The Year of War Against Anti-Semitism

Everyone is doing it

One might think that 2019 was the year war was declared against anti-Semitism judging from the pronouncements of politicians in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin. To be sure, Israel and its diaspora friends have continued to play the “anti-Semitism” card whenever their behavior is challenged but the international passion to extirpate the “new anti-Semitism” to include any and all criticism of Israel is something quite special that is being backed up by punitive legislation.

In one of its more recent victory laps, British Zionists are toasting Mazel Tov in their Hanukkah celebrations over their part in the defeat of Labour candidate Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn was demonized personally by the British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis shortly before the December election and was unfairly labeled an anti-Semite by the Jewish media over his antipathy towards Israeli actions and his willingness to recognize the suffering of the Palestinians. From now on, no British politician will be willing to challenge Jewish power in the U.K. Indeed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who claims some Jewish ancestry and spent some time in his youth on a kibbutz, has already pledged to make any criticism of Israel illegal in Britain. Moving the British Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will no doubt soon follow.

Meanwhile, and as a direct result of the unwillingness to confront Israel in any meaningful way, war crimes committed by the Jewish state proliferate. Every Friday there is a shooting gallery along the fence with Gaza, where unarmed Palestinian protesters are targeted by Israeli snipers. And in November, Israel conducted a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip after its assassination of a senior Islamic Jihad commander and his wife. At least 34 Palestinians were reported killed and more than 100 wounded in the two days of bombardment while no Israelis were killed. An attack on the makeshift home of the al-Sawarka family killed eight members of the family, including children. A week later, a ninth member of the family, Mohammed al-Sawarka, died from from his injuries.

The Israeli army carried out a perfunctory investigation of the deaths and concluded that that the army’s intelligence section had made a mapping mistake that included the family home as part of an Islamic Jihad “compound.” So a filing error led to the deaths of nine innocent civilians in one family and, of course, no one in the Israeli military was in any way punished or even reprimanded. Or even apologized.

And when it is pushed to do so, Israel uses the anti-Semitism weapon to render itself completely unaccountable in spite of its war crimes. The recent announcement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it is looking into possible crimes relating to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has produced a quick response from Washington and Jerusalem. The Trump Administration, fearful lest one crime lead to investigation of another, is concerned lest atrocities committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq become the fodder for a subsequent inquiry, has reiterated its claim that the ICC has no jurisdiction over it as the U.S. has never recognized its authority. Washington has also revoked a visa held by chief prosecutor of the ICC, has threatened more visa refusals, and is also threatening sanctions as reprisals, claiming that the court is “illegitimate” while also vowing that the Trump Administration would do everything “to protect [American] citizens”.

In Israel meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to shore up his sputtering attempt to remain in office by denouncing the inquiry itself as “anti-Semitism.” He made the claim while using Judaism’s holy Western Wall as a backdrop during a candle-lighting ceremony marking the start of the eight-days of Hanukkah, saying “New edicts are being cast against the Jewish people – anti-Semitic edicts by the International Criminal Court telling us that we, the Jews standing here next to this wall … in this city, in this country, have no right to live here and that by doing so, we are committing a war crime.” He called it “Pure anti-Semitism.”

Back in the United States the war on anti-Semitism initiated by President Donald Trump and endorsed by both parties in Congress is running full speed ahead. The first lawsuit linked to the Trump executive order signed on Hanukkah that creates a mechanism for defunding universities that do not protect the “civil rights” of their Jewish students has been filed by a Israeli student at Columbia University. His lawyer Brooke Goldstein claims that the university is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for “discrimination against Jews.” He added that “We drafted and filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which is, to my knowledge, the first action of its kind since Trump’s executive order.”

Goldstein is the executive director of The Lawfare Project, which has been engaged in Jewish and Israeli advocacy. Her client, Jonathan Karten, a senior at Columbia University, alleges that he was on the receiving end of anti-Semitism on campus. The Trump executive order broadens the definition of discrimination by implying that “Jewish” is a nationality while also accepting that criticism of Israel constitutes anti-Semitism.

Goldstein claims that Karten “has been ridiculed and embarrassed because of his religion and his national identity” on campus, most particularly by members of the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Karten claims that he was called “a Zionist pig” and other names. And Karten complains that even a professor was mean to him when he was speaking with other students at an event hosted by the Columbia chapter of Students Supporting Israel. A “Columbia professor of Arabic literature…interrupted the conversation, pointed at Jonathan and yelled, ‘Don’t believe a word he is saying. He is Mossad.’” According to the complaint, “Jonathan felt ridiculed and embarrassed due to someone in authority publicly targeting him, accusing him of being a spy for a foreign government because of his religion and national identity.”

Karten decided to take action after a November 8th speech by a modern Arab politics and intellectual history professor named Joseph Massad. Massad reportedly gave a speech at the annual conference of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center, where he said that “The Oslo Accords inaugurated this process of liquidating the Palestinian national struggle while the ‘Deal of the Century’ plans and hopes to conclude it … The only thing standing in its way is the ongoing Palestinian resistance to Israeli settler colonialism and racism that continues inside Israel and Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza; the ongoing Marches of Return in Gaza; and the armed resistance of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades to Israeli invasions in Gaza.”

The complaint notes that “The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of Hamas, which is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization [FTO]” while the “Izz al-Din al-Qassam has killed more than 650 civilians. It is also directly responsible for the kidnapping and brutal murder of Jonathan’s uncle, Sharone Edri. However, according to Professor Massad, this group’s killing of innocent Israeli citizens, like Jonathan’s uncle and countless others, is justified due to Israel’s ‘settler colonialism.’”

Karten and Goldstein maintain that their complaints fell on deaf ears within the Columbia University Administration. Karten had filed a complaint with Columbia University’s Department of Public Safety last year “…after he and his friends were repeatedly called murderers at a BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] referendum at the school.”

One might observe that Professor Massad did not say anything that is contrary to a reasonable assessment of what the Israelis and their friends have done to the Palestinians. Under international law, it is perfectly justified for a people under occupation to resist the occupiers, using whatever means are available. And it is not unimaginable that Karten reports to Mossad. One presumes that he has done his military service and perhaps he should explain what that entailed in light of claims that he was or is a “murderer.”

Jonathan Karten appears to be such a sensitive soul that being called names over what is admittedly a red-hot and very controversial political issue needs to be redressed by putting those hurling the epithets out of business permanently. That amounts to a nullification of the First and Fourth amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees freedom of speech and association. Karten himself felt free to associate with a group of Students Supporting Israel and one might safely bet that some serious invective would flow out of that organization whenever a Palestinian might appear at or near one of its gatherings. And most importantly, one should also note that Karten was not by his own admission in any way threatened. It was only words.

And lawyer Goldstein is not necessarily an objective observer pursuing “justice.” She is nothing more than a professional advocate for Israel and what are perceived as Jewish issues. As it is somewhat unclear what exactly she and her client want the university to do to address the issues they have cited, one can only guess that it would include silencing the critics and possibly even reparations of some kind, a frequent feature in the old “discrimination” game.

None of this agitation occurs in a vacuum. There is extensive advocacy for Israel at all levels, much of it hidden. In 2019 alone the Sheldon Adelson supported Maccabee Task Force “secretly funded over 3,200 pro-Israel events on 112 campuses, and brought over 2,300 student leaders on ‘transformative trips’ to Israel.” Taken all together, every bit of uncritical empowering of the Jewish state now surfacing in London, Washington, New York and in Israel itself is part of a vast international conspiracy to render the Zionist crimes against humanity unobserved and unreported whenever possible as well as always unaccountable. And when all else fails, the Israelis and, to be sure, many diaspora Jews know exactly what to weaponize when they want to win the debate. Former Israeli Minister Shulamit Aloni once explained how it is done: “Anti-Semitic”…”it’s a trick, we always use it.”

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