10 May 2008

It's almost supernatural: The loathsome smearing of Israel's critics - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent

Why is it that when one criticises actions of the Israeli government, one is often called "anti-Semitic", or accused of "denying Israel's right to exist". Here's a journalist who has had such experiences.

Johann Hari: The loathsome smearing of Israel's critics - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent:
I have also reported from Gaza and the West Bank. Last week, I wrote an article that described how untreated sewage was being pumped from illegal Israeli settlements on to Palestinian land, contaminating their reservoirs. This isn't controversial. It has been documented by Friends of the Earth, and I have seen it with my own eyes.

The response? There was little attempt to dispute the facts I offered. Instead, some of the most high profile 'pro-Israel' writers and media monitoring groups – including Honest Reporting and Camera – said I an anti-Jewish bigot akin to Joseph Goebbels and Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh, while Melanie Phillips even linked the stabbing of two Jewish people in North London to articles like mine. Vast numbers of e-mails came flooding in calling for me to be sacked.

I had a Jewish correspondent in New York who was forever sending me copies of the same article by Martin Luther King, Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism and vehemently denied any resemblance between the way Palestinians are treated by Israel and apartheid. Yet in many ways it is worse than apartheid. South Africa never tried to build a concrete wall around the "homelands", though they did accuse anyone who criticised apartheid (or any of its euphemisms, like "separate development") of being anti-South African, though the accusation that they "denied South Africa's right to exist" was implicit rather than explicit as in the case of the Israeli government apologists.

Let's face it, Zionism (in the sense of Jewish nationalism, rather than the African Independent Churches) comes from the same milieu that produced other Eastern European nationalisms that led, inter alia to the breakup of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, whose repercussions are still being felt today. In Africa, however, we call it tribalism rather than nationalism.

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