By Miriam Scharf
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Antisemitism and the left in Britain today (2)

This article is over 5 years, 6 months old
Issue 421

John Rose’s article may serve to begin a discussion but certainly was not a “clear perspective” as claimed by SR. John argues “the need to campaign for national dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli Jews”. That would be nice. But in what world have the Palestinians got the power to make Israeli Jews listen? The Netanyahu government may step back from the proposal to extend Israeli law to Ma’ale Adumin, the massive illegal settlement which cuts the West Bank in two. But if he does, it is only to keep the chimera of the two-state solution as a continuing cover for the relentless drive to one state, Greater Israel.

Demolitions of Bedouin villages in the Negev are at their highest level ever and settlement of East Jerusalem continues apace. Former US secretary of state John Kerry’s warning was about keeping the facade in place. Israelis can be reassured, Obama’s US aid to Israel, promised in Autumn 2016 at $38bn, is an all-time high.

Palestinians are well aware of the US/Israel alliance, and that they have got nothing but bombing in Gaza, brutal military occupation in the West Bank, and Apartheid laws in Israel. But John chooses to cite a conversation, from several years ago, where the blame for not being calm and rational about this situation is put squarely on the shoulders of the pro-Palestinian proponent. John quotes a Union of Jewish Students member who complains, “We are not Nazis” when facing “venom” from Palestinian supporters.

But pro-Palestinian campaigners do not accuse Zionists of being Nazis. It is we who are accused by Zionists of being antisemitic and Jew-haters, and often with venom. It was David Friedman, Trump’s newly appointed ambassador to Israel, who recently accused J Street, a liberal Jewish organisation, of being “far worse than Kapos” (Nazi collaborators).

Yes, we need to build a united front against racism in all its guises. And yes, antisemitism may gain traction in Europe and the US. But why is John warning anti-racists “to take care” to make Jews “feel comfortable” in anti-racist united front work? The main argument in UK anti-racist activism is not about Israel; there is no “anti-Zionist” pre-condition for fighting racism here.

If antisemitism does gain ground in the UK we will confront it, and work with Jews who hold Zionist ideas against a common enemy.

But in the debate about Zionism we cannot water down our support for a just solution for Palestinians. We cannot pretend that, at present, a dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli Jews is a dialogue between those of equal power and respect. To deny the oppressed their anger is to deny their case. No justice; no peace.

Miriam Scharf

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