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April 30, 2014 12:13 am
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Guardian’s Former Jerusalem Correspondent Smears Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day

avatar by Adam Levick

Day of Remembrance ceremony in 2009. Photo: wiki commons.

At 10:00 Monday morning, millions of Israelis stood at attention as sirens could be heard throughout the state in commemoration of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) – Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Shortly after the sirens stopped, and colleagues in our office returned to their desks, we noticed a series of Tweets by the Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent Chris McGreal.

The anti-Zionist malice of the Guardian “journalist” has been the subject of many posts at this blog. The far left propagandist – who fancies the idea that Israeli snipers target Palestinian children, and has shown himself obsessed with the power of the Israel lobby – has achieved the rare status as one of the few Guardian reporters singled out by the Community Security Trust in their annual report on anti-Semitic discourse.

Here are a few of the Tweets today from McGreal, enthusiastically responding to news that the Jewish state was smeared again with the Apartheid lie.

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Tutu, Carter, Olmert may said before but Kerry warning Israel becoming apartheid state still astonishing (and true) http://t.co/HOBQkwktpq

— Chris McGreal (@ChrisMcGreal) April 28, 2014

A question to be asked amid inevitable torrent of denials that Israel an apartheid state: why do so many of its Arab citizens say it is?

— Chris McGreal (@ChrisMcGreal) April 28, 2014

why does apartheid label sting Israel so much? because it challenges mantra that occupation is about security & discrimination is not racial

— Chris McGreal (@ChrisMcGreal) April 28, 2014

As the Tweets demonstrate, McGreal isn’t just claiming that Apartheid exists in the West Bank, but in Israel within the green line.

Of course, the Apartheid charge – the intellectual roots of which lie in Soviet propaganda from the 1970s – against Israel has been definitively refuted by many serious commentators and South Africans who actually lived under Apartheid.

First, for clarify, here’s an accurate definition of Apartheid:

‘Apartheid’ is the Dutch-Afrikaans term for separation, used to describe the racial segregation and discrimination enforced violently by white minority governments on non-whites in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. During those years a comprehensive system of racial classification divided the population into four categories – white, black coloured (i.e. mixed-race) and Asian. The black majority could not vote in general elections or marry white people. They were segregated from white people and barred from doing most skilled work. They even need permission from white authorities to so much as move from one segregated residential neighborhood to another segregated neighborhood. Further, an official state-promoted racist ideology of white supremacy justified all of this.

In the context of the definition above, here are some facts based in part on a comprehensive rebuttal published by Professor Alan Johnson at BICOM.

  • There are NO such racial laws in Israel.
  • Israel is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy, in which Arab, Druze, and other minorities in Israel are guaranteed equal rights. ALL citizens vote in elections on an equal basis.
  • Discrimination based on race is against the law.
  • Universities, hospitals, and all public facilities are integrated.
  • Some Israeli towns and  cities are mixed Arab-Jewish (e.g. Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Lod and Ramle).
  • The Israeli Courts are effective in countering unfair discrimination. Israel’s Arab minority participates fully in the political process.
  • There is no ideology of racial supremacy within Zionism

Additionally, here are some poll results that wildly contradict McGreal’s suggestion that Arab Israelis believe they suffer from Apartheid:

  • According to a poll conducted by Harvard’s John Kennedy School of Government, 77 % of the Arab citizens of Israel say that they prefer living in Israel to any other country in the world.
  • According to a 2012 Israeli Democracy Index survey, 62.3 % and 78 %of the Arab citizens of Israel have confidence in the police and Supreme Court respectively; a slightly higher level of confidence than Israeli Jews.
  • According to a report by the Arab-Israeli NGO, Sikkuy, 90 % of Arab citizens of Israel see their future in the State of Israel.

Beyond the specific smear, however, it should be emphasized that this isn’t a one-off for McGreal, and seems to represent a broader antipathy towards Jewish communities in the diaspora.

On February 6th and 7th 2006, McGreal published two reports attempting to portray Israel as an Apartheid and colonial state, and went further than merely defaming Israel by lashing out at Jews more broadly in a manner reminiscent of David Ward’s infamous ‘Jews of all people‘ smear on International Holocaust Memorial Day.

Here’s a passage from McGreal’s report, in the context of comparing Jewish behavior to that of the Afrikaner S. African regime:

[Israel’s Jewish] backers question how anyone can accuse them, as Jews at the end of a long line of persecuted generations, of racism, or in any way of resembling the old Afrikaner regime. But for years, much of South Africa’s Jewish population and successive Israeli governments made their own pact with apartheid – a deal that exchanged near silence by most South African Jews on a great moral issue for acceptance, and clandestine cooperation between Israel and the Afrikaner government that drew the two countries into a hidden embrace.

First, most South African Jews actually voted against the pro-Apartheid National Party during the Apartheid years, and Jews were over-represented among anti-Apartheid activists, prompting Nelson Mandela to write the following in his autobiography:

“I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.”

However, beyond the rebuttal of his specific claims, McGreal’s accusations against Jews – not just Israelis, but Jews qua Jews – needs a broader response.

Here are some excerpts from an essay written by Chas Newkey-Burden in response to David Ward, MP, which seem apt in light of McGreal’s latest attack:

…there is still one anti-Israel argument that makes my jaw drop. And it is one that is made with unfortunate frequency. It is the “they-of-all-people” argument: the suggestion that the Jews, having faced extraordinary persecution, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors.

Put aside for a moment that the “oppression” which proponents of this argument are accusing Israel of committing is usually imaginary. When directed by gentiles towards Jews, the “they-of-all-people” argument is in its very essence so fundamentally ill-judged and unjust, and voiced with such a breathtaking lack of self-awareness, that my spirit flags when I hear it.

I contend that, as a result of the Holocaust and what preceded it, it is we gentiles who should know better. The Holocaust followed centuries of slander, persecution, violence and murder committed by gentiles against Jews. So it is not you who have an increased responsibility to behave morally, but us.

For instance, something that we gentiles should know better than to do is lazily accuse Jewish people, or the Jewish state itself, of any misdemeanour. We have seen what centuries of slander against the Jewish people led to during the 1930s and ’40s. We see the hatred, heartbreak and bloodshed that such anti-Jewish libels continue to provoke, particularly in the Middle East.

Yet much of the world still continues to delight in damning Israel with indecent haste. From Al Dura (the false claim that Israeli forces murdered a boy in Gaza) to Jenin, from the Goldstone Report to the Gaza flotilla; time and again the world has found Israel guilty of a particular crime before all the evidence was available. When the full picture emerged and exonerated Israel it was too late to undo the damage. We gentiles, of all people, should know better.

Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity. Do not accept it; turn it back on those who offer it. For it is us, not you, who should know better.

Finally, to answer a query in one of McGreel’s Tweets, the reason why the ‘Apartheid’ charge “stings” Jews so much is because, like so many other accusations leveled against us through history, it’s a vicious lie – agitprop which shares an unmistakable ideological similitude with the ‘Zionism = Racism’ narrative and other such canards associated with malicious efforts to cast Israel as fundamentally illegitimate, a state beyond the moral pale.

The lesson for non-Jews on Yom HaShoah should be clear:  You can’t honor Holocaust memory nor lay claim to the mantle of anti-racism if a large percentage of the world’sliving Jews have been ‘expelled from the realm of your imaginative sympathy’ -and indeed the only Jews you seem to much fancy have been dead for more than 70 years.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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