Every time the State of Israel is confronted with substantial international criticism for its political behavior and its violations of basic international standards, it counter-attacks by using the infamous tool of accusations of anti-Semitism. One remembers the campaign on anti-Semitism launched by Ariel Sharon and his friends throughout the world, Jews and non-Jews, after the murder of Muhammad al-Dura in Gaza in September 2000, in order to create a diversion (in the very words of Roger Cukierman, then chairman of the French Jewish umbrella organization–CRIF) and to transform the victim into a victimizer and the victimizer into a victim: for more than two years, western media “exposed” the anti-Semitism of the critics of Israel instead of denouncing the massacres committed by the Israeli military in Gaza and the West Bank.
Sixty five years after the end of WWII, the ashes of the victims of Nazi genocide have not yet disappeared from the sky of Poland, and the accusation of anti-Semitism remains connected to one of the bloodiest crimes of the twentieth century; as French journalist, Daniel Mermet, one of the targets of this campaign, pointed at, “no accusation can be worse, and even after you are proved not guilty of charge, the bad smell of such an accusation will be with you forever.”
The massacre in Gaza, a year ago, provoked a world-wild outrage, bigger even than in 2000-2002. The U.N. was forced to appoint an inquiry commission, and its report–the Goldstone report–is devastating for Israel. Moreover, for the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, an international campaign calling for sanctions against Israel for its innumerous violations of international law, has been successful in drawing huge public attention and initiating a great number of mobilizations and initiatives around the world.
For the Israeli government and its friends, the time has come to take from the shelf the rusty old weapon of anti-Semitism accusations, a message that was heard loud and clear by the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. At the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, held in Jerusalem on 16 December, the Minister stated: “We have articulated and implemented a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism.” So far so good, but he continued: “We have defunded organizations, most recently like Kairos, who are taking a leadership role in the boycott (against Israel).”
Accusing Kairos, an umbrella organization that includes most of the Christian churches in Canada, of anti-Semitism is ridiculous and pathetic. Ridiculous, because the record of Kairos is crystal clear on that issue of BDS and it its position is not the one that Minister Kenney accuses it of, and pathetic, because it is a re-heated dish that will not work a second time.
Already in 2004, there were signs indicating that the instrumentalization of anti-Semitism by Israeli propaganda machine was losing its efficiency and even becoming counter-productive; no doubt that, five years later, only a few people will accept to be blackmailed by such an outrageous false-accusation.
Worse, however, is that this old/new maneuver by “friends” of Israel like Kenney, is a symptom of the banalization of anti-Semitism. If everything is anti-Semitism, then there is no anti-Semitism at all. But, unfortunately, anti-Semitism has not disappeared from our world, and manipulating it for goals that have nothing to do with it, is playing right into the hands of the real anti-Semites.
To Jason Kenney, one must say very clearly “stay out of our struggle against anti-Semitism, and do not try to manipulate it for causes totally foreign to the anti-racist values which are motivating it. It is too important and too serious to be instrumentalized by your political agenda.”
We are proud of the success of the international BDS campaign. Minister Kenney may disagree with it, but hands off of any accusation of anti-Semitism concerning our campaign. Anti-Semitism is a dangerous threat to the public health of our societies and so are accusations that are manipulated for a political agenda that has nothing to do with it.