Middle East Monitor / August 25, 2023
Accusing Israel of apartheid is not anti-Semitic, Amos Goldberg, a leading Professor of the Holocaust at Hebrew University in Jerusalem is reported saying in German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeins Zeiting (FAZ). The expert on anti-Jewish racism made his remarks in response to controversial comments made earlier this month by Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Dr Felix Klein.
Klein was reported as saying that applying the framework of apartheid to discuss Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “an anti-Semitic narrative”. He made the comment during an interview with one of the Germany’s most widely read newspapers, Die Welt.
Responding to Middle East scholar, Muriel Assenburg, who said that Israel is “prima facie committing the crime of apartheid in the Occupied Territories”, Klein answered by saying that “To accuse Israel of apartheid delegitimizes the Jewish state and is, therefore, an anti-Semitic narrative.”
Rejecting Klein’s controversial remarks, Goldberg is reported as saying: “Accusing Israel of apartheid is not anti-Semitic—it’s describing reality”. Mentioning Klein, specifically, he added, “all decent people must decide which side of history they want to be on.”
Faz also mentioned a recent petition co-initiated by Omer Bartov, one of the world’s foremost Holocaust and genocide researchers. Bartov is reported as saying that there could be “no democracy for Jews in Israel while Palestinians live under an apartheid regime”. The petition has now been signed by more than 1,900 scientists, mostly Jews and Israelis.
Writing on Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day last year, Goldberg warned against the conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. “One of the most disturbing phenomena of the last decade or two is the identification of anti-Zionism and even harsh criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism,” said Goldberg writing in the Middle East Eye.
“These identifications are serious because they are derived from alleged lessons of the Holocaust,” Goldberg added. “And so it appears that any substantial criticism of Israel and Zionism is perceived in public opinion, and especially among national and international political and cultural institutions, as an ideological continuation of the Holocaust.”
Goldberg explained that, as a consequence, “the emancipatory struggle of the Palestinians for liberation and decolonization is tagged as a struggle that is, in fact, a direct continuation of the Holocaust and Nazism.”
Arguing that the identification of criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitism is unfounded if only because some of the harshest opponents of Zionism were Jews, Goldberg pointed out that “from the moment Zionism appeared on the stage of history at the end of the 19th century, opposition to it was born within the Jewish world.”