Monday, September 04, 2006

Leftist anti-semitism on Australian campuses

From The Age:
An unholy alliance

Barney Zwartz and Adam Morton

Anti-Semitism is reportedly on the rise across university campuses. Has political opportunism unleashed the devil?

Daniel Wyner is used to robust debate. A senior figure in the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, he moves around Melbourne campuses arguing for Israel. But he was taken aback recently when a Monash lecturer confronted him, almost incoherent with rage, and called him a Zionist oppressor and f---ing racist.

"He kept going on his rant and rave. He wasn't Muslim or Arab. He may or may not have been a member of the arts faculty, and I may or may not have followed him back into the office to find that out." The incident highlighted what many Australian Jews claim is a distinct rise in temperature on campus but the hostility has not come from Muslims.

"I've been at La Trobe, Deakin and Melbourne too. The problems, the anti-Semitism, the vilification we feel as students on campus are coming almost entirely from the left. The Socialist Alternative (a left-wing student group), they just latch on to a cause which isn't theirs to try to make it their own by twisting it," Wyner says.

Jewish groups claim some of the more radical left-wing groups are trying to exploit tensions in the Middle East to foment trouble on campus and increase their own numbers. An example, Wyner says, was the recent visit to Melbourne University by the Israeli ambassador: Socialist Alternative members disrupted the meeting and were asked to leave by the Lebanese students' society.

In Sydney last month, a Jewish student was pushed to the ground and others spat on. At Monash, a Young Liberal member staffing a stall supporting Israel was grabbed by the throat and threatened, while the table was kicked over.

At Melbourne University, security staff had to keep apart the Students Against War and Racism and a group of mostly Liberal Club members waving Israeli flags. Tensions flared, insults were traded and observers said only a handful of guards prevented the conflict becoming physical. The vice-chancellors of both Melbourne and Sydney universities called for calm, saying that while vigorous debate was acceptable, vilification was not.[Notice how even in this article, this paragraph was written as if the Zionists were equally guilty. -EoZ]

Grahame Leonard, the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, says July had the most anti-Semitic incidents since records began in 1945. At 141, the total was 60 per cent higher than the previous record.

"Generally it's low severity — phone calls, graffiti, hate emails — but there are some violent incidents. The big growth was in Victoria, and many of these incidents were on campus."

In Sydney some Jewish students feel so intimidated that they are wearing hats over their kippahs (skull caps). In Melbourne they are more defiant, but they are concerned.

"There's a real feeling of threat," says Deon Kamien, Victorian president of the Union of Jewish Students. "It's not something I can put in words. A lot of students who would feel very comfortable wearing a kippah or T-shirt with Hebrew words on it now feel they are being targeted as Jews — not supporters of Israel, but Jews. When they walk past socialist stalls (on campus) they are called f---ing Jews."

Kamien says that where previous conflicts have been about politics, this time it's turned racial. "The leftists have completely blurred the line between politics and religion and have misunderstood the situation. They've got hung up on the Middle East and absolutely hung up on Jews. What we are seeing is nothing more than anti-Semitism."

Jewish community leaders detect a rising tide of anti-Semitism throughout the West. They pinpoint a couple of key reasons: the inoculation effect of the Holocaust is disappearing over time, so that dinner-table anti-Semitism is re-emerging. People who don't like Jews feel more comfortable about expressing it.

Second, they say, Israel provides a convenient excuse. They accept that most criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, but say it can provide a convenient cover for attacking Jews generally. A red-line warning for the Jewish community is when critics compare Israel to the Nazis. You don't use a Nazi slur if you know what the Nazis did, and if you do know and use it, that's inexcusable, they believe.

...A Christian observer at Melbourne University, who did not want to be named, certainly thinks that's the explanation in this city. He says "Jew-baiting" is rising, as opponents try to turn anti-Israel sentiment to anti-Jewish. "Socialists bait Jewish students. The intention is to get Jewish students to fight back so they can use them. It's a deliberate incitement of people's emotions to generate conflict."

The Socialist Alternative tactics are outlined in an in-house publication.

Discussing an incident at Melbourne, when a socialist stall was overturned, Daniel L. says the best response is to "immediately make a huge fuss — denounce them loudly, screaming ‘you're a murderer, you support George Bush's war, you support killing innocent people in the Middle East, you're fascist scum' and so forth. When we did this it had a huge polarising effect with people coming up afterwards to show their support. Often this was from the point of view of freedom of speech, rather than a willingness to support fighting Israel. But that doesn't change the fact that it is excellent terrain for us."

One writer, Vashti, says "two young Lebanese guys came up and asked if they could beat up the Zionists".[But I thought that the Muslims were not involved? Were they Christians? -EoZ]

Daniel says of this: "They knew which side they were on and were willing to fight. We do not want to start fights with the Liberals ourselves, but if Lebanese people do it's a good thing and we're f---ing well with them."


Has the left used racism? This is being debated inside the left, as shown by an exchange in late July on a group email list run by the National Union of Students. Chris Di Pasquale of the RMIT Student Union wrote that Zionists at Melbourne and Monash universities "felt the need to reassert their racism and fetish for genocide and mass slaughter of Arab people", calling security and the student union to shut down socialist stalls.

National Union of Students president Rose Jackson wrote that this was a racist remark that would be extremely hurtful to some people in the student movement. While she opposed the war in Lebanon, "you do not need to resort to this type of distressingly hateful name-calling to show people that you are left-wing and radical. There will come a point (if it has not already been reached) where suddenly people in the left will feel they can get away with anything when talking about Israel and the Israeli people. Where no comments or insults are off-limits."

As she wrote, she knew she was inviting attack. She didn't have to wait long. Heidi Claus, the union's Victorian education officer, replied: "WHAT THE!!!!!!!! Rose Jackson you are an apologist for the racist state of Israel and fundamentally uninformed."

Claus claimed that the apartheid state of Israel was set up on the blood of the Palestinian people, and there would never be peace while Zionism or Israel continued to exist. It was Jackson, in fact, who was racist because she equated the Jewish people with Zionism which itself was anti-Semitic. She concluded: "I demand an apology from you for your racist filth and an apology to Chris and Socialist Alternative for your blatant slander."
And what would an article like this be without getting the Muslim side? Here's a textbook example of fictional "Islamophobia.":
Omran says there has not been a single report of Muslim students being intimidated, but Muslims are nevertheless increasingly frustrated. "They feel the world is walking all over them, that Muslim blood is very cheap, of less importance, that there's a blatant attempt to demonise anyone of Islamic faith by politicians or certain parts of the media. This can only lead to radicalisation, and we should look forward to more extremism."
As is inevitably the case, Muslim groups use real anti-semitism to play the victim role, even when they can walk around campus as proud Muslims without fear while the Jewish students feel they have to hide their identities. (The article does quote the Muslims as being against extremism, but the sense one gets is that this is more for self-preservation rather than ideology.)

The point is, though, that Jew-hating bigots routinely use Israel as an excuse to make their filth socially acceptable, all the while claiming that they are not bigots at all. (This was recently shown in Britain as well.) And instead of marginalizing this blatant hate, the Left as a whole has embraced this attitude, seemingly to recruit more to their side.