Monday, July 28, 2014


From the socialist Worker's Liberty site:

I told the man that racism had no place on the demonstration, that his presence harmed the Palestinian cause, and that the document he was promoting was a racist hoax. In the course of what was probably a not a very coherent tirade from me, I mentioned that I was Jewish.

“Well, you're blinded by your bias because you're a Jew”, he said. “Only Jews make the arguments you're making.”

Thereafter the “discussion” became more heated, and several onlookers were drawn in. Several people backed me up, but several defended him.

Their defences ranged from, “he's opposing Zionists, not Jews”, to “he's not racist, Zionism is racist!”, to the perhaps more honest “Jews are the problem. If you're a Jew, you're racist, you're what we're demonstrating against.” One man, topless, but wearing a balaclava, said “fuck off, unless you want your fucking head kicked in.”

I walked away, angry and upset. I returned a short while later to find the placard-holder embracing two young men, before leaving. When me and some comrades challenged them, they told us he wasn't anti-Semitic, merely anti-Zionist. “Look, it says 'Zion'”, not 'Jews'. 'Zion' means Zionists”, one helpfully informed us.

...In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, some Workers' Liberty members in Sheffield (three of us, incidentally, Jewish) took placards on a demonstration against the assault which, amongst other things, said “No to IDF, no to Hamas.” As it happens, I now think, for various reasons, that our slogan was misjudged. But no-one attempted to engage us in debate or discussion about it; we were simply screamed at, called (variously) “scabs” and “Zionists”, and told we must immediately leave the demo (we didn't). Our placards were ripped out of our hands and torn to pieces.

I don't make the comparison in order to express a wish that what happened to us in 2009 had happened to him in 2014. I wouldn't particularly advocate physically destroying the man's placard, or attempting to physically drive him and his supporters off the demonstration. But a movement in which “no to IDF, no to Hamas” is considered beyond the pale even for debate and discussion, and must be violently confronted, but a placard promoting The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion can be carried without challenge, even for a moment, and its carrier find numerous defenders, needs to change its political culture.
The author still downplays leftist antisemitism as an aberration despite his own experiences. Perhaps he should read this report from one of those horrible right-wingers about what is happening across  Europe nowadays:

People who are "visibly Jewish," people wearing identifiably Jewish dress, have found themselves targeted for abuse. Demonstrators at the biggest central London march assaulted and verbally abused a Jewish woman who had expressed her support for Israel, calling her a "Jew Zionist" among other things, before stealing her mobile phone. In North London, a rabbi was abused by a group of 'youths' who shouted "F*** the Zionists," "F*** the Jews" and "Allah Akhbar."

All of this is mild compared to what has been going on across the English Channel in France. In suburbs and parts of central Paris the violence being perpetrated against the Jewish community culminated in the disturbing spectacle of Parisian Jews barricaded in a synagogue by a crowd of young North Africans seemingly intent on violence. When the police failed to turn up in any numbers, the Jews fought for themselves. These were not all "Jewish vigilantes" as some of the press disturbingly reported -- Jews in their 40s and 50s fighting their way through a mob.

Since then, the French authorities have banned -- as French authorities have the right to do -- some other planned "pro-Palestinian" protests. But the bans seem not to have worked. "Youths," as the media are prone to title the rioters, who mainly come from the suburbs of Paris and other cities, have taken to the streets, anyhow. There are videos of them smashing up pavements in order to get chunks of asphalt to hurl at police. A Paris suburb with a large Jewish -- not Israeli, just Jewish -- population has been a particular focus of protestors. In some video footage, protestors have been shown attacking police cars and assaulting public and private property. The French authorities are clearly trying to get a handle on the protests, but to a considerable extent, events have slipped from their control.

Similar scenes have been seen across the continent. In the Netherlands -- fresh from witnessing a pro-ISIS rally in Amsterdam -- there have been serious incidents at protests. There have been anti-Semitic chants, and the home of the Chief Rabbi in the Netherlands has been attacked twice in one week. In Austria, a soccer game involving an Israeli team had to be called off after Palestinian demonstrators broke onto the pitch. The stands had people waving anti-Israel banners and Turkish flags. But once they were on the pitch, the protestors assaulted the Israeli players, doing flying kicks at them and then further kicking and punching them. Some of the Israeli players fought back and the game was halted.
Most disturbing of all, perhaps, have been events in Germany. During pro-Palestinian protests in Berlin and other German cities, there were chants of "Death to the Jews" and "Gas the Jews." The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, described some of the demonstrations as "an explosion of evil and violence-prone hatred of Jews. Never in our lives did we believe it possible that antisemitism of the nastiest and most primitive kind would be chanted on the streets of Germany."

And it is in Germany that such sentiments have met their most appropriate public and political opposition. There, at least, the nature of these protests has not been glossed over. On the contrary there has been a suitable soul-racking over this. How could such a cry have gone up in this country, of all countries? The major German magazine, Bild, has run a cover with the headline, "Raise your voice: Never again Jew Hatred!" The cover is dotted with famous figures in German public life from the President and Chancellor Merkel to other political and public figures. The montage sends out a powerful message. The question is, of course, whether that is enough.




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