September 14, 2008

Enough bogus allegations of antisemitism already!

Here's Antony Lerman in Ha'aretz complaining about the persistence and pervasiveness of the bogus allegation of antisemitism made by zionists, often against Jews. The article is actually titled Jews attacking Jews but it might just as well be Jews attacking non-Jews or indeed non-Jews attacking Jews since it makes mention of the EU's ludicrous "working definition" and the even more ludicrous self-styled "official" UK parliamentary group's "inquiry" into the "issue". Here's a chunk:
Practically no discussion about current anti-Semitism now takes place without Israel and Zionism being at its center. Judging by the vast number of books, pamphlets, articles and conferences on the subject, this trend is widely welcomed.

The equation "anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism" has thus become the new orthodoxy, and has even earned the seal of approval of the European Union. Its racism and anti-Semitism monitoring center (the Federal Rights Agency) produced a "working definition" of anti-Semitism, with examples of five ways in which anti-Israel or anti-Zionist rhetoric is anti-Semitic. The 2006 report of the U.K.'s All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism urged the adoption of the EU definition, and the U.S. State Department's 2008 report "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism" is also based on it.

The redefinition of anti-Semitism has led to a further radical change in confronting the phenomenon. Many Jews are at the forefront of the growing number of anti-Israel or anti-Zionist groups. So, perceived manifestations of the "new anti-Semitism" increasingly result in Jews attacking other Jews for their alleged anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.

Anti-Semitism can be disguised as anti-Zionism, and a Jew can be an anti-Semite. In principle, therefore, exposing an alleged Jewish anti-Semite is legitimate. But if you read the growing literature that does this - in print, on Web sites and in blogs - you find that it exceeds all reason: The attacks are often vitriolic, ad hominem and indiscriminate. Aspersions are cast on the Jewishness of individuals whom the attacker cannot possibly know. The charge of Jewish "self-hatred" - another way of calling someone a Jewish anti-Semite - is used ever more frequently, despite mounting evidence that it's an entirely bogus concept.

Anything from strong criticism of Israel's policies, through sympathetic critiques of Zionism, to advocacy of a one-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict, is defined as anti-Zionism, when none of these positions are prima facie anti-Zionist. Many attackers endow their targets with the ability to bring disaster and dissolution to the Jewish people, thereby making it a national and religious duty for Jews to wage a war of words against other Jews.

I realize that many readers will regard these attacks as fully justified. But think for a moment about who benefits. Can it really help the fight against anti-Semitism to place the fantasy of the anti-Semitic Jew at its center? There are many issues about which Jews should argue robustly with each other, but the attack by Jew on Jew is acrimonious and demeaning - Can it do us any good? I would say no to both questions, for overwhelming reasons.
Curiously for an article on bogus allegations of antisemitism and ad hominem attacks, no mention is made of Engage. See here for a list of Engage posts, including one on this Ha'aretz article, in which Antony Lerman features. Among their criticisms of Lerman, vindictiveness clearly isn't one of them.


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