“Israel is Autistic” – Neve Gordon and Mark Levine displaying their ignorance about both autism and antisemitism – David Hirsh

Is it demonizing to say that autistic people are like Israel, or is it demonizing to say that Israel is autistic? Or, do the two lies cancel each other out, since to characterise either as being like the other is in reality not insulting?

Neve Gordon and Mark LeVine write a stupid, dishonest, but standard hatchet job on the IHRA definition of antisemitism. It’s dishonest because it claims that IHRA says and does things which it absolutely does, and can not do.

Shamefully it is published on a mainstream website, Inside Higher Ed.

Gordon and LeVine say that IHRA “could very well” label Einstein and Arendt as antisemites. It’s a lie. IHRA doesn’t label anything as antisemitic, it draws attention to things that might be, and which merit further examination and political judgment.

But then they say that IHRA could label Tony Judt antisemitic. Well, some of Judt’s writing was certainly antisemitic, and I spent quite a lot of space in my book showing how. I also spent quite a lot of space in my book telling the story of how Neve Gordon developed from a sharp and scholarly thinker into a supporter of BDS and a pusher of the apartheid smear. Here’s something on Neve Gordon. Here’s a bit more on Neve Gordon.

The evidence Gordon and LeVine offer to show just how not-antisemitic Tony Judt really is, is the following:

‘Tony Judt described Israel as “autistic” after it had put Gaza “under a punishment regime comparable to nothing else in the world.”’

And they proudly link to an interview where Judt explained his understanding of of what it means to characterise Israel as “autistic”.

“Israel,” says Judt, in an interview proudly linked to by Gordon and LeVine, “behaved in a way that suggests it is no longer fully able to estimate, assess or understand the way other people think about it. Even if you supported the blockade (I don’t) this would be an almost exemplary case of shooting oneself in a painful part of the anatomy.”

This is both an ignorant and demonizing description of what it means to be autistic, and an antisemitic, pathologizing way to describe Israel.

Judt, Gordon and LeVine understand as little about autism as they do about antisemitism. Commentary about antisemitism is completely dominated by people who are out of their field. I guess once you get used to talking about things you know nothing about, a few prejudices about neurodiversity are nothing special.

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