Have the anti-Zionists overdone it?

Are we witnessing a backlash against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Prosor 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prosor 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Are we witnessing the beginning of a backlash against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, at least in the English-speaking world? On Wednesday, the UK's minister for higher education, Bill Rammell, told Britons that only a small minority of the country's academics support a boycott of Israel. Coming a day after Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor's accusation that "Britain has become a hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views and a haven for disingenuous calls for a one-state solution," the minister's confidence should offer some reassurance to worried Jews, right? Perhaps it was merely bad timing, then, that the following day Prosor was the subject of a new boycott, with the refusal of Welsh Assembly Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas to meet the ambassador when he arrives in Cardiff at the end of the month to meet with First Minister Rhodri Morgan, head of the Welsh government. Invited to a reception for Prosor hosted by another assembly member, Elis-Thomas replied that "I am unwilling to accept the invitation to meet the ambassador, because of my objection to the failure of the State of Israel to meet its international obligations to the Palestinian people of the Holy Lands [sic]. I would invite other colleagues to [do] the same." In stark contrast, Muhammad Asghar, the member who invited Prosor and the first Muslim in the Welsh Assembly, was quoted by the Western Mail paper: "For all my life I've been listening to one side of the facts all of the time. And I thought, in my position in the assembly, it's about time to know the other side of the fence, also. I think there won't be a better person than the Israeli ambassador to tell me the views of Israelis in this whole conflict." It is not hard to locate the bigotry in Elis-Thomas's behavior, the cosmic leap from disagreement to deafness. His excuse - a broad, ill-defined dissatisfaction with Israeli fulfillment of obligations - is targeted at a country that has withdrawn from 89 percent of the land it conquered in 1967, and he fails to deal with the complexity of a Gaza Strip controlled by ruthless radicals who mete out death penalties to gays. Worse, the notion that there is nothing an Israeli could say that would be worth hearing - the language of boycott - seems to be respectable. The bigotry may not surprise readers of The Jerusalem Post. But this might: Next February, the British Foreign Office, together with the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, will host a conference on anti-Semitism for parliamentarians from around the world. The conference is the first fruit of the newly-established Inter-Parliamentary Coalition, and is intended to be an international response to "the longest hatred," a hatred manifested most recently in the hysterical demonization of Israel with which Prosor has become so familiar. They key to this project: Though Irwin Cotler, the Canadian MP and jurist who helped initiate it, is Jewish, the initiative is not. Similarly, late last month, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski lent his name and credibility to a new European Forum of Tolerance. While the forum was the brainchild of the European Jewish Congress, it has found resonance with a non-Jewish Kwasniewski and other non-Jewish European leaders. It is significant that the slow growth in non-Jewish advocacy against anti-Semitism comes with an understanding that an unfair obsession with Israel tends to overlap with - and is often motivated by - anti-Semitism. Are we witnessing the beginning of a response? Have the anti-Zionists gone too far, becoming impossible to ignore and so, finally, impossible to tolerate?