June the 23rd, 2017
The Report on Antisemitism in Italy in 2016 (Rapporto sull’antisemitismo in Italia nel 2016), published by CDEC's Observatory on Antisemitism makes for sobering and disturbing reading – obviously, for its description of the persistence of anti-Jewish prejudice in Italy, but also for its own prejudice and negative generalisations with regard to those critical of the State of Israel and the political ideology of Zionism, with particular reference to the political tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Guilt by association, characterising the beliefs and acts of an entire group by those of a few individuals, denying and/or playing down discrimination and persecution – these are the very things that CDEC and the Observatory on Antisemitism should be fighting, rather than condoning and
Antisemitism is real and may indeed be expressed, at times, in the language of anti-Zionism (just as it may be expressed in terms of support for Israel).* There is a big difference, however, between prejudice and unfounded accusations leveled at a minority, and legitimate criticism directed at a State (which also happens to be a regional power), for its actual actions and policies. To confound antisemitism and anti-Zionism is dangerous on two counts:
1. It trivialises antisemitism;
2. It trivialises the real consequences of Zionism (past and present) for the Palestinian people, by suggesting that there is no reason to oppose Zionism other than hatred toward Jews.
BDS is nothing more than a non-violent means of protest against injustice and the violation of human rights in Israel/Palestine. To deny its legitimacy a priori is to deny the existence of such violations (well-documented by organisations such as B'tselem and Human Rights Watch) and/or the right of Palestinians and others to oppose them.
When criticism of the State of Israel is automatically labelled "antisemitism", it in fact lends credence to the automatic association of Israel and Judaism and the truly antisemitic view that all Jews should be held responsible for Israel's actions and policies, or that the negative aspects of Zionism and the State of Israel somehow reflect inherent (and inevitably stereotypical) Jewish traits or teachings. It is all the more upsetting when racists are given such an "assist" by those dedicated to combating racism.
In the interest of a more effective struggle against all forms of racism, including antisemitism, and for the sake of justice and equality in Israel/Palestine, it is our sincere hope that CDEC and the Observatory on Antisemitism will take note of these considerations in all future activities and
Rete ECO - Ebrei Contro l'Occupazione
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* Whether as a precursor to the conversion of the Jews, as a correlate of Islamophobia, as a shield against accusations of racism or fascism, or as a way of "ridding white Christian nations" of their Jewish citizens.