Thursday, February 11, 2016

On Jew-washing

Sar Shalom

Last month, Andrew Pessin made an invaluable demonstration of how Jews endorsing some position does not remove that position's anti-semitism. I would like to add to the discussion about Jew-washing by drawing an analogy to general racism. Consider the case of voter-ID laws which several red states have passed. These laws disproportionately affect African-Americans who are more likely to lack the identification required under those laws. There are those who suggest that the laws are intentionally discriminatory because against African-Americans in order to suppress the vote of those who tend to vote against the laws' sponsors. If Clarence Thomas were to endorse those laws, would anyone, particularly amongst those claiming that Jewish support for BDS proves that BDS is not anti-semitic, claim that that shows that voter-ID laws are not racist?

UPDATE: I initially forgot to conclude the analogy I was developing, here is the conclusion. Just as conservative African-American endorsement of voter-ID laws, such as from Clarence Thomas, would not change those laws from being discriminatory to non-discriminatory, so too does Jewish support for BDS have no effect on its being anti-semitic.

20 comments:

  1. How exactly voter ID laws discriminate against African Americans? You can't have a job, drive, rent, or get welfare without an ID. So all the people that work got them, and all people on public assistance fore sure got them. Which exact mythical segment of African Americans is affected, and how do they exist in everyday life without them.

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    1. "You can't have a job, drive, rent, or get welfare without an ID"

      First, you CAN CERTAINLY have a job.

      But furthermore, none of those things are RIGHTS unless you include self-employment for which you DO NOT need an ID.

      Rather than post the entire article:
      https://www.aclu.org/oppose-voter-id-legislation-fact-sheet

      ~Alexi

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    2. The ID in question is usually just a diver's license. Most Americans drive.
      I agree that it might be a bit onerous for non drivers.
      Still, you can't get a legitimate job without a photo ID, you can't get public assistance without it, you can't buy alcohol, you can't drive a car, you can't rent or buy a place of residence, you can't enroll in school, you can't get a loan, you can't book in a hotel, you can't even sell your stuff to a pawn broker.
      You may be self employed, but in practice it'd be very hard to own a business and not have a photo ID.
      I'm supposed to believe that 25% of African Americans go through life
      without ever needing photo ID for any of the aforementioned activities.

      The poll tax argument is bogus. Second amendment gives me the right to bear arms, if it's a RIGHT why do I have to pay for concealed carry license?

      No, we are just supposed believe that the main vehicle to obtaining money and power is never abused. There is no voter fraud.

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    3. Whether or not it is discriminatory, the issue is whether or not the Jew-washers believe it is. This is a blog about ISRAEL, I only bring in other issues in order to develop arguments to use with liberals to demonstrate the folly of the Arab position.

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  2. The question is what ID is acceptable. You can get all the things you mentioned yet not have an ID acceptable for voting. There are many cases, of veterans or students for example, who are being denied the franchise because their ID is unacceptable.

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  3. I have found many comments simply agree with the blog poster. It seems to me that blogs could simply have an "I agree" button and save a great deal of time and space. I think people should refrain from commenting unless they have something substantive to add to the conversation. Nevertheless, I completely agree with your point here.

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  4. Joseph made a good point on the topic of the discriminatory nature of voter-ID laws. However, whether or not such laws are discriminatory is beside the point. The issue is whether or not the target audience believes they are. For a post on Jew-washing, the target audience are those who might listen to Jews declare "as a Jew, I am ashamed of what Israel is doing" and possibly conclude that if even Jews are demonizing Israel, then demonizing Israel can't be anti-semitic. Such people are mostly liberal, thus likely to deem voter-ID laws as discriminatory, and thus might be susceptible to the analogy I lay out.

    From another perspective, if the voter-ID laws are not discriminatory, would Clarence Thomas's endorsement of them provide the final determination that they are not. Jews denouncing Israel does no more to prove such denunciation of Israel is non-anti-semitic than Clarence Thomas's endorsement of voter-ID laws shows them to be non-discriminatory.

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    1. Sar Shalom,
      I would think that those people who are very happy to be able to use Jews who say "as a Jew I am ashamed of what Israel is doing" to prove that they are not in any way being anti-Semitic when they demonize Israel, would react entirely differently in the hypothetical situation you put forward. As far as I aware, most people with "liberal" beliefs tend to treat any African-American who supports some political position which is seen as "conservative" as an Uncle Tom. And, therefore, would be more likely to take the endorsement as proof of that particular person's "selling- out" of their community. Maybe most particularly with someone like Clarence Thomas.
      There is, I believe, no equivalent of the "Jew washing" phenomenon.
      For example, and perhaps more directly analogous, reformist Muslims who speak out against Islamism, and the need for reform within the Islamic world - and within communities of Muslims in Europe - are hated and smeared by the progressive left. The racism shown to those people is staggering.
      Maajid Nawaz is a prime example of this.
      There is a completely different rule for how Jews who criticize or attack other Jews, or Israel, than for any other situation. Muslims who criticize Islam or Islamic extremism are demonized by the liberal left.
      The BDS crowd have been at the forefront of demonizing reformist Muslims. Their double standards are extraordinary. Although, as one doesn't expect them to ever be acting in good faith, it is hardly a surprise.

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    2. Edit "how" out of that.

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    3. As far as I aware, most people with "liberal" beliefs tend to treat any African-American who supports some political position which is seen as "conservative" as an Uncle Tom.

      --aside Thank you for finally commenting on topic. /aside--

      And their reasoning for not calling the Jew-washer Uncle Toms? Exposing the double standard might not sway the activists, but it could complicate their evangelism to those who aren't yet convinced.

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    4. I think their reason for not calling the Jew-washer Uncle Toms is this: They support and champion the rights of African-Americans - I would say that that is more to do with how they like they like to see themselves. They also, in a similar way, support the rights of other groups they count as "oppressed groups."
      As they don't see Jews as an oppressed group, in fact, quite the opposite, they are thrilled by any Jew who overtly turns on other Jews and, of course, Israel.
      In the dubious landscape of "social justice" Jews and Israelis are seen as "oppressors" not as the "oppressed." Therefore, Jew-washing is always going to be a dynamic that is unique.
      I would also say, that there is a strong undercurrent of actual anti-Semitism that is a part of this. That is partly just how the world is, and partly because the culture that has arisen in the academy, media etc has
      created it. Deliberately. It has not been an accident.

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  5. At a more basic level - the US is a declining nation and Israel is not. I say bid the Yanks adieu and leave the to their destiny. American universities are existing for the most part on their reputations, even in the sciences now. China churns out more STEM PhDs than the US now and the trend is to stop sending their best and brightest. Same with Japan, same with Korea and Japan. The US is getting generally, second tier countries except in very targeted fields. So if the American college system wants to ethnically cleanse itself of Jews like the Germans did, ok fine. I'm ok with that. If I have grandchildren and they live in the US theirs will be a shrunken second tier country like Brazil is today. I'm not all that worried. Let the American university system slowing fade out.

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  6. Why not just say BDS is antisemitic, and Jewish advocates of BDS are practicing antisemitism. No ifs, and or buts. Unequivocation is what persuades. Like settled science. That's why, legislation boycotting the anti-Israel boycotters proliferates.

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2016/02/legislation-boycotting-the-anti-israel-boycotters-proliferates/



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  7. Sar Shalom,

    the general thrust of the arguments that you have been developing align the cause of Jewish Nationalism with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States as it developed out of the 50s and 60s as it allied itself with the American Left.

    What I like about this trend of thought, aside from the fact that it represents a good tactic, is that it also far more closely represents historical reality than does the so-called "Palestinian narrative" of never-ending victimhood.

    The purpose of Jewish nationalism is simply to secure the freedom and civil liberties of the Jewish people. For fourteen long centuries that Jewish people have been a persecuted minority on the land that we come from within the Middle East.

    And, in a certain kind of way, that's all there is to it.

    We get to eat at the lunch counter, too.

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  8. What I like about this trend of thought, aside from the fact that it represents a good tactic, is that it also far more closely represents historical reality than does the so-called
    "Palestinian narrative" of never-ending victimhood.


    I apologize if this sounds harsh: but what difference does that make?
    You talk as if the thing that matters is what the "reality" is.
    It's almost incomprehensible to me that you can think like this.
    Look at the world around you.
    Hardly anyone takes any notice of the facts about anything. And in the world of identity politics - the most powerful movement in modern political culture in America - 'facts' and 'reality' are irrelevant.
    All that matters is a ludicrous and distorted view of the world based on grievance and a perceived hierarchy of 'oppression'.
    Jews can't be seen the way you want them to be. That's because Jews - in America and Europe etc - are "successful." Not just successful, but disproportionately successful.
    You can - and should - add on theological and political anti-Semitism, it plays a big part. But, most importantly, the culture we all live in is utterly dominated by identity politics.
    Jews, as a group, are disproportionately successful in society. Outside of the usual conspiracy theories, it is a fact that Jews, as a group, play a very significant role in politics, academia, the media, business, finance etc.
    And are one of the very few ethnic minorities to be very well-represented in the middle class.
    Jews, to the identity politics, progressive crowd, are about as likely to be viewed as in need of a sympathetic hearing as white, heterosexual, cis-gendered, men.
    Which is to say; not at all.
    In fact, Jews are seen as deserving of less consideration for sympathetic concern than white heterosexual men. And that's saying something.
    You can talk as much as you like about what is actually true or not. It's not that you're technically wrong, just that no-one cares. If that isn't obvious by now, I don't know what would bring it home to you.
    I know you really mean well, and really seem to believe what you are saying, but it is totally divorced from the cultural climate you actually inhabit. And that is extraordinary.

    I apologize for this being a bit of a rant. But it's almost like you are ignoring what is actually happening in favour of being technically accurate. Technical accuracy is meaningless. Worse than that, it's breathtaking complacent.

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    1. The Nazis practiced identity politics.
      I don't think anyone here is ignoring what is happening. I think we are all engaged in coming up with a message that would be understood by anyone with an ounce of humanity.
      As for the identity politicians - eventually reality will smack them in the face and hard, but we owe it to ourselves and to civilization speed that process along by discrediting their racial theories thoroughly.

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    2. Kate,

      "You talk as if the thing that matters is what the "reality" is."

      Of course, reality matters and in the case of the conflict historical truth matters a great deal, but it is necessary that we insist upon it because if we do not, no one else will.

      We have historical truth on our side. I think that it would be wise to invoke it and insist upon it.

      The problem is not that history is irrelevant or cannot influence peoples' thinking, but that we are not even making the case for the civil liberties of the Jewish people as a response to thirteen long centuries of Jewish history under violent forms of Arab-Muslim domination on our own land.

      "All that matters is a ludicrous and distorted view of the world based on grievance and a perceived hierarchy of 'oppression'. Jews can't be seen the way you want them to be. That's because Jews - in America and Europe etc - are "successful." Not just successful, but disproportionately successful."

      We are disproportionately successful. Good for us.

      And, you're right, this is why most western-leftists do not care about either the ongoing seige of the Jews in the Middle East nor about the increasing siege of European Jews. It is a matter of a perceived "hiearchy of oppression," but this hardly makes the historical reality of ongoing violent Arab-Muslim oppression of Jews irrelevant.

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    3. I would suggest that if it seems irrelevant it is because we have failed to make it relevant.

      "You can - and should - add on theological and political anti-Semitism, it plays a big part."

      We are in agreement. I have argued for years, following Wisse, for a political interpretation of anti-Semitism and have insisted that the Arab-Jewish conflict is fundamentally grounded in Muslim theological Jew hatred.

      "Jews, to the identity politics, progressive crowd, are about as likely to be viewed as in need of a sympathetic hearing as white, heterosexual, cis-gendered, men."

      "cis-gendered"?

      In any case, identity politics is important on the Left in the US, but I do not get the sense that it is as important as you may be experiencing in the UK. In truth, I have no doubt that many people would accuse those of us who participate here of practicing identity politics. The thing is, tho, that since the Jewish people - despite our relative success - are a people under siege and therefore, as Jewish people ourselves, it is not so much about western identity politics, at least not for me, as it is about basic common sense.

      They keep trying, as you well know, to stab Jews to death throughout Israel. In Columbus, Ohio, just the other day, some maniac from Somalia walked into the Nazareth Restaurant, that featured Israeli flags, and started hacking people with a machete.

      Naturally, the authorities refuse to say so, but this was a Jihad attack and I think that we need to do a better job of pointing out how, using Jewish history under imperial Islam, to get people to understand that this is not about "occupation." It is about theological and political anti-Semitism. The irony in this particular case is that it turns out the own of the Nazareth Restaurant is a self-described Israeli Arab Christian.

      "You can talk as much as you like about what is actually true or not. It's not that you're technically wrong, just that no-one cares."

      Some people care... perhaps more than you realize.

      And as the Jihadis continue to work their magic, more people will come to realize in the future. But even if they don't, Israel has far too much economic and military pull to be easily cast aside by the world community. It may sound like they want to do that, but in the mean time there is full economic relations all throughout the world with the obvious exception of the Arab countries that are falling to pieces all around Israel.

      Israel, as you know, is shifting its economic attention eastward to Far East Asia, as well as Hindu India, and have no particular historical attachment to anti-Jewish racism.

      Ultimately, Kate, I am more optimistic than are you and I suspect a big part of that is due to the fact that we come out of different political environments.

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  9. Mike,
    Lots of points:
    Identity politics is a far greater force in America than in the UK. We are, however, catching you up. Sadly.
    History is relevant. Of course. But almost impossible to teach in a culture that is only interested in some history.
    Please do not misunderstand that I think any of us should stop trying to make people better informed. Of course not. But I think it is a Herculean task.
    Not least because American culture is driven by people who are overwhelmingly obsessed with Western malfeasance. Or the perception of it. To the exclusion of anything else.
    It is doubtful whether the average young person growing up in your education system is aware that any other bad things have ever happened in the world other than those done by America. And, of course, Europe.
    You are hoping to teach people about other history. In this case, the history of the Arab/Muslim world. And its treatment of minorities. Jews, especially. And that will link it all up to the current situation in Israel/Palestine.
    To do that you have to reach the minds of people who would be prepared to place some kind of blame - historically speaking - on people who are not of European descent. I don't know where you expect to find those people. Not in your universities. And certainly not in most of your media or intelligentsia. And that is a problem.
    I hope Jeff is right, and that the whole bubble of identity politics is going to burst. But I don't see it happening.
    And some people think it will get much worse. Especially in the academy.

    Identity politics is, by definition, driven by emotion and not by reason. That is a problem for anyone trying to make a reasoned argument.
    You are right to say there are people who care. But you need "more" people to care. And you need them to be in positions of influence. That's looking very unlikely, with the exception of some of the political class to the right of the political aisle.

    As long as so much of America's discourse is driven by the notion of America's "wrongdoing", Israel will suffer from that. It is hard - if not impossible - to make people see Israel as a tiny vulnerable state when it is supported by America. And, as previously discussed, when Jews are seen as an immensely "privileged" group in America.

    I think you need to tie in more how people see Jews in America - and in Europe and the Anglo-sphere - and how they see Jews in Israel. I don't think they can separate those things.
    Similarly, they can't separate what Arab/Muslim countries actually do from the ideas around Muslims being an under-privileged group in the West.
    You would need people to be intellectually open to the idea that parts of the world other than the West are allowed to be considered at fault for historical deeds. In the present climate, that seems an impossible task. Actually, you would need people to be emotionally open to that idea.

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    1. 2)
      As for jihadi violence: Ordinary people are concerned about it. Parts of the European political class are concerned about it. Mostly in private.
      In order for things to change, one would need the Left to start caring about it. And, as we found out by the horrific number of apologists who crawled through our media after the attacks in Paris, that is looking exceptionally unlikely. If a bomb went off in London tomorrow, it would be "justified" by all the usual suspects. And in America, the Left would justify it, too.
      It's a very weird situation, the more it happens, the greater the doubling-down and the need to justify it.
      And, in a strange sort of dynamic, the greater the need, and the desire, to pile more blame on to Israel. And to sympathize more with the Palestinians.
      That's going to be a problematic dynamic.

      You do live in a different political climate. But it's a climate that is changing at a very fast pace. And an increasingly polarized one. That makes getting through to people more difficult. It is human nature to not want to be seen to hold beliefs that are different than those held by your group. To step outside of your political tribe's groupthink is an uncomfortable thing to do. There is much to lose. These are things that make listening to reasoned debate with a truly open mind, an increasingly unusual thing.

      I don't agree that Israel can just pivot more towards the East. Israel can't survive without the support of the United States.
      It will be interesting to see what happens when the next election is settled and there is a new president. Very interesting. And possibly alarming.
      I would be interested to know whether you think you can persuade people who identify as "liberals" to think differently about Israel/Palestine. Or whether you are relying on others.
      I think it's all very complicated and well-worth coming back to.




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