Combating the False Anti-antisemites
Attempt by Israel supporters to engineer a self-serving International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism into a tool for silencing legitimate criticism of Israel provoked a series of webinars from those offended by the insidious behavior.
Vigorously researched, well-articulated, packed with useful information and worthwhile talking points, the webinars missed some essentials and failed to deliver the knockout punch that could send the fraudulent critics of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to the canvas. The reason for the indecisive approach was obvious – it is difficult to combat those who cling to the title as the foremost spokespersons against antisemitism without being labelled as antisemitic. Countering the hypocritical anti-antisemites needed more definition, more historical background, and less agreement with the controversial and mind- shaping falsehoods that have caused misperceptions, led to careless actions, and maintained attacks on Jewish people. The word antisemite, too frequently contrived to mischaracterize Israel’s opponents, has become an emotional word, affecting the autonomic nervous system and conjuring images of horrific damage being done by those to whom it is directed. It is the “third rail” of public discourse and many have felt its punishing affects. I remember challenging a person who recited outlandish statements concerning the Palestinians; his only reply was one word – antisemite – shouted loud and clear and with a smile on his face. The battle to preserve the right to campaign for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions could be reduced to combating one charged word - antisemitism.
Remove the word "antisemitic" from the lexicon and "poof" antisemitism disappears. This is neither semantics nor a magical trick; it can be shown that the word antisemitism has misdirected the attention needed to prevent discrimination against Jews, and led to evaluate improperly the reach, causes, and solutions to anti-Jewish behavior. The seminars failed to discuss these aspects of hostility to Jews.
Is anti-Semite a correct term?
The question might seem presumptuous, but consider that although Hebrews were Semites, the Ashkenazi Jews are not Semites, no more than Americans are Anglo-Saxons. Because Semitic tribes other than Hebrews existed in the ancient Middle East, and still exist today, isn't it demeaning to them that their culture and heritage are being usurped by misuse of the word Semitic? If antisemitic is not directed against all the Semitic populations, what expression is used to convey prejudicial actions against each of them?
Let's get to basics. The League of anti-Semites, led by Wilhelm Marr in 1879, prompted the more general use of the word antisemitism. Note that the word "anti-Semites" is used as a name for an organization, which did not want to use a label, such as Jewish, in characterizing its thrust. They could have called themselves "The League of Super Patriots." If they had a different name, the word anti-Semite might have never been used, and there would be no persons called antisemites.
The Jewish History on-line commentary at https://jewish-history-online.net/article/bergmann-marr-mirror-jews describes Marr as a radical whose 1862 views originally focused on the proposition that "the freedom of the individual came before all else and, accordingly, ought to dissolve all group loyalties. Ultimately, the full emancipation of the Jews signified their self-emancipation from Judaism." Although Marr’s views were totally rejected by the German establishment, brought harsh criticism upon him, and ruined his career, the Zionists reacted to Marr’s message that "emancipation meant Jews would shed their Judaism" by stating that Judaism’s salvation depended upon the Jews leaving Europe and establishing their own state.
Marr "tied to this claim the view that Judaism functioned as a form of theocracy, in which religious faith is identical with a Jewish state constitution and system of law enforcement." Does not his assessment coincide with the Israel government modus operandi.
Can it be that Zionism and Israel, in a convoluted manner, supported features of the leader of the anti-Semites, and are guilty of antisemitism? A case can be made, but the illogic of the situation demands a more logical perspective – the word has an ill-defined meaning, which lead to its misuse and outlandish characterizations.
The more rightful term
The terms anti-American, anti-Catholic, anti-Communist, and other similar expressions do not arouse total indignation – there may be valid reasons for prompting the accusations. Vitriolic and irrational hatred of nationalities, ethnicities, and religions are another manner and are approached by proper characterization of the prejudice, calumny, and hatred. As an example, consider those who feel they have sensible and adequate reasons for disagreeing with the Evangelists and argue that the actions of the Evangelists are harmful and detrimental to society. There are many of them and they attack Evangelists with scorn and vitriol. They are anti-Evangelist.Those who physically attack the Evangelists without reason, with slander and mendacity earn the title of Evangelist-hatred. This approach to prejudice, and how it should be characterized, applies equally to all nationalities, ethnicities, and faiths, including Judaism and Jews. Jewish-hatred is the correct word for irrational attacks on Jews.
Zionism and antisemitism
The seminars failed to discuss essential figures in the tableau of antisemitism – the roles of the Zionists and Israel in favoring and promoting antisemitism. Why do we hear so much about antisemitism? One word – Zionism – clarifies the excessive attention to this prejudice. Zionists need this attention in order to convince the world and Jewish peoples that they are the sole haven for an attacked Jewish community. They conveniently welcome the emphasis on and the increase of antisemitism as a means to provide recruits to the Zionist cause and immigrants to Israel, obscure that the principal cause of aggression to Jewish people is Israel's horrific oppression of the Palestinian peoples, which angers almost the entire world, and overlook Israeli racism, which has continually discriminated against fellow Jews.
Did Theodore Herzl conclude that antisemitism (Ed: During his time, Jews were becoming well integrated into European societies) could only be resolved by Zionism or did he conclude that antisemitism was a convenient means to publicize Zionism? It is well known that Israel’s Mossad instigated attacks against Jewish institutions in Egypt and Iraq in order to provoke Jews to leave those countries and immigrate to Israel. It is well known that the Zionists cooperated with the Nazis in order to bring German Jews to Palestine.
Abuses to Jewish people are adequately exposed. Never investigated are the reasons, the deep reasons. Assuredly, many reasons, directly and indirectly, can be traced to Jews attachment to an Israel that exhibits vicious oppression of the Palestinians and to the deceptive mechanisms that obfuscate the oppression and delude the public. Hypocrisy is a trait that often arouses arouses expressive contempt from others.
Want to find hatred of Jews - go to Israel, where the secular Jews despise the Orthodox Jews, the European Ashkenazi Jews are contemptuous of the Arab Mizrahim Jews and all discriminate against the Ethiopian Falasha Jews. From UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
TEL AVIV, 9 February 2012 (IRIN) - Growing up in Israel, Shay Sium became accustomed to being called a "nigger". Sium, 32, has lived in Israel most of his life, but says he and other Ethiopian Jews are treated differently from other Israelis: factories do not want to employ them; landlords refuse them; and certain schools turn away their children. "The word discrimination doesn't describe what we experience. There is another word for it: racism. It is a shame that we still have to use this word today," he told IRIN. An estimated 125,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, but while they are supposed to be full citizens with equal rights, their community has continued to face widespread discrimination and socio-economic difficulties, according to its leaders. A recent decision – as reported by local media – by 120 homeowners not to sell or rent their apartments to Israeli-Ethiopian families has brought discrimination against Ethiopian Jews in Israel back into the spotlight
From Post-Zionism and the Sephardi Question by Meyrav Wurmser Middle East Quarterly Spring 2005
The post-Zionist Mizrahi writers continue to live their parents' insults and humiliations at the hands of the European Ashkenazi Jewish establishment that absorbed them in Israel after immigration. Discriminatory policies created a continuing social and economic gap between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim. These academics promote the view held by many young Mizrahim that discrimination did not end with their parents' generation. The children — who, in large part, were born in Israel — continue to face discrimination and cope with social and economic handicaps. The radical Mizrahim who turned to post-Zionism tap into anger beyond the well-known complaints of past ill-treatment, including the maabarot, the squalid tent cities into which Mizrahim were placed upon arrival in Israel; the humiliation of Moroccan and other Mizrahi Jews when Israeli immigration authorities shaved their heads and sprayed their bodies with the pesticide DDT; the socialist elite's enforced secularization; the destruction of traditional family structure, and the reduced status of the patriarch by years of poverty and sporadic unemployment. These Mizrahi intellectuals' fury extends beyond even the state sponsored kidnapping of Yemeni infants for adoption by Ashkenazi families who lost their children in the Holocaust. The real anger Sephardim feel nowadays, and upon which these Mizrahi post-Zionists seize, comes from the extent to which, in their view, the Zionist narrative denied, erased, and excluded their historical identity.
Zionists provoke a contentious debate, "Is anti-Zionism antisemitism?" This self-serving question is meant to be wrapped up in subjective answers favorable to them. Why has there not been the more meaningful question, "Is Zionism antisemitic?" This more logical question has historical and objective information that point to answers with the affirmative.
Where has the Anti-defamation Leaguers, the self-declared guardians against antisemitism (and Israel), been? Antisemites right under their noses in Israel and they neither say nor do anything about it. Mis-characterization of antisemitism, especially by the anti-Defamation League (ADL), indicates there must be more to its excessive use than a plea for tolerance, one being that the ADL owes its existence to finding antisemites.
By attempting to be unique, the word antisemitism conjures an image of severe harm to Jewish persons. All ethnic prejudice and hate crimes are dangerous and must be challenged. However, because the ADL reports all harms to Jewish persons, no matter how slight or unverified, as an antisemitic statistic, the exact damages to Jewish psyche and interests are difficult to place in context and evaluate. Reports contain mostly verbal, passive, and non-violent abuses — many can be classified as mischief, others are not definitely proven to being directed against the Jewish community, and many are against persons who just happen to be Jewish. The 2018 ADL report at https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/Selected%20List%20of%202017%20Anti-Semitic%20Incidents.pdf identifies 1,986 antisemitic incidents perpetrated throughout the United States in 2017, an increase of 57% over the incidents reported in 2016. Included in the totals are 1,015 instances of harassment, many of which occurred in schools, such as "Antisemitic graffiti found at non-Jewish school." One hundred sixty-three of the harassment cases were part of a spree of bomb threats made against Jewish institutions in the first quarter of 2017, mostly by two persons and copycats. Israel police arrested an Israeli Jewish teenager, evidently interested in promoting hatred against his fellow Jews, for more than 100 of the bomb threats. U.S. federal authorities arrested a reporter, who had been fired from the online news site, The Intercept, and accused him of making at least eight of the bomb threats in an attempt to intimidate someone after their romantic relationship ended.
The subjective term "vandalism" accounted for 952 incidents, most of them being the tumbling of cemetery tombstones and posting of Swastika drawings, such as "Swastika in Walgreens bathroom," and "Nazi flag discovered in housing complex," which were not specifically directed against Jewish persons. Tombstone vandalism is mainly performed by teenagers and rarely has a direct link to a specific prejudice. In one case, authorities determined that tombstones disturbed at a historic Jewish cemetery in New York were damaged by environmental causes and not by vandalism. The desecration of 93 gravestones at a non-Jewish Warrenton, Virginia Cemetery shows how widespread and non-denominational is tombstone vandalism.
The ADL report has 19 assaults against Jews in 2017 – certainly more than a few one is alarming. However, the statistic is less alarming when only six were considered as serious, and, of these, the two most serious were (1) Jewish family harassed at local Target, and (2) A 12-year old boy was attacked on his way home from outside a synagogue after Friday night prayers (no detail of injuries or if attacked because of being Jewish).
A Reuters headline, The FBI shows that U.S. anti-Semitic hate crimes spiked 37 percent in 2017, demonstrates how the word anti-Semitic mistakenly haunts our psyche. Echoed by other media, the FBI report on hate crimes, which can be retrieved at https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2017/tables/table-1.xls, never mentions the word antisemitic and has only anti-Jewish incidents, mostly provocative and harmless, as a single bias in the religious category. Three quarters of the Jewish-hatred crimes were instances of vandalism, only 7% were assaults; and less than one percent was aggravated assaults, a far different breakdown than recorded for nearly every other group included in the FBI's report. Across all hate crimes in 2017, roughly a third were assaults and a third were vandalism.
The term antisemitism, meant to highlight attacks on Jewish people, backfires on its accusers. Placed in proper context and aligned side-by-side on a comparison sheet, the incorrect use of the word antisemitism highlights what should be its correct use – violent attacks on living Semitic people.
Can verbal abuse that does no harm be compared to the torching of cars and homes of innocent Palestinians by Israeli settlers?
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Israeli settlers attacked five villages in the occupied West Bank overnight, torching vehicles and olive trees, and leaving graffiti on the walls of homes, Palestinian officials said Friday.
Can tumbling of gravestones be compared to wanton destruction of olive trees? According to Nazeh Fkhaida, director of the Palestinian Agricultural Damage Documentation Department, the total number of trees uprooted, burned, or chemically poisoned by the settlers since 2010 have reached 101,988, accounting for losses of $47 million.
Can harassing phone calls be compared to the daily and continuous harassment that all Palestinians suffer at the multitude of checkpoints that interrupt their living space?
A misstep in the seminars
A moderator question, "Do Jews deserve self-determination?" set a bad tone for the seminars. Addressed to a Palestinian, it was difficult for the respondent to give a definite and honest answer without seeming indifferent. A more suitably framed question would have been, "Did Jews have the requirements for forming their own state and was that beneficial to them?"
Requirements for an ethnicity to become a nation are more than self-imposed spokespersons saying to disparate people around the globe, "Let’s become a state." Minimum requirements are that the ethnic group be entirely together in one locale for generations, not be integrated in an existing state, speak a common language, and have a common culture, history and heritage. Kurds, Royhinga, Timor, Tamil, and some others have the requirements. The Jews do not have any of these requirements, nor did it ever seem beneficial for them to leave nations, in which they were well-established and integrated for generations, and start life anew in a strange land.
Nevertheless, they arrived in the distant Levant in large numbers, to form a borderless nation created by theft of other people’s property, made themselves into a majority by dispossessing the indigenous people, escaped from minimal post World War II western prejudice to foment greater prejudice against fellow Jews than any post-war II western nation and, although having made themselves into a majority, found themselves unsafe at any speed.
The seminars had a beneficial purpose and served to educate individuals of the need to defend attacks on legitimate democratic rights. Lacking was passion; participants behaved too academic, resonated more like a gabfest of individuals talking around a table rather than addressing an audience. These are emotional topics and demanded emotional expression, shouts to the audience, that we have had enough, enough of constant reminders of decades old Kristallnacht of past history. Let all be made aware of contemporary and ongoing history – every night is Kristallnacht in occupied Palestine.
december 30, 2020