MELISSA PARKE.- Criticism not same as racism (The Herald Sun 26.03.2020)

“Let’s reserve the term ‘anti-Semitic’ for those who truly deserve it”

There are a number of deeply disturbing trends in the world, but two I want to highlight today. One is the rise in global anti-Semitism, that is, hostility to or prejudice against Jews, of which the Holocaust is the most extreme example.  

The other disturbing trend is the rise in accusations of anti-Semitism levelled against people – including many brave Jews – who have criticized Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. 

Recently 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars expressed their concern about the mis-use of allegations of anti-Semitism, noting that: 

“…The threat of anti-Semitism does not originate from Palestinian rights activists, but mainly from the extreme right and from Jihadist groups. Denying that could alienate Muslims and Arabs from the vital struggle against anti-Semitism and hamper the possibility of building true solidarity between Jews, Israelis, Muslims and Arabs in fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.”

When the pro-Israel lobby spends much of its time in a relentless vendetta against critics of Israeli state policy, they debase the true meaning of the term ‘anti-Semitism’ and they let real anti-Semites – mainly far right white nationalists – off the hook.

This week saw the release by ASIO of its annual threat assessment, which noted the increasing danger to Australians from the rise in right wing extremism. In Australia this includes neo-Nazi groups such as Antipodean Resistance.

A number of recent mass terror incidents, for example in Christchurch and Pittsburgh, have been perpetrated by individuals from like-minded groups.

This ideology of race and terror is the very antithesis of what those campaigning for Palestinian human rights believe. To stand up for human rights is to fight racism in all its forms, including anti-Semitism; it is to uphold the rule of law against illegal actions; it is to seek justice where there has been injustice.

To say that Israel has become an apartheid state is not anti-Semitic; it is a simple statement of fact and international law. 

The so-called Trump ‘deal of the century’ merely makes transparent for all to see the travesty of justice endured by the Palestinians for decades.

Calling for Israel’s compliance with international law and respect for Palestinian rights is not the same thing as hostility to or prejudice against Jews. Indeed, there are many Jews who believe Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is illegal and immoral.

Let’s reserve the term ‘anti-Semitic’ for those who truly deserve it. 


Hon Melissa Parke is the former federal Member for Fremantle and a long-time advocate for human rights.


Melissa Parke is the Former Federal Member for Fremantle and Member, UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen.

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9 Responses to MELISSA PARKE.- Criticism not same as racism (The Herald Sun 26.03.2020)

  1. M Woods says:

    It’s absurd to find people rejecting the notion of a “Zionist conspiracy” when we see the exactly same tactics being employed by similar groups all across the western world. The undermining of democratic processes by Zionists is clear in the US (with AIPAC), in the UK (with the Board of Deputies and the laughable “Jewish Friends of Labour”) and in Australia with AIJAC. Those who have read this far will be familiar with the film “The Lobby”, which exposes the tactics of Zionist influence – and which reveals how Israel clandestinely funds these attacks on democratic processes. If not, worth watching.

  2. Jerry Roberts says:

    Why did the Jews work so hard to destroy British Labour and Jeremy Corbyn with the anti-Semitic smear? It was overkill. Labour lost because it failed to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Labour was divided between yuppies who wanted to remain and workers who wanted to leave. The workers solved the problem by voting Tory. The ALP has a similar problem that comes to a head with the mining industry in general and coal in particular.

  3. paul walter says:

    Thanks Melissa Parke.

    Anti Zionism is NOT anti semitism.

    It has been shameful that Lobby groups have employed even respected journals like the Guardian to attack critics of Israel’s brutal, appropriative anti Palestinian policy and used anti semitism to smear people like George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn.

    Anti Semitism itself is too serious a problem to be trivialised as cover for dishonest attacks on intelligent people critiquing serious abuses of human rights and their causes.

  4. Jim KABLE says:

    Thanks Melissa for calling out the (Melbourne) Jewish Lobby in the main – for its attacks on Jews and others – who stand up against the criminal Netanyahu, the weird fundamentalist Christians of the US (Trump somewhere in amongst all of that – and our own PM too – as they ratchet up their further theft of Palestine – and turn what is left into apartheid like “~stans” -pockets of Palestine isolated from each other. And “recognise” Jerusalem as the capital even as the Israeli government ethnically cleanses it. Shame Scott! Shame any Australian politician who has taken free trips to Israel! (And done their best to hide those visits.) Even as we write here on this forum the Israeli regime is making life in this corona-virus pandemic days harder and harsher than ever for Palestinians – for Arab Israelis, too – they never stop in their demonisation! In their ugliness against Palestinian children – arrested aged 11 – kept from families in their Israeli gaols – sexually abused I hear via some reports. I think it is unfair to blacken the reputations of all Israeli citizens – many of whom know the criminality of Netanyahu and his thuggish supporters – but how are they to stand up to him when he controls the military? There are a number of leaders one hopes this Covid-19 time will assist in waking up to themselves. Trump and Morrison both!

  5. Felix MacNeill says:

    Thanks. Confected accusations of anti-Semitism are a lazy, dishonest and ultimately dangerous way to prevent fair, reasoned and evidence-based criticisms of some Israeli government policies being aired and discussed openly and dispassionately.

  6. Kien Choong says:

    It’s interesting that we avoid “watering down” the term “holocaust” by reserving it to refer almost exclusively to the genocide conducted by Nazi Germany (and refusing to use this term to describe any other types of genocide). On the other hand, we freely extend the term “anti-Semitism” to any type of racial prejudice that is directed against Jews.

    I would argue that there is something terrible about anti-Semitism that is much worse than merely racial prejudice. I realise this is a contested term, but to me, “anti-Semitism” seems to be a peculiarly European/Christian phenomenon, an irrational hatred, not mere prejudice.

    Jews undoubtedly face prejudice in many non-Western countries (arguably no worse than the prejudice that black Africans might face in China). But the European/Christian prejudice against Jews is of a different quality. As I understand it, many Jews had sought to fit in by converting to Christianity, but this did not stop Europeans from questioning the authenticity of the conversion.

    So I respectfully submit, do not “water down” the meaning of anti-Semitism.

  7. Rex Williams says:

    It is pleasing to see anything written by Melissa Parke.

    Yes, anti-semitism is unacceptable as is anti-black, anti-white, anti-democratic, anti-Palestinian, in fact anti anything that has its basis as a desire to antagonise any group of people. Similarly, anti-apartheid, anti-military occupation, anti-inhumanity, anti-murder, anti-child killing and anti-bestiality should be seen just as unacceptable.
    Hard to argue against that.

    Based on that logic, should one have a right then to be anti-Zionist when the first item on the list of the foundations of Zionism is “the unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland ‘Eretz Yisrael’, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation”.
    Now that alone opens up a complicated subject because one is tempted to ask what then constitutes “Eretz Yisrael”?

    According to Herzl, the father of Zionism, “Eretz Israel” is generally stated as being all the land from the Euphrates to the Nile consisting of Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, parts of Egypt, Kuwait, parts of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Now, who in their right mind would have as an objective, a claim on all of those countries or parts thereof? Israel has already stolen 85% of Palestine and parts of Lebanon and Syria and have a fascistic control on the rest as well, being a cruel military occupation in fact, damaged Lebanon seriously over the years, have Jordan totally surrounded, have attacked Syria, occupied parts of that country and also attacked Iraq, all based on various pretences. Who knows what is next on Israel’s agenda.

    Does a disagreement with Israel’s crimes and aggression make one anti-Semitic? It is after all, only the Jewish government in Israel that are to blame for all those crimes? And all those planned in the future.

    Confusing, eh? That is the way it is designed to be. Like all those people who have been dining out for seventy years on “The Holocaust”, anti-Semitism / anti-Zionist / anti-Israel are all used by those who by their everyday actions, supported by their parasitic control over the corrupt USA, intend to own all the lands listed above as Eretz Israel. The world shouldn’t allow that to happen, should it?

    While on the subject, let us ask if Netanyahu and his cronies, if they are anti-Iranian, anti-democratic, anti-Palestinian, anti-Chrisitan, anti-Muslim and on it goes.

    Let us make all those unacceptable as well.

  8. Mac Halliday says:

    Congrats Melissa for your courage and insight on the Palestine matter.
    The more ignorant of true history , the more rabid the criticism of the Arabs.
    The book called “Balfour in the Dock” by Colin Andersen is disturbing and enlightening.

  9. Terry Moloney says:

    Well made point, Melissa.

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