Moishe Postone on the apparent emancipatory power of antisemitism

In this recent interview of Moishe Postone by Martin Thomas (of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty), Postone outlines different forms of anti-Zionism which have converged into a general indignation aimed at Jews and which, for those seeking Israel’s abolition, have become programmatic. He observes that global capitalist power is mis-recognised as the Jews, and consequently the Jews easily become the target of those whom capitalism has failed. Antisemitism today is unlike other forms of racism because it attributes to Jews enormous and mysterious power, and so can seem both progressive and anti-imperialist.

And the left? For many, antipathy to the USA blunts their critical gaze, apologises for Stalin, and allies with political Islamists such as Hamas and Hesbollah.

“Racism is rarely a danger for the left. The left has to be careful not to be racist, but it isn’t an ongoing danger because racism doesn’t have the apparent emancipatory dimension of anti-semitism.”

Read it all.

61 Responses to “Moishe Postone on the apparent emancipatory power of antisemitism”

  1. N. Friedman Says:

    This interview is certainly worth reading. While Postone incorrectly thinks that Jewish collectivism started recently, what he writes is, overall, more correct than not.

    It would appear that Professor Postone has read – or come to conclusions similar to those of – Bernard-Henri Lévy’s outstanding book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism, which sees the Antisemitic movement for what it is – which is to say, not quite the same racism or, if racism, not racism in any normal understanding of the concept.

    One other notes: the roots of European style Antisemitism into the Arab world are tied closely to the Nazis and Arabs associated with them. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in that topic study Professor Jeffrey Herf’s work in this area. Herf, by the way, gave a fascinating interview to the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm. The paper is a quasi-independent publication whose editor is somehow associated with the anti-Islamist liberal Saad ed-din Ibrahim.

  2. zkharya Says:

    The guy is really good. Why couldn’t he have spoken at the UCU seminars on antisemitism?

  3. zkharya Says:

    He’d run rings around Tom Hickey.

  4. Paul Says:

    I think it’s incorrect and dangerous to say that anti-Semitism isn’t racism. Of course it’s racism. Saying it isn’t will only make it even more acceptable and palatable.

    I also take issue with Postone’s unquestioning acceptance of the idea that the left is unlikely to be racist and doesn’t need to worry about it too much. This isn’t true.

    Thirdly, it takes an actively interested and willing credulity to believe that anti-Semitism is really just a concern about global capital (with the sole error of misidentifying capital with Jews). That makes anti-Semitism sound rather well-meaning and understandable, especially today after the financial crisis caused by Wall Street and the City.

    Lastly, it is mistaken both on principle and strategically to make the wrongness of anti-Semitism depend on it being untrue that Jews are disproportionately present at the controls of global capital and finance. Anti-Semitism is wrong absolutely; it is wrong in and of itself; it is not somehow contingently wrong.

    • N. Friedman Says:

      Paul,

      You write: “I think it’s incorrect and dangerous to say that anti-Semitism isn’t racism. Of course it’s racism. Saying it isn’t will only make it even more acceptable and palatable.”

      It is most important to describe Antisemitism accurately. It clearly can be a form of racism, as the biological racism of the Nazis and the bloodline racism of 15th Century Spain’s anti-conversos was. At the same time, Jews have at other times been able to escape Antisemitic agitation by conversion to Christianity or Islam, which means that there can be non-racist Antisemitism. So, this is not a simple thing and pretending it is by branding clear analysis of it as “dangerous” is, it seems to me, foolish.

      The current Antisemitism, which is associated with obsessive opposition to Israel, with allegations that Jews are monopolizing Jewish suffering at the expense of other suffering groups (to advance Israel’s agenda to the disadvantage of Arabs) and that Jews are trying to dominate the world are difficult to call racism. After all, one can escape the current form of Antisemitism by turning on Israel. So, it seems to me that it is rather dangerous to object to efforts to describe the current round of Antisemitism in an accurate fashion, on the theory that it is simply racism.

    • Bill Says:

      I agree with Paul.

      It sounds a little too much like certain groups saying that “criticism of Israel is not (as such) antisemetic” or more generically, empedestalling prejudice (defining it as a foul caricature so that it appears too out of reach to worry about) or just plain smug hubris. Of course leftists can be racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc. Whenever you make something “not our problem” you’re begging for it to come and stay awhile. I’d even say it pretty much sums up most of the problems, we’ve witnessed.

    • Paul Says:

      N. Friedman,

      I see your point. Technically you may be right — if we get technical, that is, about whether or not the Jews are a race. But for all intents, purposes and effects, anti-Semitism is racism.

      You could also say that, for example, anti-black racism in Americal isn’t racism because African-Americans aren’t in fact a race. They’re not in fact a race, that’s true (don’t ask me what IS a race, but but I know that they are not one). So does that make it not racist to call them niggers?

      I’m not sure it’s so clear that “conversion” has really allowed Jews to escape anti-Semitism. It didn’t help in Nazi Germany; and elsewhere, in more recent and far less extreme circumstances, it hasn’t really helped either: changing your name to Smith and becoming an Episcopalian might help as long as no one knew who you’d been previously but you still couldn’t get into that country club because they did know, and around the neighbourhood the snide remarks would still be made.

      But my main point here actually would be that I have a broad issue with approaches like Postone’s where the broad effect of it seems to be “they mean well but they’re mistaken and misguided”. I just don’t think that today’s left anti-Semites (or any other racists) should get that much credit. They DON’T mean well. They DON’T attempt a nuanced and real understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict. They’re not interested. They’ve got what they’re after, which is a moral stick to beat Jews with. It’s the most delicious thing that’s ever happened in their lives.

      Another version of this “they mean well but they’re misguided” type of analysis is to ascribe left anti-Semitism to a general opposition to nationalisms of any sort; because of this, so the analysis goes, the left must be anti-Zionist because Zionism is a nationalism, and this unfortunately (but, by implication, understandably) deforms into anti-Semitism. (Though, interestingly, Palestinian nationalism is exempt, which shows up the argument’s falseness.)

      I think that this “they mean well but they’re misguided” type of analysis comes from people to whom it is unimaginable that the left doesn’t at least mean well. That Postone falls into that category is shown by his “Racism is rarely a danger for the left”. That statement is not only historically not supportable; it is quite shockingly naive. And, as Bill puts it rather eloquently, “Whenever you make something ‘not our problem’ you’re begging for it to come and stay awhile”.

      • schalomlibertad Says:

        Paul,
        I think you’re misunderstanding Postone’s statement about “Racism [being] rarely a danger for the left”. I don’t think Postone means that the Left has not historically had a problem with racism. Rather, I think he is saying that racism does not appear to Leftists as something emancipatory, and because of that is not a danger for the Left.
        One can dispute his claim. I think it might be over-simplified myself. I think that for example the environmental movement or labor movements might take exclusionary positions, blaming the environmental destruction or low wages on outsiders (and some Leftists have done this in the past, and some do it still currently.). Maybe then, one can say that racism appears emancipatory, and therefore becomes a danger. But this form of exclusion based on nationality comes into harsh opposition with the Left’s ideals of universalism.
        On the other hand, antisemitism often is expressed as a universalism, of all the little people against the over-arching, non-national, elite. (Here I am speaking of antisemitism that sets aside a “racial” argument.) This kind of argumentation can be a danger for the Left in a way that racism can’t, because it appears emancipatory AND non-exclusionary based on nationality.

  5. Absolute Observer Says:

    An excellent account.
    However, why the Jews and not the bicycle riders?

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    Sorry, my comment should have been prefaced with,
    “The abstract domination of capitalism is personified as the Jews. Anti-semitism is a revolt against global capital, misrecognized as the Jews.”

    Elsewhere, Postone has argued that it is because Jews became identified with speculative and financial capital and, as such, became the personification of complex and obscure social relations. Yet, to mind mind, that is still caught within the same tautology that, the Jews are representatives of finance capital because finance capital is represented by the Jews.

  7. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Postone is right insofar as antisémitism is emancipatory. When on Holocaustday president Shimon Peres came to the German parliament the Bundestag, the deputies stood up. Only some members of die Linke like Sahra Wagenknecht remained seated. Her act was welcomed by the neonazi deputy of the saxonian Landtag, Jürgen Gansel and by Werner Pirker an antiímperialist scribbler of the national-bolshevist Berlin daily Junge Welt.

  8. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    By the way, Postone made a mistake, the leaders of CSSR communist party were not shot but hanged after the Slansky trial.

  9. Moishe Postone, Antisemitism And Star Trek at Z-Word Blog Says:

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  10. Harry Goldstein Says:

    I don’t agree with the reservations some commenters have on use of the words ‘racism’ and ‘antisemitism’.

    First, we need to understand that the etymology of a word isn’t the same as its current meaning. It seems to me that in current normal terminology ‘racism’ is the term for prejudice against an ethnic group (where the ‘ethnicity’ in question can have been constituted by cultural, religious, or perceived racial identity, or even merely be in the eye of the beholder). Thus I have no problem in characterising intergroup prejudices between say N. Irish Protestants and Catholics, or Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims, as racist. It’s the bigotry that makes it racist, not the claimed justification for the bigotry, let alone the actual nature of the target group. The fact that most modern biologists believe the term ‘race’ has no real meaning clearly doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as racism.

    By the same token, I take antisemitism to mean simply racism (i.e. bigotry) against Jews. I am of course fully aware that the term was coined to ‘justify’ racially based hatred in the 19th century, but it has come to refer by extension to all historic Jew-hatred. Histories of antisemitism in Europe, say, routinely start not in the 19th century but with the beginnings of Christianity (at least). Antisemitism may be an unfortunate term (just as, when you analyse it, so is racism) but it’s the one we’re stuck with.

    Of course, to define antisemitism as racism against Jews doesn’t preclude us from pointing out its unique features, e.g. conspiracy theory.

    I agree with Paul and Bill that to say that antisemitism isn’t a form of racism is extremely dangerous.

    • Bill Says:

      Sorry Harry, I botched some of the attributions to Paul and Friedman (sorry about that), but also the issue can tie you up in knots… I’ve got a long clipboard file saved of me trying to write how the Left vs Right venn diagram of racism overlaps right over the Jews but I started going dizzy trying to make sense out of crazy. (see post somewhere below)

      I do think antisemitism IS a form of racism — specifically against Jews but there isn’t a term for anti-N-word-ism. One thing I will say is that “antisemitism” was supposedly coined as a term so as to give Jew-Hating an intellectual edge (empowering anti-Jewish racism rather than confronting it). Hating , for example, uppidy blacks is what the Klan would call “just being an upstanding citizen” (or “going out” when in front of their wives or the pastor) so it was never exactly given polite parlor language beyond that.

      “Modern” Antisemitism seems to follow both a right-racist model about the Jews owning too much park bench (Israel is one helluva 40 acres), but also a left model of the Good Jew vs. the Bad Jew for holding the Right/Wrong interpretation of what they think Zionism is or should be. Or is it Wrong/Right? Like I said, I’m getting dizzy. I’d just as soon have zero tolerance for antisemitism and other species of racism and just shoot “both” on sight. Call me a reactionary, but it saves time at this point!

  11. Harry Goldstein Says:

    N. Friedman – I think the roots of Middle Eastern antisemitism may be older than your reference suggests. (Although the view that it dates to the Nazis is also put forward persuasively by Matthias Kunzel in ‘Jihad and Jew-Hatred’.

    An alternative view (which however doesn’t dismiss the importance of Nazi influence) traces modern Arab antisemitism back to the 19th century. A key event is the Damascus blood libel case of 1840, which provoked massive anti-Jewish riots across the Middle East. Crucially, the source of the libel was the Damascus Christian community (the alleged victim was a Christian priest) and they appear to have been influenced by right-wing French and other European diplomats. There is a clear transmission here from the European Christian right to the Arab Christian right.

    The significance of this is that Christian Arab intellectuals were the pioneers of Arab nationalism, and indeed of the idea that there is such a thing as an Arab nation. By defining their identity linguistically (Arabic speakers constituted a nation) Christians could overcome their own isolation as a minority group. Of course, this should logically have meant that Arabic-speaking Jews were also ‘Arabs’, but the Christian tradition of antisemitism, reinforced by European right-wing nationalists, militated against this conclusion.

    Walter Laqueur’s History of Zionism describes how the earliest agitation against Jewish immigration came from Christian groups, e.g. the Jesuits. In fact, it was almost an article of faith among the early Zionists that the major hostility to them was from the Christians rather than the Muslims. Obviously this didn’t remain the case, as right-wing Muslim leaders picked up on anti-Jewish agitation as a handy cause.

    I think we can agree that it’s a shame that work on this fascinating and important area is hindered by political prejudices.

  12. Absolute Observer Says:

    N. Friedman’s initial response to Postone indicates the difference between a progressive and a reactionary understanding of antisemitism.

    As with antisemitism, N. Friedman offers to personalise complex social relations, such as the links between nazis and Arabs made in the 30’s, at the expense of a deeper understanding of the conditions that make antisemitism possible; an understanding offered by Postone.

    As to the “distinction” between racism and antisemitism. I think Postone is right, or mainly, right.
    The essence of antisemitism is the myth of power, Jewish power. Hence, the notion that antisemitism appears as the illusion/delusion of emancipation.
    An often used tactic to claim there is no antisemitism in the world is to note that Jews are not disdvantaged or lack in cultural capital (in the UK, although less in the US, this is undoubtedly true (but overlooks the fact that the vast, vast, majority of working-class Jews were murdered in the Shoah)).

    It is to be noted that historically, antisemitism never occurs when the Jews are marginalised. Antisemitism, as unique and novel emerged precisely at the moment that the Jews were doing ok, so to speak (the hatred of the Ostjuden in Germany, for example, often shared by the more assimilated and acculturated rested mainly on pre-existing notions of backwardness and prmitiveness, rather than antisemitism).

    Likewise, at the current time, Jews have never had it so good. Jews have their own state. In the disapora, Jews are doing ok.
    Yet, it is precisely at this moment (and not in the years after the Holocaust where in Europe and elsewhere, times were tough) that antisemitism has emerged; the theme of which is “Jewish power” – political, financial and, “emotional”.

    Likewise, by terming antisemitism as “racism” (and its related extermination), one actually masks the diverse ways that antisemmitism articulates itself. Again, for contemporary antisemites, providing no-one is gassing Jews then, they argue, they can’t be antisemitic, Yet, as noted above, this is plainly not the case.

    With the possible exception of the Chinese communities in SE Asia it is hard to find a similar pattern for any other forms of exclusion.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “It is to be noted that historically, antisemitism never occurs when the Jews are marginalised. Antisemitism, as unique and novel emerged precisely at the moment that the Jews were doing ok, so to speak…”

      It would be nice to believe this, AO, if only because that would mean we must, collectively, be doing okay economically, if not so hot on the social front. However, this would make it difficult to explain the antisemitism of the Tsarist era, with the periodic pogroms, always seeming to fall on the poorest Jews in the Pale of Settlement, or similar attacks on the poorest Jews in rural Poland. It also leaves the explanation for English antisemitism, prior to the expulsion of the Jews, looking rather weak, if we accept this. Again, how to explain the antisemitism directed against the dirt poor Jews of, for example, the East End of London before, during and after the passage of the Aliens Act of 1905? Or, come to that, the rise of antisemitic fascism under Mosley in the 1930s?

      I really think that we need to look far beyond a simplistic explanation of “Jews doing relatively well” as an explanation for the outbreak of antisemitism. If we don’t, we threaten to topple over into explanations that blame the victims – as when the likes of Anthony Lerman insist that if only British Jews weren’t so fervent in their support for Israel, then antisemitism would go away.

      Yeah, like that’s going to stop Tom Hickey, Sue Blackwell, the Roses (all of them) and the rest of the UCU crowd in their tracks.

      • Bill Says:

        I’m glad I’m not the only person who did a doubletake there.

        I could easily parse the above quote as saying that the “Jews don’t face antisemitism — when they know their place.”

        “Marginalization”, in itself, implies that some tall poppy management was being imposed on the community at the very least to contain them or otherwise restrict them from being fruitful and multiplying — or at least diversifying. I’ll agree that, historically, the “Jewish Question” been an issue when “those Jews” were taking up too much room on the park bench on which their hosts graciously allowed them to sleep as much as it was an issue when the town got sick of Plague and they needed a well poisoner. But it’s all a little too much like “the Blacks doin’ a little too good for themselves with their farming, their voting, looking at our wimmin – time for the Klan to even things out.” And now we’re not talking about a 40 acres and a mule but rather a whole freakin’ country (and it’s doing quite well next to the neighboring homesteads).

        Call it the reactionary in me but I have a lot of trouble how there’s a difference between written, and unwritten, laws and societal norms that manage (or marginalize) the Jews vs Jim Crowe Blacks.

        While there’s a difference between rightwing and leftwing racism (ownership of the body & estate vs ownership of the mind and values), are we’re going sane in a mad world on this? Racism and antisemitism aren’t exactly rational. Always Rationalized for sure! But never Rational, per se. I’ll happily give Postone plenty of credit for trying to mull through it all, but I’m afraid his head may explode.

  13. N. Friedman Says:

    Paul,

    You write: “But for all intents, purposes and effects, anti-Semitism is racism.”

    I disagree somewhat. The current bout of Antisemitism is not all that much like racism. Jews can escape the current situation simply by denouncing Israel. This website has included numerous articles by Jews who have become, in a sense, rock stars to the Anti-Israel movement by adopting an anti-Israel stance.

    While I can suppose an individual of African ancestry might escape race prejudice by denouncing dark skin pigmentation and all its works, were the bulk of people of African ancestry to do so, I doubt it would make an iota of difference for most such people. By contrast, if the Jewish community outside Israel turned en masse against Israel, they would not much be the target of hatred.

    In the late 14th Century, there were terrible massacres of Jews in Spain. In 1391, there were near genocidal attacks but Jews were given a way out, one which they followed in very large numbers: convert to Christianity. Conversion, for a while, seemed to resolve the issue. The attacks, up to 1391, were not racist by any normal definition. Many Jews had, even long before then, converted to Christianity and, by and large, were not persecuted or much harassed.

    The mass conversion of Jews that occurred in 1391, however, led to new problems. A race theory developed in Spain, on the theory that Jews, by their blood, were incapable of becoming real Christians so that the “new” Christians – conversos – of Jewish background were, due to their blood, not Christians whether or not they seemed outwardly to be Christian and whether or not they, in fact, sincerely believed in Christianity, as most, within one or two generations, obviously did.

    Nazis Antisemitism and anti-conversos campaign in Spain were racist. The apartheid ideology in South Africa was racist. The ideology adopted in the US to keep African-Americans down was racist. By contrast, the anti-clerical Antisemitism in Europe – e.g. ala Voltaire’s views – was not necessarily racist. Perhaps the difference is the following: racism is typically, if not always, an ideology that aims from keeping certain people, based on ascribed characteristics, from integrating into society. Antisemitism is not limited to that and even targets, for ideological reasons, Jews who want to keep quietly and entirely to themselves.

    I think it is important to consider whether any of these distinctions really matter. I think they do. I think efforts to combat forms of Antisemitism that is non-racist by use of anti-racist arguments are largely doomed. As good evidence of that, note the fact that there a good number of bona fide anti-racists who see nothing wrong with saying ghastly, hurtful and untrue things about Israel that were traditionally directed against Jews.

    Absolute Observer,

    I was making an observation, not an ideological statement. How that becomes progressive or reactionary is beyond me.

    Harry,

    I agree with you. However, it is to be noted that the current bout of hatred in the Islamic regions combines traditional hatred of Jews, using Islamic sacred texts, with Nazi era Antisemitic themes.

  14. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Brian has a point. After the “Anschluss” in 1938 some Jewish ladies used to come to our house and one poor lady who was deported a few years later had an explanation for violent Antisemitism in Austria: “Because rich Jewesses wear their Jewellery ostentatiously”. I see many non-Jewish ladies doing the same, but no hate is directed against them.
    Antisemitism has deep roots in European culture and those leftliberal “antizionists” are not free of it, even if on a personal level they do not show their hatred of Jews.
    The modern Antisemite is an opponent of Antisemitism, he/she is trying to convince the Jews not to give cause to it, and he/she is giving good advice, how this could be achieved. This is also an antisemitic ruse, for with this he/she is proving that the “bad” Jews can do what they do, because the “good” ones do not oppose them. And so he is coming again with a collective guilt and as far as Jews are concerned we see, how Jews who live outside Israel are collectively accused of having sympathies with the Jewish state.

    @Absolute Observer@ “progressive and a reactionary understanding of Antisemitism“
    I like that dichotomy.
    Now lets take for instance the communists party of Czechoslovakia in 1952. Their understanding of Antisemitism was of course progressive, for they claimed a communist cannot be antisemitic, the same mantra one can hear from UCU boycotters. However out of 14 persons hanged at the Slansky trial 11 were of „Jewish descent“. And the state attorney in Prague described the „cosmopolitan“ face of Slansky.
    And that happened 15 years before the Six day War and there were no settlements.

  15. N. Friedman Says:

    If you can correct my last post, February 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm, by deleting the following sentence “This website has included numerous articles by Jews who have become, in a sense, rock stars to the Anti-Israel movement by adopting an anti-Israel stance.” and then, by substituting the following, it would be appreciated:

    “This website has discussed numerous articles involving Jews who have become, in a sense, rock stars to the Anti-Israel movement by adopting an anti-Israel stance.”

  16. Absolute Observer Says:

    Brian,
    “I really think that we need to look far beyond a simplistic explanation of “Jews doing relatively well” as an explanation for the outbreak of antisemitism.”

    Of course, I agree with you. It was just a manner of differentialting it against racism that tends to afflict groups who are in a marginalised eccnomic and social position and seen as a threat to those who are also in a precarious situation. (And, here I argue against myself and point to the antisemitic agitation by the unions in the early 20th century which culminated in the Aliens Act 1905).

    However, the antisemitism of that period emerged as a distortion of a “real” conflict between a threated working-class and what their saw as economic interlopers’ In Tsarist Russia it was drived by a similar concern as well as Orthodox hatred of Judaism.

    However, while I agree with some overlap between racism and antisemitism, the comment by HG on, say “conspiracy theory”, i.e. of a surfeit of Jewish power, marks it distinction from racism and not just at a formal level.

    As with all concepts – it needs to be defined carefully. I am not sure of placing it in a general concept of “racism” is the way forward, at least at the level of understanding even if fighting antisemitism is as much a principle of anti-racism as hatred of any other “group”.

  17. Harry Goldstein Says:

    Any comment that begins ‘antisemitism never occurs when…’ is deeply suspect. Antisemitism can occur when Jews are middle class and integrated (pre-war Germany and Austria) or marginalised and impoverished (eastern Europe in the 19th/early 20th century) or when there are no Jews at all (see Shakespeare).

    Antisemitism is an ideological orientation on the part of the antisemite, and nothing to do with Jews’ actual situation or actions.

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  19. N. Friedman Says:

    Harry,

    I agree with the first part of your post. However, I have difficulty with the second part of your post, where you write:

    Antisemitism is an ideological orientation on the part of the antisemite, and nothing to do with Jews’ actual situation or actions.

    It seems to me that Antisemitism has everything to do with the actual situation and actions of Jews. It is, in considerable measure, a response to the actual situation albeit a response that seems divorced from the actual facts at hand.

    Hence, to Spain’s “old” Christian population who saw “new” Christians of Jewish background threatening their jobs and careers, etc., the response, because the new Christians – conversos – were of Jewish heritage, was to assert that Conversos of Jewish heritage are incapable of being real Christians, etc.

    Today, the objection is to Israel and in favor of Arabs. Rather than argue the merits of the Arab cause, there is seen an advantage in vilifying Israel, arguing that its founding and reigning ideology is inherently evil. Tried and true arguments, similar to those made against the Conversos and Jews in 20th Century Europe are used.

    While the arguments made do not correspond to anything Jews are really doing, there are reasons and they do arise in a context. They do address the actual situation of Jews but not directly; rather, by means of calumny, etc.. My gut reaction is that the issue in all of these – but this is only a guess – is fear of Jews because of the fear that Jews will outperform others and control things to the disadvantage of others.

  20. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    N. Friedman: “Jews can escape the current situation simply by denouncing Israel.” Now if you _really_ believe that, Neil, then the mask of rationality is beginning to slip. Do you honestly think that Tom Hickey, et al, will stop demonising Israel and singling it out (you read the infamous Hickey comment in _that_ BMJ article, like the rest of us), then I really do have some land below the high-water mark to sell you. And if that comment isn’t classic antisemitism, then I don’t know what is.

    Further, given the UCU hierarchy’s reaction to legal opinion on the legality of the boycott, what is beginning to become mass resignations and their penchant to barring people from the activists email list (despite the fact that emailing to more than one other person is, in legal terms, publishing it), then their collective reacton to such an unlikely event is likely to be a _stepping up_ of their efforts rather than a dimunition. Nor would such action placate right-wing antisemites – and they are just as dangerous as the left-wing ones.

    Anyway, it’s a price I’m not prepared to pay and antisemites and other racists should _never_ be met with compromise.

    A minor historical correction, while I’m about it: Jews were given their option in the 15th Century: it was while Columbus was “discovering” America that the Jews were offered their non-choice: convert, die or bugger off somewhere else. And if you bugger off, leave your property behind.

    AO, sorry, but in my opinion, your efforts at elucidation are merely deepening the hole. Frankly, antisemitism as an unreasoning hatred (or a “weak” intense dislike) of Jews is antisemitism, irrespective of whether it is based on fear of Jewish power and/or money (?), fear of “unfair” competition by undercutting wages, or hatred of the “other” who killed Christ or refuses to see the light and convert or…is, in its effects, indivisible.

    I accept, as sociologist, that analysis of the origins, causes etc, of these different threads is important, but that doesn’t change the effects on the victims. Would you really want to distinguish between racisms based on whether the oppressor would hang you from a low or a high branch? (As the old African-American ‘joke’ had it, in its distinction between liberal and right-wing white Americans).

    If your distinction is for the purposes of intellectual analysis, then please say so. But from my point of view a punch in the face because I’m Jewish isn’t necessarily worse than failing to get a job or being unable to buy a house or secure other desirable goods, because I’m Jewish. The analysis that one is worse than the other (or isn’t “really” antisemitism) sucks when it’s on the ground.

  21. Absolute Observer Says:

    “I was making an observation, not an ideological statement. How that becomes progressive or reactionary is beyond me.”

    Yes, it probably is.

  22. Absolute Observer Says:

    Harry,
    “Antisemitism is an ideological orientation on the part of the antisemite, and nothing to do with Jews’ actual situation or actions.”

    I guess it depends what we mean by “antisemitism”. If we take it in terms of its emergence as a concept (i.e. as distinct from anti-Judaism, anti-Judaistic) the it does indeed arise at precisely the moment Jews cease to be “marginalised”, but at precisely the moment Jews leave the “margins” and enter the “mainstream”. Hence, its need to go beneath the surface and articulate itself through the bogus notion of “race” or of “conspiracy”. Indeed, this is precisely the form much of the anti-zionism [sic] is taken.

    Whilst I agree with you that “antisemitism is an ideological orientation on the part of the antisemite,” I am not sure, for the most part anyway, that, “it has nothing to do with Jews’ actual situation or actions.”

    Antisemitism – now broadly defined – only gains its purchase if it has at least a fingernail of the truth in it. Antisemitism, for the most part, is a distortion of relations of which (some Jews) are a part. I think this is what differentiates the antisemitism of some of the anti-zionists and the antisemitism of East and Central Europe (Karl may want to comment here).

    With the antisemitism characteristic of some an-z’s, they have taken an actual conflict involving Jews (i.e. over Israel) and refiied those Jews into a concept of “the Jew” – in which is poured all the old stuff about excessive power, control of the media, etc.. However, such nonsense would not have as much purchase if it was not the case that the vast majority of Jews are supportive of Israel and, in some instance, support it publically and organise on its behalf. The “Lobby argument” is an and the antisemitic distortion of that reality. Of course, the relationship between the reified concept of “the Jew” and real-life Jews is incredibly complex and mediated by a thousand and one different factors. (And that is why, Lerman’s and Judt’s simplisitic notion that if Jews played nice there would be no, or what for them is a “tolerable” level of antisemitism, is just an inverse of the antisemites’ view of the Jews, and hardly worth the paper it is written on).
    However, to say, in this context, that “it has nothing to do with Jews’ actual situation or actions” might, in this context be an overstatement. Needless to say, this type of antisemitism seems to accompany Jews whenever they act in, and as part of the world. But, of course, you are right in one sense, the antisemite will always see and reify “the Jew” in more or less anything.

    None of this is to deny that there is as you quite rightly say, inherent in this “raitonal” (please forgive the word) understanding of antisemitism, is a world of fantasy that truly “has nothing to do with Jews’ actual situation or actions., and one that always threatens to break free of its material foundations.

    One need only think of contemporary Central and Eastern Europe where, as N. Friedman pointed out elsewhere, there is virtually no significant Jewish presence. There, antisemitism is pure fantasy. It is, in a way, more dangerous, because it truly has left the bounds of experience, in a way that the antisemitism has (yet) to do so in Western Europe and the USA.

    In the Middle East, the combination of both is overt. Jews as Jews are in a conflict with other peoples which provides the basis for the distortion of many of the antisemitic distortions of the Israel and Palestine conflict whilst, at the same time, the fantasies being produced there (the Protocols, Holocaust Denial, etc.) seem to have detached itself from the real world, even the I/P conflict

    To what extent a similar pattern is emerging in Europe and the USA is, indeed, the question (and not a question to be answered via the nonsense of “importation” – a racist, anti-immigration theory if ever there was one). One need only think of the link Wallis made between the anti-boycotters in the UCU and Lehman Brothers, and Keith Hammond’s bringing together Zionists and anti-union capitalists.

    However, I guess the point is that “antisemitism” is a complex and diverse phenomenon; and, yes, you’re right, we (I) should never say “never”. But, on the other hand, since antisemitism is of this world, it is amenable to “normal” modes of understanding (and judging) and, second, we must never do the antisemites’ work for them by assuming that Jews’ don’t act in that world, even if it is not in the way the antisemites would have us believe.

  23. Absolute Observer Says:

    I guess, Harry, what I am saying is that when you say,

    “Antisemitism can occur when Jews are middle class and integrated (pre-war Germany and Austria) or marginalised and impoverished (eastern Europe in the 19th/early 20th century) or when there are no Jews at all (see Shakespeare).”

    all I am saying is that the meaning of the concept of “antisemitism” is not the same in each of the three situations (indeed, I am not even sure, it has the same target, in the sense that each “antisemitism” has its own imaginings of “the Jew”, which then, of course, works itself out against Jews but, again, and this is not to be forgotten, in different ways; i.e. racism and extemination, exclusion and violence (Pogroms) and, conversion, respectively).

  24. NIMN Says:

    Brian,
    Thanks for your comments,

    I agree entirely with

    “But from my point of view a punch in the face because I’m Jewish isn’t necessarily worse than failing to get a job or being unable to buy a house or secure other desirable goods, because I’m Jewish.”

    However, I’m not sure about this,
    “The analysis that one is worse than the other (or isn’t “really” antisemitism) sucks when it’s on the ground.”

    I don’t think one is “worse” than the other – they all “suck”.
    However, the fact is that each species of antisemitism can (sociologically) be distinguished one from the other; as can the consequences for Jews.

    You are of course right. They are all to be opposed without hesitation and whether one is struck on the head or forced out of a TU because one is a Jew or one is Jewish or one is a Zionist is, on this count, irrelevant. But, not all “antisemitism” is the same.

    If I could work out why it is always the Jews, then I would have given up my day job a long time ago!!

    AO

  25. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian Goldfarb,

    You write: “Now if you _really_ believe that, Neil, then the mask of rationality is beginning to slip.”

    Yes. I believe what I wrote.

    If you joined with the Jew haters in opposing Israel, you would become another of their heroes. Examples: Tony Judt, Philip Weiss (of mondoweiss), Gilad Atzmon, etc., etc. Historically, there was Paul of Burgos, who, after converting to Christianity, became a prominent Churchman (i.e. archbishop and lord chancellor) and Antisemite. He had previously been head of the Jewish community in pre-1391 Spain and advocate on behalf of Jews and Judaism.

    So, yes, I think that the issue here is that the allegation against Jews outside of Israel is that they support Israel. Were that support to change – and I hope that the Jewish community continues to support Israel -, the Antisemites would be undermined, at least for a decade or so, until they come up with a new calumny.

  26. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Another Observer “Whilst I agree with you that “antisemitism is an ideological orientation on the part of the antisemite,” I am not sure, for the most part anyway, that, “it has nothing to do with Jews’ actual situation or actions.”

    AO, I think that here we are back in the area where the explanation or justification of/for antisemitism starts to blame the victim. As I used to argue to students concerning “race relations” (as it _was_ called) or “ethnic relations” (as it came to be called), being black (or “coloured”) or of Asian origin, etc, was never a problem for those so labelled, only for those doing the labelling and the discriminating.

    Ditto for Jews. It isn’t a problem for me, a now retired Principal Lecturer in Sociology, or for Anthony Julius a highly successful solicitor, nor was it a problem for my parents, working-class inhabitants of London’s East End. This “Jewishness” was/is a problem for, inter alia, Moseley and his fascist blackshirts, their lineal descendants in the BNP and the other far-right fractions, for the UCU boycotters, etc.

    Then you say this, a little later: “Antisemitism – now broadly defined – only gains its purchase if it has at least a fingernail of the truth in it.” Prejudice and discrimination need no truth, unless it is that the prejudiced and the discriminators have the power to make their prejudices and the acting out of this (discrimination) work to the disadvantage of the group(s) they hate. Do you really think that African-Americans, whether as slaves or free people, ever had the power to threaten the majority white society? Of course not, but such beliefs justified the treatment of them. Ditto Jews. Do we _actually_ control the world banking system? The world economic system? Did my grandparents _really_ threaten the livelihoods of the existing inhabitants of Stepney or Bethnal Green by their presence? [Of course, if they’d all joined the appropriate trade union…] Did they (or I) actually kill Christ? Umm, in case nobody noticed, we weren’t actually _there_ at the time, and anyway, Pontius Pilate was the one with the real power and the excellent spin-doctoring system in place.

    Yet again, AO, you’re coming perilously close to “blaming the victims” territory. And I speak as one who, when marking assignments/essays, regularly checked back on the marks awarded to Asian-origin students to make sure I wasn’t unwittingly expecting them, collectively, to do worse than the white UK students. And no, I wasn’t so doing.

    Anything more would be a mere reptition of what I said in the latter part of my comment of 10.2.10, 10.47pm, above.

  27. I Never Could Stand Goodie-Goodies « Primavera Says:

    […] of whether or not anti-Semitism is racism, it would be instructive to have a look once again at that Engage comments thread. I’d like to pick out two things being said there that strike me as useful — one useful […]

  28. N. Friedman Says:

    Primavera,

    You are not accurately understanding my comments. My argument is that Antisemitism is different than racism. It can be racist but it is not always racist.

    To note: Antisemitism – as in vilification of Jews and not just ordinary prejudice against other groups and against, at times, Jews – long predated racism. It has existed, if we go by Robert Wistrich’s new book, A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism – From Antiquity to the Global Jihad, Antisemitism began with Christianity and is not, on his telling, identical to racism. And, it was ideological hatred of Jews, not racial hatred of Jews. If we go by Professor B. Netanyahu’s (father of the Israeli Prime Minister and a world authority on the Spanish Inquisition and on Jewish history), Antisemitism pre-dates Christianity and has its origins in Egypt, where Jews came to be despised (and were massacred) for siding with outside rulers over the local population. His view is that Christianity was not, in its early years, hostile to Jews but that such came as a result of hatred from Greeks of Christian background who were exposed to the calumnies presented against the Jewish population in Egypt.

    I am not going to settle that distinction but note that, either way, Antisemitism and racism differ.

    In that there is a substantial amount of Antisemitism from supposed anti-racists, it bears considering that fighting racism does not seem to be helping Jews overcome Antisemitism. At least not thus far. I might add that the French thinking Alain Finkielkraut seems to be coming to the conclusion that the ideology of anti-racism campaign does not prevents hatred, most particularly of Jews. Another French thinker, Bernard-Henri Lévy, goes slightly less far but believes that Finkielkraut’s analysis is important.

    I do not disagree, by the way, with much of what you write above. There are elements of the current Antisemitism that are akin to racism. However, I do not believe that such elements are dominant. And, more importantly, I think that without the ideological agenda against Israel, the core of the Jew haters would need to find a new ideology on which to annex their hatred of Jews. They might find a racist one – racist in the normal sense of the word. They might find a more ideological one, ala their hatred of Judaism as the source of some other thing to be despised (as Voltaire did, with his view that Judaism is the source of Christianity).

  29. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Neil Friedman says, above: “Brian Goldfarb,

    You write: “Now if you _really_ believe that, Neil, then the mask of rationality is beginning to slip.”

    Yes. I believe what I wrote.

    If you joined with the Jew haters in opposing Israel, you would become another of their heroes. Examples: Tony Judt, Philip Weiss (of mondoweiss), Gilad Atzmon, etc., etc.”

    Or are they just the “house Yids”, like the acquiescent Black-Americans were the “house Niggers” (the term used by the non-acquiescent African-Americans)? It cannot be assumed that all of those opposing the boycott are, whether Jewish or not, therefore zionists. They may be, they not be. They may well be, rather, ardent believers in academic freedom and freedom of speech; they may well be against the targetting of not-the-worse-breacher-of humnan rights-in-the-world, but not really care, when push comes to shove, whether Israel continues to exist or not. That doesn’t stop the UCU hierarchs targetting any who oppose them within the union, whether they are Jewish or not.

    And when has being good ever stopped the oppressors? How many lynched African-Americans had ever even _contemplated_ having sex with a white woman, let alone looked “wrongly” at them or worse? How many of the physically attacked Jews have been known to their attackers to be zionists?

    You know as well as I do, Neil, or you should, that the behaviour of the victim very seldom has any effect, for the good, on the oppressor. Your examples are well otwieghed by the evidence to the contrary.

    So I reiterate the implication of everything I addressed to you on 10 Feb. Do you really think that Judt, et al, are heroes to these people? Or are they regarded as useful idiots – if they, “speaking-as-a-Jew”, can say these things, then that licenses us, the antisemites and anti-zionists. I think you know the answer to this one.

  30. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,

    As with many other incidents of Antisemitism that have occurred in history, Jews have a theoretical way out of being hated for their support of Israel. That way is to act against Israel.

    Would adopting such view remove European Jews from the current collision course with European anti-Zionist Jew haters? Of course it would. You would be helping their cause.

    Would adopting that position end Antisemitism? Of course not. Would it end the hatred of Israel? Of course not. But, it would alter the situation of European Jews because it would deprive Antisemites of a major pillar of their current theory in which they package their hatred. It could take decades to find a new package, sell it to the public and have it become important.

    Please note that I think that Jews would be insane to turn on Israel. It would, in the end, be a disaster for Jews, making Jews more vulnerable the next time that Antisemitism finds a way to wrap itself within an ideology – a package – that is found acceptable by the public. Consider, with respect to the packaging issue, that David Duke style Antisemitism does not have a wide audience.

    Please note that I agree, at least to a point, with Alain Finkielkraut who thinks that antiracism is the new Stalinism, that it has become the language of Antisemitism and that we ought not only to break with it but to criticize its very foundations, to paraphrase the formulation of his opinion as it is explained on page 165 of Bernard-Henri Lévy’s fascinating book, Left in Dark Times, A Stand Against the New Barbarism. I mention this point to note my understanding of the situation, namely, I think that it is a serious mistake to treat Antisemitism as if it were racism and expect to find common cause against it. Rather, Jews are a target of the antiracist movement and their language does not help protect Jews from being hated. Witness that the virus is spreading and being spread by so-called antiracists.

    In answer to your question about people like Judt, I think they are useful idiots to the Antisemites. However, my view is that Antisemitism is important where it is wrapped in an ideology. In this case, the ideology relates to Israel. In Europe, an ideology directed at Jews merely for being Jews would not be politically correct and would have an insufficient number of adherents to catch on. Among other things, it would lack sophistication. To quote Lévy (pp.’s 161-162):

    The truth is that anti-Semitism will recycle, as usual, little bits and pieces. But for the most part it will be a union of Holocaust denial, anti-Zionism, and competition among victims-or it will be nothing at all. It will either have the same progressive, antifascist overtones, sympathetic to all the problems about which what is usually called the Left has made a career of caring—or it will have failed.

    The bits and pieces he is referring to are the older forms of Antisemitism.

  31. israel Says:

    ALL ISRAELI SOURCES translated from the hebrew and refuting the anti-semitic “report” by the zionist right:

    http://coteret.com/

  32. Susan Says:

    Not only is antisemitism “emancipatory”. It is also creates a false sense of bravery. The person is standing up bravely to the supposedly all powerful Jewish lobby. They will not be cowed by the “bullying” tactics. Although, these bullying tactics are non-existent. No one is calling them an antisemite unless they rightly or wrongly believe they are. There is no real attempt to cow anyone. So one can appear brave without having to really be brave.

  33. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Neil, among other things, in response to my claim/argument that rejecting Israel and Zionism would make no difference to antisemitism, you reiterate/restate certain of your points. Thus, (I paraphrase), one way to avoid European antisemism, you say, would be:
    “to act against Israel.

    Would adopting such view remove European Jews from the current collision course with European anti-Zionist Jew haters? Of course it would. You would be helping their cause.”

    So what should European Jews before 1948 have done? Being good, non-religious, middle-class, patriotic Germans didn’t help German Jews one iota. Converting to Roman Catholicism didn’t help Spanish and then Portugese Jews one bit. Being ordinary, petit-bourgeoisis shop-keepers or owners of small workplaces didn’t protect East End Jews from Moseley’s thugs at all. And do you really think that having a Jewish BNP local counciller is going to stop the BNP’s antisemitism in its tracks? Why should becoming non- or anti-zionist help contemporary European Jews? And the fact that what Jwews were facing were right-wing and/or fascist regimes makes no difference to the argument. If it did, these “progressive” (I use the term in the Nick Cohen sense) antisemites disguised as antizionists would not pursue the ends they do.

    This is a pipe-dream (and I’m not about to suggest that you personally have any intention of taking any steps to placate the likes of Tom Hickey, et al) on your part. Do you really think that the likes of the Deborahs Maccoby or Fink, Anthony Lerman, the Roses (all of them), or Judt, et al, would be welcome at the dinner table of the likes of Tom Hickey, et al, especially if the boycott actually came into effect?

    Then you say, later in your comment:
    “Rather, Jews are a target of the antiracist movement and their language does not help protect Jews from being hated. Witness that the virus is spreading and being spread by so-called antiracists.”

    This appears to contradict what you have already said: how can turning against Israel help British (or any other European) Jews, in the light of this comment. You appear, superficially, to accept what I have argued – Jews are subject to antisemitism, whether from the right or left, because they are Jews, and irrespective of any beliefs (apart from their religious identity) they may have. Which is what I am arguing, consistently, I hope. Or what have I missed in your comment?

    Further on, towards the end of your comment, you write:
    “In Europe, an ideology directed at Jews merely for being Jews would not be politically correct and would have an insufficient number of adherents to catch on. Among other things, it would lack sophistication.”

    It may lack sophistication, but what else is the current strand of left-antisemitism (coated with antizionism) but exactly this? These sophisticated pro-boycott coteries within the UCU, but including their hangers-on outside the academy, are highly educated. Despite this, they have tunnel vision as to who the worse breachers of human rights in the world, on a national and governmental level, are. While some of them might hide behind their academic specialities as natural scientists, others in the Humanities and Social Sciences can make no such defence.

    Finally, you quote Bernard-Henri Levy: “The truth is that anti-Semitism will recycle, as usual, little bits and pieces. But for the most part it will be a union of Holocaust denial, anti-Zionism, and competition among victims-or it will be nothing at all.” (I acknowledge that this only half of the passage you quote).

    Unless you are disagreeing with him, where is this different and distinct from what I have been arguing? And if you believe what you have said in the latter part of your latest (13.2.10, 4.43pm) posting, then where is the gap between us?

  34. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,,

    I do not think that you are following what I wrote. I was not advocating that anyone turn on Israel. You could only come to that conclusion by examining my words without reading the next paragraph.

    In fact, I was suggesting that were Jews all opposed to Israel, such would stop the current round of Antisemitism, not that it would end Antisemitism or anything of the sort.

    Further, what I wrote has zero to do with the 1940’s. That was a different period of history. And, I think that Jews were right to migrate to what became Israel. It has done much to liberate the Jewish people.

    My point was that the current round of Antisemitism has to do with Israel and is not driven by racism. Antisemitism is a horrible, vile thing but it is, at least in the current round, not racist. And, acting as if it is racist is not going to combat it.

    My view is that the antiracist movement is a nasty movement that is a cover for vile people to advance a vile cause. And, Jews are one of its targets.

  35. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Neil, you say, above, “I was suggesting that were Jews all opposed to Israel, such would stop the current round of Antisemitism, not that it would end Antisemitism or anything of the sort.”

    Here, you are doing _exactly_ what Lerman did with his (unrooted) reference to “lachrymose Jews” (I’ll leave David from the US to remind me exactly who the Jewish historian was): blaming the victims. If only the Jews would stop controlling the financial markets, or undercutting our pay rates, or planning world domination, or supporting Israel as an apartheid state, we wouldn’t hate them anymore. This is arrant nonsense, whether it’s spouted by someone supposedly on the left (like the band of brothers and sisters in the SWP/UCULeft) or on the right. At no time in history has a change in behaviour by a despised out-group altered for the better the behaviour of the powerful oppressor (or even the relatively powerless, for that matter). What _has_ changed such behaviour is fighting back: the US Civil Rights campaign, the UK pressure for Race Relations Law (ironic, isn’t it, that the predecessors of this lot in the UCU fought so hard for the latter?), and so-on.

    So far, all you’ve done is assert that deserting Israel will relieve European Jews of the oppression of left-antisemites, who disguise their antisemitism as anti-zionism. You have done nothing to show that this re-emergence of antisemitism as the socialism of fools is _really_ all about Israel and _not_ about Jews. If it were otherwise, then there would be a genuine debate in, eg, UCU about the facts of the calls to boycott. But every time it is pointed out to these big brains that such a boycott would break the law in the UK, that it isn’t comparable with South African apartheid, that such stances are _not_ helping the Palestinians, as many Palestinians continually point out, they ramp up their efforts, they complain of a rich Jewish lobby campaign against them (how Protocols is that?): in short anything but examine the evidence.

    How the hell can you think that a volte face by UK Jews would change this? Would it stop the boycott campaign? Would it make the SWP stop supporting Islamists and Jihadists (as opposed to the mass of moderate Moslems)? You know the answer to that as well as I do – or should.

    You can continue to fool yourself, if you so wish, Neil, but stop trying to fool the rest of us.

  36. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,

    I have stated repeatedly that Antisemitism will abate – temporarily abate, to be sure – were Jews to turn on Israel. You, however, do not want to hear my point so you, in essence, make things up, throwing me into an intellectual camp in which I do not reside.

    I am unequivocal in my support for Israel, even if it means more Antisemitism will occur. However, my observation stands that the current round of Antisemitism would abate were Jews to turn against Israel. And again, Antisemitism would, once another intellectual theory gained ground, reemerge. And lastly, Antisemitism is different from racism. While the two vile ideologies have things in common, they also have distinguishing features, one of which is that Antisemitism tends to wrap itself up in ideologies which claim to support some form of perceived, at least perceived by the Antisemite as a, lofty goal, whether it is anti-imperialism, love of nation, imperialism, socialism, fascism, etc., etc.

    I think you have an ideological reason for incorrectly describing my views. You do not like that I think that the anti-racist movement is causing Antisemitism and that it needs to be challenged, on ideological and foundational grounds, for doing so.

  37. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “I have stated repeatedly that Antisemitism will abate – temporarily abate, to be sure – were Jews to turn on Israel. You, however, do not want to hear my point so you, in essence, make things up, throwing me into an intellectual camp in which I do not reside.”
    I am making nothing up, nor am I throwing you into any camp. There is neither historical nor social science evidence that attempts to placate the discriminator have resulted in the dimunition of discrimination (let alone prejudice or hatred). This is so whatever the alleged crime of the despised out-group, and therefore whatever the out-grouip do would be nugatory, unless what they do is fight back. You should note (and it is instructive that you do not) that I have specifically stated that I do not put you in the UCU camp (or allied to them in any way). What I am saying you are doing is, essentially, allying yourself to the likes of Lerman (intellectually) and blaming the victims for the discrimination against them.

    In case you weren’t aware of this, “blaming the victim” goes far beyond being a collection of 3 random words, and actually has purchase in the academic study of prejudice and discrimination. And the whole point of this formulation is that whatever they do, the victim group is to blame. Thus, the Jews are zionists, are therefore attacked for this (for reasons we agree upon); they give up being Zionists (except that they would have to turn _against_ Israel, as you note), so this gives licence for greater antisemitic excesses.

    Either you are being naive (possibly in not being aware of the social science studies in this area) or you are joining the Lermans of this world. What you are not doing is producing evidence to support your claims (assertions, more like) that turning against Israel would get UK and European Jews out of the hot seat – and I have accepted all along that you, Neil Friedman, have no intention of getting out of the hot seat.

    Then we come to this, at the end of your coment: “You do not like that I think that the anti-racist movement is causing Antisemitism and that it needs to be challenged, on ideological and foundational grounds, for doing so.”

    Where have I said that? I am the one who mentioned Nick Cohen, when I said that I used the term “progressives” in his sense – you know, his book “What’s Left?” You are putting words into my mouth. I at least have asked where the differences are. In making this statement you are, again, putting words into my mouth, which is exactly what David (from the US) did way back. I would have thought that it was blindingly obvious that I am convinced that the so-called anti-racist left (or at least segments of it) is causing antisemitism and is, largely, antisemitic, because that is the only way (as they see it) they can justify their un-nuanced support for the Palestinians and all other threatened Moslem countries in the world: by exaggerating the faults of Israel into being the cause of all the problems in the world (viz Jenny Tonge, Mearsheimer and Walt, and any number of others).

    If you truly believe that turning against Israel would relieve European Jews of the attacks on them by the “anti-racist left”, where is your evidence for this assumption ( we cannot dignify it with the title of hypothesis)? If you truly believe this, you woould also have to show that the attacks on Jews (physical and non-physical) are only against declared Zionists – and many of those Jews who, in the UK and Europe, wear outward signs of their religious affiliation – especially the ultra-orthodox – are often non-Zionists. Do their attackers stop to ask them before attacking them?

  38. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,

    You write: “There is neither historical nor social science evidence that attempts to placate the discriminator have resulted in the dimunition of discrimination (let alone prejudice or hatred).”

    We are not dealing with discrimination. Hence, your point is irrelevant.

    You write: “… blaming the victims for the discrimination against them.”

    I am not blaming the victim. I stated explicitly that Jews should not cease supporting Israel without regard to whether it would abate Antisemitism.

    You write: “… actually has purchase in the academic study of prejudice and discrimination.”

    If you had read what I had written, you would note that my view is that Jews would be worse off if they turned on Israel. However, the current round of Antisemitism – as in the reason now provided for hating Jews that has current with the public (which includes people who are merely following along with supposedly better informed people) – would abate by turning on Israel. It would rob the haters of the ideological foundation by which they justify their hatred.

    Yes, they would find a new reason. But, that reason would not have the support it now has.

    Consider: there have been rounds of Antisemitism before, even in the US. It, however abates. And, then at some later time it finds a new way to express itself. Until that way is found, it waits in the background, like a disease that needs to mutate.

    In that way, Antisemitism is very different from racism. One might hate blacks but the reasons for hating them do not seem much to mutate.

    So, I think you have lost yourself in the mutation phase, thinking that Antisemitism is Antisemitism is Antisemitism – a rose is a rose is rose. But, that is not the case for Antisemitism. It mutates, and that is an important feature. It needs, to gain traction, an ideology. Otherwise, it seems idiotic to most people.

    You write: “If you truly believe that turning against Israel would relieve European Jews of the attacks on them by the “anti-racist left”, where is your evidence for this assumption ( we cannot dignify it with the title of hypothesis)?”

    How would one have evidence about something that has yet to occur? However, Walter Laqueur’s excellent book on Antisemitism shows numerous times when Antisemitism was appeased. So, I suggest reading his book.

    In any event, I have reasons for thinking what I think. The most obvious reason is that Antisemitism has abated previously after the Antisemites have achieved their aim (e.g. after WWII) or been undermined by events. (e.g. after the Dreyfus Affair, there was an abatement for a while).

    You write: “Do their attackers stop to ask them before attacking them?”

    You will note that attacks spike during Israeli actions. Hence, there are triggers for the Antisemitism.

  39. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “We are not dealing with discrimination. Hence, your point is irrelevant.”
    Discrimination: treatment of a defined and identified and identifiable group as different from and worse than the rest of the population in question.

    Zionist Jews are told that criticism of Israel cannot be taken, per se, as antisemitic;
    Jews within UCU are routinely vilified on the UCU activists email list along with the antisemitic messages aimed at them and routinely igniored by presumed anti-racist left-wingers;
    their departure from the union is greeted with relief, pleasure and/or indifference;
    legal opinions telling UCU that their proposed boycott would breach UK anti-discrimination law is greeted as the result of a Jewish lobby campaign, as was the union-wide vote against a boycott in the predecessor AUT;
    visibly identifiable Jews are physically attacked on the streets, to the accompaniment of antisemitic statements;
    a Rabbi (physically quite imposing) whose only outward sign of his religious affiliation was to wear a yarmulka was verbally abused in a very middle to upper-middle area of North West London (he now wears a baseball cap in all weathers);
    Jewish cemetaries are desecrated; synagogues are are physically attacked,

    AND WE’RE NOT TALKING DISCRIMINATION?? Then what the hell ARE we talking about, Neil?

    “You will note that attacks spike during Israeli actions. Hence, there are triggers for the Antisemitism.” The trigger is the hatred of the Jew – and you’re blaming the Jews again: you and Lerman make a charming couple. If we, collectively, abjured Israel, they wouldn’t attack us. For a Marxist, you’re astoundingly naive, Neil. They’d just find another reason: and you’d be doing the same, telling us that antisemitism is our fault for being Jewish.

    “One might hate blacks but the reasons for hating them do not seem much to mutate.” Depends where and when you are: a quick reading of US history would show plenty of mutation in anti-black racism in the US, as would a reading of the history of race-relations in the UK, and there are still plenty of racist crimes in the UK, it’s just that more of them appear to be aimed at Moslems. Now you’ll tell us that this is “different” from that directed at Afro-Caribbeans.

    I’ll conclude for now with this little gem from you:
    “It (turning against Israel) would rob the haters of the ideological foundation by which they justify their hatred.” So, we abjure Israel and the antisemites go away? No, it just means that they find another reason to hate us. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been going on for at least 2000 years and shows no signs of abating. Your smart and apparently intellectual effort to justify what antisemites do merely exposes the shallowness of the ideological soil it is rooted in. You really do need to get out more.

    And by the way, you have ignored the accusations of putting words into my mouth which is there, twice, in my previous comment aimed in your direction. Ignoring that doesn’t make it go away.

    • N. Friedman Says:

      Brian,

      You have addressed the issue of discrimination. Most of your examples are not evidence of discrimination at all although such examples are evidence of the type of behavior often employed by Antisemites. Not to belabor the matter, how is it discriminatory to assert – something that Alan Dershowitz also asserts – that criticism of Israel is not per se Antisemitic? While I think that such statement is primarily used by Antisemites as a mere cover to assert vile, untrue things about Israel, such statement is not discriminatory by any stretch of the definition you provide. The same for most of your other examples.

      Brian, if you have read my posts carefully, you would know that I am not a Marxist. That I thought that Postone has made intelligent statements does not mean I am a Marxist. I also think that Maxine Rodinson was a great historian (although his views about Israel were mostly revolting) but that does not make me a Marxist.

      Regarding triggers, there is unambiguous evidence that whenever Israel acts to defend herself, incidents of violence against Jews spike. That is a fact. Hence, such acts are a trigger. They are not the only trigger but they are a trigger. In any event, Israel’s existence is the main trigger ideology onto which Antisemitism has annexed itself.

      Your comments about racism in the US are non-specific. In what way has racism changed in the US? I think you need to be specific or there is no way to know what you have in mind.

      One last word about your post. You seem to think that I think that the hatred of Israel is justified. I think exactly the opposite. And, I think that Jews would be foolish, considered over the long term, to turn against Israel. Rather, Jews should embrace Israel more and stop trying to sound even handed about the matter. Which is to say, Jews should stop saying what Professor Dershowitz says: “I am not suggesting that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. To the contrary, criticism of Israeli policies and actions is healthy.” It may be healthy in theory but, in the world we live in, it helps the Antisemites.

  40. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    If you are not prepared to take my word for it, how about chewing the bonmes out of the following quotation. It’s from David Mamet (the US Playwright and self-confessed Jew), “The Wisked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews”, Next Books, Shocken (NY), 2006, pp 139-140

    “Self-exclusion must arise from a feeling of indemnity. Converted Jews were hounded by the Inquisition well into the nineteenth century – the reluctant convert and the true convert both liable to accusations of ‘a lack of sincerity,’ and killed. As were the German-Jewish despisers of the Ostjuden (the Polish Jews), those comfortable, assimilated Jews who imagined that anti-Semitism was not a psychosis on the part of the majority populace, but rather that group’s correct understanding of the ‘Jewish plague’ that endangered them all.

    But all who stayed went to the ovens.”

    For the Jew to say, of the Jew-haters, I agree with them; and to say, I do not have the facts to judge, but perhaps some of what they say is true, misses the point the point. The point is that, to the jihadist, to the anti-Semite, the shtetl Jews and the German banker, the West Bank settler and the Ohio dentist are one. To suggest that the rational thinker is exempted, either through identification with the aims of killers, or through a laudable withholding of judgement, posits a position of impugnity. This feeling of impugnity – as the terrorists have limited themselves neither geographically, nor to a degree of consanguinity – is madness. To them…a Jew is a Jew.” p 139-140

    Plenty more where that came from for you to chew on!

    • N. Friedman Says:

      Brian,

      Please go back and read what I wrote. At no time have I said that the criticisms of Israel are justified or that the hatred is justified or anything of the sort. Not only that, I think that criticism of Israel is largely unjustified and that Israel is acting rather morally.

  41. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    If the moderator will permit the following lengthy response, it seems to me to be a reasonable reply to his points. It comes from David Mamet’s book “The Wicked Son”, published in 2006, is an attack on Chomsky, and is on pp 142-43 of it:

    “In effect, since the Jewish State has proclaimed itself as the home of all Jews within its borders and in the diaspora, for the diaspora Jews to do other than renounce this, as a usurpation of their personal rights to self-determination, of their rights as undifferentiated citizens, it is tantamount to their endorsement of that which Mr Chomsky sees as a criminal enterprise (the State of Israel.

    Mr Chomsky, a Jew, does not recognize the Jewish State’s right to existence; he does, however, recosnize as somehow morally binding the pronouncememts of this phantom state. Upon whom are they binding? Upon members of that state’s predominant religious group wherever they may live.

    These diaspora Jews, we will note, reside in countries whose right to existence, presumably, Mr Chomsky does recognize. For example, France. France, as a sovereign nation, then, has a right, as Israel does not, to protect its citizens. The right, however, does not in Mr Chomsky’s view, extend to French Jews – their right to live unmolested and in peace has, alone among French citizens, ben somehow abrogated by the actions of another state.

    Various Muslim countries, including Syria and the Palestinians have, as a matter of both religious and political doctrine, repeatedly expressed their intention to destroy the Israeli Jews. This intent is not an adjunct of a territorial dispute but an essential component of their polity – this hatred cannot be mitigated by concession, by negotiation, even by capitulation; it can only be assuaged through blood.

    Mr Chomsky does not seem to object to this incitement to genocide; neither does he extend the same standard for extraterritorial guilt to diaspora Muslims.

    The United States, in the aftermath of September 11, has taken care (it may be insufficient, but it is a matter of national policy) to protect the rights of Arab-Americans – on guard lest an ignorant and frightened populace turn on the guiltless because of their mere ties or race and religion to criminals.

    This would seem to be a most basic operation of human justice – for to endorse a vendetta against the innocent based onrace or religion is here seen, and simply seen, as obscene criminality. Mr Chomsky, however, sees fit to understand and applaud such actions, as long as they carried out against the Jews.

    This is anti-Semitism – it is race hatred and incitement to murder.” pp 142-143

  42. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,

    I do not have any serious disagreement with the substance of David Mamet’s comments.

    I have had substantial correspondence with Chomsky. While Chomsky claims to be a Zionist, his type of Zionist is no friend of Israel.

  43. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Neil Friedman: “Most of your examples are not evidence of discrimination at all although such examples are evidence of the type of behavior often employed by Antisemites.” In that case, you have no conception, idea, let alone definition, of what discrimination is. And UCU we’re saying this in order to say whatever the hell they liked about Israel, even if it was, plainly antisemitic, and their comment was a clear example of the LIvingstone Defence.

    What you are doing is defending antisemitism and antisemites with your attempts to deflect the problem of antisemitism onto the victims. To deny this is to dig yourself ever deeper into this pit.

    Go ahead. I’ll enjoy the spectacle.

    “Regarding triggers, there is unambiguous evidence that whenever Israel acts to defend herself, incidents of violence against Jews spike. That is a fact. Hence, such acts are a trigger.” No, they are an excuse for antisemitic acts. Such people don’t attack every Black person they see every time an African country commits an atrocity of some sort on some people.

    “Your comments about racism in the US are non-specific. In what way has racism changed in the US?” You want a list? Jim Crow Laws, masquerading as “separate but equal; lynchings; tests to debar African Americans from the vote; imformal bars on entry into desired and desirable occupations. Specific enough for you? If you reject this list, you’re moving the goal posts, and unworthy of debating with.

    “You seem to think that I think that the hatred of Israel is justified.” That I haven’t said – you’re putting words in my mouth again – I _have_ said you’re siding with Lerman et al.

    Okay, you’re not a Marxist. I apologise for so labelling you.

    “At no time have I said that the criticisms of Israel are justified or that the hatred is justified or anything of the sort.” Maybe not, just suggested that if Jews outside Israel abjure Israel, then antisemitism would at the very least dinimish, when at no time in history has accomodationist behaviour by the victim altered the behaviour of the oppressor. If you don’t know that, then you are appallingly ahistorical. And merely having no argument with Mamet is no answer, when many of your comments fit neatly in with those he is criticising.

  44. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Allow me to get my retaliation in first (in the words of the immortal – to rugby union fans, anyway – Carwyn James) and expand on my previous comment.

    If a group defines another group or groups as being in some way undeserving of equal treatment, and, indeed, of deserving of being treated less than equally, then this is prejudice, whether “reasons” for this attitude are advanced or not. (We might make exceptions for groups that break laws that are otherwise generally accepted as “just”, e.g. laws against robbery, violence against the person, murder, etc.) Allied to this are, usually, if not invariably, stereotypes of this groups or these groups as to their mannerisms, personal habits, control of the economy, desire to rape “our” womenfolk, etc.

    My new best friend, David Mamet, has an apt quote from the book already cited above, p. 5: “Would you say, reader, of African-Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, or of _any race_, ‘We must, of course, in good conscience, admit, entre nous, that there are aspects of their race and rite that are unfortunate?’ Of course not, and you may not, then, in consistency, if not in conscience, say it of the Jews.”

    When to this is added actions taken against this group or groups, and only this group or groups, then we have discrimination. It is what the various Race Relations Acts in the UK are aimed at, as are the Civil Rights Laws in the US, and the EU definition of antisemitism. Note that the latter explicitly (and the former two implicitly) states that whether an action (verbal or physical) is discriminatory is up to the victim group to say, not the perpertrator. Thus, it is not for UCU to say that criticisms of Israel cannot be defined, per se, as antisemitc. Yes they can be antisemitic, and it not for them to say. And this is no more than Dershowitz is saying: he is saying that it is for him and his ilk (ie Jews in general) to say whether specific criticism of Israel oversteps the boundaries into antisemitism, not for the likes of UCU to say it doesn’t or can’t.

    Thus, no amount of alleging that “if only British (or French or US) Jews would stop supporting, even started abjuring, Israel, then antisemitism would, at least decline” is acceptable. The antisemitism is unacceptable and must be faced as such, and not excused or otherwise “explained” – explained away, more like. To do so is to side with the racists and blame the victims, which is what UCU et al do – and you, Neil Friedman, are also doing. Furthermore, making explicit what UCU and the whole BDS movement is doing is one of the purposes of this website – as a reading of “About Us”, up there in the left-hand corner of this and every page of the site, would make clear. And no, I didn’t have any part in writing it, although I agree with every word.

    Further, the attitude of these groups to Israel is prejudicial and discriminatory. Only Israel is to be targetted for human rights abuses, not any of its declared opponents, nor any of the other states (actually, sooner or later, pretty well all of them) that breach human rights.

    All this fits, regrettably, far too neatly into the framework of prejudice, discrimination, antisemitism, racism in general, and has bugger-all to do with Jews, other than as the object of these processes.

    And all because we collectively, refused to curl up and die, or convert, just bugger off somewhere else, and, oh, if you do the last thing, leave all your property behind so we can loot it.

    • N. Friedman Says:

      Brian,

      I repeat: I oppose Jews turning against Israel. My point was not directed towards suggesting anything of the sort.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        It’s _exactly_ what you have been suggesting, as I have stated again and again. Abjure Israel, and the antisemitism will, at least, decline. That you personally assert that you won’t do that is all fine and dandy, but it still assumes that antisemitism is actually rational and responds to actual action by the despised outgroup. Which is, factually and historically, nonsense.

        Now you are saying that you didn’t say what you said.

        Perhaps we’ll just leave it to the audience on this site to decide, shall we? The vast majority appear to be pretty rational.

        • N. Friedman Says:

          Brian,

          I have looked very carefully in order to figure out where you think I posted anything that indicates that I favor anyone turning against Israel. I find no such thing.

          What I did do is state – and, Brian, read this carefully because it is exactly what I have indicated throughout – is the following: I have observed that Jews could escape (and, note, such is not a recommendation but an observation) the current bout of Antisemitism by turning against Israel (which does not mean that Jews can bring an end to Antisemitism by turning against Israel) and have stated, repeatedly – albeitignored by you for who knows what reason – that it would not be in the long term interest of Jews to turn on Israel. And, I have stated this because – and this to has been stated repeatedly – while Antisemitism would, I predict, enter a dormant phase for some period of time were Jews to turn on Israel, Antisemitism works by latching onto other ideologies – mutating in the process -, much like a virus works, and reappearing in connection with such other ideology.

          Somehow I do not think that you really read anything I wrote but, instead, chose to paint my statements, just as you surmised, based on my view that Professor Postone’s article made interesting points, that I am a Marxist, which I am not. In fact, I think that party thinking – and this is not limited to Marxism – makes people stupid.

  45. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,

    You write: “Maybe not, just suggested that if Jews outside Israel abjure Israel, then antisemitism would at the very least dinimish, when at no time in history has accomodationist behaviour by the victim altered the behaviour of the oppressor.”

    That is quite a broad statement – “at no time in history …” Really? So, all disputes must go to the highest court and, even then, guns always need to come out until one side wins? Is that really what you are claiming? Somehow, I doubt it because what you write, even if not taken to its limits, is contrary to fact.

    By way of example of why your statement is far too broad, consider the following: Jews in Spain began mass conversion to Christianity beginning in 1391, in response to massacres – where Jews were given the choice, to convert or be killed. In time, the converts – called conversos, in Spanish – came to be hated on the ground that they were secret Jews, which was not true for most of the converts or their offspring. The Jew hatred became an overtly racist doctrine called Limpieza de sangre (which, by the way, is likely the first overt racist ideology to be set down into a clear doctrine). Eventually, however, the accommodation – i.e. converting to Christianity in order to survive – succeeded in integrating people of Jewish heritage into Spanish society albeit as Christians (i.e. in the manner the Antisemites demanded). It, however, took several centuries before the conversos were fully accepted.

    More recently, Israel, which was the victim of Egyptian aggression and hatred – and Egyptians are not known for their love of Israelis – on multiple occasions ceded land to Egypt, accommodating Egypt’s demands and, thus far, resolving the dispute between the countries.

    Then, there are the Greeks and Turks who have no known love for each other – hate being the more applicable descriptor – but who, after accommodating demands by each side exchanging millions of people – Muslims to Turkey and Christians to Greece – have largely resolved their disputes (other than regarding Cyprus).

    Of course, as you say, accommodation never works – well, not exactly so. And, there are literally hundreds of examples where accommodation has abated the issues around which hatred has organized resulting in a situation being resolved or at least greatly improved.

    Now, I reiterate my point: I do not favor accommodating the Antisemites. I merely note that Antisemitism works by associating itself with an ideology, in this case, anti-Israel ideology. The impact of Antisemitism related to Israel would and, in fact, does abate for Jews who turn on Israel. However, as I noted, Antisemitism would eventually – probably after a dormant period – latch onto some other ideology. As such, the option is not a reasonable one.

    Frankly, Brian, I do not think you are reading my words with sufficient care. I favor Jews standing behind Israel and telling the bigots to bug off. Your effort to plant me in the Livingston camp is preposterous.

    You write: “Your comments about racism in the US are non-specific. In what way has racism changed in the US?” You want a list? Jim Crow Laws, masquerading as “separate but equal; lynchings; tests to debar African Americans from the vote; imformal bars on entry into desired and desirable occupations. Specific enough for you? If you reject this list, you’re moving the goal posts, and unworthy of debating with.

    You still do not understand my point. Your examples do not involve any mutating of the racist doctrine. They are all the same doctrine – i.e. the same problems with Blacks are asserted – arising different occasions. Antisemitism, by contrast, is characterized by the fact that it mutates. which is to say, the doctrine itself mutates. Hence, Christian Antisemitism alleges that Jews are evil for not embracing Christianity. Anti-clerical Antisemitism (e.g. Voltaire) takes the view that Jews are evil for having created Christianity. Blacks are hated for being allegedly inferior.

    Lastly, your evidence of discrimination is notes behavior that, of itself, is non-discriminatory. Some of it is hateful and wrong but it, by itself, is not discrimination. In some instances, what you write has nothing to do with discrimination. As one who has marched for integration in the US, back in the 1960’s, I frankly think I know what discrimination is and is not.

    Discrimination involves, as you certain “treatment.” The word implies a handling or dealing. Hence, one group of society must be handled or dealt with differently than the rest of society. How is the statement that it is not per se Antisemitic to criticize Israel a form of discrimination under your definition? It could not possibly be such.

    Now, again, such statement is used by Antisemites as a weapon because the statement is, on the surface, difficult to argue. And, this is because it is not per se evil to criticize any country. So, it is part of arsenal of Antisemites. But, it is not itself discriminatory since, by definition, it treats Israel and Jews no differently than any other group. Again, though, it is used by Antisemites because it is, on the surface, non-objectionable and non-discriminatory.

  46. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Neil, as Humpty Dumpty said, “words mean what I say they mean”, which is exactly what you are doing here. If you don’t like the point on racism, then it is not an example of “mutating”. Sorry, but neither of us gets to redefine words to suit ourselves, which is exactly what you are trying to do. You are merely playing the game of the anti-Zionists and antisemites here: if I say it isn’t antisemitic, then it isn’t antisemitic – the SWP/UCULeft defence against legitimate accusations of the offence. More on that below.

    Please note that I am _not_ accusing _you_, personally, of being antisemitic (and as far as I know you are not an anti-Zionist either – sorry for the faint praise).

    “You still do not understand my point. Your examples do not involve any mutating of the racist doctrine. They are all the same doctrine.” As, exactly are yours: even if UK, etc, Jews abjured Israel, that wouldn’t deflect the SWP/UCULeft, the whole of the BDS movement one degree, because they aren’t just anti-Israel, they are antisemitic. If this excuse doesn’t run, use another. Perhaps you’re now going to tell me that Hickey’s statement in the BMJ Online Journal of 2007 wasn’t antisemitic: he explicitly said “diaspora Jews”, and thus was, explicitly antisemitic. Do you really think that such a person is going to stop making such statements if I and all other UK Jews abjured Israel? In your dreams. I’ll re-post the link separately, just for you.

    If you haven’t read Nick Cohen’s “What’s Left?” (and you’re arguing as though you haven’t), you should. If you have, then you’ve clearly mis-read it.

    And by the way, in the long run, we’re all dead. How long after forced conversions are we talking about? You suggest a few centuries. On _that _ basis, you can never lose. We’re talking in terms of months and a few years, as you know very well.

    “As one who has marched for integration in the US, back in the 1960’s, I frankly think I know what discrimination is and is not.” And I’ve done my share of marching against racism in the UK, to say nothing of my wife freedom-riding in the States in the 60s and spending time in a Southern jail: let’s match the number of miles marched, shall we, or macho-up on anti-racist kudos? That’s a non-point, and you know it.

    “How is the statement that it is not per se Antisemitic to criticize Israel a form of discrimination under your definition? It could not possibly be such.” Now here we have the nub of the issue. Your question reveals that you have either not read the EU statement on racism and antisemitism or, if you have, you either don’t understand it or you reject its meaning.

    The EU approach is that, quite simply, it is the victim who gets to allege that a statement or action is antisemitic, not the perpetrator. Thus it is Jews (or people of African origin, or Moslems, etc) who get to say that a statement is or is not, prima facie, antisemitic. Thus, UCU cannot say that criticism of Israel cannot, per se, be said to be antisemitic, because they cannot possibly know. Only Jews, Israelis and Zionists can even begin to know whether this is the case or not. Which is what Dershowitz was saying, which is what I have been saying and which is what the Livingstone Formulation attempts to avoid and what you, apparently, refuse to understand.

    If you don’t understand _that_, then you understand nothing, and should go away and read up all that you plainly have not read.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7611/124
      And here’s the link to the Hickey article mentioned in the comment above. Enjoy!

      • N. Friedman Says:

        Brian,

        I read the article. It is filled with distortions, half-truths and out and out falsehoods. And the author hopes to preempt the reasonable interpretation of the pro-boycott position, viz. that the boycott is driven by Antisemitism. That is not much of a surprise.

        Changing gear for a moment… Were you to take two minutes to actually read my posts – read them carefully because, by and large, I choose my words, apart from occasional grammar and spelling errors and the like, with at least some amount of care -, you would see that your entire argument against my position completely misstates my position. I am shocked by how far your understanding of my position is from my actual position.

        Again, Antisemitism is appalling. Again, the effort to delegitimize Israel is appalling and driven by Antisemitism. Whether the Antisemitism that has latched onto hatred of Israel can or cannot be abated by Jews turning against Israel, those who do turn on Israel are appalling. capiche?

        Again, I ask that you consider my actual views, not those you have ascribed to me. Then, there might be a basis for a real discussion. As things now stand, I am accused of holding positions I do not hold – which is tough to answer since you will not accept that I do not hold the views you have ascribed to me.


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