Wiesenthal Center: The Paradigm of Pro-Israeli Repression

Every year the Wiesenthal Center in the U.S publishes its list of the “top 10 antisemites” or anti-Semitic events. The Wiesenthal Center is a populist-right organization which receives very little international attention, except from populist-right organizations such as the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post or U.S President Donald Trump, who invited rabbi Marvin Hier from the center to speak at his inauguration.

This year, the Bank for Social Economy has been listed on the 7th place, because the Jewish Voice for Just Peace has an account in the bank.

It is important to pay attention to the Wiesenthal Center and its list because it exposes the mechanism by which the accusation of antisemitism is misused by pro-Israeli organizations to commit character assassination and attempt to delegitimize human rights activists.

Although Jews are less than 1% of the world’s population, and although the Wiesenthal “top-10” list covers the whole world, Jews are over-represented in the list. Except in 2017, the center accuses at least one Jew or Jewish organization every year of anti-Semitism, either directly or it accuses a non-Jewish organization or person of anti-Semitism because of their contact to a Jewish organization, as is the case in 2018, in which the Bank of Social Economy is accused of anti-Semitism for providing an account for a progressive Jewish organization.

When reading the lists of various years, it is clear that direct attacks against Jews and anti-Semitic statements are not enough to get into the list. Critique of the State of Israel, however, is a much easier way to earn the “anti-Semitism” accusation. Therefore, most of the world’s anti-Semites such as Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary does not have to fear appearing on the list, as long as he maintains his good relations with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. So is Netanyahu himself, who claimed that the idea to exterminate the Jews in the Holocaust was not Adolf Hitler’s idea, but came from a Palestinians, is not at risk of being named on the Wiesenthal list.

The term “McCarthyism” is named after U.S Senator Joseph McCarthy, who waged a campaign to delegitimize socialists and communists in the U.S. His campaign was successful because as head of the Senate Government Operations Committee he did not just ask people about their own affiliation with left organizations, but also demanded that they reveal the names and denounce anyone who they know to be members or to have been members in the past. Joseph McCarthy assembled a list of “communist sympathizers,” and used the list then, as the Wiesenthal Center uses it now, to marginalize those whose political opinion he disliked.

The Wiesenthal Center is named after Simon Wiesenthal who dedicated his life to fighting against racism after he was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp because of his identity as a Jew. The center which used to be an important institution for speaking out against racism has changed over the years, now supporting the U.S president who said that Jews “will not support me because I don’t need their money,” and denouncing Jews such as Gerald Kaufman of the British Labour party. Kaufman was listed in the “top 10” anti-Semites list in 2015 for denouncing Israeli racist policies, and not for any statement or action against Jews. In 2016 it placed Jackie Walker, another Jewish member of the British Labour party at the 2nd place, and the UN at the 1st place.

The use of “guilt by association” is a mechanism for creating a pure and loyal society, in which only a single political opinion is allowed. The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, the Wiesenthal Center, the Jerusalem Post and Heinrik M. Broder are all using accusations of guilt by association in order not only to accuse critics of Israeli policy of anti-Semitism, but also to isolate them from friends and colleagues, by spreading the fear that anyone who has contacts with critics of Israeli policy will also be denounced as an anti-Semite.

We at the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East consider it our duty to fight against real anti-Semitism. We do not to allow anti-Semites to hide behind their support for Israeli occupation and apartheid. The State of Israel does not represent us. The Wiesenthal Center does not represent us. To them we say: not in our name.