"Anti-Semitic" Labels Used as Political Tools
Linda S. Heard - The Online Journal 08.26.03
Star of "Braveheart" Mel Gibson is the latest in the line of actors,
writers and celebrities to be dealt a blow to his career: a label
planted on anyone who dares to reflect Jews or Israel in anything other
than a favourable light. Yes, you've guessed it, the dreaded term
"anti-Semite." His crime? Gibson directed, produced and financed "The
Passion" - a movie based on the Christian Gospels, centering on the life
and crucifixion of Jesus.
In an attempt to deflect the accusations of various Jewish interest
groups, Gibson organised a series of private screenings so as to gauge
the views of journalists, film critics and religious leaders, including
Jews, none of whom perceived the movie as being anti-Semitic.
"Neither I, nor my film are anti-Semitic," stressed Gibson. "Nor do I
hate anyone, certainly not the Jews. They are my friends and associates,
both in my work and social life." If Gibson seeks prolongation of his
Hollywood career, he may have to go a lot further with his protestations
than that in order to shake off the anti-Semitic slur.
While there is no doubt that anti-Semitism has existed throughout the
ages and should be condemned, as should all form of racism and bigotry,
it is also true that the label is currently often misused and
What is "anti-Semitism?" Its etymology is confusing as it does not mean
"hatred of Semites," which would also include most Arabs. The term has
come to mean solely "hatred of Jews" and implies an irrational hatred,
hatred due to their religious, ethnic or cultural differences.
In other words, "anti-Semitism" is another way of saying "bigoted or
racist attitudes towards Jews"...or it should be. It is true to say that
the pogroms against Jews in Russia and the Nazi Holocaust were, indeed,
horrific racist acts against a people, anti-Semitic mass murders, but it
is also true that accusations of anti-Semitism are brandished by the
Israeli government and Jewish groups as protective mantels deflecting
not only anti-Jewish/Israel bigotry but also justified criticisms of
Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.
Gretta Duisenberg,(a heroic and marvelously principled dutch lady) wife
of the governor of the European Central Bank and chairperson of Stop the
Occupation, was blacklisted by Israel as an anti-Semite for flying a
Palestinian flag from the balcony of her home. The writer A.N. Wilson
metamorphosed into an "anti-Semite" in Zionist eyes for daring to
compare the damage inflicted upon the Church of the Nativity by Israeli
Defence Forces (IDF) with the destruction of the Buddhist statues in
A French ambassador was deemed an anti-Semite for describing Israel as
"a small shitty country," a remark related to the aggressive policies of
the Israeli government, rather than the Jews as a people.
Actor Marlon Brando blotted his copybook when he announced on Larry King
Live, "Hollywood is run by Jews. It is owned by Jews and they should
have a greater sensitivity about the issue of people who are suffering."
Even though this may technically be a reality, it is also considered an
anti-Semitic statement because it is perceived to bolster that old
canard used by genuine anti-Semites - that of a Jewish conspiracy to run
Vanessa Redgrave is an actress who has spent her life as an advocate for
the less fortunate. Yet she has been badly maligned by those who point
the finger of anti-Semitism. Redgrave opposed the Vietnam War and
championed freedom for Soviet Jews, receiving the Sakharov Medal for her
Despite her good works, in 1980, effigies of the actress were burned
outside CBS studios in both Hollywood and Philadelphia all because she
had been selected to play the role of a concentration camp inmate in
"Playing for Time," a movie made for television. Jewish Defence League
leader Irv Rubin said of the casting: "It's a horrible insult. Six
million Jews will roll over in their graves."
The Boston Symphony Orchestra went as far as to cancel a performance of
Oedipus Rex narrated by Redgrave, concerned that her involvement would
offend the Jewish community.
The cause of the outrage? Redgrave had previously financed and narrated
"The Palestinian," a documentary about the Palestinian struggle.
Nowadays, Zionist organisations and websites are targeting Arabs as
so-called "anti-Semites," citing political cartoons in the Arab press as
well as programmes on Arabic channels as "evidence" of this.
Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism they say in a grotesque distortion
of the essence of anti-Semitism, while conveniently forgetting the
apartheid wall being constructed through Palestinian lands, the
thousands of Palestinian youths languishing in Israeli prisons, the land
grab of the illegal settlers and the extra-judicial assassinations
regularly perpetrated by the IDF - in short, the evils of occupation.
The more "anti-Semitism" is used as a shield against political
criticism, the more it is devalued and the less clout it will carry when
attached to real haters of everything Jewish. There is even a label
given to Jews who speak out against Israeli aggression: "self-hating."
Those who deplore the treatment meted out by the Israeli authorities to
the Palestinians are either one or the other, whereas activists against
the policy of other governments are often perceived as humanitarian.
Truth Be Told
If the truth be told, the Semitic recipients of racism in today's world
are not the Jews but the Arabs who in the U.S., and to a lesser extent
in Europe, are having to unfairly defend themselves from slurs of
religious extremism or even links to terrorism. The Arabs are the ones
who are today suffering from negative stereotyping as well as having to
respond to insults piled on to their culture and religion.
Perhaps "anti-Semitism" should be expunged from our lexicon. Its blatant
misuse has destroyed both lives and careers, often without foundation.
Its interpretation is too broad and its definition shaded with
historical connotation. Let's instead say it like it is.
People who hate Jews simply because they are Jews are either religious
bigots or racists no different from those who hate Muslims, Arabs or any
other religious group or ethnicity.
Turning once again to the issue of Mel Gibson, surely his film should be
judged on its own merits. It's a portrayal of the Gospels as he sees
them. If audiences adjudge it anti-Semitic, then this will reflect at
the box office. If not, then Gibson will be vindicated.
The film's viewers should be the appraisers, not just the guardians of
Zionist ideology waiting to cry foul on every occasion someone
momentarily steps on their oh, so sensitive, and largely disingenuous
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She
welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at
The Truth Seeker - "Anti-Semitic" Labels Used as Political Tools
Marlon Brando, one of the greatest american actors of all times whose
films made hollywood history and influenced entire generations, never
lost his humanity or his belief in upholding the truth even to the
"displeasure" of his Hollywood bosses. He blotted his copybook when he
announced on Larry King Live, "Hollywood is run by Jews. It is owned by
Jews and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of
people who are suffering." AJGY