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Monday, March 12, 2007

Legitimate criticism of Israel? - Palestine Solidarity votes for anti-Semitism

Some anti-Zionists can't believe that anti-Zionism is racism. They insist that all attempts to conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are simply propaganda of the "Israel Lobby" designed to shut them up.
Reality is stronger than their fantasies however. Two attempts to pass motions against Anti-Semitism in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign failed. How could it be otherwise? How could a movement that denies the Jewish people the right to self-determination not be racist?  
"On the whole Ant-Zionism is close to, or a mask for, Anti-Semitism."
Ami Isseroff

Added by David Hirsh on March 12, 2007 10:23:42 AM.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign almost unanimously rejects two motions against antisemitismTony Greenstein is an anti-Zionist who believes that Zionism is like Nazism, that Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust, that Israel, uniquely, is an essentially and unchangeably racist state.

Sue Blackwell is an anti-Zionist who is best known for campaigning to exclude Israeli academics from university campuses, conferences and journals around the world. Blackwell believes that Israel is an "illegitimate" state.

Roland Rance is an anti-Zionist who campaigns for the "dismantlement of the Zionist structure of the state of Israel".

All three have been demonizing Israel, passionately and constantly for decades. They have been fighting hard for all the staple anti-Zionist principles, without rest. Israel is an apartheid state, they say, its trade unions are not real workers organisations, they say, its universities are structures of oppression, they say, its civilians are not really civilians, they argue, its anti-racists are really racists, they declare.

But now the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in the UK has rejected them because they dared to stand up against open antisemitism within the movement.

This weekend they came to the PSC conference with two motions (reproduced below) arguing that those who push Holocaust denial and open antisemitism should be excluded from the PSC. Their motions were almost unanimously defeated.

British Anti-Zionism fights for a world-view that singles out and demonizes Israel as though it was a unique evil in the world. It exists in a world where most anti-Zionism, from Stalinist, Jihadi, neo-Nazi and Arab nationalist traditions, is openly antisemitic. It is obvious that such consistent and widespread demonization has the potential to lead to the rise of open antisemitism. And now we see exactly that happening within the Palestine Solidarity movement.

Greenstein and Rance have come under attack recently from the openly antisemitic Gilad Atzmon and they thought that they could fight back by getting the anti-racist Palestine Solidarity conference on their side. They were wrong. The PSC conference overwhelmingly backed the Atzmon line against the anti-Zionist Jews. Blackwell, it seems, is now isolated as one of the tiny number of anti-racist anti-Zionists left in the Palestine Solidarity movement. She is one of the very few to stand up for her Jewish comrades.

But Greenstein, Rance and Blackwell still seem incapable of grasping how their own anti-Israel obsessions have led to a situation where they themselves have been entirely marginalized within their own PSC by a bunch of antisemites. This wekend, our warnings of a couple of years ago began, sooner than we thought possible, to become a reality.

Before the vote Roland Rance appealed to anti-racists within the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to come to the conference and vote:
A final appeal to anyone who is a member of Palestine Solidarity, or is willing to join, to attend the AGM tomorrow. There are two motions - one from me and Les Levidow, and one from Tony Greenstein and Sue Blackwell -- opposing the infiltration of antisemites and holocaust deniers into the solidarity movement (text below). Our opponents have gone wild, with increasingly hostile postings all over the internet. It is important that these motions be passed, and the executive's wrecking amendment defeated, as otherwise the slimeballs who have wormed in and are using alleged solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for their own devious purposes, will proclaim a victory. Please swallow any reservations you may have about tactics or precise wording; the principle here is so important, that we need every possible supporter to take part in this.
However, it was the "slimeballs" who won the conference. This is how they describe the weekend's events:
If they had contented themselves with a simple resolution, calling for non-cooperation with Deir Yassin Remembered, they might have stood a chance. But with their two long-winded resolutions, attempting to impose a Jewish Socialist 'weltanchaung' on the Palestine Solidarity movement, the Greenstein/Rance onslaught stood no chance of success.

With J.A.Z. [Jews Agaainst Zionism] and J.S. [Jewish Socialist] activists popping up on all sides, coupled with the intervention of their Christian Passionara from Birmingham [Sue Blackwell], it began to look more like a Zionist takeover of PSC than a simple call for the excommunication of Paul Eisen, the Jewish humanist who dared compare the slaughter by the Irgun of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children at Givat Shaul in 1948, with what happened in eastern Europe in the darkest days of the 3rd Reich. All it needed was Betty Hunter's empassioned and moving denunciation of Rance's public attack on the PSC in the Jewish media, for the latter to be compelled to offer an abject apology and to ensure an almost unanimous rejection of the two ill-conceived resolutions.
Motion 6: Zionism and anti-Semitism - Proposed: Tony Greenstein, Seconded: Sue Blackwell

1. Conference reaffirms its opposition to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.

2. Conference notes that the Zionist movement was the product of European anti-Semitism.

3. Conference notes that Zionism was unique in Jewish reactions to anti-Semitism in that it accepted the "logic" of the anti-Semites, namely that Jews did not belong in the lands they had been born and brought up in and it therefore sought to escape, not to fight anti-Semitism.

4. Conference agrees with Zionist novellist, A B Yehoshua, that "Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti Semite must be a Zionist." (Jewish Chronicle, 22.1.82.)

5. Conference notes the British National Party's position of support for Israel's bombing of Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

6. Conference therefore rejects the definition of anti-Semitism by the European Union Monitoring Committee as, among other things, "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor." On the contrary, it is those who hold that Jews are one people apart, regardless of the State they are citizens of, the language they speak or the place where they live, who subscribe to the anti-Semitic notion that Jews form a separate collectivity.

7. In particular Conference rejects the All Parliamentary Report on Anti-Semitism that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are synonymous, that the Boycott of Israeli universities has any connection with anti-Semitism or that, as a collective, the Jewish community, as defined by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, "is best qualified to determine what does and does not constitute antisemitism."

8. Conference also rejects any attempt by any individuals or group, in particular those around the Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) Group, to introduce anti-Semitic ideas and discourse into the Palestine solidarity movement. This can only be of benefit to the Zionist enterprise and cannot help but undermine the Palestine solidarity movement. We note that the British Director of DYR has published articles on "Jewish Power" and the "Holocaust Wars" in support of one of the most infamous Holocaust deniers, Ernst Zundel; that Dan McGowan, founder of DYR, has recently visited Zundel in prison, describing him as "a man with strong convictions and the courage to express them"; and that Holocaust denial material by Paul Eisen is available on the DYR website.

9. In particular we reject notions of "Jewish Power" and any attempt to resurrect medieval anti-Semitic stereotypes or deny the historical fact of the Holocaust, by whomsoever it is done. There is much room for legitimate debate concerning the Holocaust, not least concerning the role of the Zionist movement during the Holocaust; however, there is no room for legitimate debate concerning the fact of the Holocaust. In the words of the Israeli Palestinian MK, Azmi Bishara, "Arabs and Palestinians who deny the Holocaust offer European and Zionist racism no greater gift ... What possible Arab or Islamic interest can it serve to even offer to exonerate Europe of one of the blackest pages in its history?"

10. Conference rejects the attempt by the Zionist movement, post-1967 in particular, to use the Nazi Holocaust in order to legitimise the oppression of the Palestinians. One of the primary lessons of the Holocaust must be that racism must be rejected wherever it comes from and whoever its victims or targets are. Ethnic cleansing and attempts at securing racial purity of any State are wholly abhorrent to the Palestine solidarity

11. Conference rejects any suggestion that support by the United States and western imperialism for the State of Israel is motivated by the "Jewish lobby", "Jewish power" or other secret and sinister cabals or conspiracies. The Israeli State was created by imperialism and is supported by imperialism because the existence of Israel has been deemed to be in its interest. Those who look to anti-Semitic theories and arguments merely seek to exonerate and forgive the leaders of US imperialism for their crimes
against the Palestinians and other oppressed peoples.

12. Conference declares that support for anti-Semitic ideas or anti-Semitism is incompatible with membership of Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

13. Conference notes that respected campaigners Jeff Halper and Lea Tsemel, have resigned from the board of DYR in protest at the activities and pronouncements of Paul Eisen and Israel Shamir.

14. Conference resolves to suspend all links with, and withdraw all facilities from, Deir Yassin Remembered until its board no longer includes individuals who publicly endorse anti-semitism or holocaust denial.

15. Conference likewise resolves to have no links with, or offer any facilities to, any other individuals who publicly endorse anti-semitism or holocaust denial.

EC Amendment (this is what Rance refers to as the "wrecking amendment"): Delete all and substitute

Conference reaffirms its opposition to all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish prejudice and that the expression of or support for anti-semitic viewpoints are incompatible with membership of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Conference rejects any attempt by supporters of the State of Israel to try to label those who criticise or condemn actions and policies of that state as guilty of anti-semitism.

Conference recognises that as more and more people become aware of the unjust treatment of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel and in particular its army; the collusion with the Government of Israel by the United States Administration, the European Union, the British Government and others and the failure of the United Nations to deliver the implementation of General assembly and security Council resolutions; that those seeking to defend the indefensible will use any arguments to deflect attention from the continuation of the oppression and repression of the Palestinian people.

The AGM reaffirms that PSC will not be deflected from its task and will meet and challenge all attempts to deflect attention from the plight of the Palestinians.

Motion 7: Opposition to Zionism and Antisemitism - Proposed by Roland Rance, seconded by Les Levidow.

1. As a campaign in support of the just struggle of the Palestinian people for national liberation, PSC sees itself as part of the global movement against oppression. PSC reaffirms its commitment to opposing all forms of racism, including Zionism and antisemitism.

2. To resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict, it will be necessary to confront Zionism as a form of apartheid. So we resolve to conduct a campaign against the Zionist institutions in Britain and the state of Israel.

4. The Zionism movement sought to escape European antisemitism â€" and sometimes even colluded with it - rather than fight it. Unlike anti-racist movements, Zionism has accepted the antisemitic argument that Jews have no place in non-Jewish societies. "Even today, in a perverse way., a real anti Semite must be a Zionist.", said novelist A B Yehoshua, a committed Zionist (Jewish Chronicle, 22.01.82). Those who support antisemitism are in effect supporting Zionism. Therefore struggle against antisemitism is a necessary element of any struggle against Zionism.

5. We reject the attempt by the Zionist movement to use the Nazi Holocaust in order to legitimise the oppression of the Palestinians. As a primary lesson of the Holocaust, racism must be rejected, from wherever it comes and at whomsoever it is directed.

4. We reject the statement by the European Union Monitoring Committee that antisemitism includes anyone "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour". Likewise we reject claims that anti-Zionism is synonymous with anti-Semitism; that the boycott of Israeli products, institutions and events is anti-Semitic; and that "the Jewish community" (as defined by the Board of Deputies of British Jews) "is best qualified to determine what does and does not constitute antisemitism", according to the All-Party Parliamentary Report on Antisemitism.

6. We also reject any attempt to introduce antisemitic ideas into the Palestine solidarity movement. Some important initiatives have been hijacked by people whose agenda appears to be anti-Jewish propaganda. For example, some individuals have tried to explain the Palestinians' oppression by reference to Jews, Judaism, "Jewish power", etc. Some have also promoted Holocaust denial. Such ideas can only benefit Zionism and undermine the Palestine solidarity movement. In the words of the Israeli Palestinian MK
Dr Azmi Bishara, "Arabs and Palestinians who deny the Holocaust offer European and Zionist racism no greater gift than this denial of the occurrence of the Holocaust."

7. We reject any suggestion that support by the United States (and its allies) for the State of Israel can be explained by "the Jewish lobby", "Jewish power" or other secret conspiracies. Such anti-Semitic arguments serve to exonerate the leaders of US imperialism for their crimes against the Palestinians. The Israeli State has been created and supported by imperialism in its own perceived self-interest. The Zionist lobby exploits this support but does not explain it.

8. Support for Holocaust denial, antisemitic ideas or antisemitism is incompatible with membership of Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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