Why we must fight against anti-Semitism in the demonstrations for Gaza

Daniel Randall, Londres

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During the demonstration in solidarity with Palestine, held in London, July 26, 2014, I arrested a protester wielding a sign proclaiming “Wanted: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” all accompanied by a star of David dripping with blood, in the middle with the number 666 [symbol of the Beast, the Devil in the Apocalypse of St. John. The picture is here: http://www.workersliberty.org/node/23455/ NPNF].

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a forgery dating from the anti-Semitic Tsarist Russia, which claims to expose a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world. This text was used in his time, and since, to stir up racist, often violent hatred against the Jews.

I told the protester that racism had no place in this event, that his presence was detrimental to the Palestinian cause, and that the document he was promoting was a racist hoax. As part of what was probably not a very coherent tirade on my part, I mentioned that I was Jewish.

“Well, you’re blinded by your bias because you are a Jew, he replied. Only Jews use such arguments. ”

Then, the “discussion” is heated, and several protesters have approached us. Some have supported me, but others have argued.

Their arguments ranged from “He criticizes the Zionists, not Jews” to “It is not racist, it is Zionism that is racist! “Through statements may be more honest:” The Jews are the problem. If you are a Jew, you’re racist, you’re against which we manifest. “A man, shirtless but wearing a hood, gave me:” Get out, if you do not want to beat the shit out you. “

I walked away, angry and upset. I returned to the same place a little later to find the same protester who gave the accolade to two young, before getting ready to leave. When me and some friends have them shout at, they told us that this individual was not anti-Semitic, just anti-Zionist. “Look, the sign speaks of” Zion “, not” Jews. “”Zion” means Zionists “, we kindly explained one of them.

The explicit expressions of anti-Jewish racism as they were relatively rare during the demonstrations of solidarity with Palestine in Britain. But the fact that there was at least one panel like this and a handful of protesters have defended its content, is very worrying. Emphasize the rarity of this type of slogans, and dismiss the problem as limited to a few fringe elements, is to bury your head in the sand. As recent events in France and Germany have shown, it is undeniable that there are anti-Semitic in the global solidarity movement with Palestine, including individuals willing to express their violently anti-Semitism. Such attitudes should not pollute the movement in Britain.

I do not know if this protester and his sign had been welcomed before my speech and if other people have taken part. I do not know if members of the SO spotted and asked him accountable. Perhaps he has spent the day suffer the criticism of other demonstrators; at least that is what I hope. But when I came across him, he was perfectly at ease, surrounded by friends. This was a very disappointing experience. If proponents of such a policy attend demonstrations of solidarity to peddle such ideas, they should be isolated and be subjected to vigorous critical constants. They should not be able to scroll quietly for a moment.

If anti-Semitism “classic” are rare, those involving themes more “subtle” are more frequent. Placards and banners comparing Israel to the Nazis, and the occupation of Palestine to the Holocaust, and images combining the Star of David with swastikas are relatively common, although they are far from be ubiquitous. The policy behind this imagery is motivated, too, by a logical anti-Semitic.

Nazism and the Holocaust – the genocide organized industrially there are only two generations – have left deep traces on the identity, cultural memory and the collective Jewish consciousness, injuries that take a long time to heal. As others have recently written (http://www.sarahmcculloch.com/activism/2014/stop-comparing-jews-nazis/), no other ethno-cultural group has experienced such a traumatic experience during its history. Slogans or images introducing equivalence as “Zionism = Nazism”, “Star of David = Swastika” and “Occupation [of Palestine] = Holocaust” is used as a collective cultural trauma as a weapon to attack Jews. The fact that those who brandish placards during these events have only intends to target the Israeli government, not Jews in general, is not an argument or a qualified excuse. The barbarity of the Israeli state policy does not justify one says anything about the Jews, nor imperialism of the U.S. government condones racist attacks against Barack Obama. Describe the movement of solidarity with Palestine, as a whole, as “anti-Semitic” is a slander. Cynics and the right people have attempted to use anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred here and there to draw negative conclusions about the political views of all the protesters, or imply any support to the Palestinians would somehow antisemitic. Such cynical extrapolations are not the focus of this article.

Undoubtedly, the vast majority of protesters at this event wanted to oppose the current Israeli aggression against Gaza. The movement includes many Jews (and not just reactionary theocratic Neturei Karta, but also progressive secular Jews), and many sincere anti-racist. But it is unacceptable that some individuals can wield with impunity such signs, find supporters to support and utter openly racist slurs against Jewish protesters who challenge them.

The right people in the Jewish community use such manifestations of antisemitism to discredit the Palestinian cause, and to discourage the Jews to act to support this cause. Would this practice to this level, elementary, anti-Semitism hurts Palestinians. But racism has no place in a movement of solidarity, not because it is bad for his image or public relations, but because solidarity should be hostile to any form of racism.

It is now common in the blogosphere left to find items marked with a “warning” or explaining that those who have experienced specific traumatic experiences may be affected by texts that could trigger painful memories. Attend an event where Nazism and the Holocaust (the worst and most traumatic collective experience of the Jews) are used as a propaganda tool cheap, and see anti-Semitic signs and brandies are defended by their content demonstrators, while those who contest receive racist abuse, can only recall painful memories to many Jews. But we can not install “warnings” in the events, or the events of our daily life. All we can do is fight to establish the hegemony of a political culture where such phenomena will be confronted and eradicated.

Finally, a little reminder “historic” on placards brandished during demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine. In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, during a demonstration against the Israeli aggression, members of the AWL Sheffield (three of whom were also Jewish) carried placards which, among other things, proclaimed: “No to the IDF, not Hamas.” With hindsight, I think, for various reasons, our slogan was erroneous. But then the person has attempted to engage in a debate or a discussion with us about it; we were treated to “yellow” and “Zionists” was booed us and Respondent ordered to leave immediately the demo (which we declined). Our signs we were then torn hands and were torn.

As I already said, I do not know how many people have challenged the racist sign that is the subject of this article, in the event of London in July 2014; many, I hope. But the political climate of the event was clearly not as this individual is felt undesirable – and, indeed, when he was stopped by my critics, many people have come to her defense.

I did not mention the incident in Sheffield for regret that the treatment was imposed in 2009 we did it was not imposed in 2014. I was not a supporter of destroying its sign, or attempt to deport him and supporters of the event. However, a movement in which one side, a sign “No to the IDF, not Hamas” is considered unacceptable, unworthy of any discussion, and must be violently eliminated, but where, on the other, a sign promoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can be wielded without difficulty, even for a few minutes, and when the wearer finds many supporters, such a movement needs to change in political culture.

Daniel Randall, Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) Great Britain

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