Yes, boycotting the goods and services of six million Jews is certainly antisemitic.

An Australian named Antony Loewenstein penned a piece at ‘Comment is Free’ on Nov. 7 which not only endorsed the unfiltered hate of Max Blumenthal, but defended the claim that the BDS movement against Israel is not antisemitic – specifically justifying the boycott of (of all places) Hebrew University, the Israeli academic institution known for its history of promoting coexistence.

Loewenstein wrote the following:

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an Israel-based organisation that claims to be a civil group “fighting for rights of hundreds of terror victims”. It is currently taking Jake Lynch, head of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), to the Australian federal court. They assert that Lynch has allegedly breached the 1975 racial discrimination act by refusing to sponsor a fellowship application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon. Lynch and CPACS support BDS, and since Avnon works at Hebrew University.

Of course, as anyone who’s been to either its Givat Ram campus or its main campus at Mount Scopus can attest to, Hebrew University is where Jews and Arabs (both Christian and Muslim) can be found mingling freely in the classroom, the cafeteria, and other common areas – sometimes encountering each other for the first time. Indeed, it was no coincidence that the university was the target of a Hamas terrorist attack in 2002, where a bomb packed with shrapnel was placed in a bag in a crowded cafeteria, killing nine people – four Israelis and five foreign nationals – and injuring 85.

Loewenstein addresses the issue of BDS and antisemitism in the following sentence:

The Australian which has been driving the debate on the issue, publishing countless stories that deliberately conflates antisemitism and support for the BDS movement.

Interestingly, Lowenstein doesn’t spend any further space attempting to back up his argument. Indeed, as his own one-state advocacy demonstrates, BDS advocates who target the entire country and all of its institutions are typically not trying to undermine the legitimacy of the settlements but, rather, the legitimacy of the state’s existence within any borders.

As a comprehensive survey published recently by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) indicates, campaigns which seek the economic, cultural and academic exclusion of Israeli Jews is viewed as racist by a large majority of Europe’s Jews. This survey of Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism in the EU (which covers the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy Hungary, and Latvia) reported that 72 percent believed that the boycott of Israeli goods was antisemitic.

Perceptions of the moral implications of boycotting the only Jewish state should be contextualized within the overall results of the poll, which found that an increasing number of Jews in Europe fear for their safety, with nearly 30 percent of respondents having seriously considered emigrating due to antisemitism.  Additionally, 26 percent had experienced one or more incident of antisemitic harassment in the previous 12 months and, quite chillingly, nearly 70 percent “at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish”.

John-Paul Pagano, in his superb essay at The Tower on the legacy of Norman Geras, wrote the following on the moral double-standards at play which unite antisemitism and anti-Zionism:

Norm had little patience for the standard defense that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. “No, it isn’t,” he wrote, “unless it is.” He granted that the two are not necessarily the same, but he rejected the idea that simply announcing the difference grants immunity from charges of racism. “In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today,” he wrote, “it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world…. Both are forms of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Zionist activists like Loewenstein evidently wake up in the morning, glance at the news coming out of the Middle East, and react in righteous fury not at the medieval antisemitism codified in Hamas’s founding charter, or the sick spectacle of Palestinian children reciting lessons learned on the immutable evil of those “sons of monkeys and pigs”, but, perversely, at the Jewish target of this monstrous, consuming hate. 

The unsettling reality is that seventy-five years after Kristallnacht an increasing percentage of Europe’s tiny Jewish minority again feel the anxiety born of racism, exclusion and violence.  And, the fact that this beleaguered community interprets a campaign of boycotts targeting six million of their coreligionists as antisemitic should only offend those who fail to interpret the refrain “never again” as a moral imperative to safeguard the rights and safety of living Jews, not merely the memory of those who have long since perished.


18 replies »

  1. Loewenstein is obsessed with a 1 state solution because i guess 22 countries aren’t enough for the Arabs.
    Loewenstein makes clear he wouldn’t mind 6 million Jews dying in Israel so Jews live under Sharia law.

    From CIfwatch last September.
    Antony Loewenstein’s tasteless Holocaust quip: ‘Six Million Should Die.’
    August 23, 2012

    But, during the Q&A Jonathan Hoffman asked Loewenstein how many people Loewenstein thinks should die for this one-state solution, that Loewenstein wants so much, to come into existence. The idea being that Israelis are not going to vote themselves out of existence, so presumably such a state could come about only by force involving more bloodshed.

    You can hear the audio below. Loewenstein isn’t answering the question so he is pressed further by Hoffman as to how many Loewenstein thinks should die. At 2 mins. 35 you can hear Frank Barat, the Chairman, say “200,000″ (here is more on Barat) but at 2 mins. 45 you can hear Loewenstein say “Six million. That’s my answer. Write that down.”

  2. Great article. Loewenstein’s hatred deserves to be widely broadcast so he can be recognized for the sick evil cretin he is. It is outrageous that a British mainstream newspaper ( even one as deep in the gutter as the Guardian) should give this hate-monger a platform.

    On the positive side, the very existence of Loewenstein is a recruiting sergeant for Zionism. No Jew having heard his chilling call for a second holocaust can fail to rally to Israel’s cause.

  3. Not a bad fist of an article , moderate in tone, but again the giant , giant elephant is left dangling in the corner. Why is Israel hated ? The article simply glosses over the issue and allows anti-Semitism be the answer to all questions.

    Also linking the Palestinians to Kristallnacht at the end is startling.I don’t get how an otherwise reasonable discussion can be laboriously crafted to link the Palestinians with the Nazis .

    If as much effort was spent seeking peace rather than tarring people as Nazis we would be there already .

  4. There is too much informality, free lancing and ad hockery with respect to the meaning of “antisemitism.” There needs to be some reference to universal principles that apply to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish People and Israel in the same way as they apply to other peoples, religions and countries. In this respect, we should not forget to refer to modern human-rights methodologies which highlight the principle of non-discrimination. Antisemitism is a kind of prohibited discrimination. There is lots of antisemitism this side of the concentration camp gates. We do not have to see Nazi uniforms and barking shepherd dogs before we find antisemitism. Go to a January 2011 posting at for “When does criticizing Israel become antisemitic?” That essay argues that the modern meaning of “antisemitism” includes persistently targeting Jews and/or Israel and persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a more exigent standard than regularly applied to other peoples and countries, in the same or similar circumstances. This is clearly the light in which we would have to determine whether it is discriminatory to boycott the goods and services of six million Jews.

    • “In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today,” he wrote, “it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world…. Both are forms of anti-Semitism.”
      Is your contribution – “the modern meaning of “antisemitism” includes ..” – thought as amendment or as a more formal definition?

      And there are others like Robert Wistrich, Paul Berman, Richard Landes or the EUMC definitions f.e.

      What `s the new about your Definition, besides the claim of formalizing?

      • In reply to Fritz Wunderlich —

        Thanks for taking the time to convey your view.

        I was clearly not offering a comprehensive definition in saying that the modern meaning of antisemitism “includes” persistently targeting Jews and/or Israel and persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a more exigent standard than regularly applied to other peoples and countries, in the same or similar circumstances.

        Moreover, I never claimed that this brief formulation, pointing to systemic discrimination, is specifically mine or particularly new. To the contrary, the general evolution of modern human-rights regimes since World War 2 has already ensured that the contemporary meaning of antisemitism is not restricted to unspeakable crimes like the Holocaust, which actually found its origins in various forms of less horrific discrimination.

        The Jewish People and Israel include plenty of men and women who know how to present reasoned argument. This is all to the good and certainly not to be discouraged. And, it does help to emphasize that Jews, the Jewish People and Israel are positively entitled to non-discrimination, in the same way that all other Peoples and countries are entitled to non-discrimination in the context of modern human-rights methodologies.

        Intellectuals especially need reminding that Jews, the Jewish People and Israel really are owed fairness and sound social science. Assuredly, there will still always be consequential disagreement about what is “fair” and “sound.” But, anything helps that, right from the start, tends to recall fundamental requirements of non-discrimination.

        • Nothing against formalizing, although ant-Semitism performs a constant change of manifestations as we can acknowledge since the Holocaust, and reached a new scale, globalisation, whose consequences we cannot assess.
          Therefore the formalizing has to comprise an open end.

  5. In reply to Fritz Wunderlich —

    It does not end the human-rights story to say that the modern meaning of antisemitism “includes” persistently targeting Jews and/or Israel and persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a more exigent standard than regularly applied to other peoples and countries, in the same or similar circumstances. Apart from the open-ended nature of the formulation, there is also the question of rigorously subjecting “discriminatory” critics of Israel to the full apparatus of modern human-rights methodologies. These have been particularly astute in exposing and rejecting the characteristic arguments that bigots and racists commonly use to camouflage and justify their discrimination. For example, jurisdictions like the Province of Ontario or the State of New York are rich in judicial and administrative precedents that can easily be borrowed to expose the shallow argument that criticism of Israel can “never” be antisemitic. Apart from anything else, this toxic question of persistently discriminating against Israel is also a human-rights topic which urgently needs to be enriched with reference to some of the techniques familiar to modern human-rights methodologies.

  6. Jurisdiction is the point when you have to fight legally the disguise of anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism. Till now there is no legislation referring to that. In the ‘normalized’ communication dimension of everyday, in mass medias, in the arena of political arguments denial of anti-Semitism is common, anti-Zionism is claimed legitimate.and critic of Israel everybody`s human right.
    I distrust human-rights methodologies concerning anti-Semitism, they do not apply to the constant smearing of Israel, a state, and nobody can enforce human rights unless a country commits itself to these boundaries.

    • In reply to Fritz Wunderlich —

      It is normally not a matter of any specific jurisdiction or positive law. It is usually rather a matter of how to talk relevantly about rights and wrongs. It is generally not “blackletter” law, but rather in the nature of analogy and comparative law, just as most of the enemies of Israel make expansive use of analogy and concepts drawn, inter alia, from comparative law.

      Such reliance on analogy and legal concepts is certainly also political. There is clearly no need to shy away from “the political” which in the final analysis is higher than law, because it ultimately creates positive law, whether domestic or international.

      Discussions which rely on comparative law concepts are also discussions about morality and natural law. Perhaps there is practically no way to avoid such important conceptual discussions without conceding the field to the enemies of Israel.

      • Positive law concerning anti-Semitism

        And that`s, too, one of the causes why today´s dominant anti-Semites, the anti-Zionists of the left, fight every public comment where anti-Zionism is called antisemitic.

        The inclusion of anti-Zionism and ‘critic of Israel’ into a public, not to speak a legal definition of anti-Semitism is therefore heavily contended

        Kuper sets a good example, for the problems, the lies and the forgeries in the public debate and the mass medias:

        Creating the difference between Jew and Israeli
        “However, this does not mean that such a hostility towards Jews should be excluded from monitoring. There are three good reasons why hostility towards Jews as ‘Israelis’ should in any case be carefully monitored:
        First, for the victims of such hostility, it does not make an immediate difference, if they are attacked as ‘the Jew’ or as ‘an Israeli’.
        Second, it is a very difficult – and in most cases an impossible – task to look into peoples’ heads and grasp their thinking and their “real” intentions behind launching hostile activities against Jews.
        Third, those physical or verbal attacks on Jews, which are based not on antisemitic stereotyping but on the (false) generalisation of Jews as ‘Israelis’, are to be regarded, in the words of the EUMC, as “attitudes and social behaviours that constitute a serious threat to basic European values and democracy”. ”

        Producing a category of legitimate hostility
        “What should not be considered as antisemitic and therefore does not have to be monitored under the heading of ‘antisemitism’, is hostility towards Israel as ‘Israel’, i.e. as a country that is criticised for its concrete policies. Hostility towards Israel as ‘Israel’ (as opposed to criticism of Israel as representative of the stereotypical ‘Jew’) should only then become a matter of general public concern, when there is explicit evidence that criticism of Israel as ‘Israel’ produces attacks on Jews as either ‘the Jew’ or ‘Israeli’. If there is no such evidence, the case of criticism and hostility towards Israel as ‘Israel’ should not be part of monitoring activities under the heading of ‘antisemitism’. ”

        Arbitrary contextualisation
        “One crucial problem, however, is that of clearly identifying whether, for example, an attack on Israel in the press is aimed at Israel as ‘the Jew’ or Israel as ‘Israel’ . We will be confronted with cases, where no clear analytical distinction can be made, but some of the suggestions and guidelines provided by those who have already dealt with the problem of developing analytical tools and finding markers, indicating that Israel is attacked as ‘the Jew’ and not as ‘Israel’, may help us in distinguishing these two cases. What is in any case indispensable in order to be able to draw any valid conclusions about the character of texts that criticise Israel, is the need for a thorough and systematic analysis of these texts, pointing out to different possible interpretations, accounting for their context of production as well as their context of reception, and making systematic use of methodological tools as provided by different social scientific disciplines. ”

        I wonder if any Israeli Arab or Curd or Druze were ever physically or verbally attacked for being Israeli. Or do these attacks only refer to Jews??
        You see, the difference is the lie.

        • One thing I forgot, is forging, the usual weapon against Jews

          “A part of the report was given over to a discussion of the contemporary debate about ‘a new antisemitism’, ‘antisemitism and Zionism’ etc (pp.225-241) and this was boiled down in the Executive summary to three pages which were entitled “Defining Antisemitism” (pp.12-14). The Report stated clearly that “Future data collection and assessment should be commonly based on the definition of antisemitism provided in this report.” (p.27)

          It is therefore rather odd that what passes today for the EUMC’s definition of antisemitism is not what this report contains. Indeed it alters its thrust in significant ways. The process by which a so-called “Working definition” was produced by the American Jewish Committee and others and put for discussion on the EUMC website in 2005 has been told elsewhere (enthusiastically by one of its proponents, Kenneth Stern, in his Proposal for a Redefinition of Antisemitism, Part II), critically by Richard Kuper in Antisemitism and delegitimisation and elaborated further here).

          But what hasn’t been stressed enough, perhaps, is how the later so-called “working definition”, which appears never to have been formally discussed by the EUMC, let alone approved by it, came to usurp entirely the important work done by the EUMC on this question beforehand. As far as the general public is concerned this earlier work might as well not exist. In effect the real EUMC definition has been hijacked in favour of a “working definition” that neither the EUMC, nor its successor body the Fundamental Rights Agency, has ever used or intends to develop. The intention, to produce guidelines to help operationalise the EUMC’s definition in its 2002-20003 Report, was ignored in favour of producing what was in effect a redefinition of antisemitism, with criticism of Israel at its core and the presumption that such criticism was likely to be antisemitic (see Kuper, cited above). ”

          What really happened

          “There were also, says Whine, attempts to raise the issue within the European Union. A series of meetings took place between the EUMC director Beate Winkler and European Jewish Congress (EJC) officials which resulted in the commissioning of a report on antisemitism in each country. The Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism (ZfA) at Berlin’s Technical University was asked to analyze the reports and publish a composite analysis. However, Whine notes, the report was badly received by the EUMC board because it apportioned much of the blame for the rise in antisemitism to Muslim communities.
          It was leaked to the press by the EJC in December 2003.

          A second report was published side by side with the main country-by-country analysis. ‘Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the EU 2002-3’ was released on 31 March 2004 and the accompanying press release said that the far right remained the main promoter of antisemitism within Europe, contradicting the body of the first report.

          Mike Whine writes:

          In its 2004 report on antisemitism, the EUMC noted the lack of a common definition and requested one from a small group of Jewish NGOs. This [was] intended as a template for police forces and antiracist campaigners, for use on the streets. The definition was disseminated in March 2004, and although not directed at governments for incorporation into national legislation, it [was] nevertheless expected that it [would] seep into universal usage via adoption by the relevant parties.

          This in fact happened. Delegates to the OSCE Cordoba Conference in May 2005 constantly referred to it and the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism in the UK recommended its adoption, as did a number of similar initiatives around the world.”

          But then, due to the scandal of the two reports, the EUMC was dissolved and replaced by FRA. The discussion stopped there.

          Whiteness, postcolonial and anti-Zionism
          “Opponents of the EUMC Working Definition have pointed to the fact that the definition was the result of purposive political action by international Jewish groups, and so it was. But this genealogy can only cast shadows over the definition if there is thought to be something inappropriate about their input. Normally it would be unremarkable for communal groups to be involved in defining a racism of which they are the object. But in this case the Jewish groups are accused by anti-Zionists of acting in bad faith. The accusation implicit in this understanding is that the Jewish groups are not really working in the interests of the struggle against antisemitism. Rather they are secretly prepared to sacrifice the struggle against real antisemitism by co-opting its political capital to a dishonest attempt to de-legitimise criticism of Israel.

          The Jewish groups, and their EUMC Working Definition, are conceived of as being ‘white’ and not antiracist; as part of the struggle of Israel against Palestine and neither part of the struggle of Jews against antisemitism nor part of the global struggle against anti-black racism.”

  7. Reply to Fritz Wunderlich —

    Thank you for providing wide-ranging information. My modest contribution to one particular aspect of this big topic is my essay entitled “When Does Criticizing Israel Become Anti-Semitic” which was originally published on the Opinion Page of the Jerusalem Post in 2009. There are also subsequent English-, Hebrew- and Chinese-language versions posted at The most up-to-date and complete text is the English-language version with is a January 2011 posting.

  8. Talking not about “Anti-Zionism” doesn`t let it disappear..
    Comparing the organised discrimination of Jews in the III. Reich to the strategy to discriminate Israel f.e. in the institutions of the UN highlights the problematic situation, but as pointed out above the category of legitimate hostility to Israel will immunise against any reproach of anti-Semitism, bringing up South Africa and the “Bantustans” to which I pointed when posting the citations about ‘whiteness’.

    Secondly your conclusion functions on the base, that all participants will use the term Jew, but anti-Semites like to define Jews, and therefore they will define the Jews of Israel as Zionists, it is just an operation of shifting terms and meanings.
    Persistent pattern just fit the category of legitimate hostility (under this aspect I summarize the undeclared wars with Arab and Islam countries, the ungoing terror etc. together with the legitimating narratives like ‘blood and soil’, land robbery, immigration, whiteness, foreignness, imperialism, colonialism, suppressors, behaviour like nazis etc.)
    “A persistent pattern of discriminatory criticism of Israel is Anti-Semitic because modern human-rights methodologies are astute enough to examine not only a pattern of impugned speech or conduct but also the likely effects of that pattern. Consider the following:
    Jews have been an historically-victimized People for close to 2,000 years, just as the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada and African-Americans have also been historically victimized over shorter periods of time.
    Now with over 40% of the world’s Jewish population, Israel is the historic and current homeland of the Jewish People, just as Greece is the ancestral and modern home of the Greek People.
    In terms of modern human-rights methodologies, the conclusion must be that a persistent pattern of discriminatory criticism of Israel is Anti-Semitic, because likely to harm the more than six million Jews there, who are 75% of that country’s population.”

    A persistent pattern will always be legitimate in the eyes of the world as long as countries are at war with Israel, or as long as the Palestinians can disguise as the innocent victim of colonilaist perpetrators.

    Discrimination of Israel as state doesn`t fit human rights, the semantic war of terms (Zionist-Jew) with the anti-Semites is nearly lost and the efforts to dissociate Jews from the homeland by presenting Israel as murderous colonialist, or fanatical ultraorthodo, as warmongering and ruthless, as threatening the “peace of the world” are beginning to have an impact under the younger. The singling-out is world wide standard in the mass media, how do you want to encounter this??

    An option would be to directly call out anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, with no differentiation, without any watering down.