The most despicable thing about the way Israel supporters smear Israel’s critics as anti-semites is that they are exploiting a very healthy impulse to advance a profoundly sick impulse. They knowingly exploit the fact that the further to the left someone is on the the political spectrum the more likely they are to (A) support Palestinian rights and (B) be very receptive to any suggestion that they might be acting in a racially insensitive way.
My followers who are on the right side of the political spectrum always have melodramatic conniptions whenever I say this, but there is a lot of value in learning about the role racial inequality plays in the injustices of our society and getting real with ourselves about where our own racial circumstances fit in with those unjust power dynamics. It’s a very healthy impulse to look within yourself and figure out if there’s anything in you as an individual that feeds into the racial injustices of our society, whether you‘re aware of it at first or not. This is especially true of white people, since racial injustices tend to benefit us in this society.
The further someone is toward the left end of the spectrum, the more likely they are to respond to an accusation of racism by stopping in their tracks and inquiring deeply into whether the accusation might have some truth to it. If the accusation is that you harbor the same kind of racism that gave rise to the Holocaust — one of the worst mass atrocities in all of human history — then you are all the more likely to stop and take the accusation seriously.
This is a healthy impulse. If everyone took seriously their responsibility to expunge everything in them that feeds into the injustices of our world, we would have peace and harmony on earth very quickly. But this impulse gets exploited in the most odiously cynical way imaginable to defend the interests of a murderous and tyrannical government whose very existence is premised on racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and abuse.
Have you ever noticed that it’s never the actual anti-semites who get attacked as anti-semites? Nowadays it’s very seldom the assholes saying Jews rule the world and are the source of society’s ills who are inundated with such accusations; supporters of Israel tend to more or less leave them alone. The ones who get slandered as anti-semites are people like Jeremy Corbyn — leftists who’ve dedicated their entire lives to anti-racism, whose only actual offense is believing that Palestinians are human beings and should be treated as such.
In fact actual anti-semites are some of Israel’s strongest allies. The lion’s share of forceful support for Israel in the United States comes not from Jews but from Christian Zionists who support Israel because they believe it will bring Jesus back so he can damn all non-Christians to eternal hellfire. Televangelist John Hagee, who believes Hitler was sent by God to help create Israel, had a prominent speaking spot at Tuesday’s “March for Israel” in Washington DC.
While people who hate Jews so much they want them to writhe in eternal hellfire are warmly embraced as allies of convenience by Israel and its supporters, healthy leftists who oppose racism in all its forms are attacked by Israel apologists as Nazis and Jew-haters. This is because their actions are not designed to protect Jews or reduce anti-semitism — their actions are to facilitate the strategic objectives of the Israeli government and its allies.
Really what’s happening in Gaza right now isn’t about Jews or Judaism at all; it’s about using violent force to take land and resources away from an indigenous population, as history has seen happen time and time again in situations that had nothing to do with Jews. It’s a profoundly unhealthy impulse that’s been causing immense human suffering for centuries, and people who’ve noticed the same patterns in Israel that they’ve seen in all the other settler-colonial projects over the last 500 years are being shouted down and bullied into staying silent using some of the most unethical manipulations ever devised.
The good news is that it doesn’t seem to be working as much anymore. People are gradually becoming aware that accusations of anti-semitism are used by Israel apologists to stagnate and stifle support for Palestinian rights, and are beginning to take those accusations a lot less seriously. There’s only so many times you can watch dishonest smear campaigns against good-faith leftists before you start to figure out that you’re being manipulated.
As with most problems, the solution to this one is to expand consciousness. The more people become aware of the way accusations of anti-semitism are cynically used to shut down pro-Palestine sentiments around the world, the less power those methods will have. That doesn’t mean we stop treating real anti-semitism like a real problem or that we become less sensitive to racial injustice; it simply means we see what’s being done in this specific instance and start calling it what it is.
Caitlin’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.
Bitcoin donations: 1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.
Subscribe to Caitlin’s Newsletter
Articles, poems, stories and thoughts by Caitlin Johnstone and Tim Foley. Everything published here will always remain free to read.
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy