Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recognizing anti-Semitism when you see it

Ever since the Holocaust, dedicated anti-Semites have had a tough time -- once accepted into polite WASP society everywhere, after that they were rudely and quickly shoved into the same social cesspool as other  bigots and shunned. The creation, finally, of a Jewish homeland, however, gave them a new focus for their hate and new opportunity for its expression, and in the last few years, particularly, the political left everywhere -- to its lasting shame -- has given them shelter, aid, and comfort. Of course, it's still considered ill-mannered to openly voice a hatred of Jews as such, but no lefty gathering is complete without some expression of hatred of Israel and Isrealis. They think, pathetically, that this can provide a cover or mask for an age-old bigotry, but in singling out -- in the context of a world full of vicious tyrannies, and in the midst of a region supporting the worst kinds of misogyny, homophobia, and oppression, not to mention terrorism -- singling out the one Jewish homeland in the world for special and perpetual condemnation they only make themselves look ridiculous as well as despicable.

In light of this, and the often craven response of so much of the world before the overt anti-Semitism of an oil-rich region, it's rare to find anyone in a leadership position outside of Israel itself to make a strong and clear statement of support for that country and plain condemnation of bigotry as an evil -- like this:
“The horror of the Holocaust is unique, but it is just one chapter in the long and unbroken history of anti-Semitism. Yet, in contemporary debates that influence the fate of the Jewish homeland, unfortunately, there are those who reject the language of good and evil. They say that the situation is not black and white, that we mustn’t choose sides. 
“In response to this resurgence of moral ambivalence on these issues, we must speak clearly. Remembering the Holocaust is not merely an act of historical recognition.
“It must also be an understanding and an undertaking. An understanding that the same threats exist today. And an undertaking of a solemn responsibility to fight those threats.
“Jews today in many parts of the world and many different settings are increasingly subjected to vandalism, threats, slurs, and just plain, old-fashioned lies.
“Let me draw your attention to some particularly disturbing trends. Anti-Semitism has gained a place at our universities, where at times it is not the mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack. And, under the shadow of a hateful ideology with global ambitions, one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat, Jews are savagely attacked around the world, such as, most appallingly, in Mumbai in 2008.
“One ruthless champion of that ideology brazenly threatens to ‘wipe Israel off the map,’ and time and again flouts the obligations that his country has taken under international treaties.
Or this:
“We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism — healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack — is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D’s, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.
The speaker here is the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, at the Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, and the speech should really be read in its entirety -- it's not that long, and it's a remarkably powerful and refreshing expression of support not just, as he says, for Israel and the Jewish people, but for free people everywhere. I can't resist adding a bit more:
“And I know, by the way, because I have the bruises to show for it, that whether it is at the United Nations, or any other international forum, the easy thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker.’ There are, after all, a lot more votes, a lot more, in being anti-Israeli than in taking a stand. But, as long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost. And friends, I say this not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.
“Earlier I noted the paradox of freedom. It is freedom that makes us human. Whether it leads to heroism or depravity depends on how we use it.
“As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples. We have a solemn duty to defend the vulnerable, to challenge the aggressor, to protect and promote human rights, human dignity, at home and abroad.
“As I said on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, Israel appeared as a light, in a world emerging from deep darkness. Against all odds, that light has not been extinguished. It burns bright, upheld by the universal principles of all civilized nations — freedom, democracy and justice.


  1. Maybe forward that to your heroes at Foxnews, like fatboy Glenn Beck, who's been playing the anti-semitism card against Soros for months.

    Anyway as usual you like most overly sensitive neo-cons mistake criticism of ...zionist cronyism for anti-semitism of the nazi sort. Not the case. We can object to AIPAC power, or Lieberman-ish hawks, or even the founding of Israel without thereby approving of Hitler.

  2. We can object to AIPAC power, or Lieberman-ish hawks, or even the founding of Israel without thereby approving of Hitler.

    You can, but your motives are suspect, and you'll need to make it clear that your objections are not a result of simple prejudice -- of the kind, for example, that was once so common a feature of genteel country clubs. I.e., not all anti-Semites are Nazis, but all are bigots.

  3. Your motives are suspect.

    When Nat Hentoff discusses civil liberties and upholds the Constitution, Due Process, and opposes extremists of all types (including christian), I agree with him for the most part--objecting to Israeli aggression doesn't mean one approves of the Taliban (except in your twisted world). But that's only part of the story. (I read Chomsky at times as well--not always agreeing...but not calling him the infidel...)

    Anyway, I don't disagree with all that Harper says--some jews are at risk, and...muslim extremism along with christian fundamentalism remains an issue. Harper overlooks the power of Israel itself however and aggression (against Hamas, for one) and cronyism, which is more difficult to pinpoint (and risky), but part of reality.

  4. Okay, but we need to have some sense of priorities and their order here -- once Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and the like accept Israel's basic right simply to exist as a Jewish homeland, then is time to worry about Israeli "aggression".

  5. Whatever--I doubt the palestinians and arabs who have seen their families ripped apart by Israeli bombs would agree. Anyway I don't pretend to engage in foreign affairs in comboxes. Better, like, perhaps be consistent and criticize Glenn Beck's recent smears of Soros (pure Ad hominem... Beck grows more pathetic with each passing day--then he's a mormonic, so to be expected)


You can use some HTML tags, such as <b>, <i>, <a>