More “problematic cliches” about Nazi Israel at the Guardian

Mark Gardner from the CST discusses a change made in a recent Comment Is Free piece. Changes have been made before,such as when a piece originally titled “McCain’s pander to Jewish voters”, by Richard Silverstein was changed to “McCain’s play for pro-Israel voters”.

More “problematic cliches” about Nazi Israel at the Guardian
Mark Gardner

It is neither CST’s role nor wish to enter the often overheated debate as to whether or not criticism of Israel in the Guardian – and its highly successful online variant, Comment is Free (CiF) – is fair, balanced or proportionate.
Nevertheless, there are far too many occasions when the anti-Israel sentiment of Guardian and CiF contributors comes to our attention: this is not so much because the content might be misconstrued as explicitly antisemitic, but rather because it employs loose, crass and offensive langauge that should have no place in as influential an institution as the Guardian. (An institution, moreover, that claims to uphold the highest of moral and editorial values).
There are numerous examples of Guardian and CiF excesses in CST’s latest antisemitic discourse report, and another depressing example occurred on 18 August in an article by Slavoj Zizek that featured in both the print edition of the Guardian, and online at CiF. Zizek’s article accused Israel of taking over Palestinian territory: and in its original CiF version, stated that the land would be “Palestinian-frei”. Two days later, on 20 August, CiF amended this to read “Palestinian-free”, just as the actual print copy had read in the Guardian.
To some, this may appear a moot difference, but “Palestinian-free” is not the Nazi-themed term that “Palestinian-frei” is. After all, the Nazi Holocaust was designed to leave Europe “Juden-frei”, and the gate at Auschwitz read “Arbeit Macht Frei”. This is not to say that the Guardian and CiF should be accusing Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’, far from it, but in this world of very small mercies, “frei” is clearly a Nazi slander, whereas “free” has no particular Jewish connotation.
CiF has tried hard in recent years to improve its moderation policies regarding comments upon the site, and in particular against the upsetting and hateful screeds that so often follow Israel and Jewish related articles. Their attitude to the accuracy and content of actual articles (rather than comments) has not always been so apparent, but CiF has explained their welcome decision to alter “frei” to “free” (see the foot of Zizek’s article) as:
“Due to an error, an edit to the print version of this article was not made to the online version. In print, the term “Palestinian-frei” was changed to read “Palestinian-free”. This edit has now been applied to the online version, as of 20 August 2009.”
It is not 100% clear from this explanation whether or not “Palestinian-frei” originated from Zizek’s original transcript, but this seems by far the most logical reading of the sentence. So, CiF’s alteration is certainly a welcome one and it leaves the article not quite as gratuitously offensive as it originally appeared to be.
I say ‘not quite as gratuitously offensive’, because the actual paragraph in which “Palestinian-frei” originally appeared is itself quite disgraceful. The paragraph is shown below (in its original “frei” form):
“Palestinians often use the problematic cliché of the Gaza strip as “the greatest concentration camp in the world”. However, in the past year, this designation has come dangerously close to truth. This is the fundamental reality that makes all abstract “prayers for peace” obscene and hypocritical. The state of Israel is clearly engaged in a slow, invisible process, ignored by the media; one day, the world will awake and discover that there is no more Palestinian West Bank, that the land is Palestinian-frei, and that we must accept the fact. The map of the Palestinian West Bank already looks like a fragmented archipelago.”
So, according to Zizek, the Palestinians’ “problematic cliche” of Gaza being “the greatest concentration camp in the world” is “dangerously close to the truth”. Israel, one presumes, is becoming the new Nazi Germany, and Palestinians are becoming the new Jews. Furthermore, this moral and historical perversion of Holocaust imagery is nothing more than a “problematic cliche” that is, anyway, now coming to fruition.
Zizek’s assertion that “one day, the world will wake up and discover that there is no more Palestinian West Bank, that the land is Palestinian-frei…” is not so much immoral as simply ludicrous. Are we to believe that one morning, the world will wake up and suddenly realise that Nablus, Hebron, Jericho, Bethlehem and countless other places have no population remaining? How will this occur? Will a Guardian journalist call room service in their Ramallah hotel one morning and receive no breakfast? And if so, will this journalist also fall prey to the extraordinary phenomenon whereby this enforced mass depopulation was somehow an “invisible process, ignored by the media”?
There is more than one “problematic cliche” in Zizek’s article, and in its publication by the Guardian and CiF. The most egregious part of one of those has been belatedly taken care of, but how many more “problematic cliches” will the Guardian stable keep chucking at us?

48 Responses to “More “problematic cliches” about Nazi Israel at the Guardian”

  1. Jacob Says:

    Adam Kirsch in a New Republic article “The Deadly Jester” published on December 03, 2008 had identified the use of antisemitic and nazi like rhetoric in Slavoj Zizek writings:

    “It is not surprising that it is the subject of the Jews that calls forth this impulse in Zizek, because the treatment of Jews and Judaism in his work has long been unsettling–and in a different way from his treatment of, say, the United States, which he simply denounces. Zizek’s books are loosely structured and full of digressions, more like monologues than treatises, but for that very reason, his perpetual return to the subject of the Jews functions in his writing the way a similar fixation might function in an analysand’s recital: as a hint of something hidden that requires critical examination.

    Typically, the form that Zizek’s remarks on Jews take is that of an exposition of the mentality of the anti-Semite. This is an unimpeachable and rather common forensic device, but somehow it does not quite account for the passionate detail of Zizek’s explorations. Consider, for instance, the passage in The Metastases of Enjoyment in which Zizek, in order to explicate John McCumber’s theory about “the logic of the signifier” in Hegel, writes: “In order to explain this ‘reflexivity,’ let us resort to the logic of anti-Semitism. First, the series of markers that designate real properties are abbreviated-immediated in the marker ‘Jew’: (avaricious, profiteering, plotting, dirty…)–Jew. We then reverse the order and ‘explicate’ the marker ‘Jew’ with the series (avaricious, profiteering, plotting, dirty…)–that is, this series now provides the answer to the question ‘What does “Jew” mean?'” In the ensuing discussion, Zizek goes on to recite this list of “Jewish” adjectives six more times.”

    There is more here:

    http://www.tnr.com/story_print.html?id=097a31f3-c440-4b10-8894-14197d7a6eef

    • omadeon Says:

      Jacob,
      Unfortunately the link you provide is dead.

      I find it hard to believe, however, that… even Zizek uses “antisemitic and nazi-like rhetorhic”. I am open to your evidence and do not claim to be an authority on Zizek. However, IMHO, Zizek has done more than many other writers to expose the pathology of antisemites; I used his work to extend these ideas to analysing the pathology of racist ideas in general. The essence of these ideas is that any fascist ideology NEEDS a scapegoat like the Jews, who are at the same time scapegoats AND a justification for postponing “happiness” and “jouissance” ™ -Zizek till the imaginary distant goal of the Elimination of the scapegoats.

    • Mariborchan Says:

      Slavoj Žižek has responded to the Adam Kirsch article, and his response (titled Disputations: Who Are You Calling Anti-Semitic?) was also published in New Republic: http://www.tnr.com/booksarts/story.html?id=c6570f94-f4b8-4b2a-b3f5-6adefe8d15ca

      Žižek has also stated in other places that he doesn’t buy the story of “Israel being the new Nazi Germany”. His point is simple, as stated in the article – that when there appears to be nothing special going on, Israel is slowly inhabiting Palestine and economically suffocating them. As for Žižek being anti-Semitic – that characterisation is just ludicrous to anyone who has sat down and actually read Žižek’s work. He (as an atheist) even wrote books in defence of the judeo/christian legacy. And also, he is not simply a journalist (like Adam Kirsch) – he is one of the most famous philosophers alive today.

      • Mariborchan Says:

        Here is a recent article by Žižek, for anyone confused if he’s anti-semitic or not: http://www.lacan.com/essays/?page_id=240

        Quote: “There are two different modes of ideological mystification which should in no way be confused: the liberal-democratic one and the Fascist one. The first one… The second one concerns the false identification of the antagonism and the enemy: class struggle is displaced onto the struggle against the Jews, so that the popular rage at being exploited is redirected from capitalist relations as such to the “Jewish plot.”

  2. Comrade T Says:

    Why are people surprised……can anyone name any Stalinist who has been good on Jews and Israel?

    • Mariborchan Says:

      Žižek is not a Stalinist.

      • Gil Says:

        Perhaps not a Stalinist in the sense that some people used to say that they weren’t Thatcherite but supported many things that she stood for. This analogy holds true for his views on Stalin. See his interview with the FT, published in March this year:
        http://wilguitar.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!271C9FA518661029!294.entry

        In addition, Zizek is on record of supporting terror (puts it in quotes…) to bring about a ‘secular state’ in Palestine:
        ‘I totally support the Palestinian cause, and even Palestinian “terror,” provided it is publicly oriented toward a single, secular state’.

  3. Jacob Says:

    “His point is simple, as stated in the article – that when there appears to be nothing special going on, Israel is slowly inhabiting Palestine and economically suffocating them.”

    Sorry I don’t buy this descrition of the economic relation between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Is Zizek an economist, too?

    here is an alternate economic reading:

    “A peace horizon”

    By Ari Shavit

    “The obvious revolution is economic. Trade between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has climbed 42 percent over the past year. The number of cars imported to the PA has increased 44 percent in that time. Fuel consumption is up 29 percent, while unemployment is down from 19.5 percent to 15 percent. The official figures say the West Bank’s annual growth rate is 7 percent. Unofficial estimates are closer to 11 percent. There is no doubt that in the last two years Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has created a veritable economic miracle.

    The hidden revolution is security oriented. In 2007 the Israel Defense Forces killed 76 Palestinians in the West Bank. In 2008 it killed 51. In the first half of this year it killed 12. The IDF didn’t only decrease its number of roadblocks in the West Bank from 45 to 14. It almost ceased big operations there altogether. The military’s dramatic lowering of its profile and reduction of friction did not lead to renewed terror. Things are currently quiet there, very quiet…..”

    Here is the rest of the article:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1108792.html

  4. PetraMB Says:

    WRT the debate about Zizek going on here, the piece Jacob referred to is here — I checked the link, it works:
    http://www.tnr.com/booksarts/story.html?id=097a31f3-c440-4b10-8894-14197d7a6eef

    I read the exchange back then — and indeed posted the first comment applauding the piece by Kirsch. The problem with Zizek, IMHO, is that he likes to express himself in ways that can be read as ambigous, and his fan club will always come with the argument that people who criticize certain positions he takes — or seems to take — are just not sophisticated enough to understand the great philosopher.

    However, when one reads Zizek’s political commentary, as I have done, there really isn’t much to admire: one time, by now already a few years ago, he wrote a piece entitled “Give Iranian nukes a chance”, arguing that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a great thing to counter the US… The mullah regime wasn’t any more benevolent a few years ago, at least that’s what my Iranian friends think, and Zizek’s argument was plainly idiotic (apart from the fact that he apparently thought Iran was an Arab country…).

    Anyway, in the Guardian piece at issue here, there is no ambiguity whatsoever: he compares Israel to Nazi Germany. To be sure, he’s posturing a bit at first, saying it’s “problematic” to call Gaza a concentration camp, but then he argues that this is becoming an ever more valid comparison — because of Israel’s conduct, of course…

    Moreover, his claim that one day the world will wake up and find the Westbank “Palestinian-frei” is a very obvious play on what happened after 1945, when Germans, and people all over Europe, claimed that they hadn’t known, couldn’t have known, what happened to the Jews. And to claim, as Zizek does, that the media are ignoring what happens to the Palestinians is just so ridiculous that it is hard to believe he wrote this in good faith.

    There is simply no way around it: in the Guardian article, Zizek does his best to legitimize the comparison between Israel and Nazi-Germany. Whether or not that makes him an antisemite may be considered debatable; but at the very minimum, I find it hard to explain what makes a sophisticated man like Zizek write an article that, on several levels, suggests that the Israel-Nazi Germany comparison is legitimate, even politically useful in order to prevent Israel from its supposed pursuit of ethnically cleasing the Westbank until it is “Palestinian-frei”.

    • Mariborchan Says:

      Fine, hang on that single phrase, and be shocked that he said it, and let’s ignore that he said it’s a problematic cliché. He’s obviously not a supporter of Israel in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. But come on, “does his best to legitimize the comparison between Israel and Nazi-Germany?” It’s one line of text we’re talking about, it’s not like he wrote an essay comparing facial features of the Israeli president with Hitler.

      You may or may not agree with his politics, but the fact is that he isn’t anti-semitic. And it tells a lot about those who claim he is. The presupposition here is that criticism of Israel is automatically anti-semitism. If I remember correctly (I hope I do..), he talks in some place about the only true leftists in Israel being some Jewish theologians, who are Jews living in Israel, but against what their government is doing in their relation to Palestine. And he talks about and condemns what he calls Zionist anti-semitism (and cites some long online blacklist of Jews in Israel who are not supporters of Israel, how they were portrayed as ridiculous, stealing, ugly, etc. just like the Nazis used to portray Jews in Germany, along with their addresses to be harassed.) He uses the figure of the Jew in his critique of ideology, showing how the fascist/racist ideology works, and it’s in defence of Jews, not in favour of fascism/racism. So you can’t possibly claim how he is somehow secretly anti-semitic, he wrote volumes of text in defence of Jews, not only in the ethnic, but also in the religious sense.

      Please, do at least a basic google search before you decide of doing a “critical analysis” and showing how that person is secretly this or that.

    • omadeon Says:

      I think we also have to take into consideration Zizek’s remarkable, extremely perceptive analysis of antisemitism, which he literally breaks to pieces. Once you’ve read Zizek (if you are NOT Jewish) it is simply impossible to be an antisemite. He IS a kind of medicine, a kind of “anti-virus” against the virus or “meme” of antisemitism.

      So, no, it’s impossible to claim he is an antisemite. Such a claim would also be a kind of… ingratitude, since the genuinely positive contribution of Zizek to the struggle against antisemitism is outstanding, one for which every Jewish person should feel very glad – I think.

      Personally I feel some TERROR after reading your comment, that the world IS indeed falling apart: NOT because of Zizek but because of the clear threat against him, that IF he does not restrain himself from criticizing Israel, THEN he WILL be labelled an antisemite, as well.
      Ah well…
      What a wonderful way to make anti-semites applaud with pleasure, the ensuing deterioration? Then they can claim that the word “antisemite” has lost ALL credibility…

      Finally, I think that drawing a subtle parallel between “Juden-frei” and “Palestinian-frei” is only a PARTIAL comparison; it does not imply -by any means- that Isreal IS Nazi Germany. It simply implies that ethnic cleansing IS a fascist characteristic (something beyond doubt). Zizek is just “sounding the alarm”.

      With respect, I think that PARTIAL similarities between all kinds of racism, INCLUDING anti-semitism will always exist and it’s impossible NOT to perceive them for what they are.
      Antisemitism is NOT so different from other forms or racism; this is a fact. So, to point out e.g. that killing civilians deliberately (if it ever happens again) is a “nazi” practice, i.e. a fascist practice, does NOT mean, does NOT imply, that the country responsible for this is a fascist or nazi state; only that it allowed a nazi or fascist EVENT to happen….

      • omadeon Says:

        P.S. SOME Palestinians ALSO indulge in “fascist practices”….
        (and many of them also in Holocaust Denial)
        We _have_ to say this, to be fair.
        But a “fascist act” does NOT imply a fascist state.

  5. Jacob Says:

    As for the article on Zizek’s use of antisemitic language try this:

    http://stage-tnr.p2technology.com/article/politics/disputations-still-the-most-dangerous-philosopher-the-west

    I don’t know why the original article is not on line, but TNR is in the process of redesigning their web site.

    I had read Zizek before I read Kirsch and his views are in accord with mine Mariborchan.

  6. Comrade T Says:

    “Jews are to me in no way an “object of fantasy and speculation”: they are the majority of my friends and theoretical collaborators.”

    So, the great Lacanian, the “greatest philospher alive” comes up with the “some of my best friends are Jews” line.
    How so very, very, disappointing.

    But, not only that, some Jews phoned to support him! Well, that means he can’t be wrong! Hail, “the Master”! The great Zizek reduced to crude empiricism. You gotta laugh.

    “class struggle is displaced onto the struggle against the Jews, so that the popular rage at being exploited is redirected from capitalist relations as such to the “Jewish plot.”

    What an insight! Gosh, how sharp, how original. No-one has ever said that before! That alone must truly make him the “greatest philospher alive”!

    (Not sure how it has anything to do with the “Palestine-frie” comment, nor that Gaza is the “largest concentration camp” in the world. Unless, of course, it is a case of the crimes of nazism being “displaced” onto a “Jewish plot”, in this case Israel and the “Jewish plot” of alleged genocide – another brilliant insight, worthy of only the greatest thinkers of our time!)

    And, of course, he’s a Stalinist! Did you miss his “social-fascism” bit that the Israeli Supreme Court (and the rule of law) is no different than the brtuality of the settler movement.

    As to the absurdity of Lacanian “insights”,, see this “gem” from “the Disciple”…..
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n16/letters.html#letter1

    Zizek’s writings are a sympton of the times (most notably the bankurtcy of the left) not their diagnosis. A mere reading of his Guardian piece shows just how lacking in originality Zizek really is.

  7. Absolute Observer Says:

    “what I do is provide a résumé of how the French Zionist critics perceive contemporary Europe. For them, the European Union is at its very core an anti-Semitic project.”

    Leaving aside the veracity, or not, of the above, this apparently is Zizek’s methodology.

    “The Jews who get into contact with me and say I am right proves I’m right.”
    “The Jews who don’t get into contact with me and disagree are wrong.”

    Has this man got a thing about Jews or what??

  8. Lynne T Says:

    “The problem with Zizek, IMHO, is that he likes to express himself in ways that can be read as ambigous, and his fan club will always come with the argument that people who criticize certain positions he takes — or seems to take — are just not sophisticated enough to understand the great philosopher.”

    Hmmm. Reminds me a bit of Noam Chomsky and his followers.

  9. Le petit a Says:

    “The Palestine Question no.1”
    Despite the first half of the paper arguing against it, the gesture of this paper is to argue that, in contemporary terms,
    Political antisemitism is displaced revolutionary activity.

    As such, all “the left” (or, rather, its vanguard – since the “lower classes” cannot be trusted to find the “truth” of their true situation – Lenin as hero) has to do is to show these poor deluded masses the way.
    Yawn!

    As with so many of Zizek’s ilk, they have no problem with antisemitism when it wears armbands, but their sticking point is in recognising that as wth all social “forms”, animosity to Jews shifts as does social and political relations as a whole. Indeed, Zizek’s account is nothing but a 1930’s analysis of Germany to Afghanistan today (The Taliban is disturbing and radicalising “class-antagonisms”, and, if we accept that bit, but fight against the other bits, then, they are our “comrades”). How many times will they keep getting it wrong?? All that separates the left from the right is a matter of perception – they say “Jews” we say “class” (has something of an SWP chant to it, you got to say).

    Here’s a thought; antisemites are antisemites because they hate Jews! It is around that that they build their view of the world.

    Antisemitism has a long and “rich” tradition. Its modern variant was never progressive. It opposes all and any progressive moments and movements (1789, 1848, 1917) As Badiou argues, it is a parody of progression and clothes itself in its language.

    No matter how much wishful thinking one possesses, one cannot simply subtract that anti-Jewish bits and say, see the rest is “good”, it is anti-ruling class, it is this or that. Antisemitism is not a added extra. It is a full blown political position on which everything else rests.

    It is the antithesis of class conflict, not a manifestation of it. Unfortunately, for all his jargon, Zizek is still stuck in the mindset of the second international.

  10. Empress Trudy Says:

    I seen an endless torrent of agonized handwringing about the metaphors the Guardian uses. Why bother? What’s the point? The Guardian is an openly antisemitic antizionist anti Israeli ‘newspaper’ (in fact it’s simply a glorified blog).

    You may as well be demanding that Iran’s Press TV be nicer to the Jews.

  11. Absolute Observer Says:

    “I think we also have to take into consideration Zizek’s remarkable, extremely perceptive analysis of antisemitism, which he literally breaks to pieces.”

    It is nothing but rehashed wish-fulfilment.

    “(and cites some long online blacklist of Jews in Israel who are not supporters of Israel, how they were portrayed as ridiculous, stealing, ugly, etc. just like the Nazis used to portray Jews in Germany, along with their addresses to be harassed.)”

    And this used to argue AGAINST Zizek’s comparison between Israel and Nazis!!

    And, just in case we miss the point……..

    “And it tells a lot about those who claim he is. The presupposition here is that criticism of Israel is automatically anti-semitism.”

    Oh well, it had to come sooner or later, didn’t it – the slur and the smear……….

    Zizek writes an article that, at the least, raises the question of his making a comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany (frei, concentration camp). Those unhappy with such comparisons for any number of reasons raise the issue and ask questions about it.
    Zizek’s acolytes some along and “explain” how we all got it wrong and, in fact, Zizek loves the Jews, fights antisemitism and, indeed, as he himself says, has lots of Jewish friends.
    Still some are not satisfied and continue to question. And, then……..bang,

    All criticism of Israel is “automatically” branded “antisemitism”!

    No it is not.

    Zizek appears to have compared nazi Germany with Israel, replete with claims of camps and genocide. That is why the question of antisemitism arises and nor because he has “criticised” Israel. Calling Israel nazi is not “criticism”. It is the nature and content of contemporary antisemitism.

    But, keep worhipping at the feet of your hero; that way, you don’t have to contend with what he says.

  12. Curious Says:

    What does “IMHO” mean?
    Thanks

  13. PetraMB Says:

    Mariborchan — I don’t rely on a single phrase; have you read Zizek’s Guardian article? Methinks you haven’t…
    1. He accuses Israel of (secret) ethnic cleansing and predicts that this is will one day result in a “Palestinian-frei” Westbank (while the world is supposedly averting its eyes…) — the Nazi/Holocaust references are hard to overlook; if you can’t see them, one possibility is that you don’t know much history

    2) he argues that it is becoming more valid to call Gaza a concentration camp, and that this is due to Israel’s actions — what is this if not trying hard to legitimize the comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany?

    omadeon: I have to get ready for a trip and won’t be able to come back here in the next few days; but would it be possible for you to post a few references to the specific texts by Zizek that make you think he is the greatest analyst of antisemitism ever?
    And how do you then explain that in his Guardian article, he is clearly arguing that the Israel-Nazi comparison is legit? And if he is such a great leftist thinker, how do you explain that he advocated the idea that a reactionary theocracy that rules its own people ruthlessly and supports Islamist terror groups should have nukes?

  14. Jacob Says:

    Mariborchan Says “Fine, hang on that single phrase, and be shocked that he said it, and let’s ignore that he said it’s a problematic cliché. He’s obviously not a supporter of Israel in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.”

    He is an active opponent of Jewish sovereignty and this too is a form of antisemitism.

    Many Stalinists too were not antisemites and fought argued against antisemitism at the same time they also argued against Jewish existence. They wanted Jews to integrate to cease being Jews.

    That he argues against some forms of antisemitism doesn’t mean that he is not an antisemite. As Hannah Arendt has argued, the Nazis didn’t invent antisemitism they merely used it, nor is their variety the only form that hatred has taken it was only the most thoroughgoing and deadly.

    You can’t claim not to be an antisemite if you oppose Jewish sovereignty.

  15. Gil Says:

    “Zizek and the Zionist-Nazi alliance”

    “Leading intellectual’s baseless theories enjoy broad international attention” by Sever Plocker

    http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3337805,00.html

    from the article:

    “Identifying Zionism with anti-Semitism and Nazism is not unique to Zizek. The comparison was raised in Stalinist trials in Eastern Europe in the 1940s and 1950s, and in the 1968 events in Poland.

    What is surprising is the new verbal-philosophical veneer of this baseless thesis, brought to ZIzek’s loyal readers coated in complex wording with double and tripe meaning and covered with the poison of artificial words formed by surprising combinations.”

  16. Jacob Says:

    “You can’t claim not to be an antisemite if you oppose Jewish sovereignty.” me

    “That last bit doesn’t follow from what you said, Jacob.”

    Why not, Mira?

  17. David Says:

    Because to claim it does is utter nonsense. Because your claim is one that appears to be a priori and it results in a long catalog of ludicrously counter-intuitive claims.

    It’s up to you, Jacob, to tell us why opposing “Jewish sovereignty” DOES make one an antisemite.

    And that means without inserting all sorts of other conditions (like “only” opposing “Jewish sovereignty etc etc).

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      David is his usual charming self: an attack at once. Perhaps he should change his nom-de-plume to “attack dog”.

      However, he and Mira do have a point. David H., for example, defines himself as an internationalist and might well, as a result, reject the notion (ideology?) that there should be anything other a generalised human sovreignity and no nations – and I have no intention of going into what that might mean. On this basis, Jewish sovreignity and all other sovreignities would be ruled out.

      It is possible to reject other sovreignities without necessarily being anti the group so denied sovreignity. We might, in the UK, decide that there should not be Scottish and Welsh sovreignity, only a British sovreignity. There is no reason why this is therefore anti-Scottish or anti-Welsh.

      However, should you believe otherwise, at least as regards “Jewish sovreignity”, then, Jacob, Mira and David are right: you need to say how and why such a stance should be seen, prima facie, as antisemitic. After all, we generally agree that it is entirely possible to criticise Israel without being antisemitic: we do it here all the time. So it should be possible to reject “Jewish sovreignity” without also being amtisemitic.

      Does that help?

      • Jacob Says:

        I posted this below, but it clearly belongs, here.

        “David H., for example, defines himself as an internationalist and might well, as a result, reject the notion (ideology?) that there should be anything other a generalised human sovreignity and no nations – and I have no intention of going into what that might mean. On this basis, Jewish sovreignity and all other sovreignities would be ruled out.”

        Good point, Brian, but internationalism doesn’t rule out differences in culture, custom, language all of which go on to work against the very notion of “internationalism.”

        Internationalism is one of those concept that looks promising till you start looking at it more closely.

        “We might, in the UK, decide that there should not be Scottish and Welsh sovreignity, only a British sovreignity. There is no reason why this is therefore anti-Scottish or anti-Welsh.”

        You would have to check with Welsh and Scottish people about this, Brian. I suspect that many of them might disagree with this view.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          The comment re Welsh/Scottish independence/autonomy should be taken as resulting from a consensus decision, not one forced on them by a English majority.

          You write as though evading the point. I will concede that if it is _only_ Jewish sovreignity that is opposed, then you have a strong point. But you haven’t made this condition: your statement is too broad and needs refining. Which, beneath the attack, is what David is saying, although I am not giving him credit for this – he could have made this point much more politely.

        • Jacob Says:

          “Brian Goldfarb Says: “The comment re Welsh/Scottish independence/autonomy should be taken as resulting from a consensus decision, not one forced on them by a English majority.”

          I am not British and I don’t know all the fine points of British politics. However, I was responding to this:

          “We might, in the UK, decide that there should not be Scottish and Welsh sovreignity, only a British sovreignity. There is no reason why this is therefore anti-Scottish or anti-Welsh.”

          If as you say now it is the Welsh and Scottish people themselves who will reject sovereignty in favor of becoming citizens of a wider UK commonwealth then I have no problem with this.

          Peoples have a right to choose sovereignty and they have a right to annul such a choice, though I am not sure they have a right to make that choice binding on future generations.

          Individuals of course are free to live communal existence/identity, as many do all over the world, and change as it were ‘peoplehood.’

    • Jacob Says:

      “And that means without inserting all sorts of other conditions (like “only” opposing “Jewish sovereignty etc etc).” David

      It’s actually up to you to tell us why Jews should not exercise the right to sovereignty, though I will give a short answer.

      In a world of nation States opposing the existence of an established State for only one people is a sign of hatred for that people.

      It also means opposing the very existence of that people. This was even evident prior to the 20th century when Jews had to justify their existence as a people. At that time, from Voltaire (Jews had to assimilate) to Pasternak (Jews had to become Christians), they were considered an illegitimate religion, or a relic of the past.

      Anti-Zionism is the form antisemitism takes today which is to say the denial that the Jews are a people.

      • David Says:

        OK, well there you go, the added condition:

        “opposing the existence of an established State for only one people.”

  18. Absolute Observer Says:

    “And that means without inserting all sorts of other conditions.”
    No it doesn’t.

    If one asks a question such as this in good faith, then one should at least have the good manners to await an answer rather than ruling some responses illegitimate before one starts. Maybe for Jacob, the idea of people “only” opposing Jewish state sovereignty is important and, if that is the case (it is for him to answer) then it is for others to show why he is wrong. After all, we all know the consequences of imposing conditions prior to talks that are meant to resolve differences.

    • David Says:

      It’s a serious accusation to bandy about so widely. And foolish to do so if it turns out in the end that he really means to exclude most of the people initially covered by the accusation.

      For example, I have pretty serious doubts about political Zionism, for multiple reasons. For argument’s sake let’s say I decide to come down and call myself a follower of Cultural Zionism, but opposed to Political Zionism. If someone is going to throw out a blanket accusation of antisemitism that accuses me of antisemitism, why should I have the “good manners” to await a further explanation before telling my accuser that his a priori definition is illegitimate?

      If you’re going to accuse anyone and everyone who opposes “Jewish sovereignty” (does that mean political Zionism) of antisemitism that is very different from accusing people who ONLY oppose “Jewish sovereignty.” And even that’s a ridiculous claim, as there are many Jews who aren’t interested in opposing or supporting the “sovereignty” of othes, but are focused on their own people, for all sorts of religious and cultural reasons. Are they all antisemites too?

      The other day I read someone accusing R’ Yochanan ben Zakkai etc of being a traitor because he was an “anti-Zionist.” This is where this ridiculous nonsense leads us.

      • Gil Says:

        David, accusing people of being antisemitic per se because they oppose the concept of Jewish sovereignty – is plainly wrong.

        However, when said people use arguments which are in themselves antisemitic, then this taints their view which becomes, indeed, antisemitic.

        See where your sophistry has led?

        • David Says:

          Using “antisemitic arguments” leads to having antisemitic views, is that your claim?

          What’s an “antisemitic argument” other than incorporating antisemitic myths, attitudes or views into an argument one is presenting. If one believes antisemitic myths etc, it seems to me that one already has antisemitic views.

      • Jacob Says:

        “For example, I have pretty serious doubts about political Zionism, for multiple reasons. For argument’s sake let’s say I decide to come down and call myself a follower of Cultural Zionism, but opposed to Political Zionism.”

        David, this isn’t about you.

        In any case what does “cultural Zionism mean?”

        “Political Zionism” had as an aim the establishment of a Jewish State. Now, culture is the byproduct of the existence of a people. It is the language they speak and the customs they developed over time.

        During the early period of the Soviet era many Yiddish speaking Jews saw themselves as culturally Jewish and wanted to develop their culture within a Soviet context. Problem was that the Soviet authorities controlled their politics and when they said speak Yiddish they spoke Yiddish and later on when they said speak only Russian that was the end of the Yiddish cultural movement.

        Cultural Zionism will create its own politics and its own opposition just as the Yddishkeit movement found out.

        “If someone is going to throw out a blanket accusation of antisemitism that accuses me of antisemitism, why should I have the “good manners” to await a further explanation before telling my accuser that his a priori definition is illegitimate?”

        I didn’t accuse you of antisemitism, this is your fantasy. You need to believe that I did in order to come out swinging.

        People maybe mistaken without being antisemitic and you are mistaken about the possibility of a cultural zionism, existing like a Cheshire cat smile, without political zionism, which is its body.

        • David Says:

          I may be mistaken about the possibility of “Cultural Zionism” (although you seem never to have heard of Ahad Ha’Am – one of the most famous Zionists of all time!) but your claim is that being an opponent of “Jewish sovereignty” makes one an antisemite, not that it makes one merely mistaken.

          So do you believe that “You can’t claim not to be an antisemite if you oppose Jewish sovereignty” or not? Because if you do then apparently I cannot claim not to be an antisemite. I.e. you are telling me that I’m an antisemite.

        • Jacob Says:

          “(although you seem never to have heard of Ahad Ha’Am – one of the most famous Zionists of all time!)”

          Wrong again, David, I grew up on Ahad Ha’Am.

          “So do you believe that “You can’t claim not to be an antisemite if you oppose Jewish sovereignty” or not? Because if you do then apparently I cannot claim not to be an antisemite. I.e. you are telling me that I’m an antisemite.”

          People who deny Jewish sovereignty are antisemitic.

          Ahad Ha’Am didn’t deny Jewish sovereignty. He wanted to establish a cultural center in Palestine without concerning himself with the political dimension of his project. That was his weakness.

          For the rest you are arguing with yourself, and you seem to be looking for a fight. You are like one of those bullies who accuses of having insulted him without you ever having said a word.

          You are a bore David.

  19. Jacob Says:

    “David H., for example, defines himself as an internationalist and might well, as a result, reject the notion (ideology?) that there should be anything other a generalised human sovreignity and no nations – and I have no intention of going into what that might mean. On this basis, Jewish sovreignity and all other sovreignities would be ruled out.”

    Good point, Brian, but internationalism doesn’t rule out differences in culture, custom, language all of which go on to work against the very notion of “internationalism.”

    Internationalism is one of those concept that looks promising till you start looking at it more closely.

    “We might, in the UK, decide that there should not be Scottish and Welsh sovreignity, only a British sovreignity. There is no reason why this is therefore anti-Scottish or anti-Welsh.”

    You would have to check with Welsh and Scottish people about this, Brian. I suspect that many of them might disagree with this view.

    • David Says:

      “…many of them might disgree with this view” is not the same as the a priori claim you have been making. And again, followers of internationalism might be mistaken about the workability of their ideas, but according to your claim they are antisemites (because they oppose “Jewish sovereignty.”)

      • Jacob Says:

        “And again, followers of internationalism might be mistaken about the workability of their ideas, but according to your claim they are antisemites (because they oppose “Jewish sovereignty.”)”

        People who deny all sovereignty are against any group that believes in their sovereign existence.
        It’s not complicated.

        For the Irish who believe in Irish nationalism they would be anti-Irish and for Jewish who believe in their sovereignty they would be antisemitic. However since these folk take an even handed approach in opposing all forms of nationalism they are not what we are discussing here and I am not concerned about them any more than I am concerned with people who believe the messiah will come at any time and turn the earth into some sort of paradise.

        It’s not complicated.

  20. Absolute Observer Says:

    “The other day I read someone accusing R’ Yochanan ben Zakkai etc of being a traitor because he was an “anti-Zionist.” This is where this ridiculous nonsense leads us.”

    Well. I have read lots of ridiculous things when it comes to Israel, Jews, Palestine, Palestinians, Muslims, etc.. having been called a nazi, a zionist, an antizionist, an antisemite to name but a few (none of which describe me, I hasten to add).

    I have no doubt that you challenged the person who wrote that comment/article/post. Or at least I hope you did.

    “If someone is going to throw out a blanket accusation of antisemitism that accuses me of antisemitism, why should I have the “good manners” to await a further explanation before telling my accuser that his a priori definition is illegitimate?”

    Well, that may be true. Perhaps “good manners” was the wrong phrase. “Civil discourse” may have been better.

    Unfortunately, you did not tell your “accuser” why “his a priori definition is illegitimate”. Instead, you stated it was “utter nonsense” and that, “your claim is one that appears to be a priori and it results in a long catalog of ludicrously counter-intuitive claims”, but did not expand your thinking (as you have since in later comments).

    In other words, merely telling a interlocutor that their views are “a priori illegitimate” and counter-intuitive, is hardly conducive to understanding or even hearing the other’s point even, when understood, you disagree with it entirely (as I am sure you do).

    Be that as it may, since this thread has strayed far too far from the original topic, I shall now adopt the stance of an interested observer and leave you, Jacob and whoever to discuss it further.

  21. David Says:

    Well I’m so sorry if I didn’t spell it all out to begin with. I dare say that when I’m called “Jew Boy” on the street (or by an Israeli politician of the Right) I shouldn’t use such uncivil language as “utter nonsense” or be so insulting as to use the word “ludicrous.”

    • Gil Says:

      David Says: “I dare say that when I’m called “Jew Boy” on the street (or by an Israeli politician of the Right) I shouldn’t use such uncivil language as “utter nonsense” or be so insulting as to use the word “ludicrous.””

      I’d be curious to know which “right wing Israeli politician” has called you, David, personally a “Jew boy?”

  22. Mark Gardner Says:

    I am neither a philosopher nor an academic, but work at CST and see what is occurring at street level.

    I wrote my article with a vague knowledge of Zizek’s standing, but was not (then) aware to any meaningful extent of what he had said about Jews.

    I don’t agree with the fashion for declaring somebody to be antisemitic or not, and especially not by introducing category demands about attitudes to Jewish statehood. We get too hung up the heat of the “is he, isn’t he” argument, ending up in SILLY capital letters being shouted on Engage threads.

    Still, for all the high falutin’ philosophising by Zizek et al on antisemitism, the most instructive lines for me are Chaim Bermant, “anti-Semitism is like other hatreds, only more so” and Adorno, “anti-Semitism is the latest rumour about the Jews”.

    On both of those counts, it strikes me that the anti-racist anti-Zionist left has a lot of explaining to do.

  23. PetraMB Says:

    OK, Mariborchan; I’ve visited your blog, and as chance would have it, you just posted a piece that I just had finished reading in the context of a debate on ZWord…

    This is the piece:
    The Uses of the Word “Jew”

    Alain Badiou
    translated by Steve Corcoran
    http://www.lacan.com/badword.htm

    badword, hmh…

    It turns out, unsurprisingly, that Badiou is for a one-state solution — and actually it seems that he thinks that not only Jews have no right whatsoever to express their identity politically, also Arabs, Muslims, French and British shouldn’t do so… Though, it seems that Badiou thinks that it’s particularly problematic when Jews want to express their identity in political terms…

    The ignorance he displays in this piece about the subject he choose to write on is truly breathtaking; however, what is to my mind the most offensive part is when he writes about the Holocaust in these terms:

    “the grace of having been an incomparable victim can be passed down not only to descendants and to the descendants of descendants but to all who come under the predicate in question, be they heads of state or armies engaging in the severe oppression of those whose lands they have confiscated”

    I understand now what you mean when you claim that Zizek is a valiant fighter against antisemitism… once you consider it a “grace” to have been gassed in Auschwitz, anything goes, because words then are rendered utterly meaningless.

  24. Inna Says:

    “Are we to believe that one morning, the world will wake up and suddenly realise that Nablus, Hebron, Jericho, Bethlehem and countless other places have no population remaining? How will this occur? Will a Guardian journalist call room service in their Ramallah hotel one morning and receive no breakfast? And if so, will this journalist also fall prey to the extraordinary phenomenon whereby this enforced mass depopulation was somehow an “invisible process, ignored by the media”?”

    Well, how much attention did the Guardian devote to the Hama massacre? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hama_massacre ) And you know, there may well have been hotels in the city that was once Hama.

    From this I conclude that if the “enforced mass depopulation” was NOT carried out by Jews (I mean of course Israelis) the world media and especially the Guardian will give it as much time and outrage as it is currently giving (say) the “enforced mass depopulations” in Sudan and Chechnya.

    Regards,

    Inna


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: