The current conflict between Israel and Hamas halted as parties reached a cease fire agreement after eleven days of warfare. However, pro-Hamas or pro-Palestinian supporters worldwide have only just begun igniting hatred and antisemitism once again. Unfortunately, Jewish groups had to urge leaders to confront the rising phenomenon. While many enthusiastically embrace the Palestinian cause they also promote the further dissemination of antisemitism when they associate and blame Jews, all Jews, with the state of Israel and its policies or when they deny the Jewish right for a state. Furthermore, pro-Palestinian supporters in Europe, the United States and Canada express their anger on the nearest and easiest targets — local Jews. For instance, in London, a pro-Palestinian convoy shouted “Fuck the Jews, Rape Their Daughters.” In another example, pro-Palestinian supporters attacked Jewish diners at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles while chanting “Death to Jews” and “Free Palestine.” The victims are Jewish, not Israeli. Yet, pro-Palestinian supporters find antisemitism, racism, legitimate enough for their cause.
What are the main reasons for this rise of antisemitism and anti-Zionism? And importantly, how come American, Canadian and European citizens, especially progressive liberals and leftists, take such an active part in anti-Semitic rallies and actions? Are anti-racist and human rights advocates practice racism themselves? Based on an ongoing study of antisemitism, there are several reasons for these trends. Antisemitism and anti-Zionism rose previously when the state of Israel and Hamas, a designated terror organization, were engaged in armed conflict. Now, antisemitism is on the rise once again. Sadly, people worldwide are being deceived by terror organizations like Hamas as they value anti-racism, human rights and especially Palestinian human rights which, by Foucauldian standards, are always at risk as long as the Palestinians are the smaller and more fragile actor and Israel is the stronger one.
Antisemitism frequently masquerades itself as criticism, anti-Israelism, anti-Zionism or any other type of ‘anti’-something which is related to Israel. Indeed, most of the protesters in London, Berlin, Toronto or New York are anti-racist and surely do not perceive themselves as racists. Yet, they are whitewashing and legitimizing pure and extreme antisemitism when they join the allegedly “peaceful” rallies. But are those rallies really peaceful? First, they are organized and funded by terror-affiliated organizations. Second, instead of promoting Palestinian human rights or de-escalation in Gaza, extremists shout “Death to Jews” while waving Hamas and Hizballah flags. In London, for instance, a pro-Israel activist was attacked amid chants of “Fucking Jews” at a small counterdemonstration near a large pro-Palestinian rally. Thus, a process of social acceptance and legitimization of antisemitism is taking place. The rallies have a respectful and politically correct façade and are called “peaceful” or “pro-Palestinian.” However, the back sphere of these rallies is extreme and anti-Semitic. The average American, Canadian or European participant is not fully aware of this duality. One believes he joins a rally with a just cause, while in reality this rally only legitimizes and intensifies antisemitism and hate.
On 15 May 2021 Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared in a pro-Palestinian rally outside the Israeli embassy in London, alongside Diane Abbot MP and Zarah Sultana MP. Corbyn, who holds radical leftist and anti-Israeli opinions himself can exemplify this situation very well. Corbyn is not openly anti-Semitic, and he is well respected among the British people. When protesters see and hear him in rallies, they do not associate him with racism. The socio-psychosocial logic many protesters make in their minds is simple – if Jeremy Corbyn, a respected leftist politician, attends a rally then this rally cannot be harmful and cannot be racist. However, with extremists and terror supporters in the rally amid calls like “Death to Jews” or “Fuck the Jews, Rape Their Daughters” these rallies are anything but anti-racist. Thus, legitimate politicians, legitimate speakers and legitimate participants all cover up the real core of these rallies – which is pure antisemitism and pure Jihadi extremism.
Even pro-Palestinian slogans cover up racism. These have a legitimate façade and a racist back sphere as well. In fact, the average participant probably does not understand the full meaning and consequence of the slogans “Free Palestine” or “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” which might sound very supportive, legitimate and non-anti-Semitic. These slogans are heard in all pro-Palestinian rallies. The slogans actually mean that Palestine and Palestinians should be given the entire land, between the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea. It is in fact a zero-sum game when one player (Palestine) should be given the entire land while the other player (Israel) should, well, disappear. Denying the Jewish people of the right for a state is anti-Semitic.
The same countries in which pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic rallies take place actually adopted the working definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). However, is it not just a cover up? During this recent engagement in Gaza the state of Israel was only a second target worldwide but the Jewish people were the first and main target of violence. There are more than enough examples to prove this. Furthermore, a French court recently banned pro-Palestinian rallies in Paris due to the fear that Jews or Jewish institutions like synagogues will be harmed.
Sadly, by the IHRA definition of antisemitism the vast majority of pro-Palestinian rallies are anti-Semitic. Countries, organizations and people worldwide should adopt the France way of action and deny antisemitism, even when it appears to be legitimate. Leaders must take a stance against hatred. Even U.S. President Joe Biden had to address the violence and uprisings against American Jews.
Finally, just as Charles Baudelaire said, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” But he, and antisemitism, does sadly exist and on the rise.