Flesh is Grass responds to Keith Kahn Harris, who wrote a piece in which he tried to rise above and by-pass the controversy about whether we should be seriously concerned about contemporary antisemitism.
UPDATE from Saul
Why Lerman is Partly Right and Totally Wrong
There is a strong critical tradition within “Jewish” histiorography that takes to task the notion of “eternal antisemitism” – Arendt, Jacob Katz and Salo Baron. And, they are right on two points,
1. That the notion of “eternal antisemitism” – i.e. that non-Jews have always, do always and will always hate Jews – is not only wrong in itself, but also ignores the historical reality that for a long period of history Jews actively sought separation from “Gentile” communities (at least up to the 19th century).
2. That whilst Jews are not and never have been the cause of antisemitism the choices they have made and the situation in which they find themselves creates a reality upon which antisemitism arises and of which it offers a distortion.
A good example is the conflict in Israel and Palestine today – Israel is involved in a real-life conflict and its military responses and actions – as far as I and others are concerned – are not acceptable. This reality, of which Israel is an agent or actor appears in much “criticism” [sic] through the distorted lens of antisemitism – i.e. child-killers, the product of a “zionist” pathology, controllers of the media, controllers of US foreign policy, exploiting the Holocaust, falso crying antisemitism, etc. etc..
Where Arendt, Katz and Baron differ from Lerman, of course, is that whilst they offer a critique of “eternal antisemitism”, they do so in the recognition of the real existence of the antisemitism of their day. None of them, as Lerman does, denies its existence or blames the Jews for its existence. On the contrary, their critique of “eternal antisemitism” is made so as to bring into relief the specific contours of the antisemitism of their day so as to understand it all the more clearly and, as a consequence, to oppose it all the more effectively.
Unfortunately, whilst reproducing these thinkers negative appraisal of “eternal antisemitism”, Tony Lerman robs them of their critical impact. The paradoxical consequence of his approach is that Lerman reproduces a fundamental tenet of “eternal antisemitism”: that is, its perceived “naturalness”. It is this paradox that leads him to believe that the second Jews step out of line, non-Jews will “turn” antisemitic in a process as predictable as way that an acorn turns into an oak.