September 23, 2023

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Al Jazeera looks at modern antisemitism. What does it leave out?

From Al Jazeera:

It’s been called the world’s oldest hatred. In back-to-back debates in this UpFront special, we discuss anti-Semitism.

In the first debate, a panel explores the rise – or return – of anti-Semitism among the far right, and discusses if Donald Trump’s election has emboldened those attitudes.

And in the second debate, we discuss anti-Semitism among the left, and the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Part 1: Anti-Semitism on the political right

Since Donald Trump’s election victory in November, anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in the US, with swastikas and other Nazi imagery increasingly popping up.

Has far-right anti-Semitism been energised by Trump’s election win?

“It’s not so much that this anti-Semitism didn’t exist before; it probably did exist but it was under the radar,” says Haaretz senior columnist Chemi Shalev. “The candidacy of Donald Trump brought forth or emboldened all sorts of anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish groups who nobody paid attention to any more.”

Hadas Gold, a media reporter for Politico magazine, says: “Some of my colleagues got actual letters to their personal addresses at home – it was rather frightening. I mean, it’s never pleasant to see your face with a bullet hole through it. These direct threats were something new, and they were almost always directly connected to Donald Trump.”

In the first part of this UpFront special, Chemi Shalev and Hadas Gold discuss the troubling resurgence of anti-Semitism among the hard right.

Part 2: Anti-Semitism on the political left

With anti-Semitism on the rise across parts of Europe, is it something the left and supporters of the Palestinians need to tackle urgently, or is anti-Semitism being used and abused by supporters of Israel?

“Just because sometimes not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish, doesn’t mean that it never is,” says Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, who also writes for The Jewish Chronicle. “Sometimes it is, the way it’s expressed. If it borrows from or draws on the language or imagery of old style anti-Jewish prejudice, then it is.”

Israeli-Canadian Lisa Goldman, cofounder of the left-wing Israeli journal 972, says: “I do see it on the rise in Europe on the left, but the crude anti-Semitism I’m seeing comes from the radical right.”

Palestinian-American human rights lawyer Noura Erakat, who is also an author and academic, says: “I think that obviously there is a misunderstanding that’s constructed. But at the end of the day, those who are part of a movement against Zionism are part of a liberatory movement not only for Palestinians, but it has an emancipator potential for Jewish people as well.”

In the second part of this UpFront special, Jonathan Freedland, Lisa Goldman and Noura Erakat debate anti-Semitism among the political left.

So five leftists discuss modern antisemitism. Not surprisingly, they are enthusiastic to discuss rightist antisemitism and link it to Trump – and to discount leftist antisemitism as really justified anti-Zionism. There is a little disagreement about whether the Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel can be conflated with Zionism, but all agree that Jews can hate Israel’s government.

What they don’t discuss at all is whether the obsession over Israel by the Left is a form of modern antisemitism. They create a straw man that criticizing Israel isn’t antiemitism, when no one says it is. It is the obsessive, deranged hate of Israel and only Israel that is antisemitic, and that is exclusive to the Left. It is the demand that Israel, and only Israel cease to exist that is antisemitic. It is the crazed equation of Israel to the Nazis that is antisemitic, something that they simply do not want to address here.

No wonder they didn’t want to discuss it.

This is Al Jazeera’s idea of “balance.”

What about Arab antisemitism?

It is dismissed with a sentence. The moderator asks Noura Erakat about the undeniable antisemitism in the Middle East, and she responds that she doesn’t deny it but the Palestinian movement is completely against it.

The host, of course, is happy to leave it at that and not to mention the constant stream of antisemitic rhetoric on Palestinian TV, other media and schools, and the far worse antisemitism in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere.

Erakat also makes up a novel idea. She claims that there are only two areas under League of Nations mandates that did not achieve self-determination when the League was dissolved (she calls it the “League of Mandates”) were Namibia and Palestine, and “Palestine” remains the only such area that is still under colonial rule.

Of course, Israel was the fulfillment of the League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland when it became independent. Legally, all Palestine institutions became Israeli institutions except for the areas illegally annexed by Jordan or administered by Egypt. Noura’s ancestors did not complain when they became Jordanian citizens. Erakat is pretending that Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria is a continuation of British colonialism – as she asserts that people need to “understand history.”

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