Monday, October 10, 2005


Which Palestine are you for?

Further to my recent exposure of more odious antisemitism on Indymedia, I received the following Essay on Anti-Semitism. A long read (as essays are) it makes a number of excellent points and is worth reading. Especially if you are not Jewish as was the case for the author, Nick Cohen, who thanks to his surname only, became the victim of antisemitism.
I experienced what many blacks and Asians had told me: you can never tell. Where people stand on the political spectrum says nothing about their visceral beliefs. I found the far left wasn't confined to the chilling Socialist Workers Party but contained many scrupulous people it was a pleasure to meet and an education to debate. Meanwhile, the centre was nowhere near as moderate as it liked to think. One minute I would be talking to a BBC reporter or liberal academic and think him a civilised man; the next, he would be screaming about the Jews.

Politicians I'd admired astonished me: Tam Dalyell explained British foreign policy as a Jewish conspiracy; Ken Livingstone embraced a Muslim cleric who favoured the blowing up of Israeli women and children, along with wife-beating and the murder of homosexuals and apostates.

I could go on. The moment when bewilderment settled into a steady scorn, however, was when the Guardian ran a web debate entitled: "David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen are enough to make a good man anti-Semitic". Gorgeously, one vigilant reader complained that the title was prejudiced - the debate should be headlined: "David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen are enough to make a good man, or woman, anti-Semitic."

Mustn't forget our manners now, must we?
I don't like the term "Islamo-fascism" - fascist movements are national movements, not religions. Still, no one can fail to have noticed that in one indisputable respect the west is the "root cause" of Islamist terror: militant Muslims have bought the ideology of the European counter-revolution wholesale.

The appeal is understandable. There is a chosen people: the Germans, the Italians or the Spanish in classic fascism; Sunni Muslims in totalitarian variants of Islam. Domination is theirs by right, but they are denied their inheritance by a conspiracy of infidels, be they westernisers, Jews, sell-out leaders or the corrupters of women and youth.

You can read for yourselves the histories of the links between Nazism and the Arab world in the 1940s, but to bring you up to date, here is what Article 22 of Hamas's covenant says of the Jews: "They were behind the French revolution, the communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests."

That's right, Rotary Clubs.

Please don't tell me that it helps the Palestinians to give the far right the time of day, or pretend that Palestinian liberals, socialists, women, gays, freethinkers and Christians (let alone Israeli Jews) would prosper in a Palestine ruled by Hamas. It's not radical, it's barely political, to turn a blind eye and say you are for the Palestinian cause. Political seriousness lies in stating which Palestine you are for and which Palestinians you support. The Palestinian fight is at once an anti-colonial struggle and a clash between modernity and reaction. The confusion of our times comes from the failure to grasp that it is possible to have an anti-colonialism of the far right.

While we're at it, don't excuse Hamas and Islamic Jihad and all the rest by saying the foundation of Israel and the defeat of all the Arab attempts to destroy it made them that way. Anti-Semitism isn't a local side effect of a dirty war over a patch of land smaller than Wales. It's everywhere from Malaysia to Morocco, and it has arrived here. When the BBC showed a Panorama documentary about the ideological roots of the Muslim Council of Britain in the Pakistani religious right, the first reaction of the Council was to accuse it of following an "Israeli agenda". The other day the Telegraph reported that Ahmad Thomson, a Muslim lawyer who advises the Prime Minister on community relations of all things, had declared that a "sinister" group of Jews and Freemasons was behind the invasion of Iraq.

To explain away a global phenomenon as a rational reaction to Israeli oppression, you have once again to turn the Jew into a supernatural figure whose existence is the cause of discontents throughout the earth. You have to revive anti-Semitism.
Read it all. Then think again about Indymedia's role in the matter.

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