There’s a video of Prof Stephen Walt addressing the Move Over AIPAC rally recently (uploaded by Code Pink)
It’s nearly 15 minutes’ duration. The link is:
I refer to the point some 9 minutes in. He has just asked why AIPAC and other “Lobby” groups use, in his view, “smear tactics” so often, why do they “distort or mischaracterize the views of those … they disagree with?”
He claims the answer is simple, it’s “because the case they are defending is so weak, not [emphasised with outheld raised forefinger] the case for Israel’s existence, but the case for unconditional American backing for supporting Israel no matter what it does”.
He continued, “Because *that* case is so weak, they have to try to smear, silence, discredit anyone who dares question it, even some very decent people like Jimmy Carter, Tony Judt, Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop [sic] Desmond Tutu.
“And it does it for three reasons: First of all, it distracts people from the main issue, which is US policy — you end up talking all the time about whether someone is antisemitic or not; it deters people from raising their voices, because no-one wants to be accused of something like that; and finally it discourages, seeks to marginalise anyone who does raise their voice in the public arena.
“Would any politician want to publicly associate with someone who had been charged with being an antisemite, even if the charge was completely false?
The question I would like to ask is specifically about Walt’s claim that “you end up talking all the time about whether someone is antisemitic or not”, and presumably not focusing on such matters as settlement building, restrictions on road usage, house demolition policy, availability of medical supplies and the rest of it. It is certainly right to expose antisemitic speech and action where they occur, and I have done so explicitly in private emails and on blogs. But it seems to me that Walt does have a point here, and I’m speaking as someone who was critical of their original LRB article and of the book they subsequently published.
On the other hand Brian, i’ve often found the same on the opposite side. For instance nobody can actually answer why the EUMC definition on antisemitism stifles debate when infact it says that criticism of Israel is not the same as antisemitism. Likewise Richard Goldstone claimed that nobody had seriously challenged the Goldstone Report and yet there were various people who made serious criticisms which he refsued to take up. Likewise Mearsheimer and Walt refuse to answer any criticism. Infact throughout history antisemites (though largely from the far right) have tried to play the victim whenever they have been challenged. Then there’s intimidation, attempts to stifle “zionists” from speaking and so on.
When examples of antisemitism are given to people they hardly ever try and answer but just claim they are being silenced.
If people want to spend time focusing on “settlement building, restrictions on road usage, house demolition policy, availability of medical supplies and the rest of it” then they should stop saying antisemitic things.
They should stop supporting antisemitic boycotts only of Israel.
If you want to oppose capitalism then you should stop with the rhetoric about Jewish bankers.
If you want to oppose child murder, you should stop trying to pin it on the Jews.
If you want to oppose human rights abuses, you should oppose all humnan rights abuses, not just ones carried out by the Jewish state.
We all accept that the Jews were not responsible, as charged, for
the French Revolution
the Russian Revolution
The Boer war
The Vietman war
To accuse the Jews of being responsible for these wars would be antisemitic.
But perhaps they are responsible, actually for the second Iraq War?
Yer, right. Perhaps the might of American cpaital is steered, against its own interests, on an issue of absolute key importance, by a few hook-noses at AIPAC in league with their Christian Zionist puppets.
“The question I would like to ask is specifically about Walt’s claim that “you end up talking all the time about whether someone is antisemitic or not”,”
Another sleight of hand by Walt.
One does not asks is “someone” is or is not antisemitic.
One asks does the argument being used re: Israel connect with antisemitic imagery, rhetoric, etc. (see the EUMC definition).
If it does then such arguments need to be shown for what they are – antisemitic. And, as such, they have no place in civilised political discourse.
But Walt, like the UCU, like the New Statesman, refuses to have that discussion.
They want to silence that discussion.
They want (and are succeeding) in actuality the power that in their own fantasy they believe the Jews have.
They want to silence that discussion by saying that anyone raises the question of antisemitism is lying, is duplicitious, is “distracting people from the main issue, which is US policy” and which “seeks to marginalise anyone who does raise their voice in the public arena.”
In other words, underpinning Walt’s argument is the ideas that Jews lie and in lying, block the will of the American “people”.
This has nothing to do with Israel as a political conflict.
It has everything to do with antisemitism. WIth marking Jews and only Jews as liars who are determining US policy for their own parochial aims and who shut up anyone who disagrees with them. And, in so doing, they are setting Jews against “real”, “loyal” Americans. (for an earlier illustration see Linburgh’s speech at Idaho).
If that is not “genuine antisemitism” (as the UCU call it), I am not sure what is.
Carl Schmitt was a conservative German legal and political philosopher.
In 1933 he joined the Nazi Party.
Between 1933 and 1936 he wrote a series of disgusting antisemitic articles.
In 1936 he organised a conference about “Jewish influence in German Law”.
In 1945 or thereabouts, when interogated by an American officer, he complained how unfair it all was since all he was doing was “criticising Jews”.
But, of course, that was then.
“We all accept that the Jews were not responsible, as charged, for
the French Revolution
the Russian Revolution
The Boer war
The Vietman war
To accuse the Jews of being responsible for these wars would be antisemitic.”
But, of course, that was then.
Now, however, the very same allegations about contemporary Jews are “true”.
You can’t criticise Jews without them calling you an antisemite.
Jews are and without principle in destroying their enemies.
Jews control other countries.
Indeed, now, such views are to be lauded as “brave”, as “speaking truth to power” (as if that’s not how they were seen for the past two hundred years).
“This time” it is different.
It is always different “this time”.
It has always been different “this time”.
“The question I would like to ask is specifically about Walt’s claim that “you end up talking all the time about whether someone is antisemitic or not”, and presumably not focusing on such matters as settlement building, restrictions on road usage, house demolition policy, availability of medical supplies and the rest of it. It is certainly right to expose antisemitic speech and action where they occur, and I have done so explicitly in private emails and on blogs. But it seems to me that Walt does have a point here, and I’m speaking as someone who was critical of their original LRB article and of the book they subsequently published.”
This is simply not true. Or, rather, the wrong way round.
Take this week.
Following the visit to the US by Natanyahu and the speeches by Obama, etc, a great deal of coverage in the press on the situation in Israel and Palestine, on settlements, on a future Palestinian state, of positions being set out (right of return, the status of Jerusalem, borders, two-states, settlements, etc.)
Rational political debate
And where was Walt?
He was at a “conference”.
What was the “conference” about?
How the American “Israel Lobby” controls US foreign policy in the Middle East.
It is Walt that put the issue of antisemitism to the fore.
It is Walt who, instead of talking about “such matters as settlement building, restrictions on road usage, house demolition policy, availability of medical supplies and the rest of it” chose instead to organise about the “Power of the Lobby”.
It is Walt who then accuses Zionist Jews of raising antisemitism.
And it is Walt who is said to “have a point”.
Give me a break!
No, really give me a break from all this fucking shit.
I notice that Mehdi Hasan, at least in the extracts quoted by Dave Rich, doesn’t appear to cite any evidence for his claim that ‘(Aipac)… brags on its website about being “the most important organisation affecting America’s relationship with Israel” – has a financial stranglehold on both main parties. According to William Quandt, a former adviser on the Middle East to the Nixon and Carter administrations, “70 per cent to 80 per cent of all members of Congress will go along with whatever they think Aipac wants”.’
It’s entirely possible that William Quandt fully references his claim, but it’s unlikely, because I don’t recall even Walt & Mearsheimer going quite this far. Given this, it’s incumbent, one would have thought, for M. Hasan to fully investigate such claims: _he’s_ a journalist, Quandt is merely a political adviser, and thus less likely to be called on his political advice. And where does his “financial stranglehold on both main parties” come from? This really does demand evidence, which is conspicuous by its absence. We’re back in Jenny Tonge territory here, and Dave Rich is far too kind in his comments on Hasan’s motives.
But hey, this is _Israel_ we’re talking about, not Saudi Arabis, or China or Zimbabwe. (Sigh)
Brian G, the actual statement is: ‘For more than half a century, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has worked to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. From a small pro-Israel public affairs boutique in the 1950s, AIPAC has grown into a 100,000-member national grassroots movement described by The New York Times as “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel.”‘
Brian, in haste, about to go out, what is quoted from the article, not from the AIPAC website is: “the Israel lobby…has a financial stranglehold on both main parties.” and those appear to me Hasan’s own words
I have quite an ambivalent attitude towards the comedian Pat Condell, although at least he’s always good for laughs. He’s just uploaded another video, this time entirely devoted to a condemnation of antisemitism, particularly in Europe, a theme on which he’s often touched in past videos, although as far as I know never so intensively.
The link is http://youtu.be/eIesXORjBps and he’s called the 6-minute piece “Let’s blame the Jews”. I think many people might consider that he’s spoiled his argument by giving us one of his rants against “Muslims”, ie indiscriminately essentializing. What he says about antisemitism today is true and needs saying and he tells it the way he tells everything (“And if you’re offended, I don’t care”), nevertheless he does give an impression that his anti-Muslim rant in this video especially is terribly misplaced, ironically perhaps looking like a mirror image of the antisemitism he so powerfully describes and condemns. But the Catholic church comes in for thrashing too, from this ex-Catholic UKIP-voting atheist having Richard Dawkins as one of his most enthusiastic fans.