A Palestinian activist who has compared Israel to the Nazis and suggested “the Zionists” have “identified” the next American president is to address a branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Iyad Burnat, who is due to speak at an event hosted by Newcastle PSC later this month, is the coordinator of the Bil’in popular resistance committee which has organised weekly protests in the West Bank village for several years. A Facebook page for the event says he will also launch his new book on “occupation and resistance in Palestine”.
However, it has emerged that a series of incendiary messages have been posted on Burnat’s social media account in event months. One, accompanied by an image of Benjamin Netanyahu with his arm outstretched and wearing a Hitler-style moustache, said: “Three aspects of modern organized terrorism in which many similarities emerged and is Nazism and Zionism and (ISIS) Daash.”
Another said: “To the American people do not bother to vote in the elections. The Zionists had identified the next president.”
The Community Security Trust’s Mark Gardner said: “This seems to be another example of supposed anti-Zionism that is in fact antisemitic. PSC say they oppose such attitudes, so let us see what action they now take.”
In June, Jeremy Corbyn called for Hitler and Nazi metaphors to be left out of discourse on Israel during the release of Labour’s inquiry on anti-Semitism. It’s unclear whether the Labour leader remains a patron of PSC, though he is still listed as as such on the groups website.
The PSC says on its website that discrimination against Jews based on their religion or ethnicity must be challenged. But it opposes the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism, arguing its adoption would “deny people the right to challenge the racism of the Israeli state – which privileges the rights of jewish citizens above those of non-Jews”.
Gary Spedding, a cross-party consultant on Israel-Palestine, told the Jewish News the recent posts left him “deeply troubled” and, while he doesn’t believe him to be anti-Semitic, “the posts can only be described as anti-semitic”.
Spedding – who said the Palestinians have legitimate grievances yields Israeli policy and countries that support it – said: “lyad is a proven nonviolence leader who has worked for over a decade with Israeli activists in order to challenge the occupation. I do, however, find that he has possibly seen western activists posting this kind of material and partly adopted it himself. I’ve known him since 2010 and haven’t previously seen him doing this type of social media posting until just recently.”
“I am outraged at the fact anti-Semitic rhetoric is being pushed onto Palestinians by a minority of unrepresentative western activists who seem to be more motivated by hatred of Jews than any genuine solidarity with the Palestinian people. It is important to challenge these individuals at every opportunity, making clear that anti-Semitism, group-blame and conspiracy theories have no place in Palestine solidarity.”
The PSC have been approached for comment