Antisemitism: An Essentially Contested Concept?
Anti-Semitism is objective, and is external to the subjective feelings of individuals. This means that in order to clarify the issues involved in debates around the definition of the concept, it is essential to examine how the concept is actualised in the social world in addition to the ways in which the processes of definition are played out there. What counts as a case of racism is a matter of dispute. It is the nature of these debates with all the visceral emotions they engender and the political implications and consequences that flow from them that makes clarity over the definitions of what we disagree essential (Hirsh: pp.137-38).
Antisemitism has a shape shifting, amoebic quality. Deborah Lipstadt cites the definition of anti-Semitism by the historical sociologist Helen Fine as constituting:
A persisting latent structure of hostile beliefs towards Jews as a collectivity manifested in individuals as attitudes, and in culture as myth, ideology, folklore and imagery, and in actions – social or legal discrimination, political mobilisation against Jews, and collective or state violence – which results in and/or is designed to distance, displace or destroy Jews as Jews. (Lipstadt: p.17)
This “structure” suggests an internal coherence to anti-Semitism; a coherence which did not exist for John-Paul Sartre who saw anti-Semitism as a “passion” which because it made no intellectual sense should not be dignified by the appellation of an “idea”. Likewise, Anthony Julius who, while fully recognising the historical lineage of Jew hatred, contends that antisemitism must ultimately be seen as a "discontinuous, contingent aspect of a number of distinct mentalities and milieus.” He goes on to say that antisemitism “is a heterogenous phenomenon, the site of collective hatreds, and of cultural anxieties and resentments." (Lipstadt: p.20).
It is fair to say though that most scholars, writers and activists in the sphere do recognise some degree of consistency and unity in the variegated forms of anti-Semitism that have persisted down the last two millennia. The conundrum is to find a definition that has dear as possible universal acceptance and applicability. A quest for such an automatic and uncontested formula which can instantly tell us what is and what isn’t anti-Semitic is, in the words of Hirsh ‘not going to be successful’ (Hirsh, p.139).
However, the possibility of ultimate futility of trying to find a Grand Theory of Everything type explanation of anti-Semitism does not nullify the importance of identifying, at any rate, institutional forms of anti-Semitism. Understanding whether a comment or institution is racist/sexist/disabilist or embodies any other prejudice requires a close study of and an understanding of context, of tropes and of the histories of the form of bigotry or prejudice in question. It requires consideration of intentions and discursive practices, of norms and methods of exclusion, of modes of denial. The recognition of anti-Semitism requires similar epistemological and archaeological effort (Hirsh: p.139).
Zionism and Antizionism
Here I discuss how antizionism, although conceptually different from intrinsic hostility towards Jews as a people and Judaism, has segued into a modern form of antisemitism.
The most essential elements of left anti-Semitism concern its interrelationship with anti-Zionism and is germane to the Labour Party’s institutional crisis. Zionism or specifically political Zionism was, in the view of its advocates historically’ the belief in establishing a Jewish state in the historic homeland known as Israel’ . Its founding father was Theodore Herzl who formulated the doctrine in 1897 as a reaction to a period of intense anti-Semitism in Europe characterised by pograms in Russia and Eastern Europe and symbolised by the notorious trial in France of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jew and army captain who was accused of selling secrets to the German Empire and which led to anti-Semitism becoming rife throughout France. Herzl laid out his idea for a Jewish homeland which he saw as the only means of guaranteeing the safety of the Jewish people in the pamphlet Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) in 1896. In it, he proclaimed that in a Jewish state “We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and in our homes peacefully die”. In light of modern academic and political controversies over the intended scope of Zionist expansionism, Zionism crucially never specified how much of the historic land of Palestine/Israel was to become the Jewish state, just that a Jewish state should be re-established in the Middle East.
It is axiomatic to Zionist supporters therefore that anti-Zionism equates to anti-Semitism. With the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, anti-Zionism changed from abstract opposition to the idea of a non-existent Jewish state into opposing ‘the existence of a country with actually existing, living, breathing inhabitants’. In this account anti-Zionism in a mutation of anti-Semitism which updates traditional anti-Semitic tropes first propagated and them spread aggressively later by the Soviet Union. It singles out Jewish people as some kind of anomalous group to be deprived of rights to national or regional autonomy that groups all round the world possess or aspire to possess. It also seeks to deprive Jews of their cultural and ethnic history, as it rejects their claim to be a people indigenous to the land of Israel/Palestine. Anti-Zionists describe Israel as a White European colonialist venture and frame it in the wider context of imperialism. Zionists retort by asking how can an ethnic group colonise its own historic land that it was exiled from through ethnic cleansing and genocide?.
Others such as Peter Beinart caution against the conflation of anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred. He tries to deconstruct the three pillars on which this equation is founded as follows.
The first is the national self-determination argument; that opposing Zionism is anti-Semitic because it denies to Jews what every other people enjoy: a state of its own. Beinart points to the “dozens” of other stateless nationalities such as Kurds, Basques, Tibetans, Scots and Quebecois and asserts that:
barely anyone opposing a Kurdish or Catalan state makes you an anti-Kurdish or anti-Catalan bigot in order to bolster his argument that it is better to foster civic nationalism, a nationalism built around borders rather than ethnic nationalism built around heritage.
Many would argue that this statement betrays an astonishing ignorance of the experiences of the oppression of national minorities by centralising states such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Turkey, China, Franco’s Spain, Modi’s India and the Iran of the mullahs in which particular ethnic and tribal groups historically held sway.
Beinart also uses arguments for civic as opposed to ethnic nationalism to critique the second pillar of the anti-Zionism=anti-Semitism synonym: that in the words of the New York Times columnist Brett Stephens that “… Antizionism proposes nothing less than the elimination of that identity and the political dispossession of those who cherish it”. While abjuring descriptions of Israel as “an apartheid state”, Beinart argues that for most of Israel’s Arab citizens (as well as for the larger Palestinian Arab diaspora) Zionism represents a form of political dispossession in that the State of Israel privileges Jewish immigration but denies the Right to Return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in order to preserve Israel as a Jewish-majority entity and that the steadily rightward direction of travel taken by the Netanyahu government as symbolised by the Nation-State Law indicates an increasingly cold house for Israel’s Arab population (to say nothing of the situation of the Palestinian Arab residents on the West Bank). But it is also important to point out that many Zionists advocate a two-state solution; that to ensure peace in the region ‘a strong and secure Palestinian state’ must ‘exist alongside a peaceful and secure Israeli state. Beinart also advocates that the West Bank and Gaza become a Palestinian state alongside a ‘more inclusive’ Israel which should ‘remain a state with a special obligation to protect Jews’.
The third element of the equation between antizionism and antisemitism which Beinart seeks to disprove is the practical argument that the two animosities simply go together. He points to the affinity between Netanyahu and far right European leaders such as Victor Orban, Heinz-Christian Strache of the Austrian Freedom Party and Beatrix von Storch of the Alternative for Germany who traffic blatantly in anti-Semitism while publicly championing Zionism too as well as the Christian anti-Semitic Zionism of US evangelicals such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. However anti-Zionism is still a staple of anti-Semitic racists such as David Duke, Nick Griffin and Louis Farrakhan which underlines the contention that anti-Zionism is a modern variant of anti-Semitism.
Hirsh frames the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism as follows. He uses the term ‘anti-Zionism’ as a descriptor for the multiplicity of ‘movements which coalesce’ not around opposition to Israeli policy or racist movements within Israel ‘but rather around a common orientation to the existence or legitimacy of the State of Israel itself' (Hirsh: p.184) He hypothesises that anti-Semitism is the consequence, intentional or otherwise, of anti-Zionism. For ‘although hostility to the idea, existence and policies of Israel comes from a variety of sources, and is not the same as hostility to Jews’; certain ‘manifestations of this hostility can nevertheless’ produce ‘a politics’ and aggregate ‘of practices which create a common-sense of Israel as a unique evil in the world’. They therefore can set the scene for confrontation with Jews – ‘those Jews, anyway, who prefer not to disavow Israel by defining themselves as anti-Zionist (Hirsh: p.185).
As stated above post-1948 antizionism is not a single, unitary movement but an assortment of differing strands. In the Middle East, both secular and Islamist anti-Zionist traditions have always been hostile to Jewish immigration into Palestine and the continued existence of the State of Israel; in the former Soviet bloc there was a Stalinist anti-Zionism (of which more later); right-wing and neo-Nazi anti-Semitism increasingly articulates hostility to Jews in anti-Zionist rhetoric (e.g. David Duke, David Irving and Nick Griffin) and there is also a contemporary current of anti-Zionism which openly toys with anti-Semitic rhetoric and which does not easily fall on a left-right polarity as exemplified by artists such as the jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala. (Hirsh: pp.186-87).
The ‘Zionism’ of the anti-Zionists is a totalitarian movement which is equivalent to racism, Nazism or apartheid. The ‘Zionism’ of the discourses of anti-Zionism is more a signifier of evil rather than a word which signifies an actual set of changing and plural philosophies and practices. Anti-Zionism portrays itself as part of an emancipatory worldview but its demonization of Zionism often assumes darker and more totalitarian hues and is attracted to conspiratorial thinking. It does not seek peace and reconciliation in the Middle East but rather to the elimination of the evil wherever it is to be found (Hirsh: p.189).
Hirsh analyses the writings of one critic of Zionism, Joseph Massad, to illustrate how anti-Zionism collapses differing ideological and historical strands to form a Zionist monolith. Massad takes as his starting point the assertion that Zionism is a colonial movement that is constituted in ideology and practice by a religio-racial epistemology. Zionism, in his view, is defined by its commitment to building a demographically exclusive Jewish state which he incorporates into the European colonial ideology of white supremacy over colonised peoples. From its inception in the 1880s to the present day therefore, Zionism constitutes a homogenous, Jewish supremacist movement. The distinctions between left and right Zionism, between secular and religious Zionists, between Labour Zionism and the Zionism of the fundamentalist settlers are thus completely nullified in order to construct a monochromic, single edifice of Jewish supremacist nationalism (Hirsh: p.190).
Massad proceeds to extrapolate from quotes and anecdotes from Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Vladimir Jabotinsky, the actualisation of this racist idea in the Naqba in 1948 right down to the lurid call by a far-right Jewish settler and Tourist Minister Benny Elon for the expulsion of the entire Arab population from Israel in February 2002 and from an article in Israel’s leading Russian language daily the previous month suggesting that the Israeli government should use the threat of castration to force Arabs to leave Israel the assertion that Zionism is a coherent body of thought; ipso facto Jewish supremacist movement. (Hirsh: pp.190-91).
He then cites Zionism as part of the European colonial project; of a white imperialist set of crimes such as the Crusades, British rule in India, the Scramble for Africa, the colonisation of the Americas, the British Mandate in Palestine; US policy in Latin America and South East Asia during the Cold War; indeed any Western colonial atrocity over the centuries one can think off (Hirsh: P.191)
This ‘whitening’ of Jews is key to the understanding of contemporary antisemitism and interrelated developments on the contemporary left. The major development is the tendency for part of the left to identify the ‘oppressed’ more in terms of nations and national movements in their ‘liberation struggles’ against the rich, powerful ‘imperialist’ and white states of the ‘North’ or ‘West’ rather than the self-liberation of the working classes, women or other minorities within the former. (Hirsh: p.145) This has led to the grotesque spectacles of some left thinkers and activists supporting movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah and regimes such as those of Bashar Al-Assad, Kim Jong-Un, the Taleban, Slobodan Milosevic and Vladimir Putin on (bogus) ‘anti-imperialist criteria.
Within this white/black binary, Jews occupy an ambivalent status. On the one hand anti-Semitism is the exemplar supreme of European racism with Auschwitz as its eternal memoriam. On the other hand, anti-Semitism has functioned as a ‘fetishized form of oppositional consciousness’ through which Jews are thought of as conspiratorially powerful and lurking behind the oppression of others. (Hirsh: p.145).
Hirsh draws upon the narrative of Karen Brodkin’s book of the ‘whitening’ of American Jews to show how it fed into a new picture of Jews as part of a Judeo-Christian white elite. This narrative provides a framework for understanding the ideological transformation from Israel as a life-raft for oppressed and stateless victims of racism and pioneer of socialist practices such as the kibbutz into a pillar of the global system of white oppression of black people. The UN General Assembly 1975 resolution condemning Zionism as racism and the Durban Anti-Racist Conference of 2001 mark two milestones in this journey from the idealisation and romanticising of Israel to its demonization and delegitimisation by many on the left. As an illustration of this shift, consider this response by Seumas Milne, now Jeremy Corbyn’s Communications Chief, in his Guardian column to an anti-Semitic speech by President Ahmadinejad of Iran to the UN in 2009. He opined ‘what credibility is there in Geneva’s all-white boycott.
The ‘whitening’ of Jews and especially Israeli Jews can be seen in the narrative of ‘intersectionality’ in relation to the Palestinian struggle by US antizionists such as the Women’s March activist Tamika Mallory, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill and the Michigan Democrat Rep Rashida Tlaib. Their tendency to define Israelis as Ashkenazi Jews or the descendants of European Jews only discounts certain demographic realities of modern Israel which are that only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi while the majority are Mizrahi who are of Middle East and North African descent. For centuries the Mizrahim lived without sovereignty and equality in the Muslim world; treated as “dhimmis”, an Arabic term for a protected minority whose members pay for that protection, which can be withdrawn at any time. In the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war 850,000 Mizrahi Jews were expelled from Arab lands and took refuge in Israel; an episode that conveniently escapes the notice of many anti-Zionists.
Also escaping their notice are certain salient facts about the inception of the State of Israel and its position in global politics for the early years of its existence. Israel would not have come into existence when it did had not the Soviet bloc voted for the UN Partition Resolution on 29th November 1947 and it would have been wiped out at birth had it not been armed by Stalin’s Soviet Union against a British and American arms embargo (at a time when Stalin was actively persecuting Jews at home). It was only in the early 1960s that a US-Israeli alliance began to develop and was cemented after the Six Day War in response to the Soviet shift in the 1950s towards alignment with Arab nationalist regimes. These wider geo-political factors undermine the Western colonial implant and the Israel-as-America’s-regional-police-force stories as faithfully told by left anti-Zionists. As does the fact that when America does intervene in the Middle East it relies on regional Arab or Muslim allies such as Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for support rather than Israel (Hirsh: pp.198-99).
How to interpret the transformative effect on the Shoah/Holocaust poses the greatest intellectual and practical conundrum for anti-Zionists. The prominent anti-Zionist Norman Finkelstein attributes ‘the Zionist denial of Palestinians’ rights, culminating in their expulsion’ not to ‘an unavoidable accident’ but to ‘the systematic and conscientious implementation, over many decades … of a political ideology the goal of which was to create a demographically Jewish state in Palestine’. (Hirsh: p.200) He takes issue with the former anti-Zionist Isaac Deutscher who spent his early political life in the Yiddish-speaking environment of the Jewish Left in Europe before the Holocaust and who, while never identifying as a Zionist, came round to the view that the Shoah/Holocaust had made the creation of the State of Israel a ‘historic necessity’ but that Zionist leaders had acted irrationally in refusing to ‘remove or assuage the grievance’ of Palestinian Arabs. For Finkelstein the ‘historic necessity’ argument flies in the face of ‘the Zionist movement’s massive and, in many respects, impressive exertion of will’ (Hirsh: p.200) in achieving its goal of achieving a demographically pure Jewish nation-state. He says that the Palestinians’ chief grievance was the denial of their homeland and that ‘Zionists’ could only remove this grievance by negating the ‘raison d ‘etre’, the fundamental essence of ‘Zionism’. (Hirsh: p.201).
In trying to justify his case that Israel is definitionally racist, Finkelstein refuses, like many anti-Zionists, to engage with or attribute to in any way to the materiality, the real-life transformative circumstances of the Shoah/Holocaust in the creation of the State of Israel. For the narrative of the survivors of the Final Solution being denied entry to Palestine by the then British Mandate authorities and held in ships off Cyprus in 1945-46 drives a coach-and-horses through the binary categories that constitutes anti-Zionism: white/non-white; oppressor/oppressed; good nationalism/bad nationalism; coloniser/colonised (Hirsh: p.201).
While Deutscher argues that the foundation of Israel can only be understood by the events that preceded it; Finkelstein sees Deutscher as using the Shoah/Holocaust in order to justify Israeli human rights abuses; a view which he fully expounds on in his polemic The Holocaust Industry. For Finkelstein ‘the Zionists’ were totally responsible for Palestinian sufferings or were innocent refugees in which case they should have behaved in the manner expected of innocent refugees (according to the romantic left). Deutscher, by contrast, tries to rationalise the feelings of Jewish refugees taught to be fearful, angry and distrustful through their experiences in Europe and the Middle East.
Anti-Zionist narratives, as well as some pro-Israeli ones, flatten the experiences of the Palestinians into a single perspective (and conversely those of the Israelis). No account is taken of the complexities of the relationships between the Palestinian leadership and their peoples nor between Palestinians and Arab states many of whom have refused to integrate Palestinian refugees into their societies and whose instrumentalised hostility to Zionism to deflect from their own failings. Similarly, there is near silence on the virulence of anti-Semitism in the Arab world (and parts of the wider Islamic world) and terrorist and anti-Semitic attacks on Jews are interpreted by anti-Zionism as fundamentally defensive responses to Zionism. Cosmopolitan approaches to Israel/Palestine which search for the bases for a genuine peace and which do not infantilise or deny agency to Palestinians by considering the differences in opinion, politics and choices within their society (nor which conversely demonise Israel and Israelis) threaten the purity and simplistic anti-imperialist/imperialist dualism of anti-Zionism (Hirsh: pp.202-06 (and of the post 9/11 occidental left).
How Anti-Zionism Discourse Articulates Anti-Semitism
At key moments anti-Zionist discourse, unconsciously or consciously, reproduces two classic anti-Jewish tropes, the ‘blood libel’/Jews as Christian child killers and the global Jewish conspiracy and marries the two in the following ways.
The theme of Israel as a child-killing state is increasingly common. Any incident of an under-age Palestinian killed during the conflict is liable to be interpreted and portrayed as a feature of Israel’s essentially child-killing nature (Hirsh: p.208).
The child-killing theme is articulated viscerally in visual depictions of the Israel-Palestine conflict. For example, a poster for the BDS campaign shows a wholesome Jaffa orange cut in half, out of which blood drips. The slogan reads: ‘Boycott Israeli Goods: Don’t squeeze a Jaffa, crush the occupation.’ This comingling of Jews (or Jews as Israelis), food and non-Jewish blood sends the powerful and emotive message that if you eat the Jaffa oranges that the Zionists are trying to sell you, you will be metaphorically be drinking the blood of their victims (Hirsh: pp.206-07).
In another incendiary illustration of the would-be ‘blood libel’, the self-professed antiracist Norman Finkelstein hosted an extensive gallery on his website by the Brazilian artist ‘Latuff’ who had won second prize in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s notorious competition for cartoons illustrating Holocaust denial. One image shows a swimming pool, in the shape of the Gaza strip, filled with blood. The image shows Uncle Sam luxuriating in the blood; the then Israeli premier Ehud Olmert covered in the blood and using the Israeli flag as a towel; and a UN waiter bringing a drink of blood to the swimmers while the rest of the world is depicted standing aside uninterested. Another image shows an innocent child who is either Lebanese or is representing Lebanon itself, being doused in Israeli petrol. (Hirsh: pp.207-08)
The most persuasive explanation for such visual imagery lies not in pure coincidence or conscious hostility to Jews as a people but in the realm of the cultural unconscious whereby anti-Zionists draw unconsciously upon ancient anti-Semitic themes when devising and using emotive visual symbols to highlight alleged Israeli wrong-doing but are reluctant to reflect on the genealogy of prejudice that reside beneath these images (Hirsh: p.208) The whole domain of the cultural unconscious requires greater scholastic enquiry but it is fair to state that historical or popularly received stereotypes are drawn upon in other semi-conscious articulations of racism such as black criminality in the notorious Willie Horton video ad by the Republicans used in the 1988 US Presidential election and Norman Tebbit’s ‘cricket test’ in 1990.
Critiques of the emotive imagery used thus by anti-Zionists should never be used to exculpate proven Israeli wrong-doing (nor should the Shoah/Holocaust be used to prevent criticism of such either). But I (and it is only my personal opinion) think it worthwhile to point out that ‘child’-killing ‘ and ‘blood drinking’ cries are never used to the same degree of resonance in relation to child victims of wars in which the USA, UK and Russia are involved nor in the case of the killing of children by plastic or live bullets or other actions by state security forces in Northern Ireland.
Blood libel always accompanies anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In the words of Anthony Julius referenced by Hirsh, if the ‘Jews’ kill children then they certainly then conspire to hide the crime. If Israel is based on child-killing or genocide then there must be a Zionist conspiracy of Israel lobby which has the power to shield the truth from the global media (Hirsh: p.208).
The most explicit and comprehensive from of global anti-Semitic conspiracy theory is the Protocol of the Learned Elders of Zion, a late 19th Tsarist Russian forgery which purported to comprise a report of the meeting of the Jewish conspiracy in Prague. The Hamas Covenant (1988) explicitly reprints and endorses this forgery as well as holding the Jewish (not merely the Zionist) ‘enemy’ for all the revolutions, wars and imperialist ventures of modern times (Hirsh: pp.208-09)
Contemporary echoes of the hoary old Jewish conspiracy theme are found in the argument that there is a Zionist lobby that possesses such huge power and influence that it is able to send the USA to war in its interests and to taint any narrative of Israel and Palestine as contrary to its own as automatically antisemitic.
Thus, the US academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their 2006 writings on the “Israel Lobby” found it to be responsible for the decision of the USA to go to war with the Iraq of Saddam Hussein without offering any substantial evidence (dodgy dossier, anyone!) for this claim. This claim resonates with claims made throughout history that Jews start wars such as that the Boer war was caused by a Jewish diamond lobby manipulating the British Empire; America First’s key propagandist Charles Lindberg’ s claim that the leaders of ‘both the Jewish and British people … for reasons which are not American wish to involve us in the [Second World] war; Hitler’s Reichstag speech in which he threatened that if ‘Jewish financiers .. succeed once more in hurling the peoples into a world war … the result will be… the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe right down to the conspiracy theory that Zionists were behind 9/11 (and ISIS) with reports (printed in the Lebanese Hezbollah newspaper Al-Manah) that 4,000 Jews were told not to go to work to the World Trade Centre on the day of the attacks and of Israeli agents (of ‘Dancing Israelis’ fake notoriety) seen celebrating in New Jersey as the Twin Towers collapsed (Hirsh: pp.210-11).
So also, Robert Fisk wrote a four-page piece in the Independent newspaper on 27th April 2006 headlining ‘United States of Israel?’ that was illustrated by a full-page, colour image of the Stars and Stripes with Stars of David replacing the usual stars. The piece profiles Stephen Walt a hero, speaking truth to power, who took on the ‘Lobby’ and its egregious accusations of anti-Semitism. Fisk offers no evidence that the ‘Zionists’ forced the US into starting a war not in its own interests; nor any examples of anti-Semitism accusations directed at Mearsheimer and Walt; nor any evidence for his claims that the ‘Lobby’ stopped Noam Chomsky for having a column in an American newspapers or that it prevented the showing of the play I am Rachel Corrie in New York (Hirsh: pp.214-15).
In this process of ‘slippage’, the empirical focus on the differing organisations and interests within the broad sweep of the pro-Israel lobby within Mearsheimer and Walt’s and Fisk’s works segues or ‘slips’ into the construction of a single, unvariegated, monolith motivated by bad faith and a desire to manipulate the highest reaches of American decision-making. In the course of this slippage, Jewish symbols (Stars of David) not Israeli ones are used to convey the impression that Jews, because of their loyalty to other Jews round the world, are not patriotic Americans. The device of merging Jewish stars with the American flag has long been a weapon of choice for neo-Nazis, radical Islamist and conspiracy theorists (Hirsh: p.214).
Indeed, anti-Zionists can be quite candid in the ideological and political company they keep in the cause of assailing the all-powerful “Zionist” lobby. At a conference at the University of Chicago in October 2007 on ‘academic freedom’ and to defend Norman Finkelstein who had failed to win academic tenure at De Paul University, Chicago due to the supposed influence of the Israel Lobby, the late distinguished historian and professed antiracist Tony Judt made the following statement:
If you stand up and say [as he did] … that there is an Israel lobby … that there are a set of Jewish organisations, who do work, both in front of the scenes and behind the scenes, to prevent certain kinds of conversations, certain kinds of criticisms and so on, you come very close to saying that there is a de facto conspiracy or if you like plot or collaboration to prevent certain policy from moving a particular way… – and that sounds a lot like, you know, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the conspiratorial theory of the Zionist Occupied Government and so on – well if it sounds like it’s unfortunate, but that’s just how it is. We cannot calibrate the truths that we’re willing to speak, if we think they are true, according to the idiocies of people [like David Duke who confirmed in an email to Judt that he was on the same page as him, Mearsheimer and Walt on the issue of the Israel lobby] who happen to agree with us for their own reasons. (Hirsh: p.215)
Judt proceeds to try to give himself ideological and ethical cover by reminding his audience of:
… what Arthur Koestler said in Carnegie Hall in 1948 when he was asked ‘Why do you criticise Stalin – don’t you know that there are people in this country, Nixon an and who were not yet known as McCarthyites, who are also anti-Communists and will use your anti-Communism to their advantage. And Koestler’s response was that … you cannot help it if idiots once every 24 hours with their stopped political clock are on the same side as you… (Hirsh: p.216)
However, the gulag did exist. The Jewish (or Zionist) conspiracy of the all-encompassing scale that anti-Zionists imagine does not. The McCarthyites were conspiracy theorists who say ‘reds under every bed’ in the form of every liberal schoolteacher, Hollywood actor and performing artist. Koestler and other anti-Stalinist leftists like Orwell, Trotsky, Arendt spoke out against the prevailing left orthodoxy of their time; that Stalin should not be criticised. Some contemporary leftists like Judt fail to speak out against a current left orthodoxy; that Israel and its Jewish supporters are uniquely evil and powerful. They are also blissfully ignorant or wilfully blind or perhaps do not care about the far-right elements that they attract to their antizionist orbit. The same can be said of the devotees of Jeremy Corbyn who bask in the Labour leader’s so frequently trumpeted antiracism and wallow in Israeli Embassy conspiracy theories or ‘bad faith’ refutations of anyone who raises the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour movement. In spite of, or maybe because, of their self-referenced, pure ideological leftism that they fail to understand how Zionist conspiracy theories and their obsession with the perceived evils that Israel is said to embody can act as a progenitor of an unadorned anti-Semitic movement.
(1) David Hirsh (2018) Contemporary Left Antisemitism London: Routledge
(2) Deborah Lipstadt (2019) Antisemitism Here and Now London: Scribe
Uncategorised http://hurryupharry.org/2019/01/31/anti-zionjsim-is-antisemitism/ p.2
 Ibid, p.3
 Ibid, p.3
 Ibid, p.5
 Peter Beinart Debunking the myth that antizionism is antisemitic https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/mar/07/debunking-myth-that-anti-zionism-is-antismemitic
 Ibid: p.2
 Ibid: p.21
 Antizionism is antisemitism p.6
 Beinart: p.3
 Beinart: p.4
 Including the British Labour Party perhaps
 Karen Brodkin (1999) ‘How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says about Race in America
 Hen Mazzig No, Israel isn’t a country of privileged and powerful white Europeans. Los Angeles Times 20 May 2019 https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0mazzig-mizrahi-jeaws-israel-20190520-story.html
⏩ Barry Gilheany has joined the Jewish Labour Movement as an affiliate member and encourages fellow labour movement colleagues concerned about Labour’s anti-Semitism problem to do the same.