February 22, 2010

The sophistication of antisemitism

Wilhelm Marr invented the term antisemitism, not as an epithet, but as a sign of enlightenment. The Chief Rabbi of England, Sir Jonathan Sacks explains:

We can date the third mutation to 1879 when the German journalist Wilhelm Marr coined a new word: anti-Semitism. The fact that he needed to do so tells us that this was a new phenomenon. It emerged in an age of Enlightenment, the secular nation state, liberalism and emancipation. Religious prejudice was deemed to be a thing of the past. The new hatred had therefore to justify itself on quite different grounds, namely race. This was a fateful development, because you can change your religion. You cannot change your race.

After Marr, antisemitism was no longer the province of the unenlightened and the superstitious, it could be, in the right circumstances, a sign of sophistication.

Perhaps that is why Andrew Sullivan seemingly wears the badge wtih honor. Eric Fingerhut explains (via David Bernstein):

In fact, the whole Wieseltier-Sullivan episode has served to illustrate an emerging trend among critics of Israel: Their eagerness to allege that they've been accused of being an anti-Semite. I do agree that some of Israel's defenders are too quick to throw out charges of anti-Semitism or "self-hating Jew," and that's lamentable and a problem. But it seems that among many of Israel's critics, claiming that you've been accused of being an anti-Semite has become some sort of bizarre badge of honor. And quite a few of those that have allegedly been accused of being an anti-Semite, according to Wieseltier's critics, either were never smeared with such a term or were only accused of making a specific problematic remark and not tarred with some broad brush of disliking Jews, as they claim.

(Israel Matzav has another example.)

The one point I'd quibble with is that Israel's defenders "are too quick" with the label. The problem isn't that Israel's has critics. The problem is that a lot of those critics aren't simply criticizing Israel, but condemning Israel, questioning its right to exist while, hypocritically, remaining silent towards regimes that are much, much worse. It isn't simply holding Israel to a higher standard, but holding Israel to an impossible standard and then damning it when it fails to make the grade. (I mean do any of these critics find it troubling that even Salam Fayyad the "moderate" Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority can't bring himself to say that Israel is a Jewish state, while they insisted that Netanyahu declare his support for a Palestinian state?)

The modern day antisemitism also stems from a desire to appear sophisticated. No longer is Israel the democratic "light unto the nations," but the flawed oppressor of Palestinians. That oppression marks Israel as illegitimate until it exorcises the demons of occupation. Does it make a difference that Israel has changed politically from 20 years ago and that now the "right wing" Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is closer in outlook to Peace Now of 20 years ago than to his predecessors Yitzchak Shamir or Menachem Begin? Well, no, as long as the Palestinians aren't satisfied Israel hasn't done enough. So peace and with it, Israel's legitimacy, is given a veto by the very people who still haven't amended their charter to say that Israel has a right to exist.

Worse the exorcism required an extreme form of denial. To quote Judea Pearl again.

As an analyst, I would not need to find out that things did not exactly change through those negotiations in the 1990s -- the PLO, to this very day, has not amended the annihilationist clauses in its charter, as openly admitted by Farouq Kadoumi in an interview with a Jordanian newspaper (Al-Arab, April 22, 2004; see Benny Morris' book "One State, Two States" for a detailed chronology).

On the contrary, an intractable Gordian knot has been created: Every Westerner now believes the charter is amended; every Palestinian says it is amended but believes it is not, and every Israeli knows what Palestinians believe. Not a healthy mindset for peace negotiations.

Most importantly, as a scientist, I would be obliged to acknowledge competing theories. For example, that the blood-soaked Second Intifada erupted precisely because Clinton and Rabin did not insist on seeing an Arabic text of an amended PLO charter on the White House lawn. Their naiveté, so the theory goes, gave Arafat the illusion that as long as the West buys into his double-talk, Palestinians are exempt from doing any homework toward peace. It subsequently made Israelis doubly suspicious of Palestinian proclamations and reinforced Palestinians' delusion that they can achieve sovereignty without internalizing Israel's permanency. Cohen now hands them another reinforcement and, once again, all in the name of peace.

That denial had deadly consequences as Charles Krauthammer observed at the time.

This is peace? "Israelis Unnerved by Peace That Kills," says a Washington Post headline, March 5. Peace that kills? This is an absurd oxymoron. If peace means anything, it means at its very minimum an absence of violence. After all, "armistice" and "truce" -- lesser forms of peace -- mean cease-fire. Peace must mean at least that.
This Orwellian conjunction of peace and violence demonstrates the state of hypnosis that Americans and Israelis have placed themselves under since the September 1993 Handshake on the White House lawn. What followed has been called a peace process. It has been nothing of the kind. The Palestinian war on Israel has been unrelenting. More Israeli civilians have been massacred since the handshake than at any time in the entire history of the country.
The "peace process" is in fact nothing more than a unilateral Israeli withdrawal. The Palestinians have gotten Gaza, West Bank autonomy, huge influxes of foreign aid, international recognition, their own police force, their first free elections ever (something their Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers never granted them).
In return Israel has gotten what? Pats on the head from the United States. The occasional trade mission from Tunisia. And, from the Palestinians, death. This is peace?

It is sophistication that led Israel's critics - whether benign or malevolent - to look past the terror enabling aspects of the Oslo Accords and hold Israel to its commitments and demand nothing of the Palestinians.

But increasingly it becomes harder and harder to blame Israel for the lack of peace with the Palestinians. Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 only to see Hezbollah use the opportunity to build up its arsenal and threaten hundreds of thousands living in Israel's north. This led to a war in 2006. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 only to see Hamas use the opportunity to build up its arsenal and threaten hundreds of thousands living in Israel's north. This led to a war in 2008-9. Barak made a generous offer to Arafat at Camp David in July, 2000, which was rejected. Two months later Arafat launched the "Aqsa intifada against Israel. As his term wound down Ehud Olmert made an even more generous offer to Mahmoud Abbas, only to have Abbas reject it.

It's harder and harder to say that Israel's at fault. One need not know ancient history. One could just look through 15 years of news and see this. If one wanted to. But Israel's critics deny the fundamental justice of Israel's cause. Not only do they damage the cause of peace in the Middle East, but they're demonization of the Jewish state, leads to antisemitism worldwide.

The sophisticates' blaming Israel lead to what William Jacobson calls the Malmo Syndrome.

Malmö is the third largest Swedish city, and now the poster child for what I call Malmö Syndrome, the anti-Semitic violence which results from the shared anti-Israeli agenda of Islamists and leftists.

Like Wilhelm Marr today's critics of Israel pretend to be sophisticated. I'm not sure that Marr intended for his ideology to metastasize as it did. But the writing is on the wall. The unfair and unrelenting criticism of Israel has excused terror and now encourages open displays of antisemitism in Europe. Do Israel's critics understand the damage they're causing? Or will they continue to wrap themselves in a mantle of sophistication and ignore the consequences?

Crossposted on Yourish.

Posted by SoccerDad at February 22, 2010 6:24 AM
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What you are really saying - its not the illegal colonisation of arab lands thats a problem', but any criticism of these illegal action 'damages the cause of peace in the Middle East', ie.you want the world to to support colonialism in a post colonial age.

Jewish antizionist and Jewish critics of Israel put a lie to the charge that all critic of Israel are antisemitic.

Posted by: sass at February 22, 2010 10:32 PM

"What you are really saying - its not the illegal colonisation of arab lands thats a problem', but any criticism of these illegal action 'damages the cause of peace in the Middle East', ie.you want the world to to support colonialism in a post colonial age".
Jackass, see next post, "Jewish history denial". The Jews aren't a colonialist power but have a history which long precedes the arab invasion. A history proven by archeological evidence as you'll notice in the photo.

Posted by: Laura at February 23, 2010 12:11 PM

There are Jewish artifacts all through the Middle East, with some in Iraq which pre-date the artifacts in Israel. Does that mean the Jews have the right to a good portion of the Middle East?
Does that give them the right to all the lands around the anicient city of Ur in modern day Iraq, which is the birth place of Judaism.
The only connection the European Jew had with Palestine was spiritual . Judaism is a religion.
Can modern day Christians claim say Eygpt or Iraq because it was predominately Christian before most of the people converted to Islam.
Again Judaism is a religion not a ethnicity.

There are Arab Jew- God forbid!!!!!

Posted by: sass at February 23, 2010 8:35 PM

There are over 20 nations with Islam as their state religion, but according to you (and those Arab/Muslim nations) Jews are denied even one.

Jews don't claim to have been sovereign in Iraq, but in what is now Israel and lived there continuously (sometimes more, sometimes less) for thousands of years. Your claim of "religion" not a "nation" is bigotry.

And the Copts are the original Egyptians. The Egyptian Muslims are the foreign occupiers (and oppressors.)

Posted by: soccer dad at February 24, 2010 6:25 AM

"Can modern day Christians claim say Eygpt or Iraq because it was predominately Christian before most of the people converted to Islam".
The Christians didn't "convert". They were conquered by force and islam was FORCED upon them.

Posted by: Laura at February 24, 2010 12:10 PM

If the oldest Jewish community was in Iraq does that make them Iraqi Jews or Jews who are the decendants of the Israelites?

The 'Jewish People' being the decendants of the ancient Israelite is a myth.

Posted by: sass at February 24, 2010 4:50 PM

You've made this argument before and DNA evidence shows that the Jewish people are indeed descendents of the ancient Israelites. You are the one who's telling a myth.

A 1999 study by Hammer et al., published in the Proceedings of the United States National Academy of Sciences compared the Y chromosomes of Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian Jews with 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. It found that "Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level... The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora."[49] According to Nicholas Wade "The results accord with Jewish history and tradition and refute theories like those holding that Jewish communities consist mostly of converts from other faiths, or that they are descended from the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that adopted Judaism."[50]

Posted by: Laura at February 24, 2010 7:16 PM

DNA studies wll also showed "that Jews and Palestinians have common ancestry that is so recent that it is highly likely that at least some of the Palestinian blood actually descends from Jews. [3] Another study by New York University confirmed a remarkable similarity between Jewish and Palestinian genes. "Jews and Arabs are all really children of Abraham,," said Dr. Harry Ostrer, director of the Human Genetics Program at New York University School of Medicine, who worked on the study. "And all have preserved their Middle Eastern genetic roots over 4,000 years.

So according to science 'Palestinian Arabs' are part of the Jewish People.

Posted by: sass at February 24, 2010 11:53 PM

"palestians" are muslims and Israel is the state of the Jewish people. I make no apologies for believing Israel should be maintained as a Jewish state.

Posted by: Laura at February 25, 2010 12:16 PM

'"palestians" are muslims and Israel is the state of the Jewish people '
Spoken like a true bigot.

The only way Israel can "be maintained as a Jewish state" is by abusing the true meaning of Judaism..

Posted by: sass at February 26, 2010 4:05 AM

Sass: You don't seem to have a very good feel for history. The single greatest imperialistic force in the history of our world is Islam, which spread by the sword at an amazing pace over Christian lands from 700 A.D. until driven out of Spain and then stopped at the Gates of Vienna in the 1600's. You seem to portray the growth of Islam as mass voluntary conversion. That has simply no basis in historical fact.

And indeed, in those locales where it holds sway today, Islam is still maintained by the sword. Name the Islamic state where an Islamic woman can freely marry outside of her religion or where a Muslim can convert without fear of losing their head? Name the Islamic state today where any other religion is freely tolerated and its practitioners not subject to both official discrimination and, in very many cases, violence. It is an utter travesty.

Surely you don't contest that Israel and Jews have a historic claim to the land it occupies today, whether by blood or by conversion. And if what you're arguing for is legality based on a right of conquest, then following that logic, Israel should have annexed all lands taken in the 67 war, including all of Jerusalem. Using your logic, Israel has an absolute right to all the lands they occupy today plus Gaza, all of Jerusalem and the West Bank. You can't have it both ways Sass.

Posted by: GW at March 4, 2010 12:20 AM

I can understand at least some of the conflict between Christianity and Judaism in the millennium after the founding of Christianity. Some of it was religious, some of it was because Jews kept their communities tight knit and thus easily became identifiable as the "other" - and the "other" is always a convenient whipping boy. Thus the majority of it was politics at a local or regional level. The official position of the papacy regarding Jews throughout the Middle Ages and later was articluated in a bull about 1120 by Pope Calixtus II, intended to protect Jews who suffered during the First Crusade, and was reaffirmed by many popes through the 15th century. The bull forbade Christians from forcing Jews to convert, or to harm them, or to take their property, etc., on pain of excommunication. Unfortunately, that did not stop Jewish persecution at lower levels, but much of that seems to have been about politics and greed. Perhaps the most brazen example - in many of the works I've read, the authors have made a compelling case that the inquisition in Spain was driven far more by a desire to take possession of Muslim and Jewish lands than it was to save souls.

That said, I am utterly mystefied by the modern "anti-semitism" of the left. It has no articulable and logical basis, either standing alone nor in relation to the conflict between Islam and Judaism. Indeed, if the left actually is secular, it would be logical for the left to remain neutral. I am further mystified by the seeming alliance between the secular left and the Islamic world. Islam represents the greatest possible threat to the goals of the secular left. Their alliance with Islam is suicidal in the extreme.

Posted by: GW at March 4, 2010 12:53 AM

Using your logic, Israel has an absolute right to all the lands they occupy today plus Gaza, all of Jerusalem and the West Bank. You can't have it both ways Sass.

Amen to that, GW. Amen to that.

Posted by: Hube at March 4, 2010 7:15 PM

Lets not forget the ancient Hebrew persecution of the Cannites.

G.W you live in a world of propoganda.

Posted by: sass at March 5, 2010 2:31 AM
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