Efforts to equate hostility to Israel with anti-Semitism are stock standard in the Zionist movement. As the critical US Jewish magazine Tikkun recently pointed out, “The Palestinian-led call for BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] … has strengthened markedly over the last few years …
“Alongside BDS’s increasing strength have come increasingly virulent attacks on, and campaigns against it. These attacks tend to employ similar language and tactics – as if the groups are all cribbing from the same talking points – including tarring BDS supporters as ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘delegitimisers’.”
As the crimes of the Israeli state are becoming increasingly clear to people around the world, including many Jews, this strategy is being expanded.
Pro-Israeli student organisations are resorting to outright fabrication. In the last month, Socialist Alternative clubs and other student organisations on a number of campuses across the country have faced outlandish allegations of anti-Semitism.
Socialist Alternative has a proud record of opposing racism, including anti-Semitism. As a reminder to the fabricators of these allegations, it is worth recalling our numerous published articles and forums on questions of racism.
These include a range of articles specifically opposing anti-Semitism: a commemoration of the 1936 Battle of Cable Street in London against Mosley’s fascists, a major three-part series on the fight against anti-Semitism in Europe in the first half of the 20th century and an exposure of the hypocrisy of Western governments over this question in the same period.
At the end of 2013, we hosted a talk in a number of cities by Jewish socialist historian Janey Stone about the resistance to the rise of the Nazis.
The fabricated nature of the allegations is very clear. A complaint was made to the Curtin (WA) Student Guild about a “Boycott Israeli Apartheid Week” stall during orientation week. Problem was, the stall didn’t exist.
At another university, accusations were made relating to an alleged incident on a day that there was no SA stall on the campus. In another case, the use of specific phrases – “filthy Jew” and “Israeli bitch” – was alleged. This is even more ludicrous (and objectionable) than the imaginary stall.
Let us state unequivocally: none of our members would utter the vile anti-Semitic phrase “filthy Jew”. Given that we are also opponents of sexism, the word “bitch” is not part of our vocabulary, as anyone who was familiar with our strong stance on this issue would know. We condemn all such statements, including if they are made against political opponents, in public or in private.
Socialist Alternative makes no bones about our opposition to the apartheid state of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, just as we opposed apartheid South Africa. We make a clear distinction (for anyone willing to see it) between Zionism as a political justification for the state of Israel, and the Jewish religion. We are critical of Zionism. Religion is a private matter. There are Jews, proud of their heritage, among our membership.
The Australasian Union of Jewish Students and its campus affiliates very actively and publicly support the Israeli state and its policies.
But the reality of Israel’s brutal actions, from the death of more than 1,100 as Israel bombed Beirut in 2006 to the massacre of 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza in January 2009 (to name just two examples found unavoidably newsworthy by the mainstream media), makes it ever more difficult to present Israel in a positive light.
By resorting to fabrications of racial vilification against those who oppose Israel’s crimes, our accusers merely reveal that they are attempting to defend the indefensible.