Ronnie Kasrils is a former South African politician and anti-Zionist activist who praised Hamas, has characterised Israel as baby killers who behave like Nazis, and described Jews throughout the world who support Israel as enemies of humanity.
So, quite naturally, he’s Guardian editors’ ideal choice to pen an op-ed demonising Israel, rejecting its legitimacy and smearing it as an apartheid state – albeit, of course, ‘as a Jew‘.
His piece, “I fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel”, April 3, is poorly reasoned, even by Guardian anti-Israel op-ed standards:
He accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing”, a completely counter-factual claim easily contradicted by, amongst other things, population statistics since 1948.
He accuses Israel of silencing anti-Israel voices throughout the world without citing any real examples – oh, and whilst writing an anti-Israel diatribe for a global media organisation.
He also accuses Israel’s supporters of “conflating opposition to Israel with antisemitism”, ignoring his own record of using language that falls within the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, including his use of Nazi analogies and his support for extremist movements like Hamas. In fact, elsewhere in the Guardian op-ed, he suggests that Zionism is inherently a racist endeavor, which similarly runs afoul of the IHRA definition.
Apartheid South Africa was a country with a codified system of racial discrimination and white supremacy, with laws prohibiting blacks from living in white communities, going to white schools, and using public accommodations. It denied blacks the right to be represented in the legislature, barred them from most industries and told them who they could and couldn’t marry or have sexual relations with.
Israel not only doesn’t have anything even resembling such racial laws, but is, according to the respected human rights organisation Freedom House, the only true democracy in the Mid-East – a multiethnic democracy with independent institutions that guarantee political rights to its citizens. Israel’s Arab citizens are not only represented in the country’s legislature, serve on its supreme court, and can work and associate with whomever they choose, but, based on polling, are proud of their Israeli citizenship.
We agree with Ronnie Kasrils that “valid criticism of Israel is not antisemitic”. In fact, nobody argues the opposite. However, even leaving aside the IHRA definition, it is antisemitic when you demonise the Jewish state – criticising it out of all reasonable proportion – in a manner similar to how Jews as individuals have been demonised throughout history.
Yossi Klein Halevi wrote the following in response to a student who asked him whether “humanizing” Zionists was comparable to asking African Americans to “humanize members of the KKK”:
Anti-Semitism is not simply hating the other — the Jew as other. Anti-Semitism works a little bit differently. What anti-Semitism does is turn the Jews — “the Jew” — into the symbol of whatever it is that a given civilization defines as its most loathsome qualities. And so, under Christianity, — before the Holocaust and Vatican II — the Jew was the Christ-killer….Under Communism, the Jew was the capitalist. Under Nazism, the Jew was the race polluter…
Now we live in a different civilization, where the most loathsome qualities are racism, colonialism, apartheid. And lo and behold, the greatest offender in the world today, with all the beautiful countries of the world, is the Jewish state. The Jewish state is the symbol of the genocidal, racist, apartheid state.
What that means to me is, criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. Criticism of Israel’s existence — denying Israel the right to exist… — that is anti-Semitism. That is a classical continuity of thousands of years of symbolizing the Jew. [It also] places you in very uncomfortable company. That kind of language can come today from the far left. It can come from white supremacists. It can come from Islamist extremists. It can come from many sources, but all of those groups converge on one idea: The Jew remains humanity’s great problem.
Whilst it’s not fair to label most Guardian journalists and editors individually antisemitic, one thing seems certain to us after all these years: Their obsessive criticism of Israel day in and day out, characterising the state as not only flawed but as some sort of organic obstacle to peace and progress in the world, promotes and is likely inspired by the idea that the Jew is indeed “humanity’s greatest problem”.
- NY Times reporter David Halbfinger editorializes Israel as “brutal” (CAMERA)
- Unchallenged pro-Hamas propaganda on BBC WS ‘Newshour’ (BBC Watch)
- Brace yourself for the Guardian’s latest Hamas-friendly coverage of Gaza (UK Media Watch)
- Guardian cartoon defends Corbyn, and ties Israel to white supremacy (UK Media Watch)
- Guardian’s hatred of Israel reaches new low (UK Media Watch)