You filthy anti-Semite: an analysis of Israel-criticism and Israeli apologist hypocrisy

July 7, 2011
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This is an analysis of the loss of meaning of the term “anti-Semitism”, written in support of those who have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism.

When criticizing Israel, one has to tread carefully in order to avoid being smeared with the most powerful weapon that Pro-Israel fanatics and apologists use to silence their critics: the accusation of anti-Semitism. If the Jewish people wish for the term “Anti-Semitism” to retain its meaning, Israeli politicians, Jewish organizations (such as the Simon Wiesenthal Centre)  and their advocates should seriously consider being more accurate and selective in their political modus operandi and the way they throw around certain vilifying accusations.

My solidairy with Jews… and all victims of hatred

My foster father has greatly influenced my political and personal views since I was seven years old. I grew up with stories about the hardships he lived through. My foster father was born in 1930 in the Netherlands. As a teenager, he lived through the German occupation of the Netherlands during WWII. He and his family were lucky enough to survive the “Hongerwinter” (Winter of Hunger) of 1944-1945. The German occupying forces imposed this famine on the most densely populated areas of the Netherlands, as a collective punishment, because Dutch railway workers had organized strikes. Approximately 20.000 people starved to death as a result of this ruthless policy.

Rotterdam, the city I grew up in, was also a living testament to the horrors of WWII. I lived there for more than 25 years (1975-2000). Rotterdam was bombed by the Nazi Forces on May 14 1940. By destroying large parts of Rotterdam, the German Army demonstrated its devastating power. It gave the Dutch a bloody example of what would happen to their other cities if the Dutch forces would not surrender. The German government threatened to do the same to Utrecht. To avoid further bloodshed, the Dutch army surrendered. Rotterdam became a symbol of German ruthlessness and the humiliating defeat of the Dutch. Growing up in this city automatically meant that almost on a daily basis, I was confronted, with its recent history. A history disfigured by victimization, defeat and humiliation by power-hungry and hateful monsters.

Apart from this intense real life connection with WWII, there was school. My teachers lost no opportunity when it came to telling us about the horrors of the holocaust and the racist hatred that the Nazis harbored against the Jews. We read Anne Frank’s diary from cover to cover. We were extensively informed about the Nazis’ crimes against humanity. I have always felt a deep compassion for -and emphasized with- the Jewish people. I still do, but no longer unconditionally and blindly.

Nevertheless, according to many fanatical supporters of the new Dutch populist-fascist movement, I am an anti-Semite. I am referring to the supporters of the PVV,  the so-called Dutch Freedom Party (Partij voor de Vrijheid). Monica Nunes, a member of the house of representatives for the province of North Holland on behalf of the PVV, also called me an anti-Semite, simply because I had called her a member of a fascist party and because I was asking her critical questions during a “Twitter” conversation. She had confirmed that Christian and atheist asylum-seekers should be allowed to enter the Netherlands, but Muslims not. This was outrageous and utterly racist, and I asked her for clarification. Instead she turned aggressive in her tone.

PVV supporters flung the smear of anti-Semitism at me because some of my comments and writings are severely critical of Israel’s policies. Never mind the fact that my criticism is based on years of study and research. Moreover, I have sided with the Palestinians. I support their sovereignty and I vehemently oppose the occupation of their lands. My stance is a capital sin as far as Dutch Rightwing Israel supporters are concerned. However, by branding me as an anti-Semite, these so-called friends of Israel are not doing  Israel or the Jewish people any favours.

I decided to write this analysis on Israel and anti-Semitism because of my own experiences as well as some recent developments whereby I was stunned by the ease and readiness of Israel-supporters and apologists to call someone an anti-Semite. My criticism of Israeli policies and the abuse of the diaspora’s Jewishness, is always based on critical but fair analysis. Slurs will not make me  shy away from speaking my mind. They will only make me fiercer than ever. At this point I have nothing to lose; the harm to my name and reputation has already been done.

A rude awakening out of the Islam-hatred

I grew up with two Muslim friends: an ethnic Turk and an ethnic Moroccan. My Moroccan friend has been my best friend for 33 years. All those years, he had to tolerate my harsh criticism of Islamic tradition and religious doctrine. Yet, he never has called me an anti-Islamist or Islam-hater, which -in fact- I actually used to be. I used to hate Islam to the core; I had no respect for its prophet and its teachings.

My perception of Islam and Muslims changed drastically in the mid 2000s when I was researching the most controversial claims made by certain Islam critics. To my astonishment, I discovered that most opponents were deliberately putting matters in a certain discriminating fashion, out of context (i.e. selection-bias), or were outright twisting facts (perpetrating confirmation-bias) to arrive at a conclusion that would fit their agenda. It was then that I lost all respect for Ibn Warraq, Anwar Sheikh and all other prominent anti-Islam polemicists. Their modus operandi was simply built upon the assumption that people blindly accept and copy their analyses. Until then, I had always refused to hear any form of criticism of Israel, because I did not want to lend my ear to Islamic conspiracy theories or Muslim hate propaganda.

After I became convinced that the anti-Islam polemicists were, in fact, manipulating SOBs, I  was overcome by feelings of embarrassment. My spirituality, my sense of fairness, my so-called neutrality and objectivity had been non-existent when it came to Islam and Muslims. Once my eyes opened to the twists and turns in the modus operandi of the anti-Islam club, I decided to finally take a look at the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Once I started looking, I was horrified.

My great-grandparents were from India, and while I am not a practicing Hindu, I still feel a deep connection with India. The most important teachings of ancient Hindu-spirituality are centered on the concept of tolerance, philosophy of equality, and the belief in karma. It is with this in mind that I write my analyses and comments. I will speak out when I see injustice, and I will tell you what is on my mind. I must and will bear the consequences of my actions and inactions, my shortcomings and my injustices, but so must you, so must the Jew-hating Muslim, so must the Muslim-hating Jew, so must Hamas, so must the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and so must the Israeli Government.

The case of Ms. Gretta Duisenberg

Ms. Gretta Duisenberg, the widow of former ECB-supremo Willem Duisenberg, is a Dutch citizen and an outspoken critic of the Israeli occupation and an outspoken advocate of the Palestinian cause. Because some of this criticism was phrased in a rather undiplomatic manner, she was called an anti-Semite. The Dutch judicial branch decided on February 23, 2011, that she could not sue some of her accusers, which inherently lends credibility to their smears. Ms. Duisenberg is so used to the frequency and ease with which she has been called an anti-Semite that she once said, “I almost find anti-Semitist an honorific title”. This, in turn, again got the accusing group in a fit; they were foaming so vehemently at the mouth that they barely could yell “You anti-Semite!” at Duisenberg.

However, since I have similar experiences, I share her concerns. If by being critical of Israel and defending basic human rights of an oppressed people means being called an anti-Semite, then I too find this an honorific title. I understand the psychology behind Duisenberg’s statement. The frequency with which I am called an anti-Semite means that instead of getting myself worked up I rather find some reward in the upset egos of these blind fanatics.

The sensationalized stories about Duisenberg’s remarks and her involvement with Palestine were always thankfully used by supporters of the PVV to vilify her in any way possible. But that was not all. The most unholy alliance the PVV and its supporters have forged is with the Jewish people and organizations in the Netherlands. Instead of distancing themselves from this fascist movement, Jewish people have embraced the PVV. The Dutch-Jewish organization, C.I.D.I. (Centre for Information and Documentation for Israel), has been extremely supportive and helpful to the PVV and its founder, Geert Wilders.

The PVV is an outspoken anti-Islam movement, promoting a general ban on the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims, calling it a fascist book, worse than Hitler’s Mein Kampf. If there was one group that should have shunned away from such a generalizing and racist party, it should have been Jewish representatives in the Netherlands, the U.S.A., and Israel. Sadly, by siding with the PVV they have –in the eyes of Muslim communities- confirmed the existence of some kinds of conspiracy theories and of Jewish hatred against Islam and its followers. Whether the Jewish representatives trigger this all on purpose –as an act of psychological warfare maybe- or unwillingly, they have lost a tremendous opportunity to condemn the PVV and show their solidarity with Muslims in the Netherlands.

The case of Ms. Christina Patterson

Another person who has been called an anti-Semite is Ms. Christina Patterson, a columnist at The Independent. Lat year she wrote a column titled, “How I was smeared as an anti-Semite”. She wrote:

 I suddenly saw my name next to the words “Simon Wiesenthal”. I clicked on the link and there, on something called “Fishbowl LA”, I was. “This,” it said, “is definitely an awards season Top Ten list no one wants to be on”. The LA Simon Wiesenthal Centre had, it said, “unveiled its Top Ten Anti-Semitic Slurs” for 2010 and I – nestling between a Lithuanian Holocaust-denier, who described the Nuremberg trial as “the biggest legal farce in history”, and anonymous contributions on the Goldman Sachs message boards, which begged for the return of the Gestapo and exhorted readers to “burn all the Jews” – was at No 9. [1]

Patterson had earned the vilification of the once greatly-respected SWC because she had the chutzpah to write something about her unmannered Jewish neighbors. The particular paragraph from Patterson’s hand that SWC cited on their website of 2010 Top Ten Anti-Semitic Slurs came from her July 28, 2010 column, “The limits of multi-culturalism”:

 “I would like to teach some of my neighbors some manners… I don’t care if they wear frock coats and funny suits and hats covered in plastic bags and insist on wearing their hair in ringlets (if they’re male) or covered up by wigs (if they’re female), but I do think they could treat their neighbors with a bit more courtesy and respect. I didn’t realize that goyim were about as welcome in the Hasidic Jewish shops as Martin Luther King, Jr. at a Ku Klux Klan convention. I didn’t realize that a purchase by a goy was a crime to be punished with monosyllabic terseness or that bus seats were a potential source of contamination or that road signs and parking restrictions were for people who hadn’t been chosen by G-d.” [2]  –

Justification from the SWC for vilifying Patterson for the above paragraph remains to be shared with the rest of the world. Patterson fell victim to the mighty accusing-of-anti-Semitism-axe of the SWC, which feels it has the right to smear and vilify anyone who is not kissing their holy behinds. However, instead of giving in, Patterson hit back, opening the way for criticism of such low tactics by SWC and the likes. The boomerang-effect will be hitting the SWC and the Jews in general in the face in the coming years, and if nothing structurally will be done to this issue, the Jewish people will lose many of their supporters and become further isolated.

This is part one of a series on Arab Anti-Semitism and Jewish Anti-Islamism, by Neal Lachman. 

[1] How I was smeared as an anti-Semite, Christina Patterson, The Independent, December 23, 2010

[2] The limits of multi-culturalism, Christina Patterson, The Independent, July 28, 2010

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