The New Antisemitism

Ha’aretz has a feature on the new antisemitism.

The issue is delineating between those who have honest (even if distorted or mistaken) issues with Israeli policy and those who use Israel as an excuse for antisemitism.

I personally believe it is antisemitic when history or events get convienently distorted or forgotten and stay so even when the facts are politely pointed out.

What is the correct response to such actions?

Disagreeing with Israeli policy and the Israeli government can get you labled an antisemite, but in my mind it’s just name calling.

This is something that always happens and is why propaganda is a very useful tool. The blanket portrayal and treatment of the Palestinians is in my opinion antisemitic.


At times, the article seems to confuse disagreement with the Israeli government with anti-semitism. I mean come on, “The left-liberal media are scathing in their criticism of Israel.” I am scathing in my criticism of the government of Zimbabwe, but I’m certainly not a racist.

As for Israel, I thought Rabin and Barak were both pretty decent, but I think Sharon is a war-mongering putz. I wouldn’t let Netanyahu babysit my kids either.

So, does this make me anti-semitic?

don’t get fooled by an old zionistic technique. -Labeling all who criticize Israel for being antisemites.

History and events get conveniently distorted or forgotten each time a political debate on whatever topic is engaged.
Also I would be careful about the word “distorted”. In many cases, it could refer to only a different interpretation of the same event, or a “gut reaction”. And “forgotten” could refer to plain ignorance. The most absurd statement can be uttered in good faith.

And to which extent an event must be distorted to be considered “antisemitic”? If I state for instance : “Israel attacked the arabs countries in 1967, not the other way around” to prove a point, I’m technically correct. Is forgetting the context enough to be called “antisemitic”? What about events which are unproven but debatted “Some Israeli units executed war prisonners during the 1967 war”, for instance? Or is it limited to plain falsehoods like in " Israeli army mass-murdered egyptian civilians during the 1967 war"? But even in the last instance, I could have read it somewhere on the web and just been convinced. How can you tell I actually think “Jews are a race of butchers and act upon it as soon as they have a chance”?
Finally, history and events are quite often also “conveniently distorted or forgotten” by supporters of Israel. How would you call that? An evidence of anti-palestinian racism? Or more generally: is criticizing an arab country (say, Irak) using uncorrect (in the opinion of whom?) arguments a proof of anti-arab racism/anti-muslim prejudice?
What you’re doing here is asserting that if a a negatively connoted group has a given opinion, then anybody agreeing on this opinion must agree with the said group on anything. For instance “people who are conservative christians are racists who secretely support the KKK, since the KKK is a conservative and christian organization”. Well you’re restricting it to christians and conservatives “distorting events or history” in a debate. But it doesn’t change anything on the principle.
Something is antisemitic when it is motivated by antisemitism. Period. And when someone argue against Israel, there’s no way to tell what his motivations are, except if he makes them plain obvious, whatever his arguments can be. I’m rather pissed off by this stance because the call to antisemitism is widely used as a scare tactic in debates about Israel (though I don’t doubt that some of the people using it are genuinely convinced that it’s true…I’m not sure if it’s better or worst).

Since Israel is the Jewish Homeland, and since anti-Semitism has a long, ugly history, there’s an automatic suspicion that those who oppose Israel may be motivated by anti-Semitism. When their criticism are false, exaggerated, unbalanced, or malicious, that suspicion grows.

In fairness, perhaps one might irrationally hate Israel, but not hate Jews. Such a person might claim not to be anti-Semitic, but I would take some convincing.

Anti-semitism is a real and pervasive phenomenon, and it may certainly be the motive behind criticisms of Israel or of Zionism.

As December says, the suspicion that this is so in any case may be reinforced if the statement made is selective, intemperate, distorted or whatever.

But even in this cases it is a big leap from “I have good grounds for suspecting that this comment is motivated by antisemitism” to “this comment is motivated by antisemitism”.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is a long and complex matter, and any expression of views on it pretty well has to be selective. And in a human tragedy of this scale passions will run high, and intemperance can be explained other than by antisemitism. And distortion, exaggeration, malice and so forth are very subjective criteria. Your comments may strike me as distorted and malicious, but who is to say that my perception is not coloured by by Zionist views, or my affinity for Israelis, or any other countless attitudes (or biases, if you will) that I may have?

Besides, to accuse someone of being motivated by antisemitism is an ad hominen attack which does not invalidate what he is saying. I may be motivated by the rankest antisemitism, but a particular statement which I make which reflects badly on Israel may still be true. The best rebuttal of my position is not to accuse me of antisemitism but to disprove my statement, or to put my statement in a context in which it no longer reflects badly on Israel. Simply attacking me simply gives observers the impression that you are unable to refute my statement, or the implications I draw from it. For that reason, if for no others, those supportive of Israel should be slow to accuse their opponents of antisemitism.

I hate Hitler’s regime, but I don’t hate Christians.

I hate the Saudi regime, but I don’t hate Muslims.

I suppose these are rational hatreds because they are based on facts I am aware of the hideous practices and oppressions of those regimes. Do you only mean in cases where people’s hatred is unsupported that you would require convincing?

But, Hitler’s regime is not the Christian homeland, nor does Saudi Arabia epitomize Islam.

And that’s my point. And nor does Israel represent all Jews. And nor is it the homeland for all Jews.

As a Jew (by family, now I’m an atheist) and an anti-zionist and someone who is deeply involved in what is going on at present (and has been going on for many years), I’d like to add my few cents of opinion.

Judaism is a religion, like any other set of beliefs. Zionism is a political ideology. The two are not the same, despite the Israeli propaganda machine’s attempts to combine them as synonymous. The idea of the Jewish homeland, though sweet in itself, is a fantasy.

Two rabbis, on a scouting mission for Herzl, the founder of political Zionism reported back that the bride was beautiful but she already had a fiance.

Moshe Menuhin, father of the famous violinist and an anti-zionist Jew, once said, “Jews should be Jews, not nazis”

Strong words indeed, but in light of what we have seen (and what we have not yet been shown perhaps), he wasn’t far off the mark.

There are many books that can be read about the history of the zionist movement and it’s different political wings. The people in control today come from the “Revisionist” tradition of Jacobinsky, an ultra-right headbanging separatist nationalist ideology.

While at university many years ago, a fellow student described himself to me as a “Jewish fascist”, something I couldn’t get my head round at the time but which now I fully understand.
He had been a member of the Stern gang, a paramilitary zionist grouping who fought the then British imperial forces in palestine and formed part of the honour guard in establishing the state of Israel.

It makes me very angry today to see how these people, whose racism towards the Palestinians knows no bounds, thus being able to justify their recent actions - if the enemy is not human there can be no problem for them - use the holocaust and antisemetism as their knee-jerk response to any criticism of their policies.

What would the hundreds of thousands of anti-fascist Jews who gave up their livesd in the 30s and 40s fighting fascism, and with no desire whatsoever to build a homeland for Jews, be thinking today. I recommend a book on the Warsaw ghetto entitlerd, “The Ghetto Fights” to find out what people did to resist antisemetism in those times.

There is another Jewish tradition that has been conveniently buried in recent years that it one of universality, open mindedness, progress and the will to share and change things for the better - of all humanity. This tradition is borne from the very experience of antisemetism and the best way of fighting it: not running away from it or accepting it as inevitable but taking it on in the fight for thhat better world. In the past there were people like Marx, Abram Leon, Rosa Luxemburg, Menuhin, Einstein and a very long etc. who as Jews, opposed Zionism. Today there are still Jews who do so. (Chomsky, 450 academics who signed a statement this week, oh and me, to mention just a few, and a good many more with no voice I’m sure).

These elements leading Israel today have ensured that the “Jewish homeland” is in fact the most dangerous place for jews to live in the world, and have increased the psychosis that must surely exist in the minds of Israel’s Jewish population. They also feed off antisemetism and make the most of it for their own ends. Find out what the Zionists proposed during the 30s and the second world war. (Read Nathan Weinstock on the matter or Lenni Brenner).

It is not, in my opinion, antisemetism to oppose Israel. On the contrary, any conscious person, whatever their religion, has a duty today to oppose what they are doing in the name of Jews across the world.

I believe that there is a Jewish progressive organisation in the USA now that have printed a T-shirt saying “Not in My Name”. and quite right too.

I shall end my rant here and hope I haven’t taken up too much of your time or offended anyone, but I do feel there is a lot to be said on this matter and it is of crucial importance at the present.

Barsa Loner thank you very much for your post - I really appreciated getting to hear the opinion of someone of Jewish descent on this matter.

I hope that you post here more in future.

NIMN (Not in MY Name) is a Jewish peace group in America.

Jews typically know how to spell “antisemitism”. It’s kind of basic.

The period should come before the quotation mark. :rolleyes:

He’s from Spain. Sheesh.

istara wrote:

Homer Simpson: " :eek: Mel Brooks is Jewish?!???!!!"

Do you think we can get some Muslims to wear “Not in my name” t-shirts?

Of course not. Diversity of opinion and free exchange of ideas are weaknesses. I mean, really! Where have you been?

Um, firebombing synagogues seems pretty anti-semitic to me.