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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/13/20

Embracing Palestine: How to Combat Israel's Misuse of "Antisemitism"

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I find it puzzling, indeed disturbing, that Israel, directly or otherwise, is able to determine the nature of any discussion on Palestine in the West, not only within typical mainstream platforms but within pro-Palestinian circles as well.

At a talk I delivered in Northern England in March 2018, I proposed that the best response to falsified accusations of antisemitism, which are often lobbed against pro-Palestinian communities and intellectuals everywhere, is to draw even closer to the Palestinian narrative.

In fact, my proposal was not meant to be a sentimental response in any way.

"Reclaiming the Palestinian narrative" has been the main theme in most of my public speeches and writings in recent years. All of my books and much of my academic studies and research have largely focused on positioning the Palestinian people -- their rights, history, culture, and political aspirations -- at the very core of any genuine understanding of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli colonialism and apartheid.

True, there was nothing particularly special about my talk in Northern England. I had already delivered a version of that speech in other parts of the U.K., Europe and elsewhere. But what made that event memorable is a conversation I had with a passionate activist, who introduced himself as an adviser to the office of the head of the British Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

Although the activist agreed with me regarding the need to embrace the Palestinian narrative, he insisted that the best way for Corbyn to deflect anti-Semitic accusations, which have dogged his leadership since day one, is for Labor to issue a sweeping and decisive condemnation of antisemitism, so that Corbyn may silence his critics and he is finally able to focus on the pressing subject of Palestinian rights.

I was doubtful. I explained to the animated and self-assured activist that Zionist manipulation and misuse of antisemitism is a phenomenon that has preceded Corbyn by many decades, and will always be there as long as the Israeli government finds the need to distract from its war crimes against Palestinians and to crush pro-Palestinian solidarity worldwide.

I explained to him that while anti-Jewish racism is a real phenomenon that must be confronted, "antisemitism," as defined by Israel and its Zionist allies, is not a moral question that is meant to be solved by a press release, no matter how strongly-worded. Rather, it is a smokescreen, with the ultimate aim of distracting from the real conversation, that being the crimes of military occupation, racism, and apartheid in Palestine.

In other words, no amount of talking, debating or defending oneself can possibly convince the Zionists that demanding an end to the Israeli military occupation in Palestine or the dismantling of the Israeli apartheid regime, or any genuine criticism of the policies of Israel's right-wing government are not, in fact, acts of antisemitism.

Alas, the activist insisted that a strong statement that would clarify Labor's position on antisemitism would finally absolve Corbyn and protect his legacy against the undeserved smearing.

The rest is history. Labor went into a witch-hunt, to catch the "true" anti-Semites among its members. The unprecedented purge has reached many good people who have dedicated years to serving their communities and defending human rights in Palestine and elsewhere.

The statement to end all statements was followed by many others. Numerous articles and arguments were written and made in defense of Corbyn -- to no avail. Only a few days before Labor lost the general election in December, the Simon Wiesenthal Center named Corbyn -- one of Britain's most sincere and well-intentioned leaders in the modern era -- the "top anti-Semite of 2019." So much for engaging the Zionists.

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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5 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments  Post Comment


nelswight

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I'm grateful and appreciate what you say, Ramzy Baroud.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 9:30:11 PM

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John Zwiebel

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I have empathy for the Palestinian people but I recognize I may not be pro Palestinian since I know little about Palestinians. I can say that I'm anti-Zionist. I question whether one can be anti-Zionist well at the same time not be anti-Israel. Israel is being run by fascists racists and criminals. Israeli voters continue to choose these fascists to lead them. At what point should voters be held responsible for their choice to support fascists and racists? The same question applies to the American voter. How stupid are Americans that they don't recognize the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are both organizations that promote the agenda of the elite. America will soon reap the reward of our stupidity. Having been led to our demise by Israeli fascists . I truly despair that any will survive

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 9:39:42 PM

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John Zwiebel

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I have empathy for the Palestinian people but I recognize I may not be pro Palestinian since I know little about Palestinians. I can say that I'm anti-Zionist. I question whether one can be anti-Zionist well at the same time not be anti-Israel. Israel is being run by fascists racists and criminals. Israeli voters continue to choose these fascists to lead them. At what point should voters be held responsible for their choice to support fascists and racists? The same question applies to the American voter. How stupid are Americans that they don't recognize the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are both organizations that promote the agenda of the elite. America will soon reap the reward of our stupidity. Having been led to our demise by Israeli fascists . I truly despair that any will survive

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 9:40:07 PM

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nelswight

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Good words, John, well said

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:30:10 PM

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Mohammad Ala

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I would like to quote David Pear:

"Telling the truth is NOT anti-sematic."

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 5:01:46 AM

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John Jonik

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Opposing US ("in God We Trust" etc.") policies must therefore, fittingly, be Anti Christian or Anti-Deism if it's agreed that opposing Israeli Gov't policies are somehow "Anti-Semitism".

None of this has anything to do with any religion.

Calling Anti Israel Gov't Policies "anti-Semitism" is purely about inane attempts to accuse critics of Fascistic policies of being Fascistic...tactics of which Israeli and US interests emulate routinely.

Fascists don't like being called "fascists".

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 6:34:05 AM

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Nelson Betancourt

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I believe that until a one-state solution for Jews, Muslims, and Christians is put forth as the only viable solution, there will never be a peaceful and sustainable end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. And it doesn't matter that "Israel simply would never accept it." It is precisely why a solution should be sought along the lines of what was done with the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959. Instead of one country (USA) being the only entity involved in negotiations, the Antarctic Treaty consisted of 12 initial countries/signatories to the treaty.

We can agree that the USA has never been an honest broker in this case. Some of the same purposes under the Antarctic Treaty could be the starting point for negotiating a peaceful solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

I agree with Ramzy Baroud, that it begins by "Reclaiming the Palestinian narrative." It also includes reaching out beyond the USA to other countries.

"The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones." --Lie Zi

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020 at 3:03:02 AM

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