This is a guest post by St Jude
Jonathan Kent starts off promisingly, pointing out the institutional anti-semitism of Malaysia and its then Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad, who gave an infamous speech to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in 2003, when anti-Israel propaganda slipped into an anti-Jewish rant:
The echoes of thirties fascist rhetoric were too strong. Yet, in the hall, there was almost universal acceptance of Mahathir’s characterisation of the influence of ‘The Jews’.
He then goes on to extrapolate virulent anti-Semitism to much of the rest of the Asia-Pacific. Without really offering any evidence for that. Apparently, in that part of the world, there is “an almost complete absence of sensitivity” to the Holocaust whereas in Europe there is widespread collective guilt (which is the reason it created Israel).
So two myths for the price of one for starters. A potentially prejudiced assumption that East Asians are ignorant of, or unsympathetic about, the Holocaust (which had ramifications for Jewish communities in that part of the world, actually). And the ahistorical formulation that Holocaust = Jews owed by Europe = Israel’s establishment.
But OK, we’ve got someone on the left admitting that the slide from Israel criticism into Jew baiting is genuine. Thankful for that.
Is this then a problem that the left needs to face up to and deal with? Yes, of course…wait…what? No? Oh.
You see, for Kent, this not really a problem for anybody other than the “pro-Israel Lobby”. You see, the “pro-Israel Lobby”’s only real tactic is false accusations of anti-Semitism. And that, you see, is the only thing that actually keeps any support for Israel going anywhere. Therefore, if world power is shifting, then the “pro-Israel lobby” is going to have to do something different to get support for Israel because in the East, Judaeophobia is so everyday, that nobody cares about being accused of anti-Semitism:
The pro-Israel lobby is going to have rethink and seek a solution to its current situation that will withstand the shifting sands of global power.
I am not going to detail again how the false accusations of anti-Semitism are in fact smears against defenders of Israel (as one of the comments under Kent’s post puts it). See Engage on the Livingstone Formulation. Or Shiraz Socialist on similar.
For now, let’s just wallow in the wonderful logic of a piece that is based on genuine evidence of anti-Semitism…
The unquestioning anti-Semitism that I found infecting Malaysia (the main ruling UMNO party sold copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its bookshop) developed in a cultural and historical vacuum; there is, to all intents and purposes, no Jewish community in Malaysia. With no one to challenge the craziness the craziness gets accepted unthinkingly. It wasn’t just Muslims who bought into the ‘Jews ruling the world’ line – it was parroted by ethnic Chinese Buddhists, ethnic Tamil Hindus and Christians of all backgrounds just as readily.
…but wants to make a point about allegedly false evidence of the same.
According to Kent, then: some governments’ anti-Israel stances are definitely connected to Jew-hatred. Their worldview is an incorrect and anti-Semitic one in which Jews exercise inordinate power. But in the West, the “pro-Israel lobby” does, indeed, exercise inordinate power. It does this by exploiting people’s fear of being seen as Jew-haters by systematically falsely accusing them of anti-Semitism. This is unfair because the only true anti-Semitism is anti-Israel criticism is in the East, and not the West (where rhetoric is always, always only ever reflecting genuine concern for the Palestinians). But the East, alien to Europe, as it is, doesn’t even care about anti-Semitism! No, it’s so endemic that it’d be like challenging the theory of evolution in the middle of Richard Dawkins’s birthday party. And therefore, rather than point out that the governments of these people might be skewed in their dealings with the world’s only Jewish state because of this, why don’t you, the “pro-Israel lobby”, turn off the whingeing about that and go and do something less mendacious instead?
Today’s “left”, ladies and gentleman. Detects unquestionable anti-Semitism. And doesn’t call for it to be challenged and defeated. Because it’s too busy pointing fingers at the “pro-Israel lobby” and chanting “sit down shut up, sit down shut up”.