“Perhaps the accusation that the TUC is an undemocratic and unrepresentative body will prove as popular and effective amongst trade unionists as the similar accusation levelled at the UCU”
As with most populists who live in thrall to a demagogue, johng appears to “think” that, regardless of a statement’s veracity (i.e. Jews run other countries) all that matters is that it is “popular and effective”.
So, according to the logic of johng (quoted above) the mere fact that Ahmadinejad’s antisemitic rhetoric is both “popular and effective” amongst sections of anti-zionists” (see i.e. PSC and many UCU pro-boycotters, (with their language of “international jewry”, conspiracy theory, etc.) it is, therefore, immune to criticism.
In the earlier thread, johng used this notion of “popular and effective” as a means of countering the fact that, on the question of the boycott, the UCU policy does not represent the vast majority of its members.
Rather than explain and analyse why the boycotters had failed* so miserably to garner that support he implies that since the truth – that it is unrepresentative – is neither popular nor effective, it can be ignored. That is, no doubt why the great party of the grassroots adopted the bureaucratic measures so beloved of Stalinists.
[…] Posted in Uncategorized by modernityblog on September 25, 2009 5:32 pm Thanks to Engage for pointing out a post on the CST blog, which makes a comparison between the type of coverage given to the […]
I look forward to Tony Lerman’s response on cif about how if it wasn’t for “Jews Behaving Badly” Ahmadinejad wouldn’t be antisemitic and/or how wrong it is to confuse the statements of the Iranian President with anti-zionists in the UK and elsewhere; how to link the two is to”demonise” anti-zionism; how the cst is an arm of the diapsora establishment. In fact, he will address everything other than the real presence and prevalence of antisemitism within significant elements of PSC; within the discourse of many pro-boycotters; and with the inherent antisemitism of a call to boycott to the Jewish state and only the Jewish state.
I don’t read the Guardian but I agree with the CST that the BBC appears to have trouble seeing antisemitism where it exists. Their coverage of the Mumbai massacre was quite different from Sky’s in that respect.
Not sure, though, what’s the relevance of pointing out that both Ahmedinejad and the Guardian mention that US Presidential candidates display their support of Israel. Certainly it’s true that they generally do, if they wish to enhance their chances of winning the support of an important electoral constituency at home. Nor is there any particular reason to believe the display is insincere. There’s nothing inherently antisemitic about stating the facts of their actions, nor any reason to be sensitive about it.
Of course, Ahmmedinejad presumably believes that such support is due to Jewish control and a conspiracy etc. In the absence of evidence that the Guardian writers believe something similarly antisemitic, one cannot fault them for pointing out an indisputable fact, even if some other people use the same facts as supposed evidence of their antisemitic theories.
Once again you approach a question of antisemitism without fully appreciating, or eve, recognising the context.
The thing about myths is that they often distort what is reality.
As you say, of itself, noting that US Presidents and candidates need the support of a constituency at home is not antisemitic.
Yet, what is often left out is qualifying terms such as the fact that making nice to all “constituencies” is part and parcel of US policies; that is, it is a normal aspect of US politics.
Because that qualification of normalcy is missing (for examples, see the recent CST report of antisemitic discourse), such empirical facts are then contextualised, coloured and given meaning by its connection with pre-existing antisemitic fantasies which, no matter how much we wish it did not exist, does exist.
It is, therefore, not a coincidence or mere happenstance that ” other people use the same facts as supposed evidence of their antisemitic theories.”, as if it were some accidental addition to discussions of Israel and Jews. Whilst the debate about Israel and Palestine needs to be conducted on a rational basis, the way it actually is discussed taps whether wittingly or unwittingly, into and replicates antisemitic imagery. It is because of this tendency to read reality through the prism of antisemtism that particular care needs to be taken in reporting and discussing these issues.
No one is saying, or should say, that because of this seemingly automatic tendency of story to involve Jews to trigger antisemitic mythology a story like this one should not be reported. Rather, it brings to the fore the need to be sensitive in the manner of its reporting as well as to recognise those who report it legitimately and those who feed off it for their own antisemitic agenda.
Unfortunately, merely pointing to the empirical facts, and saying upon which the fantasy feeds is the wrong way of looking at it.
For people serious about opposing antisemitism, rather than opposing those who raise the question of antisemitism, it is necessary to understand the way it works and the effect it has. Critiques and resistance to antisemitic imagery through the device of dividing it into its “true bits” and its “untrue” bits assumes a “rationality” to antisemitism as well as a “good faith” of antisemites that does not exist.
That is to misunderstand the nature of antisemitism and its inherent tendency to taint all “facts” with its poison.
One need only think of the 1920’s antisemitism that emphasised Jews as the owners of department stores. Empirically (although I have not checked the stats), it is probably true. As you know, this fact became part and parcel of how Jews were acting (as a unified body) against the “German” and “Austrian” people in general and the small shop-keepers in particular. Arguing solely that it is true that the majority of department stores were owned by Jews was next to useless in combating Jew-hatred. The reason it was useless was because it not only failed to grasp the essence of antisemitism and how it works, but also gave it too much ground by agreeing with them that, at base, the problem was with “the Jews” rather than with the antisemites.
One need only think of the equivocality of the term “Israel Lobby” and “pro-Israel Lobby”, which, from its inception in Walt and Mearsheimer’s book, moves from an empirical account of how several diverse groups advocate and lobby for favourable treatment from the US government to the idea of a unitary and co-ordinated entity that control’s US foreign policy against the interests of US interests and people; that is, with a classic trope of antisemitic imagery.
Or, again, the story of the Jew in the US who trafficked in organs. That is a legitimate story. Yet, within minutes it became immersed with the myth of the blood libel, linked to the fantasies of the Middle Ages through its transference from”Jews” to “Israel”. The question in this context is not whether mr x or mr y trafficked in organs, but why and how it should feed an antisemitic worldview that we all wished did not exist.
In other words, the focus for opposing antisemmitism is antisemites and not the Jews of which they speak (or, rather, imagine in distorted forms).
Antisemitism, like all other social and political phenomena has a history. One cannot either simply wish it away or pretend that its influence is only a matter of separating the rational from the irrational.
Moreover, in the case at hand, the critique of the CST was not on what Ahmadinejad said, but the failure of the Guardian, unlike yourself, to recognise his comments as antisemitic.
As a Marxist and socialist (apologies for the “as a”!), I find the idea that US politics and that of Israel is being explained solely in terms of personalised “lobbies” and “personal influence” an expression of the dire depths to which left politics and social critique has fallen.
I often wonder why it is that at the precise moment that serious left thinking has renounced the deeper, “objective” and “scientific” analysis of social and political phenomena and relations in the name of a “personalised power” – “Zioinsts”, “bankers” – antisemitism re-appears on the scene. This is a point that applies not only to Israel and Palestine, but with a “left” presentation of any number of politics and social policies per se.