We must change way we view these ac­tivists

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DAVID COL­LIER David Col­lier is a re­searcher and blog­ger who fo­cuses on an­tisemitism within UK based pro-Pales­tinian move­ments

I HAVE been in­ves­ti­gat­ing an­tisemitism un­der­cover for a few years now. Like most who see raw Jew-ha­tred at close quar­ters, I get tired of hear­ing those who be­lieve this is all an ar­gu­ment to de­flect le­git­i­mate crit­i­cism of Is­rael. So, I set out to show that hard-core an­tisemitism, com­pletely un­re­lated to the con­flict or Is­raeli pol­icy, flour­ishes in pro-Pales­tinian cir­cles.

Us­ing a pro-Pales­tinian alias, I fo­cused on the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Cam­paign, go­ing from branch to branch, mak­ing on­line con­nec­tions.

I be­came friendly with many of the UK’s lead­ing ac­tivists. What I dis­cov­ered shocked me. I had known that some ac­tivists held deep-rooted an­tisemitic feel­ings, but had no idea it was so com­mon.

I found posts about “Zion­ists” be­ing re­spon­si­ble for 7/7, 9/11, Char­lie Hebdo and the Holo­caust. I found Holo­caust re­vi­sion­ism and de­nial. Noth­ing seemed be­yond the scope of these ac­tivists. And it was every­where.

What I wanted to do was quan­tify the level of ha­tred. I waited for a chance to an­a­lyse a gath­er­ing of ac­tivists and re­search how many of those who at­tend sub­scribe to hard-core an­tisemitic ide­ol­ogy.

The op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self on Fe­bru­ary 6, when the PSC called for a mass demon­stra­tion to op­pose Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s visit to Lon­don.

I iden­ti­fied more than 70 ac­tivists. Thirty-six had ac­ces­si­ble so­cial me­dia ac­counts and 15 of those had posted con­spir­acy the­o­ries in­volv­ing Zion­ists, the Mos­sad, Jews or Is­rael.

These are peo­ple in­volved with PSC branches, who man PSC stalls in the high street. Sev­eral times dur­ing the re­search, I came across footage of these ac­tivists in stores demon­strat­ing against a shop stock­ing Is­raeli goods.

How dif­fer­ent does that ac­tion look, when you re­alise it comes from some­one who pro­motes an­tisemitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries?

The cen­tral find­ing sug­gests there is a cor­re­la­tion be­tween an­tisemitism and the level of anti-Is­raeli ac­tiv­ity, and that hard-core an­tisemitism is heav­ily rep­re­sented at anti-Is­rael gath­er­ings.

The real ques­tion is why unions, teach­ers, fire­fight­ers, politi­cians align with such a group.

If any or­gan­i­sa­tion had a sub­stan­tial fol­low­ing of peo­ple who talked about any other mi­nor­ity the way PSC mem­bers talk about Jews, no­body would go any­where near them. The PSC have Jeremy Cor­byn as a pa­tron and the NUT and TUC treat them like close friends. This must change.

Given this re­search, we can­not pre­tend this is just a fringe el­e­ment at protests. We need to change the lens through which we view these ac­tivists.

This isn’t about the Pales­tini­ans, nor about a hu­man­i­tar­ian cause. We need to treat them ac­cord­ingly.

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