The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Antisemitism Part of All of Our Movements

Download the pamphlet by April Rosenblum Here.

Once you get past :

From one side, progressive and radical activists and scholars are being attacked
by organized campaigns to brand us antisemites. In particular, it’s virtually impossible
to speak out critically about Israel without being charged with antisemitism.

It’s worth reading.

Hat Tip to Gil.

5 Responses to “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Antisemitism Part of All of Our Movements”

  1. Zkharya Says:

    I’ve gotten half way. But she makes a fundamental error about why Israel doesn’t recognise a Palestinian Muslim or Christian right of return: Palestinian Muslims and Christians never recognised a Jewish right of return, upon which the Balfour Declaration, League of Nations Mandate and UNSCOP recommending of partition was based.

  2. Max Says:

    April Rosenblum’s ‘The Past…’ seems a very timely and well though-out piece. I think it should be distributed to (and discussed by) anti-fascist groups and student forums around the world.

    We have a problem here in Britain that it simply isn’t fashionable to stand up for Jews in left-wing activism anymore. Speaking up for the rights of Asian, Muslim and Afro-Caribbean people is fine, but because of the anti-Israel bias you can’t get vocal about Jewish welfare without being accused of supporting conservative Zionism or the invasion of Gaza.

    There’s also the perception that Jews in Britain handle their security internally and prefer not to publicly respond to incidents of antisemitism as a method of avoiding further flak. To a certain extent this is true, but it also provides an excuse for non-Jews to shrug their shoulders, down another pint of lager and not get involved. “Just let the Jews get on with it – they know what they’re doing”.

    “It’s always a real struggle for the Left to
    successfully tackle oppression within its own
    ranks. But when we do it, our movements
    gain, every time, from the deeper understandings
    that emerge”

    Wise words. Let’s hope we can unite and make the Left truly liberal once again.

  3. Michael Harris Says:

    I’m a bit surprised to see this at Engage. The piece does point out a lot of the excess on the extreme loony left, and a lot of the overt anti-Semitism that they refuse to recognize, but it is internally inconsistent in its approach to Zionism. Page 22 is acceptable, but look at the bottom paragraph on page 19:

    “For most activists, it is ideally already common sense that criticizing Israeli policy or the ideology of Zionism is in no sense inherently antisemitic.”

    Sorry, but opposing Zionism while simultaneously endorsing Palestinian and all other national movements IS inherently anti-Semitic (or, if you prefer, anti-Jewish).

    Note also the false attribution of the quote in the chart of page 21 “Land without a people for a people without a land”– this was not a Zionist slogan, but rather one from 19th century British Christian clergy (see

    On the other hand, passing this on to those who are so deeply involved in leftist politics that they fail to recognize its anti-Semitic aspects could be helpful. I’m thinking of the loonies who invited the anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon to speak at their church and saw nothing anti-Semitic in his writings– after all, he’s only anti-Zionist. (


  4. Bialik Says:

    Mike, I definitely agree that not recognising one nation’s aspirations for self-determination but recognising most or all others’ is exceptionalism, but I’m not sure it is antisemitism per se. There has to be something more. That something is motive, I guess.

  5. Harry Goldstein Says:


    I think anti-racist thought has gone a long way beyond thinking that motivation is the crucial factor, if only because it’s always unknowable, and leaves too wide a get-out (‘some of my best friends’ etc).

    There have been enough judgements that recognise the existence of racism as significant regardless of the motivations of those concerned (e.g. the Stephen Lawrence enquiry). It is precisely this that the concept of institutional racism is designed to tackle. If a position, act or statement is discriminatory against a given ethnic group, then it’s racist full stop, regardless of the speaker’s/perpetrator’s motives.

    So, if you recognise the right of every ethnic group except one to self-determination then that constitutes racism against that group. And the word for racism against Jews is antisemitism. Not only is that right in principle, it’s better tactics. The modern equivalent of ‘some of my best friends’ is ‘look at my anti-racist record’ – or even the show-stopping ‘as a Jew’. In both cases the speaker is shifting attention from the specific objective words or position to that of motive, and using the defence in question to show purity of motive. We have to continue to focus on the objective discrimination.

    Thus I have no doubt that UCU say is institutionally antisemitic, but this does not at all imply that the activists concerned are subjective Jew-haters.

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