Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jewish Anti-Semitism

So it has now come to the point where being an anti-Zionist makes you anti-semitic. This point was probably reached some time ago, but now it's official: if you are even just wrestling with the notion of Zion, you are, in the view of the American Jewish Committee, a racist.

From the New York Times:

An essay the committee features on its Web site, ajc.org, titled “ ‘Progressive’ Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,” says a number of Jews, through their speaking and writing, are feeding a rise in virulent anti-Semitism by questioning whether Israel should even exist.

David A. Harris, the executive director of the committee, writes that those who oppose Israel’s basic right to exist, “whether Jew or gentile, must be confronted.”

Tony Judt, a historian at New York University, said “the link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created,” adding that he fears “the two will have become so conflated in the minds of the world” that references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust will come to be seen as “just a political defense of Israeli policy.

Leave it to a historian (and Tony Judt is a good one) to point out a slippery slope. I think his point has credence: the "you're either with us or against us" mentality is outrageously polarizing, and completely throws the whole Marketplace of Ideas out the window.

Letting the Marketplace of Ideas weigh in on this one is telling:

Michael Posluns, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, wrote, “Sad and misbegotten missives of the sort below make me wonder if it is not the purpose of mainstream Jewish organizations to foster anti-Jewishness by calling down all who take from their Jewish experience and Jewish thought a different ethos and different ways of being as feeding anti-Semitism.”


A bit of a rhetorical stretch, but not unreasonable. Meanwhile:

Shulamit Reinharz, a sociologist who is also the wife of Jehuda Reinharz, the president of Brandeis University, wrote in a column for The Jewish Advocate in Boston: “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.”



So while Professor Posluns calls out the Jewish community to self-examination for their "all or nothing" stance, Mrs. Reinharz demands Zionism be redefined to be synonymous with Jewishness. Slippery slope, indeed.

It's really a shame Abra doesn't check this blog, as I am sure she has some choice thoughts on the subject. I myself (in case you could not tell by my comments) think it is dangerous and ridiculous, and consider this to be the latest symptom of our knee-jerk culture of instant offense - where any remarks critical of Jews brand the interlocuter that worst of all epithets, the ANTI-SEMITE. Questioning the wisdom of Zionism is not like denying global warming or believing in phrenology. But to hear Shulamit Reinharz tell it, you are ACTUALLY PUTTING JEWISH PEOPLE IN DANGER by promulgating these very ideas.

Now THAT'S dangerous.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

“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.”

Does anyone believe it matters whether this statement (and others like it) is sincere or cynical? I'm throwing that out there because I think it does matter, and I think that anti-Zionists (I'm not even sure that label has to refer to someone opposed to the existence of Israel, or just to someone opposed its growth beyon the pre-1967 borders, etc.) often mistakenly attribute malice to Zionists instead of really meditating on the history of Jewry, and how we've ended up where we are today.

8:48 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

It's certainly true that there is something quite perculiar about the Jewish people; wherever they go throughout history, nations have persecuted them, hated them, or stereotyped them. One of my students who worked in the film industry (of all places) says that he had a cowowrker who called him a Jesus killer.

Herzl looked on such a history and concluded that the Jewish people needed a state for protection, and I am inclined by both observation of world events, and by my reading of the Scriptures, that Herzl is correct.

But on to Germanicus' point, disagreeing with this assertion is something quite different than being anti-Jewish, and such an obfuscation is dangerous. It comes to us from those voices that say only racists ever oppose affirmative action or wonder why inner city communities are so riddled with crime.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"But on to Germanicus' point, disagreeing with this assertion is something quite different than being anti-Jewish, and such an obfuscation is dangerous. It comes to us from those voices that say only racists ever oppose affirmative action or wonder why inner city communities are so riddled with crime."

I agree with this whole-heartedly. But going back to this statement: "“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.”

She is saying that anything that harms Jews--presumably whether it's intentional or unintentional--is an instance of anti-semitism. That clearly tortures the definition of "anti-semite" in most of our books, particularly since the standard is so subjective, within a context that is so polarized. However, it's also clear that the Jews, until recently, haven't been able to get a break, so I'm fairly inclined to understand the siege mentality of particularly the older generation of Zionists (though I think it's ultimately counter-productive for their security).

I contrast this with the attitude of, say, certain pro-Palestinian activists I knew in college, for whom the first Intifada was as far back as history went in terms of whether Jews were oppressors or oppressed (obviously, for hundreds of thousands of young Palestinians, that *is* as far back as history goes), and who viewed Zionist Jews as simple imperialists, without any regard for the mitigating historical circumstances.

3:35 PM  

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