By Tariq A. Al Maeena
May 18, 2019
The ruling US establishment selectively ignores certain vital aspects when it comes to protecting and preserving human rights. Sometimes human rights are looked at purely from a religious or racist angle. American lawmakers exhibit blatant hypocrisy in this matter, but it’s rarely reported.
Take the case of the US State Department that released a report to the US Congress identifying any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism, warning that anti-Jewish attitudes and incidents were on the rise worldwide.
This was based on a study conducted by Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute. The study found an increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the globe, encompassing physical attacks and vandalism, from 406 in 2005 to 1932 in 2018.
The report went further and talked at great length about the intensification of anti-Semitic rhetoric among governments and international elites. Assessing the report, the State Department did not think twice before declaring that attacks on Israel are anti-Semitism — a bold statement indeed from an organ of the government that generally refrains from making extravagant statements.
“Anti-Semitism has proven to be an adaptive phenomenon,” the report said. “New forms of anti-Semitism have evolved. They often incorporate elements of traditional anti-Semitism. However, the distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is a criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that — whether intentionally or unintentionally — has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonising Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character.”
In its introductory overview, the report singles out governments with whom the US administration has no relations (Iran for example), or Syria and Venezuela with whom Washington’s relations are in a parlous state.
The report, however, cites pronounced examples of anti-Semitism among the nations that the United States has cultivated as allies, including Russia, Ukraine, and Iraq. This report followed years of research launched after US lawmakers passed a bill commissioning it.
Even UN not barred
The 94-page report suggests at length that Holocaust denial is a vehicle for anti-Semitism, focusing on the role Iran’s government has taken in its propagation. It also targets the United Nations, suggesting that some of its constituents, criticising Israel, promote a hostile environment for Jews.
“Regardless of the intent, disproportionate criticism of Israel as barbaric and unprincipled, and corresponding discriminatory measures adopted in the UN against Israel, have the effect of causing audiences to associate negative attributes with Jews in general, thus fuelling anti-Semitism,” it says.
Naturally, Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, welcomed the report, as did some members of Congress. “All too often, legitimate criticism of the State of Israel can veer into naked anti-Semitism characterised by vile hate speech,” said Rep. Howard Berman, the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “When hate speech arises, we should call it what it is — and do what can be done to stop it.”
Considering how the Israeli-fuelled Zionist lobby has throttled the US and other western legislative bodies, no US politician would dare say otherwise.
But what about the hate generated against Muslims because of their faith or attire? In the UK, a drive by some members of Parliament who called on the government to accept a formal definition of Islamophobia was rejected by the Home Office Minister who said there was “no need for a definitive definition”.
An incredulous explanation by Britain’s police chief, Martin Hewitt, that “defining Islamophobia risked heightening community tensions and could hinder counterterrorism policing powers and tactics” defies all logic.
The Parliamentary group on British Muslims wanted to define it to tackle what it called a “social evil”.
In Austria, a law has been passed to ban Muslim girls from wearing a headscarf in primary schools. The Jewish yarmulke and Sikh headgear are not included in the new ban.
In justifying their actions, the government said that the head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish yarmulke would not be affected because the law refers to head garments that “cover all of the hair or large parts of it.” How bloody absurd! Have they seen a Sikh with their hair partially uncovered?
Islamophobia is well tolerated in these countries. But when a hint of anti-Semitism rears up, everyone howls. It is unquestionably Israel’s policy of land grabbing and ethnic cleansing that generates criticism of the country.
Isn’t the Holocaust being perpetrated against the Palestinian people during the last 70 years a cause for unflattering rhetoric against a country whose raison d’etre seems to be the illegal thievery of others’ land and murder and oppression of its rightful owners? Bringing up Israel’s crimes to the fore is not anti-Semitism. It is a call for justice.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.