Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Pro-BDS Facebook page descends into bigot versus bigot hate-fest

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Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz


Earlier this week, AIJAC reported the vile anti-Jewish hate-speech that appeared on the Facebok event page for an anti-Israel rally opposing the opening of a Max Brenner outlet at the University of NSW.

After the reports on this blog, in the Australian, and elsewhere, the page was invaded by a whole new wave of bigots, this time spouting highly offensive anti-Muslim prejudice. An example was included in this morning's report by the Australian's Ean Higgins and Christian Kerr:

In another exchange, an Elle Najjarine wrote: "Allahu Akbar inshallah Palestine will return to it's (sic) rightful owners and no-one can stop the will of Allah."

A James Corey responded with a Zionist comment: "Its rightful owners are Jews so yes it has returned to its rightful owners in 1948."

However, one post from a David Howe said "every Muslim killed by a Muslim is great news i hope they run out of Muslims".

Another from a Johnny Simson read "You liberate women by dressing them rubbish bags, female genital mutilation and honour killing? How liberating!"

Consequently, the dynamic on the page was transformed. During the period on which AIJAC was previously reporting (22-28 April), there had been severe antisemitism targeted at a few Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel on the page, all of whom had been challenging the political narrative of the BDS supporters without making racialised arguments themselves. The bigotry being posted was limited to one-side.

Following the recent publicity that the event and its Facebook page have received, it seems that the page has been overrun by a new group of semi-literate keyboard warriors with axes to grind. There have been an inordinate number of comments, with threads going over the 1,000 mark:

The same characters have continued to post putrid hate-speech -- as can be seen from Andrew Magee's comments here:

However they are now being met tit-for-tat with vile anti-Muslim invective. This has led to exchanges like the one below between 'Bisdak Ako' and 'David Howe' on the one hand, and 'Ayms Machiine' on the other:

The debate on the page ceased to have much relevance to the event, the BDS movement, or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. With fewer and fewer sane voices to keep the comments on point, it descended into racist one-upmanship, with two different sides each pushing more or less the same ugly and bigoted story, but targeting the opposite group.

That story can be summarised as:

[Judaism/Islam] is an evil religion, all of its adherents are pigs and its holy texts are murderous and promote genocide. The [Israelis/Palestinians] are an invented people and have no historical claim to the land. Their leaders are all genocidal and hellbent on wiping-out the [Palestinians/Israelis].

Importantly, this was not a battle between Jews and Muslims. Many of the commenters on both sides appeared to identify with neither faith.

Of course, the occasional voice of reason chimed-in to point out that nobody was doing either cause any favours, but this was generally drowned-out by the hateful racket:

In particular, the UNSW Student Representative Council's Ethnic Affairs Officer, Charlotte Lewis, sensibly called for the page to be deleted, given that the event that it was established to promote had passed, and it had essentially descended into a farcical hate-fest.

At the time of writing, the page has not been deleted.

A final word

This unfortunate, if unsurprising, turn of events will hopefully bring an end to the saga of the 'Rally! Say no to Max Brenner at UNSW' Facebook page.

That saga, while highly disturbing, has generated some important lessons for anyone analysing the BDS movement to learn. In effect, the page created a rather useful microcosm of the BDS movement as a whole.

Initially, it demonstrated the racist underbelly of the movement, the culture of tolerating that underbelly, and the knee-jerk reaction whereby people who openly despise Jews reflexively accuse anyone pointing-out their antisemitism of trying to 'silence' what they considered 'legitimate criticism of Israel'. It also demonstrated that some people seem to consider remarks about Jews being murderous, money-snatching caricatures to constitute 'legitimate criticism of Israel', whether or not Israel was actually featured in the remarks.

At the end of the story, what this page demonstrates are the effects that a hateful movement like BDS actually has.

Hate only begets more hate, and conflict only begets more conflict. The BDS movement likes to adopt the language of human rights in an effort to portray itself as a 'peaceful struggle', but there is nothing remotely peaceful about it.

The BDS movement is actively opposed to cooperation, dialogue, and reconciliation. It promotes division, hatred, and ostracism. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that a page such as the one in question would be a magnet for extremists from across the spectrum.

A resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict can only be reached one way: through both sides setting aside their differences and engaging with each other. By advocating for a movement whose raison d'etre is to oppose any engagement between Israelis and Palestinians, BDS supporters are in effect working to prolong both the conflict and, as a consequence, the suffering on both sides.

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