January 17, 2012

Pretext yes, context no

There's an article in today's Guardian print edition and of course on line titled, LSE nazi games in context. But don't expect context. Rather, an article with a news peg about some students from the LSE playing a nazi themed game resulting in a fight in which  a Jewish student got his nose broken has been used as the pretext for a bogus attack on Palestine solidarity activism and criticism of Israel.

You know early on where the article is going with an ahistorical passage such as this:
It is a sickness that emerges from generation to generation, always with a new resentment to prosecute – the murder of the Christ, well poisoning, usury, the Jewish invention of communism or its opposite libel, Jewish world domination through capitalism, and now a Jewish state that defends itself, kills Palestinians, and is corrupted. The crimes are different, but the criminal is always the same. It is just a shame the Jew from the LSE didn't have bigger fists, but I would always suggest that Jews avoid the Alps.
It's not just the pathetic attempt ("Jews avoid the Alps") of the writer, Tanya Gold, playing Woody Allen, that is at issue here.  She managed to sneak in a hasbara nugget, "a Jewish state that defends itself". But there's more.
Antisemitic discourse is now mainstream and to say it all comes from the crimes of the Jewish state feels disingenuous and a denial of the past. Antisemitism is too old to sprout anew from nothing. Leftwing antisemites despise Israel, but are less vocal on the crimes of other oppressive states (China, Russia, Saudi Arabia). They call it "whataboutery", and say that any defence of Israel is propaganda.
It is whataboutery and worse since Israel's existence is predicated on its crimes and defence of any state is propaganda it's just in the State of Israel's case it is always false propaganda,

But still there's more:
The incidents mount up – the heckling of an Israeli orchestra, the graffiti on university walls, the demand that Jews denounce Israel if they wish to be accepted in polite society, the plays and TV films written without context, the violence against Orthodox Jews (visible Jews), the sale of antisemitic toys in Poland, the terrible fact that 12,000 Facebook users think to mock the Holocaust, not lament it.
 Goodness! When did heckling musical hasbara become antisemitic? And which plays or films are being referred to here? I'm guessing she means one play, Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill and probably only one tv programme, The Promise by Peter Kosminsky.  Nothing antisemitic about either but I can't think of anything else and Tanya doesn't say.

But what Tanya Gold has done here is write an article intended to defend the State of Israel and to smear the critics. The article is only ostensibly about antisemitism. And people wonder why real antisemites like, eg, Gilad Atzmon, are given a free pass. The fact is that the bad faith allegation of antisemitism has been overdone. People are now confused and Tanya Gold's crying of wolf isn't intended to help.


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