Saturday, April 7, 2007
Etymology and the Israel Lobby
By ARTHUR NESLEN
"What do Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Ehud Olmert and, yes, me all have in common? We could each be censured for racism according to the European Union Monitoring Centre's 'working definition of anti-Semitism' which was last week adopted by the UK's National Union of Students as official policy.....
So it's actually a bit shocking to discover that it was largely drafted by a pro-Israel advocate who gives talks on how to elide the distinction between anti-Zionism and Jew Hatred. Kenneth Stern is the American Jewish Committee's expert on anti-Semitism and in 'Defining Anti-Semitism', a paper published by Tel Aviv University's Stephen Roth Institute, he explained how he developed the working definition 'along with other experts' in the second half of 2004.
Significantly, it involved crunching religious and racial hatred of Jews with what he labelled 'political' anti-Semitism. This latter, he claimed, has been 'otherwise known in recent years as anti-Zionism, which treats Israel as the classic Jew'. Political anti-Semites could thus include, for example, those who 'seek to disqualify Israel from equal membership in the community of nations', presumably by means of boycott initiatives. Naturally, comparing Israel to Apartheid-era South Africa is also, within Kenneth Stern's framework, 'an expression of antisemitism'......
But it could also include a litany of lobbyist shibboleths, such as:
"Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor); Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation... Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel."
Jewish peace activists have always baulked at this last point, dissociating themselves from war crimes committed in their names. Sadly, Ehud Olmert was not so circumspect when, on July 7, he told the United Jewish Communities that the invasion of Lebanon was 'a war fought by all the Jews'.
By the new standard though, it might be an anti-Semitic 'double standard' to single him out for criticism when the hateful words of the former Indian leader, Mahatma Ghandi, are still being taught in British schools. In 1938, Ghandi said he believed that 'Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French.' Thus might he disbar himself from speaking at a British college today.
Einstein though would really bomb. After the Deir Yassin massacre that killed more than 250 Palestinian civilians in 1948, he signed a letter to the New York Times describing the Herut Party (a.k.a Likud) as 'closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties'. Its then-leader (and Israel's future prime minister) Menachem Begin, represented 'fascist elements' in Israel, and his party had 'openly preached the doctrine of the fascist state'. So Einstein, would flunk the EUMC's 'comparing Israeli policy to the Nazis' test.
But even higher forces than Einstein could fall foul of the Stern exam. After all, in Leviticus 25:23, God instructed Moses to tell the Jewish people that 'the land is mine; you are but tenants and travellers'. What was this if not denying the Jewish people the right to their self-determination? Haul Him up before the AJC, Kenneth......."