Shalom Kiwi slams the screaming skull

Shalom.Kiwi has slammed John Minto AKA ‘the screaming skull.’

Last week, John Minto, perpetual protestor and anti-Israel obsessive, sent an open letter to news editors, journalists and Members of Parliament, entitled “Don’t be caught out by ‘the trick’”. For reasons best known to him, Minto decided it was timely to share an extract from a 2002 interview – yes, 17 years old – with Jewish Israeli Shulamit Aloni who had, prior to the interview, been a Cabinet Minister in Israel and is now deceased.

When asked to comment on the fact that often people are called antisemitic when there is dissent expressed in the United States against policies of the Israeli government, she responded that: Well, it’s a trick, we always use it. ..They are talented people and they have power and money, and the media and other things…. And they are not ready to hear criticism. And it’s very easy to blame people who criticise certain acts of the Israeli government as anti-Semitic, and to bring up the Holocaust, and the suffering of the Jewish people, and that is to justify everything we do to the Palestinians.

Minto then asserted that in New Zealand, “the trick” is used to silence criticism of Israel and that newspaper editors, journalists and Members of Parliament are intensely pressured whenever they speak out against Israel by groups like the Jewish Council, the Israel Institute, the Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, and the Israeli embassy. […]

How many ways is this letter antisemitic? Let us count the ways. First, we note that Minto thinks that he is better able to determine what is antisemitism than Jewish people. We believe that Minto would not dare to tell Muslims, M?ori or gay people that what they consider to be prejudice towards themselves is actually not. Indeed, it is well accepted and understood by progressive people that minority groups have the right to determine and define prejudice towards themselves according to their lived experience. Denying Jewish people a right that every other minority group has is antisemitic.

Of course, Minto wouldn’t tell Muslims, Maori or gay people that what they consider to be prejudice is not.

[…] Jews, like any other minority group, are not homogenous. There will always be differences of opinion and experiences. We are not all programmed to think the same way, despite what Minto might think. Like any other historically oppressed people, there will be those in the group on the very fringes who have internalised the tropes and stereotypes historically applied to them, as Aloni appears to have. And there will always be bigots like Minto who will be only too willing to tokenistically exploit that internalisation for their own ends, as the proof that justifies their bigotry. Racial tokenism towards Jews is in itself antisemitism. That’s the second strike from Minto.

There is a small minority of Jews who are anti-Zionist and do not believe Israel has a right to exist. Naturally, these Jews are exploited by those wanting to see Israel gone.

But Minto has gone one step further with his antisemitism. Not content with refusing to accept that Jews – such as the highly respected representative organization of the Jewish community the Jewish Council – are best placed to determine what is and isn’t antisemitism, and tokenising a dead Jew, he’s gone for the trifecta! He has also suggested that accusations of antisemitism are an orchestrated campaign to smear anybody who criticises Israel, using the Jews’ money and power that we all know they have (wink wink).

This is a scurrilous accusation, one that has become common in the UK under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. It directly invokes the antisemitic conspiracy theory of an omnipotent shadowy cabal of Jews conniving to control and manipulate the world for their own nefarious ends. It inverts the oppressor and the victim so that rather than Jews being the vulnerable victims of antisemitism, the person accused of perpetrating it is portrayed as the victim of a smear campaign. And it potentially has a chilling effect on the victims of antisemitism, because if they raise their concerns, they risk compounding the antisemitism, by providing confirmation in the conspiracy theorist’s warped mind that indeed the powerful, pernicious Jews are at it again. If Minto reads this article, he will no doubt say “see, I told you so!”.

The Elders of Zion anyone?

[…] It is quite possible to criticise Israeli policies and advocate for the Palestinians without being antisemitic, as politicians and journalists often do, by:

* not supporting BDS (whose ultimate goal is the demise of the Jewish people’s homeland),

* not falsely accusing Israel of human rights crimes like apartheid while ignoring the actual human rights crimes of its neighbours (such as the ethnic cleansing and murder of Palestinians in Syria and the prohibition of Palestinians from numerous professions in Lebanon),

* also criticising the oppressive Hamas and the corrupt Palestinian Authority and their internecine hostility,

* also denouncing terrorist acts against Israelis and a political and cultural environment that celebrates and incentivises them,

* recognising the complexity of the situation and that this is not a good vs evil morality play,

* acknowledging Israel’s sacrifices and offers for peace,

* not attributing evil motives to everything Israel does while ignoring the genocidal intentions towards it of state and non-state actors in the region, and

* not applying tropes and conspiracy theories to Israel and its supporters that white supremacists commonly apply to Jews.

Antisemitism takes many different forms and, while Minto graciously acknowledges in his letter the “monstrous evil” of the Holocaust, he displays a myopia about the prevalence of it on the far left – those like himself who think they are incapable of racism – in the demonisation and delegitimisation of the world’s only Jewish state and the double standards applied to it.

Minto displays a pathological and delusional fixation on Israel, a country half the size of Canterbury, that cannot be explained simply as concern for Palestinians, and that is disproportionate to any other state in the world, including those whose human rights records are far, far worse. This qualifies as antisemitism, in consequence, if not in intent, although as far as we are aware Minto has never been publicly accused of such. Until now. If there was any doubt, his “don’t be caught out by ‘the trick’” caper has well and truly dispelled it. THAT is the smoking gun.

While I think that accusing someone of antisemitism shouldn’t be something done lightly, in this case, it’s pretty hard to disagree with that conclusion.