Monday, 6 March 2017

Antisemitism and 'Anti-Imperialism'

'The commonplace idea that racism expresses relations of power too often leads to the belief that it expresses only that. But racism can inform acts of resistance and solidarity as well as domination.'
The evident truth in David Feldman's comment has been ignored by certain forms of 'anti-racist' discourse for years, as obsessed as it is with the idea that racism is the mere outcome of imperial power relations. As Orwell might have recognised, hostility towards Israel and so Jews is actually a form of 'transferred nationalism'.

In the period especially leading up to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and until 2011, 'anti-war' activists in Respect and Islamist influenced groups all coalesced to link the unrelated theatre of conflict in Palestine with that in Iraq. The reason, quite simply, was hatred of the US because it supported Israel.

As Malise Ruthven pointed out in A Fury for God, Islamist solidarity worked in a largely negative way. The 'explanation' for the chaos in 'the Muslim World' was laid wholly at the feet of 'the West'. The outbreak of the war in Syria proves the sectarian struggle has longer roots that preceded and exceed the impact of the West.

The disastrous invasion of Iraq , of course, did create the implosion of the Iraqi state and the rise of sectarianism. To an extent, the US colluded with and backed Shia militias to defeat Sunni militant in regions that would subsequently come under ISIS control. But it did not create Sunni-Shia antagonisms.

The vast 'explanation' for all the ills of the Middle East and the terror threat which blames Israel and Mossad fits into an older antisemitic pattern. Even the brutal sectarian struggle in Syria is seen, in paranoid fashion, as the work of Israel, irrespective of the overwhelming evidence it has had little role in Syria.

The need to believe Israel is responsible for everything that is wrong in the Middle East and for 'causing' the the terror threat is caused by a number of neuroses rationalised into a political credo. One is that the problems faced by the West in the face of terrorism could be 'stopped' if Britain stopped supporting Israel.

Such criticism of Israeli in its often brutal military response to the issue of Palestine and Gaza is a criticism of a state policy. One problem with antisemitism is that it has been 'weaponised' as a polemical means to destroy the credibility of those with legitimate criticisms of Israeli state policy, Likud nationalism and illegal settlements.

History is being weaponsed by many states in their memory wars, ones that can use victimhood to promote propaganda that rationalises current power political struggles. This is done not only by states but also by sectarian fanatics in the Middle East, by Saudi Arabia and Iran and by those blaming the West for everything.

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