letter to Globe and Mail)
By Israel Shamir
a handy thing, usually used to enlarge small distant objects. But
one may turn them other way around and turn a close and threatening
object into a small and distant one. This procedure, usually a
reserve of kids, was applied by Naomi Klein, the best-selling author
of No Logo, in her letter to Toronto daily, Globe and Mail . Under
her magic pen, the most powerful group of people in North America,
owners of almost all Canadian and the US media and of a sizeable
chunk of real estate, was turned into a handful of fearful Jews
hiding for their lives in a remote synagogue. It takes time to
understand that she writes about people we know in the time we live
through, not about some medieval event.
Ms Klein writes: “Most Jews are so frightened that they are now willing to do anything to defend Israeli policies”. The second half is right. We know that most Jews are willing to do anything to defend and support and promote ethnic cleansing in Palestine. They are willing and doing it all the time. They booed down Paul Wolfowitz, the most bloodthirsty member of Neo-Liberal pack, for not being sufficiently bloodthirsty. In your average synagogue, they consider Sharon being a bit too kind-hearted man for his job, rather a closet Leftie. But fear does not enter this equation: nowadays the Jews have nothing to fear. They say and do what they want, without looking back. The Jewish tradition forbids mistreating a Goy, as long as such mistreatment can misfire and endanger a Jew. Apparently, now the Jews do not feel themselves threatened at all.
A few days ago, I went to a Jewish solidarity gathering in Brighton Beach near New York. The Jews cheered Yvet Lieberman, an Israeli minister who left Sharon’s government protesting Sharon’s liberal approach. They spent a lot of money, put up screens and satellite links to proclaim their feelings unequivocally. One does not have to go to a public gathering: open any Jewish newspaper, from Israeli Haaretz to the American Jewish Week, and a stream of unadulterated hatred will hit you square in the face.
It is not news: ten years ago, Danni Rubinstein, a liberal Israeli journalist, complained that the American Jews invariably support the most extreme nationalist forces in Israel. American Jews are not exclusion: the Jews of England and Russia are braying for the Goyiish blood, as well. A skilful apologist, Ms Klein prefers to explain away this criminal and culpable encouragement to mass murder by their fear. She would do a fine defence lawyer in Nuremberg. Indeed, who is not fearful? As Dr Nolte wrote, the Nazi atrocities were caused by their fear of Russian Communism. Communist atrocities were caused by their fear of imperialist aggression, etc. In other words, fear is not a defence. If they are afraid they can consult a shrink, not support genocide.
Ms Klein builds a syllogism: Jews support Sharon because they are afraid, let us therefore fight anti-Semitism, and the problem will be solved. Alas, her conclusion is as weak as her premise Sharon does not use Jewish fear, he mobilizes Jewish chauvinism, including that of Ms\Klein. In her book, No Logo, she tells us that her activism began with defence of the rich Jews who were underrepresented at the board of their companies. It ended with the defence of Sharon’s supporters. Now, most of the Jews speak with one voice, from ‘left’ Naomi Klein to ‘right’ Barbara Amiel. For them, there is no Left, neither Right, just the Jewish ethnic interests.
Ms Klein makes a lot of mileage out of some damaged synagogue. We have not heard from her and her friends a word of protest against the siege of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, or destruction of the ancient Green Mosque in Nablus. Not a word! I can imagine what would happen if a synagogue would be besieged and its occupants starved and shot as in Bethlehem. Klein would like us to care about synagogues. Synagogues are used to collect money for Sharon’s offensive. Netanyahu and other monsters habitually speak in synagogues to their devotees. Should there be peace to synagogues and war to churches and mosques? Synagogues are not neutral, and Ms Klein admits it: “At my neighbourhood synagogue”, she writes, “the sign on the door says, "Support Israel . . . Now more than ever."
Now – after the massacre of Jenin, after the attack on Bethlehem, after mass destruction of Ramallah and Hebron, they wish to support Israel more than ever. Without their support, Sharon would never commit his atrocities. Without their support, Israel would shrink to its natural size. In my opinion, these people should not be protected, as some wee little innocent group of religious believers. These powerful and influential men should be treated with extreme prejudice.
There is no danger of racialist attacks on peaceful Jews, and it is good. The present level of intermarriage and social connections excludes such a possibility. Even Jean-Mari Le Pen has a Jewish son-in-law Samuel Marechal and very close Jewish friend Jean-Claude Martinez, both prominent members of FN. But the Jewish extra-territorial state, this extension of Israel overseas, should be pointed out as a perpetrator of atrocities.
Wednesday, April 24,
Toronto Globe and mail
Old hates fuelled by fear
I knew from e-mail reports that something new was going on in Washington last weekend. A demonstration against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund was joined by an antiwar march, as well as a demonstration against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
In the end, all the marches joined together in what organizers described asthe largest Palestinian solidarity demonstration in U.S. history, 75,000people by police estimates.
On Sunday night, I turned on my television in the hope of catching a
glimpse of this historic protest. I saw something else, instead: triumphantJean-Marie Le Pen celebrating his newfound status as the second-most popular political leader in France. Ever since, I've been wondering whether the new alliance displayed on the streets can also deal with this latest threat.
As a critic both of the Israeli occupation and of corporate-dictated globalization, it seems to me that the convergence that took place in Washington last weekend was long overdue. Despite easy labels like "antiglobalization," the trade-related protests of the past three years have all been about self-determination: the right of people everywhere to decide how best to organize their societies and economies, whether that means introducing land reform in Brazil, or producing generic AIDS drugs in India, or, indeed, resisting an occupying force in Palestine.
When hundreds of globalization activists began flocking to Ramallah to act as "human shields" between Israeli tanks and Palestinians, the theory that has been developing outside trade summits was put into concrete action. Bringing that courageous spirit back to Washington, where so much Middle Eastern policy is made, was the next logical step.
But when I saw Mr. Le Pen beaming on TV, arms raised in triumph, some of my enthusiasm drained away. There is no connection whatsoever between French fascism and the "free Palestine" marchers in Washington (indeed, the only people Mr. Le Pen's supporters seem to dislike more than Jews are Arabs). And yet, I couldn't help thinking about all the recent events I've been to where anti-Muslim violence was rightly condemned, Ariel Sharon deservedly
blasted, but no mention was made of attacks on Jewish synagogues,
cemeteries and community centres. Or about the fact that every time I log onto activist news sites such as Indymedia.org, which practise "open publishing," I'm confronted with a string of Jewish conspiracy theories about 9-11 and excerpts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The globalization movement isn't anti-Semitic, it just hasn't fully confronted the implications of diving into the Middle East conflict. Most people on the left are simply choosing sides and in the Middle East, where one side is under occupation and the other has the U.S. military behind it, the choice seems clear. But it is possible to criticize Israel while forcefully condemning the rise of anti-Semitism.
And it is equally possible to be pro-Palestinian independence without
adopting a simplistic "pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel" dichotomy, a mirror
image of the good-versus-evil equations so beloved by President George W. Bush.
Why bother with such subtleties while bodies are still being pulled out of the rubble in Jenin? Because anyone interested in fighting Le Pen-style fascism or Sharon-style brutality has to deal with the reality of anti-Semitism head-on.
The hatred of Jews is a potent political tool in the hands of the right in Europe and in Israel. For Mr. Le Pen, anti-Semitism is a windfall, helping spike his support from 10 per cent to 17 per cent in a week.
For Ariel Sharon, it is the fear of anti-Semitism, both real and imagined, that is the weapon. Mr. Sharon likes to say that he stands up to terrorists to show he is not afraid. In fact, his policies are driven by fear. His great talent is that he fully understands the depths of Jewish fear of another Holocaust. He knows how to draw parallels between Jewish anxieties about anti-Semitism and American fears of terrorism.
And he is an expert at harnessing all of it for his political ends. The primary, and familiar, fear that Mr. Sharon draws on, the one that allows
him to claim all aggressive actions as defensive ones, is the fear that
Israel's neighbours want to drive the Jews into the sea. The secondary fear Mr. Sharon manipulates is the fear among Jews in the Diaspora that they will eventually be driven to seek safe haven in Israel. This fear leads millions of Jews around the world, many of them sickened by Israeli aggression, to shut up and send their cheques, a down payment on future sanctuary.
The equation is simple: The more fearful Jews are, the more powerful Mr. Sharon is. Elected on a platform of "peace through security," his administration could barely hide its delight at Mr. Le Pen's ascendancy, immediately calling on French Jews to pack their bags and come to the promised land.
For Mr. Sharon, Jewish fear is a guarantee that his power will go unchecked, granting him the impunity needed to do the unthinkable: send troops into the Palestinian Authority's education ministry to steal and destroy records; bury children alive in their homes; block ambulances fromgetting to the dying.
Jews outside Israel now find themselves in a tightening vise: The actions of the country that was supposed to ensure their future safety are making them less safe right now. Mr. Sharon is deliberately erasing distinctions between the terms "Jew" and "Israeli," claiming he is fighting not for Israeli territory but for the survival of the Jewish people. And when anti-Semitism rises at least partly as a result of his actions, it is Mr. Sharon who is positioned once again to collect the political dividends.
And it works. Most Jews are so frightened that they are now willing to do anything to defend Israeli policies. So at my neighbourhood synagogue, where the humble facade was just badly scarred by a suspicious fire, the sign on the door doesn't say, "Thanks for nothing, Sharon." It says, "Support Israel . . . Now more than ever."
There is a way out. Nothing is going to erase anti-Semitism, but Jews
outside and inside Israel might be a little safer if there was a campaign to distinguish between diverse Jewish positions and the actions of the Israeli state. This is where an international movement can play a crucial role. Already, alliances are being made between globalization activists and Israeli "refuseniks," soldiers who refuse to serve their mandatory duty in the occupied territories. And the most powerful images from Saturday's protests were rabbis walking alongside Palestinians.
But more needs to be done. It's easy for social-justice activists to tell
themselves that since Jews already have such powerful defenders in
Washington and Jerusalem, anti-Semitism is one battle they don't need to fight.
This is a deadly error. It is precisely because anti-Semitism is used by the likes of Mr. Sharon that the fight against it must be reclaimed. When anti-Semitism is no longer treated as Jewish business, to be taken care of by Israel and the Zionist lobby, Mr. Sharon is robbed of his most effective weapon in the indefensible and increasingly brutal occupation. And as a bonus, whenever hatred of Jews diminishes, the likes of Jean-Marie Le Pen shrink right down with it.
Naomi Klein is author of No Logo.