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Australians for Palestine’s graphic prejudice

Mar 14, 2013 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

Australians for Palestine's graphic prejudice
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Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

In Australia and elsewhere, proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (‘BDS’) campaign against Israel consistently claim that the campaign is about human rights and has no racial element. When their actions are described by others as “antisemitic”, their standard response is to contend that “everyone who criticises Israel is always accused of antisemitism”. Of course, this claim is not only false, but provides an easy “out”, saving the BDS supporters from having to reflect on their actions and beliefs.

Yet time and again, leading BDS figures are exposed for supporting various neo-Nazi and/or Islamist thinkers because of what those thinkers say about Jews. As occurred recently with the Free Gaza Movement’s Greta Berlin, these incidents provoke feigned outrage from some BDS figures and indifference from others, but never seem to cause much self-reflection.

The degree to which casual antisemitism has become acceptable in the pro-BDS discourse is probably what led to Australians for Palestine (‘AfP’) deciding that this was an appropriate image to use on their website:

The image accompanied a news report from the Palestinian Authority’s Ma’an news agency on the Dutch Foreign Ministry’s recent recommendation that goods produced in Israeli settlements be labelled with “product of Israeli settlement” rather than “made in Israel”.

In what may pass as some kind of sick joke in AfP’s circles, they illustrated the report on their website with an image of oranges labelled with the yellow stars that Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis to distinguish them from the rest of the population. The stars have nothing whatsoever to do with Israel, they are pure Holocaust imagery.

While the image’s creator may have been likening the singling-out of Israeli products by BDS activists to the singling-out of Jews by the Nazis, as AfP are in proponents of BDS, one can only assume that they viewed this message as positive. Oranges in particular seem to have resonance with Australian antisemites. In 2011, a Perth man was convicted of racial harassment for an incident that began when he attended a rally to protest the sale of what were supposedly Israeli oranges.

AfP is based in Melbourne, which is also home to the largest population of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel. This image would be extremely traumatic for the Melburnians who were themselves forced to wear stars like the ones on the oranges. It could be that the use of the image was inadvertent, that the AfP web editor put it there without a second thought.This, however presents little comfort.

The image is sufficiently striking that it should give any rational person pause. That it felt “normal” for AfP to use it goes to show how far antisemitism has become normalised in amongst BDS supporters.

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