CAP Antismetic Bullshit Controversy


So unless someone is making statements applicable to all Jews in a discriminatory or hostile way, it’s not fucking anti-semitism. So when someone blogs:


link to controversy

Do those statements apply to all Jews? No. Are they discriminatory or hostile towards Jews? No. They are statements directed at individuals. They may be factually incorrect, stupid, mean-spirited, but they are not anti-semitic. To review:

Lieberman (D-AIPAC) puts Israel first - Not anti-semitic
Lieberman (D-AIPAC) puts Israel first like the rest of those insidious Jews that run the world - Anti-semitic.

Are there actual examples of someone using the term in a sentence? Googling, I get people all worked up about the use of the term, but they never give an actual example.

Seems anti-Semitic to me. Look, one of the common anti-Semitic tropes is that Jews aren’t real Americans (Germans, Russians, Brits, what have you). To call Lieberman, who is, remember, a United States Senator, “Israel-First”, you’re questioning his loyalty, and you’re doing it because he’s a Jew who supports Israel.

In the article Lieberman, assuming that is the senator being referred to, is accused of being subservient to AIPAC. How the fuck is the accusation that an American politician is somehow overzealous or subservient to an American lobby “anti-semitic”? How could that accusation be more stupid?

When I say that Congress embarrasses me by its:
(1) deep desire to suck off Israel, or
(2) failure to address how obviously detrimental our support of Israel is because its collective mouth is full of Israeli shaft, or
(3) demonstration of fealty when its members fought over themselves to gently massage Netanyahu’s balls (This is the case in stark contrast to screaming out “You lie!” to our President),

does that make me an anti-Semite? If I judge Lieberman’s behavior, having been represented by him for years in Congress and recognizing his immense pulsating hard-on for Israel (and a Bey-like zest for all things military), am I now an anti-Semite or is it just my evaluation of a person’s behavior coming from a different political perspective?

I’d really like to have that clarified for me and if so, I would like to know what things I can say about Israel or my representatives’ behavior toward Israel that doesn’t make me an automatic anti-Semite. I think a lot of people in Congress, Jew and nonJew are so pro-Israel that it is detrimental to the USA in the long run. By definition they could be called Israel-firsters. Regardless of the human shit that used the term in the past, and never used it to the extent that everybody “gets” it like words such as nigger or kike, isn’t “Israel-first” a decent summary of a perception of others by those who may have honestly come by the notion that our ‘special friendship’ with Israel is actually the greatest country on Earth proving to a pissant little turd of a country in the Middle East that we just love choking on cock?

I know the answer of course, it is a perfectly non-anti-Semitic appraisal, but there is also a great investment in not analyzing the criticism in favor of promising Israel that we’ll always swallow.

Thats why I wanted examples. I’d say if the charge is leveled exclusively at Jews, then its probably anti-Semetic. But if the insult is used in general for US Senate who have an attitude towards Israel the author finds overly slavish, some of whom may be Jewish, then its not.

That said, I expect this controversy is overblown in any case, since googling I can find a lot of articles arguing one way or another about the term, and almost no one actually giving an example of its use.

Here’s the one example [I could find(Turning the Tables on the Israel-Firsters - Original):

So several Jews, but also several non-Jews and several presumably non-Jewish reverends. Later in the article he also levels the accusation at Bush, Obama, Pelosi, McCain, So at least in the case of that author, I’d say its not anti-semetic.

The “divided loyalty”, or more brazenly expressed “disloyal” charge has its roots in historic anti-Semitism. It was a common tactic used by (ironically) the America First lobby in the '30s and early '40s before the U.S. got into WWII. Charles Lindbergh and other members of this group were fond of alleging that Powerful Jewish Interests (in the media, Hollywood, finance etc.) were pushing America into war against its interests, because of persecution of foreign Jews by Hitler and were thus disloyal. Of course, after Hitler declared war on the U.S. those same people suddenly found themselves being widely viewed as having suspect loyalty and rushed to publicly support their country’s involvement in the conflict. :dubious:

So there’s a lot of bad-smelling baggage that goes along with accusing American Jews of not being loyal to their country because they support their country’s long-term alliance with Israel.

Criticize aspects of that alliance as being overly favorable to Israel and not being in the interests of the U.S., and I’ll join with you. I am unlikely to be impressed by nasty little innuendo about my patriotism.

Well, you also need to keep in mind that the traditional slur isn’t just that Jews can’t be trusted, but that they subvert and pervert the societies that they live in and/or that we have a ZOG (Zionist Occupied Government). So while claiming that our nation is dominated by Jews who put The Jewish State first and those who follow along with them isn’t necessarily racist, it does echo some long-standing racist tropes.

As pointed out by Jack, a far better method is to actually criticize politicians and politicians one disagrees with. Just like one can disagree with Obama’s politics, but arguing that he’s “lust-crazed with the jungle rhythms of socialism” might just raise a few eyebrows.

The article I linked to blames evangelical Christians and AIPAC for the “Israel Firsters”. The former is pretty clearly not Jewish, the second is a Jewish lobby (or is it, is AIPAC’s membership majority Jewish anymore?) but blaming politicians for valuing lobbying dollars over loyalty to their country is a pretty widespread phenomenon, its hardly limited to lobbys involving Israel.

I don’t really see any strains of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories like the ones you describe in the article. But perhaps you have a better example?

Calling them “Israel-Firster” is a criticism of politicians the author disagrees with.

I don’t see any evidence that “Israel Firster” is the equivalent of “lust-crazed with the jungle rhythms of socialism”.

Put another way, it is a staple of anti-semitism to accuse Jews of being greedy. If someone lists a bunch of people that they think are greedy, and that list is all Jews, I’d be pretty suspicious that the persons motive was anti-semitic.

But that hardly means calling people “greedy” is anti-semitic.

It’s a matter of historical association.

I fully agree that there is nothing anti-semitic about criticzing a specific politician about his or her policies towards Israel or any other country for that matter.

But the “dual loyalties” accusation has a long and ugly history, making it difficult to use effectively without raising the spectre.

It is the same as, for example, using what would be reminiscent of racist tropes to criticise a Black politician. That Black politician may be fully deserving of the criticism and criticising a Black politicain is of course not racist; but it is historically tone-deaf to use a form of criticism that is similar or identical to racist statements - even when deserved.

The task is of course no made any easier by the fact that there are still plenty of anti-Semites who genuinely believe that Jews cannot be trusted, because their first loyalty is to their “own kind”.

Quite right: just as individual Blacks can be stupid, lazy and criminal, but continual harping on individual Blacks, holding them up as examples of such to score political points, brings with it a wiff of racism even though there is of course nothing racist about noting that an individual who happens to be Black is stupid, lazy or criminal.

Remember Willie Horton?

It’s a similar issue. There is arguably nothing “racist” about using a criminal as the poster-child for criticising the furlough system - if you ignore, that is, the historical context. It is the use of a Black criminal within the histoirical context of racism that makes such use problematic - similarly, the historical context of anti-semitism makes claims of dual loyalty problematic.

If you call him so because he’s a Jew then you’re anti-semitic.

If you call him so because he does indeed put Israel first, then it’s a criticism of his loyalty.

I don’t really disagree with any of this, I just don’t think “Israel-Firster” qualifies.

First I don’t think the historical association with the accusation and antisemitism is really that strong. Israel was founded after the hey-day of anti-semitism. I’m sure people have used the accusation in an antisemitic fashion (I think Nixon was caught on tape doing so, though I don’t think he used the specific term), but if you asked people to make a list of anti-semetic slurs, I don’t think “Israel Firster” or an equivalent would come up.

Second, again, the accusation is being made against many people who aren’t Jews. I don’t really buy that you can go from “anti-semitics think Jews control the gov’t” to “accusing non-Jews in the gov’t of being overly loyal to Israel” to “the Jews are making non-Jews in the gov’t pro-Israel” to “anti-semitic slur”. At some point, you’ve gone from finding anti-semiticm to playing some weird “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” like game with ethnic stereotypes.

After all, Jews also have a historical association of being in league with Communists, but if someone calls a prominent politician a Communist, I don’t think you’d see that as some sort of attempt to link the person to a Jewish controlled conspiracy. Even though the accusation of Jews fomenting Communism from within has a far stronger historical association then that of Jews manipulating gov’ts into supporting Israel.

Finally, the opposition doesn’t seem to be to the one term specifically, but to an entire class of accusations. As you say, at the end of the day, there are lazy Mexicans, thieving blacks, crafty Chinese, and disloyal Jews. Obviously a certain amount of tact is called for, but it shouldn’t be verbotten to voice such accusations.

I think to the extent we disagree the nub of our disagreement is the historical context. The notion of having dual loyalties is both a very old and very current basis for Jew hatred: the Jew as the “other”, who cannot be trusted, has a very long standing, and is only re-enforced by the recent formation of the state of Israel.

This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the more extreme and radical notion that all Jews are engaged in a conspiracy, though obviously there is some overlap.

The anti-semitic trope isn’t necessarily that all Jews manipulate governments or are engaged in a conspiracy. It is more basic and visceral than that - that Jews are not “of us”, that they are inherently likely to be disloyal and untrustworthy because they are the “other”. This leads to lots of code-words traditionally aimed at Jews - that they are more “international” in focus, they have ‘other loyalties’, etc. Hence the concern over such labels as 'Israel-firster". It can look like just the last in a long line of similar “othering”-type labels, whether intended or not.

The notion that anti-semitism has declined and is therefore not a factor I think has a certain amount of truth to it; in the US in particular, traditional Jew hatred is in steep decline and has been for decades, and most Americans have no problems seeing Jews as just as much “American” as they - just another religious variant, like Methodists. The same decline is seen, albeit to a much lesser extent, with racism. This does not mean either is dead, and in the case of Jew hatred, it lives on in other places.

True, but saying that any assertion that marks some Jewish person as being any sort of outsider is antisemitism is so vague as to be worthless. Pointing out John Kerry (he had a Jewish grandparent, IIRC) speaks French marks him as an outsider. Bernie Sanders is a Socialist, thats pretty outsidery. Barney Frank is gay, the bringing up of which in unrelated issues probably is bigotted, but not because it makes him seem like a Jewish outsider. Making fun of Lieberman because he left the Democratic party to found his own political party that consists of only himself and is named after him is fun. But you can’t get much more outsidery then that. And even beyond Jews, I suspect most ethnic slurs come from some tradition of a minority being “outsiders”, but that doesn’t mean all claims of being an outsider against any sort of minority are ethnic slurs.

I think if your going to claim that a given assertion is a slur because of historical context (and again, I agree), you need to keep it at least kind of specific. Claiming Jews outsiders because they are in league with international bankers or Communists or Satanic cabals are claims with historical baggage, for example, but not every claim of being an outsider has the same baggage. Otherwise everything becomes a slur and every conversation gets hijacked into accusations of Nazism.

Agree, which is why I said someone I’d be suspicious of someone that aimed the epithet solely at Jews. But it seems silly to say that Jews are being targeted as being “other” because they support Israel when the same article makes the same claim about a host of evangelical ministers, the US President, the former director of the CIA, two Senators and the Speaker of the House (all gentiles). Thats not accusing them of being “other”, rather the opposite.

Oh my.

  1. “Israel-firster” may or may not be antisemitic depending on the context.

  2. The belief that members of Congress are more obsequious towards lobbyists than their own constituents is a common belief and not at all limited to AIPAC.

  3. Linking a belief that AIPAC may be lobbying the US to go to war with Iran, and that Israeli treatment of Palestinians bears similarities to apartheid, to charges of antisemitism is pure censorship. The rhetoric hurts their interests (“their” being AIPAC and the various neo-cons and foreign policy hawks who tend to ally with them), so they desire to eliminate its presence in the public discourse through cheap allegations of antisemitism.

I disagree with the “just like” that begins this quote, because I don’t think the two things are alike at all.

Consider if, instead, there were a powerful lobby for African interests, the Coalition for Advancement of Human Rights in Africa, and a lot of politicians spent a lot of time talking with members of this lobby (I know, it’s totally ridiculous, bear with me). One could disagree with Obama’s politics. Would it be racist to call him, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Corrine Brown D-CAHRA? I don’t think it would be, even if it were obnoxious.

Of course, there is the fact, as you point out, that an antisemitic trope is that Jews secretly control government. While that’s true, at the same time, we must be able to criticize any–ANY–particular lobby’s influence over congress. Just as it’d be okay to call someone R-Exxon, or D-Greenpeace, or I-Flatearthers, if we thought said group had undue influence, it should be acceptable to call someone D-AIPAC.

But, you are doing so quite properly.

You made that up, right? Who would be silly enough to impute “jungle rhythms” to something as distinctly post-industrial-revolution as socialism?