Using A Fictional Antisemitism Crisis To Support A Real Genocide

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readMay 11, 2024

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

One of the most frustrating things happening in the world right now is the way people of conscience are doing everything they can to bring a stop to Israel’s US-backed atrocities in Gaza, and Israel supporters are responding to this by pointing at an epidemic of “antisemitism” which has no existence outside their own imaginations — but we’re all expected to pretend it’s real and worthy of respect.

TV’s “Dr Phil” McGraw flew to Jerusalem to give war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu an hour-long platform on which to justify his genocidal violence in Gaza to an American audience, shamelessly assisting the Israeli prime minister’s apologia with common hasbara talking points of his own.

The duo spent lot of time smearing anti-genocide protesters at US universities as evil Jew haters. At one point Netanyahu went so far as to advance the ridiculous suggestion that this sudden wave of support for Palestinians has nothing to do with Israel’s actions in Gaza at all, but is solely due to a massive “explosion” in antisemitism which just so happens to coincide with those actions.

“It’s not directed at what we do, it’s directed at who we are,” Netanyahu said of the protests, adding, “It’s an antisemitic explosion that threatens all of civilization.”

“Antisemitic activity has gone up 360 percent in America since October 7, and it was already high before October 7, and it’s gone up 360 percent,” McGraw responded in furious agreement.

This is a fiction. The TV man is citing a fake statistic from the Anti-Defamation League, who after October 7 began categorizing pro-Palestine rallies as antisemitic incidents, including rallies organized and attended by Jewish groups. This propagandistic manipulation allowed the Israel-friendly mass media to falsely report a massive spike in antisemitism in the wake of October 7 which had not actually occurred.

“One of the most spellbinding doublespeak contortions over the past seven months is this line that there’s just been this random, spontaneous outburst of vicious anti-Semitism which just happens to correlate 100% perfectly with Israel’s US-backed pulverization campaign in Gaza,” journalist Michael Tracey tweeted of the exchange.

Real antisemitism — by which I mean prejudice against Jews as a group — certainly exists. But it’s a fringe position in our society, and it’s almost never what you’re hearing about when Israel apologists are talking. In fact you very seldom see Israel apologists and institutions like the ADL, who are supposedly responsible for fighting antisemitism, going after actual antisemites who harbor actual ill will toward the Jewish people. What you typically see them doing instead is using the “antisemitism” label to falsely smear people of conscience who criticize the actions of the state of Israel.

Generally when you hear an Israel apologist use the word “antisemitism”, they’re actually talking about people like the campus protesters, or public figures like Jeremy Corbyn — lifelong anti-racists who are fervently opposed to prejudice and persecution against any group of people, including Jews. Their crime isn’t that they have an abusive hatred of Jews, it’s that they don’t share Israel’s abusive hatred of Palestinians.

During a recent congressional hearing some unbelievably stupid assertions were put forward by Florida Representative Aaron Bean, who chaired the meeting.

“It’s hard to grasp how antisemitism has become such a dominant force in our K-12 schools,” Bean said. “Some kids as young as second grade are spewing Nazi propaganda, which begs the question, who has positioned these young minds to attack the Jewish people?”

To be clear, nobody on planet Earth believes what Aaron Bean just said, including Aaron Bean. There is not one single person anywhere in this universe who sincerely believes that there is an epidemic of second graders across America being brainwashed to spout Nazi propaganda. It is not happening, and we all know it’s not happening. But people like Aaron Bean pretend to believe this complete work of fiction is an actual real-life occurrence in order to defend the very real atrocities that are being committed by their favorite apartheid state.

This freakish narrative push isn’t just happening in the US. Here in Australia there’s been a nonstop deluge of melodramatic concern trolling about a completely fictional epidemic of Jew hatred, one recent example appearing in an article for The Age titled “When uni students endorse terrorism, it’s time for political intervention”.

In it, The Age’s “chief political correspondent” David Crowe argues that Canberra must move swiftly to shut down the campus protests sprouting up in this country under the legal justification of stopping “hate speech” and fighting “terrorism”. The only examples of “hate speech” Crowe cites are protesters using the word “intifada” and the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” both of which only qualify as hate speech by the most tortured of mental contortions.

The only example of “endorsing terrorism” Crowe cites is some random student protester in Canberra telling the ABC “I actually say that Hamas deserve our unconditional support,” after which she quickly clarified “not because I agree with their strategy … (I have) complete disagreements with that.”

After making it absolutely clear that he is calling for the government to forcibly shut down and outlaw obvious political speech, Crowe writes that “Universities should be open grounds for free speech, not platforms for antisemitism and violence.”

Western empire managers and their propagandists are so freaked out by this new protest movement that they have to do this hilarious dance where they hop forward and go “Of course I support free speech and dissent is always legal in our country, BUUUUT” and then hop back and explicitly advocate government oppression of obvious political speech. They do this by pointing to a crisis of “antisemitism” which they invented inside their own skulls.

And it’s just so indescribably insane how people who care about humanity, truth and justice are talking about actual children getting killed by the thousands, and Israel and its apologists are responding to this by talking about an entirely fictional “antisemitism” crisis that exists nowhere outside the imagination.

It’s like responding to warnings of another holocaust by babbling about Sauron.

It’s like we’re going, “Oh my god, civilians are being massacred on a daily basis by a racist apartheid regime!” And they’re going, “Oh yeah well you know what we should really be worried about? Sauron, the Dark Lord.”

You’d be like, “What?? I’m talking about a real thing that’s actually happening to actual real-life human beings! You’re talking about a work of fiction by JRR Tolkien.”

“Oh so you’re just going to dismiss Sauron’s plan to overrun Middle Earth with orcish hordes as soon as he recovers the One Ring?” they’d say. “What are you, some kind of Mordor sympathizer?”

“What the hell are you on about?” you’d protest. “We’re talking about actual, physical people being ripped apart by actual, physical military explosives, and you’re talking about some imaginary fantasy land like it’s a real thing! How are we supposed to address this actual real-life problem when you keep trying to drag the conversation kicking and screaming into a debate about something that has no existence outside the realm of the imagination?”

“I guess you just hate hobbits,” they’d say.

I mean, how do you even argue with someone like this? How do you debate someone about a real-life problem of unparalleled urgency when all they want to talk about is a completely made-up crisis that absolutely is not happening on this material plane?

It’s the most frustrating thing in the world.


My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to find video versions of my articles. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations: 1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)