(Cross-Posted at Geoffff's Joint, Bar and Grill and Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers.)
There is an article in this morning's Jerusalem Post by Benjamin Kerstein entitled, "Yes, all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!" When I first noticed it I rolled my eyes and moved on because the premise is so obviously nonsensical. Of course not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. If all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic then Israel, itself, is the most anti-Semitic country on the entire planet.
Nonetheless the idea seemed so outrageous and so patently false on its very face that I decided to see what the writer was saying. Perhaps his title, like mine above, was meant as snark. But, nope. Kerstein means precisely what he says. All criticism of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic for historical reasons. This is what he writes:
All criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic because of the specific historical circumstances under which we currently live. That is to say, the historical circumstances under which Israel and the Jews exist in the world today render any non-anti-Semitic criticism of Israel impossible. And, ironically, these are circumstances that Israel’s opponents have themselves created.
To hold that this is not the case requires acting – and demanding that others act – as if these circumstances do not exist, even as they sit as patiently as a pachyderm in the parlor waiting for us to notice them and, sometimes, when our self-willed ignorance grows too infuriating, murder our children and set off bombs in our streets.
Nonetheless, these circumstances are not complex, nor are they numerous. They are simply these: A large portion of the world, West and East, has come to believe that Arabs and Muslims have earned the right to murder Jews.
This last bit, I have to say, is unquestionably true. Those of us who follow the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party on the question of the Long Arab War against the Jews see this constantly. That is, we are constantly told that the reason that so many Arabs and Muslims seek to murder the Jews in the Middle East is because those Jews are mean. In places like Daily Kos or the Huffington Post or the UK Guardian (not to mention TIME magazine, Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania) we are constantly told that the reason Palestinians sometimes strap suicide belts onto children and send them off into areas crowded with Jews is because Israel is a racist, colonialist, imperialist, apartheid state and that if Israel would simply end the Occupation (with a capital "O") then the local Arabs would become as gentle as narcofied lambs.
In this way, the Jews of the Middle East, who, as a tiny minority in that part of the world, have been subject to 14 centuries of persecution, are at fault for that persecution. Just as so many Germans in the early-middle part of the twentieth century told one another that the Jews have it coming, so today many, many western progressives tell themselves precisely the same thing. What it amounts to is the notion that if for 2,000 years we Jews have been unjustly persecuted and oppressed, thus artificially holding down our numbers, in this generation we really DO deserve whatever beating the Arab or Muslim world wishes to give out.
Every generation of Jews prior to 1948 was perfectly innocent, but NOW we just happen to actually be guilty.
Derived from this right, they have also come to believe that the destruction dismantling, and erasure of the State of Israel, and the slaughter, expulsion, and/or perpetual subjugation of its Jewish population are entirely legitimate and indeed desirable.
That is, ultimately, what anti-Semitic anti-Zionism of the kind found so commonly on the left is about. That's what anti-Zionism means. It means that after 2,000 years of getting our collective ass kicked it is immoral and wrong for Jewish people to come together in their own self-defense because it means effectively fighting back against Arab Muslim persecution and, as everyone seems to know, Jewish self-defense is immoral and unacceptable.
Derived from the preceding is the belief that the Jewish people in general, in Israel or the Diaspora, either do not exist as a people deserving the same rights as other peoples, or are an evil and debased people who must be slaughtered, expelled, and/or perpetually subjugated in order to prevent them from committing further debased evils.
The western left never puts it in these kinds of terms. They never would because they see themselves as enlightened anti-racists. Instead, they often talk to one another about the Occupation (with a capital "O") and what a shame it is that the Jews are behaving something like Nazis. What usually, but not always, goes unspoken is the idea that if Israel is something akin to Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa then it must be dismantled as a Jewish state and any such effort can only lead to war, if not a second Holocaust.
So, is all criticism of Israel anti-Semitic?
I'm sorry, but despite the above the very notion is still ridiculous on its face. Nonetheless, it's not really that difficult to understand where Kerstein is coming from. Israel represents about half the world's Jewish population and it is surrounded by people numbering 60 to 70 for every Jew and a very great proportion of those people hold murderous hostility toward those Jews. People in the west do not really understand, or care to understand, what a precarious position those Jews live under. People in the west do not really understand, or care to understand, that the Jews in the Middle East have been living under siege since they were freed from dhimmitude in the early part of the twentieth century.
In the comments of Kerstein's op-ed we read this:
Bizarre and counter-intuitive proposals like all criticism is anti-semitic are a mark of either Power or Desperation.
The western progressive-left thinks that Israel is powerful, but the truth is that the Jews of the Middle East are desperate. They desperately wish to be left alone to raise their children in peace, to worship G-d, to work on computer and medical technology, and to send Natalie Portmans out into the world. That's what they want, but instead they live with constant hatred coming at them from all quarters and bloodthirsty violence directed at them from many in the local Palestinian population.
When malicious progressives direct their hatred toward the Jews of the Middle East they are confusing victims with victimizers and seeing their own hatred in noble terms.
There is a reason why young Jewish kids in Israel must go into the IDF and it is not because the Jews of the Middle East are essentially militaristic and mean. It is because so many of the 400 million Arabs surrounding those Jews are hell-bent for fury and hundreds of millions of westerners seem to favor the Arabs over those Jews.
One thing that I know for certain is that if the shit ever really hits the fan over there and we end up with a whole mess of dead Jews (and dead Arabs), the tendency on the western left will be to blame the Jews for the hostility against us.
That's the way it has been every generation for 2,000 years.
This one is no different.
I love this paragraph:ReplyDelete
The western progressive-left thinks that Israel is powerful, but the truth is that the Jews of the Middle East are desperate. They desperately wish to be left alone to raise their children in peace, to work on computer and medical technology, and to send Natalie Portmans out into the world. That's what they want, but instead they live with constant hatred coming at them from all quarters and bloodthirsty violence directed at them from many in the local Palestinian population.
You could have done without the reference to the "western progressive-left". Because in this context, the progressive-left doesn't have any special claim to that belief. I agree with many of your criticisms of the left, but singling them out here seems more obsessive than necessary.
But beyond that, these words are an absolute truth.
(Is criticism of Karma inherently anti-semitic, or just simply wrong?)
Yeah, I obviously tend to single out the progressive-left, Stu.Delete
There are at least two reasons for this. The first, of course, is that the progressive movement was my political home for a long time. I marched and phone banked and gave money and advocated for.
So, when I finally realized that I was backing people who, however fine their intentions, were not backing us, I became disillusioned and highly critical.
The second reason is simply that the progressive-left of today is exhibits considerably more vitriol toward Israel than does the conservative right.
I don't like it any better than you do.
Oh, and yes!, criticism of Karma is both inherently anti-Semitic and just plain fucking wrong!Delete
I don't accept your framing. You write:
(Is criticism of Karma inherently anti-semitic, or just simply wrong?)
It is neither.
Love you both. :-)
I am so sorry to hear that you have gone though a difficult time in the recent past, but happy to understand that our mutual friend helped you through it.
I want to talk to you more.
We can do that here or we can do that via email.
Shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm struggling with this. I promised myself I wouldn't get involved in the substance here--you know me--I'm a surf the waves kind of girl--avoid the undertow of issues. But I cannot let this pass.
I get that you feel hurt by the left. It's always more painful when a place you thought was home turns out to no longer be as welcoming as we'd like. There is a feeling of betrayal. But when you say you have more common ground with the Evangelical Christians in the US than progressives, I get a little queasy.
I spent a decade in that realm (a story for another time). These people read the Left Behind books as though they were carved on stone tablets. Their support for Israel is solely based on its existence as a necessary precondition to the end times they so fervently pray for.
I can't adequately describe their views without using an analogy that is at best offensive and at worst full-on Godwin. The left may criticize the Israeli government (vociferously and ad nauseum), but the Evangelical right has a much, much different outlook. See for example, Pat Robertson’s recent comments on anti-Semitism, and how the “poor Jews” don’t understand because they don’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah.
I was a participant on a private message board of Evangelical Christian women for quite a while. I remember in particular one discussion about the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem—their excitement that this would bring the second coming of Jesus, and their questions—who will be the 144,000 Jews who will survive, and whether they would be lucky enough to convert (and therefore save) any of them.
So ally with them in the short run if it serves your interests, but realize their larger agenda is much, much more nefarious than that of most of the left. And know that the odds of you and Little Snot being among the sealed are pretty slim.
while you are probably correct that I will not be among the "sealed," Little Snort has an in, if you will.
All overgrown hamsters go to heaven!
I think, tho, that political sands are shifting and not just in the Middle East. Old alliances are proving to be no longer viable, or no longer advantageous, and new alliances are called for.
This is, imo, nowhere more true than for the Jewish people, both Israeli and diaspora. The old assumptions are crumbling and this calls for fresh thinking.
It's not that the progressive-left hurt my feelings, but that it has collectively demonstrated a willingness to go in for a kind of politics that is directly in opposition to the well-being of the Jewish people.
In my estimation, naturally.
Now, this does not mean that I think that individual progressives are not good people. Of course, you are. In fact, the great majority of my real world friends are people that essentially identify with the progressive movement, as I did until fairly recently. And, in truth, on most issues, I am still on the progressive side of the ledger.
Evangelical Christians are excellent friends to the Jewish state of Israel. They just are. Now some will say that they really have a nefarious End of Days theology behind that friendship, but I am certain that this is exaggerated by people who are opposed to the Evangelical movement and would hate to see Jewish people befriending that movement.
My idea is to befriend them while recognizing that the movement is liberalizing, and has been for quite some time, and therefore we can encourage such liberalization further.
The goto guy on this issue, from a Jewish perspective, would be Rabbi Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
puzzled, you are entirely correct about the Evangelical Christian so-called "support" of Israel, in general.Delete
Mike, it's foolish to cling to just anyone who purports to "support" oneself when oneself is endangered and desperate. Of course, one can be, and it's good to be, polite to any such people who are purporting to "support" oneself when oneself is endangered. However, "making common cause with" just any such people can be counterproductive, and, in this case, is counterproductive -- that is: it can be harmful, and, in this case, is harmful.
puzzled and Mike, have you read the comments that I have written below? Please read the comments that I have written below.
Telling the truth about the situation that Israel is in is what will protect Israel. Telling the truth about the situation that Israel is in is what needs to be done.
yes, I always read your contributions.
Part of the reason for that is because you have an alternative view and the entire purpose of this blog is to rethink Jewish and Israeli political assumptions.
That's really the whole point of this place, which is why we tend to be highly critical of the old, stodgy, non-productive, Oslo nonsense. Also, of course, why we tend to be critical of Jewish knee-jerk support for Obama and the Democratic party.
That's also why I am willing to consider and promote building an alliance with the Evangelicals. It's not that I wish for us to "cling" to anything.
The point is precisely to stop clinging.
We need, as I think you would agree, to stop clinging to outmoded ideologies which are poisonous to us a people. We need to stop clinging to old prejudices, such as the prejudice of many Jewish people toward devout Christians, particularly of the Evangelical variety.
Those people do not favor Israel out of some crazed, malicious eschatology, but because they recognize the Jewish people as the people of the Bible.
They tend to believe in Genesis 12:3.
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Now, I am not a particularly religious guy, but nor am I opposed to religion. So, why shouldn't we make alliances where we can?
The truth of the matter is that I think that we owe them a debt of thanks.
I just want to pay it.
"The western progressive-left thinks that Israel is powerful, but the truth is that the Jews of the Middle East are desperate."ReplyDelete
That's precisely why I've kept trying to communicate that the facts of the U.S. government's and other Western governments' (particularly the British government's) actions (racist, malicious, craven, vicious, duplicitous, deceitful, intendedly lethal, actions) against Israel for the past over sixty years need to be communicated -- to the members of the Left -- especially, first, to the Jewish members of the Left.
The Left has swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, a perverse untrue narrative originated by, and originally propagated by, actual Nazis, and by the Nazi-supporting racist genocidally anti-Jewish members of the ("Right-Wing") Establishment class of the U.S. and of Britain.
The world has gone insane.
The Left need to understand, but, especially, and particularly, Jewish people -- "Left", "Right", "Up", "Down", "Fluffy", "Mushy", "Maize Sunset Yellow", "Eggplant Mauve", etc. -- need to understand:
The U.S. government is not supporting Israel, and is not intending to support Israel, and has never supported Israel, and has never intended to support Israel.
The intelligence agencies (CIA), and foreign policy departments (the State Department), and the executive administrations (Republican executive administrations and Democrat executive administrations -- but particularly, and mainly, Republican executive administrations), of the government of the United States of America have, for over sixty years, been intentionally intendedly fatally undermining the well-being of Israel.
Talk -- by lying leaders of Western governments who are scapegoating Israel, and who are pretending to be friends of Israel -- is cheap. Actions -- the actual actions by those leaders of Western governments -- which are actions that are entirely unreported by, and utterly obfuscated by, the non-Jewish racist anti-Jewish members of, and by the Jewish Stockholm-syndrome-affected egomaniacal morally bankrupt members of, the Western mass media -- are what matter.
The Occupation of Israel
The government of the United States of America gives 3 billion dollars of financial aid per year to Israel, which is money that the government of the United States of America requires the government of Israel to spend on buying weapons from the United States of America.
The government of the United States of America gives a total of over 3 billion dollars of financial aid per year to Muslim states in the Middle East. The government of the United States gives more military aid to the Saudi family dictatorial Islamic regime of Saudi Arabia than the government of the United States of America gives to any other state in the world.)
Some other facts that the members of the contemporary Left would do well to contemplate and understand the meaning of:Delete
The largest, and controlling, voting bloc in the United Nations, and the controlling body of the United Nations, is the OIC (the Organization of Islamic Cooperation - to which it, in June, 2011, changed its name from its original name: the Organization of the Islamic Conference), which is a coalition of 57 Muslim governments - 56 Muslim states plus Fatah-PLO-PalestinianAuthority.
The Human Rights Council of the United Nations is headed by representatives of the regimes of totalitarian Muslim states.
Totalitarian petroleum-producing Muslim Arab states in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, are some of the wealthiest states in the world. The total petroleum revenue income of petroleum-producing Muslim Arab states in the Middle East is several hundred billion dollars per year. Petroleum is the foundational commodity of the economies of all of the Western countries in the world.
A member of the Establishment governing social class of the West who was one of the most influential people engaged in the Western racist, malicious, and avaricious, war against the Jewish people was Jack Philby. Jack Philby was a British official, and was one of the main administrators of the British Mandate of Palestine, and was a self-professed Socialist, and converted to Islam in 1930, and was a fervent supporter of the Nazis, and, with his friend Allen Dulles, in the 1930's, provided, and profited from providing, petroleum from Muslim Arab states to the Nazi regime of Germany. Allen Dulles, later, soon after World War II, recruited several thousand German former Nazi officials into the CIA. Those German former Nazi officials constituted the core founding membership of the CIA.Delete
During the 1930's, many Socialists, such as George Bernard Shaw, supported the Nazis.
The Nazi (National Socialist (NAtionalsoZIalistische)) movement began largely in the universities of Germany. The Nazis were Socialists. The "humanitarianism"-espousing, "Social-Justice"-espousing, "World-Peace"-espousing, rhetoric of Adolf Hitler in the 1930's was, literally, almost identical to, the "humanitarianism"-espousing, "Social-Justice"-espousing, "World-Peace"-espousing, rhetoric of other Socialists in the 1900's. The genocidally racist anti-Jewish writings and speeches of Adolf Hitler are, ideologically, almost identical to, and are, literally, almost identical to, the genocidally racist anti-Jewish writings of Karl Marx ("The Russian Loan", "On the Jewish Question"). The German-supremacist, German-imperialist, speeches and writings of Adolf Hitler are, ideologically, almost identical to, and are, literally, almost identical to, the German-supremacist, German-imperialist, writings of Friedrich Engels.
The political labels "Right" and "Left" do not precisely define anything. The political labels "Right" and "Left" don't have any essential actual meaning.
Jewish people need to understand:
Western (culturally Christian-European, Christian and post-Christian) anti-Jewish racism is a politically non-partisan phenomenon.
Moreover, Jewish people need to understand:
Western (culturally Christian-European, Christian and post-Christian) anti-Jewish racism is pervasive among the members of the Establishment governing classes of Western societies -- among such people who are self-professedly "Right-Wing" and among such people who are self-professedly "Left-Wing".
Anti-Jewish racism is part and parcel with totalitarianism -- Western "Right-Wing" totalitarianism, and Western "Left-Wing" totalitarianism, and Islamic totalitarianism (supremacist imperialist totalitarian authoritative orthodox Islam).
The adherents of the contemporary Islamic supremacist political movement, as part of developing and propagating lies to engender the holding of untrue antipathetic perverse wrong beliefs about Israel among people in Western societies, in the adherents of the contemporary Islamic supremacist political movement's effort to destroy Israel and all democratic Western societies, have strategically used Western (culturally Christian-European, Christian and post-Christian) anti-Jewish racism that (as it exists among most Western people) exists among Western people who are self-professedly "Left-Wing". It has worked -- just like it did for the Nazis in the 1930's. However, it has worked only because Jewish people have allowed it to work. If Jewish people would be mindful, and would verbally defend their own people against intendedly genocidal libels by telling the factual true history, and current reality, of the situation -- then the efforts, by Arab anti-Jewish racists, and by Muslim non-Arab anti-Jewish racists, and by petroleum-craven Western anti-Jewish racists, to destroy Israel would not succeed, and the efforts, by the adherents of the contemporary Islamic supremacist political movement, to destroy all democratic non-Islamic societies in the world would not succeed.
I'm sorry but you're wrong and Kerstin is correct. Non-anti-Semitic criticism of Israel has been discredited precisely because its non-existence. I would say at this point in our present era, 99% percent of the current criticism of Israel is devoted to its delegitimization, making it easier to boycott Israel and finally to ideologically justify the renewed mass murder of Jews. I challenge any one to show me ANY criticism of Israel exists that is not motivated by hatred of the Jews and Israel. I believe this is impossible and Kerstin's formulation nowadays more or less has the standing of a scientific law. There is no fact that exists to controvert it. And in a world in which torrents of abuse and slander are directed at the Jewish people and their small country, that has rendered all non-anti-Semitic criticism of Israel suspect alike with Jews and Israelis. And anti-Semites and Israel haters have through their own conduct made it impossible to tell genuine criticism of Israel apart from criticism that reviles the Jewish State and its existence upon this earth. Kerstin is right and all of his critics are wrong.Delete