What do the allegation of “apartheid Israel” and Yom Hashoah, the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, have in common?
The former is the modern face of anti-Semitism. The latter is the reminder that anti-Semitism begets violence, horrible violence – crimes against humanity.
So when Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on April 25, 2014 just prior to Yom Hashoah, that Israel is on the verge of becoming an "apartheid state," it was more than a libel. It was dangerous.
The effort to demonize the Jew before the Holocaust, and the effort to demonize Israel by those who seek to eradicate the Jewish state, are inextricably connected.
It makes no difference to the anti-Semite how preposterous the charge is. One-fifth of Israel’s citizens are Arab, enjoying more democratic rights and freedoms than in any Arab state. With Israeli Arabs elected to the Israeli parliament, appointed to the Israeli Supreme Court, and senior members of Israel’s foreign service, the charge is patently false.
The claim also stands in marked contrast to Palestinian insistence that no Jews will be allowed to settle in “Palestine.” The very idea of a Jew inhabiting Arab-claimed territories has been labeled the crime of “Judaization,” now a familiar term in U.N. parlance. Palestinian children’s textbooks, media, and public events of all kinds, are notoriously anti-Semitic.
The apartheid shoe fits in the Arab-Israeli conflict – on Judenrein Palestine.
Though the latest Fatah-Hamas rapprochement is just a few days old, anti-Semitism is one thing Palestinian factions have long had in common.
In the words of the Hamas Charter: "The Day of Judgement will not come until Muslims fight the Jews…The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…’” “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” In short, demonize and then destroy.
As recently as April 24, 2014, Issa Qaraqe, Palestinian Minister for Prisoners' Affairs obligingly put it altogether. As the official Palestinian Authority representative, he told a U.N. conference in Geneva that Israel was guilty of apartheid, tortured and raped 8-year-old children, and conducted “thousands of medical experiments on Palestinian detainees.” At the same time as Qarage deliberately drew an analogy between Israelis and Nazis, he announced Palestinians had a “right of resistance.”
The move from hate to violence is what made the U.N. World Conference on Racism, in Durban, South Africa in 2001 so treacherous.
The Durban Declaration named one practitioner of racism – Israel. The signs in the Durban crowds read: “George W. Bush: Palestinian blood is on your hands.” “The martyr’s blood irrigates the tree of revolution in Palestine.” “For the liberation of Quds, machine-guns based upon faith and Islam must be used.”
Two days after the Durban conference ended, came 9/11. And Israel withstood five years of terrorist carnage, until its security fence was erected.
Kerry’s remarks, therefore, have to be put in a larger context.
On April 7, 2014, the Obama administration decided for the first time to participate in the implementation of the Durban Declaration.
The Bush administration walked out of the anti-Semitic hatefest in disgust. Only after major public pressure, did the Obama administration decide not to attend the two follow-up conferences in 2009 and 2011.
But in U.N. backrooms in Geneva, Secretary Kerry gave the green light for the U.S. to become a full player in the "Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.”
Moreover, Kerry himself makes the same slide from racism to bloodshed.
First, he connected Israel to apartheid and then he referred to Palestinian violence as an understandable response.
As reported in the Daily Beast, he said: “People grow so frustrated with their lot in life that they begin to take other choices and go to dark places they’ve been before, which forces confrontation.”
This is not the first time Kerry has made such a move. Back in November 2013 he goaded: "Does Israel want a third intifada?" This isn’t just a threat. It’s political cover for terrorists.
What does this all mean for Yom Hashoah in 2014?
On April 27, 2014 Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement in which he “expressed his sympathy with the families of the victims and many other innocent people who were killed by the Nazis.” Because, he said: “the Holocaust is a reflection of the concept of ethnic discrimination and racism which the Palestinians strongly reject and act against.”
Except the truth is, Palestinians do not reject anti-Semitism but act to promote it. And a U.S. Secretary of State who magnifies the lie of Israeli racism, and rationalizes violence against the Jewish state, is unfit for the job.
Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.