A letter to the anti-Israel Left

February 10, 2016 by Julie Nathan
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Julie Nathan addresses a letter to that small fraction of the political Left which not only criticises Israeli government policies or practices but also demonises and denigrates Israel at every opportunity and thus denies its legitimacy.

Julie Nathan writes:

We see you, we hear you, day after day, making your ignorant, bigoted and malicious accusations against Jews and Israel. You claim to be speaking for human rights and for justice, but your words and actions betray you. You are haters, liars and bullies.

Brisbane-2014-7-20-IMG_8911You presume to define our Jewish identity to suit your own sensibilities and convenience. You assert that Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism. You say we are only a religious group and deny our 3,500-year-old history as both a national and a faith community. In short, you presume to tell us who we are – a liberty you would not dare to take with any other group – and you are wrong.

You say you have nothing against Jews. You say you are only against Zionists. You categorise us into “good Jews” who oppose Israel and “bad Jews” who support Israel. This is your cynical, sinister way of offering acceptance only to those Jews who are so lacking in knowledge or moral fibre that they are willing to embrace your hollow caricature of what it means to be Jewish. You are against the millions of Jews, the overwhelming majority, who are proudly Jewish and support Israel’s right to exist as the State of the Jewish people.

You are guilty of ignoring, minimising and obfuscating the antisemitism within your ranks. You claim to be anti-racists but will not condemn the all too obvious anti-Jewish racism which is manifested every day by adherents of the anti-Israel movement – on websites, on social media, at demonstrations, in public lectures, talks and speeches. When this DSC00932antisemitism is exposed, you go into hysterical denial, accusing those who expose the ugly anti-Jewish racism you have helped to spawn of trying to stifle public criticism of Israel. As if there is any shortage of public criticism of Israel.

When Jews are attacked or murdered in Istanbul, Mumbai, Toulouse, Paris, and elsewhere, you blame the victims – you say “Israel is the cause of antisemitism”. You say “If Israel behaved better, then Jews throughout the world would not be attacked.” Yet you would not dream of blaming the victim for any other form of racism or racially-motivated violence.

When Jews are murdered in Israel, you defend it, excuse it, minimise it and at times condone it. You demonise Israeli Jews. You say they are “occupiers, oppressors”, whether they live in a remote outpost on the West Bank or in Tel Aviv. These Jews, you claim, are “settlers” who steal Arab land. You say all of Israel is Arab land. You cry: “Resist!” You give succour and encouragement to those who murder Jews.

You say “Israel is illegitimate. Israel must go.” You say “the Jewish state has no right to exist.” The only state in the world you say must be destroyed is the one and only Jewish state. The right you claim for all other peoples, that of national self-determination, you deny to the Jewish people.

You call Jewish Israelis “invaders, occupiers, colonialists, and settlers”, even though 80% of them are native born. You call them a “western implant to control the Middle East.” You tell them to “go back” to Poland and Germany – the graveyard of our people. Your true message is abundantly clear.

DSC01068You talk of indigenous rights, yet deny the fact that the Jewish people, and our Hebrew language, culture and religion, are indigenous to the land of Israel. You ignore the fact that Jews have continuously lived in the land of Israel for 3,500 years. You ignore our national, religious, and cultural origins in, and continuing connections to, the land of Israel.

You ignore or belittle Jewish concerns. You ignore the fact that for millennia Jews were ostracised and oppressed, persecuted and massacred, a powerless people, a numerically small people, existing at the whim of popes, caliphs and kings, and the mobs of the host society. You expect us to forget what it is like to be stateless pariahs, an alien nation in the midst of other nations. You demand that we become stateless once again.

You say you are not anti-Jewish, only anti-Israel. Yet the false accusations you make against Israel are the same as those previously made against Jews. You say that Israel and “the Zionists” control the banks, the politicians, the media; that they lust after Palestinian/gentile blood, and are satanic in every way. Within the rubric of “anti-Zionism”, you have repackaged and redistributed every collective, racist lie that was ever told about Jews.

You call us Nazis. You equate the Jewish Star of David with the Nazi swastika. You equate Zionism with Nazism. You equate Jewish Israel with Nazi Germany. You equate us with the murderers of our people. You lie and demonise. You do not polemicise against us for the sake of the truth. The truth does not interest you. You say these things deliberately in order to re-traumatise us. Knowing that we are still haunted by the genocide perpetrated against our people more than 70 years ago, you implicitly call for another genocide against us by equating us with the perpetrators.

Your words mean: “as Nazi Germany was destroyed, so too it is morally just to destroy Israel.” Your words say: “if the Israelis and Zionists are so evil, then maybe Hitler had good grounds for committing genocide against the Jews.” Your words say: “if Hitler had succeeded in wiping out the Jews, then there would be no Israel.” Your words say: “in retrospect, Hitler was doing the world a favour.” The murder of six million Jews in Europe was not enough to satisfy your blind, self-righteous hatred. You are preparing the way for the murder of the six million Jews in Israel.

You call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until Israel bends to your demands and self-destructs. You lie when you say that BDS is only about Palestinian rights and justice, knowing full well that the BDS movement aims at eliminating the Jewish state. You do not care about Palestinian Arabs when their fellow Arabs oppress or kill them. Only when you can blame Israel do you speak up. Of all the countries in the world, you only target Israel for boycotts, divestment and destruction.

For you it is an inconvenient truth that Israel is a liberal democracy with equal rights for all, including LGBT people, who are free to live as they choose. You ignore that in neighbouring countries, gays are hung on cranes or thrown off buildings. You ignore that planting trees in Israel is an age-old Jewish commitment to reinvigorating the barren land. So, in the depths of your moral and intellectual bankruptcy, you accuse Israel of “pink-washing” and “green-washing”. You twist and distort every good thing about Israel. To you, demonising Israel is more important than gay rights or the environment.

We see you, we hear you, day after day. Your lies about Jews and Israel is a rehash of the false accusations against the Jewish people and Jewish religion in previous centuries. The terminology has changed, but the sentiment, the actions, and the venom, remain the same. You come from the same mould as the Pharoahs, Crusaders, Inquisitors, Almohads, communists, fascists, Nazis, and Islamists. You are the contemporary standard-bearers of a long historical line of prejudice, envy and hate. Hang your heads in shame.

Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry


17 Responses to “A letter to the anti-Israel Left”
  1. Avinoam Ben Dor says:

    An excellent article.

    I would add here that some of our problems as a nation derives from within, ie what is termed as: Self Hating auto-anti semitic Jews which tries to explain the prevalence of Jewish intellectuals inciting anti-Semitism with their extremely hateful view toward Judaism. Jewish self-hate has been described as a neurotic reaction to the impact of anti-Semitism by Jews accepting, expressing, and even exaggerating the basic assumptions of the anti-Semite.

    Over the ages, anti-Semitism has inflicted such devastating suffering on the Jewish people that it inevitably spawned a small but highly vocal number of Jews obsessed with dissociating themselves.

    Jewish Anti-Semites choose to make a great deal of their Jewish origins, the better to collaborate in enterprises hostile to Jews. These renegade Jews or former Jews, give false testimony about Jews or Judaism to the enemies of the Jews. A renegade Jew thus remains engaged with Jewry or Judaism but in hatred. “I’m a Jew who has been brought to the point where he so loaths his people that he thinks in term of their destruction,” wrote Samuel Roth. This kind of Jewish Anti-Semite trades on his Jewish affiliation to give an air of authority and impartiality to his slanders.

    Bryan Mark Rigg wrote about Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers – The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military. Over 150,000 Jews, half Jews and quarter Jews joined the Wehrmacht together with their Nazi counterparts to protect the “Fatherland”. Almost all of them were later sent by Hitler to the death camps only because their blood was contaminated by Jewish blood.

    Jews should not assume that by joining the pack of global Jew haters, they can cleanse themselves from their origins. Ignoring the genocidal invective is tantamount to abetting the bigotry.

    Jews should learn from historical experience not to become so obsessively focused on internal feuds that they forget what they have in common and fall prey to far more substantial external dangers that they have been too blinkered to notice.

  2. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    I don’t think the Palestinian PR or their cause has become an out of date, unfashionable wank. Far from it. All sorts internationally, from senior politicians and those of high ranking in European and UN organisations, to students (speaking of fashion, how the latter like to wear the kaffiya!) beat the drum and jump on the bandwagon. It’s become a circus frenzy and its effects are permeating ordinary Jo’s in society, who have become immediate ME experts without even having to think. That’s quite a dangerous situation.
    Also, Julie Nathan’s words were far too sharply acute and passionate to be called ‘stale’. What she had to say will have to be repeated time and time again until it sinks in. Simple as that.
    Where are you, Otto, and what have you been doing, to say such things?! You sound a bit tired and jaded. I send my warmest regards to you.
    Shabbat Shalom.

  3. Michael Burd says:

    The Jewish left make the best Palestinian advocates..

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    If I were to ponder over the longevity of passions for ideologies I’d have to consider that stillness of the rationale over tangible realities would be the main ingredient. The immediate play on words would, then, send me to our mate Stillman whose determination in manning the barricades of defunct marxist war cries is so akin to the very viability of Zionism itself as I see it being the symbol of Jewish survival over millennia. To this extent Larry is very much one of us.
    Julie Nathan is relentless in bringing up the well known, constantly used arguments in the forum of fairly stale, however necessarily repetitive arguments.
    My take is somehow different.
    The tangible realities to which I first alluded DO NOT allow for extensive theoretical exchanges.
    The palestinian cause is almost exclusively a mere ingredient in the geopolitical international war in which ideological distinctions have disappeared with the first terrorist act in the name of some imaginary land called palestine.
    The lamentable ALP residual so called left is using completely irrelevant notions of “ideological” profiles related to the Israeli-palestinian cnflict as substitutes for a philosophical platform cum social programme which a respectable political entity should post.
    Julie has the fiduciary obligation to respond, but, fact is that NOBODY in the ALP in his/her right mind would consider the said issue as important at all for the crucial issues of ALP’s very survival in electoral terms.
    To this extent what Larry is communicating , once again for decades of a VERY broken record of monologues on irrelevant ontologies, is of no relevance in the real theatre of conflict unfolding ANYWHERE in the world today.
    Going over what poor Martin Luther King Jr. said decades before Bibi has just said the other day, after a brand new you beaut fence is about to grace the landscape of Eretz Israel, when the ME conflict is millions of miles away from what those aimless palestinians are still raging about, burried under collapsed tunnels, (self`)destroyed townships ceded to them by Israelis sick and tired of the 2 bob territorial claims and so on, is dragging the chains of redundancy in the REAL LIFE political world.
    ISIS, Syria, rebuilding Iraq, dealing with destructive islamic insanities and all related local-international issues, leave the palestinian “cause” in trenches of putrid, obsolete pastimes.
    Israel has been for a very long time now calling and making the shots of relevance and tangible decisions on its own conflictual turf.
    The mindless PR palestinian campaigns are, time and again, reminders, that their cause has remained but an out of date, unfashionable wank, so incredible similar to the ethical verticality of an obsolete ALP, struggling to make itself relevant at the mercy of an intellectually defunct Bob Carr.

    Once again, though, me mate Paul is just impeccable !!!

  5. Larry Stillman says:

    It’s interesting, Julie Nathan says she was only talking about a “small fraction of the political Left”, yet it is understood to be extended to all and everyone who offers strong criticism of an untenable situation. A straw man/person argument extended without qualification.

    Do you also extend this characterisation to progressive Zionists? http://tinyurl.com/oahnrem

  6. Gabrielle Lord says:

    Wonderful piece, Julie Nathan. We need much more writing like this. The lies and downright evil of the Left’s traducing of Israel and the Jews must be exposed. Love the way you come out swinging!

  7. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Julie Nathan,
    Thank you for your timely, succinct and passionately argued letter to those of the left who seek the demise of the State of Israel (the actual aim, rather than simply pro-Palestinian support). Thank you for pointing out so clearly and definitively every aspect of the ignorance, hatred and intent that colours the propaganda and actions of these people. And, how that equates with the anti-Semitism that has existed and been practised by so many for so long.

    Uplifting to read for its spirit, despite its bleak truth, a wonderful letter that we should use time and again to fight against the snow-balling invective so dangerous to Jews and the State of Israel. We shall not take this poisonous rubbish lying down. You are a credit to ECAJ and it’s such a relief to read a response such as yours, bereft of political correctness and false diplomacy.

    Please make sure all Labor MPs receive a copy of what you have to say, especially Ms Rhiannon and ex Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

  8. Larry Stillman says:

    Paul Winter

    I apologize for an auto-spell in my post “no one goes for this sort of staff”, for “no one goes for this sort of stuff”. But you miss my point, indubitably, as I have said, there are people on the left (and the right) who are blatant anti-Semites, but to conflate ALL political critiques of Zionism with anti-Semitism is just not correct. As for the rest of what you say, there is a profound political difference and it cannot be resolved.

    I am only going to deal with one other issue. It is difficult to claim EXACTLY what Martin Luther King’s views about the current situation would be but given his life, these are indications of what he would be thinking and doing today in his 80s.

    There is no doubt he was against anti-Semitism, but it is quite unclear what his views about anti-Zionism were. The quote “Anti-Zionist is inherently anti Semitic, and ever will be so.” has been shown to be a literary invention, based on a manufactured, non-existent letter of King’s (see http://www.camera.org /index.asp?x_article=370&x_context=8).

    There is no doubt, however, that King at that time was a supporter of Israel, as were of course, most progressives in the United States, who saw the country through a different lens.

    But I suspect that he would have been highly critical of Israeli politics today and the occupation given the resemblance between its policies of political, ethnic and political separation and the old South and decades of a military regime. He probably would have also drawn parallels with the situation in South Africa and been a supporter of Church-based criticism and activities against the occupation (such as divestment from companies and funds in the Occupied Territories). And likewise, I am sure certainly would have supported non-violent resistance carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Jews to the occupation, to the deep discomfort of Jews who otherwise supported him.

  9. Eric Nobel says:

    Shkoyah to you Julie, our community has high regard and deep appreciatation for the work you do to keep us safe!
    As a former! Refugee I left an isolated, inward and politically bankrupt system to enjoin in the freedom of fellow Australians and yet here I find yearning for the crazy ideals from which I escaped. I cordially invite anyone (not necessarily jewish) to come and join me in Western Sydney, (where I work) to publicly wear a Star of David or a skullcap! Or on my next trip to China to advocate for social justice there (by yourself)
    You want tto repair the world? Go and help the needy here in Australia or over there in the Middle East either by giving charity or even better, by teaching skills!
    Wake up girls/guys!!

  10. Ty ebright says:

    Dolong B Blavats writes,

    “Dear Amira (Hass),

    Thank you for your ongoing reporting of the occupation and terror. I am from a family of camp survivors, my aunt Annetje Fels Kupferschmidt was one of the founders of the Netherlands Auschwitz Comittee. She was a member of the resistance both before deportation and in the camps. I come from a left-wing background. The majority of my family refused to move to Israel after the war, believing, as I do, that justice and safety cannot be found in sticking together, building walls and fences, but only in fighting to keep ideals of freedom, justice and solidarity alive wherever we are.

    In 2001, I finally found my own voice and began to express my concerns about the never ending oppression of Palestinians, a situation that I see as playing a pivotal role in the escalation of violence around the world. The failure of Israel to negotiate a permanent settlement based on recognition of Palestinian grievances is mirrored in the ascendance of new forms of “counterterrorism” that fit neatly with the continuing divying up of the world and its resources between private corporations.

    I take the view that the occupation is really just a symptom of a more insidious evil caused by the internal contradictions of extreme capitalism. The divisions between have and have nots are after all extreme even amongst Israeli Jews. An ongoing conflict is needed to provide an outlet for resentment and to maintain control over a population that might otherwise develop solidarity with the Palestinians.

    I find the old way of looking at the conflict between “Israelis” and “Palestinians” has become redundant and misleading in that it fails to address the systemic roots of the conflict. Such a systemic approach reveals a lot of commonalities between Palestinians and Israelis and it also exposes the international dimensions of human rights abuses as rooted within the neoliberal economic ideology. The texts from Ferguson to Palestine really says a lot.

    As a spokesman for Human Rights I hope you will also speak out about these systemic and structural causes. People are confused and the way the conflicts are described in the media very seldom helps us gain a better understanding of how they are connected to larger global developments, TTIP, Monsanto, toxic spills in Brazil. I just read that Monsanto is the single supplier of White Phosphorus to the US military, which has been gifted to the IDF, which used the stuff in Gaza. Israelis tend to behave as if they live on an island when in fact they are in many ways connected to developments in the rest of the world. The consequences are unavoidable. We need to do everything in our power to show that the conflict is destroying Israel and to develop solidarity across traditional divisions.

    I wish you courage and success”

    Daniel Waterman

    • Paul Winter says:

      Sorry to beg to differ, but not as the nephew of a survivor, but as a child survivor of the shoah, I have a right and a duty to defend the memory of the victims of Naziism and the Jewish Israeli victims of Islamofascism. I too come from a leftist background, I am secular, but I have not left Judaism or abandoned the Jewish cry for justice.

      It is illogical to claim that your family didn’t move to Israel because justice and safety cannot be found in the Jewish state. For one thing, that is not the experience of French Jews. For another, your inference that freedom and justice are absent in Israel is false and contemptible.

      Your complaint of the oppression of Palestinians – and you baselessly assert that they exist – is directed to the wrong oppressor. The oppressors of that group of Arabs are the PA and Hamas. Your divvying up the world’s resources is the sophomoric voice of someone who has read Das Kapital without understanding it or its flaws.

      You wrongly claim that the conflict is between the haves and the have-nots. You are oblivious to the fact that the assassins impoverished Jews and their victims are not rich Jews. You want us to blind ourselves to the fact that mohammedans are murdering Jews simply for being Jews. The conflict now is now, as it has always been, a jihad against Jewish self-determination by mohammedan supremacists.

      Your neo-Marxist rant is fact denying. Your have no right to talk about freedom and justice when you ignore the injustice of mohammedan demands and actions and seek to satisfy their false claims by denying freedom and justice to Jews.

  11. Lina Safro says:

    Well done, Julie. Thank you for a clear and comprehensive essay.The delusional thinking of Israel-bashers is revolting.I hope some of them read the article and face up to their hypocrisy and ingrained antisemitism.

  12. Larry Stillman says:

    What sort of self-flagellation and fantastic & histrionic self-fulfilment is this?

    Except for loony toons, no one goes for this sort of staff. Perhaps you are referring to declared anti-Semites and neo-Nazis and crazy Islamists and I have no issue with that. At demonstrations I have been at in this country, people who display signs such as those above get asked to leave or remove them. Of course, there will be people who get through and get the media attention.

    I don’t think you have bothered to check for the constant denunciations of anti-Semitism in various BDS-supporting organisations (with whom I have a lot of disagreement before anyone starts accusing me of anything).

    Misguided and patronising as some anti-Zionists are in their understanding of the course of Jewish history, the vast majority, in my experience of perusing their materials or talking to various advocates, don’t go for this sort of well, drivel. Nor do leftists and progressives let other problems off the hook, but this one has been going on for so long, that is part of the problem. Half a century of occupation may have something to do with it, and the problem looks more and more like being insitutionalized, South African style.

    You’ve really got to distinguish between anti-Zionists and anti-Semites, a full stop or else you end up with including Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Holland and many other leaders of democratic countries in the same basket. What do you end up with? Tin pot dictatorships in the former USSR as Israel’s best friends.

    You’ve collapsed everything into your own version of a self-fulfilling conspiracy theory.

    By your measure, you would include a good percentage of the Israeli Jewish left, including some Zionists as well in your denunciation. But that is the position of the ECAJ I suppose. Right is might.

    Is this the best the ECAJ can come up with?

    • Paul Winter says:

      As an academic Mr Stillman, be so good as to write a coherent introductory sentence.

      Julie quite correctly identifies a large part of the left as antisemitic. I have seen lefty demos where Zionism was equated with naziism. Please don’t insult our intelligence by pretending that the Left hasn’t resumed Stalinist Jew-hatred. It isn’t only extremists of the left, but main-stream unions like the NSW Teachers Federation that regularly invites “Palestinian” to address meetings with lies against Israelis and where letters comparing the Shoah and the Nakba are published.

      Your infantile denial that the Left ignores human rights abuses is deliberately factually wrong and then you use that to justify the Left’s outrage against the “occupation”. There is no occupation. Jews are willing to share their historic land with a made up people. That made up antisemitic people demand that the indigenous people, Jews, be deprived of a state and they have refused offers of a country on Jewish land three times; the Left justifies their bloodthirsty demands for Jewish national suicide.

      No Stillman, Julie does not need to distinguish between anti-Zioninsts and anti-Semites; Martin Luther King did the distinguishing years ago when he said: When you are talking anti-Zionism, you are talking anti-Semitism.

      The Israeli left about which you speak is the 2% of the electorate that Alon Liel who persuaded Latin American countries to reject Danon as an ambassador was talking about. It is that Left which identifies with international socialism and rejects Jewishness.

      In having Julie as its Research Officer, the ECAJ is doing very well. Your typical left wing sneer to assert your superiority to dismiss a well argued case reflects on your qualifications and on the institution that employs a person like you, who cannot pursue a coherent argument.

  13. harry rich says:

    One thing has really mystified me.

    Why for Heaven’s sake, have those malignant lefties, so eloquently , accurately and penetratingly described by Julie Nathan,the blight on our landscape, not left Israel.
    Why do they accept the benefits and advantages of a country they hate and whose existence they denigrate.It shows their mental and material bankruptcy
    to stay in a place they detest

  14. Baron Revelman says:

    Julie Nathan, yishar ko’ach, a wonderful article with which I can only find one fault. I believe you are very optimistic when you ascribe these views to “only that small fraction of the political left…”. I have found it be quite a widely held set of views amongst the left.

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