While the whole world is talking about Israel, let’s take a moment to talk about China.

Why? For starters, China has a role in making the whole world talk about Israel.

In the wake of Hamas’ barbaric anti-Jewish pogrom on Oct. 7, anti-Jewish hate has exploded on the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok. This has reignited calls for banning the platform in the U.S. Opponents note — correctly — that antisemitism has exploded on other social media platforms, and TikTok insists that it is working hard to combat the spike in bigotry and death threats.

TikTok is going to have its work cut out for it because the Chinese state, which ultimately controls the platform, has been encouraging antisemitism and anti-Zionism for years now. State-run media regularly claims that Jews control the world economy and American foreign policy. Social media “influencers” have a free hand to cheer on Hamas and claim Israelis are Nazis. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Chinese companies Baidu and Alibaba literally erased Israel from their maps. When Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen recently visited Beijing, a debate erupted over whether China should deal with an “old Jewish lady” who has a dual loyalty to the interests of the U.S. government and to Wall Street.

Lest you try to pass all of this off on independent voices in China, you need to remember that China bans criticism it doesn’t like. You can’t even post a picture of Winnie the Pooh because it’s seen as a jab at President Xi Jinping. But you can rant about Jewish hunger for blood and money all you like.

The argument for banning TikTok in the U.S. doesn’t rely on Chinese efforts to foment antisemitism in the U.S. but on its broader threats to national security. But the fact that a foreign power thinks it has an interest in amplifying Jew-hatred in America should inform how we think about the issue.

It should also inform how we think about not only China, but how we think about many of Israel’s critics.

The standard indictment of Zionism is that it is “racist” because it practices Jewish “apartheid.” By almost any measure, China is the most nativist nation on Earth. Even North Korea has more immigrants. Thanks to Chinese conceptions of racial purity, as of 2020, only 16,595 of China’s 1.4 billion citizens are naturalized citizens.

But not all Chinese citizens are equal. Many non-Han Chinese are second-class citizens, required to show internal passports to leave their, increasingly occupied, territories. Indeed, the Chinese are practicing “settler-colonialism” on a massive scale. Local customs and the teaching of minority languages are widely banned. Han Chinese are erasing ancient cultures in Mongolia, Tibet, and most acutely in Xinjiang, the home of the Uyghurs.

Even Uyghurs not put in prison camps are banned from practicing their religion. Their mosques and cemeteries are being razed. Uyghurs and Tibetans can be denied service and hotel rooms. Judaism, which isn’t recognized as a religion, must be practiced in secret. Slave labor, mostly by Muslims, endures in China.

After meeting with Xi last June, Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 18th year of his four-year term as the Palestinian Authority president in the West Bank, assured the world that China’s persecution of Muslim Uyghurs “had nothing to do with human rights.”

But Israel, where a fifth of citizens are Muslim or non-Jewish, is a unique threat to human rights and democracy? While the United Nations downplays China’s abuses, the General Assembly has condemned Israel 140 times since 2015. Russia comes in second with 23 condemnations. China? Zero.

China’s fomenting hatred of Israel and Jews appears to be a useful distraction from its own sins and a way to pander to, and encourage, global antisemitism and anti-Americanism.

But it doesn’t explain why so many people are so eager to believe that a bigoted, oppressive regime has the moral authority to condemn Israel. Nor does it explain why so many supposed proponents of liberal Western values are uniquely offended by Israel alone.

@JonahDispatch






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