Alternative Insight

Israel's Promotion of Anti-Semitism 


Due to its awkward characterization and specific reference to Jewish people, modern anti-Semitism is a term that has been criticized and debated. Is it a condition, or a response to what people observe as Israel's oppressive policies toward the Palestinians and its contrived association with the Jewish community? The words anti-Semite and anti-Semitism are relatively knew, and, if taken in correct context, should be obsolete. Wikipedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic_people, explains how the term Semite entered the jargon.

The word Semite originated in the late 1700s by members of the Göttingen School of History, the terminology was derived from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of Genesis, together with the parallel terms Hamites and Japhetites.

From this classification, spurious historians divided the world into three large-scale racial groupings, corresponding to the three classical continents: the Semitic peoples of Asia, the Hamitic peoples of Africa and the Japhetic peoples of Europe.

 For scholars, "Semitic is a linguistic and cultural classification, denoting certain languages and in some contexts the literatures and civilizations expressed in those languages." The definitions of the word Semitism are (1) of Semitic character or qualities, and (2) a characteristic feature of a Semitic language occurring in another language. Who are the Semites; they are "a member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language."

Apart from use in linguistics and archaeology, why have the terminologies, which confuse language and race, not become obsolete? Bernard Lewis in his book, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice (1987), W. W. Norton & Co Inc., describes the incongruity.

The confusion between race and language goes back a long way, and was compounded by the rapidly changing content of the word "race" in European and later in American usage. Serious scholars have pointed out – repeatedly and ineffectually -- that "Semitic"  is a linguistic and cultural classification denoting certain languages, and, in some contexts, the literatures and civilizations expressed in those languages. As a kind of shorthand, it was sometimes retained to designate the speakers of those languages. At one time it might thus have had a connotation of race, when that word itself was used to designate national and cultural entities. It has nothing whatever to do with race in the anthropological sense that is now common usage. 

Regardless of the mischaracterizations, the words anti-Semite and anti-Semitism impart themselves on the autonomic nervous system and create responses. Has the term anti-Semitic, which literally means against the languages of the Semites, been sidetracked to highlight actions only against Jews, giving them a special significance in comparison to attacks against other ethnicities? Has this domineering position led to misuse of the term anti-Semitism, leading it to become a contentious pejorative, a word that generates hate, rather than subdues it, that causes undue violence to innocent persons, a confusing word that is used as a catch-all expression to represent harm to the Jewish people, which can range from prankster to physical violence? We know something has gone awry when we notice that arguments against Israel’s policies have been attacked as anti-Semitic, and those who proffer the arguments are labeled as anti-Semites. Should the words anti-Semite, anti-Semitic, and anti-Semitism be judged as counterproductive misnomers and be erased from the vernacular? Serious questions that arouse serious charges and demand a serious discussion; creating a challenge that can never be answered to everyone’s agreement.

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 Semites and other Semitic tribes than Hebrews existed in the ancient Middle East, isn't it demeaning to them that their culture and heritage are being usurped by misuse of the word Semitic? If anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semitism. Note that the word :anti-Semites is only 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 anti-Semites.

The Jewish History on-line commentary describes Barr as a nationalist whose extremist views focused on the proposition that, "The full emancipation of Jews therefore presupposed their emancipation from Judaism."  Many commentators have highlighted that the Zionist message echoed that of the anti-Semites, that emancipation meant Jews would shed their Judaism and their salvation depended upon leaving Europe and establishing their own state.

Barr also, "tied to this claim the widely held 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." Reads like the direction of Israel.

 Can it be that Zionism and Israel, which both agree with principal features of the anti-Semites, are also anti-Semites and guilty of anti-Semitism? Give the Zionists and Israel the benefit of doubt. A case can be made, but the illogic of the situation demands a more logical perspective -- the words have ill-defined meanings, which lead to their misuse and outlandish characterizations.

The more rightful term
The terms anti-American, anti-Catholic, anti-Communist (usually praiseworthy), 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, those who feel they have sensible and adequate reasons for not agreeing with the Evangelists and for determining that the actions of the Evangelists are detrimental to society are anti-Evangeiist. There are many, many, and many of those peoples. and they attack Evangelists with words, scorn, and vitriol, daily and widely. Not considered good taste but not considered criminal. Those who physically attack the Evangelists, without reason, with excessive vitriol, 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 uncalled for attacks on Jews.

Why do we hear so much about anti-Semitism? One word -- Israel -- clarifies the excessive attention to this one form of prejudice. Israel needs this attention in order to convince the world and Jewish peoples that it is the sole haven for an attacked Jewish community. Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian peoples stimulates aggression against Jewish peoples.  Mis-characterization of anti-Semitism, especially by the anti-Defamation League (ADL), indicates there must be more to its excessive use than a plea for tolerance.

Mis-characterization of anti-Semitism
The Anti-Defamation League founding charter, in 1913, explained its thrust.

The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience, and if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.

Decades later, events diminished the reasons for ADL’s national thrust, and the organization found a new cause -- defense of a foreign country, Israel. It informed everybody that:

ADL has always been a strong voice for Israel. Since its birth in 1948, the Jewish homeland has faced consistent threats and challenges to its security and legitimacy from both hostile neighbors and from anti-Israel voices across the international community. ADL remains an unwavering supporter of Israel, advocating for a secure and stable democratic Jewish state. We educate and inform about the important security, diplomatic and societal issues confronting Israel. 

ADL showed its strong voice for Israel by its attack on the The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS).

The campaign to delegitimize Israel is being waged across the globe: The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, is the most prominent effort to undermine Israel’s existence. The BDS campaign is rampant with misinformation and distortion. ADL responds to BDS threats through advocacy and education, and we recently partnered with Reut Institute to develop in-depth analysis and strategic initiatives to marginalize and expose the illegitimacy of the BDS movement. 

ADL’s other support for Israel lies in its expositions of anti-Semitism.

By attempting to be unique, the word anti-Semitism 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 every harm to Jewish persons, no matter how slight or unverified, as an anti-Semitic 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 attacks -- 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 ADL report at  https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/Selected%20List%20of%202017%20Anti-Semitic%20Incidents.pdf identifies 1,986 anti-Semitic 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 with people of student age, such as "Anti-Semitic 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 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).

 Compare these assaults to a Pew Research report of 127 assaults against Muslims in the same year.

  1. A man shot and killed an Indian immigrant engineer he thought was Middle Eastern and wounded two others after shouting, "get out of my country," and opening fire.
  2. A man shot and injured a Sikh after shouting, "get out of my country."
  3. A man beat an Arab employee of Al Aqsa Restaurant with a pipe, yelling "go back to your country terrorist" and "get out of America."
  4. A Florida man, who attempted to set fire to a convenience store, told deputies that he assumed the owner was Muslim and that he wanted to "run the Arabs out of our country."
  5. A man fatally stabbed two people and injured a third on a MAX Light Rail train, after he was confronted for reportedly "yelling a gamut of anti-Muslim and anti-everything slurs."
  6. Bomb detonated in the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.

No intent to underestimate attacks on American Jews and compare them with attacks on Muslims -- all forms of racial hatred should be exposed and combated. Nevertheless, proper perspective is required for proper attention, which leads to proper marshaling of resources and forces against all hatred. The  2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh  was given the required attention and, hopefully, will result in proper actions so that this horror does not occur again.

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 anti-Semitic 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.

Want to observe pernicious Jewish-hatred, go to Israel, and learn that country has the largest collection of groups that commit violent action against Jews by other Jews.

Jewish anti-Semitism
A previous article, Is Israel a Democracy or a Kleptocracy? at http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Changing_Israel_Part2-Democracy.html, revealed the discrimination against Jews by fellow Jews in Israel.

On January 18, 2010, over 5,000 young Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters marched through central Jerusalem to protest against racism and discrimination. 

Government studies conducted in conjunction with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that "a job applicant with an Ashkenazi-sounding name has a 34 percent higher chance of being hired by an employer than a person with a Sephardi-sounding name applying for the same position. "

During the last 70 years, more disturbing and more violent acts against Jews have been committed by a variety of Jewish groups, considered religious terrorist organizations in Israel. Only groups attacking Jews are listed; many others, guilty of severe attacks on Palestinians, are not shown,

The principal misuse of the anti-Semite label is to silence opponents, which is important to Israel's strategy of confuse and conquer. Israel’s partisans have made anti-Semite an all-encompassing word, posing it as the defining characteristic of humanity, not allowing any shades to a person’s demeanor, character, and beliefs, and shaping it as the third rail of public discourse

Israel’s promotion of Anti-Semitism
It is difficult to equate, with 100 percent certainty, Israel’s oppressive actions with attacks on Jewish persons. Described in a contrary manner, attacks on Jewish persons seem to follow Israel’s attacks against the Palestinians and their allies. For a while, terrorist actions by Muslim extremists in Europe against Jewish interests and persons escalated as Israel’s assaults on Palestinians increased. Other attacks on Jews succeeded attacks on Hezbollah and Iranians.

On 16 February 16, 1992, Israeli helicopters attacked a motorcade in southern Lebanon, and killed Hezbollah spiritual leader Abbas al-Musawi, his wife, son, and four others. One month later, on March 17, a bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, linked to Hezbollah, killed 29 persons.

The 18 July 18, 2012 Burgas, Bulgaria, bus bombing, which killed five Israelis and wounded 32, came after a series of deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists.

 Not difficult to equate is the use of the word anti-Semite to silence Israel’s opponents.

The Canary Mission, at https://canarymission.org/ documents people and groups that it falsely accuses of promoting hatred of the USA, Israel, and Jews on North American college campuses. This bigoted organization also posts its Jewish Friends of Anti-Semites. Included in that list are descriptions such as:

Note: Names omitted for obvious reasons

Sara xxxx has shown support for an anti-Israel agitator, spread hatred of Zionists, and demonized Israel.
Jean xxxx is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and is a professor of American Studies & History at Yale University.
Adam xxxx has expressed support for anti-Israel campus activists and defended intimidation tactics led by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

ADL, the organization concerned with false stereotypes, publishes its Top Ten Anti-Israel Groups in America at https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/israel-international/Top-10-Anti-Israel-Groups-in-America.pdf

AMCHA, at https://amchainitiative.org/amcha-publishes-list-of-over-200-anti-israel-middle-east-studies-professors/, joins the forces of Israel supporters that make a mockery of the word anti-Semite with its list of more than 200 anti-Israel Middle East Studies professors, many of whom are Jews.

On the flip side, we have Jewish scholars crticizing the Trump government for actions that encourage false anti-Semiric charges. Over 100 Jewish scholars condemned the Trump administration in an open letter, which can be accessed at http://jewssupportuncduke.org/.

In particular, we take issue with how your letter to Duke and UNC justified its investigation by exploiting Jewish fears of anti-Semitism. This move fits within a clear pattern of the Trump administration using Jews and our concerns over anti-Semitism in order to try and justify repressive policies. We take great offense at this cynical weaponization of our historical trauma, particularly as anti-Semitic attacks on Jews have skyrocketed since Trump came into office. 

More significant than the disgraceful and deceitful manner in which the words anti-Semitism and anti-Semite are used to turn the public against Israel’s antagonists, is the violence committed to innocent persons, stigmatizing them, and causing severe economic, social and emotional damage. Impossible to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of  known, decent, and respectable persons who have been severely wounded and suffered from being unfairly labeled anti-Semitic, only because they have been critical of Israel’s policies. Is there anything more disgraceful than using a word that exposes prejudice and hatred for generating prejudice and hatred of others?

The Zionists created Israel with the assumption of uniting the entire Jewish population in agreeable surroundings, and free from anti-Semitism.  Seventy years after the establishment of the state of Israel, the Jewish community is severely disunited, Israelis disagree on forming governments, and the claim is made that anti-Semitism is rapidly increasing.

Conclusion
The word anti-Semite has grown from identification with the name of an organization, to its use in characterizing those who commit crimes against Jews, to those who offend Jews, and finally to stigmatize those who criticize Israel. The latter characterization is not only a malicious falsification, it may be mistaken identity; the accusers might be looking at a mirror image of themselves.   

Jews who criticize Israel’s policies claim they follow the teachings and traditions of their Semitic Hebrew ancestors, prophets who sought social justice and righteousness.

Amos, who insisted that social justice lies at the heart of Judaism. "Let justice roll on like an ever flowing river and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Micah, who said, "What is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"
Isaiah, who said, "This is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin."
Zechariah, who said, "Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”
Jeremiah, who said, "Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place."

By attacking the followers of the Hebrew prophets, Israel’s supporters attack those who represent the teachings of ancient Hebrew Semites, and in effect, they are attacking the ancient Hebrew Semites. These attackers are, therefore, anti-Semites.

From Psalm 23 A psalm of David.

Its compassion renews my soul’s life
Its call for righteousness encircles me and guides me on pathways of justice to what ought to be
For the sake of Transformation

You spread before me a table in front of my enemies—those I’m bound up with—so we can break bread together
You anoint my head with oil, comforting me
My cup overflows

alternative insight
october 15, 2019

HOME PAGE      MIDDLE EAST CRISIS
 
alternativeinsight@earthlink.net