A young lady went to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event entitled “Is criticizing Israel antisemitic?”
What she witnessed was antisemitism, terror support and a desire for Israel to be destroyed.
Last night in my home of Bristol I went to a an event entitled ‘’Is criticising Israel antisemitic’’ held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, they were hosting Tony Greenstein, an activist who had been suspended from the Labour party for calling people ‘zionist rats’.
The event started with a man wearing a fabric white poppy on his blazer introducing us to the event and to Greenstein, he talked about the turn against Palestine activism. He talked about the zionist agenda, how zionists secretly control the media and have brainwashed us all to support Israel.
His central point was that Zionism, and he didn’t specify how he was defining ‘Zionism’, was a form of antisemetism. All Zionism is, for the uninformed, is the belief that Jews should have a national home where they can practice their right to self-determination. But he believed that it was a form of antisemetism, because it assumes that Jews are an ethnicity, in the same way that antisemitism does.
A young man carrying a few magazines spoke next, he actually had things to say related to the ‘’Is criticising Israel antisemitic’’ question the event was based around. He said the left should be careful not to rehash old antisemitic tropes or to claim that Israel is uniquely illegitimate as a state, moreso than any other state. The room laughed at him. Greenstein asked him if he came from a rival activist organisation, apparently ‘out of curiosity’, he was, the room laughed at him again. They also laughed at him for supporting the two-state solution, according to Greenstein and others the two-state solution is just another Zionist ploy. I wondered what they would rather instead. Greenstein re-iterated that unlike every other country in the world, Israel is uniquely illegitimate and has no legal right to exist.
A somewhat sombre moment came when a very old looking man came up and simply asked what actual proof they had of Zionists influencing the media, a woman came up and said that when she worked at ITV they got letters from the government offering guidance on what to broadcast. Paraphrasing: ‘’If this is what ITV gets, imagine what the BBC gets, where do you think they get these notes? they get them from them’’, pointing upwards as if to imply something. The room clapped, I didn’t know what they meant by ‘them’ but the rest of the rest of the room seemed to, I dreaded to think.
As the evening processed the discussion turned more towards the Labour party civil war between Jeremy Corbyn and the ‘moderates’, Greenstien insisted that the antisemitism furor was simply a ploy both to unseat Corbyn and to silence criticism of the state of Israel. ‘’Antisemitism is not a problem in the left, it is a lie created by Zionists, and we must never forget it’’.
Greenstein and few others at the event said that, although they disagree with Islamism, they stand behind Hamas, because they are the biggest resistance against Israel.
If you can’t tell by his name, Tony Greenstein is a Jew himself, so I would feel uncomfortable calling him an antisemite, but a lot of the stuff he said sounded very antisemitic.
As I left the event, a few people came up to me to thank me, but as I walked down the stairs outside a large man barged past me and shoved me to the side. He muttered ‘Jew bitch’ at me as he carried on.
Read the whole thing.
Meanwhile, here is another account of the evening from a young lady who seems to identify as being on the Left, and was similarly shocked by what she saw.
Last night for the first time in my life I felt the genuine threat of antisemitism. The event was a discussion titled “Is criticising Israel antisemitic?” led by Tony Greenstein, the political activist, who was recently suspended from the Labour party.
But unfortunately the problematic nature of the discussion, and the affirmation of antisemitism in Bristol and further through the UK and Europe, was achieved not only through the views of Greenstein himself, but worsened by the booming, loud, obnoxious voices of drunken white men, with no affiliation to Israel personally but whose speech and actions made countering any point impossible.
Ultimately this is not a feminist issue. I went in to the meeting with criticism of the image used on the Facebook group (inserted above), and the antisemitic (NOT anti-Zionist but specifically antisemitic) connotations of equating Israel/Judaism with the power and wealth of America as well as the use of age old rhetoric of the corrupt, capitalist Jew.
I felt bold enough to make my point in front of these people (having got cocky from 11 likes on my comment on the event’s post on Facebook) but ultimately I was so overwhelmed with the threatening voices of those who were so ardently anti-Zionist, that I don’t believe they would have felt held to account by an accusation of antisemitism, and I found it impossible to speak. And in fact the entire status of antisemitism was countered by the claims of Greenstein that “anti-Semitism is a tool by the right to destabilise the left”.
This was countered by a young researcher who had spent her last year in Russia investigating Ashkenazi Jewry, and concluded that, far from a continuation of the Nazi regime, and far from the suggested fabricated right wing push towards antisemitism in the left, Jews have made aliyah for multiple reasons – not least of the rising threat of anti-Semitism. She quoted statistics for the move towards aliyah from Jews in France, (nearly 8,000 French Jews moved to Israel in the year following the Charlie Hebdo attack) and was met with palpable scoffs and laughter from the rest of the room. I’ve never witnessed intolerance and othering of the Jews, as was evident in this room. The lack of consideration for the plight of French Jewry was overwhelming, but with the separation of the pond, and overwhelming plight of the Palestinians dictating the view of the room, there was no room for an understanding of antisemitism and thus they concluded it could not exist.
But in hearing that “Palestinians do not need to be the sacrificial lamb to appease past Jewish suffering”, I was shocked, and not only at the belligerent disregard for the place of Israel in the hearts and lives of Holocaust survivors and victims of antisemitism that only felt sanctity in the state of Israel.
I am not one to blindly defend Israel, and I am not of the belief that Israel is blameless, but I am sure that antisemitism is a threat that needs to be addressed. And it’s being held up under the guise of anti-Israel, and allows for age old motifs of anti-Jewish stereotypes, then that rhetoric needs to be stopped before it is able to develop into a more powerful force.