From email@example.com Mon May 3 16:15:10 2004
Date: Sat, 1 May 2004 01:06:43 -0500 (CDT)
From: Gershon Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [IPCRI-News-Service] Palestinians blast anti-Semitism meet
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
A two-day international conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin has
drawn criticism from Palestinians who have described it as a
herring and a
sly distraction aimed at diverting attention
from their oppression by Israel.
The conference, held under the auspices of the Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), is expected to issue a set
of decisions and recommendations linking
sentiments to anti-Semitism.
Clause-3 of the conference's summary statement says that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be allowed to serve as a cover for the expression of anti-Semitic positions and opinions.
Moreover, the 55-nation forum has effectively agreed that there is a link between criticising Israeli actions and policies on the one hand and expressions of classical anti-Semitism.
Speaking at the conference on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Collin Powell pointed out in a short speech that while criticising Israel was legitimate, the line is crossed when critics employ Nazi symbolism to do so.
It is not anti-Semitism to criticise Israel, but the line is
crossed when the leaders of Israel are demonised and vilified by the
use of Nazi symbols.
Powell and other speakers, however, ignored the use of Nazi symbols and comparisons by Israeli officials to demonise Arab and Muslim leaders.
Only Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, voiced a more balanced approach to the issue of racial hatred.
He told the forum that it was wrong to use
race for political
reasons, either as an offensive weapon or as a shield to fend off
OSCE meet diverts attention from Israeli oppression of Palestinians
Palestinian academics, while denouncing anti-Semitism as a morbid
phenomenon, have voiced deep misgivings about the conference and
Mahmud Nammura, an author who writes extensively about anti-Semitism
and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, called the Berlin conference a
red herring and
It is a shame that instead of paying attention to the Nazi-like
persecution of the defenceless Palestinian people at Israel's
hands, the OSCE is effectively telling Israel that it is ok to
continue to slaughter Palestinians and destroy their homes since
opposing these crimes would be a form of anti-Semitism.
In an interview with Aljazeera.net, Nammura said he was 100% sure the
real purpose of the conference was to cover up
the shameful Israeli
crimes in Rafah, Jenin and Nablus.
European leaders had a duty to combat all crimes and not do so only selectively, Nammura said. By focussing only on the lesser, though still condemnable, acts, those leaders were acting unevenly.
I want to ask the leaders of Europe: Which crime is more serious?
The desecration of a Jewish grave in some French town, or destroying
an entire neighbourhood in Rafah? Scrawling a swastika on the wall of
a Jewish synagogue in Italy or turning Palestinian towns and villages
into virtual concentration camps?
Nammura, a veteran peace activist from Hebron, castigated the
obscene and corrupt lumping of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
I believe that when Jews behave and act like Nazis, they should be
compared to Nazis. This wouldn't be a sweeping condemnation of
Jews, but rather a rejection of evil actions, behaviour and
Nammura cited a plethora of statements and remarks by Jewish religious
leaders and Israeli officials in which they described Palestinians as
scum, vermin and dirty animals that ought to be exterminated.
When Israeli cabinet ministers openly call for the total
obliteration of Islam from the face of Earth, or call for the
liquidation of the Palestinians because they have inferior genes [as
Israel's deputy defence minister Ze'ev Baum said recently],
then we can legitimately compare them to the Nazis.
Some Israeli academics tend to agree that the Berlin conference is
less than genuine considerations.
Professor Moshe Zimmerman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a prominent historian and expert on the holocaust and Nazism, told Aljazeera.net that the Berlin conference was an Israeli government effort to ward off international criticism of Israeli policies and actions against the Palestinians.
We have to differentiate between classical anti-Semitism and
criticisms of Israeli policies and practices. The first is hating Jews
for being Jews while the second represents rejection of certain
objectionable policies and actions, he said.
Asked if comparing some Israeli leaders like Ariel Sharon to Nazi leaders was legitimate under certain circumstances, Zimmerman said the admissibility or inadmissibility of such a comparison depended on the facts at hand.
Comparison is an analytical term. If you want to make the
comparison, then you have to prove it, you have to locate the
comparable elements, the similarities.
Zimmerman, who in 1995 sparked a controversy in Israel when he
suggested that there was a striking similarity between Jewish settlers
in Hebron and
Hitler youth, lambasted Israeli leaders for
applying Nazi epithets against Israel's critics while fulminating
when the same epithets are used against Israeli and Zionism.
I think Israeli leaders have to ask themselves if their policies
are contributing to the rise of anti-Semitism. They can't call
Palestinians and Arabs Nazi names and protest vociferously when
similar names are used against Israel.
Zimmerman opined that
anti-Semitism among Arabs and Muslims is
rooted in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
I believe contemporary anti-Semitism is an outcome of the conflict.
Hence, I am convinced that if and when the conflict is resolved, there will be a sharp decline in anti-Semitism. However, if the conflict deteriorates, I am afraid the worrying phenomenon will exacerbate further, not only in the Middle East, but in Europe as well.
Some Palestinian leaders, such as Arab Knesset member Muhammad Baraka, believes that Israel's manifestly racist policies against non-Jews, including its own Palestinian citizens, provide a strong inducement for many people to make the comparison between Zionism and Nazism.
I believe that when Jews behave and act like Nazis, they should be
compared to Nazis
In an interview with Aljazeera.net, Baraka sounded ambivalent about
lumping Zionism, anti-Semitism and Nazism in one
We know that Nazism was a colossal evil, it was responsible for
killing of tens of millions of people, including millions of Jews,
However, he added that Zionism was also espousing manifestly racist ideas reminiscent of the fascist movements that appeared in Europe in the beginning of the last century.
Look what they are doing to the Palestinians in the West Bank and
Even here in Israel proper, if a Palestinian citizen of Israel marries a woman from the West Bank, he will have to leave his country and lose his right to citizenship. As far as I know this doesn't occur anywhere else in the world.
Nammura, Zimmerman and Baraka all agree that forums such as the Berlin conference will do little to combat anti-Israeli feelings and anti-Semitism as long as Israel continues to treat Palestinians the way it does.
In the final analysis, people, whether in the Arab world or in
Europe, would rather believe what they see on their TV screens. You
can't remove anti-Semitism while Israel continues to generate more
anti-Semitism. In order to overcome the symptoms, you've got to
treat the root causes first, says Zimmerman.
Israel can't behave the way it is behaving and
then shout [accusations of] anti-Semitism at her critics.