Students for Justice in Palestine lump Zionists with fascists and white supremacists, urge physical violence against them

I’ve always seen Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as an anti-Semitic organization, since they’re “anti-Zionist” (that’s the euphemism for “anti-Semitic”, just as “states’ rights” was once a euphemism for “segregation”). How can you say you’re not anti-Semitic if you are against the existence of Israel as a homeland for refugee Jews? Here is the only definition of “Zionism” given my personal definition authority, the Oxford English Dictionary:

Now you can say you’re not anti-Semitic—only against some of the policies of the state of Israel—but it makes much less sense to say that you’re not anti-Semitic but are anti-Zionist. That is saying, “I have nothing against Jews, but I think their country, recognized by the UN in 1949, should be abolished.”

(Note that up until World War II, anti-Zionism was not equivalent to anti-Semitism, for there was a real debate among Jews whether they should assimilate into their home countries—the anti-Zionists—or create their own country to afford them protection from pogroms—the Zionists. The Holocaust ended that debate.)

You can confect fine distinctions here (Regressive Leftists are good at that), but watching the behavior of student organizations like SJP, it’s hard to deny that they’re largely anti-Semitic. This is supported by a new post on the SJP Facebook page from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UI).

Last Tuesday some student groups, including the SJP, sponsored a “smash Fascism” rally on the UI campus, and on that day, in response to criticism from Jewish and other groups, the SJP issued the statement below (indented).

Note that it lumps Zionism with white supremacy and fascism as movements that “destroy intersectional movements for mass liberation,” and then goes on to justify physical violence against the latter two groups (and, I claim, implicitly the first) as a response. Bolding is mine, as are comments flush left.

**For Immediate Release: Organizers’ Statement on Attacks Against Anti-Fascist Demonstration

We, the collective organizers of the “Smashing Fascism: Radical Resistance to White Supremacy” rally, are disgusted with the preemptive backlash our event has received. This opposition highlights the unholy union of American fascists, white supremacists, and Zionists which seeks to weaken and destroy intersectional movements for mass liberation. While we know these criticisms are destructive or rhetorical, we find it necessary to address them and center our narrative.

Do these people not know that the white supremacists, with Nazis among them, despise Jews and Zionists, and vice versa?That if white supremacists got their way they’d persecute Jews mercilessly—maybe even worse than SJP does now? It’s just like these uneducated students to stuff such diverse and mutually antipathetic groups into one “basket of deplorables.”

And here follows the obligatory and familiar argument why Nazis and fascists (and Zionists by implication) shouldn’t have free speech. Because speech = violence! (Along with “racism = power + prejudice”, that’s one of the two great Doublespeak Equations of our time.) Here’s what the kids and the Regressives are now espousing:

We are told that all people deserve a right to freedom of speech and expression. We are told that all have equal say in our society. This, obviously, is not the case. The white liberal establishment barely bats an eye when anti-fascist protesters are attacked by Nazis and white supremacists. The establishment is silent when it comes to the murder of black, brown, and Indigenous folks–especially queers of color, women, and femmes. The suppression and blacklisting of Palestinian voices and activism are inevitable results of the pro-Israel status quo in the West. But just as oppressed and marginalized voices are made oppressed and marginalized by unjust systems of governance and societal organization, so too do these forces seek to protect the rights and speech of literal Nazis, of white supremacists all along the political spectrum, and those who seek to implement and continue all manner of ethnic cleansing or indigenous genocide. This speech is not just expression but violence. If given the opportunity, American fascists and white supremacists would complete the settler-colonial project which enabled the founding of this country centuries ago.

No free speech for Nazis! And probably not for Zionists, either.

To begin with, I don’t see a pervasive and systematic silencing of black, Palestinian, and other marginalized voices; those voices are in fact is much of what you hear in the mainstream media these days. If you don’t believe me, read the New York Times, which had a big osculatory article about “Brooklyn homegirl in a hijab” Linda Sarsour, and just yesterday published a pro-BDS editorial by Roger Waters. On college campuses, it is pro-Palestinians, not Jews, who dominate student discourse about Israel. And it is the pro-Palestinians like SJP who shut down talks by Israeli speakers, not the other way around.

Further, the turning of “speech” into “violence” is a deliberate alteration of language designed to do two things: shut up those whose speech you don’t like, and justify your own physical violence against such people, which SJP is attempting to do in advance. To wit:

We have been attacked for “advocating violence”. Apparently the language of “smashing fascism” has connotations too severe for those who believe that being nice to Nazis may curry their favor. We do not believe there is any other option when it comes to dealing with fascists and white supremacists. Granting them any platform will only lead to further normalization of their violent ideologies. Granted, violent resistance is not always the best option. Nonviolence and peaceful civil disobedience have their places and have achieved great change throughout history. However, violent resistance–whether it is a black bloc or full-scale armed conflict–also has its place. The struggle for liberation must exist on multiple levels and scales–it cannot, and will not, be confined.

The only answer to the claim that “violent resistance to speech has its place”, at least when it comes to campus demonstrations, is “no it doesn’t, you thugs.” The statement above is part of SJP’s a priori “philosophical” attempt to justify attacks on white supremacists, Zionists, and fascists. (Note that who is a “fascist” isn’t defined: does that include all Trump supporters?)

And here we go with SJP trying desperately to show that they are not anti-Semitic:

Possibly the largest and most disingenuous charge against us is that of anti-semitism. We, the organizers of this rally, abhor anti-semitism. We see it as both an evil unto itself and another manifestation of white supremacy. Anti-semitism and Nazism have clear present and historical links. These charges of anti-semitism are toothless and based in a conflation of anti-semitism and anti-zionism. Criticism of the state of Israel and its practices is totally separate from attacks on people of the Jewish faith and heritage. The former is a political position based in opposition to state sponsored violence, apartheid, and settler-colonialism; the latter is a form of hatred that has no place in any movement for liberation.

Well, that sounds good, doesn’t it? Except that “anti-Zionism” is not the same thing as “criticism of the state of Israel and its practices.” It’s almost a cottage industry in Israel for its Jewish residents to criticize the government, but that doesn’t mean they want their country to disappear. What the SJP is saying above, which is reminiscent of what people said about segregation in the deep South, is “We abhor any mistreatment of Mr. Goldberg or Ms. Finkelstein; we just don’t think they should have their own country, which of course should be abolished, with Palestine extending ‘from the river to the sea.'” If being against the existence of Israel isn’t anti-Semitism, is being against the existence of  France not “anti-French”?

This finely mendacious parsing is a patronizingn and unconvincing way for SJP to look liberal and empathic. But let’s be clear: anti-Zionism, no matter what the mealymouthed students say, is anti-Semitism.

And so the SJP shows its hand in the next paragraph:

Additionally, pro-Israel campus groups have maintained contact with and may have requested an increased presence of campus and area police. This was not at the request of rally organizers and in reality runs counter to our ideals. The police, at all levels, represent white supremacy and the preservation of a racist, classist, and sexist society. Increased levels of policing at events like this present a clear danger to black, brown, poor, and queer and trans members of our community. Such actions show that Zionist campus groups do not have a commitment to fighting for justice and have no problem siding with and introducing oppressive forces within radical spaces.

Oh dear: how dare those fascistic Jews ask for police protection from SJP members who’ve expressed their willingness to physically attack people? Further, the notion that all cops are enforcing white supremacy and preserving inequality is ridiculous. (Tell that to Chicago’s black Superintendant of Police.) Yes, some cops may be racist, but remember who protected both Antifa and the alt-right during recent demonstrations. The cops, of course. Would the SJP prefer to run amok and have no police around at all? It would seem so, for then they’d be able to beat up anyone they wanted.

The SJP’s screed ends this way:

We will continue to defend our communities and fight for our liberation. Our struggles are linked through shared histories and experiences of oppression. Today’s rally is not a culmination of our activism, but a beginning. We will continue to resist injustices which surround us, whether it be at the hands of the US government or this University. We will fight and we will win, by any means necessary.

In solidarity,
The Co-Organizers and Sponsors of “Smashing Fascism: Radical Resistance to White Supremacy”

Yes, “by any means necessary.” And you know what that means. While piously proclaiming its sympathy for individual Jews, the SJP then lumps those favoring a Jewish state together with white supremacists, implicitly calling for violence against them all. But, pray tell me, when they’re all in the fray, how do they tell a “Jew” from a “Zionist”?

h/t: Malgorzata

46 Comments

  1. Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this thoughtful, observant essay. Spot on.

  2. AlHunt
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    At the risk of over-simplification, I really think that while debates about what constitutes Anti-Semitism and it’s deeper meaning may be intellectually appealing it really comes down to this: for around 5,000 years people have not liked Jews and repeatedly tried to annhilate them for various reasons. So, rather than debating the inner meaning of its newest manifestation, accept that this has been and likely will always be the case. With one exception – Jews can and will fight back and make their lives far more difficult to take. I think that’s about it. We can wring our hands about how terrible it is that it’s happening again or we can make sure it doesn’t. Leave the words and debates behind.

  3. Malgorzata
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    sub

  4. Richard Sanderson
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Many on the far left who support these SJP groups, knowingly ignore the open antisemitism that many of its members and agitators engage in. In fact, a lot of lay pipes and help to facilitate their antisemitism.

    A lot of them drape themselves in the language of being “anti-racist”, but we all know just how many “anti-racists” are deeply antisemitic. A good example would be folk like Dan Arel – an bigoted antisemite who endorses physically assaulting women, who in turn, is defended by moderate “liberals” such as Peter Ferguson (Humanisticus).

    It is important to expose not just the bigoted antisemites, but those who help lay pipes for them.

  5. prinzler
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Those people are in the grip of a totalizing, self-righteous ideology that is driven by actual oppression and racism.

    That is a tough combination to handle.

  6. Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Have you seen the recent Maajid Nawaz article about the parallels between the creation of Israel and the creation of Pakistan? Both former British colonies, created by act of the UN to protect religious minorities. Both involved the displacement and relocation of large numbers of people. Etc., etc. Sorry, I can’t find a link right now, but it’s a great point and I can’t believe I’ve never heard it before, or even thought of it myself. None of the Defenders of Palestine argue that Pakistan is illegitimate and should be returned to India.

  7. Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Where any means are necessary, there is always a final solution.

    It’s amazing how much of this country is just utterly paranoid.

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I think the SJP’s call for physical violence undercuts their assertion that speech is violence. Similarly, they express “disgust” regarding “the preemptive backlash our event has received,” but I am assume that they have no problem protesting planned events of other speakers.

    • Posted September 8, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      That’s a great point. Speech is violence, but in response they feel the need for actual violence because, they say, speaking back is not enough.

    • abear
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      The same people that call speech they disagree with is violence, even if it doesn’t call for violence, but when antifa riots and commits widespread property damage that is not violence.

  9. Paul S
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    When people use violence to defend themselves against the SJPs aggression, what then?
    The SJPs haven’t thought this through and no good can come from it.

    • BJ
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      What happens then is every regressive left rag runs a coordinated campaign of articles about how “white nationalists attacked peaceful protesters who fight on behalf of oppressed Palestinians,” it gets plastered all over Twitter and Facebook, and suddenly a completely counterfactual narrative is formed.

  10. Randy schenck
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I do not see how this group could have friends from any direction as they seem to hate just about everyone. If they ever need assistance they will hardly get it from the authorities as they rip into them as well. Kind of a sad joke and obnoxious at the same time.

  11. Posted September 8, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we should just let the SJPs, the white nationalists, and others advocating violence have their way. Let them fight it out while the police simply prevent their violence from hurting others. This might require putting them together in an arena. Perhaps it could be televised and could place bets. For some reason I expect the SJPs will come out second best in tit-for-tat violence.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Enticing, but it cedes to the SJP that ability to identify “white nationalists,” and I doubt they are very discriminating or discerning in their labeling.

  12. Posted September 8, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post.

    The argument that anti-Zionists are not anti-Semites is easily debunked by plain statistical facts: there are around 15 million Jews in the world as of today. Half of them live in Israel and most of the Jews that don’t live in Israel have strong ties with the land or with their inhabitants. Pretty much all diaspora Jews have relatives in Israel.

    So how can they say that they are not antisemitic by being strongly against the place that is most central to the vast majority of the Jews? This is being disingenuous to the extreme.

    Putting in other words, ~90% of the Jews either live or is somehow connected to Israel. Thus hatred of Zionists necessary implies hatred of Jews pure and simple.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Yet another campus group that could really use some historical literacy. Ironic.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      +1.

      The thing I’m getting most sick of with these people is their ignorance. They’re supposed to be amongst the most intelligent, but they’re not even capable of putting forward a decent argument. Their solution to dissenting opinion is to close it down, by violence if necessary. Then they call themselves anti-fascist! :-/

      I saw a comment somewhere that I liked – they call themselves Antifa so they don’t have to learn to spell fascist.

      I think Jerry’s point about not being anti-Semitic but wanting to wipe Israel off the map is well made. That logic wouldn’t work with any other country/people.

  14. J. Quinton
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    “Granting them any platform will only lead to further normalization of their violent ideologies”

    This is some of the richest doublespeak I’ve ever heard. The entire response is about the normalization of a violent ideology: their violent ideology.

  15. biz
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    In a somewhat related strain, you should check out the latest dust-up where people have dug up old statements from Linda Sarsour explaining that she was “white” before she put on the hijab. Not only does it highlight her particular dishonesty, but it also highlights the ridiculousness of the intersectional left’s categories.

    • Posted September 8, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Right. By this criterion male orthodox Jews should be equal to blacks as they wear only black garment.

  16. tony in san diego
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Israelis are not the only Semitic people. One can oppose Israeli policy, without being anti-Semitic

    • BJ
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      The word “Semitic” has one definition, while the word “antisemitic” has another one. We all know this.

      • Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Yep. They aren’t fooling anyone.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 9, 2017 at 2:41 am | Permalink

        “We all know this.”

        Although it’s not something that’s always taught or that new generations are always exposed to early on. Which means there’s always a cohort of young adults who have to learn this anew. (It’s a shame that we’re stuck with “antisemitic” in the first place, but so goes language.)

        I wonder if we used “anti-Jew” instead if that would make more so-called liberals uncomfortable with such bigotry…

    • eric
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      Re-read Jerry’s second paragraph. I think it anticipates your point, and responds to it correctly. The PLO/Fatah called for Israel’s destruction from 1964-1993. Hamas has called for Israel’s destruction from it’s founding in 1987-now. In their May 2017 new statement of principles, they said they still didn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist they still reserved the ‘military option’ against Israel. That is not merely “opposing Israeli policy.”

      Back to the SJP…I think for a lot of them ‘anti-Zionist’ is just a dogwhistle phrase for opposing the existence of Israel as a state. Do any of these folks talk about how they are working to elect more left-leaning Israeli parties that will withdraw west bank territories and agree to a two-state solution using the pre-1967 borders? No. Can you imagine suggesting that, how it would be received? These folks don’t want to change Israel’s policies, they want Israel gone.

      • BJ
        Posted September 9, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        And why should Israel give back land that they won in multiple wars in which they were merely defending their country? Over and over, the countries around them tried to destroy Israel by military force. It’s not Israel’s fault that those surrounding them have chosen to continually try to take over the country militarily, and continually lost. If their neighbors weren’t so devoted to antisemitism and Israel’s destruction, they never would have lost that territory in the first place. Israel is the only country that people seem to think needs to give back land it won in wars it didn’t start. Just like every other double standard applied only to Israel, it seems there’s only one reason for this unique treatment…

        • eric
          Posted September 9, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          Israel is the only country that people seem to think needs to give back land it won in wars it didn’t start.

          Uh, what? There was that thing called the “Berlin Wall” you might have heard of. We kind of complained about it for 40+ years. Thought the Soviets were acting immorally and outrageously by keeping the bit of Germany they took over after WWII. There’s also WWI – despite Austria-Hungary being the initial aggressor, Austria and Hungary were ‘given back’ by the allied victors; neither remained territories of the victorious armies. And I’m sure there are many many other cases of the same.

          It’s actually quite common for victors, after a war, to cede back some or all of the territory it won. Precisely because, as in this case, not giving it back usually causes long-term simmering hostilities. Generations of resentment. Which is not good for the victors any more than it’s good for the losers.

          I have no doubt that many Palestinians (not to mention SA, Egyptian, Iranian etc. financiers of the conflict) would not change their attitudes one bit if Israel agreed to the pre-1967 borders. But many would, and at least in that case Israel would have practically the entire UN on their side, instead of just the US and Canada.

          • Malgorzata
            Posted September 10, 2017 at 1:06 am | Permalink

            The victorious side gives back territory after a peace treaty (East Germany is not really an example here: It was an “independent” country which became really independent after the collapse of the Sovjet Empire). Israel tried to give back the territory immediately after 1967 war (in exchange for a peace treaty) but the other side refused. You may remember the three “Nos” from Cairo. Eventually it worked with Egypt and Jordan. Not so with Palestinians During those years Israel proposed peace many times and all propositions were rejected by Palestinians (first Arafat, now Abbas). Israel gave Gaza back without any peace treaty nad got thousands of rockets in exchange. They cannot risk the same with the West Bank. The great majority of Israel’s population lives in the range of rockets from the West Bank, the bulk of their industry is there, their international airport etc. is there. Without a peace treaty, without guarantees that Iran and others will not supply even more rockets Israel cannot repeat the Gaza experiment. It would be almost sure suicide.

  17. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The U of I at Urbana-Champaign is my grad school alma mater. Sad.
    So the thing to look for next in the very least is a strong rebuke of this SJP chapter from the administration there. An open call for violence in particular must not be tolerable.

  18. BJ
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Don’t you love how Jews, oppressed throughout history and continuing to be the most consistently hounded ethnic group across the world, can be talked about within the regressive left/social justice community in ways that, if ever applied to any other minority, would result in beatings, death threats, intimidation, and likely expulsion by college administrators?

    The regressive left and — let’s be honest — the wider social justice community love double standards like this.

    • Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      It’s ok when they do it.

      • BJ
        Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        The worst part, to me, is the college administrators who allow this to go unchallenged, knowing that the people who bitch the loudest will be angry if they so much as release a statement condemning this antisemitism, and that whining (OK, it will be accusations of racism and oppression) will come not just from the students, but from the many antisemitic regressive professors.

    • eric
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Funny how the alt-left sees attacking Jews as a form of “punching up,” while since mideaeval times or earlier, pogroms against Jews were justified by claiming they were a wealthy elite.

      But remember, the new left is not not not anti-Semitic! Any similarity between modern intersectional anti-Zionist up-punching and older anti-Semitic elite-attacking is purely coincidental!

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 9, 2017 at 2:47 am | Permalink

      It boggles the mind. It also tears the heart.

  19. Harrison
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m willing to be charitable enough to assume that some regressive students are not actually anti-Semitic themselves and genuinely believe their own contorted narrative.

    However, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, regressives have a problem with the provenance of their ideas. They don’t pay attention to where an idea actually originated if it sounds like it will help them in the moment. This is how you get anti-libertarians reciting libertarian boilerplate arguments without even knowing it. That simply makes them look foolish. However when they cite anti-Semitic arguments which originate from genuine racist groups, it can no longer be regarded as an innocent if foolish mistake. Ignorance is not sufficient excuse.

  20. harrync
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    The SJP seems to want a violent confrontation with the Nazis and KKK without the police around. They should google “Greensboro Massacre” first. Communists v Nazi/KKK. Result: five dead communists, acquittals of all Nazis/KKK.

  21. Tim Harris
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Regarding free speech and its relation to violence, Farage has been in Germany addressing an extreme-right organisation. In his speech, he said, “Once you are able to speak the unspeakable, people will begin to think the unthinkable and that is how you beat the establishment.”

    The case of Anjem Choudary who fomented violence in Britain is also worth examining in connexion with the ideal of free speech.

  22. Tim Harris
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    And this, from today’s Independent:

    ‘Members of the UK’s first ever banned neo-Nazi terrorist group are using a loophole in the law to continue operating despite being outlawed by the Government, it has emerged. 
    The group was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in December, making being a National Action member a criminal offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but a former detective said police are left powerless to arrest neo-Nazis acting under new names.

    ‘Mr Collins said National Action has focused on Muslims but is fundamentally antisemitic, propagating Jewish conspiracy theories while fostering a “deep obsession with violence”.
    “They believe they’re going to be involved in some kind of war,” Mr Collins said. 

    ‘“This is preparation – they believe it’s necessary because there’s going to be a race war, which will be triggered by Islamist terrorist attacks, and then they will lead legions of white people into war against Jews.”

    ‘National Action was founded in 2013 but was not banned until it was tied to violent attacks and plots, including the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.’

  23. Filippo
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Sub.

  24. Posted September 11, 2017 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.


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