December 01, 2008

Lenin on the new "antisemitism"

Lenin has a post on the way antisemitism is used to shield Israel from criticism and condemnation. His piece is titled The antisemitism of "the new antisemitism" and it's actually rather good.

The reason for the title is that in jumping through hoops to shield the State of Israel from condemnation for its standing, on-going and frequent human rights abuses, the promoters of the "new antisemitism" schtick are themselves being antisemitic by associating all Jews with the racist war criminals of the zionist project and the State of Israel.

I particularly enjoyed this chunk:
Part of the charge against the anti-Zionist left, then, is that in its sympathy with anti-colonial forces and Third World liberation movements it has adopted a discourse that is objectively antisemitic, (and thus also liable to reproduce to a tee the antisemitic tropes of Old Europe). A corollary of treating anti-Zionism as objectively antisemitic is that pro-Zionism is objectively not antisemitic. The century old tradition of collaboration between antisemites and Zionists is acceptable because those antisemites objectively embraced the means by which their own doctrines would be undermined and the Jewish people strengthened. So, whether it is antisemites in the upper echelons of the British civil service cutting deals with Zionist leaders, or Israel working with the Nazi-inspired Phalange and allying with Anwar Sadat who fought alongside the Nazis in WWII, or Zionists embracing the most reactionary antisemites from the US Christian Right, it is all part of the necessary dirty work entailed by the need to build and conserve the purported safeguard. One could even go further and argue that the explicit colonialist and imperialist ethos of the Zionist founding fathers, from Herzl to Ben Gurion, was itself an unfortunate necessity in a world characterised by empires and colonies and in which the project's only chance lay in acquiring a colonial sponsor. Therefore, objectively, collaboration with European empires served anti-imperial ends that would be expressed when the Zionists finally expelled the Brits. And if it follows that the greater part of Palestinian Arab society must be destroyed, a process which Martin Shaw argues fits with current definitions of genocide, then it is only to prevent another Shoah. In just the same way, contemporary anti-Arab racism in Israel and among the pro-Israel commentariat is instrumental to creating a positive atmosphere for the 'Jewish state', and thus is objectively anti-racist. Anti-racist racism, anti-genocide genocide, anti-colonial colonialism: a great deal of arrant nonsense becomes 'objectively' true if one follows this logic.

The strangest thing about the "new antisemitism" charge is that its champions almost uniformly maintain that failing to distinguish between the state of Israel and Jewish people is a certain sign of antisemitism. This is true enough, but is usually explained just before they go on to insist that you can't be opposed to Israel without opposing the Jewish people (and also that people like this and this are traitors). To plant one flat-footed, strident assertion on top of the other, each new assertion obliviously contradicting the previous, is not a unique method of exposition and argument. It is just that in the case of this argument, it can't be avoided. Either the progenitors of "the new antisemitism" come out openly and admit that they themselves are among the most energetic disseminators of antisemitism, or they drop their charge, or they proceed as if they were blithely innocent of any contradiction on their part and return to shrill denunciations.
Ok I know, that's two chunks at least. Ol' lennie boy must have been reading Harry's Place and Engage. Where does he find the time?

The comments are worth a look at too.

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