The weaponisation of ‘anti-Semitism’

January 28, 2024

Is criticising Israel the same as being anti-Semitic?

The weaponisation of ‘anti-Semitism’

Dear All,

An interesting piece of news last week was that the word ‘Gaza’ will be part of a Holocaust library’s archive. In early November, somebody wrote the word in red paint on the sign outside the Wiener Holocaust Library in Russell Square in London. Just one word in red paint referencing Israel’s ruthless bombing of Gaza. This was regarded as anti-Semitic.

The definition of what is actually anti-Semitic has become slightly absurd. Any criticism of Israeli policy or actions is now classified as anti-Semitic. This latest example – the word Gaza – is a fine one. How does referencing one genocide on the sign for an archive of another genocide constitute a hate crime? It has all become ridiculously about perception rather than definition: when London protestors against the Gaza bombing shout ‘from the river to the sea,’ it is declared anti-Semitic and the police get involved. However, when the Israeli prime minister and his cabinet use the same term belligerently, it’s okay. Does this make any sense?

Israel’s reaction to the October 7 Hamas attack on occupied Palestinian territory has been disproportionate and bloody. The relentless bombing has destroyed homes, hospitals, schools and universities - basically all infrastructure in Gaza. More than 24,000 people have been killed. Entire families have been wiped out, thousands of children killed, maimed or orphaned. Bodies have been left to decompose in the streets; or under the rubble. Israel’s official narrative has been that the Palestinians are somehow subhuman – animals according to one minister – so that their lives have little value.

Despite traditional media’s failure to properly report the bloodshed in Gaza, the world has seen the reality of events thanks to the power of social media and the commitment of the brave people who have borne witness to the events (many of them are now dead, killed by IDF offensives). The world has also seen the reality of Israel turning its (proverbial) guns on anybody daring to criticise their actions or object to their statements: they have been greeted with fury and the usual accusation of ‘anti-Semitism.’

This behaviour has exposed the aggressive way in which Israel has controlled the narrative around the Palestinian issue. Silencing of criticism or factual reporting has been ongoing for decades. This is a carefully thought-out policy based on the principle that ‘offence is the best form of defence.’ Witnessing how Israel has targeted Palestinians over the past four months and then claimed ‘victimhood’ when it’s been criticised or called out has wisened people to its comms strategy.

One fascinating publication provides guidelines as to how to further this narrative. This is The Israel Project’s 2009 GLOBAL LANGUAGE DICTIONARY. It provides rules for ‘effective communication’ and includes chapters on ‘How to talk about Palestinian self-government,’ ‘Gaza: Israel’s right to self-defence and defensible orders,’ ‘Isolating Iran-backed Hamas’ and ‘The United Nations’ etc.

The guidebook instructs users on the way to win various political arguments, provides talking points and contains detailed instructions on which words ‘work’ and which do not. One fascinating section is ‘What to do if you get bogged down in justifying proportionality.’ It is recommended that one should “again use rhetorical questions” – for example, first stating that “Every day Hamas deliberately fires rockets into Israeli communities” followed by “what do you think is a justified response?” or “how do you propose Israel can stop these rocket missile attacks?” and other similar rejoinders.

It also recommends talking about Palestinian children and their future with concern, a concern that is obviously feigned considering the fact that the Israeli onslaught on Gaza has killed more than 10,000 children since October, and these have included infants in hospital ICUs.

This is a very comprehensive guide on how to win the argument and push Israel’s narrative forward. An entire chapter is devoted to ‘On campus communications.’ As we have seen, university campuses are where this spin has been used very aggressively using the ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘I feel unsafe/ threatened’ arguments. The campaign waged a few years ago by an intelligence operative working out of Israel’s London embassy used all of these tactics to weaken the Labour Party and oust its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn was accused of anti-Semitism as were some key party members (including several of the Jewish faith). Anti-Semitism was used as a big stick with which to pummel critics into submission. (For more information on this, you can watch the Al Jazeera investigative report, The Lobby).

Israel’s comms strategy has been so effective that now mainstream media cannot even name it in their headlines: Israeli attacks are referred to as ‘explosions,’ bombs are referred to as ‘explosive devices,’ and white phosphorus is not mentioned at all. Palestinians ‘die in explosions;’ they are not ‘killed by Israeli’ bombing or IDF snipers.

I suppose one should not be too surprised by this, given how everything seems so topsy-turvy in the world these days. We are watching a horrific, unending ethnic cleansing project live-streamed into our living rooms, and we keep being told it is all the victims’ fault. The Arab countries’ inaction is shameful, as is the way the US and its Western allies have stood by Israel in all the war crimes it commits as it tries to erase all traces of the Palestinian people.

Now we are supposed to agree that the word GAZA is anti-Semitic.

Best wishes,

 Umber Khairi

The weaponisation of ‘anti-Semitism’