I recently took part in a panel discussion at the glorious event that Limmud is. The title of the panel was “Looking back on 2014: Anti-Zionism or Anti-Semitism?” I firmly believe that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. My opening statement, which I read out to the audience, is below.
I was studying for exams for my MA in Journalism degree when the war in Gaza started so I was bound to my desk throughout. In between study sessions I monitored news sites and social media paying particular attention to the anti-Israel protests in my home country of South Africa and the UK where I live now. I also wrote a piece for the Times of Israel on the hypocrisy of the protests.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, by the level of abuse directed at Jews both in my home country of South Africa and here in the UK this year. I saw an increase in the virulence of protest attacks on Israel in both countries which crossed into anti-Semitism. This is the familiar pattern of anti-Israel protests, regardless where or why they take place. They are really about anti-Semitism and the world’s indignation that Jews have the temerity to defend themselves.
I watched with horror the blatant anti-Semitism on display at the Stop the War and Palestinian Solidarity Campaign marches against Israel during the war. Some of these protesters wore Hitler t-shirts that they proudly displayed for the cameras. I watched a pair of deluded middle class women declaring their love for Hamas, a sickening display of the glorification and hero-worshipping of a death cult that makes it a priority to kill Jews. People who would not be able to point out where Israel is on a map were screaming ‘We all Hamas now”. These hysterical marchers were baying for Jewish blood.
I read about ongoing protests against Israel at Woolworths stores in South Africa, some which are still happening now. In October a pig’s head was placed by a member of the Congress of SA Students, a group affiliated with the ANC, in a Woolworths shop in Cape Town. The irony is that he placed it in the Halaal section and not the Kosher one. He was so proud of his antics that he took a selfie and tweeted it showing that being an anti-Semite is now a badge of honour. Even the conspiracy theorists that I monitor were hard at work, saying that Mossad arranged for the Malaysian Airline crashes as a way to divert attention from Gaza.
It turned my stomach to watch the Palestinian death count on the BBC and Sky news channels during the war. Tapping into the blood libel that Jews revel in killing children their hourly death count was a vile display. I notice that this has not been done for the slaughter conducted by the Islamic State.
I watched how anti-Zionist protesters screamed those ancient libels that “Jews kill children” and “Jews killed Jesus” while protesting outside Kedem in Manchester in August. I read how a Free Gaza and BDS mob protested at Tesco in Birmingham by throwing Israeli produce onto the ground. These BDS protests are a contemporary Kristallnaght and make no distinction between Israelis and Jews.
My greatest concern however is how politicians joined in the protests and marches. MPs like George Galloway declaring Bradford an Israeli free zone and David Ward with his plethora of anti-Semitic tweets. Shabana Mahmood, an MP for Birmingham, took part in a Free Gaza protest outside a Sainsbury’s. Labour MP Diane Abbot and Baroness Jenny Tonge both spoke at a Stop the War protest on 19 July in London, the former calling for support for Gaza and the latter salivating at the thought of Israel becoming a pariah state. It chills me to the bone to know that these people are in parliament.
The protests and the number of people they attracted have given incentive to those who oppose Israel. These protests must have given encouragement to those who voted to recognise a Palestinian state in both the UK and European Parliament and to the lifting of the terrorist status for Hamas by the EU. The blatant hate seen on the streets in London and Manchester means it is open season on us Jews and politicians follow suit. CST reported that attacks on Jews increased during the war in Gaza and they continue to escalate. These figures show in black and white that Israel defending herself is linked to a rise in attacks on Jews in the diaspora. It is like a blaming a women for being raped because she wears a short skirt. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism and the protests and BDS antics show this.