Tony Judt Cleans House on Israel-Palestine

-

peace-between-israel-and-palestine-thumb7640828.jpgWhile conflicts in the Middle East tend to breed polemics and shallow analysis, reactions to Israel’s deadly boarding of the Mavi Marmara may have set a record for polarization. While some offered balanced analysis and thorough coverage of the incident, it seems that a stark divide emerged swiftly, with some going as far as to suggest that the incident might break NATO, while others went to furious (and spurious) lengths to justify Israel’s conduct.
Amidst the back and forth, it was refreshing this past Wednesday to see a beautifully-written, clear and thoughtful piece from the tirelessly prolific Tony Judt in the New York Times trying to put to rest some of the cliches so often used when talking about Israeli-Palestinian issues. Judt has run into controversy for his views on Israel before, but this article is admirable for its honesty, and is a must-read regardless of political orientation.
While the entire piece is valuable, I find his most compelling thoughts emerge while debunking his final cliche, “Criticism of Israel is/is not linked to anti-Semitism.” Judt writes:

Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews, and Israel is a Jewish state, so of course some criticism of it is malevolently motivated. There have been occasions in the recent past (notably in the Soviet Union and its satellites) when “anti-Zionism” was a convenient surrogate for official anti-Semitism. Understandably, many Jews and Israelis have not forgotten this.
But criticism of Israel, increasingly from non-Israeli Jews, is not predominantly motivated by anti-Semitism. The same is true of contemporary anti-Zionism: Zionism itself has moved a long way from the ideology of its “founding fathers” — today it presses territorial claims, religious exclusivity and political extremism. One can acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and still be an anti-Zionist (or “post-Zionist”). Indeed, given the emphasis in Zionism on the need for the Jews to establish a “normal state” for themselves, today’s insistence on Israel’s right to act in “abnormal” ways because it is a Jewish state suggests that Zionism has failed.
We should beware the excessive invocation of “anti-Semitism.” A younger generation in the United States, not to mention worldwide, is growing skeptical. “If criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is potentially ‘anti-Semitic,’ why take seriously other instances of the prejudice?” they ask, and “What if the Holocaust has become just another excuse for Israeli bad behavior?” The risks that Jews run by encouraging this conflation should not be dismissed…The time has come to cut through the clich

Comments

56 comments on “Tony Judt Cleans House on Israel-Palestine

  1. Cee says:

    (I’m sure you must mean Haj Amin al Husseini) who assassinated other Muslim clerics who wanted to find a modus vivendi with the Zionists, who embraced Hitler,
    Who else embraced Hitler? Oh yeah…
    In his 1983 book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, Lenni Brenner shows that 20th century Zionists observed shockingly few limits to that expediency. Not surprisingly, the book received little coverage in the American media. Now, in 51 Documents, Brenner has compiled a wide variety of letters, statements, articles, and judgements-some of which appeared in his earlier book-by a broad array of activists and authors, that documents Zionist cooperation with the Nazis. On the face of it, the notion seems absurd. However, Brenner presents the case-made in many Zionists’ own words-that the Nazi agenda of expelling the Jews from Germany fit nicely with the Zionist plan for enticing those Jews into settling in Palestine and creating a new Jewish nation.
    In addition to introductory and concluding chapters, the book is organized into five sections which lead the reader through early, pre-Zionist documents; pre-Holocaust ideological factions; the Holocaust era itself; and a chapter on the Stern Gang and the Nazis. Readers should note that a few documents are not indicative of collaboration in and of themselves, but provide the background to others written in response. These latter do indicate levels of collaboration between Zionists and fascists, both the Nazis in Germany, and those in Mussolini’s Italy. Brenner’s brief explanatory notes at the beginning of each document are helpful, as are the glossary and index.
    51 Documents assumes a certain knowledge of Zionist history, and requires a close reading and some deconstructive efforts on the part of the reader. Those willing to commit the time and effort, however, are rewarded with some stunning revelations. The reason some Zionists eschewed the boycott against Hitler’s Germany, for instance, is that they had a financial deal-Ha’avara-with Germany allowing Jews to exchange their wealth for goods to be exported to Palestine at less of a loss, as an incentive to emigrate. Those wondering why Zionists today are so organized and experienced in their public relations efforts discover that these battles have been fought before. Moreover, the section on Nazi and Zionist understandings of “nationality” versus citizenship reveals how German and Israeli practices are based on the same concept.
    51 Documents also sheds a whole new light on the term “Holocaust guilt,” frequently understood to mean Western, non-Jewish guilt for not acting against the Holocaust earlier. However, these documents make it clear that Holocaust guilt began with those Zionists who made the undoubtedly difficult, but politically expedient choice to place Eretz-Israel at the top of their priorities, above the lives of their threatened European brethren.
    From a Zionist Executive Meeting speech by Yitzhak Gruenbaum on Feb. 18, 1943:
    And when some asked me: “Can’t you give money from Keren Ha Yesod (Palestine Foundation Fund) to save Jews in the Diaspora?” I said: “No!” And again I say no….And, because of these things, people called me an anti-Semite, and concluded that I’m guilty, for the fact that we don’t give ourselves completely to rescue actions. (p. 211)
    However difficult it may be, the reader must confront some rather disturbing conclusions. The most unsettling realization for this reviewer is that pre-Holocaust Zionists were able to politically align themselves with the Nazis because both groups fundamentally saw race as an important dividing line-and, moreover, were determined to keep it that way. From Vladimir Jabotinsky to Albert Einstein, “assimilation” of Jews into the societies in which they lived was not an acceptable option. Rather, Jewish nationalism required equality on a national level, not a personal one. As Jabotinsky explained, “It is impossible for a man to become assimilated with people whose blood is different from his own” (p. 10); in Einstein’s words, “Palestine is first and foremost not a refuge for East European Jews, but the incarnation of a reawakening sense of national solidarity” (p. 29). Finally, David Yisraeli, a member of the Stern Gang, wrote the following in late 1940, as part of a proposal to Hitler. It was delivered in 1941 to two German diplomats in Lebanon.
    3. The establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East (p. 301).

    Reply

  2. samuelburke says:

    why not chomsky? because Tony Judt.
    “Israeli commandos mishandled the situation but Israel was right
    to storm a ship bound for Gaza. Leslie H. Gelb argues why.”
    the lack of concern for humanity at the heart of these
    arguments is staggering in proportions that could only be
    achieved by a special people who they themselves suffered a
    similar catastrophe.
    justifying anything heinous is heinous itself.
    why not call the palestinian crime a catastrophe, the holocaust is
    well employed already as there were several holocaust type
    events that occurred to many different peoples in the 19th and
    20th centuries.
    resist your urge to be special.

    Reply

  3. Cee says:

    Saudi Arabia has denied a British report claiming Riyadh had agreed to allow Israel to use its airspace to attack Iran.
    Saudi Arabia “rejects violating its sovereignty or the use of its airspace or territories by anyone to attack any country,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying on Saturday. But it declined to name the official.
    The source called the allegations “false” and “slanderous” and stated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reiterates its position of firm opposition to and rejection of the violation of its sovereignty and the use of its airspace or territory by anyone to attack any country.
    It is more appropriate that Saudi Arabia should apply this policy to the authority of the Israeli occupation regime, with which it has no relationship in any way, SPA quoted him as saying.

    Reply

  4. larry birnbaum says:

    Tony Judt? Why not Noam Chomsky?

    Reply

  5. David says:

    Thanks for filling in who it was. I did not say that Zionism unleashed a cycle of violence. I said that a sequence of events and decisions by various parties unleashed a cycle of violence. Where did you think the cycle of violence came from, a box of Wheaties?

    Reply

  6. Sand says:

    at the same **Time** skim off the hate he spews as and when required. Very telling.

    Reply

  7. Sand says:

    WIGWAG: “…Now, it

    Reply

  8. DonS says:

    David, it’s not hard to lose respect for many Cristian fundamentalists. Their brand of intolerant, narrow minded and homophobic “gospel” is antithetical from American ideals. That the right wing, AIPAC-allied Jews choose to find common ground on the single issue of Israel is unfortunate. Of course doing so requires demonizing those not in the fundamentalist camp. It’s becomes obvious that the lodestone of AIPAC approval is a right wing Israeli-centric point of view, as most right wing fundamentalist organizations have. One could say that this is just a discussion about different opinions of away forward, e.g., on the blockade of Gaza. That’s well and good, but the fundamentalist theology and playbook is different in kind, not just degree, from liberal democratic ideas. However, to AIPAC types all that seems to matter, their lodestone for approval, is consonance with a radical right position on Israel, not what is in the interests of the US.

    Reply

  9. DonS says:

    Head of Arab League visits Gaza for first time. Says blockade is “unsustainable”. Obama said the same thing last week. Whether significant change is underway, who knows. Expect to see more AIPAC/right wing push back, including from right wing US fundamentalists.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10303301.stm

    Reply

  10. Carroll says:

    Copyright

    Reply

  11. Hasbarassassin says:

    Israeli War on Palestinian Olive
    By Khalid Amayreh, IOL Correspondent
    Palestinians say hundreds of thousands of grown olive trees were destroyed and uprooted by Israel in the past few years.
    RAMALLAH

    Reply

  12. Hasbarassassin says:

    Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
    The Fourth Geneva Convention.
    Specifically;
    Art. 32. The High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents.
    Art. 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
    Pillage is prohibited.
    Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
    http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256739003e636d/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5

    Reply

  13. nadine says:

    David, I suggest you do a little more research on the Muslim mullah (I’m sure you must mean Haj Amin al Husseini) who assassinated other Muslim clerics who wanted to find a modus vivendi with the Zionists, who embraced Hitler, and whose idea of a solution was Hitler’s Final Solution imported to Palestine. Have you ever heard the name “Nashishibi”? Google it.
    Saying that the Zionists unleashed an endless cycle of bloodshed is like saying a few black families unleashed an endless cycle of racist attacks by integrating a neighborhood. And not a lily-white neighborhood in this case, since Jews had always lived there, long before the Arabs arrvied.
    You frankly show no sign of having the faintest knowledge of the history of Mideast, and no awareness that an Arab state should have come into being alongside the Jewish state, but the Arab leaders refused it and went to war with the stated aim of exterminating the Jews of Palestine, which judging from their combined forces, they should have been able to do.

    Reply

  14. Hasbarassassin says:

    Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Gaza blockade – collective punishment
    Download: PDF
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/021/2008/en/6300b18f-49de-11dd-9394-c975c4bd488d/mde150212008eng.pdf
    Index Number: MDE 15/021/2008
    Date Published: 4 July 2008
    Categories: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories
    A humanitarian crisis is engulfing Gaza

    Reply

  15. Hasbarassassin says:

    Israeli document; Gaza Blockade Isn’t About Security
    By Sheera Frenkel | McClatchy Newspapers
    JERUSALEM

    Reply

  16. David says:

    John Hagee is one of the most powerful figures in this very serious Christian Zionism.
    Sidenote: If I remember correctly, Palestine was incorporating Jews peacefully as non-violent, non-supremacist Jews were making their way to the region simply to take up life there. I think it was a Muslim mullah (at least according to a WSJ piece) who ordered the assassination of Muslim clerics who acted in a spirit of peace and brotherhood toward those Jewish immigrants. Gee, I wonder why I have zero, zilch, nada respect for non-ecuminical religious fundamentalists who promote killing, war, even genocide in the name of their religion, or whatever other miserable excuse they come up with. And I wonder why I have no respect for the people who did what they did to resident Palestinians when they declared a Jewish state, and a never-ending cycle of violence, destruction, and death was set in motion. This is not an ancient conflict. That is horseshit. It is a modern debacle created by the various parties involved in setting it in motion and pushing it forward. Violence begat violence, injustice begat injustice, and a lot of innocent children have borne the brunt of adult feces-headedness.
    But a just peace with a secure Israel and an independent, prospering Palestine is now the only way forward, if we care about all the children, no matter the religious pinheadedness of their parents or the dead-end-street desire for revenge. The past can probably never be atoned for. The only thing we can do is make the present and the future just and peaceful. And it is not complicated. It is just that adults are anything but…

    Reply

  17. WigWag says:

    As long as Andrew Lebovich (along with an assist from Steve Clemons) decided to write about anti-Semitism (a fair amount of which is actually present in the comments on this thread); it is interesting to reflect on how different the anti Semitism of today is from the anti-Semitism of the past.
    For centuries, and right up until the time of Vatican II, the Catholic Church was one of the main engines behind the hatred of Jews, at least in the United States. Certainly they got an assist in this from various Protestant denominations, especially those of the primitive variety. It was always people who thought of themselves as progressive and inheritors of enlightenment values who stood up against the hatred of Jews.
    Of course, now that has changed.
    In today’s world, progressive secularists and members of the dwindling mainline Protestant churches are the people guiltiest of Jew hatred; but to be fair, so are some secular progressive Jews like Judt himself. Now, it

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “When a person writes scores of posts that are hyper critical of one side to a dispute while never mentioning anything even remotely critical about the behavior of the other side to the dispute, it’s simply human nature for an observer to attribute bad motives to bad behavior.” (Wigwag)
    Good post Wigwag. You forgot to mention the post where Steve praised somebody for getting “evidence” the Israelis were lying simply because they published an edited tape (the subsequent unedited tape showed the Israelis weren’t lying), and where Steve laments, why oh why did the Israelis shoot so many in the head [on the Mavi Marmara], implying that the Israelis were executing helpless prisoners, when a more accurate description would be that the Israelis were shooting their way out of Custer’s Last Stand armed only with pistols.
    Now I see two more hyper-critical posts about Israel, serving up the piece de resistance: you must be wrong or we wouldn’t be criticizing you. Your blockade on Hamas has failed because we are badmouthing you, which proves that it has failed.
    Then these same critics, without pause for breath, claim the only reason America supports Israel is because “The Israel Lobby” controls the media. Logic is not their forte.
    As a number of commentators are noticing (Mark Steyn and Barry Rubin both touched on this point in their latest pieces), the “realists” seem to be operating on a plane entirely absorbed with imagery and quite distant from reality.
    The blockade on Hamas has not failed to weaken Hamas because people are badmouthing Israel. What, do you think lifting the blockade and letting Iran ship in 40,000 long range missiles would not strengthen Hamas? If the Israeli blockade prevents this (which it does), then the blockade is weakening Hamas. This isn’t a political position. It is reality.
    Since the Israelis are in range of Hamas missiles they must concern themselves with reality. To quote Golda Meir, “Better a bad press than a good epitaph.”

    Reply

  19. ... says:

    johnh quote …particularly when that interest group has so clearly subordinated American foreign policy to a foreign government…
    that’s a pretty good description of ‘a traitor’ in my books…

    Reply

  20. JohnH says:

    When you have a tiny ethnic/religious group that represents almost a quarter of the Democratic majority in the Senate, and more than a quarter of the Supreme Court, I think have a legitimate campaign issue, particularly when that interest group has so clearly subordinated American foreign policy to a foreign government, which has become a liability to American interests.

    Reply

  21. Sand says:

    JohnH @ 3:58pm
    What’s new this is politics. To have a Jewish name on the ticket (in the democratic party) has been great to put on the fundraising letters. Lieberman brought in a boat-load of money.
    It’s going to be interesting what happens with the Mark Kirk race — he’s not Jewish but his standing in AIPAC is as high as Hoyer’s I believe.

    Reply

  22. JohnH says:

    Blankfort is missing a big party of the picture. With Schumer as head of the DSCC and Rahm as head of the DCCC, the Lobby has been actively recruiting Jews Senators and Congressmen. Now there are 13 Senators and 30 Representatives, some from unlikely places like New Hampshire, Nevada, Kentucky, Oregon and Tennessee.
    See the attached article: “The Chosen: Jewish members in the 111th U.S. Congress”
    http://jta.org/news/article/2008/11/05/1000795/the-chosen-jewish-members-in-the-111th-us-congress
    Ordinarily, a person’s religion should not be a political issue. But in this case, religion is very important, because these folks have helped hijack American foreign policy, leading to costly wars of choice, bloated “defense” budgets, and mis-allocation of monies away from the well being of ordinary Americans.
    Now we have a Jewish chief of staff, whose father was part of the terrorist organization Irgun. Next we’ll have two Jewish members of SCOTUS.
    By contrast the Congressional Black Caucus counts one Senator and 39 voting Representatives.

    Reply

  23. Sand says:

    The Influence of Israel and it’s American Lobby over US Middle East Policy Explained
    by Jeffrey Blankfort [Note PDF file]
    http://www.ihrc.org.uk/060702/papers/jeffrey_blankfort.pdf
    A bit dated … but still IMO an interesting read. Didn’t include how active the Rabbi community is.

    Reply

  24. Sand says:

    And then you have the States in which politically motivated Jewish interests are powerful. NY, CA and FL of course.

    Reply

  25. Sand says:

    Cee… Yes, I’m surprised many Jewish people didn’t know about AIPAC — but many do now. Jeff Blankfort reckons about 1/3 of Jews in the US are politically active — how many in AIPAC and affliates not really sure — but after 911 AIPAC’s membership exploded — as did the likes of Hagee’s organization.

    Reply

  26. Cee says:

    This planted airspace story is an invitation to others to attack Saudia Arabia as Israel goes off to cause more havoc.
    Sand,
    The majority of Jews ARE powerless.
    It really surprised me to learn that many Jewish people didn’t even know what was AIPAC years ago or couldn’t afford to join. LOL!

    Reply

  27. Carroll says:

    Tee hee…Saudi to let Israel use their airspace?
    Sure when pigs fly.
    This is a re run of the same propaganda piece the Mossad had the Times run last July ’09.
    At which time the Saudis said:
    http://www.saudiembassy.net/press-releases/press07060901.aspx
    Saudi Arabia Denies Reports Regarding Israeli Use Of Its Airspace
    July 6, 2009
    [Washington, DC]

    Reply

  28. Sand says:

    JohnH @ 11:59am
    Yeah, ‘someone’ is testing the waters to put that stuff out in print? We’ll have to see what the response is.

    Reply

  29. Sand says:

    ‘except’
    “…It pains me that so many of my fellow citizens are falling into this age-old trap of blaming the powerless Jews who seem so powerful because of the existence of a handful of “court Jews” who **front** for the power structure…”
    You see I’m not buying that they are just a front — I’ve said all along I think it was alliance, and many in the Jewish community have been compliant e.g. many in the Jewish religious community etc — Plus, these ‘Court Jews’ have stock and shares now — and a ‘State’ with nukes! They are not that powerless.

    Reply

  30. JohnH says:

    I don’t believe the Times report for a minute. The Saudis are not that stupid. They may not like Iran, but they don’t like Israel, either. Allowing Israel to use their airspace would simply be an invitation to Iranian retaliation and to a domestic uprising…and a prelude to the kind of economic catastrophe that would have Jewish (neocon/AIPAC/Likud) fingerprints all over it.

    Reply

  31. Sand says:

    “An Open Letter to Paul Wolfowitz”
    Very interesting letter — accept it shouldn’t be missed that Israel is also very much part of the MIC — surviving in the arms world and trading secrets and the like — It’s not by accident that many AIPAC interns etc have made their way into the bureaucracy and the ‘Jewish Court’ into committees such as foreign affairs and homeland security.
    Seems like the Saudi’s are flexing their muscles and see a definite weakness in the Obama/the US!
    WigWay seems pleased!

    Reply

  32. Don Bacon says:

    The US still has a friend in the Muslim world — Saudi Arabia, that bastion of freedom and democracy. Therefore this pre-planned follow-up to the sanctions bill. Call it diplomacy in action.

    Reply

  33. WigWag says:

    Maybe Steve would like to comment on the Saudis giving Israel permission to enter its airspace to attack Iran.
    From the “that’s very interesting department.”
    June 12, 2010
    Times of London
    Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites
    Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran

    Reply

  34. JohnH says:

    Energy “security” interests are more than happy to have largely Jewish neocons front for their imperial ambitions. And in return they lavish money on Israel.
    But when the imperial adventures finally bankrupt the country, people will not notice the influence of greedy energy interests or defense contractors.
    As Josh Ruebner points out, we know exactly how the story of court Jews plays out.

    Reply

  35. David says:

    I would love to have coffee with Josh Ruebner. Obviously I do not have any way to know what kinds of conversations are going on in the Jewish community within the federal government except for what I can learn from tv and the internet. Also, I am not that familiar with the Jewish moral/intellectual traditions Ruebner refers to, though I have always been aware that some powerful traditions exist, the traditions that helped inform Jewish involvement in the anti-apartheid civil rights movement. Michael Lerner was my first introduction to powerful Jewish moral/intellectual thinking. And I am now getting to see it in action at JStreet, just as I have always seen powerful thinking by Jewish authors and activists throughout my long association with anti-war advocacies.
    I agree with the Jewish voices who see Israel’s very soul as a nation as being at serious risk. And I am grateful that I can find the kind of very important commentary on this very serious crisis on TWN. Attacks on TWN for providing this commentary are both wrongheaded and counterproductive if one’s goal is a just peace and a viable Israel. And to somehow conflate with anti-semitism this very helpful focus on the crisis for Gaza and what is both destructive and self-destructive on Israel’s part is preposterous.
    I do not know if Israel can walk itself back from the profoundly immoral hole it has been and continues to dig for itself. I also do not know if Hamas can be a partner for peace, although I suspect rational members of Hamas must understand that they can neither eliminate Israel nor defeat Israel militarily, just as rational Israelis understand they can neither conquer Palestine nor continue with the occupation, colonization, and relegation of Palestinians to what amount to reservations.
    Likud wants territorial expansion – that is inarguable. Likud does not want the inevitable consequences of colonization, since it means evermore involvement of Muslims in the actuality of Israeli existence. These are mutually exclusive goals. Israel must either become a non-sectarian, inclusive society in a one-state solution to the current unsustainable debacle, or else it must help foster a just two-state solution, which means withdrawing from all the Occupied Territories and returning the settlement lands to the Palestinians.
    Justice has almost never driven national self-interest. In fact, it has been considered an externality, much like the history of corporate behavior. So I don’t know why Israel would rise above that history of nationalist behavior, except for the very powerful moral/intellectual threads in Judaism. Jewish adherents to those threads are in a minority in Israel. But then so were American adherents to our collective national moral/intellectual threads during American apartheid. I just do not know if Israel can walk back from its geographic ambitions. Christian Zionists can’t, because their ideology condemns them to hell if they do.
    Meanwhile, serious gratitude to TWN for carrying these contributions to the conversation, and to JStreet and other progressive Jewish groups for championing the moral/intellectual threads which must come to define Israel if it is not to self-destruct and/or take the rest of the Middle East down with it.
    And Hamas, learn something from MLK, Jr., Gandhi, and all the other champions of non-violent pursuit of justice, something a truly united people can achieve, or as was observed during some of the civil rights marches, the sound of thousands of people marching peacefully, determinedly is a sound which cannot be ignored, and if the numbers are large enough, cannot be turned aside.
    Why could the anti-war marchers not stop the invasion of Iraq? Large as the numbers were, they were neither large enough nor determined enough, and that is something which requires a national consciousness which goes beyond the skills or efforts of organizers. It must be organic to a people, something impossible in post-Nixon America and the resounding success of polarization and wedge-issue politics.
    Thanks for absolutely nothing Rush, Karl, Fox, and your predecessors. And while I’m at it, thanks for nothing, DDE, for urging the insertion of “under God” between “one nation” and “indivisible.” It was the start of inculcating in children the idea of division because it was clearly intended, and is understood, as the Christian god, and it blatantly excluded atheists, and is now becoming more and more anti-Muslim. We were, according to adoring fans of this horrible mistake, after all founded as “a Christian nation,” something which is utter nonsense but which has gained traction with a majority of Americans.
    Yes, I think all of the points in my comment are connected, horribly connected.

    Reply

  36. Carroll says:

    Once upon a time, about 5 years ago, I said anti semitism was a thing of the past..but yes, now it is back.
    Two of the reasons besides the crimes and outrages of the “Jewish” State in the news and on the net that shocks decent people, is that the “zionist” aren’t separated from ‘the Jews’ for the public by the media. So for the less informed, Israelis and the “Jewish” State and the zionist the hear roaring for wars all the time simply equals ‘all Jews’…..or “those people” causing all the trouble for the ME and the US. Another reason is the constant spinning by media zionist and zionist congresspeople speaking for “the Jews” in defense of the indefensible Israeli actions…even less sophisticated people do notice when facts such as the recent flotilla massacre don’t match the outrageous spin they hear “in behalf of the Jews Jewish state” blasting forth from politicians and Jewish/zionist quarters.
    I recently had a die hard Fox News guy of all people tell me “the Jews” are trying to get the US in a war with Iran….I don’t know how he figured that out from watching Faux news unless it’s the Israel can do no wrong overkill factor by the Fox talking heads and guest.
    Anyway Yes, it’s back….there is a solution to anti semitism but it requires a lot of truth telling and education of the public by the media, the politicians,and by the Jews themselves.
    But I don’t expect that to happen so imo it’s only going to get worse.

    Reply

  37. Cee says:

    Jewish fingerprints are what will stand out in people’s minds
    JohnH,
    So right. You made me remember this:
    March 14, 2003
    An Open Letter to Paul Wolfowitz
    To My Former Dean and Other “Court Jews”
    by JOSH RUEBNER
    Dear Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz,
    I doubt it if you remember me. That’s okay though. I don’t think that I did anything to merit drawing the attention of the dean as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). I was pretty bookish at SAIS and spent more than my share of time toiling over economic models in the library. As the dean of SAIS, I am sure that you had fleeting contact with hundreds of students like myself. I think that we shared a few coffees together during your weekly breakfast meetings with students. I thought that custom was classy and demonstrated the importance that you placed on being in touch with us. I liked the fact that you invariably showed up at our Friday afternoon Happy Hour ritual in the courtyard when we all unwound after an intense week of studies.
    The comfortable, accessible relationship that you had with your students at SAIS makes it difficult for me to address you as the Assistant Secretary of Defense of the United States of America. It sounds so formal and removed, doesn’t it? Yet I wouldn’t have the audacity to call you by your first name either. Perhaps, for the sake of this letter, I can simply call you “brother.” I hope that you do not take offense at this intimate appellation. But, you see, I am not writing this letter as a secular American critic of a unilateralist U.S. foreign policy that has run amok. Instead, I decided to write to you as one fellow Jew to another. And as Jews, we do share that intimate connection and shared sense of destiny even if we do not really know each other. Perhaps in Hebrew school you learned the dictum kol yisrael arevim zeh la’zeh-that all Jews are responsible for and to each other. It is in this spirit of mutual responsibility that I write to you.
    Brother, I am concerned about you. I am concerned that you are being exploited and that you do not realize it. Before you discard my pro-peace, anti-imperialism views about the war in Iraq as the ranting of an aberrant SAIS student who somehow escaped from the school’s neo-conservative straitjacket, I plead with you to engage in chesbon nefesh-that powerful, beautiful Jewish tradition of “soul accounting” in which we engage during the High Holidays. Before the bombs start falling on the long-suffering, innocent civilians of Baghdad, please look into your heart and ask yourself honestly whose interests you are serving by being such a visible symbol of this policy.
    Lately I have come to the disturbing conclusion that the Bush Administration is using you as its “court Jew” par excellence. Rest assured, this is not a term that I learned during my studies at SAIS. Rather I picked it up in the course of my involvement with the Jewish peace movement which is calling simultaneously for an end to Israel’s self-destructive military occupation of Palestine and is helping to mobilize the millions of good-hearted Americans who have taken to the streets to protest the war of aggression that the Bush Administration is pedaling.
    “Court Jew” is a term that originates in the context of anti-Semitism in “enlightened” Europe. On that blood-soaked continent, the reigning monarchs and other despotic rulers thought up an ingenious system to perpetuate their oppressive systems of government. These shrewd, Machiavellian rulers made a psychologically brilliant pact with an elite, assimilationist group of Jewish subjects who craved nothing more than acceptance by the power structure of society. Often, these ambitious Jews were so eager to serve the interests of the rulers so that they could ease their feelings of internalized self-hatred. They viewed serving the power structure as a way to overcome the marginality and stigmas associated with being Jewish which were built into the very fabric of society by the power structure to begin with. The rulers understood this yearning to enter the halls of power and took advantage of it by dangling a carrot of illusional power before the hungry eyes of this wayward Jewish elite. These “court Jews” were given politically unimportant, yet highly visible positions within the regime. Why? So that when the subjected masses rose up from time to time in justified outrage at the oppressive nature of the regime under which they lived, there was a convenient, ready-made scapegoat in place. The “court Jew,” as a highly visible symbol of the regime, served as the lighting rod to bear the brunt of the blame and deflect criticism from where it belonged rightfully. Brother, need I remind you how disastrous it was for our people to be the target of this rage? I think that you would agree that, in retrospect, it would have been better not to have played the fool for those European monarchs.
    But, alas, the tragic mistakes of history do tend to repeat themselves. (Brother, it makes we wonder sometimes if the global community of human beings is making “progress” toward anything worth progressing to.) Maybe you don’t see it coming, but I do. Your job is to interact in the high-brow world of intelligence briefings and diplomacy. My job is to interact with the people and mobilize them against the very steps that you’re taking. With all due respect, I think that I am in a better position to hear what the people are saying. Do you know what they’re saying already? That the war in Iraq is being planned by a cabal of extremist Jews. That it is the first part of a Zionist conspiracy to redraw the map of the Middle East. That Israel stands to be the prime beneficiary of this war. And it’s not just the marginalized skinheads who are saying this either. It’s also mainstream folks who would swear up and down that they don’t have an anti-Semitic bone in their bodies. I’m sure that you, like me, recoiled in horror when you heard Congressman Jim Moran assert that it is the Jews who are advocating for this war and that only the Jews have the power to stop it.
    It pains me that so many of my fellow citizens are falling into this age-old trap of blaming the powerless Jews who seem so powerful because of the existence of a handful of “court Jews” who front for the power structure. This doesn’t mean that the “court Jews” of the unelected Jewish Establishment haven’t been hawking for this war. They have been. There is no denying that Israel sent Benjamin Netanyahu to Capitol Hill to testify for the war in Iraq and “convince” Members of Congress that it was in the interests of the United States to let loose the dogs of war (as if they needed much convincing anyway). All of this is true. This is the beauty of how the system works. Take a few “court Jews” and give them unimpeded access to the mainstream media and, voila, you create the impression among the masses that “the Jews” are spoiling for a war. Do you see brother how you are misrepresenting us? I wish that we in the Jewish peace movement could have as much access as you do to the mainstream media so that we could shatter the monolithic view of the Jewish community which the “court Jew” by definition is set up to propagate. Of course, we are denied that access by the same power structure which has an interest in making sure that yours is the only “Jewish” voice heard.
    I’m really afraid that we are heading for a calamity. If the people are this incensed now my brother, how do you think they will feel when American men and women start returning from the sands of Kuwait in body bags? Who is going to be blamed if, God forbid, we are subjected to another terrorist attack? Do these thoughts keep you awake at night? Are you scared like I am that this imperialistic war in Iraq threatens the existence of the Jewish people?
    My brother, I don’t blame you for accepting the starring role of “court Jew.” It must be a pretty amazing feeling to convince yourself that you have as much power as everybody says that you do. I hope that I never get close enough to the power structure of this crumbling, decrepit empire to get a taste of it. In my humble opinion, there is only one honorable thing that you can do to undo the shameful damage that you have caused already: resign. For the sake of your own dignity, you must refuse to be exploited as the “court Jew.” Step down and deprive the power structure of its “court Jew” and you will expose to the world the actors who really motivate the Bush Administration. Please, before it is too late, tell the world that it is not the powerless Jews who are pushing for this war, but the greedy, venal barons of corporate America who stand to profit while cowering behind the myth of the all-powerful Jew. Tell everybody what you and I both know. That the real interests hawking for this war are the defense contractors and the oil industry who will make billions of dollars to first destroy Iraq and then “rebuild” it under the protective wing of American “democracy.” And, while you’re at it, please tell the world that the $100 billion the Bush Administration will require to pay the military-industrial complex to finance this war of aggression will be sucked from the wallets of the impoverished American working class which is systematically being stripped of government services by this rapacious regime.
    I am not the type of Jew who generally bases his opinions on whether a particular action “is good for the Jews.” I would like to believe that I have a more embracing, holistic view of humanity. Maybe it even seems self-centered to worry about what will happen to the Jews because of this war when thousands of innocent Iraqis stand to die in order for the United States to “liberate” their country. I confess though that I’m worried and I don’t know what else to do with my fear except express it. Brother, it seems to me to be so painfully obvious that this war will benefit no one but the corporate interests I mentioned above. Not Jews, not Americans, not Israelis, not Iraqis, and not Palestinians.
    If I’ve sparked even a sliver of doubt in your mind as to the wisdom of the course you are pursuing, please call me and we can get together for a cup of coffee over breakfast. It will be just like the good old days at SAIS.
    With love,
    Josh Ruebner
    Josh Ruebner is co-founder of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI) and a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service (CRS). He can be reached: jruebner@hotmail.com
    http://www.counterpunch.org/ruebner03142003.html

    Reply

  38. David says:

    Terrific piece.

    Reply

  39. Don Bacon says:

    I believe we’re re-learning something we should have known already, that what people think doesn’t matter as much as what the big dogs decide to do. But payback’s a bitch.

    Reply

  40. JohnH says:

    You could make a good case that Wigwag and Nadine and their ilk are the Antisemites here, because they champion Israeli policies that give Judaism a bad name and drive Israel deeper and deeper into the hole it is digging for itself.

    Reply

  41. ... says:

    johnh 921pm post… i think the saying goes ‘you can wait til hell freezes over before that happens’… nice touche though…
    as a side note, all this coverage of steves has happened primarily out of the flotilla event, which is an important event on the world stage as many see it… there are a number of angles to this story internationally, and all of them lead back to finding a solution to the stalemate on a number of fronts that either israel is complicit it maintaining, or worse…
    it isn’t just turkey that is fed up with the blockade.. it is a majority of thinking individuals around the globe…

    Reply

  42. DonS says:

    Need I remind Wig wag that she engaged in the following colloquy, that she is now trying to declaim:
    “Or maybe Steve is only interested in bigotry if the person espousing it has a Jewish sur name. (ndine)
    “There’s a name for that too; isn’t there?” (Wigwag)
    It is a favorite tactic of hers to slander and attack another an then to claim amnesia of the event or to simply avoid further reference as if being hidden down the memory hole of the former comment will somehow absolve her from the rank calumny she breeds.
    In case Wig wag needs reminding, there are those of us as offended by her lack of civility and character, not to mention just downright nasty meanness, as she finds offensive in so many others.

    Reply

  43. DonS says:

    “If people wrongly think that you’re an anti Semite, maybe your obsession with Jewish Israelis has something to do with it.”
    “And let

    Reply

  44. JohnH says:

    Well said, Wigwag. “When a person writes scores of posts that are hyper critical of one side to a dispute while never mentioning anything even remotely critical about the behavior of the other side to the dispute, it’s simply human nature for an observer to attribute bad motives to bad behavior.”
    When will you write something critical about the Israeli government? Or condemn the execution of unarmed Americans by the IDF?

    Reply

  45. WigWag says:

    “I just want to make sure that folks here know that I believe that anti-Semitism is real and a problem. I sometimes receive out of line notes from angry readers accusing me of being an anti-Semite, and they are wrong.” (Steve Clemons)
    I am sure that they are wrong, Steve, but you are being disingenuous. If people wrongly think that you’re an anti Semite, maybe your obsession with Jewish Israelis has something to do with it.
    When a person writes scores of posts that are hyper critical of one side to a dispute while never mentioning anything even remotely critical about the behavior of the other side to the dispute, it’s simply human nature for an observer to attribute bad motives to bad behavior.
    If you wrote obsessively about crimes committed by inner city African Americans without offering a nuanced explanation for why there is a lot of crime in the African American community, people could be excused for thinking you might harbor racist tendencies; don’t you think? If the only time that you mentioned Mexicans was in the context of drug dealing, you really couldn

    Reply

  46. JohnH says:

    Steve is right: “anti-Semitism is real and a
    problem.”
    Lebovich is also right to point out the “the excessive invocation of ‘anti-Semitism’” is making more and more people skeptical, making the epithet lose potency by the day.
    Worse, the largely Jewish neocon movement is so tightly woven into the fabric of American fiascoes overseas that when Americans finally connect the dots between foreign fiascoes and their own economic insecurity, Jewish fingerprints are what will stand out in people’s minds, even though there were many other, less prominent drivers behind the fiascoes. At that point, many American Jews will wish they had been more vociferous in disassociating themselves from Israel, the neocon movement and its Likud/AIPAC allies.
    And then there is the parallel problem of entrenched bias against anything Muslim. I’m sure Steve has also heard stunningly racist
    comments against Muslims in his home package of states of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas as well as in rural California and Maryland. I have seen mosques, unidentified by any signage, surrounded by barbed wire fences as a result of anti-Muslim hysteria.
    Allowing the Israeli-Palestinian to fester has led to deeply disturbing callousness and racist attitudes in Western society. Collateral damage from the conflict has most affected Muslims to date. But in the future, it will likely poison attitudes towards both sides.

    Reply

  47. ... says:

    i would like to point out to wigwag that the reason for much of this and many conversations at present on israel has to do with it’s disastrous attack on the flotilla which has nothing to do with anti-semitism and everything to do with israels refusal to relate to the world in any view that is not coddling israels perpetual victim status…
    wigwag quote:
    “As for “young people growing skeptical;” it’s hard to imagine a more dimwitted comment. If something is anti-Semitic it needs to be criticized whatever some theoretic group of “young people” think.”
    if israels actions are murderous and comparable with the actions of a terrorist group they need to be told so and it has nothing to do with anti-semitism, a favourite topic used by jewish people to shift the conversation off in a different direction from the topic at hand – israels rogue military actions when another response could have worked out infinitely more favourable to itself…

    Reply

  48. questions says:

    Don, go tell your boss (if you have one) to go fuck off and see how “free” your speech is….
    There are recognized limits just for social decency.
    So if you hate bending over backwards to prove your dislike of anti-Semitism while arguing that Israel’s policies are problematic, maybe it’s still worthwhile and maybe it’s not really a limit on your speech to recognize that it’s just more humane to speak one way rather than another.
    Maybe the obsessions around here regarding one particular set of international problems is merely a reasonable focus, but it isn’t received that way all the time, and because reception is an issue in social situations, maybe those expressing their views need to realize that there are recipients out there.
    And note, by the way, I’m on the PC side of things, not the express yourselves side of things….

    Reply

  49. Don Bacon says:

    “. . .an inability to speak their minds freely — which of course goes against the grain of Americanness itself.”
    Damned straight. I reserve the right to be anti-anything or -anyone, and say so. I hate anti-Semites, for one thing.

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    I think the boundaries for what counts as anti-semitism are as difficult to settle on as those for racism. Biden probably thought nothing of his “clean-cut, articulate” remark, but I know plenty of people who were upset about it.
    Part of the problem is that bias is an issue of perception as much as it is an issue of intention. It is also an issue of outcome, despite intention. The murk here makes for some uncomfortable moments in a diverse social situation.
    The perception side of things should motivate speakers to be careful. But then people start crying out about “political correctness” and they feel an inability to speak their minds freely — which of course goes against the grain of Americanness itself.
    Still, it’s probably a wise and humane thing to realize that speech has an audience and the audience should be able to receive the speech without worrying about the intent.

    Reply

  51. Steve Clemons says:

    WigWag makes an important point. I just want to make sure that
    folks here know that I believe that anti-Semitism is real and a
    problem. I sometimes receive out of line notes from angry readers
    accusing me of being an anti-Semite, and they are wrong. But
    anti-Semitism is alive and well. I have heard stunningly racist
    comments against Jews in my home package of states of
    Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Have heard such commentary in
    rural California and Maryland. Have heard hateful comments from
    very senior Arab business leaders in Dubai whose younger children
    came to me to apologize for the crudeness of their father’s anti-
    Jewish, anti-Israel comments. Knee jerk accusations of anti-
    Semitism used to stifle debate, or used for political purposes,
    should be called out and challenged. But we should not make the
    opposite mistake that real anti-Semitism is but a fading trend. Not
    the case — and I hope reasonable people acknowledge this.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    For those like Tony Judt and Andrew Lebovich who think that anti-Semitism is mostly a myth and we shouldn’t talk about it so much,
    http://www.rabbilive.com/RabbiLIVE/Home.html

    Reply

  53. Don Bacon says:

    According to a US government report: Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report, Released March 2008 by the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. Department of State –
    nearly any criticism of Israel is anti-semitic. It’s called “new anti-Semitism”.
    Chap 3
    “In contrast, new anti-Semitism, characterized
    by anti-Zionist and anti-Israel criticism that is anti-Semitic in its effect

    Reply

  54. WigWag says:

    As long as Andrew Lebovich thinks quoting Tony Judt is a good idea, here’s what Steve Clemon’s friend and New America Board member, Walter Russell Mead has to say about anti-Semitism and the obsession with all things Israel.
    Middle East

    Reply

  55. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Love this piece…thanxxxx…this is a major step/shift and high time…there are so many righteous Jews…it’s time they felt comfortable opposig the party line for the greater good of both sides of this chronic crisis.
    Pavlav asserted that repetition was key to enforcing and re-inforcing perceptions and associations….our constant use of “Israel-Palenstine”, rather than “Palestine-Israel”, IMHO, is a subconscious expression of our always putting Israel first. Being a congenital contrarian, I am now going to say “Palestine-Israel” to re-inforce the concept of shifting that balance.
    Try it, you might like it. Start a trend.

    Reply

  56. WigWag says:

    “We should beware the excessive invocation of “anti-Semitism.” A younger generation in the United States, not to mention worldwide, is growing skeptical. “If criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is potentially ‘anti-Semitic,’ why take seriously other instances of the prejudice?” they ask, and “What if the Holocaust has become just another excuse for Israeli bad behavior?” The risks that Jews run by encouraging this conflation should not be dismissed…The time has come to cut through the clich

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *