NATIV Online        

 Vol. 8 / Oct. 2005 / Tishrei 5766         A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS


Jews Against Israel1

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Attacks on Israel by Israelis and Jews are frequently indistinguishable from those by Gentiles. Among the specific aspects in the anti-Israel writings of a number of Jews are the use of their family’s Holocaust experiences, their references to being Jewish or their mentioning an association of some kind with Israel.

The attitudes of Israelis and Diaspora Jews who have verbally attacked Israel in recent years have only been analyzed to a limited degree. A number of aspects require specific scrutiny while others should be investigated within the framework of the general verbal aggression against Israel.

Many Gentile assaults use statements from Israeli or Diaspora Jewish defamers, as a way of legitimizing their attacks on Israel or Jews. Furthermore, a small number of anti-Israel Jews enable the media to present a Jewish community divided on key Israeli policy.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz illustrates how leading media sometimes use anti-Israel Jews to create false perceptions.

At Israel’s 55th anniversary parade, the Neturei Karta, a small ultra-Orthodox group, held a counterdemonstration with banners saying “real Jews are anti-Zionists.” The Boston Globe printed two pictures: one of pro-Israel groups carrying flags and the other of the anti-Israelis. This created the feeling that there were equal numbers of Neturei Karta and Zionists at the parade.2

A clearer understanding of who the Jewish individuals and organizations attacking Israel are is required. Where do their ideas originate? Where do they stand politically? How do they interact with others? What elements of self-hatred contains their discourse? This analysis has to be linked with that of Gentile classical anti-Semitism and “new” anti-Zionism. To deepen one’s insights, the phenomenon has to be studied internationally.


Analyzing Texts

Gradually, a consensus is developing on the definition of ‘new’ anti-Semitism, i.e., the variety of Jew-hatred targeting the State of Israel. Once this mutation’s key characteristics have been classified, one can analyze any speeches, writings or actions for their anti-Semitic elements. It is no longer relevant who the author is and whether he is Muslim, Christian, atheist, communist, Maoist, Trotskyite, Socialist, Liberal, neo-Nazi, Israeli or Jew abroad. In particular for newspaper articles which are read by many people who do not know the author, the context in which they are written is of little importance.

The following example underlines this. An American, known worldwide, said in a radio interview in 1999: “Jews were always bastards throughout history. They are liars, they are the worst pieces of shit in the world.” He added “There was no holocaust of the Jews in World War II.” The interviewee accused the Jews of having invented its story. Another one of his many anti-Semitic accusations was that the Jews try to take over the world and are criminal people.

These statements could have been made for instance by a neo-Nazi or certain Muslims. Yet this is a quote from former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, born of a Jewish mother and thus halachically a Jew. To determine whether a person is an anti-Semite it is important to analyze what is said in the text, rather than who he is.3


Defining New Anti-Semitism

One effort to define the borders between critique and anti-Semitism was made by the Berlin Technical University’s Center for Research on anti-Semitism. It characterized new anti-Semitism inter alia as a critique of Israel, that the Jewish state is negatively distinct from all others, and therefore has no right to exist.4

Irwin Cotler, the Canadian Justice Minister undertook a more detailed analysis of the multiple aspects of new anti-Semitism. He claims that people become anti-Semites when calling for the destruction of Israel and the Jews; when denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination; when they de-legitimize Israel as a state or attribute all the world’s evil to Israel; When they Nazify Israel, deny the Holocaust or single out Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena. Cotler also mentions cultural anti-Semitism as a characteristic of the new anti-Semitism. He defines it by saying “that Israel is attributed a mix of evil qualities by salon intellectuals and Western elites.”5

Former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky has simplified the definitions of new Anti-Semitism by applying what he calls the “3D test”. The first “D” is demonization, for instance, those who compare Israelis to Nazis, and Palestinian refugee camps to Auschwitz. The second “D” concerns double standards, those who measure Jews by different yardsticks than other people, for instance the United Nations on human rights abuses. The third “D” is the test of delegitimization. In the past, anti-Semites tried to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish religion, the Jewish people, or both. Today they are trying to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state.6

Using these definitions, one can, for instance, analyze anti-Semitic statements by Jews on campuses abroad. A few examples will illustrate this. To investigate the phenomenon efficiently, primarily texts from the perpetrators are quoted followed by comments of various analysts.


The Academic Boycott

One major aspect of the new anti-Semitism is the academic initiatives to discriminate against Israeli universities and scholars. These efforts started in 2002 in the United Kingdom and developed rapidly in a number of countries. They took the Israeli government, as well as the Jewish world – including the academic one – by surprise.

These discriminatory initiatives have many facets. They cover issues such as calls for a moratorium on cultural and research links with Israel at European or national levels, the severing of relations between European and Israeli universities as well as the boycott of Israeli academics. In America, the main pattern is to promote the divestment of Israeli securities and those of companies with military dealings with Israel.

An analysis of the signatories and initiators of the various appeals shows that Jews and Israelis played an important role. The initiative for the boycott in the UK was taken by retired Jewish biology professor Steven Rose and his non-Jewish wife Hilary. Among the signatories were also other Jews. Their open letter, published in The Guardian, stated:

Despite widespread international condemnation for its policy of violent repression against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories, the Israeli government appears impervious to moral appeals from world leaders. The major potential source of effective criticism, the United States, seems reluctant to act. However there are ways of exerting pressure from within Europe. Odd though it may appear, many national and European cultural and research institutions, including especially those funded from the EU and the European Science Foundation, regard Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts. (No other Middle Eastern state is so regarded.) Would it not therefore be timely if at both national and European level a moratorium was called upon to further such support unless and until Israel abides by UN resolutions and opens serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians, along the lines proposed in many peace plans including most recently that sponsored by the Saudis and the Arab League.7

A few weeks after the open letter in The Guardian, a similar initiative began in Australia which secured 90 signatories. The initiators were John Docker, a Jewish Australian author from the Australian National University humanities research center, and the Christian Lebanese anthropology lecturer, Ghassan Hage, of Sydney University.8

An American acquaintance told this author he had contacted a Jewish leftist academic in Europe who had signed one of the petitions and asked him why he had not initiated a petition against Russia, a very bad human rights offender. He replied that Russia was so much more powerful and thus difficult to attack. This facet of discrimination against Israel is another typical example of new anti-Semitism.9


Steven and Hillary Rose

In July 2002, The Observer published a lengthy article by the Roses, which starts with:

The carnage in the Middle East continues; today a suicide bomber, tomorrow an Israeli strike on Palestinians with helicopters, missiles, and tanks. The Israelis continue to invade Palestinian towns and expand illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Ariel Sharon refuses to negotiate while “violence” (i.e., Palestinian resistance) continues.10

When mentioning the suicide bomber, the Roses carefully avoid describing the bomber as Palestinian, nor do they refer to any negative Palestinian action in the entire paragraph. This well-known technique has been exposed by Andrea Levin, for instance, citing similar cases from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.11

In their article, the Roses compared Israel to South Africa:

The international academic, cultural, and sporting communities had played a major part in isolating South Africa and we have increasingly learned of individuals who thought that cooperating with Israeli institutions was like collaborating with the apartheid regime.

This text fits Cottler’s criteria of new anti-Semitism well.

In December 2002, The Guardian devoted a major article to the boycott. It described the Roses as “together and separately they have been involved in left-wing political causes for decades.” The Roses reported receiving substantial hate mail as well as support inter alia from people they called “pathologically anti-Jewish”. They went to great lengths to dissociate themselves from being Jewish anti-Semites.12 The frequent denial of being anti-Semites is a recurrent motif among Jews who attack Israel with anti-Semitic remarks.

Even The Jerusalem Post gave the Roses an uncritical write-up, in which they could express their views. Again the Roses compared Israel to South Africa.13 Shortly thereafter, also a Jewish Chronicle interview gave them the opportunity to present their ideas. 14

The Roses persevered and played a role in the campaign which led to the acceptance of a motion to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities at the AUT, one of the two British Association of University Teachers in April 2005. A special conference in May 2005 overturned it. There Steven Rose said: “How dare they call me an anti-Semite when many of my family died in the Holocaust and I have fought anti-Semitism all my life?”15


An Israeli Academic Against Israel

Several Israeli academics were among the signatories of the anti-Israeli petitions.16 Tanya Reinhart of Tel Aviv University, was particularly active. In a letter to another left-wing professor Baruch Kimmerling of Hebrew University, who opposed the boycott, she wrote: “...what Israel is doing now exceeds the crimes of the South Africa’s white regime. It has started to take the form of systematic ethnic cleansing, which South Africa never attempted. After 35 years of occupation, it is completely clear that the only two choices the Israeli political system has generated for the Palestinians are apartheid or ethnic cleansing (“transfer”). Apartheid is the “enlightened” Labor party’s program (as in their Alon or Oslo plan), while the other pole is advocating slow suffocation of the Palestinians, until the eventual “transfer” (mass expulsion) can be accomplished.”17

Reinhart also asks whether anything about Israeli academia would justify exempting it from the condemnation of the pressure of the international community. She answered that there is nothing.


Noam Chomsky, “The Godfather”

Reinhart, a linguist, is a pupil of Noam Chomsky, a well-known professor of linguistics, at MIT in Boston. Chomsky’s pronouncements make him a Jewish paradigm of Cotler’s definition of cultural anti-Semitism. He has systematically attributed to Israel a mix of evil qualities over the decades.

In his student days, Chomsky belonged to a group called Avuka (Hebrew for “torch”). The New Yorker describes it as “young Zionists who opposed the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine: they identified themselves with the leftist kibbutz settlers who were in favor of a bi-nationalist socialist state.” Avuka’s elder statesman was Zellig Harris, a linguistics professor who became Chomsky’s teacher.18

Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, calls Chomsky “the godfather” of the anti-Israel campaign. Dershowitz says Chomsky sought the abolition of the State of Israel and its substitution by a “secular bi-national state based on the models of Lebanon and Yugoslavia”.19 Chomsky is also an anti-Semite according to the definitions of the Berlin anti-Semitism center, as he expresses views that sees Israel as a state that is fundamentally negatively distinct from all others.


Connections with Neo-Nazis

Another anti-Semitic characteristic Cotler mentions is Holocaust denial. Chomsky is not a direct Holocaust denier, but, as Dershowitz says:

Chomsky has also defended the findings of the notorious anti-Semite and Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, who claims that the Jews were responsible for World War II and that no Jews were gassed at death camps. Chomsky has said that he saw “no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson’s work”, including his denial of the Holocaust, which Chomsky claims is based on “extensive historical research”. Chomsky went so far as to write an introduction to one of Faurisson’s anti-Semitic books.20

In a 1993 essay, sociologist Werner Cohn described several of Chomsky’s connections with neo-Nazis:

...despite his strident left-wing politics, his bitter anti-Israel activism, his disreputable scholarship on matters political – Chomsky’s prestige in wide circles of educated America remains high. Whether that prestige will survive wider knowledge of his neo-Nazi connections remains to be seen.21

Chomsky’s reputation did survive internationally among many. More than 10 years later, Pulitzer prize-winner Samantha Power critically reviewed Chomsky’s book, Hegemony or Survival, writing:

revered and reviled, Noam Chomsky is a global phenomenon. Indeed, if book sales are any standard to go by, he may be the most widely read American voice on foreign policy in the planet today.22

The New Yorker, also critical of Chomsky, saw it similarly:

...Although Chomsky long ago became alienated from the American political center, elsewhere in the world he is a superstar. Wherever he goes, he is sought after by mainstream politicians and the mainstream press, and when he speaks it is to audiences of thousands, sometimes tens of thousands.23


The Chomsky Effect

Chomsky’s systematic role in promoting hatred of Israel has impacted many others. When analyzing academic discrimination of Israel, one finds direct or indirect indications of this in many places.

The academic fields where one can expect most systematic bias against Israel is Middle Eastern/Arab studies. These are disciplines with many Arab faculty. Yet, when trying to analyze the strategic characteristics of the academic boycott of Israel, it seems also linguists are disproportionately represented among Israel’s adversaries. One might call this the Chomsky effect.

It concerns both Jews and non-Jews. Tanya Reinhart is an example of the former. An indication of the latter can be found in Italy. Only a few Italian academics signed the appeals for the academic boycott of Israel. The spokesman of this small group was Francesco Gatti24 – who at Cà Foscari University in Venice holds the chair of History of International Relations in the Faculty of Language and Oriental Literature. Another signatory who spoke to the press was Rodolfo Delmonte, linguistics professor at the same university.25 There were also a disproportionate number of linguists at Harvard and MIT who had signed the anti-Israel petitions.26

No systematic overview of the Chomsky effect can be obtained. Yet from time to time, other indications of the above average involvement of linguists in the attacks against Israel emerge. In November 2002, students and faculty at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst started a petition to get the university’s foundation – which manages its endowment fund – to divest from companies doing business with Israel. One organizer was Uri Strauss, a citizen of Canada and Israel and a graduate linguistics student. An online newspaper said that “As a child he lived on a settlement in Palestine with his Zionist parents.”27


“The Holocaust Industry”

Chomsky also made a major effort to promote historian Norman Finkelstein, another defamer of Israel.28 Among Finkelstein’s books is one titled, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.29

Historian Debora Lipstadt characterized Norman Finkelstein as an extremist, “who claims that the memory of the Holocaust has been made into an industry. Had he not been a child of survivors, his book would not have received any attention.”30

Leading Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer called Finkelstein a “Jewish anti-Semite” and considered the attention his book received as a temporary setback in the struggle for Holocaust education. Bauer said: “After a few months, this publicity diminished. This phenomenon of Jewish anti-Semites goes back many centuries.”31

French sociologist Shmuel Trigano says:

The French translation of...Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry...obtained considerable publicity, although formally it has generally been condemned. It had a major impact on the left-wing intelligentsia and press. The leading left-wing dailies Libération and Le Monde devoted two pages to it.32

US law professor Michael Bazyler writes:

Finkelstein’s book was largely ignored in the United States but received extensive publicity in Europe. He was interviewed by the BBC when the book was launched in England, and...The Guardian serialized portions of it. The Economist labeled it a “provocative new book” and it became a best-seller in many European countries.33

Swedish anti-Semitism scholar Henrik Bachner concludes: “If Finkelstein in Germany was applauded primarily by conservative and right-wing extremist circles, in Sweden his ideas were warmly welcomed by parts of the radical Left.”34

Israeli historian Ronald Zweig, who reviewed the book, wrote:

Finkelstein argues that the contemporary use of the Holocaust has created an entire “industry” which, in the best manner of exploitative capitalism, is not only politically useful but also financially rewarding. Himself Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, Finkelstein could allow himself to articulate what many people believe but do not dare say in public. This is especially true in Britain, where socialist circles are anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian de rigeur but struggle to avoid being tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism.

The core of Finkelstein’s argument is that a cabal of Jewish leaders conspired to extort money from European governments, under the pretext of claiming material compensation for the losses of the Holocaust and for the benefit of the survivors. Once their claims were successful, these organizations then kept the money to themselves and paid the survivors only a pittance. Summarized in this form, the accusation is so unbelievably and totally without foundation that I looked once again at the third chapter of The Holocaust Industry to ensure that I had not parodied Finkelstein’s argument. But the summary fairly represents what he wrote.35

Another Jewish manipulator of Holocaust memory from the academic world is Sara Roy, a Senior Research scholar at the Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies. She exploits being a child of Holocaust survivors and used a Holocaust memorial lecture to suggest that Israelis are Nazis saying: “Within the Jewish community it has always been considered a form of heresy to compare Israeli actions or policies with those of the Nazis and certainly one must be very careful in doing so.” She then insinuates that they are comparable quoting as proof – a figment of Palestinian propaganda – that “Israeli soldiers openly admit to shooting Palestinian children for sport.”36


Anti-Semitism in the Jewish Press

Jewish journals sometimes print essays of Jewish authors using anti-Semitic arguments. The American magazine, Tikkun published an article by Joel Kovel, the Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies at Bard College (NY).

Kovel calls Israel a racist state and explains: “that a racist state, because it automatically generates crimes against humanity and lacks the internal means of correcting them, cannot have that legitimacy which gives it the right to exist.”37

He also writes:

The racist state aggrandizes one group by annihilating others, who essentially stand helpless before it. The Holocaust happened to stateless Jews, Gypsies, etc., who became the victims of the nihilism of a racist, Nazi state; similarly, stateless Palestinians have become victims of the nihilism of the racist, Zionist state.38


More Sophisticated Delegitimation

Tony Judt, director of the Remarque Institute at New York University, delegitimizes Israel in a more sophisticated way.

Israel itself is a multicultural society in all but name; yet it remains distinctive among democratic states in its resort to ethno-religious criteria with which to denominate and rank its citizens. It is an oddity among modern nations not – as its more paranoid supporters assert – because it is a Jewish state and no one wants the Jews to have a state; but because it is a Jewish state in which one community – Jews – is set above others, in an age when that sort of state has no place.39

In his reply to Judt, Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, claimed Judt considers all Jews responsible for each other’s behavior. He argues this is not a Zionist notion, but an anti-Semitic one. Wieseltier adds that Judt

refuses to place the blame for this unwarranted judgment of himself upon those who make it. Instead he accepts the premise of the prejudice, and turns on Israel. He makes a similar mistake in his evaluation of “the increased incidence of attacks on Jews in Europe”. He knows that they are “misdirected”, but still he describes them as “efforts, often by young Muslims, to get back at Israel”. In what way, exactly, is the burning of a synagogue a method for getting back at Israel? In the anti-Semitic way, plainly. It is the essence of anti-Semitism, as it is the essence of all prejudice, to call its object its cause. But if you explain anti-Semitism as a response to Jews, and racism as a response to blacks, and misogyny as a response to women, then you have not understood it. You have reproduced it.40



Norton Mezvinsky, who teaches history at Central Connecticut State University, has been an adversary of Israel for several decades. His spiritual mentor was Reform rabbi Elmer Berger, executive director of the American Council of Judaism.

In a lecture at his university Mezvinsky said: “The Holocaust blinded opposition to the establishment of a Zionist state... Many failed to see that Jewish nationalism only benefits Jews.”41 Jonathan Calt Harris in FrontPage Magazine mentions how in November 2000 Mezvinsky participated in an event in which the central theme “was to compare Israel with Nazism and apartheid”.42

Mezvinsky’s lectures reveal much of a simple mechanism often used against Israel. To support his thesis, he quoted, in his lecture, a much publicized article of former Israeli Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, translated in many languages saying:

The Israeli nation today rests on a scaffolding of corruption, and on the foundations of oppression and injustice. As such, the end of the Zionist enterprise is already on our doorstep. There is a real chance that ours will be the last of the Zionist generation...43

The opening sentence of this quote is paradigmatic of cultural anti-Semitism, as defined by Cotler. That the author is a leading Israeli Labor politician does not change its character. Mezvinsky’s lecture was put on the web by Al Jazeerah. This illustrates how Israel’s attackers come together. An Israeli politician makes a defamatory remark which is quoted by an Israel-hating Jewish academic and then posted on the web by Arab Israel-haters.

Mezvinsky also updated Israel Shahak’s book, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel and provided it with an introduction. Shahak was a well-known extreme left-wing Israeli academic. On <> there is a comment on the book from Chomsky: “An outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.” This provides another illustration of the collaboration of anti-Israel forces in academia.

The networking between anti-Israel forces on campus was succinctly described by Ruth Wisse of Harvard:

Like many such initiatives since the 1960s, the petition campaign against Israel is promoted by relatively small numbers of faculty with interlocking interests. Its driving forces are Arabs, Arabists, and their sympathizers who help prosecute the war against Israel as a way of diverting attention away from Arab regimes. They are joined by Leftists – including Jews – who see in Jewish particularism the chief hindrance to their internationalist faith; by radicals who consider Israel and America to be colonial powers and who promote their reactionary or revolutionary alternatives; and by antiwar enthusiasts who blame Israel for inviting Arab aggression against it.44


The UK

Another leading Jewish anti-Israel activist in the UK academia is Michael [Mike] Cohen, a lecturer in the department of philosophy of the University of Wales in Swansea. His extremism came to the fore in the Wilkie Affair. Andrew Wilkie, a non-Jewish professor of pathology at Oxford University replied to Israeli student Amit Duvshani who had requested a research position in his lab, in an email:

I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware, I am not the only UK scientist with these views but I’m sure you will find another suitable lab if you look around.45

After Wilkie had apologized, Cohen expressed support for his original racist position saying:

I’m perfectly happy to support someone who feels that they want to boycott Israeli members of academic institutions – it’s a way of bringing home to the Israeli government how appalling their behavior is. It’s appalling that disciplinary measures might follow. He has a perfectly legitimate point of view and I would support him if that’s the argument he wants to make. It’s a question of balance of the rights of the individuals involved.46

Cohen found himself on the same side of the fence with the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) which wrote to the Oxford Visitatorial Board supporting Wilkie’s original gesture for which the latter had sent apologies by email all over the world. The MPAC wrote:

As a result of the investigation, Colin Lucas, Oxford University’s vice-chancellor suspended Wilkie from his academic duties for two months without pay. Wilkie was also required to undergo equal opportunities training. Michael Cohen reacted saying that many academics where unhappy with the decision: “I think Oxford has behaved in an extraordinarily heavy-handed way. As far as I can understand, he acted out of principle, and they have suspended him for it.47

Steven Rose was much more prudent in saying that Oxford had over-reacted:

Andrew Wilkie clearly spoke from a passionate conviction and while I can’t condone what he did I can understand it in the context of the horrific abrogation of academic freedom of Palestinians by Israel...He immediately apologized for his remarks, so this step by Oxford is a wholly disproportionate punishment in the context.48

On August 8, 2002, 45 British Jews published a statement in The Guardian wishing to renounce the “unsought” right of return to Israel. Among the reasons given were that “Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians are barbaric – we do not wish to identify ourselves in any way with what Israel is doing.” They added inter alia,

We disagree with the notion that Zionist emigration to Israel is any kind of “solution” for Diaspora Jews, anti-Semitism or racism – no matter to what extent Jews have been or are victims of racism, they have no right to make anyone else victims of yet further racism.49

There was no reference in the statement to the long history of Palestinian refusal of reaching an agreement with Israel or to the Palestinian killing of Israeli civilians. Both Steven Rose and Michael Cohen were among the signatories. It was another example of a discriminatory statement against Israel.


Trying Again

By March 2004, after the boycott attempts largely failed, an open letter was published in The Guardian signed by over 300 academics, asking leaders of Israeli universities to reveal whether they support government policies. It contains many familiar names of anti-Israel academics. Among its signatories were Jews such as Michael Cohen, Steven and Hillary Rose, John Docker as well as Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond from France and Lawrence Davidson from the US.

Other signatories were Israelis such as Eva Jablonka, Ilan Pappe, Tanya Reinhart as well as Arabs and notorious Gentile anti-Israeli academics such as Mona Baker and Sue Blackwell. Nahman Ben-Yehuda, dean of Hebrew University’s Social Sciences faculty told The Guardian that the letter recalled the days of McCarthyism.50

Martin Kramer, editor of the Middle East Quarterly wrote in a weblog,

Israeli academics have never boycotted Palestinian professors, even in the worst days of terror. To the contrary: if you’re organizing a conference in Israel, it’s almost obligatory to have a Palestinian professor on the podium. Free exchange is what academic freedom means, and Israeli universities have done an admirable job of upholding it in trying times. In contrast, the academic boycott against Israel is itself a gross violation of academic freedom, because it explicitly imposes a political litmus test on Israeli scholars. It’s radical-style McCarthyism.51

Cohen and Rose benefit from the double image of the Jew in large parts of British society. This leaves a loophole through which some Jews can escape identification with the evil “violent Jew”. To do so they must explicitly denounce the acts of the Israeli government and dissociate themselves from it. They must identify with the suffering of the Palestinians and belittle their crimes.

They as it were, say to the non-Jewish world: “We are among those examples of the Jew you should like. We are the good Jews.” The most extreme among these say that for so-called “ethical” reasons they cut their ties with Israel, initiate actions against Israel, and support extremist claims against Israel such as taking back Palestinian refugees. A disproportionate number of initiators and supporters of the anti-Israel boycott and other anti-Israeli actions are found among them.


Edgar Morin

The ex-communist Edgar Morin – his original name is Edgar Nahoum – is a well-known French philosopher and sociologist, retired from the CNRS, the country’s national scientific research center. In 1997, in an article in the French daily Liberation, he asked: “How should we understand the transformation of the persecuted Jew to the Jewish persecutor?”52

In a letter cosigned with the Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo, and the Europarliamentarian Sami Naïr published in the Spanish daily El Pais he wrote in 2001:

Nothing, neither the past, nor the present, nor the future of the Jewish state, justify the humilations, assasinations and bombardments which the Palestinians in the occupied territories suffer in an indiscriminated way.53

In June 2002, Morin published an article in the French daily Le Monde together with Naïr and the writer Danielle Sallenave entitled “Israel-Palestine, the Cancer”.54 It said:

One is hard pressed to imagine that a nation of fugitives, descended of the people persecuted longest in the history of humanity, having been subjected to the worst humiliations and the deepest contempt, should be able to transform itself in two generations into a “dominating and self-assured people” and with the exception of an admirable minority, a contemptuous people taking satisfaction in humiliating others.

The authors wrote furthermore:

The Jews of Israel, descended of an apartheid named the ghetto, are ghettoizing the Palestinians. The Jews who were humiliated, despised, persecuted, are humiliating, despising and persecuting the Palestinians. The Jews who were the victims of a pitiless order are imposing their pitiless order on the Palestinians. The Jewish victims of inhumanity are displaying a terrible inhumanity. The Jews, scapegoats for every evil, are “scapegoating” Arafat and the Palestinian authority, made responsible for attacks that they prevent them from preventing.

On the basis of this text, Lawyers without Frontiers and the France-Israel Association brought a court case against the authors and the newspaper. French anti-Semitism expert Jacques Tarnero said in court that the text “was different from a critique on the Israeli government...It came down to saying that the Jews had become Nazis.”55

In May 2005, a French appeals court overturned a lower court ruling and found that the Editor-in-Chief of Le Monde, Jean Marie Colombani as well as Morin, Naïr and Sallenave guilty of racial defamation against Israel and the Jewish people. It condemned them to pay a symbolic one Euro in damages to those who had brought the complaint.

Subsequently, the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF stated that it “noted with satisfaction” the appeal court ruling...adding that the verdict

clearly set limits on a deviation that consists of incriminating “the Jews” in the name of a criticism of Israel...We have always considered that criticism of Israel policy falls under the category of the free and democratic exchange of ideas, but that debate cannot express itself as a demonization of Israel nor of the Jews.56


Categorizing Israel’s Adversaries

In order to better combat Israel’s Jewish enemies, they have to be categorized. There are the hard core extremists who have been active against the country for decades. A prominent one is Alfred Lilienthal, author of The Zionist Connection. In the introduction of his book, Lilienthal praised the UN resolution which equated Zionism with racism and racial discrimination.

The November 10, 1975, UN resolution equated Zionism with racism and racial discrimination, and for the first time placed the genesis of the continuing Middle East struggle squarely before a startled American public. But fervent supporters of Israel, Christians as well as Jews, reacted with unprecedented furor to the overwhelming UN censure and stirred the media to direct an equally unprecedented onslaught against the UN, the Arab states, and the Third World bloc. The supporters of the resolution were denigrated with the charge “emulators of Hitler”. The pro-Israel American public was led to believe that this was indeed but another attack on Jews and Judaism, a Nazi renaissance. The pertinency of this UN action to the continuing Arab rejection of the State of Israel was totally covered over by whipped-up emotionalism.57

On the American campus, Chomsky, Mezvinsky and Finkelstein are among the better known demonizers of Israel. Others may take even more extreme positions but their attacks are incidental rather than ongoing.

Gary Rosenblatt, editor of the Jewish Week wrote:

Ed Beck, president of the Susquehanna Institute in Harrisburg, PA, notes that a history professor at Ohio State University proclaims that the State of Israel is based on “historical mythology”. A professor at Vassar turned down a request to join a pro-Israel organization, saying he would not support any group that promotes a “low-grade war of genocide against the Palestinian people”. And both of these men are Jews.58

Beck identified the former as Joe Levine and the second, as Joshua Schreier.59


The Israeli Left: A Pro-Apartheid Left?

Even the Israeli left is not immune from anti-Semitic attacks by other leftists. Initially, the editor of the “Trotskyite World Socialist Website” came out with a statement against the academic boycott of Israeli academics in July 2002.60 A few days later, the site published a letter to the editor which said inter alia:

Let me preface this by the statement that I am Jewish, speak Hebrew, had a Bar Mitzvah, was president of my university’s Hillel chapter, and have traveled extensively throughout Israel. Opposing a boycott because it might make the worthless Israeli left even more limp is the worst opportunistic argument you could make. Peace Now is a Zionist organization opposed to one-person, one-vote. Israel is not a legitimate nation by any Marxist definition; it is a colonial state pure and simple. Israel is so illegitimate that attaining the level of South African apartheid would be an advance from its present virulence...

All of its citizens are registered members of its armed forces; therefore they are all legitimate military, economic, cultural, academic targets in a civil war...Brilliant Marxist Jewish academics like Steven Rose should be saluted for their honesty and courage. Marxist Jews do not appreciate your Christian guilt complex for the Holocaust when translated into obsequious support of Israel...The Israeli left is a pro-apartheid left...Professors who continue to be employed by the State of Israel should not be welcomed in any democratic university. If they don’t like it, if you don’t like it, then they should choose to resign one of their posts...Once again, I repeat: Peace Now is a Zionist organization bent on institutionalizing Israeli apartheid. Your citing it in your editorial makes me want to vomit.61

Editorial board members David North and Bill Vann replied that

The International Committee of the Fourth International does not need a lecture from you or anyone else on the struggle against Zionism, the defense of the Palestinian people or the character of the Israeli state. The material posted on the WSWS over the past four years speaks for itself. But more than that, the Trotskyist movement has a principled record of opposing Zionism that spans decades, reaching back to well before the founding of the Israeli state itself.62


The Incidentally Incited

Besides the hard core of Israel’s Jewish enemies from the academic world, there are fellow travelers. Yet another category are those incidentally incited to participate in anti-Israel actions. An example of the latter is Peter Fonagy, a Jewish psychoanalyst of University College in London. He initially signed the Open Letter initiated by Steven and Hilary Rose, published in The Guardian.63

Fonagy received many letters criticizing him, including one from Shmuel Erlich, president of the Israel-Psychoanalytic Society. In response, Fonagy repeated that he had been under personal stress and had not been thinking clearly when he signed the call for the boycott.

Fonagy withdrew his signature from the list and later added his name to the list of signatories on the Hebrew University website opposing a European blocking of academic grants to Israel. The correspondence between Erlich and Fonagy was, with the agreement of both, put on the open line of the American-Psychoanalytic Association and thus came into the public domain.64


The Kreisky Precedent

The above analysis should be enlarged in various directions. Analyzing the statements of some Jewish politicians is a further avenue to follow. Those of former Austrian socialist Prime Minister Bruno Kreisky are a prime example to be investigated. Historian Robert Wistrich quotes an interview in which Kreisky said: “The most-hated diplomats are the Israelis...They are as bad as the Africans who are also intolerable people.”65

Jewish self-hate has manifested itself in many ways in the post-war period. It has, however, been largely ignored by Jewish defense organizations. Kreisky provides an example of a Jewish initiator of anti-Israel actions. He played a crucial role in making Yasser Arafat acceptable to the Socialist International.

An article in Midstream concluded:

Kreisky apparently never seriously examined whether in helping Arafat he was also helping to advance a new form of warfare that would eventually threaten many of the very values in which he and his fellow socialists believed. When confronted with the facts of Arafat’s engagement in terrorism, he would downplay or deny it altogether, while concentrating his attention on what he saw as advancing the wronged people and on the need to bring peace to the Middle East.66

Kreisky’s behavior had another effect against Jewish interests. Austria presented itself as a victim of the German Nazis rather than the major co-perpetrator of their war crimes it was. While avoiding to confront its past, it could now claim that the best sign that post-war Austria was not anti-Semitic was its election of a Jewish prime minister.


Other Politicians

A current example of a Jewish promoter and initiator of political attacks against Israel is a former guerilla and now South African minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Ronnie Kasrils. He was a senior commander of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto We Sizwe. Kasrils initiated a discussion about a possible boycott against Israel in the South African cabinet.67 In March 2004, he cosigned the renewed petition for an academic boycott of Israel. Like many Jewish anti-Israeli politicians, he comes from the extreme left.

In 2002, Kasrils wrote in The Guardian:

The parallels between the Palestinians’ 50 years of struggle for their own land and the anti-apartheid movement’s decades of military and civil campaigns for majority rule are seen as obvious in Southern Africa, where liberation wars successfully ended colonialism and racial oppression. That took much too long; but the international community is even further behind in expressing outrage and taking action against Israel than it was against the apartheid government.68

Many insights on strong anti-Israel bias can also be gleaned from British Labour MP Gerald Kaufman’s speech in the House of Commons after the Jenin battle. He called for Israel’s full withdrawal from Palestinian territories. He mentioned the horrors in Jenin carried out by the official Israeli army and called for economic sanctions and an arms ban if Israel remained in the territories.69 In March 2004, he called for economic sanctions against Israel.70


Financial and Other Areas

In the financial world, one finds for instance American Jewish billionaire fund manager George Soros. He spoke at a conference of The Jewish Funders Network in November 2004. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported: “When asked about anti-Semitism in Europe, Soros, who is Jewish, said European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States.” He said furthermore

I’m also very concerned about my own role because the new anti-Semitism holds that the Jews rule the world...As an unintended consequence of my actions...I also contribute to that image.71

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Soros’ comments “absolutely obscene”... “He buys into the stereotype...It’s a simplistic, counterproductive, biased and bigoted perception of what’s out there. It’s blaming the victim for all of Israel’s and the Jewish people’s ills.72

One also finds anti-Israeli Jews in various human rights organizations and other NGOs. A well known one in France is Israeli born Roni Brauman, a former president of Doctors without Frontiers. Jews in the media with a strong anti-Israel bias are another area requiring in-depth research.

Jewish self-hate manifests itself in Israel as well. It is confined mainly to people outside the mainstream of society. A systematic research covering anti-Semitic texts in Israeli society will illustrate this in many ways.73 The World Jewish Congress drew attention to this phenomenon in one of its publications, stating: “Certainly, a most disturbing element in the present situation is the fact that certain extreme left-wing Israeli organizations are often operating in concert with the Arabs in such campaigns and even orchestrating them.”74


What Motivates Jewish Anti-Semites?

The question of what motivates Jewish and Israeli anti-Semites has only been partly answered. Much of the explanation belongs to the psychological domain. The phenomenon is not specifically Jewish or Israeli. Particularly on the American Left, one finds nowadays many anti-Americans.

In literature, this phenomenon of identifying with one’s groups persecutors is known as the Stockholm Syndrome. The origin of this expression is in a Stockholm bank robbery in 1973 where several Swedes who were held in a bank vault for six days became attached to their captors. One finds opinions that this was a psychological means to support the trauma.

A typical other case occurred in February 1974 when the heiress to the Hearst media fortune, Patricia Hearst, was kidnapped by a radical terrorist group called the Symbionese Liberation Army. During her captivity she was brainwashed and joined the SLA.75

One of the better explanations given for the phenomenon of Jewish self-hatred and identifying with one’s persecutors can be found in a text of the 1950s by Gordon Allport, in which he discusses various aspects of self-hate. Among these he mentioned “the subtle mechanism” where the victim agrees with the persecutors and “sees his own group through their eyes”. He said that a Jew

may hate his historic religion...or he may blame some one class of Jews...or he may hate the Yiddish language. Since he cannot escape his own group, he does in a real sense hate himself – or at least the part of himself that is Jewish.76

New versions of the old motif have now emerged. Among these are Jews who hate the Jewish state or see it through the eyes of “politically correct” members of some Western elites. They may even lead, not just join, these attacks.


Rewards Without Penalties

Anti-Semitic Jews have also become an important tool in the anti-Israeli campaigns of Western media. On the British media, Wistrich observes:

Only those Jews who smash Israel appear in the media, and Israel is routinely represented as an ethnic-cleansing rogue state – when not compared to Nazi Germany and South Africa – and at the same time is held to a higher standard than other countries.77

So far there have been many rewards with correspondingly limited penalties for some Jews who attack Israel. They have positioned themselves in society in a way that they are applauded by part of the non-Jewish environment. In this they are very similar to those converted Jews who in the Middle Ages led the Christian attacks on the Jewish community or were instrumental in them.

In a post-modern society the number of motives for Jewish self-hate is probably much larger than indicated here. Without profound psychological and sociological research this phenomenon will remain poorly understood.


Where to Go from Here?

This essay illustrates some key aspects of verbal Jewish aggression against Israel as well as anti-Semitism mainly focused on the world of academia. There is a substantial gap between the importance of the problem and the attention given to it in the Jewish world. The Jewish academics’ attacks on Israel must be analyzed not only in the wider context of academic aggression against Israel, but also within the framework of a profound study of contemporary Jewish anti-Semitism, Israel-hatred and self-hate yet to be undertaken.

A more profound analysis should not be limited to the factual assessment of speech, text and actions. The phenomenon should also be assessed politically, culturally, psychologically and socially. Though there is collaboration between Israeli and Jewish anti-Israel forces, there are also important differences between the two which should be detailed.

It would have been wise policy for Israel and the Jewish defense organizations to confront these attacks on Israel much earlier and much more aggressively. Once a phenomenon reaches greater proportions without checking, it becomes much harder to fight. One central element in this fight has to be to turn the accusers into the accused. At present, far too many Jewish and Israeli anti-Semites benefit in one way or the other from their actions. 



I wish to express my thanks to Michelle Baruch, Elisabeth Mayman and Jeremy Wimpfheimer who have collected part of the background material used for this article.


Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Alan Dershowitz in American Jewry’s Challenge: Conversations Confronting the 21st Century, Lanham MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2005, p. 116.


Interview by Pablo Mercado of Bobby Fischer, January 14, 1999,


“Manifestations of Antisemitism in the European Union”, drafted for the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) by the Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZFA) at Berlin Technical University, p. 17,



Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, New York, Perseus Books, 2004, pp. 224-226.


“Protest Against Call for European Boycott of Academic and Cultural Ties with Israel”, The Guardian, Original Press Release, April 6, 2002, www.euroisrael.huji.


Patrick Lawnham, “Academics Split on Israel Sanctions”, The Australian Newspaper, May 22, 2002.


Private communication David Kazhdan.


Steven and Hilary Rose, “The Choice is to Do Nothing or Try to Bring About Change”, The Guardian, July 15, 2002.


Andrea Levin, “Headlines Cover for Palestinian Violence”, The Jerusalem Post, March 17, 2003.


Andrew Beckett, “It’s Water on Stone – In the End Stone Wears Out”, The Guardian, December 12, 2002.


Ori Golan, “A Conscientious Objector”, The Jerusalem Post Magazine, January 17, 2003.


Helen Jacobus, “Wars of the Roses”, The Jewish Chronicle, January 31, 2003.

15,/article.php4?article_id=6627, June 4, 2005.


In the initial days, the following names appeared on the list. Some of these may have withdrawn their signatures since. Others may have added them. Prof. Daniel Amit, Hebrew University; Iris Bar, Haifa University; Prof. Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Eva Jablonka, Tel Aviv University; Dr. Haggai Katriel, Haifa University; Prof. Smadar Lavie, Tel Aviv; Dr. Ilan Pappe, Haifa University, Prof. Zvi Razi, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Tanya Reinhart, Tel Aviv University; Dr. Tuvia Shlonsky, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.


Tanya Reinhart, “Why an Academic Boycott: A Reply to an Israeli Comrade”,, May 17, 2002.


Larissa MacFarquhar, “The Devil’s Accountant”, New Yorker, March 31, 2003.


Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel, Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, p. 198.




Werner Cohn, “The Hidden Alliances of Noam Chomsky” in Edward Alexander (ed.), With Friends Like These: The Jewish Critics of Israel, New York: SPI Books, 1993, p. 103.


Samantha Power, “The Everything Explainer”, The New York Times, January 4, 2004.


Larissa MacFarquhar, op. cit.


Sara D’Ascenzo, “Boicottiamo i prof israeliani: sostengono Sharon”, Corriere Del Veneto, February 8, 2003. [Italian]


Silvia Grilli, “Venti di antisemitismo a Cà Foscari”, Panorama, February 13, 2003. [Italian]


Private Communication David Kazhdan.


Cheryl B. Wilson, “Divestment from Israel Debated”, Gazette Net, March 1, 2003.


Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel (eds.), Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, New York: New Press, 2002, p. 245.


Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, London: Verso, 2000.


Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Deborah Lipstadt in Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, WJC, 2003, p. 124.


Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Yehuda Bauer, in Europe’s Crumbling Myths, op. cit., p. 119.


Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, in Europe’s Crumbling Myths, op. cit., p. 215.


Michael J. Bazyler, Holocaust Justice: The Battle for Restitution in America’s Courts, New York: New York University Press, 2003, p. 289.


Henrik Bachner, “La Suède”, in Manfred Gerstenfeld & Shmuel Trigano, Les Habits neufs de l’antisémitisme en Europe, Île de Noirmoitier, Café Noir, 2004, p.194.


Ronald Zweig, Journal of Israeli History, Vol. 20, nos. 2/3, Summer/Autumn, 2001, pp. 208-216.


Sara Roy, Second Annual Holocaust Remembrance Lecture, Baylor University, April 8, 2002.


Joel Kovel, “On Left Anti-Semitism and the Special Status of Israel”, Tikkun, May 9, 2003.




Tony Judt, “Israel: The Alternative”, New York Review of Books, October 23, 2003.


Leon Wieseltier, “What is Not to Be Done: Israel, Palestine and the Return of the Binational Fantasy”, New Republic, October 27, 2003.


Bill Larkin, “Two Sides, Two Stories”,, February 11, 2004.


Jonathan Calt Harris, “Palestine U, Connecticut USA”, www.FrontPageMagazine.
com, March 8, 2004.


Norton Mezvinsky, “Zionism: The Exclusivist Ideology of Israel”, Al-Jazeerah, February 22, 2004.


Ruth R. Wisse, “Israel on Campus”, Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2002.


Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Academic Boycott Against Israel”, Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 15, nos. 3 & 4, p. 58.


Polly Curtis, “Academic Campaigner Backs Oxford’s Israeli Rejection”, The Guardian, June 30, 2003.


Ana Fazackerley, “Mixed Views on Wilkie Censure”,, November  4, 2003.


Phil Baty, “Oxford Rapped Over Wilkie”, Times Higher Educational Supplement, October 31, 2003.

49, (This text has since been removed from the website.)


Polly Curtis, “Academic boycott of Israel gathers momentum”, The Guardian, March 25, 2004.



Edgar Morin, “Israël-Palestine: Le double regard”, Libération, September 11, 1997. [French]


Juan Goytisolo, Edgar Morin and Sami Naïr, “Palestina; hay que actuar”, El Pais, July 4, 2001. [Spanish]


Edgar Morin, Sami Naïir, Danielle Sallenave, “Israël-Palestine: le cancer”, Le Monde, June 4, 2002. [French] An English translation can be viewed on:


“Edgar Morin poursuivi pour ‘diffamation à caractère racial’ après une tribune parue dans ‘Le Monde’”, Le Monde, June 18, 2004. [French]


Joe Henley, “Le Monde editor ‘Defamed Jews’”, The Guardian, June 4, 2005.


Alfred M. Lilienthal, “The Zionist Connection II: What Price Peace?”,


Gary Rosenblatt, “Israel’s Biggest Threat on Campus”, Jewish Week, March 19, 2004.


Interview with Ed Beck by Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Fighting Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism on the American University Campus: Faculty Grassroots Efforts”, Post Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 28, January 2, 2005.


“Against the Boycott of Israeli Academics”, July 12, 2002,


Anonymous, “An Exchange of Letters on the Boycott of Israeli Academics”,, July 17, 2002.




For a more detailed description of the Fonagy case, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Academic Boycott Against Israel”, Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 15, nos. 3 & 4, pp. 53-58.



Robert Wistrich, “The Strange Case of Bruno Kreisky”, Encounter, May 1979.


Harry Delfiner, “The Socialist International and the Rise of Yasir Arafat”, Midstream, November/December 2002.


Brendan Boyle, “Boycott Israel, Says Jewish Minister”, Dawn International, April 25, 2002.


Ronnie Kasrils and Victoria Brittain, “No Room for Justice”, The Guardian, December 21, 2002.

69, April 16, 2002.


“Sanctions Urged to Rein in Israel”, Agence-France-Presse, March 29, 2004.


Uriel Heilman, “In Rare Jewish Appearance, George Soros Says Jews and Israel Cause Anti-Semitism”, JTA, November 9, 2004.




For some aspects of this issue see: Arieh Stav, “Israeli Anti-Semitism” in Shlomo Sharan (ed.), Israel and the Post-Zionists: A Nation at Risk, Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, Ariel Center for Policy Research, 2003, pp. 163-188.


Institute of the World Jewish Congress, “The Revival of the Arab Boycott – Round Two”, Policy Dispatch, No. 59.



Gordon W. Allport, The Nature of Prejudice, New York: Doubleday, 1958, p. 147.


Abigail Radoszkowicz, “An Ancient Evil Stirs”, Jerusalem Post Magazine, January 17, 2003.

A shortened English version of this article was earlier published in the JCPA’s series “Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism” <>.