We’re not racist, we just hate Jews
Anti-Semitism in pro-Palestinian discourse is being promoted without proper condemnation.
Nazi poster by Dieter Kalenbach Photo: Reuters
After Brendon O’Connell, who had attended an anti-Israel action in Perth
organized by Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA), was convicted by a jury of racial
incitement, Alex Bainbridge of FOPWA announced that the group “makes a conscious
policy of condemning expressions of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.” He
added, “We are friends of Palestine, not enemies of the Jewish
Regardless of how genuine Bainbridge’s claims were, there is
very real and insidious anti-Jewish content within the discourse of
pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel people and organizations in Australia. Many
supporters of the Palestinian cause claim their support is based on a social
justice and antiracism platform. Anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian individuals and
organizations often make the claim that they are simply anti-Israel and not
However, many of these people and organizations cross the
line from legitimate criticism of the State of Israel into outright
Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel organizations utilize both
websites and facebook to promote their beliefs, propagate articles and news and
advertise upcoming protests, forums and other actions. Organizations set up many
different facebook sites, often for specific events. Facebook is one area in
particular where members can post comments, links and other material. It is on
these official websites and facebook pages that anti-Jewish content is to be
When anti-Jewish comments, such as the post “i don’t give a f***,
jews are pricks!!!!!” and another post advocating to protest in a “major jewish
[sic] suburb” in Melbourne, are posted on the facebook sites of Students for
Palestine (Melbourne), and are not removed, then a tolerance, or even approval,
for anti-Semitism can be produced.
Videos are another means of
propagating anti-Jewish sentiment, conspiracy theories, or similar sinister
insinuations about Jews. Such videos, posted on the facebook site of the
Australians Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA), based in Adelaide, include
videos entitled “Zionists are a Satan worshiping Cult!,” “Dangers Of A ‘Jewish’
State,” and “The Hitler Speech They Don’t Want You To Hear.”
two titles sound anti-Israel, yet the synopsis of the first states: “To help you
understand the difference between the “true Israel” and the Synagogue of Satan.”
This is the familiar terminology of far-right religious anti-
The second video repeats this theme, as it states: “Jewish
elitism has permeated every aspect of our nation’s infrastructure....
this trend continues then a Judaic tyranny never before experienced in American
life will dismantle all that Christianity has bequeathed to our once free and
The third video claims to be the English translation
of a speech by Hitler which blames Roosevelt for WWII and portrays Hitler and
the Nazis as innocent and peaceful, which is a standard neo-Nazi
When, for example, AFOPA allows anti-Semitic videos which demonize
Jews and sell Hitler as a hero to be posted and kept on their facebook page,
this belies the claim that they are only anti-Israel. It shows, at best, an
unacceptable tolerance for those who are deeply and overtly hostile to
When pro-Palestinian websites, like Australians For Palestine (AFP)
and AFOPA, republish articles from overseas which use anti-Semitic language,
this only reinforces the negative portrayal of Jews. An example is an article
which uses the term “Talmudic rituals.”
This term, a coded expression for
attacking Judaism, is used on many Islamic websites such as IslamOnline, and by
Arab journalists such as Khalid Amayreh.
As one study of anti-Semitism
has noted, “The term ‘Talmudic rituals’ used by Amayreh (2009c) and Islam-
Online (2009a) in reference to Jews near Al-Aqsa is a coded allusion to some
sort of ‘sinister’ Jewish rituals, given that historically the Christian
authorities condemned and burned the Talmud as an allegedly sinister Jewish text
in an effort to convert the Jews to Christianity” (ADL 2003).
comparison, a less active website, Palestine Solidarity Campaign Melbourne, has
the same story but from the Maan News website, where the article contains
nothing inflammatory or anti-Semitic. This shows that there are various ways to
choose to tell a story and that anti-Israel organizations like AFP and AFOPA
have chosen to use and republish articles with anti-Jewish language and content
rather than articles that are not anti-Semitic.
Of even graver import is
when pro- Palestinian websites republish anti- Semitic articles. Australians For
Palestine (AFP) reproduced in full an article from the anti-Semitic and
Holocaust-denying website Institute for Historical Review.
claims in the article include: “In reality, the Jewish hold on American life is
far more dangerous...
Throughout history Jews have time and again wielded
great power to further group interests that are separate from, and often
contrary to, those of the non-Jewish populations among whom they live... Now we
are engaged in a great, global struggle – in which two distinct and
irreconcilable sides confront each other. A struggle that pits a self-assured
and diabolical power that feels ordained to rule over others, on one side, and
all other nations and societies – indeed, humanity itself – on the
By publishing such blatant racism, and from an avowedly
anti-Semitic website, AFP clearly shows that underlying its anti-Zionist veneer
is a tolerance at best, an identification with at worst, Holocaust denial,
anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and the demonizing of the Jewish people. AFP is
a major website of the pro-Palestinian movement in Australia, reproducing many
articles and news reports.
AFP also reproduce classic anti-Semitic
accusations, for example: “Such are the practices of the Jewish-owned media such
as Murdoch and his ilk.
And it follows that the government is no better.
In fact, being a government of feckless politicians, they too are manipulated in
their decisions by the local Melbourne Zionist fraternity, well organized and
who have many such politicians under their control.”
serve to reinforce anti-Jewish conspiracy theories reminiscent of the The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Cartoons are another means of expressing
anti-Jewish racism on pro- Palestinian websites. One particular cartoon appeared
on at least three pro- Palestinian facebook sites, including “Social Justice
Network” and two others.
This cartoon plays directly on the
2,000-year-old depiction of Jews collectively as Christ-killers, an accusation
which has incited centuries of persecution and butchery against Jews and was
repudiated by the Catholic Church 50 years ago.
The cartoon is rich in
traditional anti-Semitic religious imagery. Using the symbols and images
associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or
blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis falls squarely within the
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (EUFRA) Working Definition of
An egregious example of willingness to engage in actions
specifically targeting Jews, rather than Israel, was the decision by two
pro-Palestinian organizations, Students for Palestine and Socialist Alternative,
to protest outside a synagogue in Melbourne last February.
Not only did
they target a Jewish place of worship, but the protest was to be staged on a
Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
The target was stated to be Joseph Gutnick,
for his alleged support of families living in settlements in Hebron; yet Gutnick
is not a member of the targeted synagogue, nor does he attend services
Students for Palestine and Socialist Alternative considered
targeting a synagogue an acceptable anti-Israel action.
This also shows
that the protest organizers do not distinguish between ordinary Australian Jews
The publication of anti-Semitic content on pro-Palestinian
websites can lead to contempt toward Jews, and incitement of racial hatred, but
it also lessens the credibility of the organizations that elicit and permit
Many of these organizations claim to be only against
Israel and not against Jews, and yet their websites and facebook pages tell a
very different and disturbing story.
Julie Nathan is the research officer
for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the officially elected
representative organization of the Australian Jewish Community.