Zionism and ‘Anti-Semitism’: A Chronicle of a Smear Foretold

With the 2020 Presidential elections fast approaching, the progressive campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is gaining traction. Several interest groups have grown increasingly
anxious of Sanders’ Democratic Socialist agenda, including ruling class Republicans, corporate Democrats and their joint ally – Zionists, both Christian and Jewish.

Sanders and BDS

The ongoing ‘anti-Semitism’ smear of Sanders and his grassroots following has been waged openly at least since last February, regardless of the Senator’s Jewishness and outspoken support for Israel.

The smear has included at its core an attack on his backers Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) as well as activist Linda Sarsour.

The fact these are all women of color, two of them Palestinian, is far from coincidental; Zionism is a white supremacist, settler colonialist project, which is threatened by intersectional alliances disrupting Israel’s divide and rule tactics.

In response to the escalating smear, Sanders penned an editorial outlining his stance on anti-Semitism, Israel and Judaism, which predictably failed to deter the smearers. However, his liberal Zionism and endorsement of the immoral and politically unfeasible apartheid two-state “solution” render him susceptible to ongoing assaults as he repeats Zionist propaganda talking points.

Yet these attacks on Sanders and his followers conceal a campaign in the making for some time; a Zionist strategy devoted to targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as explicitly stated more than 10 years ago at the ‘Global Forum for combating Antisemitism’ and subsequently by ‘The Reut Institute’.

Although not a BDS supporter himself, Sanders has defended the right to engage in the movement and is clearly the best candidate on Palestine in 2020.

Thus, Sanders is targeted relentlessly by Zionist propaganda.

Zionist propaganda fallacies

Also known as ‘hasbara’, Zionist propaganda relies on several fallacies.

First and foremost, a conflation of Zionism with Judaism serves to deflect criticism of Zionist expansionist apartheid policies by means of repeated cycles of aggression and trauma and the agency of imperial enablers, whilst obfuscating the Nakba and Palestinian demands for equality and justice for those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, within Israel’s 1948 borders, and refugees in the diaspora, who are guaranteed full right of return under international law.

This anti-Semitic conflation is reactionary, promoting right wing politics within the left.

The deliberately concocted manifest destiny connection between Zionism and Judaism thwarts resistance by deeming critique of Zionism and Israeli policies towards Palestinians as an attack on all Jews, ie anti-Semitic. Further, it fragments anti-colonial resistance by reframing a political struggle over land and resources between an occupying force and an occupied people as a “conflict” between two relatively equal parties.

This conflation promotes further tactical, Zionist appropriation and exceptionalization of Jewish victimhood and suffering. Israeli hasbara frames the Nazi Holocaust as a particularly savage genocide in history, which entitles its primary targets – Jews – with a special status among victims. In line with this facade, as exceptional victims, Jews deserve privileges, discounts and allowances. As the constructed “Jewish state”, Israel has been and continues to be the beneficiary of these favors and special relationships, which regularly come at the expense of Indigenous Palestinians. Notably, Zionist revisionism often ignores and diminishes Nazi crimes against other oppressed groups, such as communists and socialists, Roma, disabled people, LGBTQI, and African-Germans.

Zionist hasbara attempts to tarnish anti-colonial anti-Zionism by duplicitously merging it with modern white supremacist anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish religious bigotry, recasting principled leftist resistance to Zionist criminality as part of an ancient and exceptional form of human racism, which supposedly afflicts both left and right political spheres. This essentially anti-Semitic maneuver serves to whitewash Israeli criminality and ongoing collaborations with far-right governments worldwide and attack those who call them out, such as Representative Ilhan Omar and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Moreover, Zionist historical revisionism facilitates an erroneous presentation of Israel as a ‘normal’ democracy facilitating a left-to-right political milieu, instead of accurately acknowledging the entirety of the Zionist movement, including its “liberal” variety, as inherently reactionary, settler colonialist and genocidal.

Settler colonial projects generally rely on presentation of the desired territory as ’empty land’, along with dehumanization of existing inhabitants as barbarians undeserving of their land, who can thus be dispossessed without qualms in favor of a ‘villa in the jungle’. There is nothing ‘exceptional’ about Israel’s posture which has been marketed by other western settler colonial endeavors to sanitize their own land grabs, slaughter and denial of rights to Indigenous peoples as well as rejection of non-white refugees.

The Liberal flank of Zionism functions to absolve the reactionary essence of the movement and obscure its motivations – expansionism and apartheid. Dishonestly, it presents Zionism as compatible with democratic and progressive values and human rights, fictitiously possessing a true desire for peace, justice and complete integration into the Middle East.

All roads lead to Trump

The manufactured ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign waged against Sanders’ progressive camp began with liberal Zionist instigators in American media and was enthusiastically picked up by corporate Democrats and far-right wingers in Israel and the US, including Donald Trump himself (see here from recent campaign rally).

Significantly, the smear of Rep. Omar and parts of the left as ‘anti-Semitic’ is facilitated by the approval of the flawed and controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which adopts Zionist talking points regarding Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ and which was presaged again as strategic ‘lawfare’ in the Global Policy Forum in 2009.

The scapegoating of Omar by some in the mainstream media and prominent members of her own party provided a convenient backdrop for Trump to sign an unconstitutional Executive Order following his vicious anti-Semitic tirade at the Israeli-American Council National Summit.

This ongoing campaign against Omar, involving a host of dubious sources and social media accounts, has been adopted by key representatives of the Israeli government, such as UN ambassador Danny Danon. Notably, the Zionist portrayal of Omar as an anti-Semite shields real anti-Semites from accountability.

Israel’s racist policies complement Trump’s own xenophobic ambitions, as expressed by his senior policy adviser arch-Zionist Islamophobe Stephen Miller. Consistently, Congresswoman Omar has vocally opposed Stephen Miller’s white supremacy, fomenting further duplicitous accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’.

Defeating the smear

The fallacious ‘anti-Semitism’ accusations lobbed at those criticizing Zionist policies can be attacked successfully by avoiding Zionist propaganda traps and embracing the Palestinian, anti-racist call for BDS, a call which melds co-resistance and anti-colonialism, rejecting political Zionism.

To achieve justice, the focus on Zionist criminality and Israel’s shared settler colonial values and racist behaviors with other western settler colonial projects must persist. And the only relevant choice remains – are you a Zionist or an anti-Zionist? As veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote: “If you remain a Zionist, you can no longer be of the left; if you’re of the left, you can no longer be a Zionist.”

All those who claim to care about Palestinians, including liberal Jews and associated media outlets and organizations who avoid implicating Zionism or directly supporting BDS cannot continue to claim left-wing universalist values while simultaneously serving as the “liberal propaganda wing of the apartheid Zionist regime.

Recognizing Zionism as inherently reactionary is not a “purity test” aimed at excluding activists as recently claimed by Ran Greenstein in a piece for the liberal Zionist 972 Magazine. Rather, it is a necessary first step in attacking duplicitous ‘anti-Semitism’ smears by identifying their tactical origins and impact, rejecting rightwing sabotage of a principled struggle for rights and justice.

The onus of change and accountability is on the oppressor, not for the oppressed to endure. On the road to liberation, only a consistent and unapologetic anti-Zionist framework is effective and congruent with leftist, anti-racist values.

Analysis by Yoav LitvinSource

The Zionist 1-2 Propaganda Punch

Article by Yoav Litvin
Artist credit Wonky Monkey
Another round of Israeli violence inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza resulted in devastating consequences: twenty seven dead, including Amani al-Madhoun, a young woman in her final month of pregnancy, as well as 3-month-old infant Maria al-Ghazali and 12-year-old Abd al-Rahman Abu al-Jadyan, both killed alongside their parents.

The flare up comes as Palestinians are routinely sniped at by Israeli military while they demonstrate within their open-air prison, subjected to ever-worsening misery and restrictions – medical, material, economic, environmental, transportation and otherwise.

Since US President Donald Trump’s ascendency to the White House, Israel has received unprecedented US backing, including the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem and Trump’s seal of approval for the illegal annexation of the Golan Heights.

Unsurprisingly, in response to the recent Israeli aggression, Trump reaffirmed his unwavering support for Israeli violence characteristically victim-blaming Palestinians on Twitter:

“….To the Gazan people — these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace – it can happen!”

Meanwhile, in a ludicrous, knee-jerk response to Hamas’s retaliatory missile firing, Katrina Pierson, a Trump 2020 senior campaign advisor, tweeted a fake video of missiles fired in 2015 in Ukraine with an accusatory message toward progressive Democrat and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar.

The ‘special relationship’ between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most recent expression of American Imperial support for Zionist settler colonialism and genocide. The only novelty of the contemporary version is its unabashed, grotesque racism and corruption.

This white supremacist alliance benefits both parties: the US maintains an imperial foothold in the Middle East, smooth cycling of taxpayer money through Israeli military aid back to the US ruling class and a loyal consumer of its goods, while Israel illegally continues to colonize Palestine as well as brutalize and steal valuable resources from its Indigenous population with impunity courtesy of its American benefactor.

In order to dismantle this colonizing coalition for the benefit of all victims of white supremacy, including Jews and Palestinians, it is crucial to understand the propaganda enabling it.

Zionist fallacies

Zionist propaganda depends on the promulgation of two major fallacies. First, it ahistorically equates Zionism and Judaism as interconnected since biblical days, instead of correctly presenting Zionism as a modern European movement with Christian roots. This false equation serves to foil resistance by regarding any criticism of Israeli policies towards Palestinians as an affront on all Jews, i.e. anti-Semitic. Further, it reframes a settler colonialist movement which oppresses an Indigenous population as an unsolvable religious “conflict” among two relatively equal parties.

Second, Zionists claim and appropriate Jewish victimhood and suffering, presenting them as exceptional. Modern white supremacist anti-Semitism is conflated with anti-Jewish religious bigotry and portrayed as an ancient form of human racism, which supposedly afflicts both left and right political spheres. This essentially anti-Semitic manoeuvre serves to whitewash Zionist criminality and its collaboration with right-wing anti-Semitic forces and attack those who call it out, such as Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar.

Zionist historical revisionism enables an erroneous presentation of Israel as accommodating a left-to-right political milieu, instead of accurately recognizing the entirety of Zionism, including its “liberal” sort, as inherently reactionary, settler colonial and genocidal.

Zionist revisionism

Zionists have weaponized the exceptionalisation of Jewish victimhood in concert with the false and manifestly anti-Semitic equation between Zionism and Judaism as an extremely effective one-two punch against critique of Israeli criminality.

Israeli propaganda frames the Nazi Holocaust as a particularly savage genocide in history, which entitles its primary targets – Jews – with a special status among victims. According to this rationale, as exceptional victims, Jews deserve certain privileges, discounts and allowances. Notably, Zionist revisionism often omits and devalues Nazi crimes against other groups, such as communists and socialists, Roma, disabled individuals, LGBTQI, and African-Germans.

As the supposed “Jewish state”, Israel has been the beneficiary of these favors and special relationships, which always come at the expense of Palestinians.

In addition, the Nazi Holocaust facilitated the Zionist project by vitalising Jewish immigration to Palestine, thus providing manpower to fight the British mandate and the Palestinian “demographic threat”.

The recently observed Israeli ‘holidays’ of Yom hashoah (Holocaust remembrance day) and Yom hazikaron (Memorial Day for fallen Israeli soldiers), well illustrate the Zionist attempt to link and justify Israeli colonization, militarism and violence with reference to past anti-Semitism. Today, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu continues to exploit and revise the memory of the Holocaust for propaganda purposes.

The Holocaust is one example of genocide carried out by white supremacists. The long list includes, among others, genocide of Indigenous groups and African slaves in the Americas, Aboriginal people in Australia, Belgium’s atrocities in the Congo, and the ongoing genocide of Palestinians at the hand of Zionists. None of these victims have received appropriate recognition or compensation for their trauma and oppression. What’s more, while Israel uses Holocaust survivors as propaganda tools, it has a history of abandoning them later in life.

Palestine awareness week at Stanford University – a case study

Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) at Stanford recently invited the political cartoonist Eli Valley to speak as part of Palestine Awareness Week (May 6 – 10) to be held on campus.

Valley’s witty cartoons, which have been featured in The Nation, The Village Voice, The Daily Beast and The Guardian, among other outlets, are effective in addressing the differences between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism as well as in calling out the hypocrisies of American Jewish and non-Jewish Zionists and their role in perpetuating the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The event was advertised on fliers displaying Valley’s cartoons.

The images created an uproar among the Zionist community at Stanford. One of the students – Ari Hoffman – addressed these concerns in a passionate piece published in The Stanford Daily, in which he decried Valley’s cartoons as reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. At its conclusion, Hoffman claimed:

The cost of solidarity must never be so steep as to be bought with a hateful coin… Days ago, many of us mourned the murder of six million Jews. Just last week, at a Chabad in Poway, a life and a hand were blown away solely because Jewish blood flowed through them. Over 700 hundred missiles were launched by Palestinian terrorists at Israeli civilian centers last weekend, killing four Israelis. The Jewish vacation from history is over before it began. It is open season on the Jews, in word and deed. Everything is possible and permissible. Again.

And there you have it. Equating Zionism and Judaism in the above mentioned anti-Semitic propaganda manoeuvre, Hoffman deems Valley’s anti-Zionist cartoons as anti-Semitic, even Nazi-like, and utilizes the propagandist idea of exceptional Jewish victimhood to marginalize and villainize Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression, who are meant to be the primary focus of Palestine awareness week at Stanford.

Exceptionality versus intersectionality

Donald Trump has learned from fascistic movements, including Zionism. He effectively energizes his racist base with revisionist tales of exceptional American victimhood, which supersede, marginalize and propagate the oppression and targeting of immigrants, Indigenous people, Black and Brown groups, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQI and others.

In line with Umberto Eco’s seminal characterization of fourteen common fascistic attributes, Trump and Netanyahu present “others” as both strong and weak, thus perpetuating their own victimhood while promoting a vision of strength. This contradiction points to the irrationality and ultimate unsustainability of Zionist and imperial rhetoric. Eco wrote:

“By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”

The “special relationship” between Trump and Netanyahu perpetuates the age-old alliance between anti-Semitic forces and Zionism. Both Trump and Netanyahu use exceptionality of victimhood as a cudgel to beat down progressive agendas and opponents, while promoting their capitalist and expansionist goals.

In contrast, it is evident that an intersectional approach between marginalized groups, which galvanizes lessons of past anti-colonial movements and disregards hierarchies of oppression can disentangle the revisionist narratives of white supremacy, imperialism, and patriarchy, including attempts to exceptionalize victimhood. An acknowledgement of mutual oppressors reinforces solidarity and assists in principled grassroots movements, such as the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

The recent questioning of the US-Israeli “special relationship” by progressive Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, as well as critique of Netanyahu by Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, among others, are welcome steps towards the ultimate dismantlement of this colonizing coalition. Regardless, a consistent refusal to quantify suffering and victimhood as part of propaganda which creates hierarchy and thus divides groups oppressed by white supremacy is essential for effectively combating all forms of oppression, en route toward a society promoting equality and justice for all, both in the US and Israel/Palestine.

Incantations Against White Supremacism for Easter

Ball Tampering

Whitey’s Still on the Moon

Whitey gets a pass
because whitey is whitey
and white is right
whitey leads the fight
of the righteous struggle
of those oppressed
by benevolent whiteness
whitey’s the biggest victim
circling white wagons
benedictus benedictum
white saviour behaviour
honoured by whitey
for wealth and privilege
take up the white man’s burden
dissent is sacrilege
pre-ordained fame and fortune
whitey won the lucky dip
to captain white-sailed ships
first on the list
white supremacist
whitey’s got a ticket to ride
most active of activists
yachts to burn
marches to march
white gutless wonders watch
and silence is assent
quiet as white mice
no white divisiveness
of imperial solidarity
this exploitative opacity
colonise the colonised
the way it’s always been
whiteness is rightness
eternally blessed
the rough Beast’s in Jerusalem
Gil Scott Heron embraced BDS
and whitey’s on the moon still.

Jinjirrie, March 2018

Ball Tampering

They’ve lied once too often
to be trusted on their word
Craven politicians polish
yet another turd
The public’s asked to buy
a “Russian novichok”
While the greedy Toadball class
put us all in hock,
Cut those corporate taxes!
Give the rich another break!
It’ll trickle down to you scum
So our mates are on the take?
On military exports
the western world depends
Who cares if our warmongering
causes life on earth to end?

Jinjirrie, March 2018

Nick Cave Takes the Red Right Hand of Apartheid Israel

Nick Cave in Apartheid Israel

Parading round the racist spoils,
white settler man groomed
to ignore bantustans,
compassion erased by genocide,
each word sung an arrow of malice
shot by the oppressor into
the hearts of the oppressed,
here is a cave wherein
light does not reach.

November 2017

Shallow Cave decides to play apartheid because he doesn’t like lists, and it’s all about him and his feelings of being silenced and bullied, never mind the cries of oppressed Palestinian people for justice and rights and several generations of colonial bullying by their zionist oppressors. With bitter irony, Cave will now be added by the Israeli hasbara machine to its list of artists which it uses as ammunition to continue its brutalisation and deprivation of Palestinians.

In his press conference statement, Cave complained about feeling cowardly for not playing Israel sooner, yet it is truly the coward’s path to side with power against those who are being crushed by it. Cave exposes his own white settler ideological origins.

“It’s no secret that Israel systematically uses performances by artists to normalise its racist, discriminatory system that oppresses me, my loved ones and every Palestinian.” Palestinian musician Rima Nasir calls on Nick Cave to support the boycott of apartheid Israel, or he’ll be used as a stick by the Israeli regime to beat the oppressed.

Dear @nickcave Are you seeing the refugee camps? The apartheid wall? The illegal colonies stealing land? Can you see besieged Gaza? Why won’t you hear #Palestinians?
https://twitter.com/DPAI1/status/931869972854341632

Is @nickcave taking a guided tour with a key ‘Brand Israel’ tourism agency, with a guide who just happens to have been a paratrooper on “the front lines” of major military assaults?
https://twitter.com/BFW_IL/status/931853247299678208

Israel’s cynical tactic of using culture as propaganda was promoted in 2005 by Nissim Ben-Sheetrit of Israel’s Foreign Ministry:

“We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.” (Ha’aretz; 21/09/05)

Related Links

Nick Cave – Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

Open letter to singer Nick Cave from the Gaza war protesters he once supported

Nick Cave: A Journey from an Anglican God to the Creative Christ

Apartheid Israel demonizes and pathologizes Palestinians whom it cages in the Gaza bantustan to “justify” its persecution of them. This is how genocidal settler colonialism propagandizes to obscure its criminality.

From Boycott from Within to Nick Cave:

“Your claim that somehow we have the ability, or the will to silence you is fallacious, and it rings careless in the face of the fact that Palestinian culture and heritage, along with its people, has been undergoing Israel’s erasure for the past seven decades. So successful was this erasure, that you neglected to mention Palestinians in your own statement, as if they aren’t the reason you felt you had to make the statement in the first place. As if they don’t exist.”

Nick Cave’s arrogant colonial stance is highlighted in the music press, sure to increase self-indulgent white supremacist shame, guilt and victimhood :

In response, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (a founding organization in the BDS Movement) has released a new statement. “Nick Cave’s performances in Tel Aviv and recent statement are a propaganda gift to Israeli apartheid,” they write. “We thank Nick Cave for making one thing abundantly clear—playing Tel Aviv is never simply about music. It is a political and moral decision to stand with the oppressor against the oppressed.” The independent initiative Artists for Palestine UK also issued a statement to Pitchfork, saying, “Artists for Palestine UK thinks it is Palestinians who are daily humiliated and silenced. It regrets that in a land of injustice, Nick Cave is giving comfort to the unjust.”