The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Anti-Palestinianism makes the misuse of antisemitism possible

Beating back anti-Palestinian prejudice, which shouldn’t even exist in the first place, doesn’t feel like a win.



Anti-Palestinianism has been increasingly witnessed worldwide but especially within western liberal democracies. It presents itself in every attempt to portray any act carried by Israel and its lobby against Palestine, the Palestinians, and those advocating for Palestine, as inevitable for the protection of Jewish communities.

Antisemitism is a grave assault on humanity, and the world has witnessed firsthand its atrocious ramifications. But Never Again in no way contradicts striving for a free Palestine—if anything, these principles of universal rights, freedoms, and values go hand in hand. Using accusations of antisemitism to suppress voices advocating for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians dilutes the accusation of antisemitism and empowers real antisemites.

In the past few years, exploiting the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) for antisemitism has become one of the latest acts of subterfuge practiced by Israel and its lobby.

By employing its fluid, Israel-centered description, coupled with its vague language and the baseless association between Palestine advocacy and antisemitism, the Israel lobby used its newfangled definition to label and smear Palestine advocates, including Jews, as either antisemites or self-hating Jews.

Clearly, being exposed for being an apartheid state is disgruntling. But Israel’s supporters seem to be laboring under the delusion that the Palestinians will simply roll over and accept their lot and embrace their place within the apartheid system. All of this is to circumvent the bad press that might disrupt the charade of “the only democracy in the Middle East”

With the help of its lobby, Israel has been at work covering up its atrocities, weaponizing its distorted depiction of the IHRA definition of antisemitism to urge the international community to normalize discrimination and prejudice against the Palestinians. The act is both selfish and appalling.

Recently Maram Mansour, a Palestinian journalist, won a lawsuit against her wrongful dismissal by Deutsche Welle. Before her, Shahd Abusalama, a Palestinian associate lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, was reinstated after being unlawfully suspended and investigated by her university. These cases only represent those who were able to successfully fight the injustices done to them. Unfortunately, there are countless other Palestinians and world activists who have and continue to be wrongly prosecuted. You might have heard of some of their agonizing tales, but there are so many that no one will ever encounter. 

They were acquitted of allegations that were clearly baseless and should never have been taken seriously in the first place, and they were reinstated into positions that should never have been stripped from them. Not your typical win.

Indeed, although Maram and Shahd were ultimately vindicated, they shouldn’t have been on the proverbial stand in the first place. Let us pause here to examine what they have theoretically won. They were acquitted of allegations that were clearly baseless and should never have been taken seriously in the first place, and they were reinstated into positions that should never have been stripped from them. Not your typical win.

Why were the attacks against them warranted to begin with? The answer, simply, is anti-Palestinianism. And of course, the fact that they eventually “won” doesn’t erase the damage that has been done, after the slander has been made public. Who will be held accountable for spewing such accusations? No one. A quiet settlement occurs, followed by a noiseless admission of the falsehood of those accusations. Little more.  

In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising, as the campaigns have by now become rather predictable—the goal was never about delivering a guilty verdict; the tortuous, punishing battle to overturn it was the whole point. These women persevered in the face of this adversity, but who else might balk in the face of a similar threat? Who might think twice, from now on, knowing that they may be put through the ringer like Maram and Shahd?

Israel and its lobby use the smear of antisemitism to defend their aggressions and to warrant their anti-Palestinianism. 

Of course, Israel has much to fear from people like Shahb and Maram. It needs shielding simply because these advocates have dared to stand with Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, or Masafer Yatta—demanding a stop to the ongoing Palestinian Nakba. Israel is afraid when free voices call for the release of Palestinian political prisoners and for an end to the 15-year blockade on Gaza. 

Jews have nothing to do with this, and none of the above is a threat to Jews. It is, however, a threat to the continuation of a brutal apartheid regime. 

Ask yourself: would the Palestinians have acted differently had the religion or nationality of their oppressor been different? Or maybe Palestinians, like any oppressed group, are simply demanding their legitimate rights?

Mona Abuamara is the Ambassador-Chief Representative of the Palestinian General Delegation to Canada.





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