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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

On The Politicization of Anti-semitism

Yes, sadly, anti-semitism still exists and is even on the rise in the early 21st century--in as virulent and ugly a form as it has in the past. There should be no debate about that fact. It is also very clear that when people like Benjamin Netanyahu and powerful lobby groups like AIPAC politicize anti-semitism and use it to shield Israel's apartheid policies and brutal occupation of Palestine from criticism, this inevitably has the effect of trivializing the dehumanizing and painful experience of those who are actually discriminated against because they happen to be Jewish.

It is not just right-wing Republicans and conservatives, but Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy who were the first to jump on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and scream 'anti-semitism' after she tweeted something that did not show complete deference and subservience to AIPAC's view that Israel can do no wrong. One cannot help concluding that this had nothing to do with anti-semitism but everything to do with the fact that the new democratic left--Ilhan Omar, Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez and Rashid Tlaib--pose a real threat to centre-right orthodox democrats who shamelessly grovel before AIPAC, Netanyahu and Christians United for Israel.

The word antisemitism becomes politicized when it is used to stymie criticism of Israel, but also when it is not applied to persons or events that are authentically antisemitic. So, according to Donald Trump it is okay for neo-Nazis in Charlottesville to shout “Jews will not replace us” but antisemitism when Ilhan Omar rightly blames AIPAC for stifling free-speech in America. The politicization of antisemitism also explains how a President sympathetic to white supremacist anti-Semites can be adored and loved not only by Netanyahu but by the majority of Israeli citizens (

If you are any sort of person of influence and you register dissent against sending billions of dollars to Israel so they can buy more weapons and continue their military occupation of Palestine, or if you support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) you will be labelled antisemitic by groups like AIPAC. In my view Ilhan Omar should not have apologized--even though I understand why she felt pressured to do so.

AIPAC, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Benjamin Netanyahu and indeed Israel itself no longer have the moral right to accuse anyone of antisemitism so long as they continue to support the hateful, brutal and dehumanizing occupation of Palestine. They abuse the meaning, sense and reference of this word by turning it into a political weapon to silence any criticism of Israel.

Here's the bottom line: the fight against antisemitism is exactly the fight against injustice and apartheid in Palestine, exactly the fight against fascism and white supremacy, exactly the fight against Islamophobia, exactly the fight against hatred of immigrants and refugees. From the perspective of those persecuted, the broken families, the wounded bodies and damaged psyche,'s, ALL of the latter embodiments of racism and hatred have the same effect--and we must, as caring human beings, stand against all of them.

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