Opinion

France's New Definition of anti-Semitism Has Nothing to Do With Fighting It

Joint List leaders Ahmad Tibi (R) and Ayman Odeh come to the Israeli President's residence for a meeting, September 22, 2019
Emil Salman

Anyone who wants to understand the problem with the definition of anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism should read Yair Netanyahu’s tweet about the French parliament’s decision last week to adopt that definition. “Do you realize that the French parliament has actually decided that Ahmad Tibi, Ayman Odeh and the whole Joint List are anti-Semites?” the prime minister’s son wrote.

It’s hard to think of a purer expression of “Netanyahu-esque manipulation” – a combination of legal bullying, emotional extortion and sophisticated engineering of meaning – than defining anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism and charmingly imposing it on foreign countries.

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It’s almost possible to summarize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic act with the fact that he managed to change the world’s opinion like a sock that came out of the laundry. Who could have imagined that in the United States, Britain and now France a remark that the Israel of the Declaration of Independence has become an ethnocracy, oppressing another nation, will be defined by law as anti-Semitism?

What is this similar to? To the situation where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accepts the propaganda of the Israeli right and declares that the settlements aren’t necessarily inconsistent with international law? Wait a minute, that happened too. With all due respect to the fight against anti-Semitism, this new definition is a manipulation, and you have to be a European consumed by guilt or an American consumed by political correctness to accept it.

The new definition doesn’t have anything to do with the fight against anti-Semitism. Don’t let them fool you. This is a crude attempt to harness the battle against anti-Semitism for the benefit of making the occupation and settlement enterprise kosher, and politically silencing the opponents of the occupation by criminalizing the battle to end it. The English translation of Yair Netanyahu’s tweet must be spread because it exposes the true motives of the linking of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

The haters of minorities around the world don’t scare the state of the Jews; rather, the minorities in the “Jewish state” are keeping the Jewish majority that rules it from sleeping. Tibi and Odeh and the arsenal of votes in their warehouses of democratic weapons are conspiring to surprise us with a blitz at the polling stations.

The complementary step to the new definition of anti-Semitism was made in Israel’s lawbooks two years ago when the Knesset passed an amendment to the Basic Law on the Knesset. A person can now be prevented from running for the Knesset if he or she rejects the definition of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state.

Who are we trying to fool? “Jewish and democratic” are code words for a Jewish state. How many words are needed to prevent Arabs who haven’t forgotten they’re Arabs from running for the Knesset? How much chutzpah do you need to ban them by law from fighting for equality in their own country? How much of a manipulator do you have to be to equate an elementary democratic struggle by citizens of the country with an armed struggle by an enemy nation or hostile organization in occupied territory?

Here’s a wonderful example of the Netanyahu-esque manipulation in action: Turning the struggle to make Israel a “state of all its citizens” into the rejection of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. In other words, rejecting the existence of Israel, or in short: its destruction. How did he put time after time in the recent elections? They “want to destroy the country.”

This is how, under the auspices of a Basic Law, someone who believes Israel’s Arab citizens should be transferred outside its borders, or thrown into the sea or Gaza, is equated with someone who espouses turning Israel into a state of all its citizens and the annulment of its “Jewish character.” In other words, Jewish supremacy and Arab inferiority that under Netanyahu have been legally enshrined in the nation-state law.

It’s a beautiful trick they invented. The Israeli government will do anything it wants, enshrine it in law and then say that opposition to it is anti-Semitism. How come they never thought of that before?