‘Thuggish Zionists’ and my complaint to the Human Rights Commission

When someone writes nastily about ‘Zionists.’ as in ‘thuggish Zionists,’ does he have Jews in mind?  Not according to the Opinion Editor of a Cape Town daily. The writer, he insisted, was referring to members of a political movement – Zionism. No disparagement of Jews was intended.

And he went on to explain why my article on the involvement of churches in Palestinian advocacy events like Israel Apartheid Week would be against the paper’s policy of not being critical of any religion. I pointed out that my article came with a church group’s endorsement; that it was critical of some churchmen and churches, not of Christianity; and that pro-Palestinian advocacy is no Christian movement; it’s – a political movement.

So I went on to submit a complaint to the SA Human Rights Commission (HRC).  Referring to ‘thuggish Zionists’ in the newspaper, I complained that my right to freedom from racial abuse had been violated.

Not to anticipate the findings of the HRC, but when someone who always flaunts his hatred of Israel refers to ‘Zionists,’ we can be perfectly sure that he means Jews. To hate a Jewish state is to hate Jews.  All the more so when the person qualifies Zionists with ‘thuggish’. In that case Zionists and Jews are one and the same.

I’ll come back to the Israel-hater. But the roots of Zionist = Jew are as long as they are strong, and support my complaint to the HRC.  The roots were planted by Kremlin apparatchiks who regarded Zionist and Jew as conjoined twins, and demonized them interchangeably. The record is there in Paul Johnson’s great work, ‘History of the Jews’:

Judaic sermons are the sermons of bourgeois Zionists”. (Ukrainian broadcast from Korovograd, December 1959.)

The character of the Jewish religion serves the political aims of the Zionists.” (Soviet news Sept. 1961)

 “Zionism is inseparably linked to Judaism …It is rooted in the Jewish idea of the exclusiveness of the Jewish people.” (Communist Moldavia, 1963)

“The Old Testament is an unsurpassed textbook of hypocrisy, treason, perfidy and moral degeneracy. No wonder the Zionists are gangsters since their ideas come from the holy Torah and the precepts of the Talmud.”(Vladimir Begun. ‘Creeping Counter-Revolution,’ 1974)

What evidence to bring that in the 21st century nothing has changed – that Zionist still means Jew? Let media moguls speak from their editorial rooms. After the 9/11 attacks Saudi Prince Nayef bin ‘Abdul’ Aziz claimed the Jews were behind it; he used that word and no other. When Associated Press reported his statement it replaced the word ‘Jews’ with ‘Zionists’. Supposedly the public in Europe and America would find demonized Jews a difficult thing to swallow. And there’s the issue of not disturbing the peace between minorities. Better to fit Jews with a more palatable Zionist mask.

And then there’s Hamas, the terrorist entity. Hamas’ charter is filled with invective against the Jews, but what’s the word we read in Hamas’ public statements?  Zionists again. If the evidence is not heavy enough, then recall the marches and picketing and speeches at the ‘UN Conference on Racism I’ in Durban, 2009. In the heat of the moment we saw the devil Zionist transformed into the devil Jew. In the heat of the moment we saw placards calling for Hitler’s final solution. In the heat of the moment we heard calls not for Zionists, but for Jews to die. In the heat of the moment we caught anti-Zionists handing out, ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. Enough said. Martin Luther-King long ago confirmed it. The Zionist is the Jew and the Jew is the Zionist. Anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism.

Back to the author of the offending article, a South African activist and churchman by the name of Crawford-Browne (CB from here on).

Readers will recall the abuse that… Desmond Tutu and Richard Goldstone have suffered from the Zionist lobby in thuggish efforts to obliterate criticisms of the Israeli government.”

To CB the Zionist lobby and thuggery meant the Jewish lobby and Jewish thuggery. And I shall not have to find proof of that for the HRC, because it’s been proven. More, it was proven by CB himself, through his own statements, all on record. He reacted to the body of evidence by slapping ‘garbage’ on it.  CB was at the time working as the paid secretary of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine(2011Cape Town model). By his own petard CB hoisted himself.

“Please be specific,” I wrote to him. “What exactly is ‘garbage’ to your mind?  I will run through a list, and you can cross off all the garbage items. I shall thereupon immediately remove the offending items.” I need hardly add that the full list remained intact:

‰     Did you or did you not anticipate the verdict of the Russell Tribunal in your earlier    statement: “We quickly learned that the checkpoints and the “apartheid wall..”

‰  Did you or did you not instantly think of Israeli Jews as a demonic people in your statement: “…They are there to humiliate the Palestinians and to … steal Palestinian land and water.”

‰  Did you or did you not use ‘security’ instead of the correct word ‘terrorism?’ And why to your mind is security the right word and terrorism the wrong word.

‰  Was EAPPI (the church organization for whom you worked) not part of the 2006 conference flyer, which conveyed the idea of Israel attacking Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity?

‰  Did Naim Ateek of Sabeel (EAPPI’s collaborator) not link the Palestinians to Jesus? And did he not compareIsrael’s alleged persecution of Palestinians to the Jews’ persecution of Jesus?

‰  Did you or did you not set out twin objectives for the Russell Tribunal?  a) To find a way forward to bring peace to ‘Palestine’ and     (b) To determine if Israel is an Apartheid state and so guilty of crimes against humanity?

‰  Did you not fail to explain in what way the two objectives can be reconciled?

‰     Should one not therefore conclude that your real objective was not to find peace but to find Israel guilty of Apartheid?

‰     Did you not exclude opposing arguments and examination at the Russell Tribunal?

A reader’s exercise: which of these items offers conclusive proof that when CB hates Zionists he hates Jews?

Clues… Notice how quickly he learned what Israel was up to with its ‘wall.’ How could he instantly come to so deep and complex a conclusion? Without mulling over and testing, without gathering and processing, he quickly learned that Israelis wanted nothing more than to humiliate people and steal their land and water. While he manned the checkpoint that lesson came out, fully formed. It seems as if it was in CB’s subconscious all the time, waiting to be let out.  How quickly, out of nowhere, it came to him that Israel (where the Jews are) had intentions to humiliate and steal. Perhaps (being a churchman) his mind quickly reverted to the bible. For are these not the tricks their forefathers got up to? The patriarchs – not everyone holds with Jewish commentaries – perhaps they stole wells and land belonging to other people.

Now check your answer against an expert. His works have won many awards, and according to Wikipedia, he’s recognised as the leading scholar on the history of anti-Semitism. Professor Robert Wistrich, of the Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism wrote a seminal book in 1981: ‘Anti-Semitism: the oldest hatred.’

“The hatred of Jews is impervious to empirical argument or rational discourse. Like other forms of bigotry, it deliberately exaggerates differences, demonises the motivations of its adversary, and holds the object of its hatred responsible for social evils around the world.”

Mark a characteristic of the oldest hatred: Jew-haters demonize the motivations of Jews. Now revert to CB’s statement: “Wequickly learned that the checkpoints and the “apartheid wall” have nothing to do with “security. They are there to humiliate the Palestinians and to…steal Palestinian land and water.”

About the Author
The writer is a prolific author of novels and non-fiction, essayist and commentator on ‘Enemies of Zion’ which happens also to be the title of his latest book. His works are The Paymaster, 1998; Hadrian’s Echo, 2012; Contributor to ‘War by other means: Israel and its detractors’, 2012; Enemies of Zion, (for publication 2017); and Balaam’s curse ( a novel in progress)