The anti-Semitic prejudices of a group of halfwits from two Sydney private schools were recently exposed when their Facebook doodlings came under media scrutiny (Facebook scandal shames students, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/12/08). Predictably, the jerks responsible invoked the 'We were only joking/Some of my best friends are Jews' excuse: "'There was no intention of causing conflict or racial hatred', the student, who did not want his name published, said. 'It is a big in-joke among the private schools and young people in the eastern suburbs. 'We have Jewish friends and girlfriends'." Predictably too, they revealed themselves as equal opportunity racists: "The site contains what appears to be Arabic writing, giving it the appearance of a mock Islamic site." The Herald published a photo from the site showing a student (?) wearing a Sikh - Sikh! - turban with flanking Kalashnikovs - offensive anti-Muslim stereotyping that, again predictably, has gone unremarked by corporate media outlets.
The Zionist response, of course, was to invoke the Holocaust. "The Holocaust did not begin with the bricks and mortar of Auschwitz, but with words that dehumanised the Jews and other minorities and enabled their annihilation," commented Dvir Abramovich (described in a footnote as "director of Jewish Studies at the University of Melbourne and an anti-racism educator") in an opinion piece in The Age (The Holocaust began because words of hate went unchallanged, 11/12/08). And Abramovich's prescription, at least in part? National Holocaust education.
I say 'Zionist response' because nowhere in Abramovich's piece is there any mention of the author's allegiance to the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. Why so shy? As a columnist in The Australian Jewish News (something else omitted from his Age job description), Abramovich regularly comes out swinging in defence of Zionism. To cite but one example, he has attacked anti-Zionism as "clear-cut antisemitism" (Anti-Zionism is clear-cut antisemitism, 30/3/07). Leaving to one side the issue of his wholly illegitimate conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism (see my 9/3/08 post Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship 2), the core of Abramovich's argument is that "Anti-Zionism is underlined by a denial of Jewish national self-determination* and of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East."
[*Lengthy digression notwithstanding, it is essential to deal with this nonsense before proceding further with any discussion of Dr Abramovich's remedy for eruptions of anti-Semitism in Australian schools. Prominent anti-Zionist Israeli Uri Davis has observed that "Decent people would want to have nothing to do with a 'national liberation movement' that attempts to justify war crimes and crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, 2003, p 8) The "crime against humanity" referred to by Davis is, of course, the Palestinian Nakba - the mass expulsion of the indigenous Arab population of Palestine by Zionist forces under cover of war in 1948. The Nakba gives the lie to all Zionist propaganda of the 'Israel is simply Jewish national self-determination in operation' variety. To quote Davis at length: "The second truth relevant to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue is that an Israeli-Hebrew people has been created in the process of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. This people, like all other peoples, must be guaranteed their full rights under international law and in conformity with all UN resolutions relevant to the question of Palestine. It is in order to point out again in this connection that it is not the case that the United Nations Organization legitimized through the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) of November 1947 the establishment of a 'Jewish State' in the political Zionist sense of the term. Legally speaking, the UN did not intend the adoption of the said Resolution 181(II) as a licence for the armed forces of the Zionist organisations and subsequently the armed forces of the new State of Israel to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity including the mass expulsion of the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people from their homeland. In other words, it was and remains impossible for the General Assembly, conducting its business under the stipulation of the UN Charter, to have legally endorsed the political Zionist idea of the 'Jewish State', namely, a state that attempts to guarantee in law and practice a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes in the territories under its control. The constitutional notion underpinning the idea of the 'Jewish State' in the said UN Resolution 181(II), as well as its sister 'Arab State', envisioned the partion of British Mandate Palestine into two essentially democratic states, one with 'Jewish' trappings and one with 'Arab' trappings, joined together in the framework of an economic union, with Jersusalem as corpus separatum under a special international regime to be administered by the United Nations, neither the capital of the 'Arab State' nor the capital of the 'Jewish State'. One can only speculate as to what representations of 'Jewish', 'Arab' or 'international' trappings would be consistant with essentially democratic constitutions. One could imagine, for instance, that in the 'Jewish State' the first line on official road signs would be Hebrew, the second Arabic and the third English; in the 'Arab State' the first line Arabic, the second, Hebrew and the third English; and in the international city of Jerusalem road signs would be only in English to skirt the stupid thorny issue of whether the second line on official road signs should be Hebrew or Arabic. In terms of the said UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II) all Arab inhabitants who were ordinarily resident in the territories designated by the UN for the 'Jewish State' were and remain entitled to 'Jewish State' citizenship; all Jews ordinarily in the territories by the said Resolution for the 'Arab State' were and remain entitled to 'Arab State' citizenship; and all Arabs and Jews resident in Jerusalem were and remain entitled to an international Jerusalem citizenship. It thus follows that for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue to succeed it must take as a point of departure a critical examination of the right of self-determination for the Hebrew people constructed in the process of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. Such critical examination would aim to dismantle illegal institutional representations of this right as were put in place by the Parliament of the State of Israel in violation of the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the standards of international law (for example, the Absentees' Property Law of 1950), and replace them with alternative legal and other institutional representations such as are consistent with the same, notably with UN General Assembly Resolution 194(III) of December 1948 stipulating the right of return of all Palestinian Arab refugees." (ibid, pp 75-76)]
I return now to the matter of Dr Abramovich's proposed cure for outbreaks of anti-Semitism in the Australian student body - "national Holocaust education." It is necessary here to remind oneself that some cures are worse than their disease. As American academic Norman Finkelstein reminds us, Zionist alchemists such as Abramovich are adept at transmuting the historical Holocaust into ideological gold: "... 'The Holocaust' is an ideological representation of the Nazi holocaust. Like most ideologies, it bears a connection, if tenuous, with reality. Its central dogmas sustain significant political and class interests. Indeed, The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensible ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world's most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a 'victim' state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United States has likewise acquired victim status. Considerable dividends accrue from this specious victimhood - in particular immunity to criticism, however justified." (The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, 2000, p 3)
A more recent, Israeli perspective on 'The Holocaust' as ideological weapon comes in a new book, The Holocaust is Over, by former pillar of the Israeli political establishment and now ex/post-Zionist Avraham Burg. "Jews and Israelis," laments Burg, "have become thugs... All is compared to the Shoah, dwarfed by the Shoah, and therefore all is allowed - be it fences, sieges, closures, curfews, food and water deprivation, or unexplained killings. All is permitted because we have been through the Shoah and you will not tell us how to behave." (Quoted in John Mearsheimer's review, Invoking the Holocaust to defend the occupation)
While a shot of Dr Abramovitch's Zionist snake-oil may go some way towards curing our screenagers of anti-Semitic rashes, its main side effect, total blindness to Palestinian suffering, is a real concern.