Anti-Semitism should have no place in the pro-Palestinian movement

It’s up to all pro-Palestinian campaigners to stamp out any anti-Semitic sentiments when they see them.

It’s up to all pro-Palestinian campaigners to stamp out any anti-Semitic sentiments when they see them

70 attacks have been reported on Jews in the UK since the Israeli war on Gaza began on July 8, two thirds of which are directly related to the conflict.

It goes without saying that this is an incredibly worrying trend. And as the Palestinian death toll mounts past a thousand, it appears to be spreading.

I was on the Stop the War demonstration in London on Saturday. It was huge (between 50,000-100,000), and it was peaceful. It was also incredibly diverse, with Jews for Justice for Palestinians marching alongside Muslims, students and peace campaigners.

But there were some disturbing sentiments expressed on banners and placards. I saw the flag of Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese Islamist party classified as a terrorist organisation in many countries. Other marchers reported seeing placards saying ‘Research: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’, the famous anti-Semitic conspiracy document, with a Star of David dripping in blood.

When confronted, the Jewish pro-Palestinian was hurled with abuse such as ‘Jews are the problem. If you’re a Jew, you’re racist, you’re what we’re demonstrating against’. There were also pretty horrifying Nazi allusions, including signs saying ‘Hitler you were right’. And chants from ‘No justice, no peace’ seemed to try to legitimise anti-Israel violence, at a time when an immediate end to hostilities needs to be the priority.

Daniel Randall writes:

“While outward displays of “classical” anti-Semitism are rare, subtler themes are more common. Placards and banners comparing the Israeli state to Nazism, and its occupation of Palestine to the Holocaust, and images melding or replacing the Star of David with swastikas, are, while far from universal, relatively commonplace. The politics of this imagery, too, has an anti-Semitic logic.”

The Muslim Council of Britain has rightly condemned all such imagery, as well as the incidents which have doubled in recent weeks.

The Community Security Trust also reports violence against Jews and Jewish buildings not at the march, including a brick thrown at the window of a synagogue in Belfast. Much of the non-violent incidents have occurred on Twitter, including the #HitlerWasRight hashtag which gained some following. Such actions represent the politics of the far-right – similar to the surge in anti-Muslim hate crime following the killing of Lee Rigby – and have no place in a progressive movement.

Now the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism are to launch a report into the spread of these hate attacks. But it’s up to all pro-Palestinian campaigners to stamp out any anti-Semitic sentiments when they see them – we must be vigilant in confronting it at all times.

Jews and Muslims must be able to demonstrate arm in arm against the war on Gaza – the movement for peace and human rights is nothing if it is not tolerant. It is especially nothing if it is not peaceful or respectful of human rights.

Follow Josiah Mortimer on Twitter

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42 Responses to “Anti-Semitism should have no place in the pro-Palestinian movement”

  1. Mike Stallard

    What is the left actually for? I thought, myself, it represented the poor, the workers and the vulnerable against people who wanted to rob, hurt and exploit them? Have I got that wrong?

    It is quite obvious to me that the Jews are defending their country against cynical people, often living abroad, who are using Muslim children and women, hospitals and schools as human shields and employing teenagers as street fighters. What the Hamas leaders are doing is absolutely wrong. It is, apart from anything else, exploiting the weak and vulnerable and amounts – yes – to child abuse. How can anyone on the left support that?

    It is also quite obvious that the Gazan Muslims are scared and being bombed as civilians without any thought by the Israelis. That awful programme last night showed how children are being corrupted in Syria and I am sure the same might well be true in Gaza. The Jews are behaving appallingly too.

    Both sides are behaving like barbarians. And religious barbarians at that. Both sides ought to be ashamed of themselves. Both sides: there is no right and no wrong here: both are wrong. But if one stops…

    Can’t the people of the left see that?

  2. subtleknife666

    Well, I wholeheartedly agree that condemnation of the despicable Zionist regime in occupied Palestine should not lead anyone to be hateful to Jews in general. Hating Jews is no better than hating Blacks or Asians or Muslims.

    However, on the subject of that foul, murdering, corrupt, despicable regime in the Zionist entity: do you know what Nazism is? Nazism is fascism plus racism. The definition is as simple as that, as any political-science textbook will tell you.
    And since it’s totally obvious that that Zionist regime is utterly fascist and utterly racist, where does that leave us? That regime is a Nazi regime and should be treated as such. The international community is prevented from treating that regime as it deserves by one thing: the behaviour of the pro-nazi regime of the United States of America.

  3. Guest

    Blah blah you make excuses for your anti-Semitism.

    At least you’re consistent in your wingnut beliefs over countries, mind you.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    Excuse me, many of us can. Don’t confuse the left with the extremists on the left.

    But you do what you say others do there, as you say “Jews”. No, it’s the Israeli government. Moreover, slamming religion foe the sake of it, seeing only two sides… (Hamas, Fatah, other Islamists in the Gaza Strip, normal Palestinians, Isralie Left, Israeli Settlers, Israeli Government, Bedouin Arabs in Israel….)

    If Israel stops defending itself, what would you think would happen? But if Hamas stopped attacking Israel…no, false equivalence there. You’re making the very argument you just condemned the left for! Your “quite obvious” acceptance of a propaganda line…

  5. AlanGiles

    Sadly the most diplomatically worded condemnation of the Israeli government is taken as evidence of anti-Semitism. It was ever thus

  6. Leon Wolfeson

    Complete rot. There are plenty of people who are critical of the Isralie government without being anti-semites.

    Your excuse for anti-Semitism is just that.

  7. McCurry

    Some people are not antisemitic. George Galloway likes to tell us that 10 million died in the Holocaust, in order to impress upon us that he cares more for the tragedy of the Jews than do the historians.

  8. AlanGiles

    You have just proved my point. I wasn’t excusing anti-Semitism, as if you read my comment you would have known.

  9. Dave Roberts

    He also tells lies Dan, or hadn’t you realised that already?

  10. Dave Roberts

    Let me see if I have got this right. Until June 1967 Gaza was a part of Egypt. It was taken by Israel in the six day war and settlers began to build towns. As a part of one of the many agreements Israel evacuated Gaza and evicted the Jewish settlers, some of them by force, and handed the strip to The Palestinian Authority.

    Since then it has been a base for acts of terrorism against Israel the most recent being the rocket attacks, which still continue, using increasingly sophisticated Iranian made missiles. As a result of these attacks, about which the Hamas administration has at best done nothing and at worst collaborated in, Israel has resorted to actions which any nation would when it was under the kind of attack Israel is.

    The answer? Hamas recognises Israel, rewrites its constitution taking out all of the clauses about destroying the country and receives massive amounts of international aid to build what should be one of the most thriving economies in the area.

  11. Dave Roberts

    The Palestinians have been the pawns of the Arab leaders since the forties. They have been kept in refugee camps when they could have been resettled long ago. Wile they live in squalor the leadership lives it up in Arab and European capitals in luxury.

  12. Chris Lovett

    None of these people are despicable – but all are wrong. There really is no need for nation states nowadays. FFS, humans, grow up and kick religion out along with capitalism.

  13. Julian Gibb

    I disagree that anti semitism is rare. Many times I have found myself leaning towards support for change regarding the treatment of people in Gaza when the writer suddenly launches into a anti Semitic rant.

    We will never make progress without balanced debate.

  14. Leon Wolfeson

    ….you proved my point – thou doth protest too much.

  15. AlanGiles

    What a sad little man you must be

  16. Leon Wolfeson

    And you start insulting the Jew, as expected. Yes, you really did protest too much, it’s very very plain.

    You’ll get fake-angry next.

  17. AlanGiles

    Paranoia is sad. Have a happy life. I am no going to encourage your feelings of victimhood

  18. AlanGiles

    “What is the left actually for?”

    Thats just the problem now, Mike: the “leaders” don’t know. One minute Miliband wants to be different, then he agrees with Coalition policies. He is a non-Blairite surrounded in his shadow cabinet and PLP by Blairites, propped up via Progress with Lord Sainsbury’s money, who gives no donations now he is no longer a minister or shadow minister to the Labour Party itself.

    It talks of “fairness” yet sees nothing unfair in handing out safe seats to the sons of former ministers. It pretends to despise the Coaltion welfare cuts and reforms convenienly forgetting it was they who instigated the Freud report in full in 2009 (James Purnell): they shed crocodile tears at the demise of Remploy, forgetting it was they who got the ball rolling in 2008 (Peter Hain). Just last year the repulsive Liam Byrne supported Duncan-Smith’s parliamentary motion to bring in retrospective legislation to stop payments being made to people who had won court cases in welfare cases. Saving “our” NHS from privatisaion, when, in reality Burnham got the process underway back in 2007 with NHS Global.

    Miliband decries photo opportunities showing his memory is so poor he can’t recall July 21st when he darted over to Washington to get a photo with himself and Obama. Then earlier in the year it was Joey Essex, a professional bufoon and Lily Allen (“actress and singer”).

    If such people are “the left” – and lets not forget Tessa Jowell, remortgage expert who wants to be London Mayor: Protected by Blair and the sisterhood at the time, she “left” her husband David Mills, and he was painted as the sole villian of the piece. However, when Tony Blair held a 60th birthday party for his plain and pricey wife last week, among the guests were – Mr and Mrs Mills (Dame Tessa and her “ex”). If this collection of careerist liars and hypocrites lead, then no wonder less and less people wish to follow.

    In May 2015, despite the wet dreams of UKIP supporters, Briain will either have a Conservative government or a Labour government tinkering with current Coalition policies, led by a weak man forever looking over his shoulder at the Blairites and mollifying them – Blair and his chums who destroyed Labour in the first place

    You said “it represented the poor, the workers and the vulnerable against people who wanted to rob, hurt and exploit them?”

    Not much chance of that with self important snobs like Harman, Hunt and Umunna who seem to think they are “better” than everybody else and who are entirely motivated by greed and self interest. Labour constantly complain about “a cabinet of millionaires”. Do they really think we are so thick we don’t know that we have a Shadow cabinet full of millionaires?. Labour today stinks like a prop forwards jockstrap

  19. Dave Roberts

    Fairly comprehensive.

  20. Mike Stallard

    I want to thank you for that. It took time and thought to write that so sincerely – a very rare thing.

  21. John Valer

    Here is a copy of a leaflet being distributed amongst the North London orthodox Jewish community:

    “Fellow Jews – Let Us Not Be Afraid To Act!

    Fellow Jews – attacks on our people are on the rise all over the world.
    Throughout Europe, North America, and even Australia, Jews have not found
    themselves subject to such assaults since the days of the Nazis.

    Fellow Jews – shall we just sit here with hands clasped and do nothing?
    Shall we sit idly by while our brothers are targeted for condemnation and
    violence on the streets, in their homes, in their synagogues?

    Fellow Jews – it is time to act! We cannot let this go on! We all know
    what the causes of these attacks are.

    The cause of these attacks is that the world thinks the state of Israel
    is the nation-state of the Jewish people and their actions represent world
    Jewry. They attack us because they believe we are them. They attack us because
    they believe we represent their enemies, the Zionists.

    But it is not the Jews who are at war – it is the state of Israel. It is not the Jews that the fury of our
    attackers is directed at – it is the Zionists. The Zionists who have usurped
    our identity and represent themselves as “the Jews.” For a hundred years and
    more the Zionists have been doing this, in order to cloak themselves in the
    mantle of esteem that rightfully belongs to the Jewish people.

    The Zionists have sullied and soiled that mantle in the eyes of the
    world. Our mantle. The mantle of Jewishness that the Zionists have no right to
    speak for.

    Jews are a peaceful people. We are a religious people. We are prohibited,
    according to our religion, to wage wars during our exile, until the Messiah
    arrives. An exile that the Zionists think they can repudiate, and a Messiah
    that the Zionists think they can replace.

    The Zionists’ impersonation of the Jewish people has succeeded in causing
    them to identify the entirety of the Jewish people as Zionists.

    Fellow Jews – it is time to act! We must open our mouths and teach the
    world that the Zionists do not represent the Jewish people. That Israel is NOT the nation-state of the Jewish
    people; that the Jewish nation has no part in the acts of the state of Israel.

    Fellow Jews – it is time to speak up! Do not be afraid! Let us rise up
    together with one voice and tell the world that Judaism is not Zionism! Shall
    we allow our brothers and sisters all over the world – our fellow religionists
    – to be mistaken for Zionist nationalists? Shall we allow our holy Torah to be
    deceitfully presented as politics?

    How can we sit by idly and allow Judaism to be deceitfully portrayed as

    How can we sit idly by and let our brothers be held responsible for the
    acts of a nation that is not theirs.

    Fellow Jews – let us not be afraid to act!

    And let us act now – while we still have a chance to act”.

  22. froglet

    The problem with criticising Israel is that it is a State explicitly founded by and for Jews, consequently “Israel” and “Jewry” are easily conflated. In many instances this conflation is quite deliberate.

    It is the tactic most commonly used both by the apologists for the current Israeli regime, and at the same time by anti-Semites. The apologists are happy to deflect legitimate criticism of the State, by accusing critics of attacking Jewry, while anti-Semites commonly use the sins of the Israeli State as a justification for attacking Jewry at large.

    These problems are compounded by the intransigence of many of Israel’s leaders and spokespeople who like to have most of the arguments both ways.
    On the one hand they berate “terrorism”, whilst with the other paying obeisance to the founding heroes of Israel like Menachem Begin, who was proud of his terrorist roots.
    Their cavalier attitude to Civilian casualties in Gaza doesn’t help either. Hamas’ Rocket attacks are largely ineffectual, and the tunnels don’t seem to have had great “success” in infiltrating Israel either.
    Laying-waste much of Gaza’s housing and infrastructure in a bid to eliminate them is morally indefensible, probably illegal, and doomed to fail.
    No matter what sophistry the Israel Government applies, peace is improbable without talking to Hamas. Britain talked to the IRA in the 1990’s Peace Process, and Israel will almost certainly have to take the same bitter pill if it wants to settle this issue. Until this is conceded Mr Netenyahu and his colleagues are simply posturing about “Peace & Security” , whilst authorising the unnecessary slaughter of the innocents.

  23. Mike Stallard

    “No matter what sophistry the Israel Government applies, peace is improbable without talking to Hamas. Britain….”
    This is the whole problem. It isn’t a cricket match between Gentlemen. Israel is pinpricked into anger by indiscriminate firing of rockets into her God Given territory. In order to retaliate, she has to invade civilians carefully left there to die. The civilians are the very people who appear laden with bombs in the customs posts and market places. Israelis are in no was English Sports.
    Hamas, on the other hand, is led by people who warmly accept Gaza, make loads of empty promises and then use their newly acquired god Given territory to fire rockets onto the very people who left the land to them when asked to do so. In no way are they English gentlemen either.
    If only they were christians!

  24. Leon Wolfeson

    You’re sad and paranoid? I see. Stop blaming me for your frantic victim claims that YOUR anti-Semitism is magically special and can’t be called anti-Semitism because of .

    Nope, you are what you are. Run away to make excuses for your anti-semitism elsewhere now!

  25. Leon Wolfeson

    There’s no evidence whatsoever that it’s Jewish people distributing those propaganda leaflets.

  26. Guest

    Ah, so where will you bury the bodies?

  27. Leon Wolfeson

    Egypt, to be clear, *refused* to take Gaza back.

    It was just as much of a headache for them.

  28. Guest

    When did the IRA say that they would not accept Britain existing?

    The key point there is you’re saying that it’s “morally indefensible” to act against terrorists. The Isralie government has major issues, but to stand by and allow attacks…

  29. Leon Wolfeson

    Labour haven’t been to the left for some time, you’re over-analysing things.

  30. AlanGiles

    You started out by referring to my first post as “rot”, then in one of your later ramblings you started with:

    “And you start insulting the Jew,”

    You seem to be looking for victimhood with that frankly self-pitying whine. I made no refernce to your religion.

    You can be an arrogant twerp looking for ill-meaning in every word a person utters, if you have nothing better to do. In short you can be an asshole whatever your religion or beliefs or non beliefs.

    Take your mendacious trolling to somewhere it would be more appropriate,. stop pestering me. Perhaps a psychiatrist could help you?

  31. wj

    A ray of sunshine through the clouds – exactly!

  32. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, you have the far right, social darwinist and totalitarian view that disagreement with you is mental illness. How predictable!

    Thanks for describing yourself, in depth, with your insults. Your clear anti-Semitism shines through, as you frantically try and evade your beliefs being talked about.

    Why are you so scared of that? Why do you have this desire to silence all other views? Why are you screaming “troll” when you’re the one spewing the insults?

  33. Hiren Joshi

    iPort Doncaster is a largest business ever UK.

  34. froglet

    The fact that it “isn’t cricket” is precisely the reason why Israel must talk with Hamas. There are no rules, and you can’t just make them up. “We won’t talk to terrorists” is simply an arbitrary “rule” made up by Israel in a “game” that Hamas simply isn’t, and won’t ever play.
    You seem to be totally in thrall to the Israeli propaganda machine. “civilians are the very people who appear laden with bombs in the customs posts and market places” indeed and it is Israeli “civilians” called-up to the IDF who appear in the schools and markets of Gaza with Bombs & Guns….
    There is no moral high ground in any of this. No matter how hard Israel tries to cast itself in the role of “wronged democratic state” it cannot possibly justify industrial-scale killing, nor will this killing secure its objectives.
    As we have seen many times in the recent past, when you “destroy” one terrorist group another worse one springs up – just like the myth of the Dragon’s Teeth.
    At present Israel relies on the fragmentation and conflict in its Moslem neighbours to prevent them from uniting against Israel and presenting a real and dangerous military threat. It would be unwise to assume this will always be the case.

  35. Erich


    While I don’t feel it’s okay to tolerate hate based on race/ethnicity, this is exactly what the US, et al, have been doing with the new government in Kiev (Svoboda/Right Sector) and the Israeli apartheid. In fact, far too much legitimate criticism of the actions of the State of Israel (and therefore the US/AIPAC) is labelled as “anti-semitic” (i.e., racist) even when the criticism is both precisely that of Israel’s racist policies AND in defense of a semitic people (aka by some high Israeli officials as “human animals” or “little snakes”).

  36. jensej

    I have not see this much anti-semitism ever in my life. I think the last time it was this bad had to be during WWII. I have to say the current administration, that I voted for twice, is going to have to take some blame. I am upset at how things are going around the world. I hope Hillary, or someone else will change this. I am afraid Hillary does not have it though, she just said Gaza is too small to put rockets in other places than schools and hospitals. Gaza is 150 miles wide. With a lot of desert. Look at it on Google earth. Sounds like she is just more of the same. I stand with Israel over terrorist of Hamas everyday of the week.

  37. Guest

    Firstly, you make excuses for anti-Semitism.

    2. Make excuse.
    3. Anti-Semitism.

    Keep projecting your views – at least you’re consistent in hating democracy across the board.

  38. Guest

    Keep demanding terrorists be absolutely pandered to.

    And in fact, the other Arab states hate Hamas in many cases far more than Israel.

  39. Erich

    I don’t think you’re getting the gist of what I’m attempting to say. If someone is blaming Jewish people, that is racist, perhaps (race in this age is dubious in its application), or at least hate for a religious group. I do not support that, nor would I tolerate it from anyone. Often, however, there are those who criticize the State of Israel for its racist policies who are immediately labeled “anti-semites,” which translates to “racist,” which it is NOT. Also, I’m trying to call attention to the FACT that the term “anti-semite” is not appropriate to use EVEN for those who hate the Jewish people if they, at the same time, defend the Arabs. They are BOTH semitic people!

    And you seem to be saying that I make excuses for anti-semitism and hate democracy? Ah, well, humans have a knack for finding what they want/expect to find, regardless. So I should probably not bother.

  40. Hayri Z. Korkmaz

    People protested too much.. and.. Massacre (or should say punishment?!) is not enough!!!

  41. Leon Wolfeson

    “Massacre (or should say punishment?!) is not enough!!!”

    And surprise surprise, you come up with your plans for Jews.

  42. Guest

    Ah, that old excuse for racism, that it’s “dubious”, when it’s alive and well. And then you prove my point – you are using a standard anti-Semetic attempt to redefine that word, and excuse people for, er, anti-Semitism.

    YOU said both, and yes, you’ll make excuses for what you want to find.

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