Leeds Student Union is having a nail-biting referendum on whether or not to adopt the EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism. I think it’s a good definition which leaves plenty of leeway for everybody’s favourite pursuit: ‘criticising’ Israel. However, some Israel critics find themselves at at a loss for how to operate under it and are loud in their lament. My feeling is that these people are antisemitic and in denial. But there’s no telling them.
PACBI is an Israel-boycotting organisation led by a choreographer called Omar Barghouti. Whenever I think of PACBI I think of Saen Sans’ Danse Macabre.
PACBI are urging Leeds students to reject the EUMC definition because PACBI depends on antisemitism to function.
What I learnt from them today is that Jews Against Zionism, their definitive source on what we should think about Zionism, have only got 150,000 members. What percentage is that of 14 million? One and a bit.
I also learn to carry on thinking that PACBI are scarey. They brush concerns about antisemitism aside in a classic example of David Hirsh’s Livingstone Manoevre – even to the extent of using the JAZs as their ventriloquist dummies:
Jews against Zionism, an organization which represents over 150,000 Jews world-wide, commented that “One of the well-known tactics of Zionists to silence their critics is to accuse them of anti-Semitism. Of course, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are two separate things.”
It’s well known that antisemitism exists and is increasing throughout Europe. It is also these days, and on the political left, couched in the language of anti-Zionism. The anti-Zionist voices which are not also antisemitic voices are very weak at the moment and they don’t have any answers.
Other racisms are also increasing but the Jews remain an enduring scapegoat – most recently in Mumbai. The Jews targeted, sought out in their community centre and ultimately killed in Mumbai weren’t Israelis – they were plain old Jews.
PACBI comprises people so ignorant and hate-filled that they can’t seem to criticise Israel without getting into bed with Jew haters. This is quite easy to avoid. Just take a cool, unprejudiced look at the situation (there are 10 of these – simply insert the relevant number into the Web address).
For the Palestinians, an economy and a commitment to seizing political process bull by the horns. A return to negotiations and abandoning the murderous Hamas Charter. Israel can and must assist with the former, by facilitating free movement, by equitable distribution of resources like water, by sharing technological advances, by freezing and shrinking the settlements, and by withdrawing from the West Bank as soon as possible. The rest is down to the Palestinians. It’s their war too.