Antisemitism & Its Antidotes (3)


By Winston Pickett
May 31, 2012
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Part of the joy that comes with investigation and research is the intellectual ride. You’ve got your topic. You may even have a working hypothesis to test. You prepare your field of inquiry and formulate your questions.

If it’s a newspaper story, you line up your interviews. If it’s a research paper, you fire up your search engine.

Now things start to get interesting. You start fine tuning your questions as your preliminary research begins to reshape the thrust of your inquiry. Your thesis begins to evolve and suddenly you discover a new angle that’s even more compelling than the one you began with.

Welcome to the evolution of my class.

Every week, under the rubric of ‘Talking about Antisemitism’ we’ve veered into the ‘anti-Zionism vs. antisemitism’ conundrum. Each session, new examples are cited from current events, each bearing fresh layers of complexity.

Tonight, no doubt, we will discuss this week’s (failed) agitations by boycotters to prevent London’s Globe Theatre from presenting a Hebrew version of the Merchant of Venice because of the Habima Theatre Company of Tel Aviv is purportedly complicit in Israel’s ‘racist’ policies towards the Palestinians.

As with all inquiries – particularly ones as multi-tiered as the anti-Zionism/antisemitsm nexus – the mind longs for clarity. Distinctions will be sought – frequently in an attempt to answer those who charge Israel with discrimination, colonisation or being an apartheid state – all in the service of demonstrating that the accuser’s facts are wrong, that art transcends barriers or that the actors and the theatre company are independent and don’t conform to Israeli policy or a national ‘agenda’.

In other words, tonight’s discussion will inevitably look for ways to counter the anti-Zionist tirade, as was suggested last week under the rubric of ‘education’ – whether in the form of ‘positive PR’ (hasbarah) or the thoughtful and deliberate ‘correction’ of bias with incontrovertible facts.

But if a key method for achieving clarity when discussing antisemitism is to offer a ‘lens’ for detecting its component parts, then any ‘tool’ that brings us closer to that goal is welcome.

It’s around here that my own ‘eureka moment’ kicked in.

As an analyst you look for detail, complexity and nuance – particularly when addressing an audience that possesses more than a baseline knowledge of your topic.

As a teacher, however, those presuppositions fade and you find yourself gravitating to slightly harder edges.

So what does make an argument – whether anti-Israel or anti-Zionist – antisemtic? Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland once wrote an exquisitely crafted analysis of the subject in a volume called A New Antisemitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain (Profile 2003). Yet for my purposes I found myself returning to a far more useful explication by former Soviet refusenik and Israel Minister for Diaspora affairs, Natan Sharansky.

If anyone has experienced the brutal force of state-sponsored antisemitism first-hand, it's Sharansky.

In a 2005 op-ed Sharansky offered what he called the “3-D” analysis. What makes ‘anti-Zionism’ antisemtic are three criteria: demonization, deligitimisation and double standards – criteria that are echoed in official reports by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the U.S. State Department and the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism.

Thus, if an argument (1) contains components that articulate or suggest Israel as the apotheosis of evil, (2) fails to judge other countries exhibiting human rights abuses with the same standard or (3) denies the legitimacy of the Jewish state by questioning its right to exist – chances are what’s driving the argument is more akin to a more classic form of group hatred more than anything else.

It is this hatred, fuelled by a Soviet-era propaganda machine and exported throughout the Arab world that cemented the foundational canard that enabled “Zionism equals Racism” to gain traction and ultimate endorsement by the United Nations in 1975. That resolution, which took 16 years to repeal, nevertheless epitomizes the eradicable nature of a lie which, as Melanie Philips correctly notes, continues to infect the consciousness of the European elites today.

In fact, so prevalent is the ‘logic’ of Israel as a ‘racist state’ that it is almost impossible to dismantle it. Counter-arguments, says Phillips, no matter how brilliantly formulated, “will be dismissed out of hand -- on the basis that everyone knows that the lies about Israel are actually the unchallengeable truth.”

Yet if the ‘Zionism is racism’ meme is impervious to rational analysis (my class has already the ‘irrational’ nature of antisemtism insofar as it is able to embrace mutually exclusive stereotypes simultaneously), can ‘talking about antisemtism’ – no matter how clear-headed –ever work as an ‘antidote’ unless it takes place in the most civil and open-minded of interchanges?

Perhaps not. But this is where my second epiphany kicked in.

Even though it may be futile to counter the irrationality of antisemitism with reason, some in my class hinted at approaches that may be more effective in attacking the problem from another angle.

Consider this: If we are prepared to weigh the impact of ‘educational initiatives’ on the receptive mind – everything from teaching about the Holocaust to promoting scientific and economic virtues of Israel as a ‘start-up nation’ – then what about ‘self-education’?

Or as one university student passionately blurted out at the beginning of class: “I’m here because I believe it’s important not only to learn about antisemitism – which is more prevalent than ever – but also because growing up in a part of the UK with hardly any Jews, I’ve learned that defending myself against hatred has made me a better Jew and a better person.”

To which my only thoughts were: “I think I’ve just hit pay dirt.”

Thank God I’ve got five more weeks to see where this line of inquiry will take us.

COMMENTS

Real Real Zionist

Thu, 05/31/2012 - 11:44

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How interesting would it be Winston if, after the completion of your present course, you were to run a similar one in which any mention of Israel was banned.I wonder how the discussions would go. I would buy a ticket for THAT.


AlistairClark

Thu, 05/31/2012 - 13:17

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I understand what author'd like to put across.Israel is named as one of worst democratic country's for human rights abuses.
I've heard it all,Israel can do no wrong.The people wanting settlement goods labelled are being called racists.
Anti-Semites and anti-Zionists should not be put together.


Advis3r

Thu, 05/31/2012 - 15:28

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"Anti-Semites and anti-Zionists should not be put together"

Alistair, Martin Luther King saw through that little trick.

Israel is only named as one of worst democratic country's (sic) for human rights abuses by countries which are not themselves democratic. You just have to see the countries that vote against it in the UN.

There are three special UN entities dedicated to the Palestinian cause. The oldest is the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, created in 1968. In 1975, the General Assembly added the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Supporting its work is the Division for Palestinian Rights. Lodged within the UN Secretariat, the Division boasts a sixteen-member staff and a budget of millions, which it devotes not to alleviating the situation of the Palestinians but to the constant promotion of anti-Israel propaganda throughout the world. Nice.


suzanna

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 12:28

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Winston - Do you imagine that a Palestinians is permitted to buy a house in a Jewish only settlement? Isn't that Apartheid?
Where roads are segregated according to ethnicity and where Jews live under civil law yet Palestinians live under martial law isn't that Apartheid?

Surely a situation where Palestinians are held in custody without trial or charge, where Palestinian homes are bulldozed for lack of permits (even though permits are very rarely issued by the occupying authorities) yet Jewish settlements on Palestinian land are defended and contested in court is a system based on segregation according to ethnicity / religion / creed. I.e. Apartheid.


Advis3r

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:00

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suzanna why do you consider you have to lie?

There are Jews and Arabs living in settlements (as you call them) all over Judea and Samaria.

Jews and Arabs work together in Jewish settlements all over Judea and Samaria. (Including where I live - so unlike you I don't have to rely on lies put out by anti-Israel propagandists.

On the other hand have you ever asked yourself why there are no Jews living in Arab settlements?

So who is the hater and who the hatee? And who really is practising apartheid?


suzanna

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:06

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Are Palestinians permitted to live in Jewish settlements?

Really. Where?

Why are there two laws in the occupied West Bank? One for jews (Civil) and one for Palestinians (Martial)?


suzanna

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:12

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It is also pertinent that Israel has recently passed a law permitting the incarceration of migrants (i.e. Black people) for three years and that Politicians, including the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the interior minister, Eli Yishai, have inflamed the volatile mood by suggesting Israel is being flooded with "illegal infiltrators", that migrants are responsible for a crime wave and calling for all migrants to be locked up or deported.


Advis3r

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:38

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Pisgat Ze'ev for one - look it up. Where I live Arabs own and work in businesses. In Efrat the supermarket is frequented by Jews and Arabs as are the supermarkets where I live - simple facts to refute your malicious lies.

As to two systems of law the fact is that the Israelis are Israeli citizens and the Arabs are not. Israel has not annexed Judea and Samaria and so it is administered under the Geneva Convention by the Military - The official Israeli Government position is that the 1949 Geneva Convention IV does not apply de jure in the West Bank, because of the lack of prior sovereignty over these territories (the Palestinians were not a "High Contracting Party" as required by Article 2 of the Convention). Nevertheless, Israel has declared that it will apply de facto the humanitarian provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

Administrative detention (also known as "internment") is a lawful security measure allowing the deprivation of a person's liberty for a limited time. Administrative detention orders are used as a preventative measure against persons posing grave threats to the security of Judea and Samaria or their population, such as persons directly involved in terrorism, whose detention is considered to be absolutely necessary for imperative reasons of security.

International law authorizes the use of administrative detention in territories under belligerent occupation.


suzanna

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:42

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Advs3r - On the other hand have you ever asked yourself why there are no Jews living in Arab settlements?

Hebron

Which is an apartheid city - identified by the impact of extended curfews,(Palestinians only) strict restrictions on movement (Palestinians only) check-points in place, the closure of Palestinian commercial activities near settler areas, and settler harassment.


suzanna

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:44

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Are Palestinians permitted to live in Jewish settlements?

That is own houses and live?


Advis3r

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:45

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"It is also pertinent that Israel has recently passed a law permitting the incarceration of migrants (i.e. Black people) for three years ... that migrants are responsible for a crime wave and calling for all migrants to be locked up or deported"

Just like they do in all of Europe - next!

As for the crime wave just speak to people of South Tel Aviv whose lives are being made a misery - not by all but by a hard core of criminals who have let down Israel's humanitarian gesture of giving them shelter when they were being shot and killed by their own people and the Egyptians on the way to Israel.

Ever thought why they ame to Israel suzanna? Was it the apartheid they heard about or maybe the freedom enjoyed by no other country in the Middle East, more likley.


Advis3r

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:50

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I told you Pisgat Ze'ev has a sizeable Arab population that own their own houses and who rent them out with signs saying "Arabs only" something to which I can personally testify. Here's the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisgat_Ze'ev

By thw way Hebron is a Jewish city until 1929 there had been a continuous Jewish presence for over three thousand years - I suggest you read about the pogrom against the jews by the Arabs that took place there in 1929 and then you would not write such rubbish. If the IDF wasn't in Hebron now the Jewish population would have been massacred all over again.


happygoldfish

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 08:00

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suzanna: Winston - Do you imagine that a Palestinians is permitted to buy a house in a Jewish only settlement? Isn't that Apartheid?

suzanna: Are Palestinians permitted to live in Jewish settlements?
That is own houses and live?

yes of course they are!

from http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=154120

Jerusalem Post 7/6/2012In 2007, the latest year with available statistics, about 1,300 of Pisgat Zeev's 42,000 residents were Arabs. In nearby French Hill, population 7,000, nearly one-sixth are Arabs, among them students at the neighboring Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Neve Yaakov, with 20,000 people, had 600 Arabs, according to the Israel Center for Jerusalem Studies, a respected think tank.

suzanna, you're so desperate to say that israel has an apartheid system that you believe things that a quick internet check would show are entirely untrue!


Real Real Zionist

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 09:08

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The wonderful thing about anti semitism, or anything else in the same or similar logical category, is that any one of us can have as much of it, or as little of it, as we want.

We can decide that the meaning and force of the English expression is not fit for our purpose. We can then quit speaking English and adopt a private language. Since it is your language and you are in charge, you can borrow the expression from English. Since you are the only speaker of this language the expression will mean what you mean by it.

You can mean by it so as to have virtually the whole world anti semitic, or have very few anti semitic. You can also mean by it so that it is very targeted.It's meaning can be such as to enable you to pin the label just on those you want to pin it on.

There are downsides of course. Chief among them is that the idea of a private language is a contradiction. A private language is no language at all. Another is that people might come to think you are crazy.

None of this, however, need prevent you having fun with it. Jonny Hoff is living proof of this.


AlistairClark

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 12:53

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Advis3r,I had a think about what you said on Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism.The conclusion I came up with is that its down to interpretation,there are many Anti-Zionist Jews who will argue that Anti-Zionism is not Anti-Semitism.I did notice that mostly racist right wing Jews argue Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism are cut from the same cloth.I thought that I am/was Anti-Zionist because I don't agree with Israeli occupation policy or the Greater Israel ideology.I saw my objections to some of Israel's rotten policy/s as Anti-Zionism


Advis3r

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 13:21

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racist right wing Jews - you mean like Martin Luther King and Melanie Phillips to name but 2.

I suggest you read this http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/29/comment

Or as Robert Wistrich (http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-wistrich-f04.htm) puts it: Anti-Zionism has become the most dangerous and effective form of anti- Semitism in our time, through its systematic delegitimization, defamation, and demonization of Israel. Although not a priori anti-Semitic, the calls to dismantle the Jewish state, whether they come from Muslims, the Left, or the radical Right, increasingly rely on an anti-Semitic stereotypization of classic themes, such as the manipulative "Jewish lobby," the Jewish/Zionist "world conspiracy," and Jewish/Israeli "warmongers." One major driving force of this anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism is the transformation of the Palestinian cause into a "holy war"; another source is anti-Americanism linked with fundamentalist Islamism. In the current context, classic conspiracy theories, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, are enjoying a spectacular revival. The common denominator of the new anti-Zionism has been the systematic effort to criminalize Israeli and Jewish behavior, so as to place it beyond the pale of civilized and acceptable conduct.


Advis3r

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 13:34

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I was Just waiting for the pattern to be followed: one of the trolls posting a malicious comment about J Hoffman so the JC Webmaster can close down this thread too.

real real nutjob is a gift that keeps giving.

And then you have real real nutjob posting something like this: "The wonderful thing about anti semitism, or anything else in the same or similar logical category, is that any one of us can have as much of it, or as little of it, as we want" - Yes, just ask the families of the Jews murdered in Toulouse. You are a complete idiot.


Advis3r

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 14:11

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As to your first link as one commenter below the line writes:
I do not know what the writer was smoking but it has to be illegal.
In the author's scrambled head Evangelicals somehow hate Israel and pretend to support it for their evil nefarious needs, while at the same time the good wrong-wingers love it but punish Israel because it is naughty but not all naughtiness is naughty... Get it?
Love is hate and victory is defeat. I heard that somewhere before.
Except the last time it was a satire.

As to the second link Noam Chomsky has many personal issues one of them is an identity problem. He wants to be loved by everybody but that means he can't support his own Jewish heritage because people like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign hate the thought that the Jews are entitled to have their own state - so he jettisons all his beliefs and comes up with a sentence like "By now Jews in the US are the most privileged and influential part of the population. You find occasional instances of anti-Semitism but they are marginal. There's plenty of racism, but it's directed against Blacks, Latinos, Arabs are targets of enormous racism, and those problems are real. Anti-Semitism is no longer a problem, fortunately." Rubbish - http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/11/04/anti-defamation-league-anti-semit....

Says it all. Alistair you must try harder.


AlistairClark

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 14:22

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I've already saw plenty on Abe Foxman. Yoav Shamir bought us a different view to the ADL.


Advis3r

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 14:38

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As an anti-Semite you would do wouldn't you?

But I suggest you see this -http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/15/yoav-shamir-film-palestinians
not just for the piece by Mr Hirsch but for the comments below the line some of which I have no doubt you wished you had written yourself.

E.g.
We had enough of Jewish self-discovery. Usually it ends with people displaced and killed.


AlistairClark

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 15:28

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Please explain,Advis3r.This is not the first or second time you've cast a personal defamation towards myself.I like debate even if I'm proven wrong I learn something new.I do notice you regularly launch personal attacks on anyone who has unfavourable opinion to your right wing ideology ."but for the comments below the line some of which I have no doubt you wished you had written yourself" I've never ever made any comment on the Guardian and the only time I do read the Guardian is usually when I'm cross checking a story from another source. I pity you sir.


Real Real Zionist

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 15:32

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Alistair you can bicker with Jose or you can keep your sanity. Both is not an option.


Advis3r

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 15:51

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Alistair if you do not consider that this is offensive :

Luckily enough as a young man I had a Jewish employer who was a super guy long before I met any Jews with a questionable moral character.I still love to banter and reminisce with Jewish friends.

then you need to learn what racism is.

Substitute say "Afro-American" for "Jews" and see what I mean.


AlistairClark

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 15:52

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RRZ I didn't know Jose and Advisor were one and the same lol.You're correct of course.I've been called an anti-Semite by Adviser and his ilk many a time and its like water off a ducks back.This gentleman "Advisor" certainly fits one anti-Semitic stereo type ,can you guess which one?


Advis3r

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 15:54

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Alistair as rel real nutjob knows I am not Jose. You sir are an anti-Semite if you don't like being called one then refrain from posting anti-Semtic comments about Jews - we don't need "friends" like you.


AlistairClark

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 16:15

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Advis3r why do you try to belittle people? you keep accusing me of being an anti-Semitic person but refuse to bring any evidence to the table therefore I'll say sticks and stones....Who said I was your friend ,do you speak for all Jews?I do like Jews but not all Jews does that make you feel better? You're needing to accept that not all Jews operate on your wavelength ,some operate on my wavelength.Being polite is not a bad thing,it costs nothing and shows respect.Maybe you should learn to respect others.You have my pity again and I blame your parents for not teaching you any better


AlistairClark

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 16:23

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As I said before when I was younger I didn't know that you got Jews with a questionable moral character.You are right in one respect maybe I was racist for thinking Jews are perfect and anyone saying different was an anti-Semite.I apologise!I'm sorry.


Advis3r

Mon, 06/11/2012 - 08:44

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Some Jews operate on my wavelength? Would you like to explain what that means precisely?

Since when does what you call being "polite" entitle you to respect? You politely call a section of Jewry "right wing facists" because they do not subscribe to your political philosophy, and for that you want my respect. Perhaps you might explain that term to us and who you include in the definition.

Bringing my late parents into the argument shows that you know very little about either respect or politeness. My parents taught me both, as most people who actually know me can testify. They also taught me well how to identify an anti-Semite.

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