Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Anti-Semitism and the Catalan left"

The entrance to the Auschwitz Birkenau death camp
Matthew Tree (author of the remarkable novel SNUG) writing in Catalan for with his usual clear sight and bravery...

"Before World War II , anti-Semitism - a toxic hybrid

of anti-Judaism and Christian European pseudo-

scientific racism - was fashionable throughout

Europe, especially among young people. From 1945,

when everyone realized that some 5.8 million people

had been executed, starved, beaten, gassed or - in

the case of many babies- impaled on bayonets or

smashed against walls, simply for having non-Gentile

surnames, anti-Semitism began to lose popularity.

According to Labour MP Denis MacShane ('The New

Anti-Semitism', 2008) during the 60s and 70s certain

European intellectuals helped to make anti-Semitism

a socially acceptable prejudice once again thanks to

the concept (also a hybrid) of “anti-Zionism”, which

denies the right of Israel to exist as a state (on the

grounds that it is fascist and colonialist) while hinting

that all Israelis (or all Jews, even) manipulate

international opinion (especially U.S. opinion) in favor

of the said state of Israel by means of powerful


In other words, rather than make specific

criticisms of certain undeniable crimes committed by

the Israeli state, anti-Zionists treat this country as if it

were the only beneficiary of a powerful and diabolical

conspiracy, against which everything from boycotts

to physical elimination is therefore justifiable.

In Catalonia this discourse has enjoyed huge success,

partly because it is often accompanied by an equally

huge ignorance of history: just look at the

incredulous face of almost any Catalan 'anti-Zionist' if

you tell him, for example, that in 1947, the

Palestinian Arabs were offered their own state, twice

as large as the current Occupied Territories; or that

the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were occupied

from 1948 up to Six Day War [in 1967] by Egypt and

Jordan respectively (though these states did not treat

the Palestinians any better than the Israelis have


And perhaps our anti-Zionist may not know –

accustomed as he is to qualifying the Israelis as Nazis

that an important part of the Palestinian national

movement had genuinely Hitlerian roots, having been

founded by Yasser Arafat 's mentor, Haj Amin el-

Husseini, a personal friend of Himmler and the

architect of a plan to exterminate all the Jews of

North Africa and the Middle East with an

einsatzkommando led by Walter Rauff, the inventor

of the gas trucks used in Chelmno.

What is more, after centuries of relative tolerance

by Muslims towards Jews, European anti-Semitism,

imported directly from the Third Reich by el-Husseini,

has thoroughly infected the doctrines of radical

Islamist organizations such as Hezbollah or Allah

Hamas, both funded by Iran, a country that denies

the Holocaust, and has repeated again and again

hat Israel should be wiped off the face of the planet.

Yet when these same countries and organizations do

things that are somewhat worse than anything Israel

has done (such as now sending military support to

the current Syrian regime, which is responsible for

more deaths of Arab civilians in the last three years

than in Israel in it's entire history) the Catalan anti-

Zionists don't mutter so much as a word of protest.

In a nutshell, anti-Semitism has taken on many

different guises over the years, and the Catalan

variety - a generic anti-Zionism, often poorly informed

and pseudo-progressive (because it implicitly supports

regimes that are homophobic, sexist and, of course,

anti-Semitic) - is yet another variation on an old

European theme. Having said which, that does

not deny anybody the right to crticise a cruel and

unjustifiable occupation on the part of the state of

Israel. But of course, that's so obvious it doesn't need

to be stressed. Or maybe it does."

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