Monthly Archives: February 2016

GUARDIAN LETTERS ASK – Antisemitic? Or just against the Israeli government’s oppressive actions?

Among several letters challenging allegations of antisemitism at the Oxford University Labour Club, published by the Guardian online, is this one from Jewish supporters of justice for Palestine.

Antisemitism is conspicuous by its absence in your article on “antisemitism” at Oxford University Labour Club.

Antisemitism is abuse, discrimination and hatred of Jews as Jews. Examples of such abuse might be the description of the US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, as “a little Jew boy” by former Netanyahu aide Aviv Bushinsky.

If someone had suggested that people should follow the suggestion of the chief rabbi of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu, that Jews should not rent rooms to Arabs but instead applied an equivalent policy to Oxford’s Jewish students, we could understand and would share the concern.

Perhaps MPs John Mann and Louise Ellman prefer another description for the situation on the West Bank whereby two systems of law operate – one for Palestinians and the other for Jewish settlers? Or why half of Israel’s Arab villages are “unrecognised” and liable to instant demolition, whereas Jewish villages and towns are always recognised?

Whether Israel is an apartheid state or not is a perfectly legitimate political debate. Jewish students can be found on both sides of this debate. It is not, however, antisemitic.

Those who deliberately confuse antisemitism and anti-Zionism give comfort and aid to the real antisemites in our society. Like the boy who cried wolf, they ensure that if antisemitism does rear its ugly head, people will assume that this is just another false accusation.
Tony Greenstein
Professor Haim Bresheeth
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead
Professor Steven Rose
Miriam Margolyes
Tamar Steinitz
Merav Pinchassoff
Amanda Sebestyen
Deborah Fink
Craig Berman
Susanne Levin
Leah Levane
Ben Young
Richard Kuper
Miriam Yagud
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Beryl Maizels
Brian Robinson
Mike Cushman
Les Levidow

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Jewish groups combine to condemn government attack on BDS

Members of five Jewish organisations in the UK worked together to produce a statement condemning  government plans to punish local councils and other bodies if they took procurement or investment decisions in line with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions call.

The version published by  the Independent online on Wednesday was not the final, agreed wording. J-BIG’s name was missing while that of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) was erroneously included.

To put the record straight we publish here the statement as intended by the participants, representing JfJfP, J-BIG, Independent Jewish Voices, the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network and the Jewish Socialist Group.

ANTISEMITISM AND BANNING BOYCOTTS

We find it incompatible with democratic freedom, and counterproductive, that the government intends to block ethical investment and procurement decisions by public bodies lest they “poison and polarise debate and fuel antisemitism” [Boycotting of Israeli goods to be criminal offence, February 15]

Opposition to the State of Israel’s continued occupation, crimes against the Palestinian people and violation of international law, has nothing whatever to do with antisemitism. What smacks of antisemitism is to think that all Jews uncritically support Israel’s actions.

The truth is that growing numbers of Jews in this country and abroad see the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for what it is – a weapon of moral persuasion, deploying a tactic frequently used by powerless people in their opposition to racism, slavery and oppression.

History shows us boycotts against slave grown sugar in the West Indies, the movement of Irish tenant farmers against the eponymous Captain Boycott, Gandhi’s Indian boycott of British sales of salt and the global movement which helped end apartheid in South Africa.

In every case the Tories of the day opposed the boycott, siding with the oppressor against the oppressed.

If Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock goes ahead and announces the ban during a visit to Israel, claiming without a shred of evidence that “local foreign policies” are “undermining our national security”, he will demonstrate his government’s continuation of an ignoble tradition.