to that of the Chinese in Asia -- "the Jews of Asia."[Australia has never experienced a Jewish pogrom, but Chinese ones are sprinkled though its nationalist history].

The anti-Semitism that rises up among Arabs and Moslems in regard to Judaism for its seeming unconditional alignment with Israel is a little different in its genesis.

It's still anti-Semitism, of course, but its focus and complaint is a tad different. The problem is that the racist doctrine of Zionism fuels it -- feeds this hatred -- while Zionism remains so strongly identified with Judaism.

So our role, has to be as you suggest,to" teach the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism."

But on terminology Left I has a fresh post that may interest you:"Massacre", "Genocide", and "Holocaust".

redwein | January 18, 2009

Dave, I was wrong to equate the brand of Arab anti-Semitism with the National Socialist variety, the former of which, you are correct to note, stems from the offensiveness of the racist Zionist agenda and ideology. Your calling them a little, or "a tad different" is perhaps a bit of facetiousness, or perhaps just a wish to understate the case, on your part because, as I'm sure you know, they are in fact very different in their genesis. I appreciate the link you included and I want to return the favor, a view of Zionism from a Palestinian and a Jew, the former's various arguments being somewhat popular, the latter's, coming as they do from a brilliant anti-Zionist rabbi, being somewhat less well-known. The first is "Why Zionism is Racism" by Rabee' Sahyoun, http://www.albalagh.net/current_affairs/zionism_racism.shtml. The second is the Letter from Rabbi Amram Blau, written in 1974, which is profoundly prescient, http://www.nkusa.org/Historical_Documents/blau_letter.cfm, and divests Judaism of any real association with Zionism.

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