I made the mistake of watching a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) video talk on Facebook and in just five minutes I saw three instances of antisemitic tropes.
Ironically, this was a ‘United Against Racism Rally.’ The speakers were definitely united, but not against racism.
What has sadly become apparent in the last few weeks is that many do not categorise antisemitism and racism as two halves of the same coin, and if they do there is a hierarchical pecking order on how important an issue is. The murder of George Floyd quite rightly sparked outrage and resulted in Black Out Tuesday, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread expressions of solidarity with black victims of racism. Then antisemitism reared its ugly head through Nick Cannon, Shein selling a Swastika necklace, and Wiley. The silence has been deafening.
In the PSC video, not only was the silence against antisemitism deafening but antisemitic tropes were spouted. The only time the term ‘antisemitism’ was mentioned was by Rabbi Alissa Wise and it was not in solidarity against anti-Jewish hatred. Violent expressions of antisemitism like the Pittsburgh Synagogue shootings were agreed to be unacceptable but Rabbi Alissa refused to acknowledge anti-Zionist antisemitism. Rather, in my opinion she appeared to legitimise uses of antisemitic rhetoric to criticise Israel and validate the PSC’s and Boycott Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) actions:
“Students on college campuses are being challenged because they are Jewish. That’s not it. They’re being challenged because of their ideas and actions. Just as Israel is being judged…for oppressing Palestinians, not for being a so-called Jewish State.”
Tell that to every single Jewish student who has suffered abuse on campus. It is not because they have shared their views on Israel Palestine but simply because they are Jewish. Their views on the conflict are assumed no matter their actual position. As for Israel, it is the substitute term for Jews, a get out clause for antisemites. ‘Israel controls the world/media/America’ is antisemitic as the connotations are still directed at Jews. Israel is judged as it is a Jewish State.
The video was full of the double-standard of singling out of the only Jewish state, when no other state or regime was mentioned. In a ‘United Against Racism Rally’ in July 2020, one would have thought the Uighurs in China would have been mentioned. Maybe Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Russia and their treatment of minority groups? Absolutely nothing.
Only the Jewish State gets a mention, with comparisons to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany. The first speaker, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola stated that there is “a type of apartheid that exists where Palestinian people are systematically exterminated by the Israeli government.” Omar Barghouti reading out a message from Mandela’s grandson, “How many more resolutions must the UN pass before we put an end to apartheid Israel’s racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.” The short clip preceding the speakers’ presentations, something I perceived as showing the disproportionate effect of Covid on ethnic minorities, ended up discussing ‘Israeli spyware and killer drones’ and using fake imagery of the Israeli military destroying a Palestinian corona centre.
Marc Lamont Hill who was dropped by CNN after being accused of antisemitism, spoke leaving a bad taste. He reminded me of the phrase “I am not trying to offend you but” instead to read “I am not trying to be antisemitic but…”
He said we “need to look at the interconnectiveness of the politics. When we look at exchange programmes, police in Minnesota, the state where George Floyd was killed, and many other police forces in different states, are involved with exchange programmes with the State of Israel.”
How can you not interpret that as Lamont Hill saying that Israel had something to do with George Floyd’s murder? However, he tries to caveat his remarks with, ”Now we have to be very clear about that, American cops didn’t earn how to kill black people from Israel, American cops have been killing people long before there was an Israel.” So why mention Israel in the first place?
Lamont Hill claims “we are seeing the increasing militarisation of law enforcements against racialised populations, minoritised populations…we are seeing the increasing use of military style weaponry against every day citizens.” Oh yes, because Israel may or may not have had anything to do with George Floyd but Lamont Hill is implying they are a fascist state.
The antisemitic tropes throughout the video made me extremely uncomfortable. I haven’t touched upon the poetry recited or the general hatred towards Israel including incitement to use of armed force because that’s for another day. What is evident is that current concern about anti-racism was hijacked for the purpose of Israel bashing which was the true nature of the video. It is a disgrace that under an anti-racism banner, antisemitic tropes could be spewed over and over. The PSC should be ashamed.