Roger Cukierman, leader of France’s Jewish community at the beginning of the 21st century, proudly related to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz how he recommended to Ariel Sharon that Israel quell the harsh international criticism of its October 2000 massacre by opening a new front: the front of anti-Semitism. This was after the world was shocked by the France Channel 2 photos of the murder of the child Muhammad al-Dura in the arms of his father. The government of Israel had no response to the horrific photos of the murder of tens of unarmed children and young people by snipers. Cukierman told Ariel Sharon that “instead of attempting to come up with unconvincing excuses, we would attack on a new front: anti-Semitism.” Everyone who opened his mouth against the crimes of Israel would be accused of anti-Semitism, and this strategy succeeded beyond expectations: journalists and intellectuals were quiet lest they be accused of anti-Semitism, and one who dared express himself was forced to conduct a war – including in courts of law – in order to prove that he is not anti-Semitic, a terrible accusation in Europe, fifty years after Auschwitz.
It appears that after ten years and from overuse, this weapon has lost its efficacy,and is gradually being pushed to the corner. And yet this same unacceptable connection between criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism has returned, even in the ranks of a leftist party with a history of struggle for human and workers rights.
First, a clarification of a few things concerning anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism exists in Europe, even if all surveys indicate that it is in a clear process of decline in comparison with the 1950s; anti-Semitism is part of the culture of Europe and cultural phenomena do not disappear in one or two decades.
Secondly, this is Christian and white anti-Semitism, not what is dubbed “Muslim anti-Semitism” of residents of Arab origians living in weakened European neighbourhoods. In this context the surveys are unequivocal: anti-Jewish positions in these disempowered neighbourhoods (graffiti, attacks of Jews) are a relatively marginal phenomenon, primarily a stupid reaction by some against the acts of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Thirdly, there is anti-Semitism, albeit miniscule, in the ranks of the left and the solidarity movement with Palestine; as noted above, a cultural phenomenon does not disappear with the wave of a hand in one generation even if the Left, as a generalization, succeeded in mostly eliminating it from its ranks.
Lastly, as the economic-social crisis in Europe deepens, racism rises as does xenophobia
With this, the confusion between criticism of Israel, including clear anti-Zionist positions, and anti-Semitism is a manipulation of the pro-Israeli lobby and it must be denounced, also because it results in a cheapening of anti-Semitism. How sad that the leftist parties still fall into this trap set for them, as recently occurred in Germany. In a most confusing political statement the political leadership of Die Linke uses the contention of anti-Semitism to justify its shirking of the solidarity movement with the Palestinians, the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, and the flotilla being organized against Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip. The statement is a result of one of two things: either the leadership of Die Linke suffers from a worrying political foolishness or it is pretending to be so, all in order to deflect possible criticism from friends of Israel, which is also foolish because a leftist party will never gain Israel’s sympathy, even if its members sing the Israeli national anthem before each meeting and wave the Israeli flag at demonstrations.
The struggle against anti-Semitism must be part of the struggle that every leftist party must wage, with zero compromises, against racism directed toward migrant labourers, other immigrants, the Romani people and so on. Solidarity with the Palestinian people is part of the anti-colonial struggle to which every leftist party is committed. The two arenas complete and strengthen each other, and emptying one of its content empties the second one of its moral justification and political efficacy.
It is appropriate that the Die Linke leadership withdraw its statement, which lacks both political wisdom and moral integrity.
Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).