Censorship and the resurgence of anti-Semitism

This is a cross-post from Politics ad Infintum by Tom Owolade

This extract is from the end of Tom’s piece – you can read the full post here.

In university societies across the country such as in SOAS, BDS resolutions are being passed (73% of people were in favour in SOAS). The BDS(M) movement is a phenomenon which implicates Israelis in collective guilt, ostracises the freest nation in the Middle East, and targets Jewish intellectual and cultural freedom. It is a noxious mix of masochism, bigotry and philistinism. Or, as MJ Rosenberg- a fervent critic of Israel, no less- put it:

… the BDS movement is not targeting the occupation per se. Its goal is the end of the State of Israel itself.

The BDS movement isn’t just an attack on Jewish intellectual and cultural freedom. Its venom is spilling uncontrollably into the streets. In South Africa, BDS members congregated around a Zionist conference. They jeered anti-Semitic abuse, crucially under the cover of anti-Zionism. “You Jews don’t belong here”, they jeered. “You think this is Israel, we are going to kill you!”, they bellowed. This was all described in a recent Haaretzcolumn.

The growing presence of the BDS movement, and the hateful attitudes it inspires, should be a cause for worry for everyone.

In the university of Southampton a debate is being advertised about Israel. Debates enliven universities and centres for learning, they enrich one’s critical faculties. What is being advertised is not actually a debate though, but something else. Something sinister; an orgy of splenetic fury directed without challenge against Israel. Richard Falk, Ghada Karmi and Jeff Handmaker are the guests invited and they all question Israel’s right to existence. And so they all question the right of Jews to self-determination. I don’t think they should be banned from doing so, but will they be challenged? I think not.

The new anti-Semitism is boiling fast and under the aegis of anti-Zionism. The CST, a Jewish charity that monitors anti-Semitic incidents, reported a spike of attacks during the Gaza war last year. In July and August alone, they were 500 anti-Semitic incidents. Dave Rich, a spokesperson for the organisation, is quoted in The Guardian as saying examples of abuse include:

Jewish people in the street having ‘Heil Hitler’ shouted at them by someone with a Palestinian flag hanging out of their car.”

A campaign against anti-Semitism survey reports that: “77% of Jews questioned have witnessed anti-Semitism disguised as political comment about Israel”, and ;”82% of Jews [questioned] say boycott of Israeli goods is intimidation”.

In the streets of Europe, banners have been held out endorsing Hamas and Hezbollah and Israel being traduced as child-killers, the blood libel is being resuscitated. (Can anyone conceive a situation whereby many people in Britain occupy London and endorse placards expressing support for the BNP?) These people are by-and-large not ill-educated Nazis or David Irving-esque fascists. They’re self styled progressives, riven with self-righteousness who, by accepting the conspiracy of power structures, generate apologia for fascism.

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the BBC’s Tim Wilcox asked a Parisian Jewish guest whether there was a connection between killing Jews for being Jews and the policies in Israel. In a Channel 4 interview with a Jewish guest, who recorded himself being abused for 10 hours in Paris, Jackie Long felt it appropriate to bring up Israel. The link is there. The link between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is entrenched in our minds and unavoidable.

Israel is a locus for peoples pathologies and conspiracies- it binds their hatred. Israel exists as a projection for loathing Jews, enmeshed totally with the tropes used to denigrate Jews; omnipotent power; infanticidal bloodthirstiness; enormous wealth and influence. These tropes and pathologies, utterly at odds with reality, justified by resistance to power, are being normalised and entrenched by those who should cherish tolerance.

If the left and others cease their obsession with power structures, and cease their crippling inability to confront Islamic fascism-paralysis, often induced by acquiescence to cultural relativism- it can begin to correct these problems. It can begin to confront and correct the resurgence of anti-Semitism in its midst. It can begin to recognise prejudice isn’t bound by power but deep conspiracies. And conspiracies can only be denuded by liberty; the freedom to challenge ideas, to debate issues, the freedom to unmask anti-Semitism in its latest manifestation and not cower to the spurious definitions offered by Tim Squirrell. There has to be a platform for a battle of ideas, and our side has to win. I fear we won’t. I hope I’m wrong.