This is especially true of the Middle East, but in Europe support for the Palestinians is running high. So in the run-up to Bush’s recent visit his supporters were casting criticism of Israel as a direct attack on US interests. They accuse Europe of being both ‘anti-American’ and ‘anti-Semitic’, pointing to the success of Le Pen and other fascists in recent European elections.
Colin Powell accused Europeans of ‘America bashing’. The American Jewish League called for a boycott of the Cannes film festival on the grounds that France was now as anti-Semitic as the wartime Vichy regime. The ‘New York Times’ columnist, Thomas Friedman, obscenely declared: ‘The anti-Semitism coming out of Europe…suggests…some Europeans want Mr Sharon to commit a massacre against Palestinians…so they can finally get the guilt of the Holocaust off their backs.’
This is filthy hypocrisy. The far right are being fuelled by the Islamophobia inherent within the ‘war on terrorism’ and by the increasing devastation caused by the neoliberal agenda. The British politicians who supported Bush’s warmongering are viciously scapegoating refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. That the Nazis who attack Muslim youth in Burnley also desecrate synagogues gives us all the more reason to build the biggest movement possible against racism, imperialism and war. There is a small minority in the Arab and Muslim community who mistake all Jews as the problem rather than Zionism as such. This is not surprising when Israel insists it represents the interests of all Jews everywhere in the world. The best way to undercut such notions is to build a solidarity movement with the Palestinians that, like the magnificent demonstration on 18 May, brought together Arabs, non-Arabs, Muslims and Jews openly declaring their opposition to Israel.
If there is one lesson of the Holocaust it is that, regardless of nation or race, we should all stand shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed against racism and imperialism.
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