Friday, January 1, 2010

Mail Call

The Toronto Star prints the following cri de coeur re the "tragic politicization of anti-Semitism" by one Roger Langen of Toronto:
Thanks for publishing the text of Jason Kenney's speech to the anti-Semitism forum in Jerusalem. Its dissimulating and low-minded character have been much-noted.

By conflating Israel with Judaism, Kenney turns the whole world anti-Semitic. Even Irwin Cotler, his Liberal ally on the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, is anti-Semitic, or so Kenney alleges when he is plotting election strategy. By tagging KAIROS and the Canadian Arab Federation with the same smear, he attacks the human rights observer. It's a handy epithet, this "new anti-Semitism."

It's also anti-Semitic. It hides real anti-Semitism and offers a profound insult to victims and survivors of the Holocaust. The racialization of Israel to protect it from criticism denies Israel the right to be treated as an equal among nations; it conceives Israel as a nation or "people apart." Essentialized and separated in this way, why wouldn't Israel engage in separation practices (racism, apartheid) itself?

Using the "new anti-Semitism," the CPCCA's intent is political: to demonize Iran, censor or criminalize campus debates, and shield Israel from legitimate human rights observation. Colombia's Alvaro Uribe or Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe should be so lucky.

But how tragic that the politicization of anti-Semitism now divides and renders vulnerable Jewish communities worldwide. Jason Kenney and his supporters need to take a hard look at themselves.
My response:
Roger Langen contends that “the politicization of anti-Semitism” is “tragic.” I completely agree with him--but not in the way he means. It was tragic when Czarist police fabricated a document called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which offered “proof” that Jews were conspiring to control the world--a “politicization” intended to boost support for the Czar. And it was also tragic when Adolf Hitler gave credence to this ridiculous screed, and used it to justify his megalomania and the extermination of the Jewish people--another clear “politicization” of anti-Semitism. By the same token, when those who, for “political”/ideological reasons single out the world’s lone Jewish state for opprobrium, slander it as being an “apartheid” regime, hold it to standards which aren’t required of other nations, and do so under the banner of “human rights” even as they ignore and/or minimize the egregious human rights abridgments occurring in other parts of the world--that, too, is tragic.

While is true that not all criticism of Israel is “anti-Semitic,” it is also true that throughout history “the Longest Hatred” has always adapted--or, more accurately, mutated, since Jew-hatred appears to be encoded in humanity’s DNA--to the changing circumstances of the Jewish people. Thus, the obsessive, irrational hatred which, in the past would have affixed itself to the “wandering” Jewish people, today gloms onto the “settled” Jewish state. Were Israel to disappear tomorrow (God forbid), Jew-hate would no doubt mutate once again, another variation on the same old, ugly theme.

Let’s hope it never comes to that, but with all the eager beavers--some well-meaning, others clearly malign--working so hard to “save” the world from Israel, it remains a distinct possibility.


Marky Mark said...

Everyone agrees that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism, but people can't agree on where the line should be drawn. There is a real risk that if the line is drawn in a certain way then the term "anti-Semitism" will be "devalued" as something worthy of shame.

scaramouche said...

I draw the line at anti-Zionism-- the requirement that Israel jettison its Jewish identity because that’s the only way to be “fair” or “just” to Arabs. Also, I’m not terribly worried about the “risk” of “devaluing” anti-Semitism should the line be drawn imprecisely. In fact, I think it's crucial to point out that obsessive, irrational Zionhass IS the same as obsessive, irrational Judenhass--not only because it happens to be the truth, but because it makes the smug lefties, the ones who are aiding and abetting the jihad against the Jews and the West, freak out at the suggestion that they, the embodiment of everything that is most virtuous, are in their own way as bigotted as the Ku Klux Klan. And I just LOVE to see smug lefties squirm.

Marky Mark said...

I've spent a fair bit of time critiquing critics of Israel from the left and ultimately discussing the core issues in a civil fashion. I'd say only a small fraction of left-based criticism of Israel in fact is anti-Zionist. But in principle one can be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic. Once the conversation shifts to whether X is anti-Semitic or not, the substantive discussion is lost and all the points that can be marshalled in favour of Israel's core position are gone as well. So instead of discussing whether the basic problem is Arab rejectionism as opposed to Israel settlements, and instead of making the case that no Israeli leader really could get beyond the Hamas Charter and the rampant anti-Semitism that is part of the Palestinian movement, the issue becomes one of proving that a bunch of union leaders, for example, are the same as David Duke.

I think that approach is a mistake.

scaramouche said...

The Left is in cahoots with the bad guys--again--as its Rousseauian romance with the noble savage and contempt for Capitalism continues. For more on the subject I'd urge you to read Jamie Glazov's "United in Hate".

Marky Mark said...

Thanks-I will check it out.

You raise a point which highlights where the rubber meets the road: let's say there's a March for Gaza and some people who show up to protest the blockade (but who are Zionists) notice there are some Hezbollah and Hamas supporters there. Must they leave?

Turning it around, there were some Zionists who believed in "both sides of the Jordan" consistent with the territory of the original Mandate and some today who would like Jordan to serve as the Palestinian state. If I'm a Haaretz two state Jewish Israeli am I equally tarred by the more extreme views of others?

I don't think most lefties are anti-Semites so putting them in the same category as my great grandparents' tormentors is neither accurate nor terribly good strategy.

But it's certainly fair and appropriate to make the point that critics of Israel are on the same side of the issue as those with discreditable views and characters and equally appropriate to make double standard arguments.

rogerlangen said...

Marky Mark 1 Scaramouche 0

Jessica said...

with all due respect, marky, when those extreme views they stand among include signs and chants supporting the hamas/hizbollah terrorist groups and suicide attacks against israelis, then yes, if the supposedly non jew-hating pro-zionist thinks its more important to stand among such people and protest closed borders than to leave and just go protest somewhere else, then its a pretty safe assumption that they are a lot less bothered by jew-hating than they claim.