Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Friday, November 30, 2007

What is anti-Semitism?

Harrison makes the point that a lot of criticism of Israel since 9-11 has been thinly disguised anti-Semitism. It is easy to diagnose this sort of criticism since it uses the same stereotypes as regular anti-Semitism, with minor changes: "Zionists control the press," replaces "Jews control the press," and when that is exposed, "Israel lobby controls the press" works just as well.
However it is not always so easy to make the call, especially when overenthusiastic Israel advocates label Jews as anti-Semites. Are Neturei Karteh Holocaust deniers anti-Semites? No doubt about it. Is Rabbi Lerner an "anti-Semite" because he has ill judged compassion for Palestinians? Hard to believe.
Ami Isseroff

Seamless denial of anti-Semitism must be confronted and attacked 

  By Bernard Harrison  Published: 11/28/2007 

EAST SUSSEX, England (JTA) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during his recent visit to Washington, stated in widely reported remarks that the resurgence of anti-Semitic propaganda and associated violence around the world should not be minimized or explained away, but attacked head-on.
Addressing the American Jewish Committee, Sarkozy recalled being aghast to hear a Gaullist minister dismissing recent anti-Semitic violence in France with the throw-away line, "Yes, there are synagogues burning, but there are also cars burning."
Fighting anti-Semitism, Sarkozy said, involves agreement on what constitutes it.
"We cannot fight against what is denied," he said. "Unless you agree on a diagnosis, you cannot find the remedy."
Unfortunately, during the past six years, agreement on what counts as anti-Semitism has not proved easy to achieve. Since Sept. 11, 2001, a large body of opinion in Europe and America -- mainly, but not exclusively, in the universities, the media and the arts -- has been talking as if the existence of Israel represented the sole cause of conflict between Islamists and the West.
Such talk has two great attractions. On the one hand it appeals to those who in any conflict between an "us" and a "them" tend to take the side of "them." Israel is both a western-style democracy, profoundly liberal in its laws, economy and institutions, and the chief ally of the United States in the region. Representing Israel as the sole cause of the conflict offers a way of exonerating "them."
By seeing the conflict as primarily "our" fault, the fault becomes that of the West, the fault of America.
But the attraction of blaming Israel does not end there. It offers, at the very moment when its promoters feel themselves most burdened by the guilt of the West toward the Other, a way of freeing them from that very guilt. They simply load it on to the shoulders of a second Other -- namely, the Jews.
The Jews, after all, are the Other immemorially chosen for scapegoat status, if not by God then by western culture. Equally they are an Other far less terrifying than the Other we confront at the ruins of the Twin Towers. We need not worry that they will respond to gratuitous defamation with riots or explosions in public places. They never have and never will. But their main advantage is that by blaming them, we regain the ability to believe in our own purity of heart and motive.
Citizens of decadent western nations we may be, but that does not mean we need take any personal responsibility for the wicked ways of the West. That responsibility rests solely with the Jews and with George W. Bush, their puppet in the Oval Office.
Yes, I am being ironic. But in putting things this way I only marginally parody a certain line of talk increasingly heard since 9/11. It is worrying when it comes from the extreme right. Coming, as it tends to do at present, from large sections of the self-styled liberal elite it is terrifying, not merely to Jews but to democrats and anti-fascists of all religions and shades of opinion.
Plenty of Jews, and others, have protested against the current climate of demonization not merely of Israel, but also of the large majority of Jews and others who support Israel.
But furious denial is the usual response to any suggestion that there is anything anti-Semitic either about grotesquely hyperbolic defamation of Israel ("a Nazi state," "the apartheid wall"), or about attacks on the "Israel lobby" that patently revive and reanimate the hoary myth of Jewish conspiracy.
Denial is buttressed by the claim that these accusations of anti-Semitism are themselves evidence of a Jewish conspiracy to silence critics of Israel and close down debate on the Middle East. That charge, of course, reanimates another traditional anti-Semitic theme -- that of the Jew who whines about his sufferings less because he is really injured than because he hopes to draw some hidden advantage from complaining.
That, however, is beside the point. The point, as ever in the diagnosis of prejudice, concerns not disrespect but truth. How, in reality, could accusations of anti-Semitism hope to stem the tide of defamation now running so strongly, let alone "close down debate"?
What factual basis, if any, supports accusations that Israel is a "Nazi state" or that Israelis are planning -- or executing -- a Nazi-style genocide against Palestinians?
Anti-Semitism, like any other form of prejudice, cannot breathe the air of truth. It thrives on luridly colored falsehood. That is where we need to begin the diagnosis for which President Sarkozy has issued such a timely call.
(Bernard Harrison, emeritus E.E. Ericksen Professor of Philosophy at the University of Utah, is the author of "Israel, Anti-Semitism and Free Speech" published by the American Jewish Committee. He also has taught philosophy at the University of Sussex.)

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by

Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israƫl in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog

Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Isfake lobby

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory