I AM disturbed to read of rising antisemitism in France (In the World Today, National, November 13). I have long been troubled by the failure to distinguish Judaism as a religion and Zionism as a secular ideology.

It is the Zionist project of the state of Israel that arouses so much hostility in the world. It is a settler-colonialist project, and it arose from 19th-century ideas about race. As its treatment of its Arab population and its neighbours shows, it is still a racist project. It has nothing to do with religion. Netanyahu’s quoting of scripture, and claim that they are only regaining possession of the land that “God promised” to the Jewish people, is deeply cynical, as he himself has admitted that he is not religious and does not believe in God.

Despite Netanyahu’s words, many Jewish people worldwide and, courageously, in Israel itself, have come out to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, by including criticism of the state of Israel, only puts all Jewish people at risk. It is an outrageous conflation and I am disgusted that political parties have chosen to adopt it.

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Craig Mokhiber, the UN human rights lawyer who resigned at the end of October over the failure to take action over Gaza, has remarked that usually perpetrators of genocide try to conceal their crimes and investigators have to search through obscure archives to find evidence. The Israeli government is so confident in its impunity that officials have spoken quite openly about their intentions regarding the Palestinians.

The UN Genocide Convention obliges contracting parties to “undertake to prevent and to punish” genocide (Article I). It defines genocide in five sections, and Israel’s present actions clearly fall under the first three (Article II). It lists “punishable acts” which include genocide itself (Article III (a)) and complicity in genocide (Article III (e)). Governments like the US and UK which provide weapons to Israel as well as financial support are very clearly complicit. Persons in breach of the convention are punishable as individuals (Article IV). Unfortunately, it requires a state to bring a complaint under the convention to have it referred to the International Court of Justice.

The UK Government’s attempts to smear the demonstrations calling for ceasefire as “hate marches”, as “antisemitic”, and the rest, are just deeply dishonest ploys to divert attention from their own crimes in international law in not just enabling but actually assisting the Gaza genocide.

Surely the urgent need is to prevent the genocide, not punish it retrospectively. What use will that be to the thousands of dead?

Craig Murray has further discussed the convention and issues arising in his blog last Monday, November 13.
Robert Moffat

UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories Francesca Albanese has demolished Israel’s self-defence claim: “Under international law, Israel has the right to protect itself, not wage war against the people it has kept under belligerent occupation since 1967.”

Israel has launched a war it can’t win that will kill tens of thousands of innocents. It has no political vision apart from a continued dominance of the Palestinian people which means there will never be peace. No friend of Israel – which the UK and US purport to be – should think this is in Israel’s interest.

The analogy with America’s 9/11 is stunning. The US (Israel) overreacted, it had no geostrategic plan, it didn’t eradicate al-Qaeda or the Taliban (Hamas or Hezbollah), and any criticism of Bush or Cheney (Netanyahu) was branded pro-terrorist (antisemitic).

The parallels exist because political agendas lie behind both the US invasion of Iraq and Israel’s destruction of Gaza. The 19th-century military strategist von Clausewitz was right when he said that “war is a continuation of policy by other means”.

The US neocons used 9/11 to implement their Project for a New American Century, to take out America’s foes, starting with Iraq and now Russia and Iran. Netanyahu’s right-wing Israeli government is implementing its plan for a Greater Israel by seizing control of Gaza and the West Bank.

Both nations are led by arrogant people who believe they can do whatever they want without consequence. But as we saw with America’s 9/11 response, the result was more conflict, a loss of international prestige and less security. The same will be true for Israel.
Leah Gunn Barrett