I want to start this off by being absolutely blunt and clear. I find the charges of Antisemitism against the Pro-Palestinian and Anti-Zionist movements bogus and a complete red hearing. That to assume that any criticism of Israel automatically equals antisemitism is such an illegitimate idea that I will not not comment on it further because it is so beneath the most basic requirements of reason and logic. But in regards to legitimate antisemitism – that is actual cases of anti-Jewish bigotry as opposed to just criticism of Israel’s barbaric practices – those charges are also equally unjustified when leveled against the Palestinian solidarity movement.
In the western countries, the Anti-Zionist movements are largely led by Jews in our desperate struggle against the elites who have corrupted our people onto this path of colonialism and racism. In the Palestinian solidarity movement, I have never once met any individual in 7 years of activism who harbored any legimate antisemitic views whatsoever. Are there antisemites in the west, of course, but they are in fringe racist groups who are not part of the Anti-Zionist and Palestinian solidarity movements and have little sway over American political life. And even in Arab and Muslim countries, what “antisemitism” I have come across has really been mostly Anti-Zionism and Anti-Israel/Anti-Colonialism sentiments, and most of the people I’ve talked to have always differentiated between Jews as a whole and Israel. The charges of “Antisemitism” leveled against the Pro-Palestinian people of the world is largely baseless and is a total scare and diversionary tactic by the Pro-Israelis.
The effects of this is that those Zionists willy-nilly throwing around charges of antisemitism have done a lot of damage, especially in scaring away non Jews and Palestinians from the movement. So its either Palestinians, other Arabs/Muslims or Anti-Zionist Jews involved in this Palestinian solidarity movement most of the time. And as a person from one of those groups, it has always bugged me. Like the non Palestinian or Jewish people in coalitions always clammed up and differed to the Jews and Palestinians whenever it came to important discussions or representing the movement in front of the press or at rallies or whatever. They always seemed to feel guilty and thinking that this wasn’t really “their” fight, and it really becomes deeply demobilizing. The Palestinian solidarity, BDS, anti-imperialists and anti-Zionist movements don’t stand a chance in the US if we remain stuck in the segregated off cul de sac of just Palestinians and Jews fighting these fights. I’m totally down with the notion that we need as many damn allies as we can get, to make spaces for these allies, and not let the Zionist creeps scare them off with the “what if I come off as anti-semetic” scare tactics.
This as indicated brings up a number of important issues relative to those non-Palestinians and Jews being “good allies” in the struggle. I think the Palestinian solidarity movement is sort of its own kind of animal in a way. Normally yes, allies should be aware of spaces and places and when to differ to those with the more direct experiences. In the Palestinian movement the logic is a bit different, cause that idea just illustrated has been absolutely and systematically abused by the Zionists to silence any and all opposition to Israeli war crimes that isn’t coming from the most narrow of demographic groups (but even then we are still under attack with epithet of “self-hating Jew” and “antisemitic Muslim” and so forth). The zionists will always say that if you aren’t Jewish, haven’t been to Israel, aren’t Israeli (and the liberal ones sometimes might include the Palestinians, but usually not) then you can’t speak on this subject, and that has to be fought against and broken.
That isn’t to say that proper allyship etiquette shouldn’t be the rule of the day. Its not the non-Palestinian American’s place to dictate to the Palestinians the exact terms under which they they are allowed to liberate themselves, for instance. But non-Palestinian and non-Jewish Americans are absolutely needed to step up, step forth and help in the efforts to drown out the Zionist propaganda machines. I want them, the Pro-Israelis, to feel like they have to be on the defensive all the time, instead of us with the “antisemitic” fear-mongering bull shit. And to do that we need a real cross-ethnic mass groundswell. In short, the power of the opposition and the difficulty of the task at hand has sort of implanted a very real pragmatism onto the movement; the logic being by any and all means necessary.
But dialing it back a bit, there is an important tactical question here; of how we deal with this constant onslaught of bull shit charges of “antisemitism” as a movement. I honestly can’t count the number of times I have been asked and had to make this little song and dance speech about how I will “call out and fight against any antisemitism” within the Palestinian solidarity movement whenever it shows up. Cause the Zionists have so thoroughly monopolized the discussion and popular consciousness, that to show even the most tepid amount of sympathy to the plight of the Palestinian people puts you under thought-crime levels of suspicion for antisemitism. So it is now incumbent on us to bend over backwards and prove that we are not antisemitic and that there is no antisemites in our movement. But guess what; never once in all my years of Palestinian solidarity and anti-Zionist activism have I ever once come across legitimate antisemitism in our movement, not once. I’ve never had to “call out” antisemitism in the movement cause it doesn’t exist, at least in my experience. But on the other hand, I have indeed come across plenty of other bigotry, but all of it was coming from the other side of the debate.
So here is what I’m wondering, why is it always incumbent on Palestinian activists to call out bigotry in our movement and never the Zionists? Why don’t the Zionists and broader Pro-Israel forces have the same standards put on them to call out any forms of anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia in their movement? Because I can tell you, I have heard some absolutely despicable things, racist, Islamophobic, bigoted, De-humanizing characterizing, stereotypes and slurs come out of the mouths of Pro-Israels and Zionists (and here not even talking about Israeli officials or AIPAC spokespeople, I’m talking about regular Zionists at demonstrations, in ‘Students for Israel’ clubs, Israelis on the street, even in my own family). The amount of outright hate directed against all Palestinians, all Arabs and all Muslims I have heard and seen would make a Klansmen blush. And this is not hyperbole, I can quote examples where Palestinians are talked about as if they are sub-human animals and far worst, with no rights to life or freedom. But where are the so-called “Liberal” Zionists in combating the flagrant bigotry in their house?
Suffice is to say, these are largely rhetorical questions that I know the answer to. Zionism is built from the foundation up on racism and white supremacy, so all of this hideous displays of bigotry are just natural manifestations of a rotten colonialist ideology of apartheid. But that said, I say in the here and now we flip the script. Every time from here on out a Zionist is giving us shit for our non-existent “antisemitism” we ask them to their face what are they doing to combat Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism in their movement, community and country. We demand on them the same standards that they have imposed on us to clean out their own house of all the bigoted rubbish. Let them prove that they aren’t covering or they themselves are not bigots for once. Do that and you’ll see then how much they’ll scrim.