Israel and its supporters have executed a strategy of “weaponization of antisemitism” to silence pro-Palestinian voices, according to Antony Lerman, a British writer who specializes in the study of antisemitism.

“Israel has very successfully helped to engineer this situation where it’s difficult to speak about what’s going on and what’s happening to the Palestinians,” Lerman told Anadolu.

He defined Israel and its supporters’ understanding of the situation in the Middle East as an “almost monopoly.”

The weaponizing feeds into that, he added, as they use it to claim that any criticism of them or their actions is a form of antisemitism.

“Clearly, it is not,” asserted Lerman, who has previously served as the director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, a think tank focused on issues of Jewish communities in Europe.

Along with a genocide case at the International Court of Justice, Israel has been facing scathing criticism around the world for its deadly war on Gaza, where it has now killed over 38,000 Palestinians and injured over 88,000 more, most of them women and children.

Hundreds of people in various fields across the globe, from academia to the tech sector and others, have lost their jobs or faced other repercussions for speaking out against Israel’s atrocities and in support of Palestinians.

Due to this targeting and pressure, there is now “very clear evidence” that people are hesitant to raise their voice for Palestine, said Lerman.

Especially since Oct. 7, life has been made very difficult for them, and in particular Palestinians, who are the real victims “because they are not being given the full opportunity to tell their story and the truth about what’s happened to them,” said the writer.

– ‘Fake antisemitism’

There is “real antisemitism” in the world, which has mostly to do with white supremacism and far-right, authoritarian governments that actually are not “very favorably inclined towards Jews,” said Lerman.

On the other side, there is “fake antisemitism,” which is actually criticism of Israel and Zionism being mislabeled for deception, he explained.

“Sometimes there are things which people say on the edges and the fringes, which you could argue … but the main arguments here really should be about Palestine, Palestinian liberation and freedom for all,” said Lerman.

“If there was freedom for everybody between the river and the sea, clearly we’d be in a much better situation than we are now.”

The issue of antisemitism, along with Islamophobia, is also a serious problem in universities, he said.

“Unfortunately, the government in this country is not helping matters, by trying to impose rules on who can speak about this subject and who can’t,” he said.

This is more than an unfair situation, it is “tragic,” he said, adding that if there is ever going to be any solution, it has to be through talks of one kind or another.

“Otherwise, it’s just going to be bloodshed and it’s going to be disastrous for everybody really, but first and foremost for the Palestinians,” said Lerman.

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