Leave it to Gideon Levy to ridicule the McCarthyite attacks on anybody criticizing Israel today. Last column he tore a strip off the more Tory than Torah Chief Rabbi of England’s attack on Jeremy Corbyn. This week he skewers the French Government.Levy follows.
The plague is spreading. Under cover of the (just) war against anti-Semitism, Europe and the United States silence every voice daring to criticize Israel. Under cover of this war, they are undermining their freedom of speech. Incredibly, this new phenomenon is not triggering any protest, as one would expect. Laws labeling anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism and the anti-occupation movement as anti-Semitic, are passed with overwhelming majorities. Now they are playing into the hands of Israel and the Jewish establishment, but they are liable to ignite anti-Semitism when questions arise about the extent of their meddling.
Last week, the phenomenon hit France, cradle of the revolution. The French National Assembly passed by a sweeping majority a bill that adopts the definition of anti-Semitism issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Liberty? Equality? Fraternity? Not when it involves Israel. Here, these values are rendered mute.
French parliament member Sylvain Maillard formulated the bill. He is another friend of Israel’s who reportedly participated in a meeting with settler wheeler-dealer Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria regional council, some months ago. “Criticizing the very existence of Israel as a collective composed of Jewish citizens is tantamount to hatred towards the Jewish community as a whole; just like collectively holding Jews accountable for the policies of the Israeli authorities is an expression of anti-Semitism,” the law’s introduction states. The cat is out of the bag: It is forbidden to raise doubts about Zionism, one of the only ideologies in the world whose righteousness cannot be questioned by the nations of the free world.
First, the language. Israel “as a collective composed of Jewish citizens.” The nation-state law was also accepted in the National Assembly in Paris. If Israel is a collective of Jewish citizens, what are the Palestinian citizens? And what are the subjects living under occupation? The 154 parliamentarians who raised their hands in support of the decision cannot evade these questions. Liberté, égalité, fraternité – only for the Jews? And what are they offering the six million Palestinians, citizens and subjects of the occupation, who live under “the collective of Jewish citizens”? Second-rate liberty, equality, fraternity? From now on no one is even allowed to ask these questions. Anyone who asks is an anti-Semite.
“Anti-Zionism is a legitimate position in Jewish history, and it also has a long history in Israel,” a petition signed in vain by 129 Jewish and Israeli professors and intellectuals against passage of the law, stated. The petition’s signatories mentioned that there were many anti-Zionist Holocaust survivors. Now they, too, are anti-Semites.
From now on, every Palestinian and every Arab, except for Ayoub Kara, is an anti-Semite. Even every Jew and every Israeli who supports a solution of one democratic and egalitarian state, precisely in the spirt of the French revolution, is an anti-Semite. So too anyone for whom Zionism is a colonialist movement – is that not a legitimate position? – is an anti-Semite.
For generations of Palestinians, Zionism is the essence of their existence; it expelled them from their country, deprived them of their lands, dishonored them, ruined their lives, and kills and torments them to this very day, without the end being in sight. Are they forbidden from being anti-Zionists? Are they able to not hate Zionism? Will France try them for the transgression of anti-Semitism? They are not fighting Zionism because they are anti-Semites. They are anti-Zionist only because Zionism destroyed their lives.
And what are the protesters of the fence around the cage of Gaza? Are they anti-Semites? Are they not freedom fighters? And what about people of conscience around the world who identify with them? From now on they are all anti-Semites, and that is outlawed in France. And if denying the right of Jewish self-determination is anti-Semitism, how will the French National Assembly refer to Israel’s denial of the Palestinians’ rights? Why does it not pass a law about that? Only because the Palestinians and justice don’t have a powerful lobby in France.
Hooray, Gilad Erdan! Great, Jews of France. Congratulations, Mr. Maillard. You’ve won.