Category Archives: racism

Antisemitism – The weapon of choice in the war on Labour’s Left

The last few months have seen the British establishment waging an hysterical witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership and the pro-Palestinian movement. Their weapon of choice has been the charge that antisemitism – and support for terrorism – are rife on the Left, that Labour “has a problem with Jews,” that Jewish LP members are  frequently subjected to racist abuse and that the new Labour leadership has allowed intolerant Jew-haters to flood into the party.

The response from Corbyn’s team has been defensive and apologetic. They rightly assert their own anti-racist credentials, insist that antisemitism is a vile prejudice that is not permitted in the Labour Party and pledge to expel anyone found guilty of it. So far so good. But they have not hit back at the pro-Zionist lobby – Jewish and non-Jewish – which deliberately and maliciously seeks to associate Jew-hatred with criticism of Israel in the public mind. This feeble approach has to change.

Tony G

 J-BIG stalwart Tony Greenstein, Brighton-based socialist, anti-racist and anti-Zionist, has won an apology (they call it a “clarification”) from the Daily Telegraph for “implying” that he was an antisemite. Labour’s Compliance Unit has suspended him from membership without giving any reason, but apparently shared the information with the Telegraph. Tony explores the charges against him on his blog.


Jewish pro-Palestinian groups in London are currently working on a strategy to help stem the tide. Both at grass roots level and within the Labour hierarchy, there is a huge need for political education to communicate the following key points.

Genuine antisemitism exists and must be condemned, as we would any form of racism.

Zionists have worked so hard to damn any criticism of Israel as antisemitic, it’s tempting to reject such charges out of hand. But amidst the crazed pillorying of Corbyn’s team in the Mail Online, for example, there are some instances of actual expressions of racism against Jews by Labour supporters. These must be tackled with as much vigour as hatred of Blacks, migrants or Muslims – so comprehensively ignored by the pro-Israel lobby.

When the complainant is committed Zionist Louise Ellman MP, one can sympathise with Piers Corbyn (brother of Jeremy) who reportedly tweeted: “#Zionists cant cope with any-one supporting rights for #Palestine.” Never a truer word! But it gave ammunition for the Evening Standard to use in publicising charges from Labour’s conflicted candidate for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. From a Muslim family, with a record of supporting causes such as the campaign to release Shaker Amer from detention in Guantanamo, and having been supported by Corbyn and leftwing former Mayor Ken Livingstone in his campaign for the candidacy, Khan now says he wears “a badge of shame” about antisemitism in the party and the leadership needs to be “trained on what antisemitism is.” sadiq khan


Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate in next month’s vote for Mayor of London, has publicly taken the side of pro-Israel Tories in alleging antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party.




The Palestine solidarity movement has learned to its cost that it must be vigilant against antisemitism among its members. In a recent story in Haaretz about a defender of Holocaust deniers who has been  rejected by her local Labour Party, the paper referred to her as “the former secretary of the Camden branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.” Haaretz neglected to say that the person in question was dismissed from that position precisely because her views were incompatible with PSC’s anti-racist ethos.

Charges of antisemitism are very often designed to protect Israel from criticism, harm legitimate campaigns for Palestinian rights, especially Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party under his leadership

Jonathan Arkush of the Board of Deputies (BoD) of British Jews has been vocal in accusing Corbyn of tolerating antisemitism, referring to “a stream of clear cut cases of antisemitism in the Labour party, which can’t just be fobbed off as differences over Israel.”

The stream is actually more of a trickle of cases, many referring to events in the distant past and many being far from clear cut. Most cases have attitudes to Israel and Zionism at their heart.

The Mail Online piece mixes some apparently nasty instances of genuine antisemitism with the staging in York of Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children (“horrifically anti-Israel” according to the BoD), a Facebook post complaining that ‘leading Zionists’ were trying to take over a student Union and links with the website of Friends of Al-Aqsa – a respected part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.


The increasingly high-profile, non-violent BDS campaign is a major priority for antisemitic branding by those determined to defend Israel. Jonathan Neumann of the so-called Jewish Human Rights Watch, writing in the Daily Telegraph in February, alleged that BDS is just a precursor to ISIS-style beheadings: “The anti-Semitic campaign to shun Israeli goods embodies the radicalism that threatens everyone .”

Then there is the oft-quoted example of the Oxford University Labour Club where co-chairman Alex Chalmers, who is not Jewish, resigned in February claiming that a ‘large proportion’ of the party’s undergraduate members have ‘some kind of problem with Jews’.

The most comprehensive statement of the club’s “problem with Jews” appeared after Chalmers resignation on the Twitter feed of the Oxford Jewish Society (JSoc).

Oxford JSoc antisemitism

If the statement is true, it does indicate there may have been some questionable behaviour and some ham-fisted attempts by pro-Palestine supporters to explain what they thought was, or was not, antisemitic. But the JSoc clearly doesn’t know what antisemitism is either, claiming that the word ‘Zio’ – frequently tossed around between Jewish anti-Zionist activists – belongs on neo-nazi websites and that Jenny Tonge – kicked off the Liberal Democrat front bench for expressing understanding for Palestinian militants – was expelled for antisemitism. This is a circular argument in which people conflating antisemitism with anti-Zionism denounce supporters of Palestine for having been previously denounced for antisemitism! It all goes back to Arkush’s “differences over Israel”.

There is substantial opposition among Jews to this cynical campaign. 

Jews are not an undifferentiated mass of pro-Israel supporters, nor have they ever been. Today they are certainly not united behind the witch-hunt again the pro-Palestinian Labour Left and the BDS movement.

Clear evidence for this appeared on the Guardian letters page after  Jonathan Freedland published a long piece retelling the story of a British Left riddled with anti-Jewish racism.

Leading Jewish pro-Palestine campaigners queued up to refute his allegations.

As one said: “…it is a betrayal of every Jew in history who fought for human rights and against oppression, and every Jew ever persecuted for being a Jew, to sling allegations of antisemitism every time anyone tries to stand up for Palestinian rights.”

Zionist beliefs are not the preserve of Jews alone.

There is a whole other story to tell about the origins of the Jewish Zionist movement in the second half of the 19th century, the attachment of many leading Christian intellectuals and politicians to the idea of Zionism and the relationship of both to antisemitism.

Today’s most vocal British Zionists include Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles and Business Secretary Sajid Javid. Not a Jew among them.

In the USA the most ardent supporters of Israel are to be found not among the Democrat-voting Jews of the East Coast but among the millions of evangelical Christians in the South who believe all Jews must gather in Zion to usher in the Second Coming of Christ.

See elsewhere on this website for a briefing about Zionism and Antisemitism.

There is treasure trove of valuable background information on the website of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.



Jewish groups mobilise to say NO to Board of Deputies’ support for Israeli state violence


Tomorrow, Tuesday October 13, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and other self-appointment “communal groups” plan to indulge in a shameful display of contempt for Palestinian lives by protesting outside the Palestinian Mission in West London. They display their blatant racism by hijacking the anti-racist hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, using #IsraeliLivesMatter to tout their demands for a Palestinian apology for recent attacks on Israelis. Meanwhile the toll of Palestinians killed and injured mounts, with no apology for the violence of the Israeli state and the settlers it defends. Four Israelis and 25 Palestinians have died over the past 12 days.

Three pro-justice Jewish groups have called an Emergency Counter Protest outside the Mission at 5 Galena Road, W6 0LT

Meet at 4.30pm  outside the Lyric Theatre, King Street, Hammersmith and will we walk in small groups to Galen Road.

Below is the text of a leaflet produced by J-BIG, the Jewish Socialist Group and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.


We are here today as Jews to say that the Board of Deputies of British Jews does NOT speak for us when they protest outside the Palestinian Mission. The Board has never truly represented the whole Jewish community and it certainly does not do so now, when it defends Israel and its belligerent occupation.

This occupation:

  • Walls Palestinians into ghettos, divides families and destroys family life
  • Denies both Christian and Muslim Palestinians the freedom to worship
  • Expropriates Palestinian land and water
  • Settles Jewish migrants from abroad on Palestinian lands
  • Demolishes Palestinian homes, destroys farms and olive groves
  • Imprisons Palestinian children and their political leaders after trials in kangaroo courts, or no trial at all
  • Kills Palestinians with impunity

The present government of Israel has made it quite clear it has no intention of giving up the lands they illegally occupy. They want territory not peace.

They continue to provoke Palestinians, making the throwing of stones by Palestinian children a lethal offence while protecting stone-throwing settlers and those who burn Palestinians alive in their homes. They protect the rampaging lynch mobs in Jerusalem who flood the streets with cries of ‘Death to the Arabs’.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews acts as Israel’s advocate, shamefully telling Palestinians that #IsraeliLivesMatter, while Palestinian lives are being snuffed out unnoticed by world leaders.

We demand instead that the Board take their protest to their friends in the Israeli Embassy and tell them that it is time to end the occupation.

This is the only option that will end this non-stop violence: violence that the Israeli state perpetrates daily and that only attracts international attention when the Palestinian people can take the oppression no longer and respond.

We believe that Jews are entitled to equality in whichever country we live. Thus we demand that the government of Israel treats all people living in the territories it controls with the same equality and dignity that Jews throughout the world have every right to expect.

Organised by: Jews for Justice for Palestinians (, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (, Jewish Socialists’ Group (



The murders of journalists at Charlie Hebdo magazine, and of shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris, by three young French jihadis who were themselves shot dead by French police, have generated thousands of column inches and endless hours of air time full of confused and confusing rhetoric about the killings and the reaction to them.

The dominant narrative has been one of self-congratulation on the part of the predominantly Christian West. Rallying in thousands, claiming freedom of expression as the marker of democracy and civilisation, “we” cast anyone who dares take offence when targeted with racist lampoonery as  irredeemably at odds with “our values”.

“They” represent  the barbarian intolerance of the Islamic world and this entitles “us” to take a good principle and pervert it, self-righteously insisting on a spurious right to insult millions of powerless people.

We, made fearful of seemingly irrational terror in our midst, will accept growing limitations on our freedoms in the name of security.

Never mind the countries our war-mongering governments have devastated, the dictators we have foisted upon them, the penury and hopelessness imposed upon migrants who try to make better lives for themselves in France, the Netherlands or the UK.

And, it goes without saying, never mind our governments’ support for Israel in its endless persecution of the Palestinians.

Step forward Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu, beaming at the front of the crowd in the huge Paris “Je Suis Charlie” march, determined to milk the criminal killing of four Jews as a political opportunity. His cynicism in exploiting those tragic deaths to call on French Jews to flee to alleged safety in Israel, alongside his attempt to present his racist, far-right government as a defender of free speech, is jaw-droppingly obscene.

Equally abhorent is the ongoing campaign by a group in the UK calling itself the Campaign Against Antisemitism and claiming support from all the country’s leading Jewish community organisations. Set up  last summer to counter rising criticism of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza, its first triumphant success was bullying the Tricycle theatre into withdrawing its objection to Israeli Embassy funding of the UK Jewish Film Festival.

Now this outfit is peddling a scare-mongering report based on its own highly dubious poll, claiming that 77 percent of British Jews “have witnessed antisemitism disguised as a political comment about Israel”, that 82 percent believe antisemitism is fuelled by biased coverage of Israel and 84 percent “find boycotts of Israeli businesses intimidatory.”

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research has questioned the poll’s methodology, but the CAA is urging supporters to use its “statistics” when contacting the press or  local police about planned boycott protests. They are working with the UK government to implement “zero tolerance law enforcement” on what they consider to be hate speech or antisemitic actions. They allege that protesters against Israeli slaughter in Gaza or groups organising supermarket boycotts “regurgitate ancient antisemitic prejudice”.

In other words, anyone wanting to speak or protest on behalf of Palestine will have to defend their right to freedom of expression against coordinated legal and political attacks from Israel’s apologists.

There is a bitter irony here. The pro-Israeli lobby attempts to take up a position within the narrative of countering terror and defending freedom of speech, while claiming an exceptional right for Jews to limit the freedom of others to protest at the violent actions of the state it supports. Claiming the right for Jews to censor what others say about Israel is hardly the way to combat antisemitism.

On the contrary, the lesson we should draw from France is that Jews need to be part of a united struggle against all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Jewish racism when it rears its head.

As Tony Greenstein says on his blog:

“There will always be a few people who are taken in by the proclamation of Jewish communal bodies, such as the British Board of Deputies of Jews, that British Jews stand with Israel in its attacks on Palestinians.  Such people are, wittingly or otherwise, fostering anti-Semitism.  Our  job is to break the connection.”


The fatal attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24 has given rise to speculation about the identity of two of the dead as well as of the possible perpetrator, most recently identified as a French citizen who had fought with Islamic militants in Syria. Was it a random attack by an anti-semite targeting a Jewish institution? A carefully planned retaliation by an expert hitman against former Mossad agents? Or something else altogether?

Theories abound, some of them entwining the Belgian incident with the rise of the Right in the recent Europe-wide elections and the Papal visit to Israel and Palestine.

One thing is clear: Binyamin Netanyahu’s attempt to blame criticism of Israel for the Brussels deaths was a despicably cynical move that demanded a response.  Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods combined forces with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network to put out a statement dissociating us from Netanyahu’s assertion that the fate of every Jew is shackled to that of the Israeli state.

Perhaps we should welcome the fact that most media outlets seem to have ignored the Israeli PM’s rant. However, it is regrettable that both of the two national daily papers which published it – the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times – turned down the opportunity to give their readers access to an alternative Jewish perspective.

For the record, we publish the letter here.

An outrage against humanity, not Israel

We deplore the murder of visitors to the Jewish Museum in Brussels and feel the grief of their families and friends.

We find it shocking that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has rushed to exploit the killings in order to demonise Israel’s critics.

By blaming what he calls “Slander and lies against the State of Israel” for an assault on a Jewish institution in Belgium, he asserts that Israel represents all Jews and acts on their behalf. We reject this absolutely. Israel’s racist crimes against the Palestinian people provide ample grounds for criticising it without recourse to “slander and lies”.

With hate speech and discrimination on the rise, in Europe and elsewhere, our priority must be to combat the virus of racism regardless of whether its victims are Jews, Muslims, Romanians, Sudanese or indeed anyone.

When atrocities occur, it is our humanity that is outraged, not our national, ethnic or religious identity.


Jews for Boycotting Israeli Good
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

George Abendstern

Seymour Alexander

Craig Berman

Rica Bird

Haim Bresheeth

Elizabeth Carola

Linda Clair

Mark Elf

Thomas Eisner

Deborah Fink

Jan Hardy

Abe Hayeem

Rosamine Hayeem

Selma James

Riva Joffe

Michael Kalmanowitz

Leah Levane

Les Levidow

Rosalind Levy

Moshe Machover

Helen Marks

Simon Natas

Diana Neslen

Susan Pashkoff

Roland Rance

Valerie Remy

Frances Rifkin

Leon Rosselson

Amanda Sebestyen

Glyn Secker

Leni Solinger

Glyn Secker

Stanley Walinets

Sam Weinstein

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi



Palestine solidarity and Jewish opposition to Zionism

On Saturday 2 March 2013, dozens of supporters and friends of J-BIG, Jews and non-Jews, gathered for a conference to explore how the universalist, humanitarian philosophy central to much Jewish thinking has been marginalised by Zionism and how that universalism leads naturally to support for the  Palestinian call for a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, targeting Israeli institutions as long as it denies Palestinians freedom, justice and equality.

A detailed report posted immediately after the conference appears on Tony Greenstein’s blog.

Listen here to audio recordings. Film of the main contributions will be added shortly.

The first session, on Jewish values in support of Palestinian rights , began with the screening of a short film, BUNDA’IM,  introducing the last comrades of the Bund mass movement which was exterminated in Europe and ignored in Israel.

Then came a discussion led by David Rosenberg from the Editorial Committee of Jewish Socialist magazine  and Antony Lerman, author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist and former director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research.

They dealt with aspects of Zionism and Bundism in pre-WWII Poland and described  how Zionist leaders have marginalised Bundism in the diaspora,  Zionist attacks on proponents of Jewish universalism and the conflation of antisemitism with opposition to Zionism.

In a panel discussion, a range of speakers tackled issues facing the BDS movement.

Sue Blackwell from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) outlined the Zionist resort to legal challenge against the Universities and Colleges Union (since gloriously vindicated by a tribunal) for its willingness to debate BDS and refusal to apply the so-called EUMC working definition of antisemitism which seeks to outlaw criticism of Israel.

Michael Deas, coordinator in Europe for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) was unable to attend due to illness. In his stead Ronnie Barkan, a leading member of Israeli organisations Anarchists against the Wall and Boycott from Within, discussed the centrality of BDS to the anti-racist, anti-colonialist Palestinian struggle.

Tony Greenstein, speaking for Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), explained the rationale behind publication of the briefing document  Zionism and Antisemitism: Racist Political Twins.

John Rose, author of The Myths of Zionism, unpicked the Zionist myths used to perpetuate the idea that Israeli Jews confront eternal Arab hatred and Israel therefore has the right to “defend itself” by any means.

Hours of discussion were rounded off with an evening of entertainment compered by Deborah Fink, “The Diva with a Difference”,  and starred renowned Palestinian singer Reem Kelani with the up-and-coming musicians of the Raast collective, led by Kareem Taylor.

The conference was twinned with another event at the same venue on the following day, Sunday March 2, bringing together expert speakers on a range of subjects under the heading Reclaiming an Alternative Jewish Culture and Identity

Listen to audio recordings here.

 Ilan Pappe: Jewish Culture In A Non-ZionistOneState In Palestine.

Moshe Machover: Hebrew v. Jewish Identity

Prof. Helen Beer: Jewish Identity Without Yiddish?

Yuval Evri: 19C. Palestinian Arab Judaism

Murray Glickman: BCE Judaism

Cloe Skinner: Gender & Zionism

Sai Englert: The Bund & The 1917 Russian Revolution



Zionism and antisemitism: racist political twins

The movement for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians opposes Israel’s occupation, colonisation of Arab lands and its apartheid system. The campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) targets the Israeli state, institutions and companies complicit in Israel’s crimes.1 BDS has become an effective means for people of diverse backgrounds to express their humanitarian, anti-racist impulses in solidarity with Palestine.

Recognising the power of BDS, Israel’s defenders have regularly accused the movement of antisemitism. They use this favourite weapon to intimidate and silence critics of Israel, including Jewish anti-Zionists, who are dismissed as ‘self-hating Jews’.

This briefing has been written by and for BDS activists to explain how the charge of antisemitism applies to Zionism itself. Indeed, they are racist political twins. Understanding their mutual dependence will help strengthen the BDS movement and inform our strategy.

  • Read the full briefing text below with numbered references and onward links
  • Download the briefing as a printable pdf file here
  • Read the briefing as a pdf with notes in an appendix here

Join in J-BIG’s conference: Palestine Solidarity and Jewish Opposition to Zionism in London on March 2. Details here.

The Socialist Jew of the Bund

The Socialist Jew of the Bund


Antisemitism portrayed as eternal

Zionism historically argued that antisemitism was inherent in non-Jews and thus would always persist. According to Leo Pinsker, founder of the 19th century Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion), ‘Judeophobia is a mental disease. As a mental disease it is hereditary, and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable.’2 On this basis, antisemitism couldn’t be eliminated, so opposing it was futile.

Founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, wrote in his 1895 diary: ‘In Paris… I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to “combat” anti-Semitism.’3 He also wrote that ‘the anti-Semites will be our most dependable friends, anti-Semitic countries our allies’4, i.e. by stimulating Jewish immigration to Palestine. According to Jacob Klatzkin, editor during 1909-1911 of Die Welt, the official Zionist newspaper: ‘We are… naturally foreigners. We are an alien nation in your midst and we want to remain one.’5

Early Zionists accepted stereotypes commonplace at the time: that Jews, especially Eastern European Jews, were backward. They were seen as having become degenerate because they lacked a homeland, so settling Palestine would uplift and cleanse them. For example Pinhas Rosenbluth, later Israel’s Justice Minister, wrote that Palestine was ‘an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’.6 Seeing Jews as ‘human dust’, Zionists sought to redeem them through aliyah – i.e. ‘ascent’ to the ancient Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).7

Zionists agreed with European antisemites that Jews didn’t belong and should be assisted or even pressurised to leave Europe. But most Jews rejected this notion. In 1897 the first Zionist Congress had to be moved to Basel in Switzerland from Munich, because Jews there regarded Zionism as antisemitic and feared it would undermine their civil rights in Germany.8


Antisemitic support for a Jewish State

Zionism has always depended on support from antisemitic elites. Even before Jewish Zionist organisations developed, political Zionism was promoted by 19th-century European imperialists such as Lords Palmerston and Shaftesbury, Benjamin Disraeli and Napoleon III’s Secretary Ernest Laharanne. Many Christians believed Jewish immigration to Palestine would bring about the Second Coming of Christ, as in Biblical prophecy. More pragmatically, they saw a future Jewish homeland as a British imperial outpost – ‘a “little loyal Jewish Ulster” in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism’, according to the first military governor of Jerusalem.9

Such political motives explain the famous ‘Balfour Declaration’ of 1917, when UK Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour (a Christian Zionist) favoured ‘the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’. Everyone else was classified as belonging to ‘non-Jewish communities’.

The only opposition in Cabinet came from its sole Jewish member, Edwin Montagu, who warned that the plan would lead to discrimination against non-Jews in Palestine and against Jews elsewhere.10

As Prime Minister a decade earlier, Balfour had promoted the 1905 Aliens Act, designed to block immigration of Jewish refugees from Czarist pogroms in Russia. He wanted them to go to Palestine instead. He warned against ‘the undoubted evils that had fallen upon the country [Britain] from an immigration that was largely Jewish’.11


Undermining an anti-Nazi boycott

Zionists have often argued that only their own state can protect Jews from antisemitic attack. During the early stages of the Third Reich, moreover, the Nazis and Zionist organisations shared an outlook on Jewish separation.12 By attempting to separate Jews from the rest of humanity, the Zionists made destructive choices.

When Nazi Germany introduced antisemitic laws and promoted physical attacks on Jews, the Jewish diaspora in other countries organised an effective campaign for an international boycott. Mass rallies were held in many cities all over the world. In the USA and several European countries, large shops cancelled orders for German goods and found alternative sources.

The Nazi regime’s accomplice to beat the boycott was the World Zionist Organisation (WZO). Under the Transfer (Haavara) Agreement of March 1933, the WZO actively opposed the boycott in exchange for the Nazis permitting some well-off Jews and their wealth to be transported to Palestine. This transfer amounted to at least $30m worth of German goods, thus making Hitler a significant economic sponsor of the Zionist project. The Agreement would ‘pierce a stake through the heart of the Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott’, according to historian Edwin Black.13 Members of the World Jewish Congress sought to continue the boycott, but the WJC leadership soon joined the WZO in undermining it.


Zionism gains from antisemitism in Poland

In the mid-1930s Poland’s government also moved against the country’s Jews by enacting laws modelled on the Nuremberg Race Laws of Nazi Germany. For example, new laws restricted the kosher slaughtering of cattle and excluded Jews from specific professions. The Polish regime also negotiated with France to establish a ‘Jewish colony’ in Madagascar where Polish Jews could be sent.14 These developments and the antisemitism of the Catholic Church strengthened the Polish Zionist movement.

Betar, a right-wing Revisionist Zionist movement opposed to trade unions, worked with antisemites in the Polish military from 1930 onwards. High-ranking army officers secretly trained Betar recruits, most of whom immigrated to Palestine by the end of the decade to join Zionist military forces there. Nevertheless Zionism in Poland faced strong opposition from the Bund, a Jewish-secular socialist party, which had a stronger following than any other Jewish party in Poland.


From the Holocaust to the ‘New Jew’

Zionism was a minority political force among European Jews until six million were killed by the Nazis. The Holocaust strengthened Zionist efforts to gain international support for a Jewish state in Palestine. Most Jewish refugees sought escape to Western Europe or the USA but were blocked by immigration controls – supported by Zionist organisations – and so migrated instead to Palestine.

Zionist colonisation depended on racist institutions which still operate today. The Jewish Agency promotes Jewish immigration to Israel. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) still allocates Israeli land only to Jews.15 The Histadrut – often mistakenly called a ‘trade union’ – has been in reality a business promoting ‘Hebrew-only labour’.16 The Israeli ‘Law of Return’ offered citizenship to all Jews, wherever they live in the world.

Zionist militias attacked Palestinian civilians during the 1940s until the 1948 declaration of independence for Israel. In 1947-48 this terror campaign led to the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. Several massacres panicked Palestinians to flee their homeland.

An official ‘state of emergency’ prevented refugees from exercising their right of return, thus violating international law to this day. Zionist settlement did not stop at taking over indigenous people’s land. Rather than exploit their labour, Zionism sought to expel or eliminate them, as earlier European settlers had done in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.

Zionism sought to replace the indigenous population with colonial-settlers as the ‘New Jew’. This doubly racist project maligned the Bund’s working-class solidarity as backward and sought to replace immigrants’ Yiddish culture with a literally fabricated one. Israeli author Amos Oz explains: ‘Even new lullabies and new “ancient legends” were synthesised by eager writers’, e.g. glorifying the settlers’ land appropriation through agricultural labour.17

The New Jew - colonialist, settler

The New Jew – colonialist, settler


As the ideology underpinning Jewish settlement in Palestine, Zionism was embraced by many Jews as a route to a socialist Utopia based on collective labour and idealistic kibbutz communities. In practice they faced a choice: either break with Zionism or accept its racist, colonial nature.19

Racist Right-wing politics

As in the 1930s, Zionism and racist Right-wing politics have continued to converge. The US political scene features an alliance between Jewish Zionists and the far more numerous fundamentalist Christian Zionists. Today many of the 40 million Christian Evangelists there believe that a Jewish ‘return’ to Palestine will bring the Second Coming, Armageddon and then the Rapture, when the Righteous will be saved. Everyone who does not accept this prophecy, including Jews, will be sent to hell. Since 9/11 Christian Zionists have also seen Israel as a front-line defence against the so-called ‘Islamic threat’.

Jewish Zionists have exploited this support, even when combined with blatant antisemitism. According to Pastor John Hagee, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, ‘Adolph Hitler was a “hunter”, sent by God, who was tasked with expediting God’s will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.’20 Nevertheless Hagee’s support for Israel has been welcomed by the Anti-Defamation League, which is meant to oppose antisemitism.21 Likewise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, ‘The good news is that Israel is not alone – it has your support’, when addressing a rally of Hagee’s one million-strong Christians United for Israel.22

As in the USA, European racist groups combine antisemitism with support for Zionism.23 Throughout Europe most major racist parties are antisemitic, Islamophobic and pro-Zionist. English Defence League members express antisemitic views, while also flying the Israeli flag. Support for Israel also comes from Robert Zines, MEP of Latvia’s Freedom & Fatherland Party, who joins the annual march in memory of SS veterans who guarded extermination camps.24 Similarly in Poland, the Law and Justice Party is a home for pro-Israel antisemites.25 Michal Kaminski MEP strongly supports Israel while also defending ‘the good name of Jedwabne’ – a town where hundreds of Jews were burned alive in a synagogue in 1941.26


Racist equation: Zionist = Jewish

Western support for Israel is based on much more than collusion with antisemitism. Israel has demonstrated its utility in suppressing Arab nationalist aspirations for democratic control of the Middle East and its natural resources, especially since the 1967 war. Israeli counter- insurgency methods have been used widely by Western military forces, e.g. in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Israeli military has turned the Middle East into a laboratory for surveillance, control and armament systems to be extended globally.27 Imperialist domination closely links the Western powers to the Israeli colonial-settler state. Palestinians regularly face Western demands ‘to recognise Israel as a Jewish state’, thus conflating a people with a state. This conflation has been encouraged by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), whose supporters have described it as ‘the Jewish lobby’.28

A similar conflation was also promoted by the now-defunct EU Monitoring Centre (EUMC) on Racism and Xenophobia.29 According to its so-called ‘working definition of antisemitism’, it could be antisemitic to deny ‘the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’.30 Since this definition was rejected by the UK’s Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), Zionists have campaigned for universities to de-recognise the union. This demonstrates once again that it is Zionists, not their critics, who continue to equate their colonial-settler project with all Jews. By claiming to be ‘the State of the Jews’, Israel implicates all Jews in Israel’s wars, occupation, land thefts, expulsions and other crimes.

Mirroring that equation, some misguided supporters of the Palestinians have attributed their oppression to an international Jewish conspiracy, to ‘Jewish power’, to ‘a Jewish spirit’, etc. The extreme-Right journalist Israel Shamir promotes those elements of traditional European antisemitism, ostensibly to support the Palestinians. These explanations obscure the source of Palestinian oppression. They perversely accept Zionist claims to represent all Jews and ‘Jewish values’.

Leading Palestinian commentators and activists reject such “support” as damaging the Palestinian cause. Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad, Omar Barghouti and Rafeef Ziadeh were among dozens who denounced those who blame ‘Jewish’ characteristics for the oppression of Palestinians.31 As the Palestinian BDS National Committee has argued, ‘equating Israel and world Jewry… is itself antisemitic’. 32

The equation stereotypes Jews, threatens their civil rights and undermines their national identity in countries where they live. It originated from antisemites who saw Jews as an alien people not belonging in Europe and needing their own homeland. This equation is contradicted by the many people of Jewish origin who actively support Palestinian national rights and play central roles in the BDS campaign.


BDS – against Zionism and antisemitism

Understanding Zionism and antisemitism as racist political twins – sometimes even partners in crime – underpins the Palestinian call for BDS. Its anti-racist aims – freedom from occupation, justice for refugees denied their right of return and equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel – are best served by targeting Israel as a racist state aligned with the political-economic interests of the Western powers.

Published January 2013.

Printed version available from


Further reading on Zionism and antisemitism

Gilbert Achcar, Arabs and the Holocaust, Saqi, 2010.

Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine, Macmillan, 1984.

Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, Croom Helm, 1983

Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry, Verso, 2003.

David Landy, Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights, Zed, 2011.

Antony Lerman, The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist, Pluto, 2011.

Francis Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, Taurus, 1985.

Aki Orr, The unJewish State: The Politics of Jewish Identity in Israel. London, Ithaca, 1983.

Yakov Rabkin, A Threat from Within: A History of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

John Rose, The Myths of Zionism, Pluto, 2005.

Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, Verso, 2010.

Nathan Weinstock, Zionism: The False Messiah, Inklinks, 1979.



[2] Leo Pinsker, Autoemanzipation: ein Mahnrufan seine Stammesgenossen, von einem russischen Juden, Berlin, 1882, pp.4-5;; for bringing together many sources cited here, thanks to Tony Greenstein’s blog,

[3] See; the Zionist spelling of ‘anti-Semitism’ has an essentialist meaning, so it is used here only for direct quotes (otherwise ‘antisemitism’).

[4]  The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, edited by Raphael Patai, translated by Harry Zohn, New York, 1960, page 19.

[5] Jacob Klatzkin, Krisis und Entscheidung im Judentum: Probleme des modernen Judentums, 2d ed., Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1921, p.118; cited in Klaus Herrmann, ‘Historical perspectives on political Zionism and antisemitism’, in Zionism & Racism, 1977, p.204,

[6] Joachim Doron, ‘Classic Zionism and modern anti-semitism: parallels and influences’ (1883-1914), Studies in Zionism 8, Autumn 1983.

[7] Aki Orr, The unJewish State.  Also ‘Zionist antisemitism’,

[8] Nathan Weinstock, Zionism – A False Messiah, Inklinks.

[9] Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs, 1937, p.364

[11]  Jason Tomes, Balfour and Foreign Policy: The International  Thought of a Conservative Statesman, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p.201; Michael Joseph Cohen, Churchill and the Jews, 1900-1948, Frank Cass, 2003, p.19.

[12] Francis R Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestinian Question, I.B Taurus and Co, London, 1985.

[13]  Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement.  Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators.

[17] Haim Bresheeth, Self and Other in Zionism: Palestine and Israel in recent Hebrew literature, in Khamsin, 14/15. Palestine: Profile of an Occupation, London, Zed Books, 1989, pp.120-52.

[19] Antony Lerman, The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist.

[27] Steve Graham, ‘Settler colonial securitism: Israeli surveillance and control regimes at airports and mega-events’,


As Israel prepares to announce the draw for UEFA’s under-21 football finals in June next year, the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign has put out the following news release.
Nov 27 – On the eve of the announcement in Tel Aviv of the draw for the Euro 2013 under-21 finals next June, some of the biggest names in European football have condemned Israel ’s military attack on Gaza which killed 170 people, including Palestinian boys playing football, and destroyed vital sports infrastructure.
Former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute is among those signing a statement referring to Israel’s hosting of the U-21 championship as rewarding it “for actions that are contrary to sporting values”.   (See full statement below)
On November 8, 13-year-old Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa was shot in the abdomen by the Israeli military while playing football with his friends in ‘Abassan village, east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis . He died in hospital shortly afterwards. Four other boys were also killed.
The Palestinian Paralympic Committee offices, along with a stadium and sports complex where the Palestine team prepared for London 2012, were among facilities wiped out by Israeli bomb attacks in the days that followed.
A number of football fixtures and gatherings have been moved because of the violence.
Pressure on UEFA to change the venue for the 2013 u-21 finals is mounting as 20 British Members of Parliament have signed a motion (EDM 640) in the House of Commons  stating:
” That this House congratulates the Football Association for its Kick It Out campaign against racism in football; registers with profound disapproval, however, that the FA is prepared to participate in the European Under-21 football tournament to be played in Israel in June 2013, even though Israel is geographically not in Europe and is a country which has policies of racial apartheid against Palestinians.”
Campaigners in a number of European centres are marking the draw in Israel on Wednesday.
Red Card Israeli Racism in Britain has handed in a petition of several thousand signatures.  along with a statement from public figures including filmmaker Ken Loach, calling on the Football Association to support a change of venue for the 2013 tournament. (Text and signatures attached).
UK campaign coordinator Geoff Lee said, “ In addition to the increasing racist violence against Arabs in Israel which is well known to UEFA , the latest attacks by Israel on the besieged people of Gaza must make the UEFA delegates rethink this issue.”
In Italy, a letter has been delivered to the Italian Football Federation calling for withdrawal of the Italian national team from the competition unless there is a change of venue. On themorning of Wednesday, November 28 a protest will be held outside the nationalheadquarters in Rome during which activists have requested a meeting with management.
Frederic Kanoute, Moussa Sow, Demba Ba, Jacques Faty and others
The horrific situation faced by Palestinian civilians in recent days is deeply concerning. We have learnt that on November 10 the Israeli army bombarded a sports stadium on Gaza . Four young people who were playing football were killed. Mohamed Harara and Ahmed Harara (16 and 17 years old), Matar Rahman and Ahmed Al Dirdissawi (18 years old).
We are also aware that since February 2012 two footballers with the Al Amari team, Omar Rowis (23) and Mohammed Nemer (22) are still imprisoned in Israel without trial or charge.
In the run-up to Israel hosting the UEFA Under-21 European Championship, which will reward Israel for actions that are contrary to sporting values, we as European sportspeople wish to express our regret the turmoil of recent days, the primary victim of which has been the Palestinian people.
We express our solidarity and our support for the civilian causalities. All people have the right to a life of dignity, freedom and security. The Palestinians must be protected by the rule of international law. We hope that a just peace will finally emerge – it is simply unacceptable that children are killed while they are peacefully playing football.
Palestine , le sport au pied du mur
La situation subie par les civils palestiniens ces derniers jours est plus que préoccupante. Nous avons appris que le 10 novembre, l’armée israélienne a bombardé un terrain de sport à Gaza . Quatre jeunes qui jouaient au football ont été tués : Mohamed Harara et Ahmed Harara (16 et 17 ans), Matar Rahman et Ahmed Al Dirdissawi (18 ans).
Nous savons en outre que depuis février 2012, les deux joueurs de football de l’équipe d’Al Amari, Omar Rowis (23 ans) Mohammed Nemer (22 ans) sont toujours emprisonnés en Israël sans procès et sans jugement.
À la veille où Israël doit accueillir l’Euro des moins de 21 ans, se voyant ainsi récompensé alors qu’il commet des actes qui restent contraires aux valeurs du Sport, nous, sportifs européens, regrettons la situation d’embrasement de ces derniers jours qui a pour première victime le peuple palestinien. Nous exprimons notre solidarité et notre soutien aux victimes civiles. Tout peuple a le droit de vivre dignement, dans la liberté et la sécurité. Les Palestiniens ne peuvent en ce sens être exclus du droit international. Nous espérons que le droit et la justice règneront enfin, parce qu’il est inadmissible que des enfants meurent alors qu’ils jouent paisiblement au football.
Premiers signataires: Kanoute, Moussa Sow, Demba Ba, Jacques Faty
4. Events in Israel cancelled because of the violence:

5. England could host u-21 in 2013 instead of Israel

5. Statement from Ken Loach and other eminent figures calling for UEFA to move under-21 finals from Israel .
As football supporters we hear with concern an appeal from Mahmoud Sarsak, a young Palestinian national team player whose career was cut short by three years’ detention without trial in an Israeli jail.
We are aware that he regained his freedom last July 10, only after a three month hunger strike won him sympathy and support from influential voices in the football world.
Sarsak is asking us now to show our support for all Palestinians who love the beautiful game but who suffer the impact of discriminatory Israeli policies on Palestinian football and the life of the community in general.
We are disturbed by the myriad ways in which the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and the siege of  Gaza  prevent both the development of Palestinian sport at grass roots level and its representation in international competitions. These include:
  • regulations and checkpoints that block the movement of players between Palestinian towns and villages and between  Gaza  and the  West Bank ;
  • official interference preventing the Palestinian national team from travelling abroad to train or compete and making it virtually impossible for foreign teams to attend fixtures in Palestine ;
  • restrictions on the importation of equipment, even when donated by international footballing organisations;
  • prevention of the construction of facilities.
In addition to these impediments, life under occupation entails the constant threat of detention or even death. Two  West Bank footballers, Mohammed Saedy Ibrahim Nemer and goalkeeper Omar Khaled Omar Abu Rowis, were detained in February and have been incarcerated ever since.
Four footballers were among the 1,400 Palestinians killed during the Israeli assault on  Gaza  in December 2008 – January 2009.   Even children are not exempt. On June 20 this year, twelve-year-old Mamoun Zuhdi al-Dam was killed by an Israeli warplane as he played football on land near his family home in  Gaza .
Against this background, Sarsak has drawn our attention to Palestinian dismay at UEFA’s insistence on having  Israel  host next year’s under-21 finals.
He says that staging this, or any other UEFA competition, in  Israel “is legitimising  Israel ’s continued occupation, oppression and apartheid policies. There can be no place in football for segregation and oppression so prestigious tournaments cannot be allowed to take place in  Israel .”
Taking into account the high profile given in European football to combating racism wherever it appears, we agree with Sarsak that it is inappropriate for European football’s governing body to be staging international competitions in a country responsible for systematic discrimination against Palestinians.
We therefore call upon UEFA to move the 2013 U21 finals away from  Israel  and to assure Palestinians that  Israel  will not be granted such an honour as long as its discriminatory practices continue.
John Austin
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta
Stephen Cavalier
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Bob Crow
Rev. Garth Hewitt
Ghada Karmi
Bruce Kent,
Ken Loach
Paul Laverty
Kika Markham
Karma Nabulsi
Prof. Steven Rose
Keith Sonnet
David Thompson
Jenny Tonge