Is the color yellow anti-Semitic? (Israel says yes)

The sticker that reminds Israel’s foreign ministry of Nazism. (Ynet)

Is the use of the color yellow a sign of racial and genocidal hatred targeting Jews?

Israel’s foreign ministry is suggesting it is, after a “pro-Israel activist” discovered a sticker in a Dublin supermarket that states “For Justice in Palestine - Boycott Israel.”

The sticker, as can be seen in the photograph published by Israel’s Ynet, was attached to a package of dates that were produced in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Ynet reported that the activist was “shocked” and quoted “sources” in the Israeli foreign ministry stating “it is not by chance that the BDS organization chose to express its protest with a yellow sticker – which is reminiscent of dark days of racism and incitement.”

“BDS” stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The foreign ministry’s statement about the color yellow can only be meant to evoke the yellow stars, often emblazoned with the word “Jude,” that the Nazi regime in Germany notoriously forced Jewish citizens to wear.

But there is absolutely no resemblance between the insignia Nazis forced Jews to wear and the sticker. Except, of course the color yellow.

IPSC stickers

The stickers were distributed by the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC). A spokesperson for the group explained to me in an email: “We give them away to people, we have no control over how they are used. Some people wear them, some stick them on copy books or laptops or bikes, and some apparently even put them on Israeli products.”

In response to the allegation from the Israeli foreign ministry, IPSC said: “We reject out of hand any accusation of anti-Semitic intent regarding these stickers. The stickers are yellow and red, with black and green writing; yellow and red being internationally recognized colors associated with hazards and danger.”

Well that makes sense. But it got me wondering, what if the Israeli foreign ministry is right? What if the use of the color yellow really does indicate a malevolant intent?

So I decided to look for examples of the color yellow being used by Israelis. Here is what I found.

The color yellow

Israel, like many countries, has a Yellow Pages phone book. Although they call them the “Golden Pages,” the website is brightly emblazoned with yellow everywhere.

Israel even has a chain of gas station convenience stores called “Yellow” with a shopper’s club called “Yellow Club.” Here’s a screenshot from the company’s website showing unrestrained use of the color yellow.

Shoppers at Israel’s “Yellow” chain of convenience stores can get discounts if they join the “Yellow Club.”

But is doesn’t stop there. The logo of the Beitar Jerusalem football club, whose fans are notorious for their racist anti-Arab rampages, is a menorah – a Judaic candlestick – set against a yellow shield.

During matches, the players and supporters form a sea of yellow flags and shirts.

Then there is the Israeli army’s Golani brigade, notorious for its war crimes and human rights abuses against Palestinians. The colors of its official flag and logo? Green and yellow.

Two Israeli soldiers look relaxed wearing the Golani Brigade’s yellow insignia. (Instagram)

The flag of Kach, the violent racist Jewish nationalist movement, is a black Star of David and a fist set against a yellow field.

The flag of Kach.

Finally, the picture below is an artifact that I have in my possession. It is a sign once placed by the “Israel Lands Administration” on a fence closing off a piece of confiscated Palestinian land in eastern occupied Jerusalem. It warns of the danger of entering the land without permission from those who have seized it.

The sign may be traumatizing for Palestinians whose land is routinely stolen and then rendered off limits to them in this criminal manner, but not because of the color scheme.

Presumably the “Israel Lands Administration” chose yellow, black and red for precisely the same reasons as IPSC: these are internationally recognized colors associated with hazards and danger.

“Israel Lands Administration” sign claiming ownership over confiscated Palestinian land.

Ali Abunimah

“Crass and cynical”

By now it should be crystal clear – if it wasn’t already – the sheer stupidity of the Israeli foreign ministry’s reported suggestion that anything racist could be read into the color of the boycott Israel sticker.

IPSC affirms that it is “categorically opposed to all forms of racism including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and any ideology that seeks the domination by one ethnic/racial group over another. In other words, we are opposed to apartheid.”

Accusations that its choice of color had some ulterior motive are “simply crass and cynical attempts to exploit the memory of Nazi crimes against the Jewish people and which show contempt for those victims,” IPSC said.

“Such attempts also show contempt for the Palestinian victims of Israeli injustices today, for whom the BDS movement is a non-violent method of securing their rights.”

I could not agree more.

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Comments

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It probably wasn't the wisest colour to use.

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- the colors of Zionist flag, red - Zionists would cry "blood libel", green - "Islamic terrorism", and do not even think about black LOL
There is not a color or anything that Zionists would not try to smear, so let us ignore their whines and keep it on with BDS!

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The yellow star was used in other countries besides Germany, including the Netherlands and Hungary. There were also markings such as pink triangles for gays ("homosexuals"....).

So of course it is totally ridiculous to claim a colour.. any colour. A shape is of course is another thing.

Still, it seems clear that the Foreign Ministry is mainly aiming this total nonsense at stupid people, and people with diminished mental capacity -- and the people who can manipulate their peers to agree with it.

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@Nell Mitchell: And why wasn't it "the wisest colour to use," pray do tell? Is it now an Israeli monopoly? Should we maybe wear soft shoes when we're near anything yellow so as not to hurt the Chosen Ones' sensibilities??

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What? After cenzoring words because of political correctness now cenzoring of colours? Time to free mind from that nonsense.

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As with most of Israeli claims of anti semitism, this ridiculous claim that the IPSC's use of yellow in their BDS stickers as a deliberate reference to nazism, shows the psyche of these racist theocrats! If there's ANY country in the world that embraces nazi ideal it's Israel! They run the largest concentration camp in the world, The Gaza Strip, they run racist prisons (more concentration camps) in the Negev where only Arabs & people of colour are sent, no white Jews allowed! The IOF kidnap, abuse & torture palestinian children, then incarcerate them in prisons inside Israel, which is a war crime, on trumped up charges in a military court! These are just a couple of examples of Israel's racism! I challenge anyone to justify Israel's behaviour!

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Anyone seeing traffic in Israel and Palestine will know that Israeli card have YELLOW number plates, and Palestinian ones are GREEN.
Only cars with YELLOW plates can drive on the settler-only bypass roads which criss-cross the West Bank.
Who chose those colours, then? Let's guess, not the Palestinians.
And clear Apartheid is applied on those roads - "Israeli cars only, with their YELLOW plates". GREEN ones are forbidden.

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Basically, yellow has different meanings in different cultures but you need to be mindful of the audience that is being threatened by the BDS movement. It is true that Israeli institutions/individuals commit culturally insensitive & harmful acts daily against those under occupation, just as all colonializing occupiers do to further weaken the colonialized.

From a Jewish perspective, yellow can be interpreted in an offensive way because it was used in Europe since the Middle Ages to single out individuals of the Jewish faith (it is important to note that many individuals in Europe throughout the centuries were persecuted for practicing faiths/beliefs not sanctioned by the powerful theocracies). And we all know that Israel will use this tactically against the BDS movement, hence why the movement must not do anything that can undermine its (just) cause.

Change the color, at the end of the day the message will still be the same: "Boycott Israel". Whatever color of the rainbow pro-BDS activists use won't matter because the occupation, land theft and human rights abuses will still be committed, and therein lies the occupier's weakness, but we shouldn't BDS detractors any ammunition to weakness Palestinian advocacy movements .

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Holy moly, whatever next, now the hurlers in the Wexford hurling team (nicknamed the "yellow bellies" since the 17th-century) are anti-Semitic and the anti-Semitism of us Irish can be traced back to the Great Famine where yellow maize, imported from the US, was fed to many of the starving and as a consequence it's now a virulent part of our genetic makeup.?

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So, what's between the parentheses (Israeli Settlement Produce) is normal? We're living on a filthy planet!

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.