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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/13/20

With Corbyn gone the Israel lobby is targeting Palestinians directly

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Labour members have found themselves at risk of being suspended or expelled if they criticise Israel object to the definition or suggest it is being misused to silence Palestinians and their supporters
Labour members have found themselves at risk of being suspended or expelled if they criticise Israel object to the definition or suggest it is being misused to silence Palestinians and their supporters
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An attack on a prominent British-Palestinian doctor and academic, Ghada Karmi, by a self-styled "antisemitism watchdog" looks suspiciously like a new trend in anti-Palestinian bigotry and bullying dressed up as victimhood.

Late last month, the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), which claims to represent the interests of the UK's Jewish community, said it was writing to the General Medical Council and Exeter University to accuse Karmi of making "a series of antisemitic statements".

The supposedly racist comments were contained in an opinion piece in Middle East Eye that praised Jeremy Corbyn's record and his decades of support for the Palestinian cause as he stepped down as Labour leader.

It is hard not to conclude that the CAA wishes to make an example of Karmi, in the hope that she can be stripped of her medical licence and disowned by Exeter University, where she was previously an honorary research fellow.

More widely, this kind of public pillorying familiar from pro-Israel lobby groups in the United States is designed to chill free speech and delegitimise Palestinians trying to give voice to their people's oppression.

Targeting Palestinians

The smears suggest that groups such as the CAA have been buoyed by their success in using antisemitism to damage Corbyn. He faced four years of relentless claims that the party had become "institutionally antisemitic" on his watch.

Now, the CAA appears to be moving on from simply maligning those who have offered solidarity to Palestinians protesting their decades of oppression at Israel's hands to target Palestinians directly.

It is a sign of the pro-Israel lobby's growing confidence that it has chosen to smear Karmi. She is one of a shrinking number of Palestinians alive today who experienced firsthand the Nakba, or "catastrophe" Israel's ethnic cleansing in 1948 of many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to create a self-declared Jewish state on the ruins of their homeland.

Forced from her home in Jerusalem by the Israeli army, Karmi and her family eventually settled in the UK.

'Undue panic and alarm'

The CAA has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence and influence since it was established six years ago to challenge what it claimed at the time was an upsurge of antisemitism in the wake of Israel's 2014 military assault on Gaza. More than 500 children were among some 2,200 Palestinians killed in the operation.

Back then, and despite being registered as a charity, the CAA's founders did not hide the fact that it was an openly partisan organisation trying to prevent criticism of Israel by manipulating the meaning of antisemitism for political ends.

It actively sought to blur the distinction between genuine antisemitism such as verbal and physical attacks on Jews and the inevitable climate of intensified criticism of Israel provoked by the Gaza assault.

In early 2015, an all-party parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism accused the CAA of stoking "undue panic and alarm", and warned it not to "conflate concerns about activity legitimately protesting Israel's actions with antisemitism".

Another more venerable Jewish think tank, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, called the CAA's surveys on antisemitism "irresponsible" and "littered with flaws".

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)

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