Antony Lerman defends “Seven Jewish Children”

Antony Lerman defends Churchill’s play against this CST criticism,  here.

Petra Marquardt-Bigman’s critique of Lerman’s recent work is here.

Saul comments:

“What has gone wrong with the Jewish journey from genocide in Europe to what Israel is today?”

Let us not forget, that the same question was asked by liberals and non-liberals in the nineteenth century to explain how it could be that a people who had been emancipated and brought into the bosom of civilization could still exhibit “negative” Jewish traits. More often than not, the question and the answer provided took the form of,

“a psychological link between past trauma and present brutality.”

It was this “psychological link” that sought to explain the idea that it was because of their prior exclusion in the ghetto that “the Jew could not be but  “immoral”, “unethical”,  “liars”, “cheats”, “dirty”., etc. etc.. Leaving the anti-Jewish tropes in place, these alleged negative images, fixed them all the more firmly under the label of a “psychological” condition of Jewishness. Immoralty, etc. now became the inherent trait of “the Jew”. It was only a short step for the problem of the Jewish “head” to be inscribed in the problem of Jewish “blood”.

Equally interesting was the fact that this notion of  a psychological “Jewishness” as the (“empirical”) foundation for the composite of negative traits that was said to make up the reality and actuality of “the Jew” was a line pushed most ardently by the established and assilimated Jews in the face of the embarassment brought about by the presence of the Ostjuden. The problem for the assimilated Jew, of course, was that people no longer compared them to their liberal (non-Jewish) brethren, but against the “mass” of their “backward” and “superstious” brethren from the East. The fear of loss of social status was palpable.

Needless to say, those assimilated Jews thought themselves adjusted and “healthy” and that the problem of “Jewishness” belonged to others.

The truth of the matter, as many historians of Jewish social and political history have noted, is that it was not the “backward and superstitious” who suffered from the tics of a psychological condition of “Jewishness” – they knew and relished their place as pariah – but those obsessed with differentiation (from the mass of Jews) and the acceptance which they craved – those thrown into the position of parvenu. It is, of course, true that they were forced into this role against their will (but which do not stop them they readily accepting it). Indeed, they were put into the position of playing an impossible game of showing to themselves and to others that they were both the  “same” and “different” at one and the same time. In that situation it is hardly surprising that such a game which implied the constant fear of being associated with the Jewish mass, of being “like them” should not take its psychological toll, and, in its wake, bring forth an alternative, but more socially grounded, more individual, more persistent concept of “Jewishness” that came to determine their every action, both in relation to Jews and non-Jews.

And, in this context, is it not  pertinent to note that, at a time when many a good liberal is seeking to make the Jew and the Jewish state a pariah, the parvenu’s voice joins the chorus and strives to sing the loudest?

In many schools of psychology and psychotherapy, it is encumbent for the therapist himself or herself to undergo the process themselves. If Lerman is going to continue in the present vein, maybe it is a piece of advice that he should take on board. After all, as he so often states, “denial” is a terrible thing.

Saul

37 Responses to “Antony Lerman defends “Seven Jewish Children””

  1. James Mendelsohn Says:

    As is often the case on CiF, the comments below the piece are revealing. Particularly the one by “Shazlee” who not only ‘could not agree more’ but also cites a Counterpunch article by Michael Neuman to “bolster” the anti-CST case.

    If Anthony Lerman finds himself being applauded by someone who is happy to cite Michael Neuman, does he stop for a moment to think that perhaps he himself is saying things in a wrong or at least an incomplete way?

  2. Bill Says:

    Ah Yes, Neuman and his “What is Antisemitism?” article…

    That article was a perfect example of how to dumb down racism to your personal comfort level (and prejudices) so that only the most over the top examples are classified as racist so that the whispering and seething can continue,.. The Protocols are Antisemetic but not Lobby Derangement Syndrome, or 7 Jewish Children, or specific blood libels — like the ones that Neuman entertains himself.

    Meanwhile would Lerman or Neuman stand by when this happens?

    Let’s have someone say that that Frank didn’t get promoted because Steve’s black and they could only promote one (never mind that Frank’s performance has steadily gone through the floor). Now since they’re not burning a cross on Steve’s yard (or in his cubicle), or heck, they’re not even linking to David Duke.Com (which we now know is only racist when people find out about it), we know that’s not racism since they’re not really criticizing Steve’s blackness but rather the NAACP “Lobby” and how management is cowtowing to it. Now let’s let that simmer. Soon enough Frank may never get a cross burned on his lawn or invited to a necktie party but if it continues unchecked, we may not only get an office fight between Steve, Frank and Frank’s drinking budies but an act that just might go beyond the point where Tony and Mike, who are at least Frank’s philosophical bar mates, can no longer blame it on the Affirmative Action Lobby — well they will but the rest of the office will never believe it.

    A realistic scenario? Of course not. Worse still I’m Changing the Subject. We’re not talking about racism. We’re talking about Jews — and a counter scenario that would never be believed by anyone who reads The Nation – or even CIF.

  3. James Mendelsohn Says:

    Oh, Ben “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” White has also now come to Lerman’s defence. Says a lot…

  4. Claude Attali Says:

    Lerman’s comments on antisemitism are practically without value. To see this look at the article he wrote recently in The Independent.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/must-jews-always-see-themselves-as-victims-1639277.html

    “Jews suffer from a persecution complex”

    He he misquotes Daniel Bar Tal (it was Haaretz that said it)

    “The Jewish public does not want to be confused with the facts … To justify its attack on Gaza, Israel threw the mantle of victimhood over the residents of southern Israel … Israel’s responsibility for the injustice of the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.”

    He adopts the Avram Burg/Norman Finkelstein position on the Holocaust

    “There is every reason why the Holocaust should be a constant influence on our thinking. But by insisting on owning it, fencing it off and seeing it as uniquely unique, we’re in danger of lifting the Jewish tragedy out of history altogether.”

    He disguises the fact that antisemitism is at record levels, instead suggesting that it is normal for a time of Middle East tension

    “This is starkly illustrated in the fact that the UK Jewish community’s defence body, the Community Security Trust, reports a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents since the beginning of the Gaza war. This is not a new phenomenon. For some decades, incidents have increased at times of high tension or violence in Israel-Palestine”

    He blames Israel for antisemitism

    “by provoking outrage, which is then used to target Jews, Israel bears responsibility for that anti-Jewish hostility”

    He says Jews want there to be antisemitism

    “so much of the Jewish world is more comfortable with an identifiable enemy that hates us than with a multicultural society that welcomes Jews on equal terms”

    And he ends by hinting at the equivalence of the Warsaw Ghetto with Gaza…..

  5. Siggy Says:

    If even half of what is said about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is true, then the “psychological link between past trauma and present brutality” is about to be replayed. That really is going to convince the Israelis to recognise the need for recognition of Palestinian rights to sovereignty.

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    “So to try and make a distinction between the Israeli state and Jews is unsustainable. It’s therefore perfectly justified for this play to be exclusively about Jews.”

    So, it it is now “perfectly justified” to attack Jews for the “actions of the Jewish state”
    (I assume Lerman means only those who don’t “speak out” (just like Thatcher and the anti-libertarians, Lerman treats the legitimate right to remain silent as an indication of guilt. A modern day Inquisition, me thinks.

    I assume he also means the “actions of the Jewish state” as believed by popular opinion, rather than reality. (What were the claims surrounding 1948, surrounding, say, Jenin? What are the facts?)

    To be given a green light like this, almost makes me wish I was an antisemite.

    “Of course I spat at that Jew, but I was doing so because of what her other Jews are doing in Israel; after all, and here I quote a leading Jewish commentator, “to try and make a distinction between the Israeli state and Jews is unsustainable”.

  7. Seven Other Children Says:

    Opens tonight

    Tickets are free: 020 7592 9666 nd leave a clear message with your name, telephone number, dates and ticket requirements

    New End Theatre from 5–16 May. If you are Jewish, please bring a friend who isn’t.

    “Written as a theatrical response to Seven Jewish Children, which as you know caused such disquiet and anger at the Royal Court Theatre in February, my eight-minute play matches Caryl Churchill’s format and vernacular but seeks to provide the necessary context to the debate.

    We hope that you will be able to see the fully staged Seven Other Children at the New End Theatre, Hampstead during its two-week run in early May (all tickets free and only bookable in advance). We should also be most grateful if you would spread the word, in whatever way you can, about its forthcoming production.

    Yours sincerely,
    Richard Stirling”

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Anthony Lerman: “The first two statements are pure sophistry. The offensive against Gaza was launched in the name of the Israeli state. Israel declares itself to be “the Jewish state” and the offensive was carried out by Jews – not by Arab or Palestinian citizens of Israel. So to try and make a distinction between the Israeli state and Jews is unsustainable. It’s therefore perfectly justified for this play to be exclusively about Jews.”

    Lerman, in turn, uses the sophistry he alleges Rich & Gardner employ, when he refocuses Churchill’s “intentions” (which he knows all about, being, presumably, a fully qualified psychiatrist or at least psychotherapist) in calling her play “7 Jewish Children” from _Jews_ to _Israelis_. This is a reading of the script which it will not sustain (and, yes, I have read the play). It is self-evidently about Jews and Jewish children – and zkharya offers a superb deconstruction of it in a comments thread below – and only marginally about _Israeli_ Jews. If Churchill’s play was sparked by events in Gaza, she has a funny way of showing it.

    And Lerman is the man who, in the Independent article linked to in Claude Attali’s comment above, refers to Salo Baron’s comment on “lachrymose Jews” (no reference for the rest of us to follow up) when asserting that the contemporary rise in antisemitism is due to a) Israel’s actions in defending itself and its citizens and b) the continued support for Israel by most Diaspora Jews. He further states (not implies, _states_ quite openly) that antisemitism will decline only when Diaspora Jewry stops supporting Israel, that is, ceases being Zionist (he does this again in his CiF article above).

    This is a man who was _twice_ Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, and is therefore, presumably, a qualified social science researcher. Not that one would know it from his journalism.

    And “David”, if you’re convinced this is an ad hominem attack on Lerman, don’t just assert it (or be rude and insulting to me in an effort to undermine my intellectual credibility) say, in detail, why this is so. Shouldn’t be too hard for you.

  9. Saul Says:

    Brian,
    Lerman et al are quite correct to say that if Israel were to behave itself and/or Jews would stop supporting it, antisemitism would decline. But that is not the point.
    The point is that Lerman et al see antisemitism as a natural and inevitable reaction to whenever Jews act in the world in ways that others don’t like, rather than a distortion and a species of racism that needs to be challenged and questioned.

    If anything shows that Lerman et al have no idea whatsoever of a distinction between “criticism of Israel” and antisemitism this is it, a point evidenced in their attempts to root the problems within some notion of “psychologism”. I.e. if Israel’s actions are determined by the voices in their heads, then criticism of Israel can only turn of the (collective) failure of Jews; hence the link between criticism of Israel and antisemitism is completed (Israel becomes a “Jewish” problem) (Needless to say, in this way Lerman et al write the Palestinians out of history, something, of course, which they accuse Zionists of!)

    Rather than fight racism and antisemitism they blame the victim for bringing it into the world. As noted many times before, it is the classic response of antisemitism itself – “I don’t want to hate the Jews, but, really, look at how they act………they bring it all on themselves; so what can I do”.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “Lerman et al are quite correct to say that if Israel were to behave itself and/or Jews would stop supporting it, antisemitism would decline. But that is not the point.”

      Saul, while I agree with every other word in this comment of yours, I have to disagree here. It certainly _is_ the point. Jews “behaved themselves” in the Pale of Settlement, and it didn’t stop the pogroms; they “behaved themselves” in England in the 13th Century, and it didn’t stop the massacres and the expulsions; they “behaved themselves” in Spain and it didn’t stop the Inquisition, the forced conversions and the expulsion; they “behaved themselves” in early 20th C. Germany, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, and it didn’t stop the Holocaust.

      In other words, without a radical rethink on the part of the well-meaning anti-racists who can’t see antisemitism when it bites them on the nose (it’s only anti-Zionism, after all), _whatever_ Israel and the Diaspora do will be an excuse to denigrate Israel, Jews and anyone brave enough to try and set the record straight or even balance the scales of human rights abuses.

      Perhaps the only thing that _would_ satisfy these people would be if all 13 million of us were to move to another planet overnight. I keep waiting for Tom Hickey to blame Israel and the Jews for global warming.

      This really is blaming the victim with a vengeance, and “as-a-Jews” don’t help one tiny bit.

      • Bill Says:

        Didn’t someone already beat him to it? Someone somewhere said that the I/P conflict was an impediment to addressing climate change….

    • Bill Says:

      “Lerman et al are quite correct to say that if Israel were to behave itself and/or Jews would stop supporting it, antisemitism would decline. But that is not the point.”

      I’m choking, *hard*, over the broader implications of this statement regarding racism in general… But to the point about Israel and Jews: the only thing here you hit close to the mark is that some critics if Israel will have trouble enabling antisemitism but causing it to decline? No. That’s entirely the burden of antisemites — and their enablers. There’s no excuse for either.

  10. zkharya Says:

    I paste the audio-file of Howard Jacobson’s interview with the Canadian Sunday Edition:

    http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/index.html

    it’s about 20 minutes in.

  11. Sabato Says:

    “Lerman et al are quite correct to say that if Israel were to behave itself and/or Jews would stop supporting it, antisemitism would decline.”

    I doubt that Saul.

    Antisemitism was around before Israel. If Israel didn’t exsit antisemites on the right and left would be talking about Jewish bankers or Jewish communists.

    Jews are hated by antisemites for who they are and not for what they do.

  12. Jacob Says:

    Here is a substantial critique od Lerman in the Jerusalem Post:

    “The Warped Mirror: The “facts-don’t-matter” camp”

    “Over the past year, Antony Lerman has published quite a few articles defending anti-Zionist views against the charge that they often serve as a cover-up for antisemitism. If his articles include any biographical information, Lerman is usually presented as (former) director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London; he has also been described as a “leading Jewish thinker.” Of course, anyone who writes “as a Jew” and single-mindedly focuses on whatever is wrong with Israel and Zionism can count on having an appreciative audience that can’t get enough of this message – particularly if it comes with regular complaints about how unfair it is to suspect people of anti-Semitism simply because they feel that the world would be a better place if Israel didn’t exist….”

    http://cgis.jpost.com/Blogs/warpedmirror/entry/the_facts_don_t_matter

  13. Saul Says:

    I am sorry but I don’t buy the idea of eternal antisemitism.
    Antisemitism is connected to real life conflicts that Jews are involved in. It is a warped distortion of actual social and political conflicts (I except nazi antisemitism). In this instance, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

  14. Bill Says:

    (I’m still aching over Saul’s first comment. While going no where near what he intended, I keep seeing lunch counters. Ouch, Saul! But anyway)

    “Antisemitism is connected to real life conflicts that Jews are involved in. It is a warped distortion of actual social and political conflicts (I except nazi antisemitism). In this instance, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.”

    So is any other flavor of Racism. And in any case of Racism who’s responsible for that warped distortion? It’s not the Blacks, the Mics, the Them’s, the Jews, and no it’s not Israel.

    The Jews never killed kids for yummie treats… The Jews never poisoned wells. Recalling the “parable” of the painting of Christ’s condemnation, all of humanity killed Jesus, not the Jews (or even the occupying Romans & Pharisees) just not everyone could make the teleconference. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were a forgery. All as phoney as every other racist canard and conspiracy theory. How were they misbehaving back then? What social and political conflicts were they involved in besides going about their business in a world that blamed them for everything?

    Meanwhile, Israel “behaved” and withdrew from Southern Lebanon (or should that be Greater Syria, oops changing the subject, we’re not talking about occupation or social or political conflicts) & Gaza and got Darfur 1 and Rocket Attacks. Similarly, the Jews could dissolve “The Lobby” yesterday and there would still be the aforementioned Elders. All “the Good Jews” like Finkelstein are gaining is to be the last Jews killed by crazy people who believe in talking rocks.

    The problem isn’t Jews going Mal Reynolds (“aiming to misbehave”) or finally deciding to screw it all and “chew bubblegum and kick a**.” The problem are antisemites and their enablers who don’t have the cajones to challenge them, or maybe agree with them “just a ‘little'”.

    As much as I want to believe that antisemitism or any other flavor of racism isn’t eternal, it’s not going away anytime soon. And it certainly isn’t going to evaporate as long as we “understand” racists or pander to their apologists and enablers so we get invited to parties or just not mistreated to our faces — just behind our backs. And Israel’s removal from the universe won’t be what makes it go away. What will make it go away is for the world to grow up and stop blaming everything on the Jews and Israel.

  15. Jacob Says:

    Saul Says: “I am sorry but I don’t buy the idea of eternal antisemitism. Antisemitism is connected to real life conflicts that Jews are involved in. It is a warped distortion of actual social and political conflicts (I except nazi antisemitism). In this instance, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.”

    What does eternal mean? Antisemitism is ideologically driven as well as “connected to real life conflicts that Jews are involved in.”

    Jews is late 1300 Spain for example experienced massacres not because of real life conflicts, but because of Christian ideologies, or rather people involved real life conflicts use ideologies as an aid against their enemies.

    Jews as a minority everywhere (an historical fact and not a ontological datum) are vulnerable to current the use of ideologies against them, be they Christian, Muslim, Marxist-Leninist, Fascists, or the assortment of contemporary multicultural ideologies.

  16. Saul Says:

    ok. points taken, but one question…………what’s lunch counters got to do with it??

  17. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “I am sorry but I don’t buy the idea of eternal antisemitism.
    Antisemitism is connected to real life conflicts that Jews are involved in. It is a warped distortion of actual social and political conflicts (I except nazi antisemitism). In this instance, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.”

    What have we done, Saul, for the last 2000 years to justify the persecution, prejudice and discrimination against us? Sure, our multiply great ancestors rose against the Romans who wished to ram pagan religion down their throats. These lovely bringers of civilisation proceeded to massacre 600,000 of us (according to the very non-Jewish British Museum exhibition on Hadrian), and attempted to scatter the rest to the four winds.

    Since then, the pogroms, the massacres, the genocides, to say nothing of the barring from professions, from education, from employment has continued _whatever_ the hell we collectively did or didn’t _do_.

    I will _not_ take the blame for some schmuck who can’t think straight and wants to blame me and mine because the world doesn’t work _exactly_ as his/her little mind wants it to. I will _not_ take the blame because _they_ ramp up the antisemitism every time Israel defends itself, as it has every right to do under international law (which does not mean the right to do _anything_).

    Saul, stop doing Lerman’s work for him: your latest comments are coming perilously close to blaming the victim, and that’s what he, the Deborah’s, Ryan, and all the others incapable of thinking outside their despicable prejudices, are doing.

    As I said in my first reply to you, Jews can “behave properly” all they/we want, and these antisemitic bastards will _still_ blame us for the rain falling on their carnival parade, even when they hold it in the monsoon season.

    And even if antisemitism _is_ connected to real world events, it is only because there _are_ Jews that antisemitism exists, not because of what Jews do or don’t do. Ask Tom Hickey. Better, go back and re-read his BMJ article: a superb example of (unwitting?) racism and antisemitism in one smelly little package.

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      Well and passionately put, Brian.

      Since then, the pogroms, the massacres, the genocides, to say nothing of the barring from professions, from education, from employment has continued _whatever_ the hell we collectively did or didn’t _do_.

      In short — borrowing a good turn of phrase — the trouble with the Jewish question is that whenever the Jews figure out the answer, the antisemites change the question.

  18. Evan Says:

    Then we get comments such as these (from “Mediaburn”):

    “However it doesn’t just affect Jews and the American European Jewish Zionists controlling Israel, unlike the Palestinians , aren’t Semites; there is no racial continuum in what is, after all, a religion not a race.
    With regard to “Zionists are cold blooded killers and racists” how else would you describe the perpetrators of the Gaza massacre and its countless predecessors?
    Zionist policy is massacre, expel, land-grab, and spin. It has never changed; what has changed is that those of us who believed itn the myth of socialist, egalitarian Zionism have our eyes open now and the Palestinian narrative is in the consciousness of those who care. The same people who abhor real Anti-Semitism.”

    Ah, so Palestinians are the TRUE victims of anti-semitism (they’re semites, donchaknow?), and the people who “control Israel” are “American European Jews” (what a joke) who “aren’t semites” (why do people keep reiterating this nonsense?). And people who believe in the Palestinian narrative are “the same people who abhor real Anti-Semitism”?! Coulda fooled me.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Evan, perhaps we should (collectively) arrange for them go and complain to Wilhelm Marr, the German who coined the term “anti-semitism” in the 1870s.

      According to the Wikepedia entry on him, Marr was Jewish. If so, what an irony. We’re to blame for own imprisonment by a term that these lovely bigots say isn’t even accurate or appropriate.

      Go figure.

      • Hal Says:

        I think you’re mistaken. The Wikipedia entry on him has the much-married Marr linked to two (three?) women of Jewish origin, but there is no evidence that he was himself Jewish. Interesting to note that he later repudiated his antisemitic “explanation” for German troubles and apologized (?) to the Jews.

  19. Jacob Says:

    “According to the Wikepedia entry on him, Marr was Jewish.”

    Brian, Marr was not Jewish though he apparently was married to a number of women who came from Jewish backgrounds and had either become Christian and had given up their Jewishness.

    Marr did more than coin the phrase “anti-Semitism,” he developed a whole philosophy around that notion and like a good post-modern antisemite.

    Here is part of that wikipedia entry:

    “Marr’s speeches and articles showed first indications of antisemitism in 1848. He was influenced by the Burschenschaft movement of the early nineteenth century, which developed out of frustration among German students with the failure of the Congress of Vienna to create a unified state out of all the territories inhabited by the Volk. The latter rejected the participation of Jewish and other non-German minorities as members, “unless they prove that they are anxious to develop within themselves a Christian-German spirit” (a decision of the “Burschenschaft Congress of 1818”). While they were opposed to the participation of Jews in their movement, like Heinrich von Treitschke later, they did allow for the possibility of the Jewish (and other) minorities participating in the German state if they were to abandon all signs of ethnic and religious distinctiveness and assimilate completely into German Volk.”

    Marr’s reacted to this “liberal antisemitism” (the kind that allows for assimilated Jews to join one’s society) thus:

    “Marr took these philosophies one step further by rejecting the premise of assimilation as a means for Jews to become Germans. In his pamphlet Der Weg zum Siege des Germanentums über das Judentum (The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism, 1879) he introduced the idea that Germans and Jews were locked in a longstanding conflict, the origins of which he attributed to race — and that the Jews were winning.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Marr

    Till then had been a complete failure in business and judging by his later philosophy probably in marriage also. How else explain the views of Jews of man who had three formerly, or partially, “Jewish” wives.

    • Jacob Says:

      Correction:

      “Marr did more than coin the phrase “anti-Semitism,” he developed a whole philosophy around that notion and like a good post-modern antisemite.”

      The above should read:

      Marr did more than coin the phrase “anti-Semitism.”
      He developed a whole philosophy of antisemitism that ironically countered another more “liberal” form of antisemitism which seems like the contemporary new antisemitism which allowed for assimilated Jews to be part of non Jewish society.

      It is interesting then that the “old modern antisemitism” of Marr seems to have been a reaction to the “new antisemitism.”

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Please note that I said that the entry (certainly when I first read it a couple of weeks ago) alleged that Marr was Jewish. I’ve never stated that he _was_ Jewish, only that the Wikapedia article stated that. I went to say that, if true, this was an irony (of a massive order).

        So the entry has been corrected – one problem with the internet is this ability to rewrite the past: it’s Orwellian – I can no longer prove that that’s what it said 2 weeks ago!

        _I_ never said he was Jewish, only that the entry said this. Give me a break people.

        • Jacob Says:

          Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “So the entry has been corrected – one problem with the internet is this ability to rewrite the past: it’s Orwellian – I can no longer prove that that’s what it said 2 weeks ago!”

          Point taken, Brian.

          You also point to a very serious problem with Wikipedia which is that it seems to be policed by antisemites who add subtle and not so subtle antisemitic comments on many Jewish issues.

          I read recently the entry on Saul Bellow and there was a long entry about a minor non fiction book of his: “To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account.”

          The entry reads as if it were written by Norman Finkelstein. I know of no other major writer were so much space is given to a minor non fiction work by a writer who wrote dozens of books.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Bellow#Criticism_and_controversy

          I could cite many other such tendentious entries, some even citing false facts, on Jewish writers and topics.

          The entry on Marr is another example. How do we know if his wives were indeed “Jewish?” As was noted there was an attempt to depict Hitler as being partly Jewish. By claiming that Marr was “Jewish” or that his wives were “Jewish” antisemites can claim that is Jews themselves who say these things. This tactic too goes back to the New Testament were Jews are forced to condemn themselves.

          I agree that it all Orwellian, Brian. However, it so with a twist. Orwell assumed that a minority would incarcerate the majority and feeds them false data about history and even daily reality. Here we have a dedicated large antisemitic minority ready to change and reinterpret facts in order to push their antisemitic agenda.

          It is hard to believe that in time many readers will not be influenced by these antisemitic emendations.

  20. Saul Says:

    “Saul, stop doing Lerman’s work for him: your latest comments are coming perilously close to blaming the victim, and that’s what he, the Deborah’s, Ryan, and all the others incapable of thinking outside their despicable prejudices, are doing. ”

    Lerman thinks that a natural response to Jews acting in thr world is antisemitism.

    I am saying that whenever Jews act in the world, it is distorted through the prism of antisemitism. It leads to the question of whether social and political relations in which Jews as Jews can ever be free of racism. The issue is to challenge that racism and those who push it.

    “What have we done, Saul, for the last 2000 years to justify the persecution, prejudice and discrimination against us? ”
    Jews have done nothing to “justify” persection, etc. That is the point!

    However, whilst Jews have done nothing to “justify” antisemitism, it does not mean that they have not acted in the world.
    1. In Rome they rebelled.
    2. In Christendom they denied Christ.
    3 Throughout that period Jews served a necessary function of moneylending.
    4 In the 19th century Jews served as agents of the landed classes in “Poland” and elsewhere.
    5. In Russia, Germany, Weimar and elsewhere, in the 20th century many Jews were bankers, journalist, artists, members of the left.

    Today, Jews both in Israel and elsewhere are involved in a conflict. Fact!

    These are historical facts. Jews are and have always been And long may that be so!

    None of this “justifies” antisemitism or excuses antisemitism.

    The point is that antisemitism serves to distort and twist these facts of Jewish “presence” into its own image.

    Yet, even now, after “2000 years”, there are those who are twisting the present conflict into antisemitic imagery and rhetoric.

    The antisemite wants to stop Jews acting in the world.

    Those who fight antisemitism by denying that active role that Jews have played in the world are doing half the job for them.

    • Jacob Says:

      “However, whilst Jews have done nothing to “justify” antisemitism, it does not mean that they have not acted in the world.
      1. In Rome they rebelled.
      2. In Christendom they denied Christ.
      3 Throughout that period Jews served a necessary function of moneylending.
      4 In the 19th century Jews served as agents of the landed classes in “Poland” and elsewhere.
      5. In Russia, Germany, Weimar and elsewhere, in the 20th century many Jews were bankers, journalist, artists, members of the left.”

      I agree in the main, Saul.

      However, there are important exceptions and problems with this neat formula which we are not going to resolve, here.

      For example, Spain till the 15th century Jews lived in their own villages and towns and were in the main artisans and farmers. There were some rich court Jews but the majority were rather poor.

      This did not stop a vicious series of pogroms in Catalonia in the 14th century which led to the forcible conversion of many Jews.

      In Eastern Europe most Jews acted in the world only in their own sphere of the Shtetl.

      The Jewish Tax collector and banker were in the minority.

      The notion that antisemitism is a reaction to Jewish actions in the world is both true and not true since it has always applied to a minority of Jews.

      Ironically antisemites have often use the excuse of Jewish money lenders, bankers and communists (which you left out) as an excuse to rally support for pogroms, and discriminatory laws.

      Finally your last point on the list is telling is interesting,

      “In Russia, Germany, Weimar and elsewhere, in the 20th century many Jews were bankers, journalist, artists, members of the left.”

      How do artists, writers, teachers, lawyers (in Vienna it was reported that a majority of lawyers were Jewish) and doctors threaten the values of the society at large? Surely the kinds of ressentiment (to use Nietzsche’s expression) they engendered argues Jews as a minority will often if not always be in danger.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Saul, everything you say may be true, BUT, do we (all europeans bar the Italians) condemn Italians for the excesses of the Roman Empire? Do we blame (despite the bible) blame the current Germans, aged under 60, for the Nazis? etc and so forth. If not, why the fuck should I be a victim because 2000 years ago it is alleged that certain of my ancestors chose Barrabas over Jesus? I wasn’t there – any more than that 60 year Klaus was there in the 1940s, etc.

        Anyway, we only have the Gospels’ word for it that it was the _Jews_ who selected Barrabas over Jesus. From the point of view of a seasoned politico like Pontius Pilate, who presented a greater threat: a thief, even a violent one, even one who acted as a bandit and attacked Roman citizens, or a charismatic ideologue who appeared to be questioning the right of Rome to rule? _We_, 2 millenia later, might argue that Jesus was seeking to reform the moral not the political life, but how would that look from the peak of power in 30 CE?

        Remember again, that when the gospels were written, anything from 50 years to 250 years (or more) later, Rome was still the only game in (the Palestinian) town: you pissed Rome off at your peril (600,000 dead Jews under Hadrian, remember) (and the Eastern Roman Empire lasted another 1000 years after Christ). How do we _know_, now, that it was the Jews who selected Barrabas over Jesus and not Pilate?

        Frankly, what it comes down to is that the Jews were screwed whatever they did, just because they were Jews and not Christians: if you prefer the proper social scientific term, they were (and are) “the others” of western civilisation. And I will _not_ let western civilisation off the hook, so that they can feel better. What about all the relatives I don’t have, because of Christian antisemitism? Which leads, in turn, to all the other forms of antisemitism.

        It comes down to this: why were Jews moneylenders? Because they weren’t allowed to be anything else. How do you eliminate the debt? You eliminate (physically, if necessary) the lender (it happened to Shylock, and Shakespeare didn’t have to be an antisemite to write that play, just an acute observer of the times). Does that put the moneylender at fault? Or is the wider society, that would allow no other role for the Jew, at fault? I know which I select, and it isn’t _just_ because I’m a Jew, it’s also because I’m a social scientist.

        So, Saul, stop doing Lerman’s (let alone even worse others) job for him, by helping to blame the victims. If you want to feel that Jews have, merely by being, somehow brought their fate on themselves, you go right ahead and feel guilty. I, for one, refuse to be a blamed victim. If I didn’t so refuse, I’d have stopped posting comments here long ago.

        “Those who fight antisemitism by denying that active role that Jews have played in the world are doing half the job for them.”

        But, Saul, playing an active role doesn’t mean that, therefore, we are to blame. collectively, for the resulting antisemitism. Antisemitism exists because there are Jews, not because of what Jews do. Bill put it very well on another thread, when he said that Jews and Israel are damned if they do and if they don’t do (I paraphrase), and, remember, he’s not Jewish. If it’s that obvious to a perceptive non-Jew…

  21. Saul Says:

    “According to the Wikepedia entry on him, Marr was Jewish.”

    You may also recall the pernicious story that Hitler’s maternal grandmother was Jewish.

  22. Saul Says:

    Jacob,
    “The notion that antisemitism is a reaction to Jewish actions in the world is both true and not true since it has always applied to a minority of Jews.

    Ironically antisemites have often use the excuse of Jewish money lenders, bankers and communists (which you left out) as an excuse to rally support for pogroms, and discriminatory laws.

    How do artists, writers, teachers, lawyers (in Vienna it was reported that a majority of lawyers were Jewish) and doctors threaten the values of the society at large? Surely the kinds of ressentiment (to use Nietzsche’s expression) they engendered argues Jews as a minority will often if not always be in danger.”

    My point exactly.

  23. Bill Says:

    Arguably African Americans have had a similar role in US history — that certainly doesn’t excuse racism, not should their “active” role (as involuntary as it was — akin to the role of Jews through the Diaspora), be used to “explain” racism in the way that enablers of antisemitism seem to want. Calling BS on such dishonesty doesn’t hand the enablers half their job, rather it highlights that dishonesty.

  24. zkharya Says:

    Socialist Unity apparently thinks Seven Jewish Children is in nowise a medieval blood libel, but is, nevertheless, “redolent” of “the old Grimm Brothers’ grisly morality tale that usually end with children eaten”:

    “The title of the play and its contents evoke a fairy tale. But this isn’t the modern kind with a happy ending; rather the old Grimm Brothers’ grisly morality tale that usually end with children eaten or transformed into gruesome creatures because they didn’t do their parents’ bidding. And, more importantly, it is real. Horrifyingly real.

    Seven Jewish Children drives home that the Zionist colonial settler state can only be justified by the perpetration of the most venal form of racism, and demonstrates at the micro-level how this is achieved in the messages parents give their children: “Tell her they they’re animals living in rubble now; Tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out.”

    The play is about how the founding of Israel seemed a fairy tale–the Promised Land, the Land of Milk and Honey–but was based on racist lies.”

    http://socialistworker.org/2009/05/07/what-to-tell-the-children

    Isn’t ironic that the Brothers Grimm published a blood libel tale in their collection?

  25. Saul Says:

    Zkharya,
    Above David Hirsh talks about the way antisemitic tropes unwittingly enter into contemporary discouse on Israel.
    As you imply, nowhere is this more in evidence that the Socialist Worker’s Party reference to the Brothers Grimm; see below.

    It is interesting that I found this list on a white supremacist website with the following introduciton,

    Anti-Semitic Legends: Brothers Grimm et al.
    “More fairy tales- or are they?”

    Of course, for most sensible thinking, citing Churchill’s nonsense as a latter day Grimm tale would rather seem to prove the case of the antisemitism that it expresses. But, for a party who “forgets” to mention the nazis were antisemitic and killed Jews, who publish a letter from a neo-nazi thinking he had something serious to say about anti-Zionism, one cannot expect too much…………..

    http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/antisemitic.htlm (this is not the link to the white supremacist site, but the translations of the stories)

    The Jews’ Stone (Austria)
    Link to the original text: Der Judenstein, Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, Nr. 353

    The Jews’ Stone (Austria)

    Link to the original text: Der Judenstein, Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, Nr. 353

    Link to a well documented study of the blood libel cult associated with the above legend, Medieval Sourcebook: A Blood Libel Cult: Anderl von Rinn, d. 1462, by Paul Halsall, Fordham University

    The Girl Who Was Killed by Jews (Germany)

    Link to the original text: Das von den Juden getötete Mägdlein, Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, Nr. 354

    Pfefferkorn the Jew at Halle (Germany)

    The Expulsion of the Jews from Prussia (Germany)

    The Bloody Children of the Jews (Germany)

    The Imprisoned Jew at Magdeburg (Germany)

    The Chapel of the Holy Body at Magdeburg (Germany)

    The Lost Jew (Germany)

    The Story of Judas (Italy)

    Malchus at the Column (Italy)

    Buttadeu (Sicily)

    The Eternal Jew on the Matterhorn (Switzerland)

    Link to the original text: Der ewige Jud auf dem Matterhorn, Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, Nr. 344.

    Link to The Jew in the Thorns, tale number 110 from the Children’s and Household Tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

    Link to the original German text: Der Jude im Dorn.

  26. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Socialist Unity apparently thinks Seven Jewish Children is in nowise a medieval blood libel, but is, nevertheless, “redolent” of “the old Grimm Brothers’ grisly morality tale that usually end with children eaten”:

    “But this isn’t the modern kind with a happy ending; rather the old Grimm Brothers’ grisly morality tale that usually end with children eaten or transformed into gruesome creatures because they didn’t do their parents’ bidding. And, more importantly, it is real. Horrifyingly real.”

    I love this idea……………antisemitic libels in the past were not true.

    Now, however, they are true.

    It would appear that the call to “socialist unity” is again to be organised aorund the Jews in the tradition of Proudhon, Bakunin and Duhring.


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