Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Left-cult of actionism

Jürgen Habermas is certainly more worthy of citation that Jonah Goldberg. Russell Berman writes an interesting article from a conservative position in the latest Democratiya, "From ‘Left-Fascism’ to Campus Anti-Semitism: Radicalism as Reaction," in which he cites Habermas and others. Berman, of the right-wing Hoover Institute, might be aiming to mainstream Goldberg/Horowitz, but I think he accomplishes something anyway. I distrust his attacks on "a growing illiberalism in the academic world" as poorly targeted. But many of his comments indeed seem to be critiques from the left of an ornate and insubstantial Left that is more liberal -in the sense which Leftists use as a rejoinder- than liberals.

Neither fascism nor antisemitism are exclusively right-wing affairs. No prejudice has ever failed to find a home on the Left while it pervades society, despite the Left's insistence that it is above and apart from the society of which it is the Left, but beyond that there have always been left roots of antisemitism. Almost as soon as Marx wrote "On the Jewish Question," antisemitism took form as Bebel's "socialism of fools."

And, despite attempts to describe fascism as Bush's style of corporate cronyism (a critique that misses the point of the fascist's favored analogy to the corporation, which focused on hierarchy and leaders and deplored the ability of corporate heads to bully a weak leader), fascism developed as a third-way critique of both Capitalism and Communism. Under the same circumstances as Social Democracy.

What Russell Berman (no relation to Sheri, I'm sure) says of Habermas is that:
...he expressed concern about the movement's tendency [in the 60s] to combine an indifference toward consequences with an oblivious actionism, as if the decision to act at all were always more important than any consideration of consequences.
This might fail as a complete description of fascism, but it is, I think, a key aspect of fascism's appeal. To do something. The urge to do something will make people do anything.

This is a key argument of the Boycott Israel movement, and while it may not be fascistic as such (the parallel to the UCU's disclaimer that criticism of Israel is not antisemitic "as such" is entirely intended) I find it troubling for exactly the same reasons I would under other circumstances. Something, we are repeatedly told, must be done - and that something is apparently not the One Voice movement, the Seeds of Peace program, or any other cooperative project for peace. Nothing that would require engaging with people who disagree, diluting the boycotters purity.

Those who disagree, even just a little, may be cast out of the Left. (Can we understand "the Left" here as some post-national replacement for the nation?) Anyone who claims that the situation is complicated and requires a measured response is denounced in terms I doubt we could distinguish from fascistic anti-intellectualism.

So everything productive, and there are productive things to be done, is illegitimated as by an overdetermined anti-theory. What "must be done," instead, is to make Israel a "pariah state." And, following immediately, pariahs of all the Jews who support the existence of Israel, whether or not they support the supposed crimes (I say supposed, because the crime that motivates this anti-theory seems always to be an alibi to cirticize Israel's mere existence) that the boycotters claim to be their motivation.
In other words, Baker levels the charge that Jews cannot be, or have difficulties being, reliable and trustworthy anti-Zionists. Noam Chomsky has faced similar accusations: his career argument against Israel as an agent of Washington now faces denunciations from more radical anti-Zionists as a white-washing camouflage for the reverse hypothesis, the hypothetical Israeli domination of Washington, which is nothing more than the colorful antisemitic fantasy of conspiratorial Jewish world control. [13]
Indeed, there is something fascistic about denouncing the Jewish "internal Other" so, creating a standard of assimilation that is ultimately impossible. The Différance remains. More importantly, when we recognize that many boycotters are not as antisemitic as Baker, defining Différance remains in the control of gentiles.

Obama, the progressive patriot

Jeff Weintraub and Andrei Markovits have written a fairly remarkable article about Barack Obama's campaing at the Huffington Post. Also available at Weintraub's place, with a bit of additional stuff.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hagee II

I'm willing to call Hagee's dispensationalist views antisemitic. Despite being among the most philo-semitic expressions of dispensationalism, it's problematic to view Jews as role players in your worldview. A philosemitism that reduces, that leads a gentile to tell me what how I should think and feel as a Jew. But, with that said, the criticism of Hagee hasn't always seemed sincere. Often, it's been kinda funny. How many of those gentiles who are vocal in criticizing Hagee's antisemitism can lay claim to standing up to neo-Nazis the way he has.

Hell, I've found plenty of these "liberals" endorsing Holocaust deniers and apologizing for blatant bigots. Not to offer a pass to Hagee, but to call on others to be more consistent in challenging antisemitism when it comes from the left, here's what Hagee has said. The quote is taken from Shmuel Rosner (unfortunately, no more direct link - scroll down):

What has been disappointing has been to see my life's work - the great passion of my life ? mischaracterized and attacked. I have dedicated my life to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the State of Israel. In taking a stand for Israel I have received death threats from anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, and I've had the windows of my car blown out beneath the windows of the rooms in which my children slept. To hear people who know nothing about me or my life's work claim that I somehow excuse the Holocaust is simply heartbreaking.

Let me be clear -- to assert that I in any way condone the Holocaust or that monster Adolf Hitler is the worst of lies. I have always condemned the horrors of the Holocaust in the strongest of terms. But even more importantly, my abhorrence of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism has never stopped with mere words.

I have devoted most of my adult life to ensuring that there will never be a second Holocaust. I have worked tirelessly to eliminate the sin of anti-Semitism from the Christian world and to ensure the survival of the State of Israel.

The fact is that all people of faith have had to wrestle with the question of why a sovereign God would allow evil in the world. After Auschwitz, this question became more urgent than ever.

Many people simply could not explain how a loving God would permit such horrors. After the Holocaust, they abandoned their faith in a sovereign God who intervenes here on earth. While I disagree with this conclusion, I would never denigrate those who arrived at such a conclusion.

But I and many millions of Christians and Jews came to a different conclusion. We maintained our faith in a sovereign God who allows both the good and the evil that is in the world. We therefore search the scriptures for an explanation for that evil. We believe that the words of the Hebrew prophets such as Jeremiah may help us understand the mind of God. But our search for an explanation for evil must never be confused with an effort to excuse it.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I often get a weird feeling when people talk about John Hagee. The exception is Rebecca Lesses over at Mystical Politics. Or rapper, Y-Love. But when someone like Sunny Hundal does it, it can bug me.

I don't mean to pick on Hundal, but I'm partly more aware of what he says because I listen more to and appreciate his work more than a lot of other people. His article is far less troubling than it could have been, and is based particularly on a talk2action post that I appreciate wholeheartedly. But I do think what I say is relevant to his article. He doesn't have the same record talk2action has.

Hagee is illiberal in a million ways, all deserving of criticism. He's Islamophobic and homophobic. He's perversely anti-Catholic. He expresses a Christian worldview that's fundamentally intolerant. He blamed Hurricane Katrina on the immorality of the people of New Orleans. It's no surprise now that he blames the Holocaust, in part, on the Jews. So do the fundamentalist Jewish (and anti-Zionist) group Natura Kartei (known for participating in Iran's Holocaust Denial festival). It's a consequence of a fundamentalism that deals simplistically with the matter of a benevolent G-d allowing bad things to happen to good people. Right-wing fundamentalists like Hagee and NK, simply refuse to accept that these were good people in an essential way.

Hagee is more powerful and important in this world than NK, so it makes sense to pick on him. And when Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was attacked, it makes sense to point to Hagee, whose endorsement John McCain had sought out. Hagee should be attacked. And McCain should suffer politically for his association.

But why do gentiles pick, of all Hagee's sins, his antisemitism to highlight? Sometimes it goes further than merely highlighting his antisemitism, so that Hagee is used as a weapon against Jews. I think there's a hidden assumption about the role of Jews in politics -that antisemitic theme of Jewish power- that needs to be unpacked. In any case, it places Jews at the center of politics, promoting such a view of Jewish power.

Though I think relatively few Jews actually like Hagee, some do because of his hawkish views on Israel. His beliefs about Israel stem some both from honest repentance for Christian antisemitism and from a view of Jews as pawns in a Christian apocalyptic story. Usually, only the apocalyptic side is mentioned. In a hostile world, Jews often feel the need to seek protection from a less immediate threat, and some find Hagee to be less immediately threatening than some of the folks who hate Hagee. Hagee offers at least the promise of protection tinged with a patronizing, antisemitic fantasy that's difficult to take seriously. Many of those who attack him have a fantasy of dismantling Israel that's difficult not to take seriously.

It doesn't suggest to me that I've an ally in the fight against antisemitism when gentiles attack Hagee's antisemitism. It makes me feel used, for someone else's political agenda. Like antisemitism is worth fighting just because it's a weapon against the right (a right identified with Jews). At a time when Jews are feeling particularly abandoned by the Left, it's especially hurtful. It's an asterisk at the end of "We care about antisemitism, too" that belies the statement.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

War is Peace.

A dove and an AK-47.

It's one thing to be against the Occupation. It's another to support violence in the service of ending the occupation. It's entirely another to support violence in the name of peace.

Ignorance is Strength.

Advice from a Bu-Mu to the New Atheists

Religion doesn’t poison everything. Self-righteousness does. Self-righteousness is something that Hitchens and his boys have a heap of in their anti-God books.

It might be more productive for hardcore atheists to put aside questions of God’s existence and explore the question of what exactly is this self that’s getting all righteous. And to do so with the same spirit of scientific inquiry that generates their very reasonable skepticism in the concept of a supreme authority.
As a BuJu (which I prefer to Jubu, which means "housewife" in Korean), I appreciate this advice.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This is my Private Life on the Outside

I've spent a good bit of the day in the time honored tradition, popular among both Jews and antisemites, of looking for hints of Jewishness in a particular Jew's artwork. When the artist is highly assimilated, though, this can be maddening. Perhaps what seems to be Jewish really comes from some other influence. In fact, many of the more common themes, like the performance of normality, are also common in the works of gays and almost inherent in any artistic sensibilities.
Christian nation, make us alright
Put us through the filter and make us pure and white
My mind has wandered from the flock you see
And the flock has wandered away from me
Let's talk of family values while we sit and watch the slaughter
Hypothetical abortions on imaginary daughters
The white folks think they're on the top ask any proud white male
A million years of evolution, we get Danny Quayle
Even when there are more or less explicit references (often to not being Christian rather than to being Jewish), we can't even be sure that it isn't Jewishness serving as a metaphor for alienation. All we can be certain of is that the themes could stem from a Jewish identity. That uncertainty, tentativeness, like my 'whiteness,' almost becomes the very mark of Jewishness. Sometimes there's an attempt to transcend assimilation by reaching back for the ghosts of a Jewish heritage, but what to make of such a reconstructed Jewish identity?
"My strongest link to my Jewish background is musical," he said. "I found myself drawn to Russian and Eastern European musical roots. I got into Gypsy music, and I discovered that the difference between that and klezmer was very narrow. It's very much a part of my consciousness. I feel a kinship with Russia, even though I've never been there."
And if we find that missing piece, how will we feel if it reappears?
You can tell a dirty story
In the old conservatory...

But don't go in the basement!

You can make a scene
On the mezanene

But don't go in the basement!
And where does it get you to mimic those others? To risk overdoing it? Could we be the schlemiel whose every attempt at self-improvement (assimilation) is pathetic? Or worse?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dogs and Cats! Sleeping together!

David Duke not quite an Obamaniac

To me via ThreeWayFight. Add it to the stories of the BNP trying to downplay its antisemitism (an idiotic article from Tony G.) and what picture comes into view? I find it interesting how such far-right racists try to disguise their views, sometimes arguing amongst themselves over who is more threatening -- Woody Allen or Tony Shalhoub -- but it's really just trying to be politic.

Also, via TWF, a video on Russian fascism serves as a good reminder of what it is:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Distress due to anti-Semitism was the main reason his family left Russia, Google co-founder Sergey Brin told TheMarker in an interview over the weekend.
in Ha'aretz.

Romanticizing Minorities: Jews conceived in Power and Powerlessness

I recently wrote a little bit about (my experience learning about) the "Magical Mystical Negro." It's a pattern in which (1) blacks are relegated to secondary roles in Hollywood films (often, unfortunately, by liberal, Jewish filmmakers) and other literature at the same time (2) they seem to be exalted with patronizing stereotypes about how they're not subjected to the problems of modernity that whites face. In other words, they're portrayed as different from "us," reinforcing the very idea of essentialism. Because whites don't immediately recognize it as racist, the discussion (in which white privilege dominates the same as everywhere else) tends to get immediately sidetracked into attacks on blacks who are offended by the portrayal. While it does have its own particular features, the Magical, Mystical Negro is a subgenre of films that romanticize and relegate all sorts of oppressed people. (I'd like to direct your attention to Immortal Kickboxer.)

For Jews, the portrayal has often been one where 'Jewish exceptionalism' derives from oppression. Since liberals see Jews as simplistically white, we're not always relegated to supporting role, though those may be filled by Holocaust survivors or the Orthodox while an assimilated Jew plays the lead. But the oppression of Jews is seen as a good thing, producing the circumstances by which we can be a moral people. If we achieve any sort of power -by getting our own country, perhaps- these "exceptional Jews" become a Jewish cabal of world-dominating power. The Jewish Partisans, who fought the Nazis in the ghettos, are romanticized. The Zionists who actually saved lives, though, are demonized. Gandhi's call for Jews to commit suicide perverts morality to defend genocide.

It's not uncommon among contemporary leftists -who are vulnerable on this to the sorts of charges they regularly hurl at liberals- to thus emphasize a false solidarity with Jews while fighting against the pragmatic solution to oppression which Jews favor in overwhelming numbers.

This weekend, I attended Nextbook's Festival of Ideas on "Jews and Power". Leon Botstein admitted to finding the exceptional Jew an attractive figure (and one he believed to exist) that he would be sad to see disappear. Yet he did recognize that the ordinary, commonplace vulgarity of the contemporary Jew, made possible by Zionism, was for the best. If Israel is not the Jew among nations but a nation like any other that happens to be Jewish, good. Yet Aaron David Miller, as he suddenly realized in the middle of his conversation with Paul Berman that US support for Israel might actually disappear if we look further out than fifteen years, seemed ready to demand of Israel a moral standard worthy of support. (Perhaps I misread him, and he will come to a view like mine here. He's recording an interview with Charlie Rose today, so check it out.) But this is incompatible with the Zionist project as one creating a country like any other. It is, of course, good to expect of all nations, Israel included, moral behavior and to chastise them for their failures. I don't think anyone at the conference, speaker or attendee, would disagree with that. But that is a standard that falls far short of the existential demands commonly placed on Israel. No other nation is thus threatened with dissolution (though Germany was divided into East and West for decades) regardless of human rights records. The demands made upon Israel are too often that it not defend itself, that it never do the wrong thing. If Israel is to be a nation like any other -and not the exceptional Jew among nations made possible only by Jewish oppression- it must be understood that Israel will do the wrong thing from time to time. Perhaps often. Like any other nation. We can and should criticize it when it does without introducing or ignoring existential threats, without romanticizing Jews as victims.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

a few links

Engage has this great piece by Daniel Barneboim.

Phoebe Maltz caught this item from the NYT on a kosher soup kitchen.

Via the Trots, this rather long article on Kevin MacDonald. Btw, he used to be a leftist.

Via SPLC's Hatewatch, vandals hit a synagogue. Also, Detroit Neo-Nazis view the bad economy as good for recruitment.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Could you be a little more, ya know, 'Jewish'?

We're often told that the Zionist narrative is the dominant narrative here in the West. Certainly, the Nakba narrative hasn't generally -until now, perhaps- received as much attention. But what's often left out is the fact that there is another group, neither Jewish nor Palestinian, which has a strong role in determining Western discourse. In the US, the most dominant group is Christian (Episcopalian, actually) white men, but people forget that. It's as invisible as it is pervasive. So, no surprise that people have so many misconceptions about Israel. Shameful, but hardly less surprising is that so many of those ignorant people are the ones reporting the news about Israel.
Journalist Donna Rosenthal was inspired to write “The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land” when a CNN producer (her former journalism student) told her: “I’m confused, and our viewers are confused. We have footage of Jews who look like Arabs and Arabs who look like Jews. We have black Jews, and bearded 16th-century-looking Jews in black hats and sexy girls in tight jeans. Who in the world are these people?”
Great article at the Forward.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Locating anti-racists in the Four Wars Theory

A classic moderate view of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is that there are Four Wars going on simultaneously. Two are the wars by extremists on each side to destroy the other side outright. Two are the wars by moderates against the extremists on their own side. It is tempting to place radical anti-racists in the extremist camps simply because they react stridently to what they perceive as racism. We really ought not to do that. And, even, we ought not to place someone in the extremist camp because they argue against racism in any way. Even if they are extremists, that isn't why. If they say things that are racist against the other side, that's worth pointing out separately but not a reason to ignore their critique of racism directed against them.

Back before antisemitism seemed like an important topic to me, I came to the understanding that anti-racism requires taking complaints about racism seriously. That doesn't mean agreeing with those complaints at every turn -there are always going to be people who are frequently wrong. But even those people who are most often wrong usually deserve a great deal of sympathy and the attempt to understand them. In a broader perspective, I found that those who accused others of "playing the race card" (or some such) used these accusations as a way of not taking any criticism seriously unless they already agreed with it. A typical comment might have gone something like this:
How could Bruce Almighty be racist by making God a black man? You're just trying to get attention by playing the race card. We constantly get complaints that there aren't any positive roles for blacks in films. Well, not we've got God as a black man, and you're still calling it racist. What could be more positive? You only end up alienating whites and making real racism harder to fight with that.
By taking a stance that was open to hearing anti-racist critiques without dismissing them too quickly, I learned a great deal about racism in this society. For instance, the film Bruce Almighty followed in quite a tradition of using blacks in the role of the Magical, Mystical Negro: always the sidekick, present in the movie only to help the white protagonist. Though this part of the critique was often glossed over, the patronizing stereotype is based on a romantic view of the oppressed as primitive and uncorrupted by modern society. In that way, it's not just an example of a diffuse problem that's only recognizable when considering Hollywood's entire output (like the lack of black leading men), but goes further to promote a view of black people as different from "us" whites. Casting Morgan Freeman as God is making him the ultimate Magical, Mystical Negro, and that's something people should get upset about. But I can also see how a lot of people might miss that. Especially when the person trying to explain it doesn't have a PhD in How to Explain Racism to White Folk and is getting frustrated by dismissive and disrespectful comments about playing the race card.

I didn't get it at first, which is neither surprising nor disappointing to me. In fact, I liked the movie quite a lot, and if I saw it again, I'd probably still like a lot about it. (And I'm not saying everyone should burn their DVDs.) I could have easily ignored the whole thing and just said, "I'm one of the good guys here; I'm opposed to racism," and ignored the critique. But I'm glad I didn't. Naturally, I've learned a lot more about racism from cases where I initially disagreed with someone who said "that's racist" than from cases where I already agreed. As I read about racism and anti-racism, I saw that lots of other people reached much the same conclusion. Attempts to disrupt the critique of racism are seriously fucked up.

I still stick to that same logic when the topic is antisemitism. But, in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, few people do. The easiest way to defend one side against accusations of prejudice is to portray the other side as demonic. "The Palestinians are all terrorists, so it's not Israel's fault." Or, "the Israeli's are the new Nazis, so terrorism is justified." My side is nothing but saints, and you'd see that if you weren't evil incarnate. And if someone tries to take that weapon away from us, makes it harder for us, boy, do we get pissed and self-righteous.

But Islamophobia is not the right way to respond to antisemitism, and antisemitism is not the way to respond to Islamophobia. When someone says "that's the old 'Jews poisoning the wells' myth," the way to respond is not to dismiss them as a partisan nutjob. British journalist Sunny Hundal, who is typically a moderate on such issues, seems to think he's attacking the extremists when he writes about an article by journalist Johann Hari:
Unsurprisingly, the nutjobs who shriek anytime anything negative is written about Israel started screaming that Hari must be anti-semitic because he said Israel smelled like shit.
Actually, he's trying to disrupt an anti-racist critique. His ad hominem far too quickly dismisses Tom Gross's critique (cited in the second comment by unitalian), which highlights significant facts Hari had ignored. The upgrades to the sewage treatment plant weren't carried out because of security risks that Hamas is at least partly responsible for. Not, as Hari states, because Israel has deliberately allowed it to happen by refusing to allow construction materials into Gaza.

And if it's pointed out that this "shit" story achieves some of it's power because it echoes the poisoning the wells myth, it does. Those myths attributed disease -deaths for which blame was not easily apportioned- to Jewish conspiracy while also associating Jews with visceral disgust. Here, Hari attributes deaths where blame is not so easily apportioned, to a deliberate Israeli decision, while also associating them with the visceral disgust of shit. The echo is strong enough, at least, that one should be careful not to strip context away to make a point. Enough that one ought to avoid grandiose metaphors that may be more demonizing that illuminating.
All I can say is - well done to Hari for sticking to his guns.
Well, I feel like "sticking to his guns" means pointing them at me. How about if Hundal had pointed out how it means opening a new article:
In the US and Britain, there is a campaign to smear anybody who tries to describe the plight of the Palestinian people.
That's wrong. In fact, it strongly echoes antisemitic conspiracism by talking about an organized "campaign" (see Howard Jacobson). And further, it closes off the possibility of any discussion of antisemitism.

Whichever side our sympathies lay with, we have to tolerate critiques of prejudice on our side. Even among the moderates. And even by extremists on the other side. And even when we don't immediately agree with them. The Four Wars Theory presumes that the moderates can instantly make peace once the extremists are out of the way, but unfortunately, there is at least a little distance between them to close. There are racisms among both sides of moderates. I can appreciate the sentiment when Hundal writes:
The sad fact is, organisations like HR, Camera and nutjobs like Melanie Phillips only end up polarising people when it comes to this debate and in effect making real anti-semitism even harder to highlight because the phrase loses its meaning.
But he's wrong. Very wrong.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Antisemitic and Islamophobic conspiracies

I recently came across a somewhat old comment on the blog Liberal Conspiracy (via El Neuvo Pantano):
Furthermore, I find it amusing that when Muslims are associated with conspiracy theories to Islamicise Britain (as Melanie Phillips is frequently liable to claim) or ‘Eurabia’, we don’t see that level of condemnation [as we see of antisemitic conspiracism].
Despite the age of this comment, I think it deserve a reply that it didn't get. (This post is based upon an email sent to the author. From this point, I'll stop amending it for general consumption, and leave in the second-person address.)

Firstly, if you feel that the sort of conspiracy theories directed at Muslims are not sufficiently critiqued, it would certainly be appropriate to say so. I've noticed them and wondered about them, but my perspective is different from yours. As such, I think it would be great if you were to elaborate or invite others to elaborate on them on your blog, which I pay some attention to. However, it is not appropriate to undercut the critiques of antisemitic conspiracism, which, contrary to what you imply, are still absolutely inadequate.

Perhaps more importantly, though, I'm concerned that you might be missing something essential about antisemitic conspiracism. It's dependent upon a view of Jews as too much assimilated. While (many) Muslims are visibly Other, Jews are (to make use of an illustrative but fortunately historical extreme) shapeshifters. Jews, mistakenly perceived in the West as white when not all are, live in the uncanny valley. The more assimilated and successful Jews become, the greater the threat we represent to antisemites. To the best of my knowledge, conspiracism in Islamophobia arises through an Orientalist history that views both Jews and other 'Orientals' as superficially clever, but it does not have the same history in Islamophobia as it does in antisemitism. Because of the rules of evidence employed by conspiracists, always returning to disgraced and discarded ideas like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the disgrace proving the "danger" and hence relevance of the text, conspiracism is heavily dependent on its own antisemitic history. While many Islamophobes view Muslims as conspiring to infiltrate the West, those with the most extreme conspiracist worldviews unanimously view Muslims as (racially inferior to whites) victims of Jewish supremacism. And because the Otherness of Muslims is visually marked, I'm not sure it could change targets even if it that history could be overcome. Instead, I think it's more likely that the successful assimilation of Muslims will be viewed as a Jewish plot --as affirmative action, multiculturalism, the UN, and progressive immigration policies here in the US already are.

That last sentence, as it deals with white supremacists' desire to rank minorities, risks a comparison that I hope I can back away from. I have no desire to pit Jews against Muslims in "the Oppression Olympics." Islamophobia is certainly an important topic these days, and I have no desire to stand in the way of the fight against it. I have no doubt that it has the potential to become actively genocidal in any one of a great many Western nations. I have no doubt that it has informed the current wars that have killed so many people already. I have no desire to stand in the way of the important job of accurately and effectively critiquing Islamophobia. But I do very much doubt that Islamophobia will ever follow an antisemitic logic rather than an Islamophobic one.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sean Bell protests

Jessie Daniels offers some video from the event.

5 Myths About Being 'Pro-Israel'

By Jeremy Ben-Ami of that new J Street thing.
1.American Jews choose to back candidates largely on the basis of their stance on Israel.

This urban legend has somehow become a tenet of American Politics 101, which is why politicians work so hard to earn the pro-Israel label in the first place. But it's a self-serving fable, cultivated by a tiny minority of politically conservative American Jews who actually are single-issue voters.
What he doesn't address, at all, is who has the power to make that myth (and a number of related myths he doesn't address) so prevalent. It wasn't Jews. The right-wing Jews he talks about were promoted to prominence within the Jewish community by more powerful forces outside the Jewish community.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Haim Watzman on Judah Magnes at There are three or four points in that short post worth dwelling on, but I just like this story:
According to a legend, the sage Rabbi Shimon bar-Yohai and his son spent twelve years hiding in a cave and delving into the esoteric truths of the Torah. When they emerged, Rabbi Shimon was so immersed in divine truth that he raged when he saw Jews plowing their fields. His anger was so fierce that his mere glance burned up every working man he saw. God ordered him back to the cave.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Still a national secret

"Many who had such experiences won't talk about it, or they will try to turn themselves into victims, or they will lie,” said German filmmaker Malte Ludin, who wants to launch a project to record the ex-Nazis’ stories and build an archive of perpetrators’ testimony.
h/t Normblog