Australia/Israel Review

The Last Word: Anti-Jewism

Feb 24, 2023 | Jeremy Jones

Susan Abulhawa (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Susan Abulhawa (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Enough is enough. It has to stop. We are witnessing a distressing and outrageous tolerance of a destructive and corrosive slur.

The Nazis lost on the battlefield almost 80 years ago, but their hooked cross has worshippers and their spirit has supporters in many parts of the world.

I am not referring to the far-right underworld, which has received a great deal of media attention in Australia and elsewhere, as their visibility, and possibly also membership and capabilities, reach new levels.

There is enough residue of decency in our society for widespread condemnation of that swill.

Far more insidious than people who wear their racism on their sleeves are those who further the global aim of Nazism through one particularly malicious slur, which I see becoming more and more “normalised”.

In Green Left Weekly in January, Rupen Savoulian thundered, “If Adolf Eichmann were alive today, he would have been very proud of the new Israeli government.”

More disturbingly, an Australian academic used the theme of International Holocaust Remembrance Day to attack Israel.

After a series of paragraphs on Nazism, in which both the context of pre- and non-Nazi antisemitism and the declared aim of Nazis to murder every Jew on the planet were excluded, Mark Kenny, in the Canberra Times, meandered on to the Middle East.

If this segment of the article had appeared, for example, as part of a discussion of unresolved political problems or of how different societies respond to terrorists existentially opposed to their existence, it may have been contentious but not offensive – except for a ridiculous and juvenile final sentence.

But to tack it on to the end of a piece on Nazism and conclude with a clear identification of Israel as a similar villain, alleging it “stole” land and abused human rights “because of nationality and religion,” was beyond the pale of decency.

As if we don’t have enough individuals in this country who will spruik comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany, the Adelaide Writers’ Week organisers decided to invite some repulsive guests who are being defended as simply having “opinions” with which others disagree.

Susan Abulhawa and Mohammed El-Kurd both provide a defence of, even applause for, the murder of civilians. But worse still, they play free and easy with the despicable claim that an ideology that sought global domination, genocide of a number of groups of human beings and the subjugation of other groups, wreaking untold destruction, is no different to the self-determination of an ancient people, and the consequences resulting from successive attempts to destroy that people.

Mr El-Kurd compares Israelis to Nazis, in the context of a grab-bag of antisemitic tropes, including blood libel, claiming Israelis take Palestinian body parts and eat them, saying Israelis “are thirsty for Palestinian blood”. 

Ms Abulhawa justified genocide of any and all Israelis in her recent statement “Every Israeli, whether in a synagogue, a checkpoint, settlement, or shopping mall is a colonizer who came from foreign lands… The whole country is one big, militarised tumour.”

Unable to stick to the script that Zionism is equivalent to Nazism, she argues “One cannot overstate what an abomination Israel truly is. They’re worse than Nazis.”

This channelled a former president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils who, when given the opportunity to walk away from his comments that Israel was like Nazi Germany, told ABC Radio he had misspoken: Israel was actually much worse than Nazi Germany.

To make this analogy is to whitewash Nazism – considering self-determination the same as global expansionism and self-defence as equivalent to genocide. It is deliberately offensive to Jewish people, who know only too well what Nazism really is. It is insulting to the Allies who fought Nazism.

It is such a uniquely evil slur that diplomat and writer Conor Cruise O’Brien coined a special word for it – Anti-Jewism, an ugly word for a very ugly slander. 

We should never, ever accept it as part of civil discourse.


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