In 2017, academics Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian submitted a series of fake academic papers designed to expose the intellectual rot within Critical Theory, and academia more broadly. One was titled “Our Struggle Is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism”, a cut-and-paste job of a chapter from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf interspersed with academic jargon which was, nonetheless, published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.
The spoof academic articles, The Times argued after the hoax was exposed, was designed to reveal the “low standards”, lack of rigour and the willingness of otherwise sober minds take seriously, and even publish, pseudo-intellectual nonsense as a long as it conforms to the desired political agenda.
That experiment came to mind as we read and re-read the much discussed ‘report‘ by the NGO B’Tselem, smearing Israel with the charge of apartheid – 4300 words of baseless and bigoted accusations which was promoted by the Guardian.
Though journalists at the Guardian are known for their credulousness in the face of even the most specious accusations against Israel, you’d think that the seasoned reporter who read the report – their Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes – would have questioned the seriousness of the screed upon scrutiny.
For one, the B’Tselem report’s argument that Israel is guilty of apartheid is based in part on the argument that Jerusalem’s restrictions on Gaza are not based – as us mere simpletons believe – on the desire to protect its citizens from Hamas and Islamic Jihad weaponry, but, rather, due to political discrimination. Gaza, B’Tselem complains, “is home to about two million Palestinians” who are “denied political rights“, later adding that “Israel treats every [exit] permit issued to a Palestinian [in Gaza] as an act of grace rather than the fulfillment of a vested right.”
So, based on this logic, it seems the only way to combat this form of “apartheid” would be to institute open borders and/or grant Gazans who of course aren’t Israeli citizens, including, presumably, Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, the same rights bestowed to Israeli citizens.
Insane, right? Evidently not to Oliver Holmes or his editors.
But, the B’Tselem authors turn up the crazy even more in their contention regarding what motivates Israel’s refusal to grant full civil rights to antisemitic extremists: “Jewish supremacy”. That’s right. It isn’t the desire to protect against Hamas’s homicidal designs which explains Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement in Gaza, but the belief by Jews that they are racially/ethnically superior to Gazans.
The term “Jewish supremacy” is in the very title of the report:
In fact, a reference to Jewish supremacy in some form is employed 15 times in the B’Tselem report. Here are two examples:
the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.
This fragmentation [of the Palestinian territories] not only helps Israel promote Jewish supremacy, but also thwarts criticism and resistance.
The Guardian reporter fails to challenge this moral inversion, by which the Jewish state’s efforts to defend itself from Hamas’s racist–motivated violence is characterised as itself a form of racism. Nor does he seem to recognize that the B’Tselem report includes, as examples of Israeli “Jewish supremacy”, any Israeli law that’s consistent with Zionism, such as the law of return.
Zionism, B’Tselem seems to suggest, is intrinsically racist, and a form of “Jewish supremacy”.
However, what appears clear is that Holmes is unfamiliar with the intellectual history of the term “Jewish supremacy” in the context of Zionism, and broader efforts to describe the Jewish state as an intrinsically racist endeavor – an antisemitic idea according to the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance.
The latter stage of the Soviet Union’s global anti-Zionist and antisemitic propaganda campaign, wrote Russia scholar Izabella Tabarovsky, “forged in popular consciousness on the far left false links between Zionism and racism” (and apartheid) – ideas used in the Soviet and Arab promotion of the UN’s “Zionism Is a Form of Racism” resolution of 1975.
And, it isn’t only from the left where this demonisation has been fashionable. David Duke’s “Ph.D.” dissertation was titled “Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism“, and he later wrote a book based on his “research” titled “Jewish supremacism: My awakening to the Jewish problem”.
Even leaving hateful rhetoric about ‘supremacist Jews’ aside, the concluding paragraphs of the report make it clear what the end goal for all correct thinking people should be: “to replace” Zionism, presumably with some ‘progressive’ polity where the inalienable rights of Islamist extremists to have their way with Jews are protected (a Hamas ‘Festivus‘ of sorts, beginning with their airing of antisemitic grievances, likely followed by genocidal feats of strength).
Unlike in the case of Pluckrose, Lindsay and Boghossian, the authors of B’Tselem’s own ‘awakening to the Jewish problem’ weren’t perpetuating a hoax in the strict sense. They clearly meant every word. Their ‘hoax’ was that they fooled reporters (like the Guardian’s Oliver Holmes) and activists (which undoubtedly includes a fair share of Critical Theorists) into treating their at times comically absurd anti-Zionist polemic as a trenchant “human rights” analysis.
B’Tselem, in an odd way much like the authors of the woke re-write of Mein Kampf, demonsrated that making horrible ideas politically fashionable can get you validated at the highest levels of elite opinion – revealing the moral rot within the human rights industry, and sections of the mainstream media as well.