Anti-Israel bigotry and bias anti-Semitism Europe


 This article by Dr.Gerstenfeld was first published at Israel National News, and republished here with the author’s consent.

CITY OF Leicester

Cities against Israel

By Manfred Gerstenfeld

The city council of Leicester, UK, has decided to boycott all Israeli goods. It is a town in which 19% of the population is Muslim. The Labor party completely dominates the city council.1 This new event is opening yet another avenue in boycotting Israel. If one looks back into the history of boycotts, the only precedent which comes to mind concerns an occurrence in Norway.

In 2005, the region of Sør Trøndelag, which includes Norway’s third largest city, Trondheim, decided in favor of boycotting Israel. The Norwegian government subsequently informed them that this decision was illegal.2

Shimon Samuels, The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director for International Relations, described that proposed boycott of Israeli products in a letter to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as:

  • an act of anti-Semitism in the spirit of Hitler’s “don’t buy from Jews” campaign of the 1930
  • a continuation of Norway’s collaborationist history under its own Nazi leader, Vidkun Quisling
  • in violation of the freedom of commerce provisions of the European Union and the World Trade Organization
  • an embarrassment to the Norwegian foreign policy, as it places Oslo in the camp of the rejectionist of the Middle East peace process and the forces of terrorism3

Much of what Samuels wrote is also true for Leicester. There is one other, more recent aspect which was not relevant in the Norwegian situation: the continued massive, unselective immigration of Muslims into Europe, which has been the most negative event since the Holocaust for European Jewry, as well as for Israel.

Some of the previous battles concerning cities and their particular relationship to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have focused on other issues. A few are worthwhile mentioning.

In 2004, a group of pro-Palestinian radicals initiated a proposal that would have twinned Rafah, in Gaza, with Madison, Wisconsin. The Jewish community in Madison, which numbers about 5,000, was well organized, and decided to fight the proposal. It was ultimately defeated.4 Some other American cities, however, remain twinned with cities in the Palestinian territories.

Another important battle took place in Somerville, a city near Boston, in 2005. Eight out of eleven members of the Board of Aldermen, the local legislative council, voted that the city’s retirement fund divest itself from Israel Bonds and from any companies doing business with the State of Israel. The divestment resolution was the work of a grassroots group of anti-Israeli activists, which had been responsible for many anti-Israel activities in the Boston area.

The vote led to major debates, and it was ultimately reversed. By that time, it had only gained symbolic importance, because the mayor of Somerville had announced that he would veto any boycott decision.5

In the Netherlands, before the municipal elections of 2005, two local leaders of the Labor party proposed an anti-Israeli policy to the Rotterdam municipality. If it would have succeeded, it could have included a boycott of Israel by the city of Rotterdam. The reason was obvious: Rotterdam has a large Muslim population, and the Labor party has traditionally succeeded in getting a large part of their votes. The real problems of these Muslims concern many other concrete issues, including employment. These Labor leaders, however, believed that by attacking Israel, they could please their Muslim supporters, without having to spare any municipal effort for the real problems these people were facing. The anti-Israel proposal, however, went nowhere.

In 2008, anti-Israel policies in Rotterdam were proposed in yet a different way. The Socialist and the Green Left parties proposed to twin Rotterdam with Gaza. That would have meant contacts with Hamas, which has in its charter the goal of complete extermination of Jews in order to please Allah. Many Labor party council members of the municipal council and some others also supported the motion, yet it didn’t get a majority vote.6

All these proposals have public relations as their main goal. Keeping Israel in a negative light draws the attention away from the massive criminality of the Palestinians. That concerns both Fatah and its leader, Palestinian President Abu Mazen, who glorify Palestinian murderers of Israeli civilians. The criminality is even more pronounced in the largest Palestinian party, Hamas, a genocidal Islamo-Nazi movement.

Once a new initiative is made, such as the one by the Leicester city council, others will follow. Israel cannot effectively fight these developments with its present infrastructure: it needs a central anti-propaganda agency with a sizeable budget.7 Only such an organization can be effective in making the boycotters understand that there are no free anti-Semitic lunches.

2 “Avblåser boikott av Israel,” Aftenposten, 17 January 2006. [Norwegian]

3 Simon Wiesenthal Center, Press Release, “Wiesenthal Center to Norwegian Prime

Minister: ‘Quisling Returns to Oslo,’” 28 December 2005.

4 Joel Fishman, ‘A Case Study: Madison, Wisconsin, USA: A Battleground for Israel’s Legitimacy,’ Jewish Political Studies Review, 16:3-4, Fall 2004.

6 Manfred Gerstenfeld, Het Verval, (Amsterdam: Van Praag 2010), 66-67.

7 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “How to Efficiently Fight Anti-Israel Propaganda”, The Jerusalem Post, 25 November 2014.

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