As I recently wrote in these pages, American Jews often cry wolf when it comes to anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment. However, even by a generous standard, this meme of Israel, Britain and France prepared to feast on Africa (which I’ve seen a few times circulated among my left-leaning friends on Facebook) is anti-Semitic.
Three-quarters of it is a biting indictment of how Western powers have devoured Africa’s resources, exploiting both land and labor. The image of greedy imperialistic powers ready to literally carve up Africa is powerful.
But there is no justification for Israel being in this picture.
Belgium, China, Spain, Portugal, Russia and others have had far, far worse imperialistic adventures in Africa than anything Israel could imagine, committing genocide and ecocide, and creating the slave trade. What about Israel?
Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, the most critical-of-Israel perspective. Even if we were to label Israel an apartheid state and accuse it of war crimes, these (a) pale in comparison to the middle passage and/or imperialism, and (b) have nothing to do with Africa.
In fact, Israel has a pretty neutral record on Africa, although it did maintain a relationship with the South African government during apartheid. Hardly analogous to carving up the African “steak” like major colonial (or neo-colonial) powers. So, this image makes no factual sense.
That leaves non-factual motivations. Here again, while we don’t know the motives of whoever made this meme, on the face of it, it contains an outrageous exaggeration of Israel’s and/or Jews’ place in the neoliberal/imperialist order, which is anti-Semitic.
Perhaps it’s suggesting that Jews ran the slave trade, which is anti-Semitic. In any case, by proposing that Israel and/or Jews played as evil a role in Africa as the great colonial powers past and present, this meme so exaggerates Israeli/Jewish power as to be anti-Semitic.
And that’s granting, for the sake of argument, a stinging anti-Zionist critique of Israel as a state. Whatever the merits of that critique, it cannot factually justify Israel’s place in this meme, and thus the non-factual, the fantastic and the false are the only remaining possibilities.