University of Westminster campus in Harrow, West London. 8th August 2016. Norman Finklestein is discussing the ‘Holocaust Industry’. This discussion, and the book authored by Finkelstein with the same title, is based on the premise that Zionism ‘milks’ the genocide experienced by the Jewish people.
I have history with this university. In May, I was at the Marylebone campus, where I had the ‘pleasure’ of hearing Haim Bresheeth declare that:
“everything in Israel currently has to go. Zionism has to go.….the JNF, the Jewish agency, every single authority, every single institution, is Zionist..”
I’ve seen Illan Pappe pushing his unique brand of ‘historical fiction’ there too. But it isn’t surprising. This particular university has form. In 2012 they welcomed Hizb-ut-Tahrir Member, Jamal Harwood, who at an event on campus refused to condemn a particular statement he was linked with:
“O Muslim Armies! Teach the Jews a lesson after which they will need no further lessons. March forth to fight them, eradicate their entity and purify the earth of their filth”.
Haitham al-Haddad was invited to speak there too, raising protests from the LGBT community. Anindependent report on inclusion at the campus, found the Islamic Society at Westminster was ‘dominated by hard-line, ultra-conservative believers’. The same report found that officials do nothing for fear of accusations of Islamophobia. Jihadi John was radicalised there.
Zionism is the world’s only movement of self-determination that is not given freedom to speak inside the British campus. I personally have spoken to Israelis *currently studying* at the university, who hide their identity from their fellow students. Similarly, I have spoken to British Jews there who are scared to admit to their Jewishness. For Jews, the University of Westminster campus is a place where their identity is best left outside.
So it is no surprise then, that antisemitic rhetoric always feels at home there.
Communism on Westminster campus
Today’s event was part of the ‘Communist University 2016’, a full week of debate and discussion about all things that are important to communism today. At least that is the way I logically assume they create their programme.
I personally don’t have much time for communism. It isn’t that I do not appreciate the pretty picture that it paints. I do. But communism is a failure to grasp the inherent weakness of a theoretical utopia. My judgement: nice idea, but no thanks.
I imagine that communism today has many challenges. With the victory and expansion of ‘the market’, the world has moved on since the 1980’s. There is surely much to discuss in bringing about a ‘revolutionary transformation of society’ and ‘ending the existing capitalist system of exploitation’.
Which is why the programme for this 2016 ‘Communist University’ was so troubling.
Antisemitism on Westminster campus
They have decided that amidst all the challenges facing communism in 2016, one of the primary issues to be discussed is Zionism. And of course everything related to Zionism. To this end, they are hosting discussions on ‘anti-Zionism and antisemitism’, the ‘future of Palestine’ and of course ‘the Holocaust Industry’.
Jews make up 0.02% of the world’s population. In 2015, the Israel /Arab conflict was responsible for less than 0.02% of conflict deaths around the world. In essence, since 1948, the entire Arab Israeli conflict, which includes all of the fatalities in all of the wars, amongst all of the armies involved, is responsible for approximately 0.01% of war deaths globally.
Outside of Zionism and Israel, this conference only deals with one other military arena, with a single discussion on the conflicts in the wider Middle East. A conflict that has killed millions.
The issue here is that Zionism is seen as the ‘enemy’. The equating of Zionism with Neo-conservative thought, with money, with power. It is the way antisemitism works. Whichever group you are in, wherever you sit on the political map, people around you are blaming the Jews for being the unseen force standing behind the opposition. Jews are the communists, the capitalists, they are the divisive force, the troublemakers. Antisemitism in this sense is a distinct and particularly odious form of racism. It morphs and changes with the times.
So it has to be said that the agenda looks particularly skewed. Holding an event that calls on Jewish ‘outliers’, to disguise and ‘legitimise’ an attack on Jewish people worldwide is an antisemitic act.
You cannot use ‘those’ Jews
Why do I say ‘Jewish people’ worldwide, when some Jews are anti-Zionists? Because they are irrelevant. Recent studies have shown that 93% of British Jews believe that Israel forms some part of their identity as Jews. 90% support its right to exist as a ‘Jewish state’. These figures are not just an overwhelming majority, they border on the absolute. Somewhere around 93% of Jewish people in the UK are Zionist. Zionism and being Jewish are intimately related.
So 7% do not? Well not quite, this is a distortion. Even though we are dealing with a tiny minority, this is not a cohesive opposition. These are two separate and completely detached groups. One of which is ultra-orthodox and their non-Zionism (or anti-Zionism) is a religious based disagreement.
Which means the publicity seeking anti-Zionists such as Max Blumenthal, Tony Greenstein, Illan Pappe, Ronnie Barkan and Miko Peled all come from one side of an already tiny minority. If there were only one tail to this test, these people would fall into statistical insignificance.
So why is it antisemitism at Westminster?
The antisemitism doesn’t exist in the supply, it exists in the demand. In theory, for every speech given by an anti-Zionist Jew, there would be scores of Zionist Jews lining up to respond. All things being equal, we should never have heard of these Jewish anti-Zionists. They are insignificant outliers whose presence would only be recognised by sociologists and statisticians before being cast off into the bin titled ‘not to be taken into consideration’. Perhaps a study or two could analyse them to try to find correlating variables that could push forward a theory into their very presence. Bullying at school? The trauma of children of holocaust survivors? I am certain an innovative list could be created.
Yet where these people are selected, for the specific purpose of attacking what it means to be Jewish to the absolute majority, there exists a problem. You cannot hide behind a Jewish anti-Zionist to deflect accusations of antisemitism because the very act of turning the insignificant into a weapon against Jews is an antisemitic act.
I have heard people suggest people like Blumenthal are antisemites themselves. This is a mistake. People like Blumenthal are simply oddities. A handful of people displaying bizarre and obscure thought. When you see their name in print, you see antisemitism at work. When you hear them speak, when you see them listed in a programme, when you see them quoted, shared or retweeted – all antisemitism.
So someone in the States is so messed up he believes you can overstate the Holocaust. A child of holocaust survivors, he dates the rising awareness of his fictitious industry to 1967. Nothing of course to do with the Eichmann trial of 1962, where finally the world got to hear the true horror of events. Nothing to do either with the trauma of the genocide. It’s a money thing, a power thing, don’t forget after all, it’s the Jews we are talking about.
The antisemitism isn’t in his train of thought, it is in those that take the absurd and reward him, fund him and applaud him. Antisemitism is the adoring crowd of the village idiot.
So yes, the appearance of two of the anti-Zionist clowns in a single conference at the University of Westminster that spent so much time dealing with Zionism, Israel and Jews is an antisemitic act. It is about time everyone started realising this is the case.