If saying that Jews who support Zionism are exhibiting “collective insanity” is not anti-Semitic, what qualifies?
I’d say this comment (which I didn’t let through) submitted to “Alas” by John Samhain may fit the bill:
White people are simpletons and saps who live in a constant B’nai B’rith endorced guilt trip. They are an extremely polite people (also known as saps to all other peoples of the world).
Look at what Amp the jew says (as the accuser): “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t; evil white non-jewish racist if you’re an active white non-jewish anti-racist, evil white non-jewish racist, if you stand for your own.
Amp is a disgusting zionist jew. He seeks to undermine non-jewish white people on all levels of our lives and make our lives more miserable in all of his actions; it’s in his religion; it’s in his blood; he will never have any Guilt for the hate he holds towards his host goyim.
Fro another example, consider this post by an anti-feminist who calls himself “Birdseye”:
If you study history, you will see Jews repeating this same formula over and over and over…likely because it works like a charm with each new, unsuspecting host! They have destroyed one country after another…leaving nothing but dry husks saddled with ironic guilt trips. Guess the formerly-great USofA is next!
(Disclaimer: This is just a general observation and I do judge each person by their own individual merits, Jewish or not.)
Despite Birdseye’s last-sentence disclaimer, one thing both these writers have in common is not only a disdain for Jews and Judaism, but a belief that there is something inherently evil about the Jews; what’s wrong with “Amp the jew” is “in his blood,” which is why “you will see Jews repeating this same formula over and over and over.”
My point is, contrary to what David’s question suggests, it remains possible to recognize antsemitism without resorting to David’s formula, which can be in effect summed up as “any very harsh criticism of Israel is antisemitism.” One could instead believe that antisemitism requires a bias against Jews and Judaism, and often believing that there is something inherently evil about being Jewish. Believing that particular Jews are being oppressive in the context of a specific political situation is simply not the same thing.1
To be flip about it, the defining characteristic of the “new” anti-semitism seems to be that it isn’t anti-semitism. Certainly, to qualify as a “new anti-semite” it doesn’t seem to be necessary to have a bigoted view of the Jewish religion or of Jewish people as an ethnic or cultural group. The author pretends to argue that hostility to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state is the defining characteristic of the “new” anti-semitism, which is fairly ridiculous on its own terms, but as you read through the examples that’s clearly not what he’s saying. Rather, his view is that some people make what he regards as extreme or over-the-top criticisms of Israel, and that anti-semites would also make such criticisms, so therefore anyone who criticizes Israel too stridently is either practicing anti-semitism or else creating it.
Among others on the left, though, an often strident anti-Zionism is part of the ideological package that gives them their political identity. Their inclination to liken Israel to Nazi Germany and white-ruled South Africa–and their frequent excoriations of the Jewish state as guilty of “racism,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” and “genocide” draw from a common lexicon of hyperbolically corrosive speech and have helped to fashion an intellectual and political climate that encourages the demonization of Israel and its supporters.
What’s striking is that Rosenfeld doesn’t seem to consider that Israel’s policy choices have been instrumental to fashioning “an intellectual and political climate that encourages the demonization of Israel and its supporters.” No, no; it has nothing to do with the settlements, with the beatings, with the double-standard of law based on race in the occupied territories. What’s much more important for creating the negative view of Israel, apparently, is a small group of British and American leftist Jews, many of them completely obscure before Rosenfeld’s essay made them notable.
More importantly, note how broad a swath of language Rosenfeld suggests should be out of bounds to credible critics of Israel. I can see putting “genocide” out of bounds, but “war crimes?” The concept that Israel may have committed war crimes is now to be considered so out of bounds that the very phrase “war crimes” should never be used by credible critics, according to Rosenfeld? Similarly, are we to conclude that the word “racism” is “hyperbolically corrosive speech” and should thus be considered out of bounds for credible critics of Israel? How very convenient for defenders of Israel, if that’s the case.2
Do I think that demonization of Israel is a good thing? No, I do not. But I think it’s something the Israeli government has brought on itself with its policy choices. (Similarly, demonization of Palestinians is wrong, but it’s been brought on the Palestinians by the acts of Palestinian extremists and terrorists.) And both sides in this conflict have given critics plenty of reason for the use of hysterical, furious and extreme language, without having to believe that those employing such language are motivated by antisemitism or by racism.
You don’t have to have a bias against Jews to think that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories is disgusting and racist, or to think that Israeli conduct should be investigated for possible war crimes. Nor should concern for “fashioning” a negative political environment for Israel be permitted to put questions of Israeli racism, war crimes, and apartheid-like policies outside the boundaries of credible discourse.
- To be sure, Jacqueline Rose, the author of The Question of Zion, from which the “collective insanity” quote is taken, is an idiot. And it may be that she’s an anti-Semite, despite being Jewish herself. But the mere fact that she’s an idiot who uses over-the-top language to criticize Israel does not, in an of itself, prove antisemitism. [↩]
- I also think the word “apartheid” is one that can be used by reasonable critics, although I choose not to use it myself. I discuss the Israel/Apartheid comparison in this post. [↩]