Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama and Farrakhan are not related

I'm getting a fair number of hits from google searches on Obama and Farrakhan leading to this article. I wasn't as adamant as many people who attacked journalist Richard Cohen when he wrote an article called "Obama's Farrakhan Test." Partly, I focused more on objecting to the ways in which Cohen was being attacked, which often centered on his Jewishness. Also, I wasn't as adamant because the situation was a bit different then. Obama's pastor had just endorsed Farrakhan, and I thought there was some room to disagree on how strongly that linked Obama, even though no one seriously thought they hold similar views, to Farrakhan. But, since it was clear that Obama didn't share Obama's opinions about Jews, I did side with those who said Cohen's article smacked of McCarthyism and racism.

At this point, there is no further excuse for asking Obama about Farrakhan, and to do so is no longer understandable. It's just plain racist.

Yes, Farrakhan has a terribly ugly side. He's a bigot. But he is a more complicated figure in the black community (where his good and bad sides are understandably weighed a bit differently than I would), and it is unfair to ask anyone to denounce the entirety of his being. It is especially unfair now that Obama has made his own views crystal clear and even gone so far as to speak out specifically against antisemitism in the black community.

On the most basic level, Obama and Farrakhan have only two things in common. They're both black, and they're both opposed to racism against blacks. To insist on an inability to distinguish between them based on just that is to insist that all blacks are alike. And that's just plain racist.

Drag against the occupation

Gotta highlight this, which comes to me via Engage:
A full dance floor in a South Tel Aviv nightclub, replete with its share of drag queens. Ostensibly another Friday night of gay men having a good time. But this is not an ordinary party of this sort. Palestinians and Jews are dancing together, the music is Arabic, several of the drag performances have a political content, and even the time of night - from the early evening until before midnight - is designed so the celebrants can get home at a reasonable hour without being asked too many questions.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Is "Israel" the same as "World Jewry"

Consider the statement, "World Jewry has a stranglehold on the American Congress." Most people with even a passing familiarity with antisemitism would consider that a typically antisemitic comment. On a scale of 1 to 100, it's pretty high up there. Keep in mind the idea of that scale and rate for yourself the following statements.

First, just a tiny, little change. "The international Jewish community has a stranglehold on the American Congress." It's really not much of a change in meaning, so, perhaps being generous we might call it a tiny bit less antisemitic.

"Zionists have a stranglehold on the US Congress." Probably worse than "The international Jewish community..."

"The Israel lobby has a stranglehold on the American Congress." It's not immediately clear to me (based on just the words themselves) that this statement is even meant to be any different in content than any of those above, except that it's meant to not be understood as antisemitic. But if it isn't immediately clear that the content is significantly different, shouldn't we be at least a little suspicious?

Yet, I think a lot of people would have immediately thought to themselves that the statement is fundamentally different. Mearsheimer and Walt put it this way in their famous article on the Israel lobby London Review of Books:
The bottom line is that AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress, with the result that US policy towards Israel is not debated there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world.
Well, they say "AIPAC" rather than "the Israel Lobby," but I don't think that's really so important. At once it's a more concretely defined object, but obviously less powerful than "organized Jewry" could be. And if we recognize that we ought not to say that organized Jewry controls Congress, why would we think that it makes so much more sense to say that a less powerful group has that much power. Ultimately, M&W rely on the full "Israel lobby" to try to explain AIPAC's power, anyway, so it becomes the same with a simple, logical substitution. (The phrase "de facto agent for a foreign government" is also really problematic, but we'll save that for another time.) A lot of people wrote that no matter how much antisemites might enjoy and profit from Mearsheimer and Walt's work, it's clearly not antisemitic.

But how can this be clearly not antisemitic if the only difference is a (superficial?) substitution of a few words. In a world where Canadian can be used to mean "black", how can we ever think that substituting just a few words could change meaning so much as to render such a statement objectively and unquestionably not antisemitic? Instead, I think it would serve us well to recognize that Israel often functions in the same was as "World Jewry" used to within antisemitism. So, if substituting one for the other makes a statement blatantly conspiratorial, we should probably be especially aware of the possibility.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tony Greenstein banned from Indymedia UK for being Jewish

What's happened to Tony Greenstein, now banned from Indymedia UK, is a lot like what's happened to me. Expect more Jews to be discriminated against in the future.
Greenstein has been the most high-pitched and abusive of those who say that when AWL argues against left anti-semitism, we are just belabouring an invented straw man, and de facto helping the ruling circles in Israel.

Well, now Greenstein himself - a vehement supporter of boycotting Israel, etc. etc. - has fallen foul of people on the left who take even further the idea that Israel is a nation so bad that it cannot be allowed to continue to exist.

He has been banned from the left-wing Internet network Indymedia for protesting - obstreperously, to be sure, but that is the right way to protest in such cases - at Indymedia carrying anti-semitic comments from ex-Israeli musician and SWP associate Gilad Atzmon.
(It may be useful to read How Indymedia UK Lost Its Way and became a safe haven for Anti-Semitism at Socialist Unity for some background.)

Tony Greenstein's case is sharper than mine, but I'd like to draw connections between them and view them together. It's useful to note both a case in Britain with an explicitly leftist site banning an anti-Zionist Jew together with a case in the US with a mainstream site recently bought by MSNBC banning a left-Zionist Jew. I think that helps to suggest the scope of the problem is or is becoming both global and mainstream.

The debate over at Engage has questioned whether Tony Greenstein is worth defending. [Update: The page has been accidentally deleted. Here is a google cache of the discussion page.] The general response has been that he is in this case because he is being attacked for his Jewishness. In that way, it is an attack on every Jew. If attacking Indymedia while refusing to defend Greenstein means that we should defend him as a Jew without defending any of his arguments, I would agree. His venomoous anti-Zionism only serves to demonstrate how outrageous his banning is. But to defend Jews against antisemitism is to defend Tony Greenstein here.

On the other hand, a friend suggested that in some way Greenstein's case is worse. It is certainly sharper and more obvious because Greenstein himself is someone few Jews could be comfortable with. In fact, a commenter at Engage quotes Greenstein:
Tony Cliff said many years ago "If i saw a bunch of skinheads beating up a rabbi , i'd beat up the skinheads , then i'd beat up the rabbi"
In other words defend the rabbi against an antisemitic attack , then beat up the rabbi for being a rabbi.
And Gilad Atzmon, whom Greenstein attacked for being an antisemite, is a prominent antisemite so that the stakes are a bit higher there. It's like saying a white supremacist is a multiculturalist because he doesn't want to participate in a lynching. But we cannot allow some border where the inclusion of antisemitic stereotypes or the exclusion of Jews is acceptible so long as it isn't too extreme. It would be like saying McCarthyism is okay if people really are a bit pink. Or allowing "There's blacks, and there's n*****s. I only hate n*****s."

While Greenstein was surely obstreperous -which is not only his right (in the circumstances) but also his style regardless- it was made quite clear to me that my being disrespectful to others, for which I was banned from Newsvine, amounted to nothing more than to use the word "antisemitism."


I recently linked to Benny Morris's article on how history is used to demonize Jews. The same sort of thing happens often with the present. Consider the case of the IAEA reports and the US National Intelligence Estimate when it comes to Iran. So much contextualization and minimization (in the name of not demonizing anyone) gets used to demonize Israel and Jews who are worried about the very real threat posed by Iran. Instead of dealing with the facts of the matter, Jews are accused of acting out of that "2,000 year old panic" (as it's described in Gregor von Rezzori's Memoirs of an Anti-Semite recently reviewed by Christopher Hitchens on the occassion of its re-release). The facts, as related in a New York Times article here at Middle East Analysis: the IAEA did write that Iran cooperated -in part, but not on some particularly concerning matters. And the NIE report not only concluded that Iran had been, at some point, working on nuclear weapons; it concluded that Iran was still working on part of its nuclear program:
Since the intelligence report came out, America's allies have spun all kinds of theories about the internal machinations that led to it, including that intelligence analysts were boxing Mr. Bush in, preventing him from taking military action against Iran's nuclear sites.

Officials who worked on the report have denied any such intent. The director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, told Congress he now regretted how the intelligence estimate was presented, saying it failed to emphasize that Iran was moving ahead with the hardest part of any bomb project: producing the fuel.

Thich Naht Hahn dharma talk

Being Peace, .mp3, via Zencast

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are you now, or have you ever been Jewish? (I mean Zionist, of course.)

Malcolm Hoenlein has been telling everyone who will listen that something dangerous is happening among the American elite. A short version of his view holds that pro-Israel positions among American Jews are being delegitimized by being defined as "anti-American."
Of course, even if most Americans disagree, it is hardly un-American to hold an unpopular political opinion in America. In fact, protection for unpopular, political views is (theoretically) enshrined in our most basic values.

Yet it happens to be that most Americans happen to hold pro-Israel views. So what does it mean when the views of Jews are seen as illigitate even as they coincide with the views of most Americans? It is the Jewishness of those Jews holding such opinions that is being attacked.

Via Orthodox Anarchist, who also expresses concern about the rumors about Dennis Kucinich and AIPAC:
Before the rumor started circulating that Kucinich threw AIPAC out of his office, his Congressional campaign had no cash on hand. The following week, after the rumor had burned through the web leaving a trail of anti-Jewish outpourings in its wake, he had $4 million.
Among people donating to Kucinich, of course, there's likely to be a repudiation of all Americans holding pro-Israel views. But are most Americans getting called un-American for it?


If people are going to quote Benny Morris, they'd at least better get it right. (Once again, via Jeff Weintraub, who himself offers a tip of the hat to Tom Carew.)
In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29th, 1947 (No. 181), they launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.
Not being an historian myself, I'm reluctant to criticize Morris on specific grounds, though I do have questions about what he says. But I have no problem criticizing those who would quote him in dishonest ways. While he did play a major role in revising the common historiography of the creation of the state of Israel, too many people take his work for far more than it is. I have seen people site him, exaggerating that "there were no Arab radio broadcasts urging the Arabs to flee en masse" by not acknowledging that:
on the local level, in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa's Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to stay, to no avail.
The point here is not to deny the suffering of the Palestinians, but to avoid demonizing Israelis (or, actually, "Zionists"). People who misquote Morris often argue that all Palestinians' actions are forgiven in the context of the "Zionist" original sin of establishing Israel. Such an argument, though, assumes the "Zionists" were responsible for everything that happened, but they were not the only people capable of acting. Not only were the Palestinians capable of action (and not just animalistic, reflexive reaction), but the "Zionists" did not have absolute control over how history happened.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

like many Americans I've ridden in a car before

Okay, so this is old. It's new to me, and it's funny enough to make sure you don't miss it. Lee Smith on Mearsheimer and Walt (via Jeff Weintraub and Engage):
Walt and Mearsheimer's article explains how "the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics," which I agree with, because like many Americans I've ridden in a car before and I believe that the ability to get people and things from one place to another is a big part of successful domestic politics. It's not entirely clear that the authors of this really long article have ever been in a car before, because when they're talking about domestic politics, they're not talking about cars, or the economy or even our military, but "the activities of the 'Israel Lobby.'"

So, how much credit should these guys get for staking out a "realist" position on US Middle Eastern policy that does not account for the existence of cars, or something even bigger than a Hummer – the Arabian Peninsula? Unless they were drunk, they shouldn't get any at all. If they were drunk, kudos to them for no spelling mistakes! – none that I could find anyway. Maybe they were smoking some ace reef because Walt and Mearsheimer see spectacular forces at work everywhere in US regional policy – and a hangover would surely explain why they totally forgot about Saudi Arabia. Ouch! But that still doesn't make them realists, just big partiers who can type well when they're bombed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

White supremacists getting aggressive

White supremacists getting aggressive, going onto the blog of two anti-racist professors to spout their stuff. There was an article in Inside Higher Ed on Kevin MacDonald, who is a white supremacist and a tenured professor at Cal State Long Beach. The post at racismreview, a good one, shifts the question away from the limits of academic freedom (a difficult question since tenure is specifically designed to protect unpopular views) to one of how the system allowed him to get tenure. I pointed out that Kevin MacDonald is easy for everyone to hate, and that the controversy over him now might be timed to make up for a lack of serious response to Mearsheimer and Walt, Norman Finkelstein, and others.

The rest of the comments - which are what I'm trying to point to - are mostly white supremacists attacking critical theory as Jewish.
I read Culture of Critique and it was solid. It makes a very specific point — namely that Jewishly motivated actors did bad scholarship and their real motives were Jewish interests, such as Franz Boas. Franz Boas earlier in his career wrote things that would be considered “racist” nowadays, but then he realized that this went against the Jewish agenda and made a complete 180.

Also, the Frankfurt School was a whacky hate cult against a perfectly normal culture, and their “scholarship” was incredibly shoddy and pseudo. Look at “The Authoritarian Personality.” What a bunch of poppycock! Thank heavens someone like McDonald came along and exposed it for what it is.

Of course you guys don’t like that — those are your intellectual and ideological parents. But the Frankfurt School, like “Critical Theory” is not scholarship but rather a hate campaign of psychological warfare against white people and the civilization we built.

Multiculturalism is the Judaism of fools and scoundrels.

The thing, though - I have no fear of someone like this. That kind of message is never going to be mainstreamed, even if someone clever and controlled is able to present it in a polite sort of way. It's too obviously hateful. Mearsheimer and Walt might be less hateful, but they're already on the NYT Bestseller list. It's only by attaching that sort of message about "Jewish power" to an anti-war or otherwise "progressive" agenda that it'll ever gain any traction. That's a big part of the reason why I think we should be focusing more on left antisemitism.

Update: A slighly more polite debate on the same topic over at the SPLC's Hatewatch blog.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Who should be polite?

Naamen Gobert Tilahun has a wonderful article on The Privilege of Politeness, to go along with one of my favorite articles, Be Quiet and Listen by Christopher Christopher MacDonald-Dennis). Tilahun writes:
When someone is accused of racism/prejudice and they don’t want to address the concern or even think about it, well then the POC accusing is too loud, too angry. But that ignores the fact that we have every right to be loud and angry. If I were to say something sexist/classist/racist/ablist/etc. I would not expect my friends to say “Well I’m offended by what you said and let’s have a calm discussion of why.” (especially with my friends) I would expect their first and most visceral reaction to be “Listen up, what you just said is fucked up and you better research and correct yourself!” Hell, I’d expect the same response from strangers because I don’t expect them to teach me or help me work through my unconscious prejudices. If I have some fucked up unconscious thoughts it’s my job to break it down and deal with it, no one else’s. Sure there are friends I could turn to but I don’t expect people to help me. For clarifications sake in my mind asking friends for help is not the same as expecting people to teach you. A white friend coming up to me and saying ‘Hey I’m writing this story with a black main character can you read it over?’ is completely different from putting some prejudiced writing/thoughts/beliefs out there and expecting me to be nice and teach you when I run across it. It’s the expectation not the asking that is privilege.
And it is privilege. And it is an excuse to discriminate against or exclude people of color or Jews or any already oppressed group while falsely claiming it isn't because of their racial or ethnic status but because of their "impolite" reaction. If someone tells you what you just said is racist, that "impolite" reaction has everything to do with their race!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Recent expressions of antisemitism

Not too long ago, I came across yet another claim that antisemitism is pretty much over with. That would make it the only prejudice to ever disappear as a result of getting bad. Perhaps, then the answer to all sorts of other prejudices would be to have an Inquisition? Or an outbreak of pogroms? Or, a Holocaust? Well, no.

Slavery and lynchings didn't lead to the end of racism and the Holocaust didn't lead to the end of antisemitism. It is not relegated to the fringes where it's safely contained. While overt expressions were hushed, the same ideas that underlie it are still prevalent in society. And that means it's still around.

The CST in Britain just released a report on antisemitic incidents in Britain from 2007. It's a .pdf, so I'll also link to the post at Harry's Place which picks out a few statistics. The numbers were slightly down from 2006, which Mark Gardner of the CST attributes to a decline in hate mail while the number of violent assaults were actually up. That the numbers were down was attributed to a lack of a "Lebanon War-type trigger" in the Middle East, but that's likely to mean bad things for 2008 starting with the attention on Gaza. And future trigger events, whether they relate to the Middle East or expand to domestic politics in Western countries, are inevitable. Jews, of course, have been blamed for more than just wars in the past - and that might be starting.

While hate crime statistics are rarely very solid, recall that a 2006 study found Jews in Britain far more likely than Muslims to be victims. And while American statistics on hate crimes are harder to interpret, they suggest the same thing, with Jews victims of over 65% of religiously motivated hate crimes while Muslims were victims of almost 12%. In part because Jews are not recognized as a distinct ethnic group in statistics and many Islamophobic attacks may have been listed as racially-motivated, in part because there's likely to be different willingness to report crimes among the two demographic groups - mostly because there's no need or use in trying to say who's got it worse - I'd caution against arguing that one group faces worse oppression. But two groups can face oppression at the same time. Duh! Yet time and again, I've been told that Jews aren't oppressed or that Muslims have it worse and so we shouldn't worry about antisemitism.

So here are some more links I've collected over just the past few days:

The Guardian jumped to conclusions about who killed a member of Hezbollah. Irrational anti-Zionism/anti-Israelism/antisemitism? Whichever, I'm not particularly happy about it. Yaacov Lozowick has a dissection of the headline well worth reading.

It's not so hushed anymore in Poland (even though there aren't many Jews there):
WARSAW - This was not a pogrom, but it was close. Sunday's incident in Krakow at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was rife with overtones of hatred. "The Jews are attacking us! We need to defend ourselves," shouted Prof. Bogoslav Wolniewicz, to stormy applause.

Ben Cohen writes about the links being formed joining part of the left to the far-right, discussing specifically events in Italy. The same is happening in the US, with Mearsheimer and Walt providing a high profile (and cover, as everyone is too intimidated to denounce their work in strong terms).

Unsurprisingly, the Iranians make the list.

A minor tv celebrity "sent her former Israeli-born employer, Ami James, an autographed photo some months ago bearing a swastika and the invective 'burn in hell Jewbag.'"

Although it was a discussion about immigration, not antisemitism, Lou Dobbs dissed the ADL. (Of course, if you're of the opinion that the Final Solution provided an ironic final solution to antisemitism, that wouldn't bother you, but then you might be the sort of person who thinks Jews abuse the memory of the Holocaust for political gain.)

And a blatantly antisemitic hoax about AIPAC trying to bribe Kucinich -taken as proof of Jewish power- is circulating the internet, including DailyKos and Portland Indymedia. According to the DailyKos posting, "Kucinich now faces several well-financed primary challengers for his seat in Congress," and this is implied to be the quick work of an organization with power quite beyond that of any other I've ever heard of.

Of course, I'm probably blissfully unaware of a few more cemetary desecrations and other incidents. And, of course while the guy recently arrested in Brooklyn might have been a fringe figure, that doesn't mean he couldn't have killed people. So, yeah, the ADL is relevant. And people are right to worry about the effects of Mearsheimer and Walt's thesis of Jewish power.

Updates: Vancouver public library to showcase blatant antisemite (who often simply substitutes the word Khazar for "Jew" like some people use Canadian for "black"). And, yes, the antisemitism of groups like Hamas (an interesting video), does count as antisemitism in the world. Another sampling, of a different character can be found here. And, you know, I missed the significance of part of the Dennis Kucinich rumor: supposedly, Pelosi was with AIPAC as they tried to get Kucinich to drop his efforts to impeach Cheney. Because, of course, Jews are running both branches of government in an orchestrated fashion.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Anti-Islamic arson in Tennessee

The Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee was set on fire this weekend, after it was spray painted with swastikas and white supremacist slogans. On a positive note, community leaders were quick to speak out in clear terms against Islamophobia, and
"This is the first hate crime we have observed here in Middle Tennessee," said A.K.M. Fakhruddin, former president of the Islamic Center of Nashville.
Three suspects, who may face federal hate crimes charges, have been arrested.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Italian Police silence hate site

Italian authorities have taken down an antisemitic hatesite which listed the names of scholars who had signed a petition against boycotting Israel. The site incorrectly stated that all of the signers were Jewish.

(via Engage)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ed Husain on Speaking of Faith

Since becoming a Buddhist, my understanding of faith has grown from rejection to become something.. complicated. And Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett has become a radio show I love. Today, she interviewed Ed Husain, a former radical Islamist in Britain. The webpage includes an extended audio version of the show itself as well as other resources. See also this entry on the new Speaking of Faith staff blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Yes, DAMMIT, Left antisemitism is real

Over at Socialist Unity (h/t to Engage), Andy Newman writes:
For example, this Tuesday in the pub after our local Stop the War Coalition meeting there was a discussion about the US presidential elections, and one well respected socialist activist expressed the opinion that Israel decided who the US president would be, and a member of the Green Party agreed that Jews still controlled most of the world’s money. Of course other people, including myself, challenged these views.

The individuals concerned would be horrified to be called anti-Semitic. Indeed I am sure they are not prejudiced at all against individual Jews, but they have bought into anti-Semitic narratives. The worrying thing is that so much of the left seems to ignore this problem.

That was at least challenged. Not long ago Duncan Money wrote:
Anti-Semitism does exist on the left and for any anti-fascist this is disturbing. The first demo I ever went on, a couple of years back, was a pretty boring counter-demonstration against the National Front and one of the first things I noticed was that on the march was a middle-aged woman carrying a placard reading 'Israel stop controlling Britain and America!' accompanied with a swastika and an Israeli flag. Here we were marching against fascists and no-one challenged her.

On top of that, there were stories of "peace" protests in France and Britain with groups breaking off to beat up Jews. The infamous posters below from anti-war rallies (documented by zombietime)

And, of course, historical examples abound. Nazi control of Germany did not develop from a far-right movement becoming mainstream. It was far more complicated than that and involved people on the left (or who moved from the left) who were committed to the Nazis. In the Boer War, Left antisemitism was key to the anti-war movement. And let's not forget Stalin, whose antisemitic propaganda resounds today.

Call it a "new antisemitism," or the same old antisemitism. Call these people fascists successfully pretending to be on the left. Or call it antisemitism that pervades society from right to left. Make a point of saying that you still think right-wing antisemitism is more dangerous (even though I'd disagree with you on that for a few reasons). In any case, I don't care much about how you want to conceptualize that, so long as you acknowledge that antisemitism exists on the Left. It's prominent on the Left. And it's a problem.

At the march Duncan was talking about, an antifascist protest!, no one thought it was enough of a problem to confront that women who felt that Jews control the US and Britain. That, right there is classic antisemitism, and when antifascists are ignoring it, we have a problem.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

race and class slurs

Check out this post at Rachel's Tavern on the word cracker. I've seen a remarkable willingness of self-described, allegedly "anti-racist" folks who are always screaming how evil "Zionists" are to use words like redneck. Even alleged Trotskyists. (These "rednecks" are a big part of that whole working class thing). These words are slurs used against the poor, and no one dedicated to equality of any kind should be using them.

I have to admit that I, like a lot of Americans, hadn't put much thought into such words - until a friend of mine looked at me funny for using one. I figured that out pretty quick once it was pointed out to me. But it might be fair to say that someone who gets a perverse thrill from using words like redneck hasn't been very serious about egalitarianism for very long.

Antisemitism cannot be construed as criticism of Israel

Ben Cohen has an article regarding the inversions Arun Gandhi and John Mearsheimer have attempted, wherein it is Jews who oppressed Gandhi by his antisemitic (and essentialist) posting on Jewish identity. His is probably smarter than my article, but I'd like to highlight the title Engage chose in their post linking to it. I've used that title here: Antisemitism cannot be construed as criticism of Israel.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Real Palestinians' opinions

There's little recognition over here of the range of views in Palestinian society. Right-wing Islamophobes and racists pretend that all Palestinians are terrorists (or perhaps will concede that some merely support terrorism) while left-wing "anti-Zionists" pretend that all Palestinians are saints who support terrorism because it's saintly. I'm afraid the willingness to see Palestinians as supporting a two-state solution (they do) has disappeared lately. At one point, I could swear people understood that.

Two interviews (via Guide to the Perplexed) with Palestinians Sari Nusseibeh and Bassed Eid, from New Society: Harvard College Student Middle East Journal, can help people to understand the real views of real Palestinians.

Sari Nusseibeh:
What is Hamas? It is a virtual construct. Behind Hamas are indi-vidual human beings. Now individual human beings are open sys-tems. In other words, one day they may adopt the ideology of this virtual construct and another day they might adopt something else. Hamas is itself, full stop. It believes, for instance, in the liberation of all of Palestine, in the creation of an Islamic state. The question to ask is who is the person who adopts those beliefs and is such a person also somebody who will continue holding those beliefs. My feeling is that that is not the case. I think a majority of Palestinians are prepared to accept a two-state solution based on 1967 lines, East Jerusalem as a capital, compensation for refugees, all those things. If the Palestinians are given this offer, they will take it.

Bassed Eid:
We are having to face the consequences of our actions over the past seven years. In my opinion, the Palestinians totally lost their way during the past seven years. Things will get worse if we continue in the same way. We will have to change our direction.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Arun Gandhi has been sacrificed?

After his initial insult -placing a "Jewish identity" overly tied to the Holocaust at the center of a global culture of violence- and his failure to really apologize, I predicted:
Now, surely there will be arguments from the "anti-Zionists" complaining that the "Zionists" have stifled Arun Gandhi.
No surprise at all that this has happened, or that it uses more of the standard tropes of antisemitism to defend antisemitism. Not such a surprise, either that it isn't just those "anti-Zionists" who keep Nazi flags in their closets. John Mearsheimer, for instance. He's received a lot of polite criticism, savaging his arguments at the most basic levels while denying that he is an antisemite, as he campaigns against "The Israel lobby," which he claims has a "stranglehold" on Congress. Readers of this blog will know that I read that as a complaint about Jewish power that's inherently antisemitic regardless of how politely it is said. Mearsheimer says that there were many important points Gandhi raised that aren't being dealt with by Gandhi's critics. For instance, as paraphrased in an article in Outlook India (to me via Judeosphere):
it is widely recognized that many Israelis and American Jews use the memory of the Holocaust for political purposes and that Israel adopts violent strategies in the Arab world.
No, John. Among ordinary people, it is widely recognized that the Holocaust was an incredible tragedy that, a mere 60 years later, is still worth remembering. It is only people like Mearsheimer who respond to people's genuine fears by accusing them of being duplicitous. Whether such charges derive from the classic stereotype of scheming Jews is hard to say, but it certainly echoes them quite closely.

And wouldn't you be afraid if there were people like John Mearsheimer on the New York Times bestseller list arguing that you are somehow silencing them? (The implication of that argument, as we've seen historically, is eliminationist; though Mearsheimer, Gandhi, et al. haven't thought through the implications.) That an argument so clearly wrong could sell itself so well certainly makes me scared.

On the other hand, while it is disappoiniting, it's not very surprising that some of this has come from Arun Gandhi himself (again, via Judeosphere).
There is no escaping the fact that the language I used and the generalisations I made in an article that I wrote hurriedly and did not revise were the main cause of the controversy. In addition, of course there are a strong group of radical, right-wing Jewish people who don’t entertain any criticism of Israel at all.
Here, we have the insinuation that anyone who complains too loudly about antisemitism is a "radical, right-wing" member of the Israel lobby, playing up their reaction for political gain. Well, I'm not - I'm just offended by antisemitism.
I think the Jewish lobby is strongest in the US and therefore the reaction was stronger here than it would have been anywhere else.
(Oh, whoops. Not the Israel lobby as I had said, but the Jewish lobby.) This is a perfect example of what I termed double bind antisemitism. The fact that Jews act against antisemitism is taken as proof of Jewish power to push an even more antisemitic world-view. Gandhi rightly stepped down from his position - then argues that he has "sacrificed himself" to the Zionist Lions - neatly inverting the power relationship to suggest that it is Jews oppressing the rest of the world.
I was told that the university was under tremendous pressure. There was a possibility that some funding would be cut off. I thought that the institution is greater than the individual and so I was willing to sacrifice myself so that the university and the institute did not suffer.
Sure! I certainly wouldn't give money to an institute for nonviolence that was led by someone so willing to demonize Jews. Even if I weren't so offended by antisemitism, that sort of language goes against all the principles of nonviolence.

Here's what I didn't predict, though. Arun Gandhi, John Mearsheimer, et al, are using these arguments despite acknowledging that the original source of the problem was that Arun Gandhi's statement was genuinely antisemitic. Without denying that the Arun Gandhi's post was antisemitic, they claim that this is an example of a Jewish lobby stifling criticism of Israel - Gandhi portraying himself as valiantly "sacrificing." That's quite a trick, when even acknowledged antisemitism is defended by blaming the Jews.

This trick of antisemitism, to always turn it around to blame the victims, is part of the reason I think antisemitism tends to grow so quickly when it takes root.