Fisk and that word 'antisemitism'!


How to shut up your critics with a single word

Robert Fisk

INDEPENDENT, 21 October 2002

Thank God, I often say, for the Israeli press. For where else will you find
the sort of courageous condemnation of Israel's cruel and brutal treatment of
the Palestinians? Where else can we read that Moshe Ya'alon, Ariel Sharon's
new chief of staff, described the "Palestinian threat" as "like a cancer
there are all sorts of solutions to cancerous manifestations. For the time
being, I am applying chemotherapy."
Where else can we read that the Israeli Herut Party chairman, Michael
Kleiner, said that "for every victim of ours there must be 1,000 dead
Palestinians". Where else can we read that Eitan Ben Eliahu, the former
Israeli Air Force commander, said that "eventually we will have to thin out
the number of Palestinians living in the territories". Where else can we read
that the new head of Mossad, General Meir Dagan a close personal friend of
Mr Sharon believes in "liquidation units", that other Mossad men regard him
as a threat because "if Dagan brings his morality to the Mossad, Israel could
become a country in which no normal Jew would want to live".
You will have to read all this in Ma'ariv, Ha'aretz or Yediot Ahronot because
in much of the Western world, a vicious campaign of slander is being waged
against any journalist or activist who dares to criticise Israeli policies or
those that shape them. The all-purpose slander of "anti-Semitism" is now used
with ever-increasing promiscuity against anyone people who condemn the
wickedness of Palestinian suicide bombings every bit as much as they do the
cruelty of Israel's repeated killing of children in an attempt to shut them
Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer of the Middle East Forum now run a website in
the United States to denounce academics who are deemed to have shown "hatred
of Israel". One of the eight professors already on this contemptible
McCarthyite list it is grotesquely called "Campus Watch" committed the
unpardonable sin of signing a petition in support of the Palestinian scholar
Edward Said. Pipes wants students to inform on professors who are guilty of
"campus anti-Semitism".
The University of North Carolina is being targeted apparently because
freshmen were required to read passages from the Koran along with Harvard
where, like students in many other US universities, undergraduates are
demanding that their colleges disinvest in companies that sell weapons to
Israel. In some cases, American universities which happily disinvested in
tobacco companies have now taken the step of blocking all student access to
their records of investment.
Lawrence Summers, the Jewish president of Harvard, has denounced "profoundly
anti-Israel views" in "progressive intellectual communities", that are I
enjoyed this academic sleight of hand "advocating and taking actions that
are anti-semitic in their effect if not their intent". Mr Said himself has
already described all this as a campaign "to ask students and faculty to
inform against pro-Palestinian colleagues, intimidating the right of free
speech and seriously curtailing academic freedom".
Ted Honderich, a Canadian-born philosopher who teaches at University College
London, tells me that Oxfam has refused to accept 5,000 plus other royalties
from his new book After the Terror following a campaign against him in the
Toronto-based Globe and Mail. Now I happen to take issue with some of
Professor Honderich's conclusions and I think his book praised by the
American-Jewish scholar Noam Chomsky meanders. I especially don't like his
assertion that Palestinians, in trying to free themselves from occupation,
have a "moral right to terrorism". Blowing up children in pizzerias and
Professor Honderich's book is not an endorsement of such atrocities is a
crime against humanity. There is no moral right to do this. But what in God's
name is Oxfam doing refusing Professor Honderich's money for its humanitarian
work? Who was behind this?
Our own John Pilger made a programme for Carlton Television called Palestine
Is Still The Issue
. I have watched it three times. It is accurate in every
historical detail; indeed its historical adviser was a left-wing Israeli
academic. But Carlton's own chairman, Michael Green in one of the most
gutless statements in recent British journalism announced that it was "a
tragedy for Israel so far as accuracy is concerned". Why Mr Green should want
to utter such trash is beyond me. But what does he mean by "tragedy"? Is he
comparing Pilger to a suicide bomber?
And so it goes on. It is left, of course, to the likes of Uri Avneri in
Israel to state that "the Sharon government is a giant laboratory for the
growing of the anti-Semitism virus". He rightly says that by smearing those
who detest the persecution of the Palestinians as anti-Semites, "the sting is
taken out of this word, giving it something approaching respectability". But
we can take comfort that 28 brave academics have signed a petition condemning
President George Bush's build-up to war and Israel's support for it and
warning that the Israeli government may be contemplating crimes against
humanity on the Palestinians, including ethnic cleansing.
Have Mr Pipes and his chums put the names of these good men and women on
their hate list? You bet they haven't. Because all of them are Israeli
scholars at Israeli universities. I wonder why we weren't told about this

Top of Page | Home Page

©-free 2002 Adelaide Institute