FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Zionism and ‘Anti-Semitism’: A Chronicle of a Smear Foretold

Photograph Source: Kate Ausburn – CC BY 2.0

With the 2020 Presidential elections fast approaching, the progressive campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is gaining traction. Several interest groups have grown increasingly anxious of Sanders’ Democratic Socialist agenda, including ruling class Republicans, corporate Democrats and their joint ally – Zionists, both Christian and Jewish.

Sanders and BDS

The ongoing ‘anti-Semitism’ smear of Sanders and his grassroots following has been waged openly at least since last February, regardless of the Senator’s Jewishness and outspoken support for Israel.

The smear has included at its core an attack on his backers Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) as well as activist Linda Sarsour.

The fact these are all women of color, two of them Palestinian, is far from coincidental; Zionism is a white supremacist, settler colonialist project, which is threatened by intersectional alliances disrupting Israel’s divide and rule tactics.

In response to the escalating smear, Sanders penned an editorial outlining his stance on anti-Semitism, Israel and Judaism, which predictably failed to deter the smearers. However, his liberal Zionism and endorsement of the immoral and politically unfeasible apartheid two-state “solution” render him susceptible to ongoing assaults as he repeats Zionist propaganda talking points.

Yet these attacks on Sanders and his followers conceal a campaign in the making for some time; a Zionist strategy devoted to targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as explicitly stated more than 10 years ago at the ‘Global Forum for combating Antisemitism’ and subsequently by ‘The Reut Institute’.

Although not a BDS supporter himself, Sanders has defended the right to engage in the movement and is clearly the best candidate on Palestine in 2020.

Thus, Sanders is targeted relentlessly by Zionist propaganda.

Zionist propaganda fallacies

Also known as ‘hasbara’, Zionist propaganda relies on several fallacies.

First and foremost, a conflation of Zionism with Judaism serves to deflect criticism of Zionist expansionist apartheid policies by means of repeated cycles of aggression and trauma and the agency of imperial enablers, whilst obfuscating the Nakba and Palestinian demands for equality and justice for those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, within Israel’s 1948 borders, and refugees in the diaspora, who are guaranteed full right of return under international law.

This anti-Semitic conflation is reactionary, promoting right wing politics within the left.

The deliberately concocted manifest destiny connection between Zionism and Judaism thwarts resistance by deeming critique of Zionism and Israeli policies towards Palestinians as an attack on all Jews, ie anti-Semitic. Further, it fragments anti-colonial resistance by reframing a political struggle over land and resources between an occupying force and an occupied people as a “conflict” between two relatively equal parties.

This conflation promotes further tactical, Zionist appropriation and exceptionalization of Jewish victimhood and suffering. Israeli hasbara frames the Nazi Holocaust as a particularly savage genocide in history, which entitles its primary targets – Jews – with a special status among victims. In line with this facade, as exceptional victims, Jews deserve privileges, discounts and allowances. As the constructed “Jewish state”, Israel has been and continues to be the beneficiary of these favors and special relationships, which regularly come at the expense of Indigenous Palestinians. Notably, Zionist revisionism often ignores and diminishes Nazi crimes against other oppressed groups, such as communists and socialists, Roma, disabled people, LGBTQI, and African-Germans.

Zionist hasbara attempts to tarnish anti-colonial anti-Zionism by duplicitously merging it with modern white supremacist anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish religious bigotry, recasting principled leftist resistance to Zionist criminality as part of an ancient and exceptional form of human racism, which supposedly afflicts both left and right political spheres. This essentially anti-Semitic maneuver serves to whitewash Israeli criminality and ongoing collaborations with far-right governments worldwide and attack those who call them out, such as Representative Ilhan Omar and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Moreover, Zionist historical revisionism facilitates an erroneous presentation of Israel as a ‘normal’ democracy facilitating a left-to-right political milieu, instead of accurately acknowledging the entirety of the Zionist movement, including its “liberal” variety, as inherently reactionary, settler colonialist and genocidal.

Settler colonial projects generally rely on presentation of the desired territory as ’empty land’, along with dehumanization of existing inhabitants as barbarians undeserving of their land, who can thus be dispossessed without qualms in favor of a ‘villa in the jungle’. There is nothing ‘exceptional’ about Israel’s posture which has been marketed by other western settler colonial endeavors to sanitize their own land grabs, slaughter and denial of rights to Indigenous peoples as well as rejection of non-white refugees.

The Liberal flank of Zionism functions to absolve the reactionary essence of the movement and obscure its motivations – expansionism and apartheid. Dishonestly, it presents Zionism as compatible with democratic and progressive values and human rights, fictitiously possessing a true desire for peace, justice and complete integration into the Middle East.

All roads lead to Trump

The manufactured ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign waged against Sanders’ progressive camp began with liberal Zionist instigators in American media and was enthusiastically picked up by corporate Democrats and far-right wingers in Israel and the US, including Donald Trump himself (see here from recent campaign rally).

Significantly, the smear of Rep. Omar and parts of the left as ‘anti-Semitic’ is facilitated by the approval of the flawed and controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which adopts Zionist talking points regarding Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ and which was presaged again as strategic ‘lawfare’ in the Global Policy Forum in 2009.

The scapegoating of Omar by some in the mainstream media and prominent members of her own party provided a convenient backdrop for Trump to sign an unconstitutional Executive Order following his vicious anti-Semitic tirade at the Israeli-American Council National Summit.

This ongoing campaign against Omar, involving a host of dubious sources and social media accounts, has been adopted by key representatives of the Israeli government, such as UN ambassador Danny Danon. Notably, the Zionist portrayal of Omar as an anti-Semite shields real anti-Semites from accountability.

Israel’s racist policies complement Trump’s own xenophobic ambitions, as expressed by his senior policy adviser arch-Zionist Islamophobe Stephen Miller. Consistently, Congresswoman Omar has vocally opposed Stephen Miller’s white supremacy, fomenting further duplicitous accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’.

Defeating the smear

The fallacious ‘anti-Semitism’ accusations lobbed at those criticizing Zionist policies can be attacked successfully by avoiding Zionist propaganda traps and embracing the Palestinian, anti-racist call for BDS, a call which melds co-resistance and anti-colonialism, rejecting political Zionism.

To achieve justice, the focus on Zionist criminality and Israel’s shared settler colonial values and racist behaviors with other western settler colonial projects must persist. And the only relevant choice remains – are you a Zionist or an anti-Zionist? As veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote: “If you remain a Zionist, you can no longer be of the left; if you’re of the left, you can no longer be a Zionist.”

All those who claim to care about Palestinians, including liberal Jews and associated media outlets and organizations who avoid implicating Zionism or directly supporting BDS cannot continue to claim left-wing universalist values while simultaneously serving as the “liberal propaganda wing of the apartheid Zionist regime.

Recognizing Zionism as inherently reactionary is not a “purity test” aimed at excluding activists as recently claimed by Ran Greenstein in a piece for the liberal Zionist 972 Magazine. Rather, it is a necessary first step in attacking duplicitous ‘anti-Semitism’ smears by identifying their tactical origins and impact, rejecting rightwing sabotage of a principled struggle for rights and justice.

The onus of change and accountability is on the oppressor, not for the oppressed to endure. On the road to liberation, only a consistent and unapologetic anti-Zionist framework is effective and congruent with leftist, anti-racist values.

More articles by:

Yoav Litvin is a Doctor of Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience.  

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
March 27, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us
Louis Proyect
Life and Death in the Epicenter
Paul Street
“I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts
Jefferson Morley
Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?
Kathleen Wallace
The End of the Parasite Paradigm
Ruth Hopkins
A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman
Anthony DiMaggio
Misinformation and the Coronavirus: On the Dangers of Depoliticization and Social Media
Andrew Levine
Neither Biden Nor Trump: Imagine Cuomo
David Rosen
God’s Vengeance: the Christian Right and the Coronavirus
David Schultz
The Covid-19 Bailout: Another Failed Opportunity at Structural Change
Evaggelos Vallianatos
In the Grip of Disease
Edward Leer
Somebody Else’s World: An Interview with Kelly Reichardt
Robert Fisk
What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19
Daniel Warner
COVID-19: Health or Wealth?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
Corona in Germany: Hording and Authoritarianism
Ramzy Baroud
BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy
Richard Moser
Russia-gate: the Dead But Undead
Ron Jacobs
Politics, Pandemics and Trumpism
Chris Gilbert
Letter From Catalonia: Alarming Measures
Richard Eskow
Seven Rules for the Boeing Bailout
Jonathan Carp
Coronavirus and the Collapse of Our Imaginations
Andrew Bacevich
The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom
Peter Cohen
COVID-19, the Exponential Function and Human the Survival
César Chelala - Alberto Luis Zuppi
The Pope is Wrong on Argentina
James Preston Allen
Alexander Cockburn Meets Charles Bukowski at a Sushi Bar in San Pedro
Jérôme Duval
The Only Oxygen Cylinder Factory in Europe is Shut down and Macron Refuses to Nationalize It
Neve Gordon
Gaza Has Been Under Siege for Years. Covid-19 Could Be Catastrophic
Alvaro Huerta
To Survive the Coronavirus, Americans Should Learn From Mexicans
Prabir Purkayastha
Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to All Societies
Raouf Halaby
Fireside Chatterer Andrew Cuomo for President
Thomas Drake
The Sobering Realities of the American Dystopia
Negin Owliaei
Wash Your Hands…If You Have Water
Felice Pace
A New Threat to California’s Rivers:  Will the Rush to Develop Our Newest Water Source Destroy More Streams?
Ray Brescia
What 9/11 Can Teach Us About Responding to COVID-19
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Covid-19 Opportunity
John Kendall Hawkins
An Age of Intoxication: Pick Your Poison
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Propaganda Virus: Is Anyone Immune?
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 1: Dispatches From a Terrified Heartland
Nolan Higdon – Mickey Huff
Don’t Just Blame Trump for the COVID-19 Crisis: the U.S. Has Been Becoming a Failed State for Some Time
Susan Block
Coronavirus Spring
David Yearsley
Lutz Alone
CounterPunch News Service
Letter from Truthdig’s Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer to the Publisher Zuade Kaufman
CounterPunch News Service
Statement From Striking Truthdig Workers
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail