A Quds Day rally in Times Square, New York, provided a comprehensive example of some of the depths of antisemitism present in some sections of anti-Zionist activism, as speakers were allowed to deliver speeches displaying profoundly antisemitic, and often bizarre, conspiracy theories and ideas.
One speaker, who we have not currently identified, referred extensively to the Haavara Agreement. The Haavara agreement was cited by Ken Livingstone as evidence of Hitler “supporting Zionism”, statements which Campaign Against Antisemitism described at the time as an example of how “a tale of Jewish malice is woven using scraps of real historical events” which aims ” to manipulate the history of Zionism in a dishonest way so as to degrade and poison the reality of Jewish self-determination as a whole”.
This speaker went further than Livingstone, portraying the agreement, which he described as the “Hasbara agreement”, as not benefiting “true Jews”. He claimed that “Jews who wanted to go to Palestine were spared, but the Jews who didn’t want to go to Palestine – the true Jews – were killed and butchered”. To describe Jews who fled to Mandate era Palestine as somehow not being “true” Jews is an abhorrent, antisemitic comment, which in effect demonstrates that this speaker would rather they were slaughtered in the Holocaust than find shelter in Palestine. It merely uses those who were murdered by the Nazis as useful political puppets, whilst disparaging survivors, including those who were liberated from the Nazis and subsequently found refuge in Palestine.
Unsurprisingly, he described Zionism as having “hijacked” the Torah in the same way as ISIS hijacked the Quran. Such a statement is antisemitic as it attempts to deny any Jew who does not subscribe to the speaker’s idea of “true” Judaism their legitimate Jewish identity. The comparison to ISIS is also unwarranted and inflammatory, suggesting some sort of moral equivalence between the two.
The speaker goes on to blame for everything from ISIS to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. According to the Definition of Antisemitism, Antisemitism “frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong””. It is hard to imagine a more clear example of this than using the Jewish state as a catch-all scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in world affairs.
He also repeatedly used the phrase “Zionist Nazi terrorists”. Quite apart from the fact that such a statement is inflammatory and wildly inaccurate, such terminology is also clearly calculated to hurt and offend Jewish Zionists, many of whom were victims, or had family members who were victims of, both terrorist attacks and Nazism. According to the Definition of Antisemitism, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is antisemitic.
If anyone was in any doubt that this speaker is really speaking about Jews whilst using “Zionist” as a convenient epithet, any such doubt is likely to evaporate when at one point he accidentally forgets to censor the word “Jewish”, uttering it instead of “Zionist”, before hurriedly correcting himself.
Another speaker, Mike Legaspi, suggested that “people like JDL… imperialism and the Zionists, like the Jewish Defense League, like the IDF” “take and steal money” from American working class people. The idea that Jews are dishonest, manipulating political and financial systems for their own economic benefit, is a classic antisemitic canard. According to the Definition of Antisemitism, “using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis” is antisemitic.
Legaspi also suggested that these groups were behind the killing of Michael Brown, the “water crisis in Flint” and several wars and atrocity, including the loss of life in Korea in the 50s and the Vietnam war. Once again, this is a clear demonstration of the antisemitic tendency to blame Jews or “Zionists” for everything that goes wrong in the world, no matter how far-fetched whatever connections they think can find are. The statement about Jews being behind the water crisis in Flint, in which drinking water was contaminated with lead, bears a striking resemblance to the medieval antisemitic canard that accused Jews of poisoning wells.
Another speaker, Nerdeen Kiswani, appeared to suggest that she wished for Israel’s destruction, leading the crowd in chants of “We don’t want two states…we want ’48”, a reference to the year in which Israel was founded. She has a long history of support for Palestinian terrorism.
Quds Day was founded by Iran in 1979 and is often used as a platform to preach for the destruction of Israel. Attendees frequently display flags of the terrorist organisation Hezbollah, a group which is committed to murdering Jews, not just in Israel but across the world. Campaign Against Antisemitism recently challenged police in London about the blatant antisemitism and support for terrorism on display on the streets at Quds marches. As such, these comments are not even remotely surprising, but instead the sort of toxic beliefs which are allowed to fester when antisemitism remains unchallenged.
It is unknown whether the police are looking into the speakers. A transcript and video of the speeches can be viewed here. The unidentified speaker is the first one to speak in the video.