Michel Warschawski is an Israeli anti-Zionist activist and contributor to The Case for Sanctions Against Israel. He is the former leader of the Marxist Revolutionary Communist League, and the founder of the Alternative Information Center, a Palestinian-Israeli NGO. This is his response to the recent accusations against Jeremy Corbyn and Ken
This editorial was first published in Libération. Translated by David Broder.
According to [French prime minister] Manuel Valls, "anti-Zionism is quite simply synonymous with anti-Semitism." This argument is no surprise coming from a politician for whom "the state of emergency is the state of the rule of law" and who wants to combat unemployment by making it easier to sack people. But seriously, now — what exactly is "anti-Zionism"?
There are two possible answers. The first one depends on two assertions, one built on the other: the state of Israel speaks in the name of all Jews worldwide; consequently, to be an "anti-Zionist," criticising Israeli policy, is to denigrate not only the Israeli government but the country’s population and indeed all Jews — and this is anti-Semitism. Such is the claim at the galas hosted by the CRIF [council of French Jewish "community leaders"]
As the British Labour Party leadership is once again the subject of a crisis over its alleged tolerance of anti-semitism, we present an extract from Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan, and Ivan Segré's Reflections on Anti-Semitism. The book dissects the various ways false accusations of anti-Semitism are used to stifle opposition to the Israeli state and to facilitate the subjugation of the Palestinian people. In this extract the authors consider the role of anti-Semitism in contemporary France.
I want to share this account* as a small intervention to re-frame ideas and experiences of violence and terror.
I was an ambulance volunteer during Israel's Operation Cast Lead. It was a 22 day war on the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 that killed 1409 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. It was the heaviest Israeli attack on Palestinian territory since 1967. The 2014 Gaza War has since eclipsed this in terms of deaths, injury and destruction in Gaza.
On the afternoon of Friday the 16th of January we picked up the body of a man who had just been decapitated by an Israeli air strike.
Dominant cultural narratives on violence in the global north now only see beheading as a terrorist act by ISIS or Al Qaeda or similar groups. The perpetrator is a Muslim. The colonial fantasy of the savage is coming back in to focus.
The role of the state, armed with heavy aerial power – drones, F16s, Apache Helicopters, MIG jets – is not part of the story of beheading. I think it's important to bring the role of states back in to the story, all the more so given that UK air strikes on Syria could be about to intensify.