British journalist says what mainstream UK media won’t on antisemitism and Israel

Mehdi Hasan
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This week, Donald Trump echoed a far-right trope which the Nazis used in the 1930s and 40s. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it, either.

British journalist Mehdi Hasan, however, made a clear and important assessment in response. And it’s one that you’ll rarely hear in the mainstream UK media.

Speaking on CNN, Hasan made an important distinction. Although Donald Trump is a firm supporter of Israel’s far-right government, he stressed this doesn’t mean he can’t be antisemitic:

he’s basically referred to American Jews as secret Israelis with dual loyalties to their prime minister abroad. This is the third time he’s done it as president…

I just think we need to deal with this very dangerous idea that says, ‘being pro-Jewish means you have to be pro-Israeli, or being pro-Israeli means you’re automatically pro-Jewish and you’re immunized from the charge of antisemitsm’. Lots of antisemites support Israel and [its current prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu. It doesn’t mean anything.

The far right has long had a love affair with Israel – that doesn’t mean they aren’t fascists

As +972 Magazine highlighted, Israel has both a historical and recent record of supporting far-right governments around the world while receiving their support in return. It supported apartheid South Africa, Cold War dictatorships in Chile and Argentina, and the genocidal regime in Rwanda. And today, it’s moving more and more to the right, becoming bolder in its discrimination as it does. It’s not just the Donald Trump administration which is supporting Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime, either. It’s the far right in Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Germany, and beyond – many of which have fascist and antisemitic pasts (and presents).

No amount of support for Israel’s government, meanwhile, can hide Trump’s long relationship with antisemitism. As Hasan said on CNN:

Regardless of Donald Trump’s views on Israel… he’s always been an antisemite. This is not a controversial opinion. The facts are there. He was an antisemite in the 1980s when Ivana said he kept a book of Hitler speeches next to his bed; he was an antisemite in the 90s when his casino manager said he only wanted short guys in yarmulkes counting his money; he was an antisemite in 2013 when he shamed [comedian] Jon Stewart on Twitter for having a Jewish birthname.

Call out the nonsense

The establishment media in the UK, however, has long played along with the offensive and dangerous idea that support for Israel means support for Jewish people, and that opposition to Israel means opposition to Jewish people. A number of prominent Jewish and Israeli figures have been vocal in calling this out. Indeed, failing to call this out allows Trump and other hard-right figures to use support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine as a shield to deflect allegations of racism against them.

We desperately need more journalists like Mehdi Hasan. Because that would make the fight against fascism and the dangerously complicit establishment media so much easier.

Featured image via screenshot

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  • Show Comments
    1. The deliberate conflation of Anti-Israel = antisemite was a short term gain by those that have used it. It was always going to come back to bite them however, as stated in this article, we need more to say it and shout it. Short term gain will be long term pain.

    2. The history of Zionist antisemitism, and this us what we are talking about here, is long and dishonourable. Zionism is not a faith nor has it anything to do with “race”; ethno-political Zionism is a political creed of violence, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and anti-democracy.
      Zionism appeals to all dictators because it is founded on a claim to an absolute right to power. Its essential creed is genetic entitlement: we, the Zionists, have an absolute right to Palestine, all of Palestine, at least, because it was given to us by divine power several thousand years ago. The people who have lived there since are interlopers. We have the right to cleanse them from their land, execute them, incarcerate them, deny them political rights, because the divinity is on our side. What dictator wouldn’t love this? It denies the common biological inheritance of humanity. It proposes that one section of humanity has genetic privilege. That is a thoroughly confused idea. Privilege is social. There is no such thing as biological privilege, a biological right. Yet this is what Zionists claim: a biological right to Palestine.
      Zionists hate everyone who opposes their claim, including Jews. This is what Jabotinsky said: “Our starting point is to take the typical Yid of today and to imagine his diametrical opposite. Because the Yid is ugly, sickly and lacks decorum, we shall endow the ideal image of the Hebrew with masculine beauty.”
      Antisemitism pure and simple and utterly despicable. Herzl took the same view. He said: “The Jew is a hideous distortion of the human character, something unspeakably low and repulsive..” Vile antisemitism.
      To conflate Israel and Jewish, Zionist and Jewish is a way of saying either you support the right of an apartheid regime to occupy land it has no right to, to imprison Palestinians in their own country, to use extreme violence against unarmed civilians, or you are antisemitic. The irony is, of course, that nothing could be more antisemitic than to claim that Jewish means Israeli or Zionist.
      Trump is a racist to his marrow. He supports Israel because he likes absolute power and finds democracy an inconvenience, rather like his friend, Kipper Johnson. By the way, Kipper showed Netanyahu the desk at which the Balfour Declaration was drafted. Balfour, of course, was an antisemite who refused asylum in Britain to Jews fleeing the Russian pogrom in 1905. Indeed, antisemitism was characteristic of the British Establishment which supported the declaration.

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