Saturday, April 4, 2009

Naa, No Antisemitism There...

Antisemtism is notoriously hard to define, and even the better attempts to do so are not accepted by all. I'm not going to try and unravel the issue here, tho two quick comments are called for. First, the reason it's important is that antisemitism contributed immensely to Nazism and the worst war in human history, so even people who intensely dislike Jews feel the need not to be identified as antisemites (Unless they're Arabs; the rules are different for Arabs). My second comment is that since the 1940s the Zionist enterprise has been supported by a majority of Jews the world over, and has created the most significant change in Jewish life since Hadrian's genocide in the second century CE. This means that whether you lke it or not, any consistent anti-Israeli position (not to be confused with empiric criticism of specific Israeli actions) is probably antisemitic, for being against what the Jews as a nation are doing. Yes, even if the antisemites are Jewish themselves, that's obvious.

Antony Lerman, I'm beginning to think, is one of the Guardian's House Jews. Today he explains why that cartoon in the Washington Post isn't antisemitism. First:
But this cartoon is devoid of standard antisemitic caricatures. Moreover, antisemites in the 1930s were hardly likely to compare Jews with jackbooted Germans.
Did you get that? Describing Jews as Nazis can't be antisemitic, since the Nazis would never have compared Jews to themselves. Profound, isn't it? And then:
The ADL and Wiesenthal seem to imply that under no circumstances can you ever suggest that Israeli Jews might act in a Nazi-like fashion. While I fervently hope that Israeli Jews never do act like that, it cannot be taken as an iron rule that they never will. What people or group or individual is eternally immune from such behaviour? So it would be absurd to demand that Israelis should forever be shielded from such an accusation.
In other words, there's nothing antisemitic in depicting Israeli actions as Nazi-like, since for all we know, perhaps someday some Israelis will do Nazi-like things; after all, we don't know what the future holds, do we. Of course, given that line of reasoning perhaps we ought to depict the editors of the Guardian in SS imagery, after all, humans having the potential for evil in them, we don't actually know for a fact that none of them ever in the future won't do something that bad.


4infidels said...

Judging by your definition, I would say that Juan Cole is an anti-Semite.

I listened to some of his presentation and Q/A session on C-SPAN Book TV.

Let me sum up: Every time Israel came up, he had this almost smirk-like look on his face as though he was enjoying the opportunity to demonize the Jewish State, indulge further his wild accusations about Israel and its supporters and read the worst possible intentions into any potential Israeli actions.

When it came to the Muslim world, he spoke about even the most atrocious groups with sensitivity, detachment and a lack of the antagonism only reserved for Israel. Islam is misunderstood and stereotyped in the West. Saudi women aren't equal in the western sense, but within their separate world they can achieve a lot...besides their are class differences in the U.S. Al-Qaeda is a tiny cult that has nothing to do with mainstream Islam while Hezbollah and Hamas have great social service organizations that help many people, though their community aid may be motivated by political concerns. Whahhabbism is really quite swell, but Americans have been misled to view it negatively by neo-cons.

Israel, on the other hand, is an apartheid state that has made swiss cheese out of the West Bank. If Israel doesn't attack Iran, it will use it's acquiescence to the U.S. on that issue to avoid moving forward on the Palestinian front. Israel's new government is very right wing.

According to Cole, even brilliant academics in Israel have been overtaken by a unreasonable, hysterical fear of Iran. The Ayatollah's say that it is un-Islamic to build nuclear weapons. Also, the Iranians are at least ten years away from having nuclear weaponry. I couldn't figure out whether they weren't building nukes because it was against their religion or they were just very far away from obtaining the technology. Either way, the Jews are crazy.

Most of the Muslim anti-Americanism, Cole believes, is related to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians which leads Muslims to support extremism and even terrorism. Americans are paying the price for Israel's policies.

The most disgusting aspect of his presentation was a comparison between Jews in 1930s Germany and the Palestinians today. Since the main issue is the Palestinians being denied the most basic of rights, that of self-determination and citizenship, without which the Israelis can--and do-- do whatever they want to them at will. He went on to say (and he did this quite deftly) that in Germany the Jews were disenfranchised and the international community treated it as a human rights issue, which is why they pressured the British to allow those 100,000 Jews to immigrate to Palestine (of course if the issue was statelessness or self-determination, Palestine under the British mandate wouldn't have been a solution for the Jews. The issue was the Jews needed a place to escape violence and genocide).

I don't need to go into all the other reasons this is a poor analogy. But the one that is most illogical: the Jews never disenfranchised Palestinians and never took away their citizenship. They were kept stateless under Egyptian occupation, and never given citizenship by the Egyptians, prior to Israel conquering Gaza in a defensive war. No one was stripped of existing rights.

Anyway, I think that the fact that Cole has made a career out of being a Muslim apologist makes him a poor academic. The fact that he augments that role by consistently engaging in non-scholarly, anti-Israel activism through his blog and speaking engagements make him an anti-semite.

Fabián said...

You should write a letter for publication in the Guardian about this. It is blatant.

Fabián said...

I mean, don't let it rest only on your blog.

Meryl Yourish said...

That's exactly the argument some idiot commenter left on my blog. It isn't anti-Semitic because Israel MIGHT someday do something Nazi-like.

What bullshit.

Joe in Australia said...

Suppose a political cartoonist during the recent US elections had depicted a Presidential candidate outside the door of a shack, in shackles, and wearing the rags of a slave. The cartoonist's intent would have been to show that he was enslaved to the interests of his sponsors. Now, in which context could this cartoon have been used? Certainly not against John McCain: it would be an incongruous depiction of a reasonably privileged White male. The cartoon would only make sense if it depicted Barack Obama - but it would be highly offensive to use the Black experience in the USA as a metaphor for a political point. The same goes for using the Holocaust to score points against Jews and/or Israelis. You never see, say, France depicted as being Nazi-like. There would be no real meaning to the comparison. You never see it applied to the Germans, because that would be taken literally. It's only applied to Israel and the Jews, because only they have the historical baggage to make it meaningfully symbolic.

Anonymous said...

4infidels: fabulous summary of the professor's BS!

Meryl Yourish said...

Utter crap, Joe.

You're forgetting a little something called the Vichy regime, which, gee, collaborated with the Nazis. So tell me again how nobody would associate France and Nazis, only this time, perhaps you might try paying attention in high school history class.

So, according to your logic, I can only talk about rapists and women, because generally, only women are raped? Nobody else would get the symbolism, right?

Really. Back to school for you.