Brian Klug is Senior Research Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy at St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford and a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University. A founding member of the steering group of Independent Jewish Voices formed in 2007, which according to Melanie Phillips is a front for advancing anti-Zionist agenda, it should come as no surprise that Klug is one of the leading advocates of this group. (For more on IJV click here, here, and here)
In a debate hosted at Cambridge Union in 2006, Klug supported the motion “This House Believes that Zionism is a danger to the Jewish people” alongside fellow anti-Zionists Daphna Baram and Richard Kuper. As reported by Ben White, Klug stated that it was high time that “Zionism must be toppled from its pedestal” – the “Jewish thing” to do is to “subvert” it.”
The subversion of Zionism is the appropriate prism through which to view Klug’s pseudo-academic writings that attempt to narrowly define antisemitism by denying the existence of “new antisemitism”, that is Jew-hatred disguised as anti-Zionism In an essay entitled the Myth of New Antisemitism, Klug argued that “anti-Zionism is one thing, anti-Semitism another. They are separate.” In his view, “anti-Zionism today takes the form of anti-Semitism rather than the other way round.” Though Klug believes that by equating the two “the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance”, it is clear that the true import of his essay is to legitimize the discourse on the one-state solution in the public sphere. Specifically, Klug wrote:
“On this basis, the following argument can be made: “It is one thing to argue about the existence of Israel in 1917, another to do so after 1948, when the state was founded. History has overtaken the question. Israel is no longer an idea in someone’s head. It exists. And for millions of Jews, Israel is their home. They have nowhere else to go. To oppose the existence of the Jewish state at this point means nothing less than wanting to deprive these Jews of their homeland and perhaps their very lives. It also means depriving millions of other Jews, Jews around the world, of their protector and their safeguard. For who will come to the defense of Jews, and who will offer persecuted Jews a place of refuge, if not Israel, the Jewish state? Only an antiSemite would want to destroy this state.”
The argument, understandable though it is, makes several questionable assumptions. For one thing, the alternatives are not black and white: either preserving the status quo or annihilation. There are a variety of constitutional arrangements in between. For example, Israel could continue to exist as a sovereign state but cease to define itself, in its basic laws and state institutions, as specifically Jewish. Or there is the so-called one-state solution: a binational homeland for Palestinians and Jews. The tragic impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has renewed interest in this proposal among some Arab and Jewish intellectuals. And although this view lacks a significant constituency in either community at present, attitudes may well change. At any rate, while Jews might have embraced Israel as a safe place to be Jewish, Israel today is hardly a place of safety for Jews. And you don’t have to be an anti-Semite to envisage a future for Israel, or for Israel’s Jewish population, that is not based on the principle of a Jewish state. As for Jews around the world, whether they are safer because of the existence of Israel, or whether Israel is putting them at greater risk than they would otherwise be, is debatable.”
In a talk he gave in October 2004 for the German-Israeli Working Group for Peace in the Middle East (DIAK) in Arnoldshain, Klug downplayed Arab violence against Jews and Jewish institutions in Europe and said that it was not at all antisemitic, but, rather, a reaction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Klug also spoke in front of an extreme anti-Israel group called AK Nahost Klug in 2009 and said that “Zionism prevents Jews from having a normal conception of their life”.
In an earlier Guardian editorial No, anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism the link between propounding the one-state solution and Klug’s narrow definition of antisemitism is even clearer when Klug wrote:
“We should unite in rejecting racism in all its forms: the Islamophobia that demonises Muslims, as well as the anti-semitic discourse that can infect anti-Zionism and poison the political debate. However, people of goodwill can disagree politically – even to the extent of arguing over Israel’s future as a Jewish state. Equating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism can also, in its own way, poison the political debate.”
In a further attempt to normalize discourse on the one-state solution, Klug wrote the following in Zionism: a brief account as if to suggest that the one-state solution holds as much moral weight as the two-state solution:
“Today there is a complicated debate about the future. Simple labels like ‘pro-Zionist’ or ‘anti-Zionist’ do not reflect this complexity. Some people believe in a ‘two-state solution’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one Jewish and one Palestinian, while others advocate a single inclusive state. Both schools of thought encompass a wide range of views. There is also the ‘post-Zionist’ view that Israel should be ‘a state for all its citizens’ rather than ‘the state of the Jewish people’.”
Below is a selection of statements made by Brian Klug in ‘Comment is Free’ “in his own words”:
“Vilification, confusion, self-deception, moral blindness: Is this Judaism? It is not “the Judaism that I cherish”, as I wrote last week. It is not the tradition that reflects the Talmudic tenet that the continued existence of the world depends on three things: truth, justice and peace (Rabbi Simon ben Gamliel). This is the Judaism that many of us, as Jews, religious or otherwise, recognise as our heritage. The trampling on this tradition is what led a friend to say the other day that she wondered if she could resign from being Jewish. Her despair is not new but it is spreading. More Jews feel this way every time Israel claims to act in our name and the congregation of Anglo-Jewry says “Amen”.” A crisis in Judaism January 15, 2009
“One debate concerns the question of how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Prosor describes calls for a “one-state solution” as “disingenuous”, amounting to “a movement advocating Israel’s destruction”. Has he forgotten that a section of the right in his own country supports a version of a one-state solution: annexation of the West Bank and Gaza into a unified state of Israel?” Ambassador’s own goal June 13, 2008