Is it anti-Semitic to claim Jews are too loyal to Israel and have too much power in business world?

In the recent thread on Israel after one person denied that anti-Semitism was a problem in France and claimed the idea that it was was “American propoganda”, I noted that polls showed that 45% of all French citizens thought it was “probably true” that “French Jews are more loyal to Israel than to France” and that 35% of all French citizens thought that “Jews have too much power in the business world”.

Now, to me these are obviously anti-Semitic statement reflecting centuries old canards which led to the pogroms and to the Holocaust, but at least two commentators on the thread argued that this wasn’t anti-Semitic.

One in fact fervently argued that the second example was merely “a stereotype” that no one should care about and very strongly implied that Jews should “stop behaving like paranoid freaks” because “some people were killed nearly a hundred years ago.” He also argued that French Jews shouldn’t be surprised about being viewed as being more loyal to Israel because they were “foreigners” even though they’d been living in France since before the establishment of the US.

Now, I’m not attacking the people who disagree, but I thought I’d open it to the rest of the Dope and see if they agree that people believing that “French Jews are more loyal to Israel than to France” and that “Jews have too much power in the business world” are anti-Semitic statements or if they should be seen as merely “stereotypes” that one shouldn’t care about.

Obviously, I think those ideas, along with the idea that Jews are “foreigners” are disgustingly anti-Semitic and led to both the pogroms and the Holocaust but that hardly means I think the situation for Jews in France is remotely comparable to that of Jews in the modern day Arab World, 1930s Germany, or even Jews under the Soviet Union or that Jews in France need fear persecution.

Similarly, I don’t think Muslim Americans and African-Americans need fear persecution but that hardly means that racism isn’t an issue in the US.

However, I know some may disagree, so I thought I’d let other members of the dope chime in on whether they think such statements along with the idea that French Jews living in France since before the invention of the printing press are “foreigners” is “anti-Semitic”.

Not sure there is meaningful distinction between anti-Semetic and “stereotype”, where said stereotype is clearly bigoted.

Stereotypes can’t also be anti-Semitic? Or racist? Or misogynistic?

Color me surprised.

Yes, I believe such statements are clearly anti-Semitic.

Yes, clearly anti-Semitic. Believing a stereotype in no way protects you from bigotry. Quite the opposite.

I think there’s a very large difference in how I would perceive the two statements.

“French Jews are more loyal to Israel than to France” simply builds off the fact that a certain racial/religious group with a strong sense of national identity will feel a strong attachment to the one country they can call their own. While it may or may not be true, it does make some amount of sense.

But “Jews have too much power in the business world”, unlike the previous statement, moves beyond the realm of observation into that of moral judgement. It’s not “Jews have a lot of power”, but “Jews have too much power”, implying that Jews in power is a bad thing.

So I would say that only the second one is “anti-Semitic”.

Well, I’ve often wondered if the main thing the French and the Poles had against Hitler was that he wasn’t THEIR anti-Semitic fascist. Well, that and the invasion thing, which is bound to turn people off.

ETA: Oh, we’re voting? I lived through the “Kennedy is too loyal to the Vatican thing,” so I’m safe opining that the first is anti-Semitic. The second is…oh, hell, they both are anti-Semitic code, or are usually used that way.

ETAA: Dogs can hear whistles at frequencies people can hear, too.

I’d respectfully disagree with the first point. Claiming that Catholic Americans are more loyal to the Pope than to the US government is bigotry and so is making similar comments about Jews.

That said, I honestly thought claiming that French Jews, who’ve lived in France for centuries are “foreigners” strikes me as vastly more offensive than the other two statements but that’s me and I’m not Jewish so it’s not really up to me to determine which is more offensive.

First, I think “anti-Semitic” is so vague that it’s meaningless. Strictly, any animosity toward any Semite (including Arabs) can be construed as being anti-Semitic, so if I don’t like Osama Bin Laden, I’m anti-Semitic. That is obviously an extreme example, but it’s not that far removed from people who cry anti-Semitism at any criticism of even purely political policies of Israel.

If you make the definition specific enough to be usable, you are left with racism against people of Jewish ethnicity. So you might as well just say “racist,” rather than “anti-Semitic.”

With that preamble, I think that saying Jews have too much power in business is clearly racist.

I’m not as sure about the loyalty question — I would have to know what motivates the person holding that view. When I read it, my first thought was that I consider Republicans, or more precisely Republicans in Congress, to be putting party politics ahead of the country’s welfare in many cases. If I said they are more loyal to their party than to their country, would that be anti-Caucasian? No, but it would be anti-Republican.

So the problem is that “Jews” is an ambiguous term. It can describe an ethnicity, or a religion. There are many ethnic Jews who do not practice Judaism, and (probably to a smaller extent) vice versa. I am unabashedly anti-Jewish with regard to religion, just as I’m anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, anti-Wiccan, and anti-Scientologist. But I don’t consider being anti-Jewish in that context to be racist, because it has nothing to do with ethnicity. To severely date myself, I was as anti-Jewish with regard to Sammy Davis Jr. and Elizabeth Taylor as I am with regard to any Orthodox Rabbi.

If I’m talking about ethnicity, then IMO it’s clearly racist to say that Jews as a whole have X bad quality. If I’m talking about religion, then I don’t see any difference between saying some Jews put Israel first, and saying some Evangelical Christians put Israel first. Whether or not most religious Jews put Israel first is a question of fact, and if people get it wrong, then they are misinformed. But I don’t think that being misinformed about certain issues constitutes racism, unless they refuse to change their thinking after being shown proof that they are wrong.

There are a lot of complicated issues to consider here and it’s important to keep in mind that these are some of the most basic anti-Jewish stereotypes out there, of course they’re anti-Semitic, is this a joke?

The “Jews are too powerful in business/control the banks/run the media” stereotype deserves some kind of historical recognition because it really tells you everything you need to know about prejudiced people of any type: people who hated Jews shut them out of most aspects of the business world, so they went into the jobs that were open to them and did very well for themselves only to have the same bigots (or their descendants) complain that Jewish cabals were dominating those businesses to nefarious ends. That’s how bigotry works.

That’s not a problem with the word “anti-Semitic,” that’s a problem with people who use a history of injustice against their group as a cloak against any criticism of their actions. You could replace “anti-Semitic” with any word you want, or just strike it from the language entirely, and the same people you complain about will keep doing exactly the same thing, only with different words.

The words are not interchangeable. An anti-Semite is a racist, but a racist is not necessarily an anti-Semite. The term is useful in describing a particular species of racism - racism against Jews.

I want to add that disloyalty to your government is not necessarily a bad quality. If you have the misfortune to be born in, say, N. Korea, I think it would be a credit to your character if you can overcome your indoctrination and see that your government does not deserve your loyalty.

Two points.

First of all, saying you hate a specific individual does not say anything about your feelings regarding their ethnicity. So no, saying you hate Osama Bin Laden does not mean you’re bigoted against Arabs anymore than saying you hate Bugsy Siegel means you hate Jews or saying you hate Louis Farrakhan means you hate blacks.

Second, you’re displaying a common misunderstanding of the term anti-Semite. Anti-Semite has nothing to do with hatred of Arabs or other speakers of various semitic languages and has never been seen as such because it was a term invented by a very specific individual to give a scientific justification for Judeophobia. It was invented by a man named Wilhelm Marr to justify hatred against the Jews who were trying to, in his opinion, keep down the Germans. Marr didn’t give two shits about the Arabs, Assyrians, or other speakers of the Semitic languages and it’s never been used as such.

Every now and the people will try and get cute and say “Abu Nidal can’t be anti-Semitic because he’s an Arab” or something similar but doing so shows little understanding of the history of the term or how it’s been used.

Philip Weiss, who blogs at - and isn’t above talking turkey to his own people now and then - made a point worth thinking about in a piece he wrote about a decade ago. His thesis was not that Jews have too much influence: it’s that they’re not willing to own up to the influence they have. Being a historically oppressed people has its legacy.

I understand what you’re saying, but IMO “anti-Semite” leads to too many blind alleys, including arguing over what it means. In the very unlikely circumstance that your audience does not understand that you are talking about racism against Jews, then I think you would be much better off by simply adding “against Jews” to “racism.”

So I guess it comes down to whether you want to be understood, or be pedantically correct. An intelligent, educated person knows the derivation of the term “Semite,” and knows what the prefix “anti” means. I doubt that one college graduate in a hundred has ever heard of Wilhelm Marr.

And if the term “anti-Semite” were historically used to describe people who hated Assyrians you’d have a point, but it hasn’t so you don’t.

It’s always been understood and used, including by people who proudly label themselves as “anti-Semites” to describe the hatred of Jewish people.

And that didn’t cause much confusion until recently, but now it does.

You are correct that “anti-Semite” has been used in reference to Arabs only ironically, but it has most certainly been used, without any trace of irony, against people who criticize even purely political policies of the Israeli government. So either way, it carries baggage that only derails a discussion.

What is the huge disadvantage of simply saying “racism,” or, if the context isn’t clear, “racism against Jews?” Should we coin a new term for racism against every ethnic group that has ever been oppressed?

Except by your own admission it’s never been used to describe hatred of a group other than Jews so no, it doesn’t cause any confusion.

All poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles.

Beyond that many insist that the Jews aren’t a race or a nationality.

You have yet to give a compelling reason why you object to the use of the term.

Is it because you somehow think it make bigotry against Jews somehow unique or worse than bigotry against others?