Middle East Monitor / August 29, 2020
“The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies” – thus spoke the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl.
Herzl was far from the only Zionist to advocate for an alliance with anti-Semites, and this malign pattern still holds today.
In Ukraine, for example, Israel has been arming and training the Azov Battalion, a vehemently anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi militia.
One of Israel’s strongest political and moral allies in the present day is Christians United for Israel, an organisation which, based on dubious figures, claims a membership of some six million supporters.
The Christian Zionist group was founded by John Hagee, A US televangelist and mega-pastor with a lucrative line in “end times” theology books, DVDs and other assorted merchandise. Hagee once preached that Adolf Hitler was “a hunter” sent by God to chase the Jews “back” to Palestine in order to become colonial settlers and found the State of Israel.
Evangelical Christian Zionists like Hagee have a disturbingly anti-Semitic theology which prophetises that, at the end of history, the Jews will be split between those who convert to Christianity en masse, and those who are doomed to the fiery pits of hell.
And yet, Hagee is a firm friend and ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hagee gave the valedictory prayer at the dedication of the new US embassy in Jerusalem when it was opened in 2018.
Also addressing the attendees to that ceremony was another right-wing Evangelical leader, Robert Jeffress.
Jeffress is another anti-Semite racist and Islamophobe. During one interview with a Christian TV channel, he claimed that Jews, Muslims and Mormons are all going to hell.
“Islam is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell,” he declared. “Mormonism is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He continued: “Judaism – you can’t be saved being a Jew. You know who said that, by the way? The three greatest Jews in the New Testament: Peter, Paul and Jesus Christ.”
Israeli politicians like Netanyahu are no doubt aware of the hateful ideology of such allies. But as long as these allies are committed to political support for the State of Israel and defending its crimes, they do not care.
The Evangelical lobby, after all, still has an immense amount of power and influence in US politics. And – as Jewish support for Israel declines – it is gradually becoming a leading component of the Israeli lobby.
Christians United for Israel’s annual summit is starting to rival American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in terms of the big political hitters which it manages to attract.
Its virtual summit in June included speakers such as the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, Israeli war minister Benny Gantz, anti-BDS Minister Gilad Erdan, former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Given this true context and history, it should not be a surprise to find Zionists promoting anti-Semitism. After all, both Zionists and anti-Semites want to see Jews leave their home countries to become settlers in Palestine.
For some, this may seem counter-intuitive. But that relies on the common misconception that the word “Zionist” is equivalent to the word “Jewish” – it is not.
“Jewishness” is either a religious or a cultural identity (or both), whereas Zionism is a political ideology. This is an important distinction.
As the great Black American thinker James Baldwin put it: “In order to be a Zionist, it is not necessary to love the Jews. I know some Zionists who are definitely anti-Semitic. And to be a Jew is not necessarily to be a Zionist.”
One particularly shocking, if not surprising, example of Zionist anti-Semitism came earlier in August, in Scotland.
The news emerged that Edward Sutherland, an activist with the Confederation of Friends of Israel, was being investigated by the teaching regulator for anti-Semitic posts he made on Facebook.
Amongst the anti-Jewish screeds he spewed out were that Jewish lawyer Matthew Berlow’s “big nose” had been put “out of joint”. Caricatures of grotesque, big-nosed Jews have been a common theme of anti-Semitic propaganda for many decades.
Until his recent troubles, Sutherland manned the Glasgow Friends of Israel stall every weekend. Now he faces the possibility of losing his teaching job. In news from the “you couldn’t make it up” department, Sutherland’s job title is “head of religious and moral education” at the school where he teaches, Belmont Academy in Ayr.
Sutherland posted online using a fake Facebook profile – in the name of an invented persona he portrayed as a “pro-Palestinian” activist. The plan was to smear the Palestine solidarity movement. This could thus be fairly described as a “false flag” campaign.
There is quite a long history of Israeli and pro-Israel-lobby involvement in such things, for the purposes of propaganda against Palestinians and their supporters.
The Anti-Defamation League, for example, in the 1980s and 1990s, ran a spy ring in the US, infiltrating Palestine solidarity and other left-wing and anti-racist groups. They fed and sold the information on, to both Israel and the South African apartheid regime.
Their main spy, Roy Bullock, attempted a similar false flag, by attempting to forge a link between the Arab group he had infiltrated and a neo-Nazi Holocaust revisionist group.
And what better example of such campaigns, than the years-long attack on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for their “anti-Semitism”? Israel was deeply implicated in that too.
Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist living in London who writes about Palestine and the Middle East