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Palestinian activists are disassociating with Israeli anti-Zionist Gilad Atzmon because he is, uh, anti-Semitic? According to the JTA, Electronic Intifada’s high-octane Ali Abunimah endorsed the statement against Atzmon. JTA quotes this graph:
“We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities.”
Are we really our own worst enemies? Even activists like Abunimah side with the Jews against this anti-Semitic Jew? That’s what the JTA brief would have you believe, but it’s a bigger story.
The BDS movement and Palestinian activists work very hard to shirk accusations of anti-Semitism. They have lots of Jewish allies, after all. Their intention is to separate Jewish identity from the Jewish State. This, one could argue, is actually anti-Semitic. Is it OK to say, “I care for the Palestinian people, but I don’t think they should have a home”? Either you don’t care about Palestinians and don’t want them to have self-determination or national destiny, or you care and you want them to have those things, somewhere, somehow. I think most of us fall into one of two categories, mostly the latter. I doubt saying “I care for you, but I don’t want you to have a homeland, because actually you don’t exist and don’t deserve one” would be a tolerated attitude by anyone other than those opposed to Israel.
The statement is not exactly saying that it won’t tolerate Atzmon’s anti-Semitism. It’s calling Atzmon out on something most Jews actually believe and fight for, which is the association of Judaism with Israel:
Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.
Sounds more like Atzmon is defecting to the Norman Finklestein side, where Zionism is no more appreciated but at least some truth is spoken to reality. And BDS loses another ally.
That doesn’t mean we gain one, though.