[From a] lethal brew of
formidable power, chauvinistic arrogance,
feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism
has sprung a terrifying recklessness and ruthlessness
on the part of American Jewish elites.
Alongside Israel,
they are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism
in the world today.

Norman Finkelstein,
Beyond Chutzpah,
paragraph 3.3.3.d (page 85)
(see also para. 3.2.2.b et seq.)


Hitler is dead
The case against ethnic panic
by Leon Wieseltier
The New Republic, 2002-05-27

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Has history ever toyed so wantonly with a people
as history toyed with the Jews in the 1940s?
It was a decade of ashes and honey;
a decade so battering and so emboldening that
it tested the capacity of those who experienced it
to hold a stable view of the world,
to hold a belief in the world.
When the light finally shone from Zion,
it illuminated also a smoldering national ruin;
and after such darkness,
pessimism must have seemed like common sense,
and a holy anger like the merest inference from life.
But it was in the midst of that turbulence, in 1948,
that the scholar and man of letters Simon Rawidowicz
published a great retort to pessimism,
a wise and learned essay called
Am Ha-Holekh Va-Met,” “The Ever-Dying People.”
“The world has many images of Israel,”
Rawidowicz instructed,
“but Israel has only one image of itself:
that of an expiring people, forever on the verge of ceasing to be....
He who studies Jewish history will readily discover that
there was hardly a generation in the Diaspora period
which did not consider itself the final link in Israel’s chain.
Each always saw before it the abyss ready to swallow it up....
Often it seems as if the overwhelming majority of our people
go about driven by the panic of being the last.”

In its apocalyptic season, such an observation was out of season.
In recent weeks I have thought often
of Rawidowicz’s mordant attempt to calm his brethren,
to ease them, affectionately and by the improvement of their historical sense,
out of their tradition of panic.
For there is a Jewish panic now.
The savagery of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
the virulent anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in the Arab world,
the rise in anti-Jewish words and deeds in Europe:
All this has left many Jews speculating morbidly about being the last Jews.
the Jews of the United States significantly exceed the Jews of Israel
in this morbidity.

The community is sunk in excitability,
in the imagination of disaster.
There is a loss of intellectual control.
Death is at every Jewish door.
Fear is wild.
Reason is derailed.
Anxiety is the supreme proof of authenticity.
Imprecise and inflammatory analogies abound.
Holocaust imagery is everywhere.

In the discussion
of the atrocities that the Palestinians have committed against the Israelis,
the subject is Hitler.
“I am convinced
that we are facing a threat as great, if not greater,
to the safety and security of the Jewish people than we faced in the ‘30s,”
the head of a national Jewish organization announced in February.
In the New York Observer in April,
Ron Rosenbaum warned of “the Second Holocaust”:
“It’s a phrase we may have to begin thinking about.
A possibility we may have to contemplate.”
“there’s likely to be a second Holocaust.
Not because the Israelis are acting without restraint,
but because they are, so far, acting with restraint
despite the massacres making their country uninhabitable.”
George F. Will admiringly cited Rosenbaum in a column that he called
“ ‘Final Solution,’ Phase 2.”
“Here in Washington, D.C., a few blocks away, is the Holocaust Museum,”
William Bennett told the rally in support of Israel at the Capitol on April 15.
“What we are seeing today, what Israel is feeling today,
was not supposed to happen again.”
On the same occasion Benjamin Netanyahu compared Arafat to Hitler,
and also to Stalin.
(“We don’t have to be afraid
that the international community doesn’t see eye to eye with us,”
he proclaimed at the Likud Party conference this week.
“Did the international community see the danger of the Holocaust?”)
screamed the headline of a Jewish paper in New York
about the Passover massacre in Netanya.
“This is Kristallnacht transposed to Israel,”
wrote Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post.
And doves are as unnerved as hawks.
“As I’ve said before,” Nat Hentoff told New York magazine,
“if a loudspeaker goes off and a voice says,
‘All Jews gather in Times Square,’
it could never surprise me.”

Call me a simple soul, but it could surprise me.
The Jews that I see gathered in Times Square
are howling at Nazis in Mel Brooks’s kick lines.
Hentoff’s fantasy is grotesque:
There is nothing, nothing,
in the politics, the society, or the culture of the United States
that can support such a ghastly premonition.
His insecurity is purely recreational.
But the conflation of the Palestinians with the Nazis
is only slightly less grotesque.
The murder of 28 Jews in Netanya was a crime that fully warranted
the Israeli destruction of the terrorist base in the refugee camp at Jenin,
but it was not in any deep way like Kristallnacht.
Solidarity must not come at the cost of clarity.
Only a fool could believe that the Passover massacre
was a prelude to the extermination of the Jews of Israel;
a fool, or
a person with a particular point of view about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
If you think that the Passover massacre was like Kristallnacht,
then you must also think that
there cannot be a political solution to the conflict,
and that
the Palestinians have no legitimate rights
or legitimate claims upon any part of the land,
and that
there must never be a Palestinian state,
and that
force is all that will ever avail Israel.
You might also think that
Jordan is the Palestinian state
and that
the Palestinians should find their wretched way there.
After all, a “peace process” with the Third Reich was impossible.
(Even if Chaim Weizmann once declared,
about his willingness to enter into negotiations with Nazi officials,
that he would negotiate with the devil if it would save Jews.)
So the analogy between the Passover massacre and Kristallnacht
is not really a historical argument.
It is a political argument disguised as a historical argument.
It is designed to paralyze thought and to paralyze diplomacy.

All violence is not like all other violence.
Every Jewish death is not like every other Jewish death.
To believe otherwise is to revive
the old typological thinking about Jewish history,
according to which
every enemy of the Jews is the same enemy, and
there is only one war, and
it is a war against extinction, and
it is a timeless war.
This typological thinking
defined the historical outlook of the Jews for many centuries.
It begins, of course, with the Amalekites,
the nomadic tribe in the Sinai desert
that attacked the Israelites on their journey out of Egypt.
“The Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek
from generation to generation....
Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven;
thou shalt not forget it.”
From generation to generation:
An adversarial role, a diabolical role, was created in perpetuity.
And so Amalek became Haman (who actually was an Amalekite),
who became the Romans,
who became the Crusaders,
who became Chmielnicki,
who became Petlura,
who became Hitler,
who became Arafat.
[Who became “the Islamofascists.”]
The mythifying habit is ubiquitous in the literature of the Jews.
In some instances, it must not have seemed like mythifying at all.
“A tale that began with Amalek,”
wrote the Yiddish poet Yitzhak Katznelson
in the concluding lines of “The Song of the Murdered Jewish People” in 1944,
not long before he died at Auschwitz,
“and ended with the crueler Germans....”

But it is mythifying, and the habit is back;
and so a number of things need to be said about Amalek,
and about the Amalekization of the present enemy.
For a start, the prescription of an eternal war with Amalek
[one cannot help but be reminded of
the neocons prescription for “the long war” with “the Islamofascists”]

was a prescription for the Jews to be cruel.
Here is Rashi’s brutal gloss, in the eleventh century in France,
on the commandment to “blot out the remembrance”:
“Every man and every woman, every babe and every suckling,
every ox and every sheep.
The memory of Amalek cannot be said to survive even in an animal,
such that someone could say,
`This animal once belonged to an Amalekite.’ ”
This extreme of heartlessness was responsible
for the most chilling sentence uttered by an Israelite in the Bible:
“What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears,
and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”
That was what Samuel furiously demanded to know of the poignantly human Saul,
the king who could not bring himself to slaughter his enemy completely.
So if Amalek is waging a war of extermination against the Jews,
the Jews are waging a war of extermination against Amalek.
It was perhaps this pitilessness against which some (but certainly not all)
medieval and early modern Jewish intellectuals revolted,
when they wondered about the precise identity of Amalek in their own day,
and proposed various kinds of symbolic action
that would allow Jews to acquit themselves
of the law about the erasure of the enemy,
and deferred the application of the law to the messianic age.
I wish also to record an extraordinary comment by Isaac Abarbanel,
the thinker and statesman
who failed to persuade the king and the queen of Spain
to revoke the edict of expulsion in 1492
and promptly fled to Naples.
The sin of the Amalekites, he explained, was that
their aggression against the Israelites was groundless:
“Amalek attacked them without reason....
For the Israelites possessed no land that the Amalekites coveted.”
It would appear that there is no place for Abarbanel in the Likud.
For his implication is decidedly a moderate one.
If the Israelites had possessed land that the Amalekites coveted,
then this would not have been a war to the end of time.
It would have been an ordinary war,
a war that can be terminated in a peace.

But the real problem with typological thinking about history is that
it is not historical thinking at all.
It is ahistorical thinking.
It obscures and obliterates
all the differences between historical circumstances
in favor of a gross, immutable, edifying similarity.
It is an insufficiently worldly way to judge the world.
For this reason,
such thinking was overthrown in the modern period by Jews who decided
that their myths would not ameliorate their misery;
that there was not only one question and only one answer;
that the entire universe was not their enemy
and their enemy was not the entire universe;
that the historical differences mattered as much as the historical similarities,
because a change in history, progress, normality, tranquillity, was possible;
that historical agency required historical thinking, that is,
concrete thinking, empirical thinking, practical thinking, secular thinking.
All these notions amounted to a revolution in the Jewish spirit,
without which the Jewish national movement and the Jewish state
could not have been brought into being.
A historiosophy is not a strategy.
The Jews taught themselves to attend not only to their fates,
but also to their interests.
That is to say,
they taught themselves no longer to regard themselves as the last Jews.
The lesson was called Zionism.
The last Jews have nothing to do but fight or die;
but Zionism has more to do.
Israel was not created to destroy Amalek.
Israel was created to deny Amalek.

Is Hamas Amalek? I have no idea. Also I do not care.
It is bad enough that Hamas is Hamas.
(Was Hitler Amalek? No, he was worse.)
Anyway, Amalek is not all that justifies the use of force.
But the important point is that Amalek justifies nothing but the use of force.
There is no other solution to the Amalek problem.
And that is why all this pessimism is not only intellectually sloppy,
it is also operationally superfluous.
It is a view of history that provides no foundation for Israeli restraint,
and sometimes restraint is the intelligent policy.
Consider this week’s calamity.
If Netanya was Kristallnacht, then Rishon Letzion was Kristallnacht.
The villain in Netanya came from Jenin, and Israel turned its might on Jenin.
The villain in Rishon Letzion came from Gaza,
but Israel is not turning its might on Gaza.
Why not? The logic is the same.
The answer, of course, is that this is not the logic of statecraft.
If, as the Israeli press is reporting,
there may be signs of flexibility on the Palestinian side,
it is the duty of the Israeli government to stay its hand and have a look.
These signs may be false;
but too many people have perished not to take their measure.
The exploration of opportunities for accommodation and understanding
is a matter of both prudence and principle.
It may be that Ariel Sharon, of all people, has comprehended this.
As long as the prime minister of Israel
continues to speak of the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state,
Kristallnacht is over.
(For Netanyahu, by contrast, every Nacht is Kristallnacht.)

The fright of American Jewry is owed also
to a new recognition of the reality of antiSemitism.
Up to a point, this is as it should be:
The happiness of the Jews in the United States certainly demands
a regular refreshment of their awareness of evil.
There is something a little odd, though,
about the shock with which the news of European anti-Semitism has been met,
since it is for the Jews the oldest news.
There was one blessing, and one blessing only,
that the Second World War conferred upon the Jewish people,
and it is that the future of the Jewish people forever departed Europe.
Anti-Semitism in Europe must be fought,
but not with the confidence that this will be a European fight, too.
European nationalism includes no conception of the multiethnic state.
European culture is permeated with a contempt for otherness.
the moral incompetence of European culture with regard to otherness
[to me, that sounds incredibly arrogant]
now falls more heavily upon Muslims than upon Jews.

The acknowledgment of contemporary anti-Semitism
must be followed by an analysis of contemporary anti-Semitism,
so that the magnitude of the danger may be soberly assessed.
Is the peril “as great, if not greater” than the peril of the 1930s?
I do not see it.
Jewish history now consists essentially in
a competition for the Jewish future between Israel and the United States,
between the blandishments of sovereignty and the blandishments of pluralism;

it is a friendly competition,
and by the standards of Jewish experience it is an embarrassment of riches.
In many significant ways,
the Jewish present is discontinuous with the Jewish past,
and some of these discontinuities
will stand among the finest accomplishments of Jewish history,
though the ruptures were sometimes very bruising.
The predicament of contemporary Jewry cannot be correctly understood
except in terms of these saving discontinuities.
Anti-Semitism has not disappeared, obviously;
but Zionism was not premised on
the expectation that anti-Semitism would disappear,
it was premised on
the expectation that anti-Semitism would not disappear,
and in the United States
the prejudice has never been granted political or philosophical legitimacy.
(It was the legitimacy of Jew-hatred in European society that made it lethal.)

In Israel and in the United States, moreover,
the Jews found not only safety, but also strength.
The blandishments of pluralism in America have included
the fierce and unembarrassed pursuit of Jewish interests,
and so brilliantly that
the American Jewish community has become the model
for what an ethnic group can accomplish in such conditions of freedom.
The blandishments of sovereignty in Israel
have conspicuously included military power.
Suicide bombs are sickening;
but it is the Israelis who command an army and an air force,
and also a nuclear arsenal.
These instruments of warfare
are themselves conclusions properly drawn from a severe history
in which Jews lacked the means of self-reliance and self-defense.
There is nothing vexing about the strength of the Jewish state,
though there may be something vexing
in the manner in which the Jewish state sometimes (but not often)
exercises its strength.
And military power has political purposes as well as military purposes.

So Israel has adversaries,
but Israel is stronger than its adversaries.
That is why the real threat to Israel comes not from Jenin and Gaza,
but from Baghdad and Tehran;
not from booby-trapped casbahs,
but from advanced missile technologies.
But not even that threat, and it is grave,
can be accurately compared to the plight of the Jews in Hitler’s Europe.
The comparison breaks down over more than the fact that
this time the Jews have a spectacular deterrent.
The Jews in the 1930s and 1940s were fighting, when they fought,
for nothing more than a splendid death.
They knew that the fight was futile,
which makes their courage almost unbearable to contemplate.
The Jews in Israel have no reason to believe that the fight is futile.
And they are fighting for their home.

The fright of American Jewry is finally not very surprising,
and not only because we are an “ever-dying people.”
To a degree that is unprecedented in the history of the Jewish people,
our experience is unlike the experience of our ancestors:
not only our ancient ancestors, but also our recent ones.
It is also unlike the experience of our brethren in the Middle East.
Their experience of adversity in particular is increasingly unrecognizable to us.
We do not any longer
possess a natural knowledge of such pains and such pressures.
In order to acquire such a knowledge,
we rely more and more upon commemorations--
so much so that we are transforming the Jewish culture of the United States
into a largely commemorative culture.
But the identifications that seem to be required of us by our commemorations
are harder and harder for us to make.
In our hearts, the continuities feel somewhat spurious.
For we are the luckiest Jews who ever lived.
We are even the spoiled brats of Jewish history.
And so the disparity between
the picture of Jewish life that has been bequeathed to us and
the picture of Jewish life that is before our eyes
casts us into an uneasy sensation of dissonance.
One method for relieving the dissonance is
to imagine a loudspeaker summoning the Jews to Times Square.
In the absence of apocalypse, we turn to hysteria.

In America, moreover,
ethnic panic has a certain plausibility and a certain prestige.
It denotes a return to “realism” and to roots.
A minority that has agreed to believe
that its life has been transformed for the better,
that has accepted the truth of progress,
that has revised its expectation of the world,
that has taken yes for an answer,
is always anxious that it may have been tricked.
For progress is a repudiation of the past.
Yes feels a little like corruption, a little like treason,
when you have been taught no.
For this reason,
every disappointment is a temptation to eschatological disappointment,
to a loss of faith in the promise of what has actually been achieved.
That is why
wounded African Americans sometimes cry racism and
wounded Jewish Americans sometimes cry anti-Semitism.
Who were we kidding?
Racism is still with us.
Anti-Semitism is still with us.
The disillusionment comes almost as a comfort.
It is easier to believe that the world does not change
than to believe that the world changes slowly.
But this is a false lucidity.
Racism is real and anti-Semitism is real, but
racism is not the only cause of what happens to blacks and
anti-Semitism is not the only cause of what happens to Jews.
A normal existence is an existence with many causes.
The bad is not always the worst.
To prepare oneself for the bad without preparing oneself for the worst:
This is the spiritual challenge of a liberal order.

The Jewish genius for worry has served the Jews well,
but Hitler is dead.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is harsh and long,
but it is theology (or politics) to insist that it is a conflict like no other,
or that it is the end.
The first requirement of security is to see clearly.
The facts, the facts, the facts; and then the feelings.
Arafat is small and mendacious,
the political culture of the Palestinians is fevered and uncompromising,
the regimes in Riyadh and Cairo and Baghdad pander to their populations
with anti-Semitic and anti-American poisons,
the American government is leaderless and inconstant;
but Israel remembers direr days.
Pessimism is an injustice that we do to ourselves.
Nobody ever rescued themselves with despair.
“An ever-dying people is an ever-living people,” Rawidowicz sagely remarked.
“A nation always on the verge of ceasing to be
is a nation that never ceases to be.”
It is one of the lessons that we can learn from the last Jews who came before us.

LEON WIESELTIER is the literary editor of The New Republic.


In rare Jewish appearance,
George Soros says Jews and Israel cause anti-Semitism

By Uriel Heilman
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 2003-11-09
(more on Web)

[Emphasis is added.]

NEW YORK, Nov. 9 (JTA) —
It’s not often that George Soros,
the billionaire financier and philanthropist,
makes an appearance before a Jewish audience.

It’s even rarer for him to use such an occasion to talk about
Israel, Jews and his own role in effecting political change.

So when Soros stepped to the podium Nov. 5 to address those issues
at a conference of the Jewish Funders Network,
audience members were listening carefully.

Many were surprised by what they heard.

When asked about anti-Semitism in Europe, Soros, who is Jewish, said
European anti-Semitism is the result of
the policies of Israel and the United States.

“There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.
The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration
contribute to that,”
Soros said.
“It’s not specifically anti-Semitism,
but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well.
I’m critical of those policies.”

“If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish,”
he said.
“I can’t see how one could confront it directly.”

That is a point made by Israel´s most vociferous critics,
whom some Jewish activists charge with using anti-Zionism
as a guise for anti-Semitism.

The billionaire financier said he, too,
bears some responsibility for the new anti-Semitism,
citing last month’s speech
by Malaysia’s outgoing prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad,
who said,
Jews rule the world by proxy.”

“I’m also very concerned about my own role
because the new anti-Semitism holds that the Jews rule the world,”
said Soros,
whose projects and funding have influenced governments
and promoted various political causes around the world.

“As an unintended consequence of my actions,” he said,
“I also contribute to that image.”

In the past,
Mahathir has singled out Soros and other “Jewish financiers”
for financial pressure that Mahathir said has harmed Malaysia’s economy.

After the conference,
some Jewish leaders who heard about the speech
reacted angrily to Soros´ remarks.

“Let’s understand things clearly:
Anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews;
it´s caused by anti-Semites,”
said Elan Steinberg, senior adviser at the World Jewish Congress.
“One can certainly be critical of Bush policy or Sharon policy,
but any deviation from the understanding of the real cause of anti-Semitism
is not merely a disservice, but a historic lie.”
[What a self-serving lie that is.]

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League,
called Soros’ comments “absolutely obscene.”

“He buys into the stereotype,” Foxman said.
“It’s a simplistic, counterproductive, biased and bigoted perception
of what’s out there.
It’s blaming the victim for all of Israel’s and the Jewish people’s ills.”
[No, Mr. Foxman. Just some of them.]

Furthermore, Foxman said,
“If he sees that his position of being who he is
may contribute to the perception of anti-Semitism,
what’s his solution to himself — that he give up his money?
That he close his mouth?”

Associates said Soros’ appearance Nov. 5 was the first they could ever recall
in which the billionaire, a Hungarian-born U.S. Jew
who escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to London as a child,
had spoken in front of a Jewish group or attended a Jewish function.

The one-day meeting on funding in Israel,
which took place at the Harvard Club in New York,
was limited mostly to representatives of Jewish philanthropic foundations.

After Soros’ speech, Michael Steinhardt,
the real-estate magnate and Jewish philanthropist
who arranged for Soros to address the group,
said in an interview that Soros’ views
do not reflect those of most Jewish millionaires or philanthropists.

He also pointed out that this was Soros’ first speech to a Jewish audience.

Steinhardt approached the lectern and interrupted Soros
immediately after his remarks on anti-Semitism.

“George Soros does not think Jews should be hated
any more than they deserve to be,”
Steinhardt said by way of clarification,
eliciting chuckles from the audience.

Steinhardt then gave the lectern back to Soros,
who said he had something to add to his remarks on the issue of anti-Semitism.
Soros then paused to ask if there were any journalists in the room.

When he learned that there were, Soros withheld further comment.

Mark Charendoff, president of the group that hosted the conference,
said he was pleased overall with the Soros event.

“We found him to be enormously frank, candid [!] and generous with his time,”
Charendoff said.
“I would be delighted if Mr. Soros would bring
his passion, his brilliance and his resources
to a range of different causes that are important to the Jewish community.”

Charendoff is not alone.

Regardless of what they think of his politics,
most Jewish activists likely would welcome
Soros´ participation in the world of Jewish philanthropy.

Though he’s ranked as the 28th richest person in the United States by Forbes magazine — with a fortune valued at $7 billion —
Soros has given relatively little money to Jewish causes.

Soros’ first known funding of a Jewish group came in 1997,
when his Open Society Institute´s Emma Lazarus Fund
gave $1.3 million to the Council of Jewish Federations,
and when Soros gave another $1.3 million to the Jewish Fund for Justice,
an anti-poverty group.

As much as Jews may not like what Soros has to say — at the Nov. 5 meeting,
he called for “regime change” in the United States
and talked of funding projects in “Palestine” —
they are eager to get Soros involved in giving to Jewish causes.

“In many ways, this was an introduction for Soros,” Charendoff said.
“He remarked to me how impressed he was with the quality of the people he met.
We can only hope that this was a beginning of
an engagement with the Jewish funding world.”

Soros said he has not given much to Jewish or Israel-related causes
because Jews take care of their own,
so that his financial clout is better directed elsewhere.

Steinhardt tried to correct him on that point,
saying the field of Jewish giving is not as crowded as Soros thinks.

“Even if we were a crowded field,” Steinhardt told Soros,
“I’m sure we could make room for you.”

During his speech, Soros announced that he would support the “Geneva accord,”
an unofficial Middle East peace plan
proposed by two out-of-office politicians,
Israel’s Yossi Beilin and Palestinian Yasser Abed Rabbo.

That plan envisions two states along pre-1967 borders and a shared Jerusalem,
and is vague on the demand that
Palestinian refugees from 1948 be allowed to return to Israel.

It was not clear whether Soros’ support of the plan would involve funding.
Beilin’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

Fanning the flames of hatred
By Roman Bronfman
Haaretz, 2003-11-19

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Another day of Jewish victims somewhere in the world,
and this time in a terrible attack on synagogues in Istanbul.
The number of violent incidents worldwide
against anything identified with the State of Israel and the Jewish people
no longer leaves any doubt that this is a real wave.

Even a quick glance at the newspapers in recent weeks
indicates the worrisome change in world public opinion:
Israel as a symbol - and Jews, in general -
have been transformed from
the helpless victims of the Nazi extermination machine
“the most dangerous country to world peace,”
as defined by the latest European Union Commission survey.
This was a problematic survey from a structural point of view,
so I shall reword the statement -
Israel has become the most hated nation in the world.

How can this hatred toward us be explained,
particularly in the developed European states?
And why is it being expressed specifically now, and with such intensity?
At first, Israel officially assumed that
these were only marginal expressions of radicalization toward Israel.
But when the waves of hatred spread
and appeared on all the media networks around the world
and penetrated every home,
the new-old answer surfaced:

After all, anti-Semitism has always been the Jews’ trump card
because it is easy to quote some crazy figure from history and seek cover.
This time, too,
the anti-Semitism card has been pulled from the sleeve of explanations
by the Israeli government
and its most faithful spokespeople have been sent to wave it.
But the time has come for the Israeli public
to wake up from the fairy tale being told by its elected government.

The rhetoric of the perpetual victim
is not a sufficient answer for the question of the timing.
Why all of a sudden have all the anti-Semites, or haters of Israel,
raised their heads and begun chanting hate slogans?
Enough of our whining, “The whole world is against us.”

After all, every country first takes care of its national interests
and no other country has to be included among the fans of the Zionist effort.
The time has come to look at the facts and admit the simple but bitter truth -
Israel has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the world
and we are guilty for what has happened.
This generalization is a bit harsh for me, so I will be more precise -
not all of us, but our government.
Even though I am absolutely certain that
each one of its ministers really wants what is best for the country,
the government is mistaken and is bringing calamity upon us.

The government is mistaken because it is conducting a destructive policy.
No government in Israel
has succeeded in solving the tragedy of the two peoples -
the occupier and the occupied.
Governments have had 36 years to do this,
and no government has figured out how to be rid of the territories.

But this government, which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon heads,
has brought the Palestinians’ despair to new depths.
Considering the criticism of the international community,
there is only one nation left that insists on believing in the government’s path -
the Jewish nation, which backs up the government’s actions time after time.

Where do we get our pretentiousness for such sympathy at a time
when the Sharon government is conducting an unethical and inhumane policy?
This is the answer
to all the surveys that have been published around the world lately.
This is the answer
to all those “anti-Semitic” statements that have been voiced lately.
This is the answer
to all the arsons, the murders and the terror attacks we have suffered.

The Jewish people, who went through a Holocaust just decades ago -
a short moment in historical terms -
must not oppress another people
and deny them their rights and any shadow of hope for a future.
We must not be blinded by the unrestrained support from “Uncle Sam” -
even the United States is being run by
a radical, aggressive government
that is, therefore, also failing.

It is this government
that entangled the “leader of the free world” in an unnecessary and painful war,
and this government
is responsible for the erosion of America’s status in the world.

True, the roots of anti-Semitism
are planted very deeply in the culture and history of Christian Europe.
It is also reasonable to assume that even the ideas of the liberals,
who wanted to sever ties with traditional nationalism,
will be unable to pull out these roots.
But if anti-Semitism was until now
found exclusively in the extreme political fringes,
Israel’s continued policy of the cruel occupation
will only encourage and fan the spread of anti-Semitic sentiments.

From this, I conclude that
if Israel wants to be embraced by the family of nations as a full member,
it must learn how to behave according to the accepted rules around the world -
rules of ethics, fairness and justice.

The writer is a member of Knesset from the Meretz faction.

[Cited in paragraph 3.2.2 of Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah.]


[The following is
part of section 3.2 (pages 77–81) and
most of paragraphs 3.3.2 and 3.3.3 (pages 82–85)
of Norman Finkelstein’s
Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History,
published in 2005.
For readability, the long original paragraphs have been broken up.
Paragraph numbers, links, and most, but not all, of the emphasis
are added.]

The causal relationship would seem to be that

Israel’s brutal repression of Palestinians
evoked hostility toward
the “Jewish state” and its vocal Jewish supporters abroad.


Yet, it is precisely this causal relationship
that Israel’s apologists emphatically deny:

Israeli policies, and widespread Jewish support for them,
evoke hostility toward Jews,
it means that
Israel and its Jewish supporters themselves
might be causing anti-Semitism;
and they might be doing so because
Israel and its Jewish supporters
are in the wrong.

Holocaust industry dogma a priori rejects this hypothesis:
Animus towards Jews
can never spring from
wrongs committed by Jews.
The argument goes like this:
  1. the Final Solution was irrational

  2. the Final Solution marked the culmination
    of a millennial Gentile anti-Semitism,

  3. each and every manifestation of anti-Semitism is irrational.
Since anti-Semitism is synonymous with animus toward Jews,
any and all animus directed at Jews, individually or collectively,
must be irrational.

“Anti-Semitism … resembles a disease in being fundamentally irrational,”
Abraham Foxman typically asserts.
“[T]hose who hate Jews do so
not because of factual evidence
but in spite of it.”

Thus, according to Gabriel Schoenfeld,
Palestinians become suicide bombers
not because of what Israel has concretely done
but because it has been turned into a “diabolical abstraction.”

For Ron Rosenbaum, anti-Semitism is
an irrational, inexplicable, and ineluctable Gentile affliction:
“The explanation of renewed anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism:
its ineradicable pre-existing history—and its efficacy.
It has become its own origin.”

Unsurprisingly, when billionaire financier George Soros, who is Jewish,
suggested otherwise,
telling a gathering of Jewish notables that
the “resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe”
was largely due to Sharon’s policies and the behavior of Jews,
he incurred the audience’s wrath.

Committing the same sin,
former Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg observed
“The unfavorable attitude toward Israel
that exists today in the international community
stems in part from the policy of the government of Israel.”

“Let’s understand things clearly,”
Elan Steinberg of the World Jewish Congress retorted after Soros’s speech:
“Anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews; it’s caused by anti-Semites.”
Foxman called Soros’s remarks “absolutely obscene.”
If it’s “obscene” for a Jew to say that Jews might be causing anti-Semitism,
for a non-Jew to say it is—surprise, surprise—

Holocaust industry dogma bears striking resemblance to
the politically correct interpretation of the U.S. “war against terrorism.”
The Arabs hate us either
because they’re irrational fanatics or
because they envy our way of life:
it can’t possibly be because we might have done something wrong—
that’s called apologetics for “Islamo-fascism.”

”Jews are not to blame for anti-Semitism,”
Alan Dershowitz asserts.
“Anti-Semitism is the problem of the bigots....
Nothing we do can profoundly alter the twisted mind of the anti-Semite”
(his [Dershowitz’s] emphases).
In sum,
Jews can never be culpable for the antipathy others bear towards them:
it’s always of their making, not ours.

Just as it’s too simple (and convenient)
to label accusations of Jewish responsibility for Israeli policy anti-Semitic,
so it’s too simple (and convenient)
to label the notion of Jewish power anti-Semitic.

Jews now rank as the wealthiest ethnic group in the United States;
with this economic power has accrued substantial political power.
Their leaders have wielded this power, often crudely,
to mold U.S. policy regarding Israel. [25]

These leaders have also utilized this power in other realms.
Under the guise of seeking “Holocaust reparations,”
American Jewish organizations
and individuals at all levels of government and in all sectors of American society
entered into a conspiracy—this is the correct word—
to blackmail Europe.
It was on account of “Jewish money”
that the Clinton administration went along with this shakedown operation, providing—
even to the detriment of U.S. national interests—
crucial support for it at every juncture.

who can seriously believe that
the pro-Jewish bias of the corporate media
has nothing whatever to do with
the influential Jewish presence at all levels of it?

[Consider, e.g., Eric Alterman’s “Intractable Foes, Warring Narratives”.]

“It’s undoubtedly true that there are prominent Jews
among the producers, directors, studio executives, and stars in Hollywood,”
[Abraham] Foxman concedes.
“It’s even true that, proportionately,
there has always been a relatively prominent Jewish role
in the movie, TV, and record industries.”
But, he continues,
“[t]he Jews who work in Hollywood are there not as Jews
but as actors, directors, writers, business executives, or what have you,”
concerned only with “the bottom line” (his emphasis).
[Counterexamples to that argument abound,
many involving the name Mel Gibson (like these, or this).
How on earth does the ADL get away with such deceptions?]

His proof?
“This explains the paradox
that no anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist has ever tackled—
how is it that the supposedly Jewish-controlled movie industry
has produced so few films dealing with overtly Jewish characters or themes.”
Is that why Hollywood has produced
a mere 175 films on the Nazi holocaust since 1989?
[For a view of how Hollywood operates rather different from Foxman’s,
see Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s Protesting Passion.]

Legitimate questions can surely be posed regarding when and if
Jews are
acting as people who happen to be Jewish or
acting “as Jews,”
and, on the latter occasions (which plainly do arise),
regarding the actual breadth and limits of this “Jewish power,”
but these questions can only be answered empirically,
not a priori with politically correct formulae.
[As an interesting, and somewhat self-referential, example,
how many of the people
mounting a public campaign to deny Finkelstein tenure
(or even to have him fired)
are Jews acting, fairly clearly, as Jews?]

To foreclose inquiry on this topic as anti-Semitic is, intentionally or not,
to shield Jews from legitimate scrutiny
of their uses and abuses of formidable power.

In an otherwise sensible treatment of the new anti-Semitism
[in an academic version (in the 2003-06 Patterns of Prejudice) of this article],
Brian Klug maintains that “it is a form of anti-Semitism”
if an accusation against Jews mimics an anti-Semitics stereotype
such as
the idea of Jews being “powerful, wealthy ... pursuing [their] own selfish ends.”
Yet if Jews act out a Jewish stereotype,
it plainly doesn’t follow
that they can’t be committing the stereotypical act.
Can’t they commit a vile act even if it conforms to a Jewish stereotype?
It is perhaps politically incorrect to recall but nonetheless a commonplace that
potent stereotypes, like good propaganda,
acquire their force from containing a kernel—
and sometimes even more than a kernel—
of truth.
Should people like Abraham Foxman, Edgar Bronfman, and Rabbi Israel Singer
get a free ride because they resemble stereotypes straight out of Der Stürmer?

In The Holocaust Industry,
this writer posited a distinction between
the Nazi holocaust
the systematic extermination of Jews during World War II—and
The Holocaust
the instrumentalization of the Nazi holocaust
by American Jewish elites and their supporters.
A parallel distinction needs to be made between
the unjustifiable targeting of Jews solely for being Jews—and
the instrumentalization of anti-Semitism by American (or other) Jewish elites.
Like The Holocaust,
“anti-Semitism” is an ideological weapon to deflect
justified criticism of Israel and, concomitantly,
powerful Jewish interests.

In its current usage, “anti-Semitism,”
alongside the “war against terrorism,”
serves as a cloak for a massive assault on international law and human rights.
Those Jews committed to the struggle against the real anti-Semitism
must, in the first instance,
expose this specious “anti-Semitism” for the sham it is.

If, as all the important studies agree,
current resentment against Jews
has coincided with
Israel’s brutal repression of the Palestinians,

then a patent remedy and quick solution would plainly be to end the occupation.
A full Israeli withdrawal from the territories conquered in 1967
would also deprive those real anti-Semites—
and who can doubt they exist?—
of a dangerous weapon, as well as expose their real agenda.
And the more vocally Jews dissent from Israel’s occupation,
the fewer will be those non-Jews who mistake
Israel’s criminal policies and
the uncritical support (indeed encouragement) of mainline Jewish organizations
for the popular Jewish mood.

On the other side,
the worst enemies in the struggle against real anti-Semitism
are the philo-Semites....
By turning a blind eye to Israeli crimes
in the name of sensitivity to past Jewish suffering,
they enable Israel to continue on a murderous path
that foments anti-Semitism and, for that matter,
the self-destruction of Israelis....

As already noted,
Jewish elites in the United States have enjoyed enormous prosperity.
From this combination of economic and political power
has sprung, unsurprisingly, a mindset of Jewish superiority.
Wrapping themselves in the mantle of The Holocaust,
these Jewish elites pretend
and, in their own solipsistic universe, perhaps even imagine themselves—
to be victims,
dismissing any and all criticism as manifestations of “anti-Semitism.”

And, from this lethal brew of
formidable power, chauvinistic arrogance,
feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism
has sprung a terrifying recklessness and ruthlessness
on the part of American Jewish elites.
Alongside Israel,
they are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism
in the world today.
Coddling them is not the answer.
They need to be stopped.

[This is, frankly, powerful stuff,
thoughts not usually expressed in the public domain, if at all.
But, in my, doubtless devalued to many, opinion, they have great validity.
The original author, Finkelstein,
is the son of not one but two Holocaust survivors.
I doubt very seriously if anyone with lesser Jewish credentials
could get away with getting such words published.
As it is, among those less than happy with him
for writing the book from which this is an excerpt
are the ADL and CAMERA.
For a sample of those who are willing to speak out in Finkelstein’s defense,
see the back cover of Beyond Chutzpah.]

Footnote 3.25 (partial)

The question of the extent of Jewish power
comes up most often in regard to U.S. policy toward Israel.
Those believing that U.S. national interests
ultimately trump the power of the Jewish lobby
typically point to Eisenhower’s decision in 1956, despite an impending election,
to rein in Israel.
[But consider:
That was half a century and almost ten presidents ago;
Eisenhower was one of our most popular, and not terribly partisan, presidents,
with an approval rating of 70 percent.
Note also the main text slightly misstates the situation:
Election day 1956 was 1956-11-06,
while Eisenhower’s message to Israel was not sent until the next day.
Note also Eisenhower’s message of vexation with Israel,
delivered to the American people on 1957-02-20,
which is still highly relevant today (emphasis is added):
Israel seeks something more.
It insists on firm guarantees as a condition
to withdrawing its forces of invasion.

This raises a basic question of principle.
Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory
in the face of United Nations disapproval
be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal?

If we agree that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant,
then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order.
We will, in effect, have countenanced the use of force
as a means of settling international differences
and through this gaining national advantages.

I do not, myself,
see how this could be reconciled with the Charter of the United Nations.
The basic pledge of all the members of the United Nations
is that they will settle their international disputes by peaceful means,
and will not use force against the territorial integrity of another state.

If the United Nations once admits
that international disputes can be settled by using force,
then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the Organization,
and our best hope of establishing a world order.
That would be a disaster for us all.

Yet it’s also possible to adduce contrary evidence.
For example, it’s difficult to peruse the Foreign Relations of the United States volumes from the 1960s
without concluding that
the United States considered Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons
as in fundamental conflict with American national interests.
The fear was that once Israel acquired an atomic bomb,
Egypt would demand that the Soviet Union supply it with one,
setting off an unconventional arms buildup in the Middle East
that would culminate in a nuclear conflagration.
The main leverage that successive U.S. administrations had was
to deny Israel conventional weaponry unless it ceased nuclear development.
But whenever the United States tried to apply this pressure,
the Jewish lobby brought to bear overwhelming pressure of its own,
the arms transfer going through without Israeli concessions.

In recent years it has become nearly impossible
to empirically test the hypothesis that
U.S. national interests trumps the Jewish lobby
or vice versa.
This is because the degree of interpenetration, or revolving door,
of personnel between the Jewish lobby and U.S. administrations
effectively precludes such a test.
Looking at older documents,
one could see the U.S. government “here” and the Jewish lobby “there,”
and watch how they interacted.
How can one really know on what interest or at whose behest
a Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross, Paul Wolfowitz, or Richard Perle
is acting when he argues policy on the Middle East?

Of course, a case can also be made that this whole question is moot:
Israel has become so integral to, as well as dependent on, U.S. policy
that it has ceased to exist as an autonomous actor having autonomous interests,
anymore than Texas has autonomous interests
(does anyone ask whose interests Bush is serving?);
and the interpenetration of the Jewish lobby and U.S. administrations
is more symptom than cause of this wholly internalized relationship.

[End of excerpt from paragraphs 3.3.2 and 3.3.3
of Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah.]


[The following is from pages 142–143
of Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Peace,
published in 2005.]

A good working definition of anti-Semitism is
taking a trait that is common to many groups
and singling out Jews for criticism for exhibiting that trait.

That’s what Hitler did in the 1930s.
That’s what Harvard’s President A. Lawrence Lowell did in the 1920s
when he tried to keep Jews out of Harvard because “they cheat.”
And that is what advocates of divestment and boycott against Israel alone
are doing.
The proper way to approach divestment and boycott is
to list every country in the world in order of total human rights record
and then to divest from or boycott the most serious offenders first.
If that approach were followed,
Israel would be among the last countries subject to these sanctions.
Most Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority would be among the first.
Some European countries would be higher on the list than Israel.

The time has come for European intellectuals and public figures—
from Nobel laureates
to members of the British Association of University Teachers,
to the mayor of London,
to ordinary decent people—
to look at themselves in the mirror
and ask whether this unique focus on the only Jewish nation
reflects some deep, lingering pathology,
rather than
the comparative merits of Israeli and Arab actions in the Middle East.
Honest Europeans should come away from such an exercise deeply disturbed.
Bigotry against a nation, especially the Jewish nation,
by so many Europeans
is a particularly ugly phenomenon in light of the last century’s history.


Accusations of anti-semitic chic are poisonous intellectual thuggery
by David Clark
The Guardian, 2006-03-06

Attempts to brand the left as anti-Jewish
because of its support of Palestinian rights
only make it harder to tackle genuine racism.

The ‘New Anti-Semitism’ and Nuclear War
by Jonathan Cook
Antiwar.com, 2006-09-25

Iranian’s Letter: More Anti-Semitism
New York Times, Letter to the Editor, 2006-12-02

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

To the Editor:

Re “Iran’s President Criticizes Bush in Letter to American People”
(news article, Nov. 30):

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has done it again.

After his earlier statement to “wipe Israel off the map”
and his questioning whether the Holocaust occurred,
now, in his letter to the American people,
he accuses American Jews of controlling
“a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors.”

In other words, classic anti-Semitic conspiracy notions
right out of the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”

It could all be viewed as the sayings of a lunatic
if not for the fact that Iran is getting closer and closer to developing a nuclear weapon,
which will threaten not only Israel but also the whole region....

Kenneth Jacobson
Deputy National Director
Anti-Defamation League
New York, Nov. 30, 2006

[Who’s the lunatic?
Who can have the slightest doubt that American Jews control
“a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors.”?
Only a lunatic, liar, or ignoramus would deny that.
Which is Kenneth Jacobson?]

“Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism
by Alvin H. Rosenfeld
American Jewish Committee, 2006-12

Fighting Jewish anti-Semitism
By Shulamit Reinharz (wife of Brandeis University president Jehuda Reinharz)
The Jewish Advocate, 2006-12-21

[Emphasis is added.]

Anti-Semitism is an extremely old phenomenon that began, probably,
about 50 years after the execution of Jesus by the Romans.
[There was no hostility to Jews before Jesus?
Note how Jews continually lie about their own history.
It is an age-old canard of (some) Jews
that anti-Semitism was created by Christianity.]

Scholars have classified types of anti-Semitism,
including racial, religious, economic and political, among others.
But there is another form that flourishes today –
Jewish anti-Semitism.
It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is not.
In fact, Jewish anti-Semitism is particularly troublesome
because it seems to corroborate the views of anti-Semitic non-Jews.
This month, the American Jewish Committee, founded 100 years ago
and devoted, among other things, to combating anti-Semitism,
published “ ‘Progressive’ Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,”
an essay by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, professor of English and Jewish Studies and director of the Institute for Jewish Culture and the Arts at Indiana University.

Rosenfeld writes that Jewish anti-Semitism includes both
disdain for fellow Jews and
hatred for Israel.
Contemporary communications vehicles make it particularly easy
for anti-Semitic Jews to disseminate their ideas.
They publish books. They use the web. They go on speaking tours.
They seem to be respectable.
Most would say that they are simply anti-Zionists, not anti-Semites.
But I disagree, because in a world where there is only one Jewish state,
to oppose it vehemently is to endanger Jews.

These are not stupid people.
But which part of their smarts do you accept?
In other words,
if you accept Noam Chomsky’s linguistic theories,
do you have to accept his Middle East theories?
If you like Tony Kushner’s plays,
do you have to like his book on Zionism?
If you admire Adrienne Rich’s poetry,
do you have to accept her view that “Zionism needs to dissolve”?
Unfortunately, the kudos people such as these receive for their work
gives their political views undeserved credibility.

This summer in Europe, I came face-to-face with Jewish anti-Zionism
when a Jewish radio journalist for a Berlin-based broadcast interviewed me.
After the interview turned into a conversation,
I asked her about her own views as a European Jew.
She told me that
she had officially renounced her “Right to Return” in a public ceremony
(The Law of Return, established in 1950,
gives every Jew the right to immigrate to the Israel)
in order to challenge the country’s Zionist ideology.
I later learned that other so-called “progressive” Jews
make this announcement for a son at the brit milah ceremony.

Jewish anti-Semitism/Zionism has major mouthpieces in
England (Jacqueline Rose),
Canada (Michael Neumann),
the United States
(Tony Judt, Alisa Solomon, Seth Farber, Joel Kovel, and Sara Roy), and
Israel (Yuval Yonay and Ilan Pappe),
countries that protect freedom of expression.

Strangely, Pappe claims that
“Israel silences those who attack the Zionist mythic narrative.”
But Pappe is not silenced –
he teaches in Israel,
receives a salary from the University of Haifa (which is supported by the state),
and speaks all over the world.
Rosenfeld names and offers cited quotations of Jewish anti-Zionists
who teach on American campuses and label themselves “progressive.”
Among the group are
Irena Klepfisz at Barnard College,
Norman Finkelstein at DePaul University, and
Marc Ellis at Baylor University.
Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, a public intellectual,
has consistently won the praises of scholars
for her work about Jewish life, Jewish power, and lesbian issues.
She also co-organized, with a Palestinian Arab,
the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,
a public demonstration on the steps of the New York Public Library.

Rosenfeld mentions journalists,
including Richard Cohen of the Washington Post,
who wrote the following on July 18:
“The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment
is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake.
It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake,
a mistake for which no one is culpable,
but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews
in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians)
has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now.”

What is to be done? Rosenfeld does not address this point.
The only solutions I can imagine are to
write back, speak back, teach back and fight back.
Hand-wringing, inaction and silence will not help.
Let all Jews who are truly progressive, liberal,
not self-hating and not anti-Zionist
develop a clear set of ideas to address these individuals specifically.
Let organizations that fight anti-Semitism have special divisions
to combat Jewish anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Address the books and lectures head on,
as Amazon.com did when
it refused to advertise Finkelstein’s “Beyond Chutzpah.”
[Note well how
Jews censor and control our intellectual environment
and when this is pointed out to them,
they claim it’s anti-Semitism just to point it out!]

Sue for libel.
Engage our fellow Jews and provide a new model of clarity, courage, and sanity.


Another controversy at Brandeis
By Alex Beam,
Boston Globe, 2007-01-24

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

[S]ome Brandeis faculty members have been grumbling about
newspaper columns published by Shulamit Reinharz,
the opinionated wife of Brandeis’ equally strong-willed president,
Jehuda Reinharz.
Mme. R doesn’t just bake cookies in the Reinharz household.
She is a professor of sociology
and director of Brandeis’ Women’s Studies Research Center.


Isn’t an anti-Semite someone who despises and disparages Jews?
“Your notion of anti-Semitism is outdated,”
Professor Reinharz informs me.
“You might believe that anti-Semitism was what Hitler was doing.
I believe
there are many forms of anti-Semitism,
and that includes desire to do harm to the state of Israel.”

Reinharz’s outings have attracted plenty of attention at Brandeis,
although few faculty members are eager to criticize her publicly.
[I wonder why?]
“Her columns violate
all the principles that I teach about respect and understanding for others,”
says politics professor Steven Burg, who also sits on Brandeis’ board of trustees.
“I find them disturbing, and I am uncomfortable
having the wife of the president of my university write these things.
I’d be uncomfortable if one of my colleagues wrote such things.”

Essay Linking Liberal Jews and Anti-Semitism Sparks a Furor
New York Times, 2007-01-31

[For the AJC paper to which this NYT article refers, click here.]

Uproar over recent essay
By Larry Lowenthal (Executive Director, Boston Chapter, AJC)
The Jewish Advocate, 2007-02-08

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

What constitutes legitimate criticism of Israel?
What line separates reasonable complaint from blatant anti-Semitism?
And do Israel defenders
have the right to define anti-Semitism when they see it,
no matter the source?

[Alvin] Rosenfeld defines illegitimate criticism of Israel as
questioning her right to exist;
comparing Zionism to Nazism;
characterizing Israel’s policies in the Territories as
“ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” “genocide,” “racist” and “exterminationist.”


One could continue with this wearisome display of
internal Jewish hysteria.
If non-Jews uttered these barbarities,
we would not hesitate to call them anti-Semites.

We cannot avoid the term for fear of causing
intra-tribal tension.
For 100 years, the AJC mission has been
to protect Jewish rights and to strengthen Jewish security.
Part of a fundamental Jewish right is
to obtain a collective means of self-expression in a Jewish state,
[That seems an awfully strange way of putting things.
That is a “fundamental Jewish right”?
Do the rights of Jews differ from those of, say,
Aryans, Catholics, or Presbyterians?
If so, why?
That would certainly disprove (if any further disproof was necessary)
the quaint notion Jews sometimes express of their universalism.
Perhaps his meaning is that only in the Jewish state
do Jews have the full right of self-expression.
That meaning is, in fact, consistent with
the actions of much of the American Jewish community.]

and anyone who questions that right must be confronted.
Rosenfeld’s essay is a needed exposure
of a growing and alarming anti-Zionist phenomenon,
the danger of which is hardly lessened
because the outbursts are expressed by fellow Jews.

The new Jewish question
by Gaby Wood
The Guardian, 2007-02-11

A furious row has been raging in the international Jewish community
over the rights and wrongs of criticising Israel.
At its centre is a British historian who accuses his fellow Jews in the US
of stifling any debate about Israel.
His opponents say his views give succour to anti-Semites.
One thing’s for sure:
any appearance of consensus over the Middle East has been shattered.

On 3 October last year,
the distinguished British-born historian Tony Judt
was preparing for a public lecture when the telephone rang.
He was due to give the talk, entitled ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’,
at the Polish consulate in New York in less than an hour.
The caterers were already there.
But when he picked up the phone he was informed that
his lecture had been suddenly cancelled.
[Jewish Week account.]

He was also told that Abraham Foxman,
the national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
was on the phone to the Polish consul.
Whether the call from the ADL was the cause of the cancellation
would become the subject of heated debate in the days and months to come.
Foxman labelled such accusations ‘conspiratorial nonsense’;
however, the Polish consul, Krzysztof Kasprzyk,
later acknowledged that he had been contacted by a number of Jewish groups -
including the ADL and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) -
who were concerned about Judt’s anti-Israel message.

‘The phone calls were very elegant
but may be interpreted as exercising a delicate pressure,’

Kasprzyk said.
It didn’t take him long to see how it might look for Poland, given its history,
to be fostering arguments that
in certain spheres of American intellectual life
have been conflated with anti-Semitism.

‘They do what the more tactful members of the intelligence services
used to do in late Communist society,’
Tony Judt says of the ADL when I speak to him from his home in New York.
‘They point out how foolish it is to associate with the wrong people.
So they call up the Poles and they say:
Did you know that Judt is a notorious critic of Israel,
and therefore shading into or giving comfort to anti-Semites?’

In the New York Jewish press, the episode was dubbed -
with a debatable degree of sarcasm -
‘l’Affaire Judt’.
Certainly, not everyone felt Judt was a latter-day Dreyfus.
The New York Review of Books published an open letter to Abraham Foxman
in Judt’s defence,
which was signed by 114 intellectuals,
many of whom disagreed with Judt on the Middle East
yet felt that his right to free speech had been indefensibly curbed.
But Christopher Hitchens, reminiscing about an occasion when a talk of his own was cancelled for similar reasons, cried out: ‘What a chance I missed to call attention to myself!’ - not the sort of opportunity Hitchens is in the habit of passing up - ‘Once again, absolutely conventional attacks on Israeli and US policy are presented as heroically original.’

In the past two weeks, the Judt Affair has entered an entirely new gear.
In an essay written by the Holocaust scholar Alvin Rosenfeld and published by the American Jewish Committee, Judt’s views - and those of other ‘progressive Jews’ such as the American playwright Tony Kushner and the British academic Jacqueline Rose - were expressly linked to anti-Semitism. That row was reported in the New York Times, giving it an unprecedented prominence, and since then the story has opened the floodgates of a debate that until now has been shrouded in fear. Americans have long been in the grip of a cultural taboo that is characterised by Judt as follows:
‘All Jews are silenced by the requirement to be supportive of Israel,
and all non-Jews are silenced by the fear of being thought anti-Semitic,
and there is no conversation on the subject.’

Philip Weiss, a bold polemicist whose New York Observer blog, MondoWeiss, has been besieged by posts on the subject since he addressed it last week, has even gone so far as to declare a new movement. His account of it embraces the new forum for dissent, Independent Jewish Voices, which was launched in Britain last week by an eminent group that includes Eric Hobsbawm and Harold Pinter. In launching its manifesto, Independent Jewish Voices has taken the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an occasion to create ‘a climate and a space in which Jews of different affiliations and persuasions can express their opinions about the actions of the Israeli government without being accused of disloyalty or being dismissed as self-hating.’ One of its founding principles is: ‘The battle against anti-Semitism is vital and is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic.’

‘A lot of people, like Tony Judt, have been doing brave work here in the US for a while,’ Weiss tells me. ‘What has happened specifically is that for once, the mainstream is paying attention.’

He dates the beginning of this back to last March, when an explosive article about the influence of the Israel lobby on American foreign policy, written by two American political scientists, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, was published in the London Review of Books (having originally been turned down by the Atlantic Monthly). The response to the piece was so overwhelming - and so coloured by accusations of anti-Semitism - that the LRB decided to host a debate on the subject in New York last September. That debate was sold out; Tony Judt, one of the speakers, gave an exceptionally eloquent performance, in the course of which he said it was significant that the event had been hosted by a London publication. Public conversation on the issue had been so absent in America, he suggested, that it could only be opened up by importation.

‘When Walt and Mearsheimer were published in London,’ Philip Weiss continues, ‘I said: something’s changing.’ Since then, the publication of former president Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and the attention given to Rosenfeld’s accusations in his AJC article, have proved, in Weiss’s view, that ‘there’s no question that something has changed. One of the excitements of what’s going on right now is that people who have had feelings about this and have not expressed them are popping up all over. It’s personally very stirring to me that this is happening. I can’t believe it.’

In fact, the debate is so current that the online magazine Slate has come up with a quiz entitled ‘Are You A Liberal Anti-Semite?’ (Sample question: ‘Which state’s offences against humanity bother you most? a) Sudan b) Israel c) Massachusetts’.) One of the prizes is dinner with Tony Judt.

Tony Judt is, in the words of a fellow historian, ‘one of our most dazzling public intellectuals’. As a prominent professor at New York University and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, the New York Times and The Nation, he has a strong and widely heard voice. His latest book, Postwar - a magnificent, opinionated and vast history of Europe since 1945 - was voted one of the 10 best books of last year by the New York Times. A talented forger of links between thinkers from countries all over the world, Judt worked tirelessly after 1989 to bring together eastern European and American intellectuals, and he solidified these efforts by founding the Remarque Institute at NYU in 1995 to promote the study and discussion of Europe in America. A natural polemicist, he brought with him to New York an Oxbridge tradition more pugnacious than is generally characteristic of American academic life, and found himself - after years spent concentrating on European history - drawn back into an engagement with the Middle East.

In 2003, Judt wrote an articulately provocative piece for the New York Review of Books entitled ‘Israel: The Alternative’, in which he argued, among other things, that Israel was ‘an anachronism’ that was ‘bad for the Jews’ and should be converted into a binational state. The offices of the New York Review were inundated with letters as a result. Last year, Judt wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times in which he argued that America’s fear of anti-Semitism when discussing Israel wrought tremendous damage. As the page was about to go to press, the editor rang him up. ‘Just one thing,’ he said, ‘You are Jewish, aren’t you?’

Judt was born in London in 1948. Growing up Jewish in 1950s Britain, as he has said, he came to know a thing or two about anti-Semitism. His mother was from London and his father, who was born in Belgium, had come there as a stateless person. Judt was brought up in what he describes as ‘a fairly standard left-wing Jewish secular political environment’, but with close links to his Yiddish-speaking grandparents, all of whom were eastern European Jews, from Romania and Russia and Lithuania and Poland. As a teenager, he joined a left-wing Zionist organisation and became very active in the kibbutz movement, living in Israel on and off for a large part of the early 1960s.

‘What changed for me,’ he says now, ‘was that in 1967 I went out as a volunteer at the time of the Six Day War; after the war was finished I volunteered for auxiliary military service and I ended up as a sort of informal translator for other volunteers up on the Golan Heights. And there for the first time I began to see another face of Israel that had been camouflaged from me by my enthusiasm for the idealism of the kibbutz movement.’ He became, he recalls, quickly very detached from Israel. ‘And in fact when I was a student in Paris I became involved in 1970 with Palestinians and young Israelis, trying to organise groups to talk about peace settlements and ending the conflict.’

Last week, as he looked over the list of signatories of the new British network, Independent Jewish Voices, Judt says he was struck by how many of them are people who have not in the past identified themselves publicly as Jewish. ‘Of course they’re Jewish,’ he clarifies, ‘but it was not part of their public identity tag. And now they feel - and I would share this sentiment - a need to say, look: if it helps you understand just how bad things have got in the Middle East, I am willing to act not as a freestanding historian but as a Jew. I don’t normally like to act as though being Jewish was who I am, but it’s a kind of inverse moral blackmail that forces you to go the other way.’

Speaking from Bloomington, Indiana, where he is a director of Indiana University’s Jewish Studies Program, Alvin Rosenfeld tells me that his essay ‘does seem to have struck a raw nerve’. ‘I’ve been accused of wanting to shut down debate and stifle free speech,’ he says, ‘and none of that is true. I stand strongly for vigorous debate and open discussion. What in the past was said behind the hands and on the margins of society has been coming into the mainstream of discourse,’ Rosenfeld adds, echoing the sentiments of those he attacks, ‘Now one can deal with it. And that’s one of the things I set out to do.’

Though Rosenfeld is careful not to say in his essay that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are identical, he does state that ‘Anti-Zionism is the form that much of today’s anti-Semitism takes, so much so that some now see earlier attempts to rid the world of Jews finding a parallel in present-day desires to get rid of the Jewish state.’ He labels the work of Judt, Rose, Kushner et al ‘This Jewish war against the Jewish state.’ I ask him if he would say that an increase in anti-Zionist sentiment might be caused by Israeli policy. ‘I doubt it,’ he replies. ‘As I read these people, it strikes to the heart, not of particular policies, but the idea of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East. I think it goes to the question of Israel’s origins and essence.’

‘Oh that’s nuts,’ Judt counters, ‘I’ve never said Israel doesn’t have a right to exist. I’m not actually sure that anyone in what we would call the respectable political mainstream ever has.’

‘He says that,’ says Rosenfeld, ‘but it’s not true. In his writings he calls not for a two-state solution but for the dissolution of the state of Israel and a one-state solution, and everyone knows that in no time at all, were such a scenario to come about, Jews would be a minority within this newly configured state, and would be at the mercy of a population that’s not likely to treat them gently. Tony Judt is a kind of political fantasist, it strikes me.’

‘The issue is not whether Israel has a right to exist,’ Judt says plainly, ‘Israel does exist. It exists just like Belgium or Kuwait or any other country which was invented at some point in the past and is now a fact. The question is what kind of a state Israel should be. That’s all.’

Anti-Zionism has, like Zionism itself, a long and complicated history. ‘The thing that we tend to forget,’ Judt explains, ‘is that until the Second World War, Zionism was a minority taste even within Jewish political organisations. The main body of European Jews was either apolitical or integrated, and voting within the existing countries they lived in. So to be anti-Zionist, at least until the late 1930s, was to be lined up with most Jews. It would make no sense to think of it as anti-Semitic.

‘After the Second World War, for a fairly brief period - from let’s say 1945 to about 1953 - the overwhelming majority of Jews who were politically thinking were Zionists, either actively or sympathetically, for the rather obvious reason that Israel was the only hope for Jewish survivors. But then many of them, like Hannah Arendt or Arthur Koestler, both of whom were Zionists at various points, took their distance, on the grounds that it was already clear to them that Israel was going to become the kind of state that as a cosmopolitan Jew they couldn’t identify with.

‘Ever since then, there has been an unbroken tradition of non-Israeli Jews who regard Israel as either unrelated to their own identity or something of which they sometimes approve, sometimes disapprove, sometimes totally dislike. This range of opinion is not new,’ Judt concludes. ‘The only thing that’s new - and it’s a product of the post-Sixties - is the insistence that it’s anti-Semitic.’

Judt tells a story about an Israeli journalist who was in Washington in the 1960s. ‘The Israeli ambassador was retiring, and the journalist asked him what he thought was his biggest achievement. The ambassador said: “I’ve succeeded in beginning to convince Americans that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.” There has been a progressive emergence of a conflation,’ Judt explains. ‘It didn’t just happen naturally. And it was pushed quite actively in the Seventies and Eighties, to the point at which it became so normal in this country that it was for a while the default assumption. It’s really only in the last five to eight years that it’s started to be questioned.’

The actions of very pro-Israel Jewish organisations - for instance, making carefully placed phone calls relating to certain public speakers - are, Judt believes, now born of panic rather than confidence.

‘They’ve lost control of the debate,’ he says. ‘For a long time all they had to deal with were people like Norman Finkelstein or Noam Chomsky, who they could dismiss as loonies of the left. Now they’re having to face, for want of a better cliché, the mainstream: people like me who have a fairly long established record of being Social Democrats (in the European sense) and certainly not on the crazy left on most issues, saying very critical things about Israel. They’re not used to that, so their initial response has been to silence people if they could, and their second response has been to ratchet up the anti-Semitic charge.’ Judt thinks it’s telling that the New York Times ‘is willing to report these issues and let reporters quote both sides. In the past, you would have had silence.’

Whether this will have any effect in Washington is another matter. The political influence of AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is as strong as it ever was, and Judt argues that since it’s not worth going out on a limb on Israel from Congressmen’s point of view, change has to happen at a presidential level. Hillary, he says, ‘is pretty gutless on this’; she has already given two gung-ho speeches to AIPAC. It’s not a topic Barack Obama has yet picked up on, Judt adds, but Obama was brave enough to oppose the Iraq war from the outset, so it’s possible that he would take a courageous stance elsewhere in the Middle East. ‘A presidential candidate has to feel that once he or she gets into office - they wouldn’t dare open their mouths while they’re running for election - they don’t stand to lose very much in public opinion if they put pressure on Israel,’ Judt says

In Postwar, Judt writes of Europe that ‘After 1989, nothing - not the future, not the present and above all not the past - would ever be the same.’ Is there a moment like that, I ask him, in this situation? ‘I think so,’ he replies. ‘It’s not as tidy a moment as 1989 in Europe. But I think one could say that after the Iraq war, for want of a better defining moment, the American silence on the complexities and disasters of the Middle East was broken. The shell broke and conversation - however uncomfortable, however much slandered - became possible. I’m not sure that will change things in the Middle East, but it’s changed the shape of things here. Even five years ago, I don’t think it would have looked the way it does now.’

He sounds almost optimistic.

‘Well,’ he sighs, ‘I do my best.’



The tropes of 'Jewish antisemitism'

by Anthony Lerman
guardian.co.uk, 2009-10-05

The concept of the 'self-hating Jew'
has been dignified with a pseudo-psychopathology
by those keen to suppress dissent

From the moment he took the job heading
the UN Human Rights Council’s mission to investigate
human rights and international humanitarian law violations
during the Gaza conflict,
it was inevitable that Judge Richard Goldstone,
born into a South African Jewish family,
would be labelled a “self-hating Jew” and a Jewish antisemite.

The charge is so popular these days that
people who use it must have felt as though they had won the lottery
when they were presented with such a high-profile target like Goldstone.
They were probably still savouring
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outburst in August when
he railed against the two senior and Jewish aides of President Obama,
Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod,
calling them “self-hating Jews”.

If anything finally shows up the concept as bogus and bankrupt,
it should be the use of it against Goldstone.
Jewish self-hatred means
rejecting everything about yourself that is Jewish
because it is so hateful to you.
As a description of Goldstone, nothing could be further from the truth.
A life-long Zionist and a Governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
Goldstone believes
bringing war criminals to justice stems from the lessons of the Holocaust
and that
the creation of Israel symbolised
what the postwar human rights movement was all about.
But to those who level the accusation,
the real degree of Jewish affiliation of the accused is irrelevant.

Now it’s quite obvious that
calling someone a self-hating Jew
in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict
is intended as a demeaning political insult,
a way of delegitimising
the views of Jews with whom you violently disagree.
But one of the reasons why the charge is so ubiquitous
and is impervious to evidence and argument that proves it to be bogus
is that
it’s not just used as an epithet.
To some scholars and serious commentators,
Jewish self-hatred is a proven psychopathological condition,
an academically respectable category,
and exponents of it can be found throughout history.
Their testimony helps to underpin the accusation.


How much more evidence does one need?
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-02-10

Two and half years ago,
two political scientists published a book that said (p. 188):
“Anyone who criticizes Israeli actions
or says that
pro-Israel groups have significant influence over U.S. Middle East policy
stands a good chance of getting labeled an anti-Semite.
In fact, anyone who says that there is an Israel lobby
runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism,
even though AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents
are hardly bashful about describing their influence. ...
In effect, the lobby both boasts of its own power and
frequently attacks those who call attention to it.”

Over at The New Republic,
Leon Wieseltier has provided the latest example of this all-too-familiar tactic,
in the form of an incoherent and unwarranted smear of Andrew Sullivan.
Yglesias, Larison, and DeLong offer telling rebuttals.

[Also Greenwald, Luban, and a lengthy response by Sullivan himself.]