Anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and ‘bad facts’

We've stated repeatedly: Ritual squawking that "anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism" is just that—an empty ritual bereft of meaning—if we don't call out real anti-Semitism. Beyond that, the failure to call out real anti-Semitism only plays into the Israeli propaganda ploy that seeks to tar all anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism. A frustrating case in point is provided by Ben-Dror Yemini, who writes an opinion piece today on the Israeli news site YNet entitled flatly "Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism." Certainly providing examples of anti-Zionists who are anti-Semitic does not in itself prove the thesis. But one of the examples he provides really is pretty damn disturbing. Yemini writes:

Is Anti-Zionism also anti-Semitism? Let's check. While the recent war raged, the medical journal, The Lancet, published an open letter against Israel's alleged war crimes – another example of academics being recruited into the Hamas propaganda machine.

Two of the people behind the initiative were Dr. Paola Manduca and Dr. Swee Ang. Concurrent with the letter came an additional petition, claiming acts of slaughter, published by Israeli academics, among them members of the nomadic band of every anti-Israeli petition, like Shlomo Sand, Yehouda Shenhav, Anat Matar, Udi Adiv and Adi Ophir – good souls.

On the other side of the political map, the racist-anti-Semitic right, one finds American David Duke. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion appears amateurish in comparison to the dark plots he attributes to the Jews.

In late 2013, Duke was expelled from Italy following an attempt to set up an all-European neo-Nazi movement. As part of his smear campaign, Duke released a horror film, CNN, Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix, about the threat of world domination posed by Zionism.

What's interesting is the fact, as revealed by NGO Monitor, that both Manduca and Ang, from the Lancet letter, spoke highly of Duke's film and warmly recommended it – at the same time they were launching their anti-Israel initiative.

Manduca wrote: "See this video before it is removed from circulation – Please do pass on to others who you think would be interested and would pass on. The whole world needs to know." Hurry, hurry, because the Zionists may take the video down. They control the global media after all. Their control is so absolute, so much so that the anti-Semitic video still remains on YouTube.

The radical left and extreme right are divided on numerous issues. Yet when it comes to one particular issue, they are remarkably united – hatred for Israel and support for Hamas. Some would call it anti-Zionism. Its true name, unmasked, is anti-Semitism.

OK, let's try to do some fact-checking here. Wikipedia informs us that  Swee Chai Ang is "an orthopaedic surgeon who worked with civilians during the Lebanese Civil War," who wrote a book that "details her eye-witness account of the Sabra and Shatila massacre," entitled From Beirut to Jerusalem: A Woman Surgeon with the Palestinians. The "film" (if we may so flatter it) "CNN, Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix," is indeed online at the David Duke website. NGO Monitor is a right-wing pro-Zionist website mostly dedicated to accusing aid organizations and human rights groups of bias against Israel. A PDF online at NGO Monitor reproduces an e-mail apparently sent by Swee Ang (not Paola Manduca) to a list, slugged "Fwd: Fw: CNN Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix." She wrote in the e-mail: "Dear Friends, This is shocking video please watch. This is not about Palestine – it is about all of us!" The line "See this video before it is removed from circulation…" appears not to be Dr. Ang's own words, but was in the original e-mail that she presumably received from Duke's list and then cluelessly forwarded to her own list. The poor punctuation in her preface line indicates that she didn't give the matter much thought.

Additionally, the subject line of her e-mail indicates that it was forwarded twice—in other words, she received it as a forward, rather than receiving it directly from Duke's list. So, presumably, she got it second-hand, not realizing it was neo-Nazi propaganda, clicked on the link, was naively taken in by the Jews-control-the-world conspiranoia, and unthinkinlgy forwarded it to a list she is on. 

Does this make her an anti-Semite? Not necessarily, but it certainly makes her rather ingenuous, at the very least. Her faux pas haplessly provided propaganda fodder to Yemini, even if he distorted the facts a little. We hope that her friends on the e-mail list have already reprimanded her over this. But since the affair has now become public, we have no choice but to clear the air publicly.

You're welcome, Dr. Ang.

  1. Lancet anti-Semitism affair gets uglier

    This is turning into a bigger stink in Israel. Haaretz writes Sept. 22: "The leading British medical journal The Lancet has refused to disown or retract a harshly anti-Israel 'open letter for the people of Gaza' that it published in August, despite some of the letter's authors being exposed as anti-Semitic activists." Apparently both Dr. Swee Ang and Dr. Paola Manduca separately forwarded the David Duke video to e-mail lists. Questioned on the matter by The Telegraph, Dr Ang replied, with staggering niavete: "I didn't know who David Duke was, or that he was connected to the Ku Klux Klan. I am concerned that if there is any truth in the video, that Jews control the media, politics and banking, what on earth is going on? I was worried."

    For her part, Dr. Manduca issued a statement with the requisite denial that she is anti-Semitic. "[But] I legitimately use my right of freedom of opinion," she said, "and do not agree or value the politics of the government of Israel, nor of many others, including Jews in and out of Israel." Right, when the subject is anti-Semitism, just change it back to your "right" to protest Jews.

    Dr. Manduca, in a separate e-mail, also engaged in rank conspiranoia about the Boston marathon bombing, implying (of course) that it was perpetrated by Jews. "Let us hope that someone in the FBI is smart enough to look more carefully at the clues in Boston and find the real culprits behind these bombings instead of buying the Zionist spin," she said.

    And a third author of the letter, Dr. Mads Gilbert, apparently gave an interview to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in 2001 in which he said that the 9-11 attacks were a result of US foreign policy, and that he supported terror attacks in that "context."

    The Lancet has refused to remove the letter from its website. "It's utterly irrelevant. It's a smear campaign," editor Dr. Richard Horton, told The Telegraph. "I don't honestly see what all this has to do with the Gaza letter. I have no plans to retract the letter, and I would not retract the letter even if it was found to be substantiated."

    Which gives Haartez the opportunity to give voice to the journal's critics. "The Lancet is supposed to be a politically neutral medical journal," said Professor David Katz, an expert in infection and immunity at University College London. "The fact that they have given proven anti-Semites a platform and not rescinded it, even when confronted with the evidence, is appalling. They have allowed their hatred of Israel to blind them to the norms of medical science and the pursuit of reason."

    Our opinion is that The Lancet should indeed not remove the letter, because after all this controversy readers should have the right to see it. But they ought to run a note along with it repudiating the ugly wackiness of the signatories. Acting like this is a random "smear campiagn" is pretty disingenuous.