“We Cannot Live Without Our Lives” Either: Jews, Privilege, and Anti-Subordination

A guest-post by David Schraub of The Debate Link

Hey everybody. Lauren and the gang invited me to guest-post on Feministe on the Gaza conflict, though why they were foolish enough to invite me particularly, I don’t know. Certainly, they regret it now, as instead of giving them a “guest post”, I plopped down a 23 page tome that had been percolating for years now and was, I imagine, far in excess of what they had in mind. But kindly, they decided to give me the chance to post it here anyway – on the condition that I chop it up and make it into a series.

Anyway, let’s get the biography out of the way first. I’ve been blogging for four and a half years over at The Debate Link. When not doing that, I was getting my undergraduate degree at Carleton College, which I finished up in 2008, or working on my law degree, which I’m doing now at the University of Chicago. My eventual goal is to become a law professor with a particular focus on identity politics and anti-discrimination law, which I view through a critical, anti-subordination lens.

Growing up as a Conservative Jew in a very liberal, but very pro-Israel, congregation in suburban Maryland, I’ve gone through all manner of turmoil in terms of my perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict. I have at various times in my life identified with the Labor, Meretz, Likud, Shi’nui, and Kadima parties. If Shi’nui hadn’t effectively died off in the last election cycle, I’d probably consider myself closest to them. But I have for quite some time now been a committed two-stater, and the idea that both Israel and Palestine have a right to a free, viable, secure, and independent state is one that I firmly believe and will vigorously defend against extremists on either side – be they Hamas terrorists or Greater Israel fanatics.

Since the latest Israeli operation in Gaza began, I’ve been conflicted about it, which isn’t unusual for me. On the one hand, I find it very difficult to believe that the Gaza campaign will “work” in any meaningful sense. It’s not as bombing Palestinian territories into ruins has a particularly good track record, and there is nothing in particular that has presented itself as compelling evidence that this attack will come out differently. On the other hand, the statement “bombing doesn’t work” doesn’t distinguish the strategy of “bombing” from any other Israeli strategy, including the “dovish” ones. Withdrawing from Palestinian territory or giving concessions to Palestinian leaders “doesn’t work” either. The original Israeli withdrawal from Gaza may not have been done with entirely altruistic motives, but was a significant risk taken by Israel that was met by an increase in violence. Israelis notice this. They noticed that Hezbollah stepped up its attacks after Israel left Lebanon, and they noticed that terrorist activity increased in the years immediately following the Oslo accords compared to the years immediately preceding them. The problem is precisely that nothing seems to work. And when nothing seems to work, I find it hard for myself to articulate what I want to be seen done, and I become very suspicious of those who would condemn but either don’t provide an alternative, or whose alternative would simply shift the injustice to another plane.

These points, though, are old hat by now, and have been covered on my own blog. I don’t know what you do when nothing works, I recognize that a true friend in the White House would know when to take Israel aside and tell it to chill, I think we need to realize the difference between being foolish and being evil. Oh, and I think the settler fanatics need to be excommunicated from Judaism. Suffice to say that, insofar as I direct my words to the mainstream Jewish community, my argument is simple: The occupation can’t endure. It can’t endure because it’s unsustainable for Israel, and it can’t endure because it’s oppressive to the Palestinians. Their right to self-determination must be recognized, and it is our responsibility as a community to press Israel to take the steps necessary (whatever they might be) to realize that right. That truth remains regardless of whether this particular operation is wise or foolish, right or wrong. It doesn’t change the underlying calculus a whit. You can read those thoughts elsewhere.

But since I have the microphone at Feministe, particularly, I want to talk about some broader-level issues that tend to come to a fore when I participate in discussions in this community, and other progressive environments like it. The folks on this blog (both writers and commenters) are, by and large, wonderful people. But – here and elsewhere – there is very little recognition and very much resistance to a true, critical engagement with anti-Semitism and Jewish experiences writ large. Indeed, the moment we start talking about anti-Semitism, we’re shouted down with accusations that we’re “playing the anti-Semitism card”. No charge infuriates me more, because no charge is more reviled by progressives then specious claims of card-playing. We’ve all heard how conservatives will short-circuit any discussion of racism by saying “oh, you’re just playing the race card”, and we all have learned the hard way that “the race card”, whatever its benefits, is easily trumped by “‘the race card’ card”. And yet, for some reason, I’m expected to take seriously sanctimonious statements which claim to deplore anti-Semitism but then proceed to assert that “accusations of anti-Semitism are often used to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s activities”.

Is that statement true? While I guess some people sometimes do cry anti-Semitism merely to shutdown discussion, that is rarely the true purpose. Rather, we’re actually trying to point out a couple of things. One, non-Jews aren’t the supreme arbiters of what counts as anti-Semitism. We have the right to name our own reality, and when Jews claim anti-Semitism, that can’t be brushed aside so easily. Two, while it must be possible to criticize Israel in a non-anti-Semitic fashion, it is certainly impossible to have a discussion about Israel or any other Jewish institution without at least talking about anti-Semitism, if only as a set of shared background assumptions. Similarly, while I can accept that someone might be able to criticize affirmative action without being racist, it would be utterly bizarre to have any sort of serious discussion about AA if the issue of racism was taken off the table. But that is precisely what seems to be desired. When you take anti-Semitism off the table when talking about Jewish concerns, or racism off the table when talking about POC concerns, what results is not a conversation but “a coerced argument…that concedes the key intellectual contest.” Third and finally, when we demand that anti-Semitism be put on the table, even in the face of strenuous declarations that the speaker is not an anti-Semite, we are applying to our experience Kimberle Crenshaw’s maxim that racism does not disappear “by proclamation alone.”

These are rather basic applications of well-established progressive tenets in the anti-subordination arena. So why are they being so bitterly resisted? The argument seems to be that Jews are not truly oppressed or subordinated. This, I can only submit, is laughable given the history and current situation of Jews worldwide. Something else is at work, and whatever it is, it’s not being used to consider and reject our claims – it’s being used to deny our right to file the complaint in the first place.

This is troubling to me. Obviously, being Jewish, I don’t like my voice being waved away as being unimportant, already spoken for, partisan (as compared to?), or (to borrow from the late Critical Race Theorist Jerome McCristal Culp) “a type of shrill craziness.” But also, the way the discourse is proceeding feels like an extreme abdication of the commitments progressives claim to hold to. Phoebe Maltz, a brilliant and iconoclastic Jewish blogger, once wondered why people critique the left “from the left”. If they disagree with the left so much, why not go somewhere else? The answer, as I tell myself anyway, is that this terrain matters to me, and I won’t cede it without a fight. I firmly believe that to be of the left means commitment to the liberation of all people, a desire to hear and incorporate all stories, and an opposition to all forms of oppression and subordination. Insofar as some people seek to deny the inclusion of my liberation, experience, and struggle, I think they should be the ones who must set sail from the movement, not me. And so, one of my projects is to try and work through anti-Semitism as a structural phenomenon that ought to be approached through the critical, anti-subordination lens that progressives have pioneered as the leading and proper alternative to mainstream “liberal” anti-discrimination norms; those which presume the evil to be episodic, predicated on differentiation, and unconnected to the broader currents through which we construct and live our lives.

Here I have to pause to make an observation about oppression in general. Simply put: it’s complicated. To say that Jews are a subordinated group in the world is not to pass any judgment on the social realities of any other group – including their relationship to Jews. Rather, oppressions cross-cut. I do contend that every non-Jew in the world – atheist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist – benefits from what we might call “Gentile privilege” vis-à-vis the Jew, insofar as they are not afflicted by the particular nexus of stereotypes, assumptions, prejudices, obstacles and standards that constitute anti-Semitic oppression. But I can say that and still simultaneously affirm that Jews, along with all other non-Muslims, are privileged as against Muslims along the contours of that oppression. In a world where both Jews and Muslims are oppressed, Jews have an advantage over Muslims for not being Muslim, and Muslims have an advantage over Jews for not being Jews. Similarly, one could say that Israel is in a privileged position compared to Palestinians locally (in terms of localized power in the Israel/Palestine conflict), while also arguing that Jews are subordinated compared to Arabs globally (in terms of globalized power to affect the terms of discourse and sanction in international institutions such as the UN). Christianity may have the advantage over Islam globally, while being very much on the bottom in, say, Iraq. Not only are these positions not inconsistent with each other, they are, in my view, essentially to avoiding the easy “oppression Olympics” trap. Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza’s term Kyriarchy I think is a good word for this. That I’m focusing on anti-Semitic oppression doesn’t mean I think that’s the only oppression operating here. It just means it is one that I think needs to take a place at the center of our analysis, and one that I think suffers from a severe lack of serious inquiry from a critical left perspective.

And “critical” matters too. If I had just reprinted the aforementioned Debate Link posts, which are pretty standard fare for the left-of-center Jew, I’d get a very predictable response. Some folks would go off on benders about how I’m insufficiently attuned to Israeli evil. But most would respond more politely and more equivocatingly. It’d be some mixture of affirming Israel’s right to defend itself, recognizing that Jews have had a pretty sucky history, while expressing discontent with Israeli policies and generally lapsing into “both sides are unjust evildoers” moral equivalency.

But I don’t want to engage in standard liberal bromides. That’s not what this site is for. I want to get radical. Radical means examining problems at the root. Radical means we don’t assume that our standard assumptions and methodologies of behavior work for everyone or are beyond criticism. Radical means we don’t accept things at face value. Radical means forcing people to look their privilege in the eye and demand they account for the story of the other, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it might mean revisiting some core presumptions.

Nobody likes it when their own analysis is thrown back in their face. White feminists who had to deal with the critique of WOC were deeply upset by it, because they considered themselves allies. Ditto with the largely White disciples of the Critical Legal Studies movement, when it came under attack from the Critical Race Theorists; same for civil rights leaders who were harshly indicted by feminist and gay rights movements for the way they treated the women and gay and lesbian persons inside their ranks. And I know the turmoil that went through the Jewish community when we found out that not every Black person thought we were playing a positive role in the struggle for civil rights. In all these cases, many of these putative “allies” slapped down their former friends once they stepped beyond moderate critiques and tame attacks, and began demanding fundamental change. The governing rule of subordinated speech is that it is heavily bounded: you start demanding more than what the big boys think you deserve, and you’re going down right quick. This is an instinct that must be resisted. I don’t revel in causing discomfort, but at the same time, being an ally of the oppressed means listening to their voice, and we’re not the one’s who have to give way here.

I focus on Western anti-Semitism, for a few reasons: One, I know more about it than I do about anti-Semitism in other cultures; two, I’m writing on a website based in the West; and three, the effects of globalization have spread Western anti-Semitism worldwide and made it into a lingua franca when talking about the Jews. My working definition of Zionism is quite tailored: It merely says that “The creation of Israel as a Jewish state was a good idea and it should stick around” (Phoebe Maltz said it, though I forget where). Examining the way the discourse and practice interlocks with ancient and modern anti-Semitic practice is essential if we’re going to try and unpack the privilege and begin talking about Israel as equals in the discussion, from a perspective that refuses to settle for anything less than the liberation of all peoples.

In the subsequent posts, I want to look at the way that Israel and Zionism are often discussed in the international community through the particular lens of a critical account of anti-Semitism and some of the dominant anti-Semitic stereotypes that sustain it. The next three posts after this one will look at the connection between anti-Zionist discourse and several classic anti-Semitic stereotypes: namely, the blood-thirsty Jew, the hyperpowerful Jew, and the superseded Jew. Incorporated in this last mindset will be a progressive critique of liberal “neutrality” as it operates against subordinate peoples, and explain why calls for a liberal, multi-ethnic democracy as a replacement for Israel as a “Jewish state” are, in fact, no solution at all to the problem of anti-Semitic oppression. The post after that will ask “Why Israel” – both why is Israel seemingly singled out for vitriol above and beyond equal or worse offenders (particularly by the United Nations), and why did the Zionist project have to stake its claim in Israel, as opposed to Germany, Alaska, Persia, or some other locale. Finally the last post will examine the case of anti-Zionist Jews and how it affects the preceding analysis, as well as give some guidance on how to talk about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (including the Gaza operation) while being mindful of the issues of privilege and oppression that affect Jews.

227 comments for ““We Cannot Live Without Our Lives” Either: Jews, Privilege, and Anti-Subordination

  1. Ben
    January 14, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I don’t know if I’ll like your conclusions, but I like where you’re starting from.

    The only nit I want to pick is with “But I have for quite some time now been a committed two-stater, and the idea that both Israel and Palestine have a right to a free, viable, secure, and independent state is one that I firmly believe and will vigorously defend against extremists on either side – be they Hamas terrorists or Greater Israel fanatics.”

    Will you not vigorously defend this idea against non-extremists, or is anyone who doesn’t agree with this idea an extremist? Or, perhaps, do you wish to modify the statement? :-). Because, for the sake of argument, I could posit a fairly non-extreme position that not every group is entitled to a state. In the US, for example, we decided by war that Southerners weren’t entitled to their own state. I could try and generalize by saying that post-modern nation states tend to be be ethnically pure (see the breakup of the Soviet Union, Chechoslovakia, and the Balkans) while modern nation states generally aren’t (see Germany, Italy, France, the United States). But I’m throwing around terms I don’t understand. My point is simply that an advocate of a one-state solution (or an internationalized no-state solution) need not be an extremist.

  2. A previously discomfited reader
    January 14, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    As a longtime feministe reader and fan I’m so relieved to see this post. This blog led the charge in talking about and confronting white privilege, but there has been no acknowledgment of gentile privilege whatsoever in this discussion about the Gaza conflict. And i find this totally crucial:

    One, non-Jews aren’t the supreme arbiters of what counts as anti-Semitism. We have the right to name our own reality, and when Jews claim anti-Semitism, that can’t be brushed aside so easily. Two, while it must be possible to criticize Israel in a non-anti-Semitic fashion, it is certainly impossible to have a discussion about Israel or any other Jewish institution without at least talking about anti-Semitism, if only as a set of shared background assumptions.

    Christian privilege exists. It does. Saying, in a knee-jerk fashion, that anyone;s’ claims of anti-semitism aren’t legitimate is not okay and it made me uncomfortable to be in this community for a while.

  3. Mikhail
    January 14, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I disagree that a discussion about Israel and Jewish experience must include, by default, the topic of anti-Semitism, because if we accept this premise why not shlep the rest into the mix: Israel, Talmud, Torah, the Patriarchs, Jesus, Holocaust, AIPAC, who is a Jew… and the rest you get my drift.

    As an ex-Soviet Jew, I have noticed that we, Jews:

    1.Are the only ones that use the term “Self-hate” to silence any criticism of Jews, Israel, Zionism, AIPAC, Jewish power , Holocaust exploitation, etc.. you got the picture.

    2.Equate hate of Jews for ANY reason to hate of Jews for NO reason, thus assuming NO responsibility for wrongs we have inflicted.

    3.Assume that Jewish identity is based on religion and support of Israel

    4.Seek and amplify anti-Semitism to close the ranks

    5.Lost the essence of what being Jewish is: compassion to the oppressed

    So, who is a Jew in my book: born by Jewish parents and buried on a Jewish cemetery.

    Bottom line: David Schraub needs to study Occams’ razor. Perhaps then issues to him will get less clouded, his writing will be fuller on substance and less on empty words and idle intellectualism.

    Mikhail

  4. January 14, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    *shamelessly links piece on some of these issues*

    @Ben:

    I find your comparison to the Southern U.S. quite interesting – because I see the example as arguing almost the opposite point. We can agree that a Confederate States of America would have enslaved and oppressed (continued to enslave and oppress) black people, right? And thus should not have been allowed to exist. Not because Southerners don’t deserve a state, but because to maintain a “Southern” state with a “Southern” way of life, others would have to be oppressed.

    I see the same problem in a one-state solution, at least one that tries to maintain the character of a “Jewish state.” It would not be a democracy. By population alone it could not be a Jewish state; to keep Jews an overwhelming majority in government, there would have to be disenfranchisement and oppression of non-Jews.

    @David: I agree that anti-Semitism is an important part of discussion about Israel and that it’s certainly those on the receiving end who get to define it – but what do you do when a person you’re trying to talk to takes all criticism of Israel’s actions, or the suggestion that Palestinian lives are worth something, as anti-Semitism?

    So many Jewish Democrats are f***ing Republicans about Israel.

    (Great post, looking forward to reading the rest.)

  5. January 14, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    @Mikhail: While I agree with all of your numbered points, I still think that this:
    I disagree that a discussion about Israel and Jewish experience must include, by default, the topic of anti-Semitism, because if we accept this premise why not shlep the rest into the mix: Israel, Talmud, Torah, the Patriarchs, Jesus, Holocaust, AIPAC, who is a Jew… and the rest you get my drift.
    is oversimplifying. Anti-Semitism is a part of why some people oppose Israel’s policies and/or right to exist. Maybe it doesn’t have a place in every single discussion, but including it doesn’t mean one must include everything else, just as including any one of those doesn’t necessitate the inclusion of anti-Semitism.

  6. Jared
    January 14, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Excellent post, David.

    I disagree that a discussion about Israel and Jewish experience must include, by default, the topic of anti-Semitism, because if we accept this premise why not shlep the rest into the mix

    Zionism, as both an ideology and a political movement, is a reaction against European anti-Semitism. The Holocaust convinced nearly all Jews and much of the non-Arab world that a Jewish State was necessary. Whether or not you buy that argument, you can’t ignore it. Anti-Semitism is an integral part of the Israeli identity.

    Palestinian rhetoric is filled to anti-Semitism. It’s in their children’s textbooks and reinforced by the media. A nation founded on combating anti-Semitism will not take kindly to such an enemy.

  7. Ruchama
    January 14, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you for this post, David. A lot of this is what I’ve been trying to say for the past week or two, and I’ve been getting frustrated with myself for my inability to express it the way I wanted to.

  8. January 14, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    That I’m focusing on anti-Semitic oppression doesn’t mean I think that’s the only oppression operating here. It just means it is one that I think needs to take a place at the center of our analysis, and one that I think suffers from a severe lack of serious inquiry from a critical left perspective.

    I’m confused by one thing here. I don’t disagree that anti-Semitic oppression needs to be part of the analysis. An important part, not a footnote or a sidebar. But if this post is about what’s going on in Gaza, then doesn’t a focus on anti-Palestinian oppression (with the various shades of prejudice, racism, displacement, genocide that it has taken on in different contexts) also have to be right alongside it? And yet you don’t mention anything about that, and it sounds like you plan to keep the focus in one place, not both, during the rest of your posts.

    Maybe that’s the particular project of your series, to dissect how anti-Semitism is operating in western liberal discourse about Israel. That’s a VERY valid goal; we should be pointing out and rooting out anti-Semitic rhetoric and tendencies. But ironically, if the ultimate subject beneath all the meta-subjects is Israel’s actions in Gaza, then you have created another gaping hole, yet another missing focus! If you are serious about kyriarchy, and don’t want to go back to the “ignoring kyriarchy” state of “we can only talk about one thing at a time, like there’s only one oppression and they don’t intersect” surely the oppression experienced by Palestinians, whoever and whatever forces you hold responsible, at least has to be MENTIONED in more than passing during all of this.

    It’s the same with other kyriarchy-esque topics that have come up. When some people were trying to characterize the democratic primary as “blacks vs. women” it was not acceptable to only boost your candidate with words about racism as if sexism didn’t exist, or only talk about sexism as if racism didn’t exist. And yet, you found various writers doing both (Gary Kamiya in Salon the former, and a certain NY Times column comes to mind for the latter.)

  9. Jay
    January 14, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Thank you. I have neither the knowledge nor the analytical tools to write anything like this, but have been thinking it – or something incoherently like it – for weeks. I can’t talk about Gaza with my Jewish friends because they are so Republican about Israel (thanks, Rebecca!). I am uncomfortable reading much of the progressive writing on the subject because it raises my anti-Semitism antennae, and I haven’t been able to think my way through that well enough to engage in the conversation, so I’ve been silent, which is also uncomfortable. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

  10. January 14, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Holly did an excellent job of expressing what I was feeling while reading this post but was unsure about how to put into words. Great comment, Holly :)

  11. arielariel
    January 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    BRAVO to Mikhail.

    This is where I see the problem: Israel promotes itself as THE JEWISH STATE. To support Israel is to stand with the Jews; to disagree with Israel is to disagree with the Jews. When Israel is purporting to act on behalf of all Jews, it makes sense to me that some people who don’t like Israel would start conflating their critique of Israel with a critique of “the Jews”.

    Israel is not all the Jews. It is absurd to me, and frankly makes me kind of nauseous, to see this one idea where the Jews have decided that we all have to agree and disagreeing is an act of apostasy. THAT is an anti-Jewish sentiment.

    Further, I have a real problem with this paragraph:

    In a world where both Jews and Muslims are oppressed, Jews have an advantage over Muslims for not being Muslim, and Muslims have an advantage over Jews for not being Jews. Similarly, one could say that Israel is in a privileged position compared to Palestinians locally (in terms of localized power in the Israel/Palestine conflict), while also arguing that Jews are subordinated compared to Arabs globally (in terms of globalized power to affect the terms of discourse and sanction in international institutions such as the UN). Christianity may have the advantage over Islam globally, while being very much on the bottom in, say, Iraq.

    The thing is that these contexts are not equivalent. Iraq is not an equivalent context to globally. Israel might be subordinated to the Arab states – note that’s ISRAEL and ARAB STATES, not JEWS and ARABS – in the court of public opinion and UN sanctions, but as Mikhail states above, that might not be anti-Semitism. It might be deserved.

    Israel is also the largest military power in the Middle East. It has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the region — and Palestine has, by far, the lowest. Israel might be garnering some amount of anti-Jewish oppresion for this — rocket fire and condemnation in the public sphere — but that doesn’t mean its residents don’t have access to food or water. The anti-Palestinian sentiment that Israel is actively choosing to embody means people do not have food, water, medical supplies, or even a guarantee they won’t get shot.

  12. January 14, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    @Holly: I agree with you, entirely, and given the course this project has taken over the past few days I had to smile. I was originally “commissioned” (if you will) by Lauren to guest-blog on the subject of Gaza. What I gave back to her was a 25 page tome on anti-Semitism that had very little to do with Gaza. Lauren (quite generously) said she loved what I had written, but wanted a “wrap-around” to bring Gaza back into it.

    It seemed reasonable, and I started typing, but quickly realized: I had no idea what to say. And the reason is precisely the point you made: It’s an important project to start naming anti-Semitic structures and practices, but even to the extent that I believe it’s an absent voice in the current discourse, that wouldn’t justify (based on my own anti-subordination/pluralist methodology) allowing it a monopolistic platform on Gaza or any other concrete policy goal. Rather, the whole point of my argument is a plea for democratic dialogue under conditions of mutual inclusion, equality, and respect: something that by definition I can’t represent all on my own.

    So the “wrap-around” (it’s Part VII of the series) does (I’d like to think) bring in the Palestinian voice more, but in the context of abstracting the issue: With regards to Gaza, I’m not prepared to say my advocacy is about saying “this nexus of policy positions is the right one” (though there are some positions I think are pretty clearly wrong). Rather, my “prescription” on Gaza is that our ultimate policy decisions have to come as the outcropping of democratic deliberation in which all parties are treated with dignity, inclusion, and respect. The examination of anti-Semitism is a look at how my “party” is, in many ways, excluded or minimized at the table — but I freely concede that other parties may have similar claims, which they deserve to be able to bring up themselves, and hence it is premature for me to be making claims as to what is right and wrong re: Gaza until we get the procedural norms squared away (and the other parties get to speak too).

    By and large, I think it’s better to think of the subject of this series as anti-Semitism, rather than Gaza, though I’ll occasionally use it as an example. The real motivator was not my confusion about the current conflict per se. It’s what a few commenters have expressed already: the inchoate feeling amongst Jews that something is wrong with the current discourse, but we couldn’t quite articulate what it is. I’ve been there — this post is the project of years of trying to piece this argument together, and I’m still not sure I have right. There are few experiences more soul-crushing than coming across an ideology that you can feel tearing you apart, knowing it’s not right, but not being able to explain why. I’m sure y’all can sympathize. My hope is that this post helps name a reality that I think many Jews are experiencing, but can’t put into words.

  13. Kristin
    January 14, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    First, I want to echo everything that Holly has already said. How in the world could someone possibly write a post introducing a *series* on the Gaza situation by centering anti-Semitism in the United States? It’s unclear to me that any post that purports to be *about Gaza* could mention kyriarchy and then refrain from mentioning anything about the women, children, and other civilizans who have been murdered by the latest Israeli military aggression. What about the use of white phosphorus and other egregious human rights abuses that are ongoing in this war?

    Second, I would take this much more seriously if you did not actually suggest that Muslims and and all non-Jewish PoC have something called “Gentile privilege” with respect to Jews in a Western context. I am sorry, but I don’t get it. And I mean this in all seriousness: How precisely do you see this operating? When I watched the rule of law dissolve in this country in the aftermath of 9/11, it was Arabs and South Asians whose human rights were most treacherously violated. And you’re claiming to be oppressed with respect to them in the context of this political climate on the basis of their non-Jewishness? How could you possibly do that? Not to mention, of course, that many Muslims are, in fact, Arabs who are *semitic* people themselves–which seems a glaring hole in your argument here. Sorry. Yeah, Jews are not the only Semitic groups, remember?

    Finally, there are very important reasons why people are wary of being called “anti-Semitic” when they critique the state of Israel. The pro-torture “ticking time bomb scenario” academic, Alan Dershowitz, has waged very well-publicized campaigns in attempts to destroy the careers of various academics who have been tarnished as “unsypathetic to Israel.” Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at two major research universities because Dershowitz managed to convince the universities that tenure would send a potentially anti-Semitic message. Certainly, these kinds of actions have had a chilling affect on intellectual discussions about the conflict and give the impression of preemptively silencing debate by calling the critic an “anti-Semite.” This is a very high profile instance in which Finkelstein’s critics were simply wrong, and yet… Well, based on high profile examples like this (and more detailed throughout Finkelstein’s books), I’m a bit skeptical of your claim that those who bring anti-Semitism into these discussions are very rarely off-base.

    Look, I just… No, I’m not Jewish. I’m a United States citizen. Because I am white, I am fully prepared to accept your assertion that I have some kind of “Gentile privilege.” That said: It is my government that is paying for the extermination of Arabs in Palestine and Iraq as we speak. I have a responsibility to speak out about this. All of us who pay taxes to the US government are implicated in this. This is a US-funded and sanctioned atrocity. And, so, when it comes to discussions about Gaza, I am far more concerned about the multitude of civilian deaths in Gaza caused by extreme disparities in military power. Not saying terrorist attacks are okay. Not defending Hamas. But I am saying that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the critiques of anti-Semitism that I so often see in progressive discussions about Israel/Palestine. If one both (1) refrains conflating Jews with Arabs and (2) is upfront and honest about the role that the US plays in all of this, then… What could possibly be anti-Semitic about that? And yet… It does seem to come up over and over. Why?

    And yet… This focus that you have on privilege. You know, I cannot help but read it as fundamentally misplaced. You’re writing a post about calling non-Jews on their privilege while simultaneously attempting to introduce the Gaza situation… Which you write about it from your own comfortable suburban home–and you actually proceed to center your own interpretations of anti-Semitism in the West while *ignoring the actual situation in Gaza*? I hate to do this, but… You know. Have ya checked your own privilege lately?

  14. January 14, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Give me a break. Some might find this piece–which actually mentions the fact that hundreds of Palestinians are being butchered by a war machine funded and supported internationally by the US–a useful counterpoint to the above:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine

  15. January 14, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I’m sure the series you’re planning is great, David, and this isn’t in any way an indictment of your work or your enthusiasm for it, but my reaction definitely centers around a feeling of “great, now we just have to find a Palestinian blogger to write a 7-part series so they too can ‘bring it up at the table themselves,’ as you say.”

  16. Kristin
    January 14, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Also (my longer post is in mod queue, but you’ve already answered it in part by suggesting that this isn’t really about Gaza.), I think you’re conflating Jews, the Israeli government, the people of Israel, and Zionists a bit here. Not to mention, given the history of Zionism, you’re own definition is remarkably…erm…apolitical and ahistorical, I’d say.

  17. January 14, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    @Mikhail (and ArielAriel too): To the extent that you’re talking about the treatment of anti-Zionist Jews (who I agree have a role in the discourse as Jews, though that role is particular), or the claim more generally that my analysis is predicated on Israel and Jew being synonymous categories, those issues will be addressed in Part VI. To the extent your argument is that Jews are too empowered to be oppressed, that issue will be dealt with in Parts II – V, but especially Part III.

    To the extent that you make sweeping claims about how “Jews” (all of us?) are utilizing specious claims of anti-Semitism to deter legitimate criticism of Israel, my response is that the complaint — to the extent it is true — is exaggerated (the “‘anti-Semitism card’ card” trumping the “anti-Semitism card”), and flows primarily out of a presumption that Jewish claims of anti-Semitism are intrinsically biased, suspect, and made in bad faith — particularly when the claims refuse to adhere to the boundaries set for Jews by privileged speakers who have taken it upon themselves to tell us what is and is not legitimate Jewish speech. The basic thesis of my argument is that this instinct is fundamentally oppressive: it constitutes facial denial of the validity of the narrative of the other — denial the comes with a justificatory schema, to be sure, but denial that also miraculously also happens to preserve the privileges and institutional prerogatives of the privileged classes.

  18. arielariel
    January 14, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    BRAVO to Kristin. Just saying.

  19. Ruchama
    January 14, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Not to mention, given the history of Zionism, you’re own definition is remarkably…erm…apolitical and ahistorical, I’d say.

    How would you define Zionism, then?

  20. Kristin
    January 14, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    But I’m not saying I’ve never seen anti-Semitism in progressive circles, to be clear. I’ve been to ANSWER rallies and randomly handed anonymous literature about how some kind of “Jewish conspiracy plotted 9/11.” It’s just… I don’t see these high conspiracy theorists as having a whole lot of political credibility or currency in any leftist political discussions. And my opposition to the murder of *children* in Gaza is inspired by my belief that the murder of children is wrong. Not by any kind of sympathy for these conspiracy theorists, whose literature is virulently anti-Semitic, of course–not to mention outrageous, offensive, and stupid in every way. But this is not the typical line of argument that I see in Israel-Palestine discussions, and it has nothing to do with opposition to Israeli policy as wrong.

    Same way that opposition to US policy cannot be conflated with anti-Americanism.

  21. Kristin
    January 14, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Ruchama: Why do you ask me? I’m more interested in hearing a more substantive definition from the author of the post. I think it’s a historically fraught and politicized term denoting a political movement, to say the least. And I bring up the point because I think David Schraub ellides the messiness here.

  22. GallingGalla
    January 14, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Is that statement true? While I guess some people sometimes do cry anti-Semitism merely to shutdown discussion, that is rarely the true purpose.

    I call bullshit. There are many anti-zionist Jews, including myself, along with a *hell* of a lot of moderate / fence-sitting / questioning Jews who will tell you about how we have almost universally been called “self-hating” or “anti-semitic Jews” because we dare to question israel’s policies. So many Jews will not allow questioning Jews (let alone anti-zionist Jews) to even finish the first sentence before they throw out the “anti-semitic” slander. I’ve had to leave synagogues because of this.

    And I get the feeling that you are doing the exact same thing, in a subtle way wrapped up in superficially progressive-y language.

    Sure, non-Jews do not have the right to judge what is anti-Semitic or not. You know what else? Non-Palestinians (including Jews) do not have the right to judge what is anti-Palestinian or not.

    What we are discussing here is the grave injustice that the people of one country – israel – is visiting on another people. This is a *humanitarian* crisis. People are dying by the hundreds, mostly innocent people. People are starving and being denied medical treatment. Gazans are being rounded up, told to go to such and so building for shelter, and then the IDF bombs that very building. We are talking about war crimes.

    And I resent you coming in here, in this time with this conflict going on, and lecturing Jews and non-Jews alike about the fine points of anti-semitism when that IS NOT WHAT THE ISSUE IS. Just as non-Jews cannot tell me what anti-semitism is, neither can you invalidate my views, as a Jew, on what anti-semitism is.

    And what Holly@8 and Mikhail@3 said. Especially this: “5.Lost the essence of what being Jewish is: compassion to the oppressed”. You’re equivocating, Mr. Schraub, and it’s funny that you consider only anti-semitism worth examining while totally ignoring anti-Palestinian racism, as Holly discusses.

    I’m being intemperate, and I am sure that the moderators will tell me to knock it off if needed (and I will do so), but this has to be said.

  23. Ellen
    January 14, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    One thing that really bothers me is the argument that:

    “Israel is singled out for vitriol above and beyond equal or worse offenders.”

    I am not sure that is true, but even if it is I am not sure it is valid. Being less worse doesn’t make it not bad.

  24. GallingGalla
    January 14, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Kristin@13 said: Yeah, Jews are not the only Semitic groups, remember?

    To add to this excellent point, not all Jews are Semitic, either. Unless you consider white European Jews, such as myself, to be Semitic. Not me. Not light-brown straight haired, blue eyed, Ukranian-Jewish me. Jewish, yes. Semitic, no.

  25. January 15, 2009 at 12:00 am

    @David:
    By and large, I think it’s better to think of the subject of this series as anti-Semitism, rather than Gaza, though I’ll occasionally use it as an example. The real motivator was not my confusion about the current conflict per se. It’s what a few commenters have expressed already: the inchoate feeling amongst Jews that something is wrong with the current discourse, but we couldn’t quite articulate what it is. I’ve been there — this post is the project of years of trying to piece this argument together, and I’m still not sure I have right. There are few experiences more soul-crushing than coming across an ideology that you can feel tearing you apart, knowing it’s not right, but not being able to explain why. I’m sure y’all can sympathize. My hope is that this post helps name a reality that I think many Jews are experiencing, but can’t put into words.
    Ah. This changes my perception of your piece – because, as I said above, I see a huge problem with this discourse as refusal to admit that opposing Israel’s actions is not anti-Semitism. There’s racism on both sides, so while it doesn’t cancel out, one can at least recognize that both sides have this problem; I don’t have the experience to say whether or not you’ll be called a traitor to your Arab/Muslim family if you think there should be peace in Gaza, but that sure as hell happens among (American, anyway) Jews.

    (The Girl Detective did a post some time ago about subliminal anti-Semitism in criticism of Israel; see earlier posts under the “anti-Semitism” tag.)

  26. January 15, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Thank you, David. Even on it’s own without the rest of the series, this is one of the most articulate pieces of writing about Jewish oppression I’ve seen.

    As for some of the comments, being opposed to antisemitism doesn’t mean forcing Jews to adhere to your agenda before being willing to listen. A full accounting of what’s going on in Gaza now does require more than just a discussion of antisemitism, but it seems to me that some of the comments aim to pre-empt a discussion of antisemitism.

  27. January 15, 2009 at 12:04 am

    @Kristin:
    Word, word, so much WORD.

  28. Ellen
    January 15, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Kristin and GallingGalla, thank you for (as usual) saying it for me.

    I can’t wait to get explained in part VII.

  29. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:08 am

    “A full accounting of what’s going on in Gaza now does require more than just a discussion of antisemitism, but it seems to me that some of the comments aim to pre-empt a discussion of antisemitism.”

    Well, see, Matt, the post itself seems like an attempt to pre-empt a discussion of Gaza by pretending to introduce Gaza by…not discussing it at all.

  30. January 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

    @Rebecca

    Interesting point re the confederacy. I don’t think you’re arguing against my larger point, which is that not every person or every group is entitled to their own state — or at least one need not be a fanatic to argue that :-)

    On the other hand, you do seem to be making my personal favorite internationalism argument: that the world or ‘right thinking’ countries somehow have the right to rescue citizens from failed governments, perhaps in much the same way that governments have the right to rescue children from failed households.

    As to how that plays out with the Confederacy, the US, Iraq, Israel, and Gaza, we get to have all sorts of fun with norms and standards. Enslaving your own ‘citizens’ — not good. Imposing the death penalty, denying them health care, and letting them live on the streets — not good. Gassing them — not good. I assume, for the sake of argument, that Israel’s crimes against its own citizens are similar to those of the US. Hamas’s crimes against its citizens seem to include using them as human shields and sending women and children as suicide bombers. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, and I purposely don’t suggest a hierarchy.

    I do suggest that an argument about entitlement to a state not be predicated on the particular government in place at any point in time. An argument about the extent to which ‘sovereignty’ protects a negligent government could be.

    @ anti-semitism in this discussion
    Generalizing liberally about the backgrounds and beliefs of the people contributing to this discussion, where we’re obtaining our information, and the social context that influences our opinions and beliefs, I think a general discussion of andreflection on the cultural baggage we’re carrying isn’t out of order.

    @Kristin
    Maybe it’s a tad simplistic to say something is right or wrong and start from there. Why do we think it’s right or wrong? Is it always right or wrong? Is the label we’re attaching actually the label the perpetrator, victim, and those affected by the behavior would attach? Are the connotations of that label the same? Why are some dead people murdered, some martyred, some threats that were neutralized, and some heroes that gave their lives?

    I keep thinking back to the spate (was there more than one?) of episodes a few years back in which trick-or-treaters were shot and killed by homeowners who thought they were being threatened. The trick-or-treater I remember was a Japanese exchange student and reportedly didn’t understand the warning from the homeowner or thought it was part of the Halloween ritual. The homeowner saw a guy in a mask who wasn’t going away. The only universality (among what I consider right thinking people) is that the episode was tragic. But do we prevent it by banning guns? Banning exchange students? Making everyone speak English?

  31. January 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Thanks for that link non sequitur, that article was very informative and interesting!

  32. January 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

    By the way, I’m not saying I wholeheartedly agree with my favorite international intervention argument. Just that I think it’s a fun argument :-)

  33. Ellen
    January 15, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Can we have a discussion on the validity of nation states in general? And especially combining them with religion?

  34. January 15, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

  35. January 15, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Someone (or a group of someones) say: “I’m hurt”.

    Why do we imagine they say that?

    (1) We’re not sure, but we want to find out more. We assume that their expression of being hurt is genuine, that it reflects something “real” and bad we want to remedy, that it is deserving of our attention. We might end up deciding that the thing which hurt them was necessary or justified (or even was made up), but that isn’t our first instinct, and our goal is minimize their hurt and figure out how they can be made whole.

    (2) “Because they’re shrill, crazy, paranoid lunatics! (I know, I’ve dealt with their kind before!)”

    This, I think, is a very good dividing line between those people who are considered to be fully human and those who are not. It is the difference between the man who says he’s been robbed and the woman who says she’s been raped; the White person who complains of “reverse racism” and the Black person who says he was discriminated against; the evangelical parent worried about “family values” and the lesbian couple worried about being allowed to be considered “family”, period. (Y’all wanted a way in which Jews are oppressed — there’s one right there: being perpetually regarded as neurotic, over-sensitive, shrill and crazy).

    I don’t think anyone should be called anti-Semitic before they’ve gotten the chance to say their piece. After that: fair ball game. We can’t talk about Jews or Jewish institutions unless we’re willing to talk about anti-Semitism. There’s just no way to exile it from the conversation. Being called anti-Semitic stinks, especially if you think it’s unfair, and especially if it really is unfair. Nonetheless, there are things considerably worse, among others being the victim of actual anti-Semitism. The outrage I’m seeing here that folks dared call you (or your position) anti-Semitic when you are so progressive and down with the oppressed is unbelievably arrogant.

    As for “is now the time to be talking about anti-Semitism”: As far as I know, the proper time to talk to putative progressives about anti-Semitism is “never”, so this objection carries little weight with me. And the charge that I’m pre-empting needed discussion about Gaza strike me as unlikely in a world where someone else has access to a blog, somewhere.

  36. Jared
    January 15, 2009 at 12:36 am

    not all Jews are Semitic, either. Unless you consider white European Jews, such as myself, to be Semitic. Not me. Not light-brown straight haired, blue eyed, Ukranian-Jewish me. Jewish, yes. Semitic, no.

    Yes, you. The term anti-Semitism originates in Europe and refers specifically to hatred of Jews. Yes, technically, “Semitic” includes the broader Middle East population but that’s not how the term has ever been understood or used.

  37. Anne
    January 15, 2009 at 12:39 am

    David Schraub – Excellent comments. I get your points perfectly as a conservative Jew who also grew up in the suburbs of Maryland. Way to go! Sign me up for your series! As for you Kristin, you don’t have a lifetime of being a Jew so you will never understand Jews or know the history of Israel because you are deaf and dumb. You bought into the lies of the arabs who change history because their pride was hurt by losing all those wars against Israel and the arabs are anti-semitic (and anti-semitism refers only to Jews whether Ashkenazi or Sephardic or Mizrachi; not arabs). Keep drinking the revisionist history and buying into the Hamas propaganda but what Israel is doing is the right thing with its offensive in Gaza.

  38. January 15, 2009 at 12:42 am

    @Ben:
    I don’t think you’re arguing against my larger point, which is that not every person or every group is entitled to their own state — or at least one need not be a fanatic to argue that :-)
    Could be just semantics, but I see (my) point more as “no group is entitled to a state at the expense of others,” not as “particular groups don’t get states.” Which is why that I feel the idea of a Jewish state is workable only in a two-state paradigm.

    On the other hand, you do seem to be making my personal favorite internationalism argument: that the world or ‘right thinking’ countries somehow have the right to rescue citizens from failed governments, perhaps in much the same way that governments have the right to rescue children from failed households.
    I hope you’re not offended when I ask you: have you been around this blog long? When we talk about things like female genital cutting or forced veiling, commenters often pop up and say some countries have no business telling other countries what to do based on certain standards of right and wrong. It’s an argument that respects governments over people – girls who are circumcised or veiled against their will, black people who were enslaved in the American South, Palestinians who are denied proper infrastructure and social services (to say nothing of the war).

    This ties into your other comment about sovereignty, interestingly:
    I do suggest that an argument about entitlement to a state not be predicated on the particular government in place at any point in time. An argument about the extent to which ’sovereignty’ protects a negligent government could be.
    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say – obviously a state has to have a government, and when you say that X group is entitled to a state enough so that their government can oppress Y group in order to have it…you’re prioritizing X group over Y group. Jews and Palestinians may be X and Y respectively, or vice versa.

  39. Morningstar
    January 15, 2009 at 12:47 am

    kristen – that post of yours was amazing. thank you for that.

  40. Kristen (The J one)
    January 15, 2009 at 12:48 am

    What Holly and Kristin said.

    Plus, I’d like to add –

    Every single human being has experience some form of oppression and to some extent has participated in the oppression of others. If you want to look at it from a global stand point…we’re all guilty…and that realization is pretty much useless.

    What matters is the specific events and contexts in which we might be able to reduce the harm caused by oppression. In that sense it isn’t necessarily relevant who has been oppressed and how oppressed they’ve been, generally.

    That women have generally been oppressed by men does not mean that some white women can get together and go beat the crap out of black men just because those white women feel “threatened” [based on their own racism] by black men.

    One form of oppression doesn’t provide cover for another form of oppression.

    I agree with you that it’s complicated. But I disagree that a discussion of antisemitism, generally in the context of Gaza is appropriate. A discussion of antisemitism in Gaza yes. In general…no.

  41. Anne
    January 15, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Anti-semitism must be discussed as it’s the pink elephant in the room and it’s taken to lightly by non-Jews. Kristin is so off base. David, explain it to her again. She’s not listening to the point of this blog.

  42. GallingGalla
    January 15, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Yes, you. The term anti-Semitism originates in Europe and refers specifically to hatred of Jews

    But that does not parallel the definition of Semitic, which refers specifically to the people of the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa, some of whom were / are Jewish, some of whom were/are Christian, some of whom were/are Muslim.

    As far as your … uhmm … “assurance” that I am Semitic, think what you want, but I disavow that identity and I will not accept you pushing an identity on me or anybody else. I am a white Eastern European Jewish USian. If I have a land claim at all, it is in the Ukraine – that is the land of my foreparents.

  43. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 1:00 am

    “As for “is now the time to be talking about anti-Semitism”: As far as I know, the proper time to talk to putative progressives about anti-Semitism is “never”, so this objection carries little weight with me. And the charge that I’m pre-empting needed discussion about Gaza strike me as unlikely in a world where someone else has access to a blog, somewhere.”

    You introduced your post as the first part of a series of commentaries about Gaza. That you fail to mention it at all is, I think, pretty telling. I don’t actually see just any discussion about anti-Semitism as problematic. What I see as problematic is that you framed this as a discussion about Gaza and then thought it appropriate to completely ignore Gaza. Attacks on Gazans are not about your experiences of the anti-Semitism in the United States. They’re not.

    It’s like… Say, I wrote a post about the couple of times I’ve run out of money on a student stipend and had to go hungry for a day. What if I wrote a post about this and framed it as being about famine in sub-Saharan Africa? It would be an outrage. It would rightly make people angry. My reaction to your post is about your framing, and about your timing. In not mentioning Gaza, you inadvertently conflate your experiences in the suburbs of Maryland with Gazans whose families are being killed.

    Hmm, this is interesting:

    “It is the difference between the man who says he’s been robbed and the woman who says she’s been raped; the White person who complains of “reverse racism” and the Black person who says he was discriminated against…”

    So, it’s a concept you’re, ah-hem, familiar with wrt black/white relations in the US. Right then. This strikes me as tantamount to cries of “reverse racism,” especially in the context of the United States.

    I never said you were “neurotic” or “shrill.” I think yours is a highly reactionary and, yes, anti-progressive position. I have disdain for quite a lot of specious arguments that I see leveled all over the place. Good on GallingGalla for calling bullshit. I would like a fucking example from something that I wrote that indicates this. Thanks.

  44. January 15, 2009 at 1:02 am

    @Rebecca
    I probably didn’t express myself well. Basically, I’m agreeing with you. To the extent I like the idea of armed international intervention (including armed intervention that might result in the murder of children) I like it in the case when a government is not doing right by its people.

    When I post I tend to explore more than conclude. But, subject to changing my mind, I don’t see why it is that ‘groups’ are ‘entitled’ to states at all. We live in a world where there are states, so we deal them. But while we talk about how to fix the states that exist, can’t we also think about how to fix the system that requires states? Maybe that’s part of the discussion that Ellen suggested :-)

    Actually, I don’t read the comments often on the blog because I read it via RSS. So I only see the comments when I’m curious about the comments. And I rarely post. But the stars were aligned today. Whether aligned for good or bad isn’t for me to say!

  45. January 15, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I have a fairly simple rule for steering clear of anti-Semitism when the topic is “what should Israelis, and Jews in general, do regarding the occupation of Palestine.” I try to listen to Palestinian voices. I also listen to Jewish and Israeli voices. And I’ve found that there is, in fact, a lot of agreement in many communities of Jews, by many individual Jews, and by many Israeli activists, that the occupation is wrong and that the voices of Palestine, oppressed and subordinated in the region, need to be heard.

    I listen to Jews talking about this in part because I’m fairly sure that they are not anti-Semitic. They may be against the policies of Israel, they may be anti-Zionist, but they’re not anti-semitic. Most of the Jewish people I know do not support the current policies of the Israeli government. A good chunk of my Jewish friends oppose Zionism as a colonialist project, and reject the idea that Jews must have a state, and that this state must be built by paving over others’ freedoms and lives, in order to be safe from anti-semitic violence. Their words accord with a whole lot of what I hear Palestinians say too, and you know what? It makes sense to me.

    Let me be clear: this is by no means a “I have Jewish friends so I’m not anti-semitic” claim. It’s not even for me to say if I’m anti-semitic or not. What I’m saying is that I do try to listen to Jewish voices on this subject that inherently concerns the Jewish people, that Jews play a hugely central role in, and I hear a whole lot of them, close to me, speaking in support of the Palestinian people and speaking truths that resonate with my sense of ethics and politics.

    So the question ends up being: are these voices that make sense to me simultaneously anti-semitic and Jewish? Are they the proverbial “self-hating Jews?” Of course I’ve heard them called that a lot too, but it seems disingenuous. What they’re saying is not irrational even though it disagrees with many others; they are not against their own religion or people, in fact the anti-occupation Jews that I know are, by and large, observant and closely knit into Jewish communities here in New York, of multiple denominations. I’ve had the privilege of going to anti-occupation seders here for a couple years in a row. And so on and so forth.

    On top of that, when we also have the opportunity to listen to Jews in Israel protesting this violence, refusing to take part in it by refusing to serve in the military, speaking out against it, it seems clear to me that we have many opportunities to listen to both Palestinian and Jewish voices that oppose Israel’s policies. You don’t have to listen to anti-Semitism at all in order to know that what’s happening is wrong, has been wrong, for so many reasons.

  46. January 15, 2009 at 1:09 am

    oh, can we be clear that I didn’t say “X group is entitled to a state enough so that their government can oppress Y group in order to have it”? Did I? I think it might be safe to say that once a state exists, its citizens are entitled protect that state’s ability to serve them. But if my right to free speech (and free travel) ends where your nose begins, then maybe my right to protect my state ends when it affects yours state’s ability to serve you. Anyway, Ellen’s thread… But I didn’t say one group was entitled to oppress another, did I?

  47. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 1:09 am

    And again, to be clear, my “reverse racism” claim (in modded comment) is not about me thinking there’s no anti-Semitism. It’s about the infuriating and unjustifiable way that you framed this: “I’m going to write about the Gaza situation by telling you what I learned about anti-Semitism while growing up in the suburbs of Maryland.”

  48. Puppycat
    January 15, 2009 at 1:10 am

    Crazy and paranoid are kind of ableist terms IMO, when used as insults.

  49. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Amen to what Holly just said. My views on this were shaped by similar experiences.

  50. January 15, 2009 at 1:19 am

    @Holly: The problem with that practice is that it substitutes the part of the Jewish community that already agrees with you for the whole. The consensus Jewish position is pro-Zionist and pro-two state solution. The anti-Zionist position — again, defined as against my above definition of Zionism — is a minority stance, with tense (to say the least) relationships with the majority view.

    I’m not saying Anti-Zionists aren’t worth listening to, or that they are secretly trying to make Jewish lives worse. But they’re adopting a position that most Jews consider not just wrong, but extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality, and that’s relevant information when the purpose is trying to talk to Jews in good faith. It’s like (and this is the analogy I’m going to make in Section VI) fulfilling your obligation to hear Black voices and not be racist through a panel of Ward Connerly, Ken Blackwell, and Thomas Sowell. It’s not that those folks should be shunned, or don’t have a role to play in our thinking. As much as I dislike them, they’re not cackling about how they’re going to screw over Black people today — they genuinely feel that their policy prescriptions and arguments are the best way forward for the Black community.

    But surely, talking to them — even seriously considering and reflecting on their thoughts on racism and the position of Black people in America — would not be sufficient to say you’ve seriously engaged with the Black community, and the fact that the majority of African-Americans find the policy prescriptions of those three dangerously, lethally wrong should give even (especially) those predisposed to agreeing with them serious pause.

  51. January 15, 2009 at 1:27 am

    You’re saying there that decisions about whether a group is entitled to a state shouldn’t be based on the government of that state, no? In short, that if X group deserves a state, it should theoretically be able to have one regardless of its government – even if X government oppresses Y group. This prioritizes X group over Y group, because X’s statehood in this model is considered more important than Y’s rights.

    Possibly one source of confusion in discussion of this war is whether one views Palestinians as a separate state or as a subset of the Israeli population…?

    I apologize for reading you wrong.

  52. January 15, 2009 at 1:56 am

    David, there are a number of assumptions that you’re making here that I think are wrong:

    First, I’m not sure what definition of “consensus” you’re using here, but it’s not the one that I use, which means “agreement at some level by the group as a whole, even if there is variety of opinion in the group.” I don’t see how you can describe “Jews as a whole” as “pro-Zionist” when there are so many voices saying, quite loudly, that they do not agree to that definition, and that Jewish does not equal Zionist or pro-Israel.

    Second, I’m not sure if Jews opposed to the current policies of the Israeli state are such a tiny minority. I know you said “anti-Zionists” but that’s really only one slice of people that I mentioned in my post. There are a lot of prominent Jewish voices and organizations speaking out on this; there are polls of Jews in the USA that show that the more general opinion is far less pro-Israeli-policy than groups like AIPAC would like people to believe.

    Third, you’re assuming that I only talk or listen to that slice of the opinion pool, which isn’t true either. I try to read plenty on this topic, from multiple sides. And then I try to think about what makes sense and what feels just. I’ve read stuff you’ve written on your blog, I’ve read many much more pro-Zionist points of view as well, and if you have some suggested reading for us, I’d be glad to look at that as well. As a member of the international community, watching but not directly affected by what’s going on, I feel like that’s part of my duty, especially when I’m called on to participate as an ally. To choose sides or sit on the fence. The Jews and Israelis who write and speak out against the occupation make a whole lot of sense to me, their ethics and politics and explanations of why they disagree with other Jews make a lot more sense to me, than those who support Israel’s current policies. (And again, opposition to Zionism in general is just one slice of those ethics and politics, and not a universal one.) What’s more, they galvanized me. I was not sitting around feeling all anti-Israeli when I was younger, looking for an excuse or a rationalization to support my beliefs. Like a lot of Americans who were not quite up to speed on the subject, I was concerned and horrified by “war in the mideast” and felt unable to really say that “one side was right and the other wrong.” I still wouldn’t say that, because it’s over-simplistic, but the real point is, I began reading and learning more about the issue, and also came to know a lot of anti-occupation Jews, which was a real eye-opener.

    Fourth, I don’t ignore or disagree with the views of people like Ward Connerly or Ken Blackwell because they are in a minority and most black people find those views repugnant. I ignore and disagree with them first because I find them wrong, and also because they don’t represent most black people. But all this minority / majority talk is a bit of a red herring, especially when you are trying to weigh injustices on two sides — again, the Palestinians have somehow vanished from this discussion, no? Most Americans hold many views different than mine, and I don’t think that affects the validity of my views.

    If I’m reading you correctly, David, you’re basically saying that anti-Zionist jews can be anti-Semitic despite being Jews in the same way that Sarah Palin can be anti-feminist despite being a woman. Isn’t that stopping just short of saying “self-hating Jew?” Are you avoiding that phrase meaningfully, or out of courtesy?

  53. January 15, 2009 at 2:40 am

    I hadn’t thought of drawing that conclusion from what I said. But I think I’m safe: assuming for simplicity that a state does exist and that it is, for whatever reason, valued by its citizens and serves its citizens well, then yay. If a vile government takes control of that state (by whatever means) then I don’t think the response to that vileness is to eradicate that state (and replace it with what?) or give it to someone else (what does that even mean?). But, and here’s where I think we’re singing from the same hymn sheet, surely outsiders should be able to intervene to help the citizens get a good government. I think, perhaps, our hymn sheets start to diverge a tad when we ask if outsiders should be able to replace a government when that government is serving its people well but harming another group of people. Surely, at the least, outsiders should be able to ‘protect’ the other people.

    I’m sorry if I left off a few smiley’s and came off as overly aggressive. I’m enjoying this conversation.

    Personally, I think it’s pretty clear that the people of gaza are not part of the state of israel in any useful sense. At least that seems to be everyone’s working assumption. the questions of whether gaza’s current government is a failed one, has picked a fight or had one forced upon it is, I suppose, at the crux of much of this discussion. Part of me thinks that if Israel just disengaged, allowed gaza to operate ports and an airport, and gave hamas a few months to establish a criminal justice system and police system, that rocket attacks would taper off — people these days generally don’t appear that eager to invade other people (or allows others to use their country to attack other people) when they think they have something to lose and might actually lose it. But I get that many Israeli’s don’t believe that’s what will happen. And I wonder what the appropriate response to ‘a few’ rocket attacks a month or ‘a few’ suicide attacks a year is (what’s the pre-gaza conflict level of activity across the lebanese-israeli border — i think the recent rockets from lebanon have been met by a basically identical number of rockets sent back from Israel)? I do note that India does not seem to have invaded Pakistan after the Mumbai events… anyway, now it’s getting late and I’m merely ruminating.

  54. shah8
    January 15, 2009 at 3:10 am

    I agree with Kristin, you really go, girl! That was one of the best take-downs of what is a, philosophically speaking, bullshit (written without care for the truth or falseness) post.

    Look, David Schraub is a co-opting concern troll. Take a look at his two Racialicious posts and evaluate for yourself.

    http://www.racialicious.com/2009/01/07/black-conservatives-in-large-and-small-caps/#more-2162

    http://www.racialicious.com/2009/01/08/black-conservatism-revisited/#more-2163

    And don’t expect him to ever be especially responsive to what you say. He’ll just say more pleasing bullshit and repeat what he sez.

  55. Dan K-K
    January 15, 2009 at 3:19 am

    @ Holly

    “Second, I’m not sure if Jews opposed to the current policies of the Israeli state are such a tiny minority. I know you said “anti-Zionists” but that’s really only one slice of people that I mentioned in my post. There are a lot of prominent Jewish voices and organizations speaking out on this; there are polls of Jews in the USA that show that the more general opinion is far less pro-Israeli-policy than groups like AIPAC would like people to believe.”

    Quite (this includes me). But that’s VERY different from anti-Zionist. You conflate the two here (emphasis added):

    “The Jews and Israelis who write and speak out AGAINST THE OCCUPATION make a lot more sense to me, their ethics and politics and explanations of why they disagree with other Jews make a lot more sense to me, than those who support Israel’s current policies. (And again, opposition to ZIONISM in general is just one slice of those ethics and politics, and not a universal one.)”

    “The consensus Jewish position is pro-Zionist and pro-two state solution (David)”

    One can be both of the these things and still be “less pro-Israeli” than AIPAC (or differently pro-Israeli, ie I believe that the current war, for example, will weaken Israel and the prospects for the two-state solution). This still fits in with David’s consensus Jewish position. Anti-Zionist Jews = pretty tiny (there might seem to be many, in your experience and in your circles/reading, but on an absolute level, it’s a really small group). Anti-War Jews = much more of the pie, whether minority or majority I’m not sure, but not “tiny.”

  56. January 15, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Dan,

    Both of the quotes you quoted from me were intended to reduce conflation, and point out that I was talking about multiple different groups in the original post. The part in parentheses at the end? It’s there to point out that anti-Zionist jews are just one part of a larger jewish anti-occupation movement, not to conflate.

    But at this point, I think I can sit back and let those jews speak for themselves; I don’t want to speak too loudly in my capacity as neither palestinian nor jew.

  57. Ellen
    January 15, 2009 at 3:27 am

    This is an important point that David made:

    “Anti-Zionists are… adopting a position that most Jews consider not just wrong, but extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality”

    Many American Jews (not me) consider Israel vital to the lives of Jews. This is why the conversation always comes down to anti-semitism. This is why it becomes so emotional and the conversation breaks down into offensive shit like this from Anne:

    “As for you Kristin, you don’t have a lifetime of being a Jew so you will never understand Jews or know the history of Israel because you are deaf and dumb.”

    How do we get past this? How do we have a rational conversation? Both Jews and Palestinians have the right to safety and equality. How can we make this happen? Much to my chagrin, I don’t think we are going to be able to get rid of Statehood any time soon.

  58. Ellen
    January 15, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Actually Holly, As an anti-Zionist Jew, you have been doing a pretty good job speaking for me. I wouldn’t mind at all if you kept at it.

  59. Dan K-K
    January 15, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Holly,

    I misinterpreted those parentheses (thinking “one slice” referred to the anti-Zionist’s overall ethics and politics, not the anti-Zionists as a slice of population). forgive me- it’s late!

    Dan

  60. curiousgyrl
    January 15, 2009 at 4:42 am

    I second or third or tenth the critique posed by Holly and Kristen, and seriously hope that Lauren will reconsider this series. Talking about Gaza by centering antisemitism seems totally inappropriate on a progressive blog.

    It seems to me that at the moment “confusion” about what is happening in Gaza has little to recommend it either as coherent analysis or as a political response in what is an urgent situation.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7828536.stm

  61. January 15, 2009 at 5:27 am

    David @50:

    The problem with that practice is that it substitutes the part of the Jewish community that already agrees with you for the whole. The consensus Jewish position is pro-Zionist…I’m not saying Anti-Zionists aren’t worth listening to, or that they are secretly trying to make Jewish lives worse. But they’re adopting a position that most Jews consider not just wrong, but extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality…

    and by analogy, unpacked,

    But surely, talking to [anti-Zionist Jews] …would not be sufficient to say you’ve seriously engaged with the [Jewish] community, and the fact that the majority of [Jews] find the policy prescriptions of those [anti-Zionist Jews] dangerously, lethally wrong should give even (especially) those predisposed to agreeing with them serious pause.

    As far as I can see, David, you’re substituting the part of the Jewish community that already agrees with you for the whole, as well. You’ve sufficiently engaged with the Jewish community enough that you can assert that the consensus of the large, diverse Jewish community–worldwide! you’ve already managed to conflate both Israelis and American Jews in particular with Jews in general, here, and present a consensus among Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews that rarely exists on any subject–is pro-Zionist. The many Jews in this thread, myself included, who are part of the large portion of the Jewish community that is opposed to the historically-situated project, actions, and ideals of the Zionist political movement and the Israeli state–a “Zionism” not stripped of its context and simplified to name a more palatable concept–are thereby by definition outside the consensus of Jews. All Jews agree–except the ones who don’t, who we’re not counting. Why are anti-Zionist Jews not part of this Jewish consensus? Because pro-Zionist Jews consider anti-Zionist Jews “dangerously, lethally wrong” and “extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality,” and there are a lot of pro-Zionist Jews. That is, because a majority of Jews consider the political position of opposition to the Zionist project in the Israeli state to be dangerous to the worldwide community of Jews, Jews who take up this political position–who may be well-meaning, but are ultimately supporting destruction and disaster for the global Jewish community–are not part of the consensus Jewish position.
    I’m not part of that consensus, apparently, nor is Galling Galla, nor is Rebecca, nor is Ellen. And when Holly says the majority of Jews she knows are anti-Zionist, you can be confident that she’s not sufficiently or genuinely engaging with the real Jewish community or doing so in good faith.

    I’ve got to say that as far as I’m concerned, it’s not sufficient to say that you’ve “seriously engaged” with the Jewish community if you’re effectively leaving the large minority of anti-Zionist Jews out of it–any more than you’re engaging with the whole community if you pretend away the majority of pro-Zionist Jews. But this speaking for the “Jewish” position and consensus, and presenting a large minority of Jews as, essentially, self-deluded and working for the destruction of Jews on the whole because they politically oppose the Zionist movement or actions of the Israeli state–it’s not okay. It not only presents anti-Zionist Jews as “self-hating” without having to use the actual word, it effectively also questions their very status as part of the Jewish community on the whole. You can say

    I’m not saying Anti-Zionists aren’t worth listening to, or that they are secretly trying to make Jewish lives worse

    but the assertions you go on to make implicitly say this: anti-Zionist Jews aren’t “secretly trying” to make Jewish lives worse, but they are making Jewish lives worse, and are working for goals extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality and aren’t part of the valid Jewish consensus. Talking to real Jews in good faith means talking to pro-Zionist Jews–not anti-Zionists, who Jewish or not are participating in anti-Semitism.

    I’m sorry, but I simply don’t find the erasure of Palestinian voices and concerns–or the erasure of Jewish voices who are concerned with listening to Palestinian voices and concerns–to be an effective long-term strategy for supporting and protecting the Jewish community or peace and human rights on the whole. (You’ve mostly said, “well, now’s not the time, we’ll get to those concerns later, toward the end of the series.” I guess we’re just supposed to trust that our turn will come.) And I don’t see putting aside concerns about anti-Palestinian racism, colonialism, and oppression as a good way to combat the very real problem of anti-Semitism, even the anti-Semitism dangerously pervasive in many progressive communities. In fact, I see it as “dangerously, lethally wrong”–but then, I guess that’s not the consensus position, now is it.

  62. January 15, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Another Jew who has been enjoying Holly’s comments, here. :-)

    I also really enjoyed this post, David, and agreed with much of it. I’m sure I’ll find a lot to disagree with in some of the future posts, however. :-)

  63. January 15, 2009 at 5:56 am

    In the only part of your post where you talk about Gaza, you express dismay that this bombing campaign isn’t going to “work”. But of course, “withdrawing from Palestinian territory or giving concessions to Palestinian leaders” doesn’t work either. Please explain what you mean by work. What end-game do you think Israel is working toward?

    Palestinians have been frustrated for a while trying to find what works. Acknowledging Israel’s “right to exist” engaging in peace talks, and accepting a framework that left the most important questions open-ended while giving them power over tiny bantustans didn’t stop the building of settlements, demolition of Palestinian homes and farms, or army incursions. And resistance to the occupying power produces similarly dire results. Really, maybe they’re just supposed to understand that they are a defeated people. Will that work?

    I’m also interested in these concessions to Palestinians you speak of. When did Israel offer concessions on refugees, Jerusalem, or even temporarily halt building settlements?

    Or, you know, continue on about things tangentally related to the topic you were asked to write about.

  64. January 15, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I look forward to reading this series of posts.

  65. January 15, 2009 at 8:21 am

    In my (very southern) backyard, it’s all extreme-Christian fundies who are gung-ho for Israel, since the the Rapture and the Second Coming depend on its existence. They act like Israel belongs to THEM. Ironically then, some people who criticize Israel (((raises hand))) are actually criticizing the politics of these Christian fundie Republicans, not Jews. (FTR, Jews will all convert after the Second Coming, and will therefore be all Christians, so that is all a done deal.)

    I don’t see any discussion of how Christian prophecies have DRIVEN support of Israel in the US. What you see as anti-Jewish, some of us here in the south see as anti-fundie.

    The fact that Mike Huckabee, Pat Robertson and Co. have had a major hand in this debacle, is not mentioned ONCE in your post. Christian privilege INDEED! Israel has directly benefited from it. I hope you will mention this in subsequent posts.

    Without the blank check of the Christian conservatives in the USA, none of this could be happening. I hold them as accountable as I do anyone else, and you should too.

  66. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 8:54 am

    “As for you Kristin, you don’t have a lifetime of being a Jew so you will never understand Jews or know the history of Israel because you are deaf and dumb. You bought into the lies of the arabs who change history because their pride was hurt by losing all those wars against Israel and the arabs are anti-semitic.”

    Oh, wow, Anne, racism *and* ableism all in one short post. Again, David Shraub, not at all the first time I’ve seen charges like these thrown around in Israel/Palestine discussions. Bullshit, it is.

  67. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 9:06 am

    “I don’t see any discussion of how Christian prophecies have DRIVEN support of Israel in the US. What you see as anti-Jewish, some of us here in the south see as anti-fundie.”

    Yes, yes, yes. I was raised in the South. I have come into direct contact with fundamentalist Christian Zionism far more frequently than any other uncritical defense of the state of Israel. That anti-Zionist Jews are seen as “dangerous” to Jewish livelihoods by the author of this post, while Christians who “ally” with Zionists believing that Jews will convert to Christianity upon mass torture during the Tribulation go unmentioned… Is another telling aspect of this post. Agreeing with Daisy here. It is the fundamentalist Christian lobby–far more than AIPAC–that influences and shapes US policy in this regard. And that’s what is dangerous.

  68. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 9:09 am

    “In the only part of your post where you talk about Gaza, you express dismay that this bombing campaign isn’t going to “work”. But of course, “withdrawing from Palestinian territory or giving concessions to Palestinian leaders” doesn’t work either. Please explain what you mean by work. What end-game do you think Israel is working toward?”

    Orientalista: Yeah, I was wondering the same damned thing.

  69. The Flash
    January 15, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Kristen, isn’t your unwillingness to see the relevance of Jewish claims of antisemitism to a conflict involving Jews is the definition of soft anti-semitism? Denying the legitimacy of a group’s claims of prejudice is… prejudice. The reality of Gaza isn’t what we’re involved with; we’re involved with a western discourse about third parties, and it’s a debate that has real consequences for them, since it is the West that’s funding both sides of this (U.S. aid to Israel, and oil dollars that get funneled to Palestinian militant groups). And as non-participants who nonetheless have real effects on the conflict, it is extremely important to be honest about all the prejudices that enter the discourse. The posts on this blog in particular tend to be much more concerned with the challenges facing Palestinians in the course of the conflict in Gaza and between the Israelis and Palestinians generally. It does not leave out a crucial part of the debate to focus on anti-semitism, any more than it leaves out a crucial part of the debate to talk about injustices to Palestinians without mentioning *child victims* of suicide bombers.

  70. GallingGalla
    January 15, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I’m not saying Anti-Zionists aren’t worth listening to, or that they are secretly trying to make Jewish lives worse. But they’re adopting a position that most Jews consider not just wrong, but extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality, and that’s relevant information when the purpose is trying to talk to Jews in good faith. It’s like (and this is the analogy I’m going to make in Section VI) fulfilling your obligation to hear Black voices and not be racist through a panel of Ward Connerly, Ken Blackwell, and Thomas Sowell. It’s not that those folks should be shunned, or don’t have a role to play in our thinking. As much as I dislike them, they’re not cackling about how they’re going to screw over Black people today — they genuinely feel that their policy prescriptions and arguments are the best way forward for the Black community.

    What little light said @61, especially: It not only presents anti-Zionist Jews as “self-hating” without having to use the actual word, it effectively also questions their very status as part of the Jewish community on the whole.

    Shorter David Shraub: “You are not part of the Grand Jewish Consensus. I hereby disfellowship you.” How very Jehovah’s Witness of you.

    Giving a G-ddamned shit about Israel visiting death and destruction on millions of Palestinians is “extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality”? Caring about the lives and equality of *all* people is “extremely dangerous to Jewish lives and equality”? What the fuck is your definition of Tzedek and tikkun olam anyway? That they apply to Jewish people only?

    You have, in this statement, slandered every Jew who has critiqued israel’s policies wrt Palestine.

    David Schraub, stay away from me. You are not welcome in my home.

  71. GallingGalla
    January 15, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Daisy@65:

    [sarcasm]
    But, Daisy, Christian Fundamentalists are talking to the *right* Jews, the *correct* Jews! Not us stupid, insane, self-hating Jews! So they’re part of the Grand Consensus! David has bestowed them with Honorary Jewishness! They’re not Extremely Dangerous To Jewish Lives And Equality like we are!
    [/sarcasm]

  72. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 9:34 am

    The Flash: Forgive me for not taking you particularly seriously, but aren’t you the very person who suggested that “Israel is the best place to be an Arab” In the world? Yeah.

    Anyway, I’m not refusing to hear any discussions of anti-Semitism ever. I am refusing to hear them in the context of a post which both erases and trivializes the lives of the Palestinians living in Gaza. A campaign of extermination is ongoing, and you’re goddamned right that I’m more concerned with the oppression of the Palestinians in Gaza than I am with…what I read as David’s conflation of Palestinian struggles for existence with his own American upbringing (See the title: “We cannot live without our lives.”).

    That David has suggested that all non-Jews–including Muslims and non-Jewish PoC–have some kind of privilege with respect to Jews in a Western context is another gaping problem that has remained unanswered. Given that many of us are still reeling from the Oscar Grant shooting–as well as from other crimes committed against PoC in our communities with near impunity–it seems a particularly offensive charge. Put bluntly, no I don’t agree that Blacks, Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, Latin@s and other oppressed ethnic/racial minorities within the United States have any kind of privilege with regard to Jewish people (most of whom are white in the US–a context in which the most dangerous forms of racism are often racialized.).

    I’d love to see a good faith discussion of anti-Semitism that does not simultaneously erase Arab concerns and dismiss anti-Zionist Jews themselves. I haven’t seen it here.

  73. Tlönista
    January 15, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Tl;dr to the comments, I’d just like to respond to your post — I am cautiously looking forward to your next posts as I agree that it’s crucial to discuss anti-Semitism when we talk about Israel. I think your definition of Zionism is too broad, as that would include many avowed Jewish anti-Zionists too! I for one don’t want the state of Israel to disappear, but am passionately opposed to its policies, and that sets me outside the Zionist umbrella it seems.

    Going back and reading the comments — yes, I have serious reservations given that you think there’s some kind of Jewish consensus on anything to do with Israel. And, while this is an important sidebar to Gaza, it is not talking about Gaza.

  74. January 15, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I understand your frustrations about nothing “working.” However, you do need to explore more fully your assumptions about Oslo. In point of fact the number of “terrorist” incidents went down dramatically following Oslo I as Palestinians genuinely were led to believe that their dream of their own state might actually come true. Unfortunately, the Israeli response gave them little reason to believe that it would as what they were left with was nominal sovereignty over a patchwork of disconnected cantons living essentially with the same occupation they had had before Oslo. The proof is in the pudding. More settlements were built after Oslo than before. The old British policy of “divide and conqueor” has never been abandoned by Israel. Thus your assumption that it “didn’t work” should, in fact, be altered to say that Israel never allowed it to “work.”

    What is clear is that Israel’s use of what are essentially long discredited colonial tactics of collective punishment (ie – bulldozing the homes of young men caught in “terrorist” activity or destroying entire olive groves out of retribution) has not only not worked, it has led to an intensification of the violence.

    What might “work” best is for Israel to announce tomorrow that they will dismantle all settlements in the West Bank and retreat behind 67 borders. The Arabs have said that such a move would lead to immediate recognition and full trade – allowing Israel to lose its pariah status. Perhaps its time to do something radical for once . .

  75. January 15, 2009 at 11:04 am

    @ David:

    Despite having heard and/or seen most what you argue here multiple times, I’m really impressed to see how it took shape here. Good work, and I look forward to reading the rest.

    @ Kristin:

    I think you’re being unfair to David on a number of levels.

    1) “Anyway, I’m not refusing to hear any discussions of anti-Semitism ever. I am refusing to hear them in the context of a post which both erases and trivializes the lives of the Palestinians living in Gaza.”

    I do not think that representation is zero-sum. David is trying to make an argument about what Jews have at stake in this conflict, and how their experience as a persecuted group informs Israeli politics. Further, he is making an argument about how the left treats Jewish subordination. None of this implies that Palestinian lives in Gaza are trivial. In fact, as David admits in the post, it would be perfectly reasonable to agree with everything David says in this post and then conclude that the current military operation was unjust. This is not an apology for Israel, it’s an argument for new terms of dialogue.

    As for erasure – David has been honest in admitting that the “Palestinian experience” is not something he can communicate. The feminist theorist Iris Young, who is a touchstone for both David and myself, argues that one of the many sins of “universality” is our own presupposition that we can feel for, speak for, imagine ourselves in the place of the Other. It would be horribly irresponsible for David to pretend he could speak for the Palestinians. But you seem to operate with the mindset that not speaking for someone is “erasing” them – so how can democratic dialogue occur if speaking for oneself (the only self one can speak for) constitutes erasure?

    Lastly, I think you need to check your privilege, big-time. Your claim that you can choose when you will and will not deem anti-Semitism – someone else’s oppression – a valid issue is exactly the kind of privilege David is criticizing.

    2) “That David has suggested that all non-Jews–including Muslims and non-Jewish PoC–have some kind of privilege with respect to Jews in a Western context is another gaping problem that has remained unanswered. Given that many of us are still reeling from the Oscar Grant shooting–as well as from other crimes committed against PoC in our communities with near impunity–it seems a particularly offensive charge. Put bluntly, no I don’t agree that Blacks, Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, Latin@s and other oppressed ethnic/racial minorities within the United States have any kind of privilege with regard to Jewish people (most of whom are white in the US–a context in which the most dangerous forms of racism are often racialized.).”

    This would make sense if race privilege were the only sort of privilege. The point of kyriarchy as a category of analysis is to alert us to the fact that we can be oppressed while benefiting from the oppression of others. The fact that police brutality against people of color exists and is a real problem in no way vindicates the type of alienation and stereotyping that Jews are confronted with, not anymore than it vindicates the oppression of gays and lesbians or the disabled. I think one problem is that you insist on interpreting Jewish as a racial category, when it is a cultural unit (“ethnicity”?) that is much more difficult to classify, the subjugation of which has as much to do with religion and culture as it does to do with outward signifiers of Jewish-ness.

    And David is not trying to say that there is a hierarchy of oppression on which Jews are “more oppressed” than people of color. Not only has he explicitly rejected the idea that such a hierarchy makes sense, but I guarantee you that, insofar as he would entertain its existence, he does not think American Jews “have it worse” than American blacks.

    The mistake you are making, Kristen, is in thinking that your concern for Palestinian lives means you cannot give respect to David’s position. But he is not trying to convince you that your humanitarian concerns for the Palestinians are misplaced. Rather, he is asking that you acknowledge the experiences of oppression that inform the views of Israel’s supporters. It may be that doing this does not ultimately change your concern that Israel has done something you cannot tolerate in Gaza, but no way forward can exist if you are unwilling to engage David and the people he does speak for as equals who have their own oppressions to confront.

  76. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 11:12 am

    “What might “work” best is for Israel to announce tomorrow that they will dismantle all settlements in the West Bank and retreat behind 67 borders. The Arabs have said that such a move would lead to immediate recognition and full trade – allowing Israel to lose its pariah status. Perhaps its time to do something radical for once . .”

    Yes, THIS.

  77. January 15, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin, was killed by a tranche of antisemitism. Israel is a State of hate? Israel is a state of hate? Israel is a state of hate? Israel is a State of hate? Perpetual Thugdom rules the new Israel. American f-16’s vs bottle rockets in the 51st state.

  78. anonymous
    January 15, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Dismantling the settlements in the West Bank sounds like a good plan to improve Israel’s image amongst the Arabs, but I’m having a hard time believing that it would actually help in the peace process. Remember when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005? That seems analagous to John’s idea of West Bank withdrawal and it didn’t seem to do anything to relieve the tension between Israel and the Palestinians.

  79. Heather
    January 15, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

  80. Ruchama
    January 15, 2009 at 11:36 am

    “What might “work” best is for Israel to announce tomorrow that they will dismantle all settlements in the West Bank and retreat behind 67 borders. The Arabs have said that such a move would lead to immediate recognition and full trade – allowing Israel to lose its pariah status. Perhaps its time to do something radical for once . .”

    Which Arabs are you talking about here, who said this? Palestinians or other Arab countries? PLO or Hamas or Fatah?

    Pulling out of the West Bank seems possible and many people are in favor of it. Pulling out of the Golan seems much much less likely.

  81. January 15, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Holly: I find that statement very heartening. Seriously — I do. I had read you originally as saying you only conversed with Jews in your rough “camp”, but now you’ve clarified that you make an effort to listen to Jews of all stripes, and have, after critical reflection of what the Jewish mainstream is saying and why they’re saying it, decided on your position. That is, more or less, what I’m asking (I’ll talk more about in Part VII). So thanks — I appreciate it.

    Two more clarifications: I want to say, once again, that this series does not constitute “my thoughts on Gaza”. For if it did, they’d be woefully incomplete — Jewish thoughts on Gaza are not the only thoughts that matter. I regret that this series has been framed in that way: the better way to think of it is “my thoughts on anti-Semitism as a structural element as applied to the progressive community”, with Gaza sometimes popping in for illustrative purposes. I understand why people didn’t catch that the first time around (and the next post isn’t going to help things).

    But to the extent some folks are upset less by the idea that this series is “about Gaza”, and more that it’s about anti-Semitism when I and everyone else in the world ought to be talking about Gaza (“now is not the time”), then I refer back to my previous comments about how I’m not the only blogger in the world and I’m skeptical that you’ll have too much trouble finding folks who want to — at length — discuss Gaza qua Gaza. If you find discourse about anti-Semitism during the Gaza campaign so discomforting that it makes your blood boil, feel free to visit other threads. You’re welcome to come back when you feel the time is right to hear about anti-Semitism (snort).

    Second: Anti-Zionist. I define it, as per my above definition, as opposing the existence of a Jewish state in Israel. I do not define it as “opposing AIPAC” or “criticizing Israeli policies”, for obvious reasons: I don’t identify with AIPAC (it’s a J-Street life for me!), and I am quite happy to criticize Israel for all manner of intolerable behavior. So if you’re a Zionist critic of Israel, chill out. That’s a good thing.

    And if you’re an anti-Zionist critic of Israel — well, yes, I’m going to say that I think your ideology is misguided and untenable for a liberationist agenda (I say that rhetorically, but I’m actually going to say it with supporting argument in Parts IV and V). That’s kinda the basis of the dispute: if my only problem with you was the color of your brochures, it wouldn’t be much of an argument. I understand that you’ll disagree with my assessment, but I don’t understand why you seem to think the criticism itself is somehow out of bounds.

  82. January 15, 2009 at 11:38 am

    We are in the process of looking for more submissions of guest-blogging that are specifically about Gaza, from Jewish and Palestinian voices both. Like I said at the outset, personally I still feel a discussion of anti-Semitism is vital, even at a time when it’s also necessary that we make sure other very pressing and related topics are also covered. But we will try to take care of that, and David can keep discussing anti-Semitism. I hope that especially the other Jewish posters, definitely including the many of you in our little feministe community who have political differences with David, feel like you can continue to participate in these discussions.

    I think there’s some more nuance in how people identify themselves as anti-Zionist that goes beyond David’s definition. As I understand it from listening to others, for instance Ellen up above, one take on anti-Zionism is that it’s not necessary for the safety and well-being of the Jewish people to establish a religious nation-state controlled by the Jews (and increasingly, only the Jews) that displaces other people living there by force. However, taking that position is very, very far from the same thing as saying “Israel should be pushed into the sea and all Israelis should be slaughtered or dispersed.” It’s possible to believe that the project of Zionism was and is partially flawed, especially what it’s become, and that there were a lot of bad ideas in there from the outset, and also believe that Israeli Jews have a right to liberty and safety and equality in the place they have ended up: Israel.

    So I would not be surprised if many people in this discussion end up at more or less the same place, a real and fair two-state solution that’s not an unsustainable Bantustan, just as a very big chunk of both Jews and Palestinians also support a two-state solution. What bears keeping in mind is that people are reaching that conclusion by very different roads with different original assumptions. Those assumptions also bear investigating, as painful as retreading that ground may be, since they end up leading people towards very different definitions of compromise. I hope that the rest of David’s series contribute towards those discussions.

  83. Keren
    January 15, 2009 at 11:46 am

    What the fuck, Kristin?
    “That David has suggested that all non-Jews–including Muslims and non-Jewish PoC–have some kind of privilege with respect to Jews in a Western context is another gaping problem that has remained unanswered. .. Put bluntly, no I don’t agree that Blacks, Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, Latin@s and other oppressed ethnic/racial minorities within the United States have any kind of privilege with regard to Jewish people (most of whom are white in the US–a context in which the most dangerous forms of racism are often racialized.). ”

    Erm, it’s called INTERSECTIONALITY, yes I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. Inter-relating structures of oppression? Why are you being so resistant to it?

  84. January 15, 2009 at 11:47 am

    @Kristin

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I’ve been a longtime reader of David’s blog and have been leaving similar comments full of righteous outrage on his Israel-related posts when he ignores or minimizes the occupation and oppression of Palestinians. I watched the bombing of Gaza live on Al Jazeera English on Monday night and couldn’t sleep for hours… I don’t believe there is any equivalency between the two sides – Israel is an occupying power backed by the full weight of the U.S. empire, and the Palestinians have long been the victim of its colonialist project.

    That said, I think it’s really uncool to refuse to even consider the notion of gentile privilege before David tries to explain it. You mentioned that you’ve run into folks at anti-war rallies disseminating the usual anti-Semitic literature – I’ve run into them too. They may be on the far fringe of leftist discourse, but why do they feel welcome at anti-war rallies in the first place? Why didn’t every person in the crowd, including myself, tell them to fuck off and leave the premises immediately, as we would to any loud-mouthed white supremacist handing out racist pamphlets? That these anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists show up at leftist events time and time again is just one indication that anti-Semitism is alive and well within the left and needs to be addressed.

    David should have been more clear that Gaza (from which Israel never fully withdrew, by the way!) is not at all the subject of this series. But as a Jew, David must be able to name what he sees as manifestations of structural anti-Semitism and folks in progressive communities need to at least listen and engage with his critique. Now’s as good as time as any. Listen, then maybe disagree, but don’t tell him or other Jews that certain ways of talking about their oppression are off the table. I’m doubtful that gentile privilege is nearly as strong an institution as white privilege, for example, but I’m open to being convinced by David’s upcoming posts. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  85. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Matthew C:

    “As for erasure – David has been honest in admitting that the “Palestinian experience” is not something he can communicate. The feminist theorist Iris Young, who is a touchstone for both David and myself, argues that one of the many sins of “universality” is our own presupposition that we can feel for, speak for, imagine ourselves in the place of the Other.”

    Why, then, I suspect you are aware that Iris Young herself was also an anti-Zionist and anti-war activist in the years before she died. I am not suggesting that anyone here must speak for anyone else, but as we both know, silence in the face of grave injustices being committed in one’s name is complicity (And as an American whose tax dollars fund the Iraq war, as well as Israeli military abuses in the Middle East, I have some moral weight behind what I’m suggesting here. And I resent the hell out of being told I’m being “anti-Semitic” for speaking out against my own government’s bad policy.).

    I have said multiple times now on this thread that this one particular move is what I view as erasure:

    “I am going to write about the Gaza situation by telling you what I’ve learned about anti-Semitism in suburban Maryland.”

    “Lastly, I think you need to check your privilege, big-time. Your claim that you can choose when you will and will not deem anti-Semitism – someone else’s oppression – a valid issue is exactly the kind of privilege David is criticizing.”

    I don’t read this as any kind of good faith exposition of oppression. I see it as propaganda that is being used to deflect from a real humanitarian crisis that is escalating in the Middle East–and to frame anyone who objects as “anti-Semitic.” I see it as a perversion of what oppression actually means for people in practice.

    “The fact that police brutality against people of color exists and is a real problem in no way vindicates the type of alienation and stereotyping that Jews are confronted with, not anymore than it vindicates the oppression of gays and lesbians or the disabled.”

    No, of course, it doesn’t. I would never suggest that it did. But I have seen no actual stereotyping of Jews in this thread, except by the author of the post (He is, after all, the one who makes no distinctions between Jews, Zionists, and Israelis.). There is indeed a lot of misplaced stereotyping of Jews. Yes, in fact, I’ve heard stereotypes about “the Jewish princess,” “Jewish greed,” and “Jewish bankers,” but I’ve yet to see any of that show up here. Nor do I routinely see them in discussions of Israel/Palestine in which “anti-Semitism” is invoked as a weapon for shutting down the debate. I think what the author does here is detract from *actual* instances of anti-Semitism that certainly deserve a real hearing but have little bearing on the genocidal policies of the Israeli government.

    “I think one problem is that you insist on interpreting Jewish as a racial category, when it is a cultural unit (”ethnicity”?) that is much more difficult to classify, the subjugation of which has as much to do with religion and culture as it does to do with outward signifiers of Jewish-ness.

  86. The Flash
    January 15, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Love the ad-hominem attack.

    Privilege is not one-dimensional. If you live in the U.S., you live in a country where Christmas is a government-sponsored holiday and rosh hashanah is not. Politicians constantly invoke the christian-ness of the country, and, for observant Jews, there is nowhere to eat outside one’s own home in most of the country (by contrast, in Israel, government regulations for food, similar to our FDA and Health departments, have requirements that meet the dietary restrictions of many Jews who would otherwise not eat in regular restaurants).

    Nobody seems to call out Palestinian activists in any serious way when theycall for Hitler to finish the job or for all Jews to die, but a Jew who says anything about Palestinians as a broad group is immediately excluded from serious conversation. There are all different kinds of privilege, and putting everything on a one-dimensional spectrum is, first, profoundly reactionary, and, second, a distortion of reality; individuals have different evaluations of the tradeoffs inherent in living in a country where their race is disadvantaged but their religion is given state-sponsorship. By that same token there are advantages– advantages I wouldn’t choose, given the disadvantages that come with them– to being Muslim or South Asian, such as the strong cohesiveness of many Muslim and South Asian communities in the U.S. (the Muslim Students Association kids on college campuses have possibly the strongest social network of any group) or the economic advantages of South Asian households (which have among the highest average household income of any ethnic group in the U.S.).

    Jews are hated by most, get none of the advantages of affirmative action despite a long history of persecution in the U.S., and exist in a structure that does not honor their holidays and severely limits their choices with regard to, either, their ability to observe their religion, or to participate in what are considered normal mainstream activities like eating in a restaurant (even a fast-food restaurant… this isn’t an issue of not having “enough” economic privilege). Looking at what you stereotype as Jewish doesn’t define what Jews do and don’t have in the West– that’s actually another way of defining or expressing anti-semitism.

  87. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Sorry, I submitted this before I finished the post:

    “I think one problem is that you insist on interpreting Jewish as a racial category, when it is a cultural unit (”ethnicity”?) that is much more difficult to classify, the subjugation of which has as much to do with religion and culture as it does to do with outward signifiers of Jewish-ness.”

    Actually, I read the author of the post himself as doing this, and I think that leads to messy ellisons wrt race/ethnic group. I read this post as defending the position that Jews experience racialized oppression in this country, but I welcome correction of I have read that incorrectly.

    Putting aside the racialization inherent here, Schraub argues that Jews are oppressed with respect to Muslims in this country, and I just… I am not trying to erect a hierarchy of oppressions, but I *am* curious how one might come to that conclusion given the ubiquity of Muslim oppression and racial profiling in the United States. It seems to me to be disrespectful to the kinds of human rights abuses that culminated in places like Abu Ghraib, and I thoroughly object.

    “Rather, he is asking that you acknowledge the experiences of oppression that inform the views of Israel’s supporters.”

    I hadn’t seen him do this, but of course I recognize the experiences of oppression. I’d have to be some kind of Holocaust denier *not* to recognize them, no? Even so, I admit, I have grown a bit wary–I am suspicious when I see Jewish oppression invoked every time the state of Israel does something inhumane. Why does this happen? And why does it so often (effectively) silence intellectual discussions about Israeli policy? Again: Jews and Israelis are not the same thing. I’m criticizing Israel. The State of Israel. I’m not criticizing Jews as a group or even the people of Israel. That I am criticizing David Schraub does not mean that I am doing any of these things.

  88. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    ansel:

    “That said, I think it’s really uncool to refuse to even consider the notion of gentile privilege before David tries to explain it. You mentioned that you’ve run into folks at anti-war rallies disseminating the usual anti-Semitic literature – I’ve run into them too. They may be on the far fringe of leftist discourse, but why do they feel welcome at anti-war rallies in the first place? Why didn’t every person in the crowd, including myself, tell them to fuck off and leave the premises immediately, as we would to any loud-mouthed white supremacist handing out racist pamphlets? That these anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists show up at leftist events time and time again is just one indication that anti-Semitism is alive and well within the left and needs to be addressed.”

    Thanks for your response. I agree with everything you have said here, but I’m reading the author of the post a bit differently. That’s why I said that I am prepared to accept the notion that I, a white non-Jewish person, possess something called “Gentile privilege.” The kind of thing you mention is something that I have only seen at mass rallies, where all kinds of extreme fringe groups show up–not every leftist function I ever participated in. And that’s why I don’t go to the big ANSWER-type rallies anymore–and haven’t in many years. I think they’re full of fringe bigots. And, yes, sure, I get that there’s a need to talk about that. I agree.

    What does bother me is the suggestion that Muslims have this “Gentile privilege” *in the West,* where Muslims are routinely discriminated against far above and beyond what David is talking about here. That’s my problem. I’m willing to cop to my own privilege in this regard, but goddamned if I’m willing to follow along with this suggestion that Muslims (in a Western and particularly United States context) have it.

    And, yeah, framing this as a piece about Gaza really sent me off the rails here.

  89. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    “Erm, it’s called INTERSECTIONALITY, yes I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. Inter-relating structures of oppression? Why are you being so resistant to it?”

    Well, keren, I don’t think *I’m* the one who is being resistant to it here. Just saying.

  90. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    “Nobody seems to call out Palestinian activists in any serious way when theycall for Hitler to finish the job or for all Jews to die, but a Jew who says anything about Palestinians as a broad group is immediately excluded from serious conversation.”

    Goddamn. No Palestinian activist with whom I have ever associated or interacted has *ever* said anything like that. Wow… Just… Wow…

  91. arielariel
    January 15, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I can’t keep up with this level of comments, et cetera. It is lucky there are people better practiced in the blogosphere like the good Kristin and little light and Galling Galla and Holly.

    But I will say this: I think the way anti-Semitism is used around issues of Israel is really out of line. I think the idea that we have to understand anti-Semitism before we can talk about Israeli policies is actually obfuscation. Israel has moved to bar Arab parties from the upcoming elections. Israel has cut Gaza off from food, medical supplies, and fuel. How am I supposed to let this be informed by the fact of anti-Semitism?

    Even if we take on this idea that somehow that the Israelis involved are not 100% the privileged ones here, at what point does being oppressed allow you to flatten, bomb, kill, maim, starve, and treat like cattle another group of people? What if that group of people does not in fact have any real privilege relative to you? What if you are able to control their homes, their movement, and their livelihoods, and you use that control to destroy their homes, impede their movement, and ruin their livelihood? Is that somehow justified by saying that you, yourself, have been oppressed before and it might happen again?

    One of the founding principles of Zionism is that the very existence of Palestinians is a threat to the state of Israel. I don’t remember if that was Hertzl or somebody else but it was out there as a sentiment. The idea that Israel is allowed to wage a war of terror against another group of people because historically Jews have been terrorized is one of the grossest things I have ever heard.

  92. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    “Jews are hated by most,”

    What…? WHAT?? Jews are hated by most??? Most people? What? Fucking hell. What reality are you living in? Me, I come from the South, where it’s fundamentalist Christians who see themselves as the greatest allies of Israelis in protecting the security of Israel. Those very same allies who are waging that oppressive “War for Christmas” (which is laughable, laughable, and fucking stupid.).

    And… And… Seriously? Jews are HATED by most? What. the. fuck.

  93. arielariel
    January 15, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Correction: The idea that Israel is allowed to wage a war of terror against another group of people because historically Jews have been terrorized — or that we have to discuss that oppression before we can condemn or discuss or hold Israel accountable for the actions against Gaza — is one of the grossest things I have ever heard.

  94. Ruchama
    January 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    “Israel has moved to bar Arab parties from the upcoming elections.”

    The Central Election Committee has moved to bar two Arab parties. (The two major ones.) The Israeli Supreme Court is almost certain to overturn this ban. (This trick has been tried before, and the Supreme Court hasn’t allowed it.)

  95. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Yeah, I have to agree with arielariel here.

  96. The Flash
    January 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    “What…? WHAT?? Jews are hated by most??? Most people? What? Fucking hell. What reality are you living in? Me, I come from the South, where it’s fundamentalist Christians who see themselves as the greatest allies of Israelis in protecting the security of Israel. Those very same allies who are waging that oppressive “War for Christmas” (which is laughable, laughable, and fucking stupid.).

    And… And… Seriously? Jews are HATED by most? What. the. fuck.”

    Kristin, now I think it’s you who are conflating being pro-Israel and loving Jews. The same people who love to talk about how they support Israel would never let Jews become part of their social organizations, would rail and rant against a public school system that makes it safe for non-christians, like Jews, to be free from pressure to be Christian, and would never let their sons or daughters marry a Jew. Just because Jews aren’t getting beaten up as much in this country right now doesn’t mean people love Jews. And outside the U.S., it’s actively dangerous to be visibly Jewish.

  97. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    The Flash: All right, well, good point there. I was conflating “pro-Zionist” with not being anti-Semitic. I actually agree with you; those who go on about their “allegiance” to Israel are often the *most* anti-Semitic, and yet… Again, I think it’s instructive that *those* people and their anti-Semitism are not what’s being deconstructed here, but rather the alleged anti-Semitism of “the left.”

  98. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    To be more clear. These blatantly anti-Semitic people that the Flash describes:

    “The same people who love to talk about how they support Israel would never let Jews become part of their social organizations, would rail and rant against a public school system that makes it safe for non-christians, like Jews, to be free from pressure to be Christian, and would never let their sons or daughters marry a Jew.”

    These people are *not* the people on the left who critique Israeli policies. I completely agree that these are ethnocentric and problematic elements within our society, but I sure as hell haven’t seen them in left activist circles.

  99. January 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    It’s weird that this is the primary conflict Americans latch onto (that doesn’t directly involve the U.S. military) about 99% of the time.

  100. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    “It’s weird that this is the primary conflict Americans latch onto (that doesn’t directly involve the U.S. military) about 99% of the time.”

    Um… The US is Israel’s largest military donor. What in the world is “weird” about it?

  101. GallingGalla
    January 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    It’s weird that this is the primary conflict Americans latch onto (that doesn’t directly involve the U.S. military) about 99% of the time.

    It’s weird that you can come on to a blog that you do not own or moderate, and attempt to tell us what we are and are not permitted to discuss.

    You want to discuss something else? Well, you’ve got your own blog already, so have at it.

  102. Torill
    January 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Right now it is out on all the news channels I have access to (included, but not limited to CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera) that the Israeli Army has bombed the UN headquarters and a hospital in Gaza.

    Am I allowed, right now, to say that I am too outraged by this, and too preoccupied with finding ways to protest and discuss it, to devote much mental capacity to a general discussion of anti-semitism? Without being met with a snort or an accusation of un-acknowledged anti-semitism?

    That said, while I do not agree at all that “Jews are *hated* by most” – there is also the fact that during this cricis, some people outraged by the current war think it is ok to attack even jewish chidren for being jewish – as if *they* have anything to do with this war. And yes, some people *do* make the connection the state of Israel=All Jews. This certainly needs attention and protest, right now.

  103. anon
    January 15, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    The problem is from my perspective there’s no dialogue once I make a comment and someone else says, well that’s anti semetic.

    Now I can’t speak.

    I can’t say anything.

    I can’t have an opinion.

    In the meantime, people are dying.

    I never quite get this same conundrum when talking about issues of race. I can negotiate through a conversation on racism (I am perceived white) without someone eventually throwing down “you’re being racist.”

    I’ve been unable to do so, so far, in any Israel-Gaza discussion, regardless of the disclaimers I tack on.

    So I don’t know.

    So I don’t discuss anymore. How can I? Maybe non-Jews can have nothing to say about this conflict. Doesn’t that strike anyone as a problematic?

    Nevertheless, I can’t say anything.

    And people still die.

  104. Kristen (The J one)
    January 15, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    David,

    If you find discourse about anti-Semitism during the Gaza campaign so discomforting that it makes your blood boil, feel free to visit other threads. You’re welcome to come back when you feel the time is right to hear about anti-Semitism (snort).

    Is it so difficult to understand the difference between discussing anti-semitism with regard to Gaza and anti-semitism with regard to the recent attacks on Jewish centers in Chicago and SoCal?

    If you want to discuss anti-semitism in the “West” why aren’t we talking about the escalation in violence against Jews since the Gaza attack began or the ongoing problems in France? For goddess sake, Jewish centers have been firebombed in Paris. There is plenty of news fodder for discussing the problem of anti-semitism in the West.

    Why focus on Gaza? Why specifically discuss anti-semitism in the context of the Israeli government’s actions? What does anti-semitism have to do with the Israeli government killing civilians?

  105. SunlessNick
    January 15, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Indeed, the moment we start talking about anti-Semitism, we’re shouted down with accusations that we’re “playing the anti-Semitism card”. No charge infuriates me more, because no charge is more reviled by progressives then specious claims of card-playing. We’ve all heard how conservatives will short-circuit any discussion of racism by saying “oh, you’re just playing the race card”, and we all have learned the hard way that “the race card”, whatever its benefits, is easily trumped by “‘the race card’ card”.

    Renee said it very well, that the “card” accusation implies racism to be a game, and nothing could be further from black people’s experience of racism than a game. It’s unimaginable that the same would not be true for anti-Semitism. Another aspect to that is it implicitly accuses the (respectively) black or Jewish party of welcoming the prejudice against them for the sake of strategic advantage; and it seems nigh on the Platonic ideal of privilege to imagine that.

  106. January 15, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    GG @101: No, this is quite a good discussion on the problem of conflating condemnation of a government’s human rights abuses and the very real need to patrol the anti-Semitic border of such criticism (and I would never tell a writer what to blog about, or it would defeat the medium… sorry my glibness in the previous post conveyed that).

    U.S. foreign military aid aside, it seems this interminable conflict is the one that every mainstream media outlet latches onto, certainly more than Rwanda or Darfur, as if everybody is playing into the subconscious Middle East end-times eschatology popular amongst evangelicals. It’s a very important issue to discuss, it just seems to suck the oxygen out of all of the other rooms/continents. Thank God for the BBC and specialty publications, if all we have to rely on is the local/national news.

  107. January 15, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Kristen: You do recognize that the spate of anti-Semitic violence going on around the world isn’t disconnected from Gaza, right? That’s how the violators are justifying their behavior. And Jews experience (much of) anti-Semitism — violent or otherwise — as intrinsically tied to perceptions about Israel: the perception that Israeli and Jew are synonymous, and the perception that Israel is so demonically evil that any resistance against its reign of terror is justified. I don’t have to believe that Israel = Jew to note that all Jews, anywhere, are threatened insofar as anti-Semitic actions are “justified” by their perpetrators on the logic of opposing Israel.

    For the last time: This series isn’t “My thoughts on Gaza.” It’s “my thoughts on Anti-Semitism as a structural phenomenon”, admittedly with a strong focus on Israel (because that’s a locus point for where many Jews inside and outside of Israel experience anti-Semitism) and sometimes (as in the next post) using reactions to Gaza as an example.

  108. January 15, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Here’s an excerpt from an old post on JVoices.com:

    In July 2006 Bluestockings bookshop in New York City announced that it was going to host a workshop for social justice activists on “opposing antisemitism in the movement.” The announcement touched off a heated online discussion on New York’s Indymedia. Some people asked if the workshop was going to be “some Zionist bullshit” and why it wasn’t going to address other forms of discrimination, particularly “Zionist anti-Semetism” [sic] against Palestinians. Critics doubted there was any real antisemitism on the left, or suggested that it was caused by “right wing jews” having “cried wolf too many times.” One charged that “whining about anti-semitism is like whining about ‘anti-white’ ‘reverse racism.’ Jews are one of the wealthiest groups in the world with the most privilege.”

    Other participants in the Indymedia discussion countered with accounts of anti-Jewish comments from leftists: “I’ve seen accusations made that Jews control the US government, media, economy, and so on.” One person wrote, “I’m Palestinian, and for some reason every freakin Tom Dick & Harry I meet thinks he can bitch to me about ‘the Jews.’“ Another commented, “The virulence with which critics have attacked this workshop illustrates how needed it is.”

    David, the virulence with which Kristin, Shah8, and other commenters have attacked this post illustrate how needed it is.

    A few specific points:

    1. It is completely valid to discuss anti-Semitism within a broader discussion (meaning, in this case, throughout the blogosphere) of Gaza. I have seen writers discussing nothing but anti-Semitism over the past couple of weeks, and I agree that that’s profoundly tone-deaf, but that’s not what David is doing. As he said, there’s never a “proper” time to discuss it. Partly this is because, unfortunately, Israel is always acting badly. But it’s also because a lot of people just don’t want to hear it.

    You could argue that this is an especially improper time to discuss anti-Semitism, given the death toll. And it would be, if that was all we were discussing. But it isn’t – this very blog has made its stance on the Gaza invasion clear, and they’re currently seeking more commentary on it. I can’t believe people see an opportunity to learn about one aspect of the broader context surrounding Israeli aggression as “propaganda.”

    2. Along that same vein – anti-Semitism is, in many ways, the reason for the Gaza occupation and blockade. Anti-Semitism, in part, led to the foundation of the Zionist movement. Anti-Semitism, in part, has led to Israel’s perception of itself as a perennial victim. It’s absolutely vital to discuss anti-Semitism in a discussion of Gaza – not to excuse what Israel is doing, but to understand why it’s doing it.

    3. I find it pretty hilarious that people are taking him to task for leaving things out when his essay isn’t finished yet.

    4. My two cents on Zionism and Anti-Zionism: I think it’s important to remember that both camps – Jews who believe in the necessity of autonomous territory, and Jews who don’t – have some very compelling arguments. (However, the arguments that Jews must have Palestinians’ territory are not so compelling.) This isn’t apropos of anything anyone has said in this thread. Just my thoughts.

    5. I hope we can all remember that anti-Semitism is a phenomenon with real consequences right now. Jewschool has a short link round-up of some recent incidents in this post (see the end of the first paragraph).

  109. shah8
    January 15, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Damn, Julie, why mention me? I just agreed with Kristin, and linked to a couple of David’s other threads where he does hilarious things like call Derek Bell a black conservative.

    Look, I’ve met plenty of people like David Schraub when I was a forensic debator in college. They could cite all kinds of sophisticated crap, but only a minority who actually cared what they said at 100 words per minute ever comprehended what they said. I mean, Derrida, Foucault, or Critical Legal Studies, or Whiteness, Rawls, or Butler–none of these topics are at all truly easy to *understand*.

    That’s kinda my real pissed offness with David Schraub. Not the usual abuse of anti-semitism–that’s too be expected, but his slippery abuse of terms like Kyriarchy. It’s so much like how white people try to use reverse racism to diffuse concerns about structural issues in society. Kyriarchy is about how oppression is matrixed and pyramidal and how oppression is customized to a particular time and place and people. David crams in kyriarchy mostly because it sounds good, and he does it by ignoring the needs of the power structure, just like the men’s right people and the reverse racism people.

    Always, always, always…maintain your iconoclasm-dar as you would your gaydar and class-dar. By purposely mixing up the situation of jewish people who live in different situations around the world and who operates under different power-structure–he does this so a jew can be a jew regardless of how he feels about anti-Zionist or Ethiopian or ethnic-but-not-religious and likewise for muslims–he can fit his thesis in Fiorenza’s definition while subverting the need to consider a jewish person as an individual in which jewishness is just one part of his or her overall identity, such as jewish lesbian from New Mexico or dark skinned jewish male from Puerto Rico who likes to crossdress or any combination that you can think of which is material to the power-structure.

    I don’t really want to see his next two posts, but I’ll read ’em for the fireworks.

  110. ephraim
    January 15, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    i am so sick of the cries of ‘obfuscation’ or ‘diversion’ whenever anyone tries to talk about anti-semitism in the context of criticizing israel or advocating for palestine. there’s always some humanitarian atrocity going on somewhere. by that measure, talking about any kind of oppression, or talking about anything at all, is obfuscation and diversion. it’s like criticizing a war photographer for not putting down her camera and picking up a gun.

    get a sense of nuance, please. not all oppression operates the same way. so, if you’re expecting anti-semitism to look like racism or classism or sexism and you don’t see that, that doesn’t mean anti-semitism is minimal or frivolous or to be dismissed. of course there’s such a thing as gentile privilege, and of course muslims and other non-jewish people of color in the west have it. and of course saying that is not equivalent to saying that every muslim in the west is socially, politically, and economically better off than every jew. this is intersectionality 101, people. oppression is not ahistorical and neither can any step towards liberation be so.

    i do think some basic understanding of the history of antisemitism is necessary to speak intelligently on the situation in gaza and the occupation of palestine; and necessary to advocate for palestinians and to criticize zionism. that’s not obfuscation; it’s just good strategy. i also think that getting a longer historical view of anti-zionism would be wise as well. anti-zionsim has been around as long as zionism has; it’s older than the occupation; it’s older than the state of israel; it’s older than the first zionist settlers. there’s a branch of anti-zionism that has absolutely nothing to do with palestine or palestinians whatsoever. maybe we have something to learn from it too.

  111. shah8
    January 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    thing is…

    It’s not intersectionality 101.

    It’s just proper anti-nationalism.

  112. January 15, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Ansel, #84: That said, I think it’s really uncool to refuse to even consider the notion of gentile privilege before David tries to explain it.

    I am considering it. That’s a very good description of what is happening, in fact. How is “gentile privilege” exercised? By that which Ampersand named “Christianism”–we might say, the enforcing of Christianity as AN ARM OF THE GOVERNMENT. And fundamentalist Christians who are fueling and funding this war have successfully made their religious values FOREIGN POLICY. Israel’s security is part of their faith, values and prophecies. Thus, they are exercising their “gentile privilege” and their “Christianism” by backing Israel. This is how they choose to exercise their CHRISTIAN political power.

    Now, what about THAT?

    And why is this question not even important enough for David to answer?

    The pro-Israel rally here in my town last weekend, was all Christian, and held as a Christian event, complete with prayer. (Guess which kind of prayer?)

    The Flash, #96: Me, I come from the South, where it’s fundamentalist Christians who see themselves as the greatest allies of Israelis in protecting the security of Israel.

    Thank you for saying this. I don’t want this point to get lost, even though it’s obviously being ignored. If it weren’t for heavily-Christian support of Israel within the US Govt, they wouldn’t have all that flashy weaponry, and they’d be forced to use Molotov cocktails just like the opposition.

  113. January 15, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    ephraim, #110: i do think some basic understanding of the history of antisemitism is necessary to speak intelligently on the situation in gaza and the occupation of palestine; and necessary to advocate for palestinians and to criticize zionism. that’s not obfuscation; it’s just good strategy.

    And I believe an understanding of fundamentalist Christian prophecy, (The Book of Revelation, Armageddon, The Rapture and Tribulation, the antichrist, false prophets, et. al.) is necessary to understand exactly why many Christians will gladly pay any amount of money necessary to do what they believe is crucial to Israel’s survival, which of course means mowing down the heathens and infidels that surround it. No questions asked… I mean, that IS part of the prophecy…you know that, right?

    I’m amazed at how many people don’t.

    The Southern Baptist Convention (to name only the largest denomination that subscribes to these prophecies) has over 16 million members and more than 42,000 churches. And this isn’t counting the Sarah Palin Pentecostals and countless other fellow-traveler denominations. Now, imagine all those votes, from very politically active people, deciding where the money goes.

    Do you see now?

  114. January 15, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    I appreciate your comments on Christian privilege, and I very much like where you start this conversation, although I agree with Ben about your charictarization of all non two staters as exthreamists. I also like the very visual way you discuss intersectionality. I am excited to read more and excited to see your conclusions.

    However, I find some of your language to be limiting on the conversation, and possibly an evidence of Jewish privilege in itself. (I may be wrong, and am trying very hard to express some of my problems with the beginning of our discussion in an honest way but very afraid it will seem trollish. It is absolutly not meant that way) It is my understating that Arabs are Semitic peoples (although not Persians?) I find it very bothersome when language meant to represent a large group of people is then narrowed by common usage to represent a section of that group vis a vis anti-Semitic = anti Jewish only.

    This type of language is often used to eliminate/limit the realities of the other subgroups within the original group–in this case the Arabs are prevented from claiming Antisemitism when they rightfully should be able to. Both groups suffer from Antisemitism, but only the Jews are allowed to claim it.

    For the record as a historian not from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic background, I do not believe that Jews has a standing historic or religious /political/ claim to build a nation-state where they did. I also think that the way it was built was inherently problematic, as is the way its history is taught. However, it is here, destroying it is out of the question, thus we (globally) must find a way to deal with it.

    On the conversation about sweeping aside Antisemitism in general. (Disclosure: I am a Pagan, whose advanced study of the holocaust focused on the Romani experience) I agree with you completely about the pervasive nature of antisemitism both the specifically Jewish brand and the specifically Arab brand. I did pretty extensive research on antisemitism in medieval Europe and see effects of it weekly in my real life locality. I also was engaged (and in complete agreement with you) with your descriptions of UN and European antisemitism (I wish you had spoken more about antisemitism on the level of state and international entities). Unfortunately have seen Anti-Jewish sentiment used as a crutch to deny the experience of the holocaust to other sufferers. While six million Jews were tragically and inexcusably murdered during the Holocaust, a higher percentage of the world’s population of Roma were murdered. As Ian Hancock said “The reason they did not kill six million of us is because there were not six million of us.” Yet Jewish organizations fraught to exclude the Roma from reparations and from the Us holocaust memorial because they claimed the Holocaust as solely the act of antisemitism. I also am afraid that cases Anti-Jewish sentiment could be used as a cloak other reprehensible actions similar to the way the war on terror was used here in America. I think that this reality must also be in any conversation about privilege and the denial of antisemitism’s existence.

  115. Pingback: The Debate Link
  116. January 15, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you. I think, in the future, I’ll just link to this post to explain where I’m coming from and what I think

  117. Ruchama
    January 15, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    “It is my understating that Arabs are Semitic peoples (although not Persians?) I find it very bothersome when language meant to represent a large group of people is then narrowed by common usage to represent a section of that group vis a vis anti-Semitic = anti Jewish only.”

    The word “anti-semitic” was coined specifically to mean anti-Jewish. It was originally a German political term, used as a label for making “I don’t like Jews, and want them out of here” into an intellectual-seeming political position. (Somebody at the time — I can’t remember who — referred to Jews as “the Palestinians among us.”) It wasn’t meant to mean anti-all semites, everywhere, but anti-these semites, here. The meaning has expanded, not narrowed, as it now means anti-Jews, not just anti-Jews-in-Germany (or possibly all of Europe.)

  118. January 15, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Daisy: I’ll be talking somewhat about the role Christians have been playing in constructing the norms of philo-Zionist discourse in America a little bit in parts III and IV (short answer, I think what they’re doing is horrific), but the better discussion would be found in my post Can Zionism Be Defended by Proxies.

    Briefly on the usage of “anti-Semitic”: “Anti-Semitism”, as a term, was invented in Germany in the 19th century to make their anti-Jewish sentiments more “respectable” (lumping it on to emergent views of racial inferiority). They applied it merely to Jews, and it was used solely to describe Jews. The reason that “expanding” the term to include prejudice against both Jews and Arabs doesn’t make sense is that, simply put, their oppressions are different — there is very little specific the two groups have in common in the specific operationalization of their oppression. The term would cease to have meaning. So I think it’s better to keep the terminology separate.

    Anti-Semitism is the term used in the literature to describe anti-Jewish prejudice or oppression. You could argue that it’s been corrupted from what ought to be its true meaning. I don’t really disagree, but I think that we’re beyond the point of salvation. Every once in awhile, a libertarian comes over to my blog and lectures me on how I’m not a real liberal because real liberals are libertarian and that’s the original meaning of the word CATO Institute JS Mill etc.. I’m a little dismissive of them, because they know what I mean by liberal and what society means by liberal, and it’s not my fault that this is the word we’ve taken to use for that purpose.

  119. just saying
    January 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    @# arielariel says:
    Correction: The idea that Israel is allowed to wage a war of terror against another group of people because historically Jews have been terrorized — or that we have to discuss that oppression before we can condemn or discuss or hold Israel accountable for the actions against Gaza — is one of the grossest things I have ever heard.

    No one has said that. I think that is like the “how can we worry about women not being allowed to be banker VPs when there are low income black families” kind of comment. Well, how can we talk about human affairs other than the death of the planet? Here is how: All hate and injustice is related.

    And, as ANSWER shows, anti-Semitism is welcome in the progressive community in the way that racism is welcome in the conservative community.

    I think David, like me, was probably very close to being driven from feministe by the venom GallaGalla and sha8 and the unexamined well-meaning anti-semitism so beautifully illustrated by Kristen. sha8 has expressed this Israel-is-all-baby-killers and every-Jew-in-Israel-is-from-Europe so we must-drive-them-into-the-sea framing. And she is always applauded in her extremes.

    To mourn for Iraq does not require calling for the death of American. To mourn for Palestine does not require calling for the death of Israel, as shah8 has, does, and continues to be applauded for doing.

    Palestinians are not angels, and the use of anti-semitism across the Arab political world as the external enemy enables cultural and political choices which harm women. Anti-semitism is a cornerstone of extreme Islamic ideologies which harm women. The embrace of war is the common cornerstone of all conservative ideologies that harm women. Hamas and Likud embrace war, as do the neocons. This does not require hating Palestinians or Americans, so it should not require hating Israel or jews.

    And despite David having said this invasion is a tragedy, he is also saying that we should also talk about anti-semitism. When is the time? Now is always the time.

    So what is the response? Some, shah8 and GallaGalla, call out *why* their particular hating of jews is OK. Because of Israel’s policy. Well, then, all black people should hate all white people, by that argument. Because of America’s policies. I hope that feministe can be better than that, and exhaled a breath I did not know I was holding when I saw this article. And then arielariel declares the very existence of this discourse “one of the grossest things I have ever heard”.

    I want to be welcome in the progressive community as a feminist, a woman, a mother, and a jew. I don’t want to say I-am-not-a-feminist-but. I also don’t want to hear about the illegitimacy of Israel’s existence, as opposed to the illegitimacy of its policies. The first is dangerously anti-Semitic. The second, well just now, is spot-on. But informed discussion requires the discussion of anti-Semitism just as informed discussion of the Jena6 requires the discussion of racism.

  120. Cizungu
    January 15, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    2. Along that same vein – anti-Semitism is, in many ways, the reason for the Gaza occupation and blockade. Anti-Semitism, in part, led to the foundation of the Zionist movement. Anti-Semitism, in part, has led to Israel’s perception of itself as a perennial victim. It’s absolutely vital to discuss anti-Semitism in a discussion of Gaza – not to excuse what Israel is doing, but to understand why it’s doing it.

    This is a gross oversimplification that seems to position antisemitism as an integral part of the Middle East conflict, when it simply isn’t. Antisemitism certainly contributed to the creation of Israel, but has very little bearing on the current situation, which is a rather standard colonial conflict between a Western state and a colonized people.

    Discussing antisemitism in the United States or Europe is just as necessary as discussing any type of racial or religious bigotry, and placing the creation of Israel in the context of European antisemitism is obviously fundamental, but the existence of antisemitism in the West has little to do at present with Israel’s intervention in Gaza. The fact that antisemites in the West criticize Israel, or that criticism of Israel in the West can take the form of antisemitism, is not the main cause, nor even a secondary cause, of Israel’s policies and actions. So the claim that antisemitism is a vital component of a discussion of Gaza strikes me as almost outlandish.

    As for historical antisemitism explaining Israel’s sense of victimhood, that’s neither here nor there. The fact that the colonial power considers itself a victim is of marginal importance, and expounding on that in order “to understand” Israel seems quite self-indulgent.

    4. My two cents on Zionism and Anti-Zionism: I think it’s important to remember that both camps – Jews who believe in the necessity of autonomous territory, and Jews who don’t – have some very compelling arguments. (However, the arguments that Jews must have Palestinians’ territory are not so compelling.) This isn’t apropos of anything anyone has said in this thread. Just my thoughts.

    David Schraub obviously disagrees, and has erected himself as the judge of whether Jews are properly supporting the community or “endangering” it — the angered reactions shouldn’t be surprising.

    Also, David, don’t include various slanted political observations on the conflict in a post about antisemitism; that’s how suspicions of concern trolling arise.

  121. Sailorman
    January 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Kristin says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 12:23 pm – Edit

    “Nobody seems to call out Palestinian activists in any serious way when they call for Hitler to finish the job or for all Jews to die, but a Jew who says anything about Palestinians as a broad group is immediately excluded from serious conversation.”

    Goddamn. No Palestinian activist with whom I have ever associated or interacted has *ever* said anything like that. Wow… Just… Wow…

    Really? You’ve never interacted or associated with a Palestinian activist who supports Hamas?

    You DO know what the Hamas charter says; you HAVE read the charter… right? (This is not a rhetorical question. Have you, or have you not?)

    We use Hitler as a proxy because we know what “think like Hitler” means with respect to Jews and Judaism. But we also know what “think like Hamas” means with respect to Jews and Judaism. Hamas wrote it down for us to read.

    People who know what Hamas means and what Hamas says, are supporting… well, go read the charter yourself.

  122. January 15, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Really? You’ve never interacted or associated with a Palestinian activist who supports Hamas?

    Why the hell would you assume that Palestinian activist = supporter of Hamas? And why would you suggest that Kristin just MUST hang out with those Palestinian activists who do?

    Really? Why would you? Other than, you know, ignorance and a desire to paint all Palestinians with the same violent brush? Did I miss something here that would give you any right or reason to make that kind of implication?

  123. chingona
    January 15, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I agree that it was unfortunate that this post is framed in terms of Gaza, because clearly Gaza is only tangential to the argument, and it comes off a bit tone deaf. But I think David raises some important points that I hope people will consider, even if they ultimately disagree with his conclusions.

    Like a lot of people, I am sick and outraged by the bombings and what is going on in Gaza. I think it’s morally wrong, and I also think it sets back (even further) any hope for a negotiated peace. But I have seen very few threads (not just here, where I mostly lurk, but across the progressive blogosphere) on this topic in which some people didn’t make arguments that made me profoundly uncomfortable as a Jew. In particular, commenters who took issue with conflating Israel and Nazi Germany in the 1930s were accused of using the Holocaust to justify what Israel is doing (when the objectors already had condemned what Israel is doing) and of playing the anti-Semitism card, when they had not. There is an anti-Semitism card card that is just as silencing as the anti-Semitism card, and not everyone who would like Israel to continue to exist as a Jewish state favors a genocide against the Palestinians.

    Something that I would ask everyone to remember is that the reason Zionists argued for the Jews to have their own state is that they believed Jews would never be safe in a state that was not theirs. Events leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel reinforced this belief in a very dramatic way, and fear for the safety of Jews as Jews is a very real psychological factor in support for Israel and justifying/rationalizing Israeli military responses and the civil and human rights violations of the Occupation. Poo-pooing those concerns ensures you will shut the discussion down. While I believe Israel should negotiate with Hamas because you don’t get to choose your enemies, I find it distressing how lightly some people seem to take the calls for the destruction of all Jews in the Hamas charter. A lot of people are very quick to say, basically, “Oh that. They don’t really mean it.” I’m not sure we know that. Just because Israel has military superiority now does not mean that concerns about security – especially if Israel were to make significant territorial concessions – are imagined or illegitimate or just a ruse to engage in bloodthirsty brutality because they love to kill Palestinians. The fears are real, and if you cannot address the fears on BOTH sides, we will not move forward.

    Or there are the comments on this YouTube video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FABqq_jjRRo&e

    Max Blumenthal captures lots of people at a pro-Israel rally saying vile and racist things about Palestinians. It’s disturbing, and I wish I thought seeing it would cause more American Jews to take a hard look at themselves. But in the comments, there is lament after lament that Hitler didn’t finish the job. People write that the video shows why the Jews need to be wiped off the face of the earth and that the Jews become a poison everywhere they go and wherever they live. Vile racism coming from the mouths of (American) Jews is treated as evidence that Israel has genocidal intentions. But vicious anti-Semitism is treated as unfortunate but understandable in light of what’s going on. Is it?

    Again, I’m not saying historic anti-Semitism or even modern day anti-Semitism justifies the bombing in Gaza. (The Serbs also see themselves as a historically oppressed and victimized people. They’re probably right. That doesn’t make what happened in Bosnia okay.) And I understand I run a very real risk here of looking like I value Jewish feelings over Palestinian lives. I don’t. I haven’t really raised these issues elsewhere because I don’t want to look like my priorities are out of order, but since the topic is anti-Semitism, I’m putting it out there.

  124. Morningstar
    January 15, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    “I also don’t want to hear about the illegitimacy of Israel’s existence, as opposed to the illegitimacy of its policies. The first is dangerously anti-Semitic.”

    i would love to hear how the first statement is anti-semitic.

  125. January 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Oy! First, David, I think this is a great post, though it was careless to frame it in terms of Gaza the way you did. I don’t agree with everything you say here, as usual, but you say it well, and much of what you say is important.

    Two things: Regarding whether or not Muslims have gentile privilege with regard to Jews: When I am standing at a party with a mixed group of people–Jews, Muslims, Christians, agnostics, Blacks, whites, etc., all of whom are either born here or grew up here–talking about Israeli government policy (which I wholeheartedly oppose) and someone who is not Muslim starts talking about how Jews control the media and are, in effect, running Congress (which I hope everyone here recognizes as two standard antisemitic canards with long histories), and the Muslims in the group immediately chime in, they are expressing and enacting Gentile privilege. Now, this in now way compares to what happened to Muslims after the September 11th attacks, or what still goes on when Muslims are detained simply for being Muslim. However, if you have any knowledge of Jewish history, you know how easy it is for such relatively mild expressions of antisemitism to become quite virulent and violent. (Does anybody remember the “Burn Jews, not oil” signs from the oil embargo in the 1970s?) So while it would be absolutely wrong–and I would be among those most loudly protesting that–if someone were to say that Jews have it as bad as, or worse than, Muslims here in the US, as it would be wrong for anyone to use an example like the one I just gave to deflect attention from the discrimination Muslims or Blacks or other people of color face here in the States, I don’t believe that David did that. What he did was assert that there is such a thing as Gentile privilege that all non-Jews have.

    I also find it troubling–and I assume this is something David is going to address–that there seems to be little awareness in these comments that antisemitism has a history, a long and rather complex intellectual history, and that it is pervasive in Western thought on the both the left and the right. Read Marx’s “On The Jewish Question” for starters.

  126. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    What Cizungu said.

    Just Saying: Also, as to charges here of Shah8 calling for the death of Israel. Look… I’ve never seen Shah8 say any such thing (and certainly do not see that in anyone’s comments here), although I haven’t closely followed Shah8’s comments throughout the history of feministe. Sometimes he pisses me off, and sometimes (like now) I find myself agreeing with him. He’d probably say the same thing about me. Some kind of links seem in order if one is going to toss out accusations like that. And to pass Galling Galla’s remarks off as “Jew hating” is fucking disgusting. This is a hostile and unsafe thread for people who are critical of the actions of the state of Israel.

    I never mentioned anything about the death of Israel here. I think it’s very, VERY revealing that virulent disagreement with David has automatically been read as anti-Semitism and as support of the death of Israel. Shah8 is right that this is not about Intersectionality 101, but about anti-nationalism. I’m used to this. I was often called anti-American after 9/11 because I objected to the kind of war-mongering nationalism that began to escalate in this country. That was bullshit then, and calling me or Galling Galla “anti-Semitic” is bullshit now. And it has nicely obfuscated Israel’s bombing of the UN headquarters over there today.

    Also, I reflected a long damned time ago. I concluded that my opposition to apartheid and/or colonial modes of governance has nothing to fucking do with anti-Semitism. And I resent the hell out of those of you who insist that it does.

  127. January 15, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Daisy: I’ll be talking somewhat about the role Christians have been playing in constructing the norms of philo-Zionist discourse in America a little bit in parts III and IV (short answer, I think what they’re doing is horrific), but the better discussion would be found in my post Can Zionism Be Defended by Proxies.

    David–no offense, but I found a lot lacking in that post you linked to. I’ll be writing more about this myself, because I think it’s a major paradox that needs illuminating when we discuss these issues.

    If you want to discuss “gentile privilege”–then understanding that the present agenda has little to do with you, and everything to do with the gentiles, is a necessary first step. You don’t seem ready to do that, since this discomfiting reality disturbs you. Of course, the gentiles will use Israel as the gentiles see fit. That’s what privilege is.

    FACT: Zionists are actively collaborating with hard-line fundamentalist Christians, who seek to bring about the conditions necessary for the Second Coming. Period. You don’t get to tell them to back off. They have the privilege, remember? They are calling the shots; you have helped to create a monster. What are you going to do about that, besides pointing at Rick Warren and Mike Huckabee and going “Ew!” –? (PS: They don’t care what you think, they have a prophecy to fulfill.)

    You have reminded me of the joke about the southern Baptist preacher who was asked if he believed in infant Baptism.

    “Are you kidding?” he said, “I’ve SEEN it done!”

    “Can Zionism be defended by Proxies?”

    “Are you kidding? I’ve SEEN it done!”

  128. January 15, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    “just saying” @119:

    …GallaGalla, call out *why* their particular hating of jews is OK.

    GALLING GALLA IS JEWISH. How many times do we have to say this? Why is it that Jews who oppose the Zionist movement no longer count as Jews? Why does their political position equate to hating their own people?

    And no, David, redefining Jews who don’t hate all Jews but are critical of the Israel state as “pro-Zionist” against many of their expressed wishes doesn’t fix it. It’s weaseling. You re-define “anti-Zionist” to mean, narrowly, Jews who wish death and destruction on the Israeli people, and give anti-Zionists a skewed choice–to continue to identify with a term which to them means criticism of certain beliefs and policies guiding the Israeli state and its conception and be re-defined as Jew-haters even if they’re Jewish themselves, or to accept your re-definition and have themselves called “pro-Zionist but critical of Israel.” This is as offensive as the consistent redefinition of anti-Zionist Jews as non-Jews, as in the above comment. By your definition I apparently count as pro-Zionist but critical of Israel. I’m not. I’m anti-Zionist. And not because I hate Jews, including my own family.

    For the record, “just saying”? I went to just as much Torah school as you, I bet. I’ve been at the business end of anti-Semitism, too. So have many near and dear to me. Pay some goddamn attention.

  129. January 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I also don’t want to hear about the illegitimacy of Israel’s existence, as opposed to the illegitimacy of its policies. The first is dangerously anti-Semitic.

    I’ll second what Morningstar said.

    I have heard plenty of arguments that various aspects of the founding of Israel, the way Israel came to be the shape it is, and the kind of state Israel has become today, are either partly or wholly illegitimate. Some of these arguments are clearly unreasonable and/or anti-Semitic. Some of them are religious reasons. Some of them are put forth by Jews, and some of them I find pretty justifiable. The one I hear the most often is that the terror and death visited upon the Jewish people en masse for centuries in Europe does not justify setting up a religious nation-state, to be controlled by the Jewish people, that requires the violent displacement of the people who already lived there. I can see how this argument could be put forth strategically by someone with a conscious or unconscious anti-semitic bias; that could be true of any argumet. I can’t see how this argument is intrinsically anti-Semitic, especially since that requires declaring any Jew who adheres to it to be a fully-aware victim of false consciousness or a traitor.

    By contrast, I have yet to hear any arguments that the existence of Palestine is illegitimate — with the exception of many arguments that rely on racist characterizations of Palestinians as a faked-up group of random stragglers, a people that don’t really exist, a land without a people, or the best, a bunch of animals who don’t deserve a land. Those are unfortunately easy to come by and they seem clearly aimed at marginalizing and erasing Palestinians as human beings with rights.

    That’s why it is a little difficult to draw an exact equivalency between the legitimacy of the two states. But again, I think it’s possible to hold these beliefs about Israel, regardless of what you think of its founding, history, or legitimacy, and still believe that the people who live in Israel today and have a history, should be able to enjoy life, liberty, safety, and rights just like anyone else.

  130. January 15, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Something that I would ask everyone to remember is that the reason Zionists argued for the Jews to have their own state is that they believed Jews would never be safe in a state that was not theirs.

    I’ve been totally aware of this all along, and at the very bottom of it, I don’t believe that “oppressed groups must found a nation-state in order to be safe” is truly a morally tenable position. And I say this as a member of more than one oppressed, hunted, endangered group that does not, and probably never will, have a state. This is one of the fundamental flaws of Zionism, it seems to me.

    Now, I want to be really clear that this position may very well be a “psychologically understandable” position that we can be sympathetic with, try to find understanding for, empathy in our hearts, like you say in your post. Absolutely. It may even be a “practical position” in that perhaps it is the simplest and most efficient path to the kind of safety that Zionists were looking for — but throughout history, the superlatively simplest and most efficient path often leads over the bodies of dead children, so it becomes a question of how much death and suffering you are willing to tolerate inflicting on others.

    I think most Israelis know this very well, I think it’s one of the defining tenors of Israeli politics, and I think we don’t pay enough attention to activists in Israel who give up their freedom or safety to say “enough is enough” and stand up against the policies of their government, just like free-thinking principled people have all over the world for generations.

  131. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Richard Jeffrey Newman:

    Why this assumption?

    “I also find it troubling–and I assume this is something David is going to address–that there seems to be little awareness in these comments that antisemitism has a history, a long and rather complex intellectual history, and that it is pervasive in Western thought on the both the left and the right. Read Marx’s “On The Jewish Question” for starters.”

    I am familiar with the essay and also with the history of Western theoretical anti-Semitism. (Seriously, though, why must one have an advanced degree in philosophy in order to talk about this?)

    I actually think that a competent reading of the actual German translation suggests that this essay is often misread in Western academic settings–and, no, I don’t find it particularly anti-Semitic in content. What Marx is arguing against is religion itself. He is interested in the emancipatory project of Jews, but suggests that Jews can become emancipated by freeing themselves of religious doctrine. Although he writes about Jews, it is clear that he’s making this claim about *all* religion (He moves quickly from “the Jewish question” to speaking about Christians. His point is a critique of liberal rights discourse. That is, he’s suggesting that the kind of “freedom of religion” that people attained in the United States does not change the fact that the US is a society permeated by religion, and especially by Christianity. He sees religion as a suggestion that people are out of touch with their “true humanity” (that is, their “species being”–that which makes them fully human) in liberal capitalist societies. And he doesn’t see religious rights as true “freedom.”

    I don’t agree with this argument, but I do not believe it to be anti-Semitic. It’s just…consistent with Marx’s overarching anti-religious sentiment. What could more plausibly be called anti-Semitic in this essay (And, again, why is everyone so eager to Name the Self-Hating Jew? Marx was himself Jewish.)–is his association of the word “Juden” with the idea of money. I am comfortable in conceding that this mode of discourse might have been anti-Semitic, but I do not find the overarching argument to be so. Some scholars have suggested otherwise–and again, it’s clear in the essay that his larger point is about Christianity.

    That being said… Yes, I’m aware of the history of anti-Semitism in Western philosophy. I don’t agree that Marx is the best example, though, and think there are other–better–examples of anti-Semitism in Western discourse. See, for instance, Kant’s anthropology.

  132. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    oops, I meant the original German text.

  133. shah8
    January 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Okay, in *this* thread I have not said anything like just saying believes I said.

    In a previous thread I think I have said that Israel’s (as a jewish state) death is inevitable. I do not believe this to be a particularly controversial attitude. In a matter of a few decades or less, the demographics of Israel will force it to become a multiethnic, single state or a progressively unstable apartheid state. That is not in doubt.

    As far as my particular attitude with Israel *now*? I’m mostly just annoyed at people who don’t know a thing about what they’re talking about spouting nonsense. It’s hard to say that Israel has a right to exist in the context of Sikes-Picot Treaty or the role that terrorism of of the jewish settlers played in the formation of the state. I don’t care that it formed that way, because very few states have ever formed without people taking other people’s land away, but the hypocrisy is annoying. It is also vastly annoying how much Israelites have considered their own security in terms of the *lack of security* by their neighbors. From the 50s to the Yom Kippur War and its aftermath, Israel had every intention of seizing the Suez Canal from Egypt as part of a general campaign to aquire the major water resources of the region. I don’t think Israel would even have signed the Camp David Accords if the US had not more or less ordered them to. Even afterwards, Israel still invaded Lebanon and caused much destruction there over a long period.

    Sometimes, you know, it’s just you, you know? It’s not so much that Israel is super-evil. It’s that Israel acts as if it doesn’t have to abide by general regional and international norms.

    Again, I strongly encourage people to read Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction. It’s a really great way to understand how rational-bugfuck crazy ideology is mediated by deliberately using bad axioms. There is much in that book that can be applied here, in the sense of how a country can fail to recognize the inevitable gracefully, thus spinning ever wildly out of control.

    As far as destroying Israel? I leave that to their citizens, if they want to. As for me, I’m not the guy with the proverbial jewish best friend. At one point, all of my friends were jewish, and you know I actually talk about Israel with them? And no one seems to be self-hating?

  134. January 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Daisy: I’m confused as to why you think I’d disagree with anything you just wrote. The point that it’s the Christians calling the shots and they don’t care for shit which actual Jews think or what will keep us alive is my point as well. I think that the support that groups like AIPAC (which are not exhaustive of “the Zionists”) give to those groups is risible. But at the same time, the point is that the putatively philo-Zionist discourse in America isn’t at root a Jewish discourse — cutting into my over-arching point that Jews aren’t being heard here but ignored.

    Meanwhile, given that about 60% of the comments on this thread directed at me have been variations on the “shut the fuck up” theme, I find it rather fantastic that some folks are saying that this thread is an “unsafe space” for folks critical of Israel. I’m can already tell I’m going to love the response I get when I start talking about the Jewish hyperpower myth (Part III).

  135. January 15, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    This is a gross oversimplification that seems to position antisemitism as an integral part of the Middle East conflict, when it simply isn’t. Antisemitism certainly contributed to the creation of Israel, but has very little bearing on the current situation, which is a rather standard colonial conflict between a Western state and a colonized people.

    Discussing antisemitism in the United States or Europe is just as necessary as discussing any type of racial or religious bigotry, and placing the creation of Israel in the context of European antisemitism is obviously fundamental, but the existence of antisemitism in the West has little to do at present with Israel’s intervention in Gaza. The fact that antisemites in the West criticize Israel, or that criticism of Israel in the West can take the form of antisemitism, is not the main cause, nor even a secondary cause, of Israel’s policies and actions. So the claim that antisemitism is a vital component of a discussion of Gaza strikes me as almost outlandish.

    Well, it is true that I did absolutely no research on the subject before I presented anti-Semitism as an integral aspect of Israeli aggression.

    Oh, wait. Yes, I did.

    Here’s what Naomi Klein has to say: http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/26/13/feature2.shtml

    In a few weeks, I’ll be posting a review of Avraham Burg’s The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes, which goes into the subject (from another angle) in much more depth. If you still think it’s an “outlandish” “gross simplification,” well, take it up with them.

  136. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    “Why the hell would you assume that Palestinian activist = supporter of Hamas? And why would you suggest that Kristin just MUST hang out with those Palestinian activists who do?

    Really? Why would you? Other than, you know, ignorance and a desire to paint all Palestinians with the same violent brush? Did I miss something here that would give you any right or reason to make that kind of implication?”

    Cara: This is pretty much what I was thinking, but I wasn’t going to dignify it with a response. For the record, though, of course I’ve read the Hamas charter. I will say, though, that I think there’s a difference between strategically supporting Hamas on the ground (in Gaza) because your school just got firebombed, and supporting Hamas because you support the death of Israel. I think it is very unfortunate that Palestinians are being painted as rabid anti-Semites here because they voted (in a minority vote, btw) for Hamas. That is, I’d guess that many of the Hamas votes that were cast inside Gaza had a lot more to do with personal survival than with “Jew-hating.” If Hamas was the only party building schools and hospitals where I lived, I guess I’d probably have voted for them too.

    And, no, I’m not a Hamas supporter. Yes, I know what their charter says. Yes, I understand that their charter is anti-woman, and I know that it calls for the death of Israel. I fervently disagree with both of these things. And I don’t support terrorist actions. But sometimes, frankly, people just don’t have good options available to them. Non-violent groups attempting to provide humanitarian aid are being *turned away from Gaza* right now.

    Why are Palestinians thought to be any less capable than we (non-Palestinians) are of strategic voting? I voted for Obama even though I do not believe he will promptly end state-sponsored US terror in the Middle East. I voted for him, though, because I think he might make some headway in stopping the whole world from catching fire. Not because I support American imperialism. And while I’ve no doubt that hatred of Israel is often palpable in Gaza (as is often the case in the context of colonial occupation. See: how Iraqis feel about Americans.), we need not be so quick to judge the ascendancy of Hamas as proof of Palestinians’ enthusiastic support for the totality of the Hamas charter–or of some kind of deep seated anti-Semitism.

  137. Mike
    January 15, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    In 132 (most likely 132+ by the time this posts) comments, just about everything I’d have to say has been said. One thing pops out at me, though, is the repeated reference to Israel as a recipient of US aid as a justification for its criticism. This strikes me as rationalization rather than justification.

    (I’m assuming the aid is as discussed and leaving aside for the moment factual objections. (Like what? If I described them now, I wouldn’t be leaving them aside. So nyeh.))

    The aid has to create an obligation to criticize, rather than creating the right, doesn’t it? Otherwise, people in countries that didn’t give aid to Israel would be wrong to criticize it. That strikes me as indefensible. Furthermore, it means that if the US stopped giving aid, we would no longer have standing to criticize. Also wrong (unless you genuinely think this; please enlighten me). So obligation.

    But if it does create an obligation, that has to create an obligation to criticize other recipients of aid in (rough) proportion to the amount of aid they receive, assuming they deserve criticism? I mean, if you argue that as a US citizen, you have the obligation to speak out against all those evils towards which your tax dollars are going so, by all means do so. But live up to the obligation. The list of the top ten includes luminaries such as Pakistan and Colombia, among others. I know they’ve come in for some criticism, but can those justifying criticism by aid honestly say it’s anything like proportional, considering the horrors committed by those countries?

    My point here is neither that we shouldn’t criticize Israel nor that we shouldn’t discuss the aid it receives. I’ve been criticizing away at Israel for the decade or so I’ve been politically aware (I identify as a Zionist Jew, in case that matters, though you’ve probably already assumed that) and I’d be fine with cutting the aid, especially in response to things like what’s happening in Gaza. But using the aid to justify the criticism seems quite disingenuous, especially since I’m 99% sure the criticism would be there in the same volume regardless. (In fact, if some of you are right about the magnitude of Israel’s evil, it would be downright wrong to stop criticizing it just because the US cut off aid. But that’s a different discussion.)

  138. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Julie: What you say Naomi Klein says there is not actually what she says in that piece. It’s a good article, though, and I’m fully behind what she’s saying. And I think it’s a good piece. Notably, Klein says,

    “And it is equally possible to be pro-Palestinian independence without adopting a simplistic “pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel” dichotomy, a mirror image of the good-versus-evil equations so beloved by President George W. Bush.”

    I completely agree with this. That’s why I don’t talk much in terms of “good vs. evil.” I’m more interested in how power operates, and I don’t think that a *lack of power* automatically endows anyone with some kind of saint status (as I have been accused). I do, however, think that groups who have power (like the United States wrt the Arab world, the Israeli government wrt Gaza) in international disputes are the ones with the most freedom to abuse it. That the power disparity between the state of Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza is never mentioned in this thread bothers me. Quite a lot.

    Also, why do I get the feeling that quite a lot of people on this thread might have major problems with Klein’s new boycott of Israel? She moved her publishing to a non-Israeli press and everything. Good on her. And I dare anyone to use the phrase “self-hating Jew” here. Dare you.

  139. Kristen (The J one)
    January 15, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    You do recognize that the spate of anti-Semitic violence going on around the world isn’t disconnected from Gaza, right?

    Absolutely. I specifically listed several things happening in the world right now. So why not discuss those? Let’s talk about the “backlash”*

    Instead of discussing THAT you discussed THIS in the context of anti-semitism:

    “And when nothing seems to work, I find it hard for myself to articulate what I want to be seen done, and I become very suspicious of those who would condemn but either don’t provide an alternative, or whose alternative would simply shift the injustice to another plane.”

    From my perspective you just said…I’m suspicious of those who condemn killing civilians but don’t provide an alternative.

    Really? And what does that have to do with anti-semitism? Is the condemnation of killing civilians necessarily anti-semitic?

    I hear that you think that your passing comments on Gaza are not relevant to the rest of your argument…but the reality is…You created the frame. You were asked to write about the situation in Gaza and that for you leads to the problem of anti-semitism in the West!?!

    It feels as if we had the following discussion:

    Me: Isn’t what’s happening in Gaza awful, those poor children.
    You: I’ve been conflicted about it. Because I find it very difficult to believe that the Gaza campaign will “work” in any meaningful sense.
    Me: WTF!?!
    You: But let’s talk about anti-semitism in the West.

    *Although I dislike using backlash in this context since it implies some wrongdoing on the part of those harmed, which I don’t think exists.

  140. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Mike: Who says the criticism is just based on aid? It was a response to the trolling comment: “It’s so WEIRD that Americans always have so much to say about this one topic…”

    The criticism, from my end, is also based on humanitarian concerns. And the criticisms are based on quite a lot of other issues. See the preceding thread, damnit.

  141. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Goddamn, it makes me so disgusted to see that GallingGalla–a Jewish woman–has been dismissed here as someone who “hates Jews.” This is fucking despicable. I’ve got to leave this thread.

  142. January 15, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I really like that Naomi Klein article and I suggest everyone read it. She presents a bunch of very important and practical reasons why actively fighting anti-Semitism is important, on top of (of course) the moral ones.

    Here’s a quote that stood out for me:

    There is a way out. Nothing is going to erase anti-Semitism, but Jews outside and inside Israel might be a little safer if there was a campaign to distinguish between diverse Jewish positions and the actions of the Israeli state. This is where an international movement can play a crucial role. Already, alliances are being made between globalization activists and Israeli “refuseniks,” soldiers who refuse to serve their mandatory duty in the occupied territories. And the most powerful images from Saturday’s protests were rabbis walking alongside Palestinians. But more needs to be done. It’s easy for social justice activists to tell themselves that since Jews already have such powerful defenders in Washington and Jerusalem, anti-Semitism is one battle they don’t need to fight. This is a deadly error. It is precisely because anti-Semitism is used by the likes of Sharon that the fight against it must be reclaimed.

  143. January 15, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Here’s a fun game. Control-F for “self-hating Jew” and see where it is popping up. Hint: Nobody has ever used it in this thread except folks complaining about being called it.

    What have I said about anti-Zionist Jews, or Jews who oppose the existence of Israel as a Jewish state? I haven’t said they desire bad things for Jews. I haven’t said that they want Israel to immolated in a torrent of genocidal violence. I have said I think they are doing what they think is best for the Jewish community. And I also have said I think they are fundamentally and lethally misguided, and noted what a peculiar disagreement this would be if I didn’t think that. Jews, same as anyone else, can buy into anti-Semitic discourse — that’s what happens when anti-Semitism floats around the social sphere as “normal” speech. Jews are, I imagine, far less likely to do it willfully — with the desire to maintain Jewish subordination, and my assumption is that the folks here whom I believe are so doing do not, in fact, want bad things to happen to Jews. And of course, they don’t see themselves as so buying in (anymore than Sarah Palin thinks she wants to subjugate women). But I can concede good intentions and still critique the underlying ideology.

    Kristin: I disagree with you. That doesn’t mean I think you’re self hating. I just think you’re wrong. Apparently that’s not permissible if this space is to be “safe” for you. Though I have to say, you seem to be handling the pressure okay. You’ve written 3x as many comments as I have in my own post, with strong support from Shah8, Rebecca, GallingGala, and many others, and yet you’re still on this kick that you’re the marginal player in this thread. It’s baffling.

  144. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    David: JULIE USED IT TO DESCRIBE GALLINGGALLA. FUCKING HELL

  145. chingona
    January 15, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    @ Holly

    To be very clear, I’m not saying that acknowledging Jewish persecution requires conceding the legitimacy of Israel. What I’m saying is that when people say “Israel is illegitimite,” many Jews hear “Your suffering is illegitimite. You don’t deserve to be safe.” And the problem is that SOME people who say Israel is illegitimite actually do mean just that. And I do think that is anti-Semitic. What I’m trying to say is that there are reasons Jews hear anti-Semitism in certain kinds of arguments, and it’s not just because they want to shut down the discussion. Again, what I’m hoping is that peole can read David and even if they don’t agree with his conclusions (and I already know I won’t agree with all of them), can consider how certain ways we talk about this might be problematic or shut down discussion from the other side.

  146. January 15, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Kristin, take a breather from this thread for a bit, please.

  147. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    It didn’t come out of nowhere. It came out of me (and others) being PISSED THE FUCK OFF that Galling Galla is being described as someone who “hates Jews” as a Jewish woman herself. Fuck that.

    And it also came from the mention of Marx’s essay, “On the Jewish Question,” which is often dismissed as evidence that Marx was a “self-hating Jew.”

    I used it in quotes in response to both of these charges. Because now I’m mad. Goddamn. This is disgusting.

  148. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Holly: Fine. Not sure that “detached, objective” discourse is possible on life or death topics, but fine. For my own health and well-being, I’ll take a break from this post. FTR, though, I wasn’t worried about my own safety in this thread. I was–still am–angry about the treatment of my friend, Galling Galla.

  149. January 15, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Kristin @ 139: Thanks for pointing out exactly what’s discomfited me about this. Is anti-Semitism a factor in the Gaza discussion? Absolutely. But I really have difficulty boiling everything down to making that the main motive behind anti-Zionist thought.

    For starters: I am not Jewish. I believe that in this instance Israel is engaging in hyperbolically violent action. Is there no way to say that here without calling forth the demons of stereotype (the ‘bloodthirsty Jew’ as mentioned in the post)?

    These distinctions have to be made or there’s not going to be any kind of discourse at all. The brush is so broad that it silences productive discussion in an attempt to fix bigotry, and in my book, that isn’t right.

  150. January 15, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    @ chingona

    Even though you’re not talking to me, I see your point. It’s just that while no, we non-Jewish people shouldn’t be coddled into realization of the issues of tacit anti-Semitism, there’s a certain benefit in expressing the issue without insulting everyone, when you’re not aiming for a safe-space audience but for a discussion.

  151. Eva
    January 15, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    “I also don’t want to hear about the illegitimacy of Israel’s existence, as opposed to the illegitimacy of its policies. The first is dangerously anti-Semitic.”

    That’s presupposing that the only valid critiques of Israel must come from a place of historical erasure. It’s like saying you can only talk about the relationship between the U.S. government and native American reservations if you agree to not critique anything about the founding of the U.S. nation state. Like, somehow—it is probably your fault— you came to lose all of your land, and many of you died, and your homes were destroyed, and many of you came to be living in fenced in compounds that our state controls– but we won’t talk about how that came to be, only why you keep shooting at us for no reason and what we will do to you if you don’t stop. That’s ridiculous. That doesn’t mean I’m prepared to leave the U.S tomorrow and give it back to its original inhabitants, and it doesn’t mean I want Israel driven into the sea. It does mean I think Israel was founded as a colonial enterprise, and I think it was morally wrong, and that its relationship to the Palestinian people must be understood in light of that. I think it’s unlikely that any real peace will be possible if Israel and the world are unwilling to acknowledge what was done. The fact is that Israel does exist now, and people who have no connection to the original crime have built lives there, and have the right to live in peace. But the insistence upon innocence by some (certainly not all) Israelis is an ongoing crime, as are nationalist based policies like the granting of citizenship to people born elsewhere, based on religious discrimination, while people who were driven off of their own land can’t freely enter Israel. If believing this is anti-Semitic, than I guess I must also hate myself, because I’m black American and also think Liberia was a misguided colonial endeavor, and nothing I take pride in (and it didn’t work out so well either.)

  152. SarahMC
    January 15, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Compassion for Palestinians and concern for their suffering is always labeled “anti-Semitism.” If you don’t hate Palestinians you hate Jews. You really can’t win unless you wholeheartedly stand behind Israel’s actions, can you?
    It’s pretty ironic that ACTUAL Christian supremacists who only support Israel for their own selfish, heaven-seeking reasons are considered more friendly to Jews than those of us who question Israel’s treatment of Palestianian civilians.

  153. GallingGalla
    January 15, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    GallaGalla, call out *why* their particular hating of jews is OK.

    ‘just sayin’, you’ve got a couple very minor errors that I’d like to point out. No biggies, but I thought you’d like to know.

    (1) My pseud is GallingGalla, not GallaGalla.

    (2) I’m Jewish. Always have been.

    In other words, BIG HUGE GIANT FAIL.

    P.S., little light, thank you.

  154. chingona
    January 15, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Basically, that Naomi Klein quote Holly uses at #142 is what I’m trying to get at in a floundering way. Even if most criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, by ignoring the very real presense of anti-Semitism, the left allows the right to look like the protector of the Jews and it further polarizes everything.

    Kristin: I think it is very unfortunate that Palestinians are being painted as rabid anti-Semites here because they voted (in a minority vote, btw) for Hamas.

    I hope this isn’t a reference to me. I know several people have talked about the Hamas charter. I very much believe that Hamas came to power because of strategic voting by the Palestinians, and faced with the choice between Fatah and Hamas, I can very easily understand why Palestinians would chose Hamas. I don’t think a vote for Hamas is a vote for genocidal violence against the Jews. However, it also seems really clear to me that “what ordinary people want” isn’t really what’s driving events here. Just because the average Palestinian on the street isn’t filled with genocidal intentions doesn’t mean there is no reason to be concerned about what’s in Hamas’ charter.

    And I have to say I kind of agree with David on this point:

    Meanwhile, given that about 60% of the comments on this thread directed at me have been variations on the “shut the fuck up” theme, I find it rather fantastic that some folks are saying that this thread is an “unsafe space” for folks critical of Israel.

  155. Kat
    January 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I am interested in reading further posts, and hope that Mr. Schraub finds room to interrogate the racism, glorification of militarism and ignorance that was on full display in Max Blumenthal’s video of the pro-Israel demonstration in NYC, one where the governor of New York made an appearance (imagine Gov. Paterson appearing as a supporter at a demonstration where similar epithets and hate were spewed against almost any other group. No, you simply can’t).

    Yes, by all means lets have a discussion of anti-Semitism on the Left (I have seen and heard it with my own eyes too many times for too many years, and stay away from a lot of the demonstrations these days largely because of it, although I know the majority of people organizing and protesting are NOT anti-Semitic, at least in my city. But I think it is a huge mistake to tolerate speakers or any presence associated with people who have questionable beliefs, to say the least. This helps Palestinians not a dime); it’s always a good time to address this issue.

    But we also need AT THE SAME TIME (this, like the discussion of anti-Semitism, cannot also be indefinitely postponed for a more propitious time) to interrogate and confront the virulent anti-Arab racism and anti-Muslim bigotry and willful ignorance in our own community (both secular and religious – and among many Jewish liberals and even progressives as well). And I know that Mr. Schraub is aware of it; the question is will he interrogate it, or be dismissive or ignore it all together as part of his larger analysis on privilege, anti-Semitism and intersectionality.

    We cannot credibly insist we discuss anti-Semitism only, without holding up the mirror to ourselves as well. THAT is exercising privilege. Only when we do the above can we have honest, open dialogue and debate. It can’t be as one-sided as Mr. Schraub comes off here and succeed in encouraging the kind of discussion I believe he wants. And I smell an awful lot of (Western) privileging (the very thing he claims to be addressing critically) that results in many defensive, contorted and convoluted statements that border on the WTF? nonsensical in this first post, to the point where I don’t even get the points he is trying to make. I will wait to see if he can clarify his theses better in future posts.

  156. January 15, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    David: JULIE USED IT TO DESCRIBE GALLINGGALLA. FUCKING HELL

    Huh?

    I’m on my way out the door, but I’ll say more about the Naomi Klein article later.

  157. January 15, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    It wasn’t you, it was “just saying” who said that. It was wrong, of course (see little light’s comment above).

  158. Izzy
    January 15, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    TheFlash 96

    “And outside the U.S., it’s actively dangerous to be visibly Jewish”

    Of course Anti-Semitism exists and should be acknowledged but could you please give some examples – because this is a far reaching statement?

    In Australia, racialised oppressions quantitatively affects Indigenous peoples and Middle Easterners and/or Muslims the most.

  159. Sylvia
    January 15, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    May I interrupt to just thank everyone who is contributing to the comments? And yes even David, who I disagree with on many subjects, for bringing about this discourse. Last but not least, Feministe for allowing this to happen as well.

  160. GallingGalla
    January 15, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Snark aside, I think I need to take Holly’s request of Kristin to heart myself and leave this thread and subsequent threads related to this series of guest posts.

    I leave, noting these points:

    1. I am Jewish.

    2. I am anti-Zionist. I do not accept anybody else’s attempt to either define me as something that I am not, or to disfellowship me and my Jewish brothers and sisters from the Jewish community because of our anti-Zionist positions. I do not accept people telling me that I am “fundamentally and lethally misguided” because I don’t think that confining 1.5 million people to a giant prison and raining death and destruction upon them constitutes tzedek (justice) or tikkun olam (healing).

    3. I am being so forthright about this because I am scared shitless that the souls of all Semitic peoples are being lost, whether its because of losing half of one’s family when the hospital got bombed, or because one has to destroy one’s soul to be able to find this acceptable.

    4. I am anti-Zionist because I believe that Zionism is a colonialist belief and project. The fact that we have been persecuted for literally thousand of years gives us the right to seek safety in our lives, but it does not give us the right to persecute another people in turn.

    5. I believe that israel will have to become a truly multi-ethnic society (not an artificially mono-ethnic country and a bunch of bantustans) in order to survive.

    6. END THE OCCUPATION NOW — FREE PALESTINE

  161. chingona
    January 15, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Compassion for Palestinians and concern for their suffering is always labeled “anti-Semitism.” If you don’t hate Palestinians you hate Jews. You really can’t win unless you wholeheartedly stand behind Israel’s actions, can you?

    With all due respect, SarahMC, this is exactly what I’m talking about. This is probably true in mainstream political circles (see John Stewart’s Mobius strip of public opinon: There’s only one side!!), but on the left, I feel like it’s the opposite. It seems like anyone who doesn’t think Israel=pure, unadulterated evil is accused of playing the anti-Semite card. On another thread on another blog, an Israeli who put forward essentially the same argument that shah8 makes in 133 that the demise of Israel as a Jewish state is inevitable, was accused of advocating genocide and using the Holocaust to justify it. He never even referenced the Holocaust in his argument. He was accused of wanting to eliminate Palestinians from the face of the earth because he thinks the situation as it stands will lead to the demise of Israel. Why did anyone think this was his argument? Because he was Israeli and all Israelis must want to kill Palestinians? I don’t know. It was a commenter I normally like and respect, and when I asked her to read the first commenters words more carefully, she just repeated her contention that he was justifying war crimes.

    It’s pretty ironic that ACTUAL Christian supremacists who only support Israel for their own selfish, heaven-seeking reasons are considered more friendly to Jews than those of us who question Israel’s treatment of Palestianian civilians.

    I think this deserves a lot more probing. Even most pro-Israel Jews I know are very uncomfortable with this political alliance. I had a very nasty fight with my (evangelical Christian) father-in-law over the holidays in which he came far closer to advocating genocide than I have ever heard from any Jew I know in real life (I don’t know any Greater Israel types in real life, though I have plenty of family members who are very knee-jerk in their support of Israel.) And I think that if we’re going to call anyone “self-hating,” you can make a better argument that someone who would align themselves with someone who sees Jews as a tool to escalate and escalate and escalate until endless war brings about Armageddon is more self-hating than an anti-Zionist Jew.

    But I say it deserves more probing because if we want to look at why the Israel lobby has so much political power, we have to look at Christian Zionists as a voting block. When people rant about AIPAC, but don’t connect the dots as to why they have so much control of discourse in the U.S., what you get left with – kind of hanging out there in the ether – is that anti-Semitic trope that the Jews control everything, manipulating the levers of power through mysterious means. The reality is that this is just one more way the Christian Right has succeeded in defining the boundaries of acceptable debate on a whole host of issues. This may be old hat to everyone on this thread, but I don’t think it’s generally thought of in this way. “The Jews” end up taking the blame.

  162. Sylvia
    January 15, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    May I also venture that in light of the “meaty” and critical thinking inducing comments put forth by other folks on this thread, that we try and ignore comments made by “The Flash” and “Anne”. Can we (should we ) focus on the comments made by GallingGalla, Kristin, Little Light, David Schraub, Matthew C etc who appear to be debating in good faith? It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them and by no means am I saying that one *should* do anything.

    It just appears to me as if horrendous comments that advocate or perpetuate “isms” are derailing some of the finer points being made. And call me cynical but I don’t have faith that those posters can be redeemed by any sort of debate.

  163. Ruchama
    January 15, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    The one I hear the most often is that the terror and death visited upon the Jewish people en masse for centuries in Europe does not justify setting up a religious nation-state, to be controlled by the Jewish people, that requires the violent displacement of the people who already lived there.

    That’s a huge oversimplification of the founding of Israel. Zionism had a long history before the holocaust, and political zionism dates back to at least 1896. Jews had been living in Palestine, alongside Arabs, for centuries, (Just looked up some quick stats in wikipedia — in 1845, Jerusalem had more Jews than Muslims. If someone has a better source than wikipedia for this, please let me know — I just went for a quick source.) Construction of Tel Aviv started in 1887. Jews and Arabs had been fighting against British colonial rule in Palestine for a least a decade before the Holocaust. I can’t find a good source now on what percentage of Israel’s Jewish population is of Middle Eastern ancestry, but it’s pretty significant.

  164. Sylvia
    January 15, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Galling Gala, Kristin, please don’t go away!!! Take a break or a breather but please don’t go! People need to read and listen to everyone’s viewpoints! Please?! (Could I possibly have added any more excalmation points?)

  165. SunlessNick
    January 15, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    It’s like saying you can only talk about the relationship between the U.S. government and native American reservations if you agree to not critique anything about the founding of the U.S. nation state. – Eva

    With one critical difference: the Jews didn’t just show up and suppress the Palestinians, the way Europeans did in the Americas. Jews were already living there, and had been living there all along, and had historical ties to the region going back thousands of years.

    You really can’t win unless you wholeheartedly stand behind Israel’s actions, can you? – SarahMC

    Why is the subject of Israel and anti-Semitism something you must “win?”

  166. January 15, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    David, I think it would be a great help if you would get a lot more specific in your definition of “the left” on this topic. The leftists I know are anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-colonial. As a rule, they are not anti-Jewish and will argue vehemently against those who spout anti-Jewish racism.

    The antiwar movement, on the other hand, is not the “left”. It includes a wide variety of political perspectives including ultra-libertarians and conservative anti-government people. These are the people who attend anti-war rallies with their hate literature.

    Why does the antiwar movement “allow” this? Because we are democratic. Because our rallies are open to everyone who opposes the war, even the lunatics. The antiwar movement is not in the business of requiring loyalty oaths and demanding party-line agreement on every policy. You can also find racists, sexists, meat-eaters, ableist, and classists. If you conflate those people with “the left” then you have broadened the word “left” beyond any logic.

    Can you point to major left-wing organizations or bloggers who express anti-Jewish ideas? I don’t doubt that there are some. It would help if you could show examples. The examples I’ve seen linked here give no indication that the people spouting anti-Jewish hatred are somehow also apart of “the left”.

    Where is the leftist who says, ““While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free, but the Jews? Forget about it!”

  167. SunlessNick
    January 15, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    It’s pretty ironic that ACTUAL Christian supremacists who only support Israel for their own selfish, heaven-seeking reasons are considered more friendly to Jews than those of us who question Israel’s treatment of Palestianian civilians. – SarahMC
    I think this deserves a lot more probing. Even most pro-Israel Jews I know are very uncomfortable with this political alliance. – chingona

    This however I agree with (and hope that it will come up in David’s series; given the apocalyptic scenario beloved by those Christian or pseudo-Christian fundamentalists, they sound more like they’re planning a mass human sacrifice than offering genuine support.

  168. January 15, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Oops, missed a word space, not “apart” but “a part”

    The examples I’ve seen linked here give no indication that the people spouting anti-Jewish hatred are somehow also a part of “the left”.

  169. January 15, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Anyone who wants to take a breather, please do, but please come back to talk and debate. Anyone here to discuss anything in good faith is always welcome. I understand people are frustrated for varying reasons, one of which is, I know, the dearth of voices that represent Muslim and Palestinian voices. We’re working on that.

    Still, I think this is a very important topic to discuss — there is no wrong time to discuss racism, sexism, anti-semitism, ableism, bigotry and homophobia, anything that is oppressive to others.

    (As a quick reminder, Feministe loves guest bloggers. Submit stuff!)

  170. Izzy
    January 15, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Am I the only one who read the ideas of Gentile privilege, the non-Muslim or non-Jewish privilege that Jewish and Muslims peoples don’t have etc. and thought that jewish people of colour were left out of the equation? i really disliked the singularity of it.

  171. January 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I should be clear — when I said “take a breather” I meant exactly that, take a break and come back to participate, don’t burn yourself out. I also meant it before when I said that everyone’s participation is vital on this subject (anti-semitism), especially those of Jews of differeng viewpoints.

    The second post in David’s series is now up.

  172. Kristin
    January 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Sylvia: I’m beginning to think that this is one of those issues in which… Discourse doesn’t actually lead to any kind of progress. You are correct in your reading of me. I was engaging in good faith. I have nevertheless been called “anti-Semitic” multiple times over the course of this thread for having the audacity to criticize the state of Israel, and the content of my critique was reduced by the post’s author to nothing but “you should just shut the fuck up.” Jewish women have been dismissed here for “hating Jews.” You want to talk about anti-Semitism? Look at how the anti-Zionist Jewish commenters were treated over the course of this thread. They were accused of holding political beliefs that are “lethal” to Jewish people. This has gotten nowhere. Nor is it a matter on which it is really appropriate to wonder whether we all can’t just get along. David thinks that those who disagree with him hold an opinion that is “lethal” to Jewish people. I think he supports a colonial project.

    Meanwhile, the UN building was blown up today.

    Holly was right. I’m no longer adding anything to this discussion. I have voiced my opinion. I heartily second everything that Galling Galla said. And even though I’m terrible about returning to threads when I say I’m leaving, I’m going to try very hard to follow GG’s example here and just be done with this toxic thread. And the subsequent six posts as well.

  173. January 15, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Where is the leftist who says, “While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free,” but the Jews? Forget about it!

    I can think of plenty of folks who subscribe to tenets like, “While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free, but I’m still way uncomfortable around black people.”

    Or, “While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free, but women have little right to bodily autonomy just because they get the ‘baby blues.'”

    I don’t see much of a difference in any of these general accusations, which most of us will admit are endemic to some degree in a leftist atmosphere and will nevertheless accept as true. Personally, I’d even chuckle with recognition. Where is the difference when it comes to anti-Semitism?

  174. SarahMC
    January 15, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    SunlessNick, do you really not know what I mean by “win?” I mean some people accuse anyone who doesn’t blindly support Israel’s policies of being anti-Semites. There is no way for many of us to contribute to the conversation without being silenced as Jew-haters, when the only “sins” we’ve committed are questioning Israel’s actions or recognizing the humanity of Palestinians.

  175. Eva
    January 15, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    I have “historical ties” to Africa, as a black person, but it would still be pretty crazy if I moved to Ghana, then invited 300,000 of my closest friends and declared myself a sovereign state, open to any black person anywhere. I would still call that colonialist, just as I call Liberia colonialist. If Isarael hadn’t had money and weapons poured into it, the situation there might look a lot more like Liberia does now.

  176. SarahMC
    January 15, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    given the apocalyptic scenario beloved by those Christian or pseudo-Christian fundamentalists, they sound more like they’re planning a mass human sacrifice than offering genuine support.

    I am certain that’s the case. My own born-again mother admits as much. Israel has a right to exist because THEIR tickets to heaven depend on it. Christians are the protagonists whilst Jews are extras whose purpose it is to help the protagonists reach THEIR happy ending.

  177. January 15, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Lauren: “I don’t see much of a difference in any of these general accusations, which most of us will admit are endemic to some degree in a leftist atmosphere and will nevertheless accept as true. Personally, I’d even chuckle with recognition.”

    I have certainly heard the sentiments you mention, including anti-Semitism, in liberal circles. Do you know liberals who align themselves with the lower classes, with the criminal element and with prisoners?

    It’s always been a rather helpful tool for me to differentiate between liberals and leftists.

  178. January 15, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    “Do you know liberals who align themselves with the lower classes, with the criminal element and with prisoners?

    It’s always been a rather helpful tool for me to differentiate between liberals and leftists.”

    Heh. I didn’t realize you were differentiating that way. Touche. :)

  179. January 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you Ruchama for clearing that up. :)

    For my self education, could you link to a book or article please?

  180. Anne
    January 15, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Mn f y (KRSTN, HLL) hr dn’t sm t ndrstnd nt-smtsm bt y xhbt t prdl. Mn Jws blv ths bt srl’s vrlnt crtcs: Tht f y scrtch th srfc f n srl-htr lng ngh, y wll vntll fnd Jw-htr lrkng blw. vn crtcs f srl s ds s hmdnjd nvr pblcl dmt tht th dsps Jws. H mrl lths th “Znst rgm.” Th rgmnt lwys gs smthng lk ths: t’s nt tht th ht Jws; t’s nl Znsm r srl plcs th bhr. S th Brtsh nvrst lctrrs nn cn cll fr byctts f srl cdmcs bcs f Znst plcs; r tw mrcn prfssrs cn wrt bt n mns “srl Lbb” whl th ctll qstn th mtvs, nd lylt, f mrcn Jws; r frmr mrcn prsdnt cn ccs srl f “prthd” s ppsd t pc; r rb stts nd th N cn cntnll dnnc th llgd ngng “thnc clnsng” r “gncd” f th Plstnns t th hnds f th brtl Znst rgm; nd ll f thm cn scp wht shld b pnfll bvs: tht th dsps nd wnt t dsmntl srl nt bcs ts plcs r ctns r s bynd ccptbl stndrds f ntnhd, bt prcsl bcs srl s, nd lwys wll b, th Jw mng ntns. Tngnt: s fr th rbs n Gz (nd th ctzns f sthrn srl t!), w LL fl hrrbl bt th hrrnds lss f lf. t pns m trrbl whn s th mgs n TV. nd ys, t ds ll cm bck t tht stt sltn, whch mst f s hv bn dvctng ths fr yrs! Hwvr, th nl stt tht th rbs n Gz nd thr Hms gvrnmnt hv vr wntd nd ctll sccdd n bldng ws b-lvl nt-Smtc, nt-srl trrrst stt t ttck srl.

  181. SarahMC
    January 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Before I go to bed I will just clarify my point, which is that it’s dangerously simplistic to declare that support for Israel = Jew-friendly whilst critical of Israel = anti-Semite, when some of the biggest anti-Semites on the planet are rabidly pro-Israel.

  182. January 15, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Kristin–

    I was thinking specifically about Marx’s association of Jews with money and haggling when I referred to On The Jewish Question as antisemitic, but my point–and I was not clear about this–was less that Marx himself was antisemitic or self-hating (Sander Gilman has an interesting argument about the latter) but that what he had to say in that book became part of the rhetoric of antisemitism on the left. (I also, though this is not an argument I want to get into here because I think it would derail the discussion way too much, am not sure that saying Jews can only be free if they free themselves of religious ideology is not antisemitic, even if Marx’s larger point is about religious ideology in general and he is only using the Jews as an example.)

    Also, my statement that people did not seem to be aware of the intellectual history of antisemitism was motivated more by the way that, in general, one thread of this discussion (and I am not attributing this to you personally, since I will not claim to have read every comment here as thoroughly as I might) seemed to be dismissing the fact that Jews hear and understand statements about Israel, Zionism, etc. in a context that includes that history. I am not disagreeing that worrying about that context, in the grand scheme of things, pales in comparison to what the people in Gaza are going through right now, but to dismiss the relevance of that context to how Jews perceive what is said about Israel is to dismiss Jewish experience as irrelevant, and that is, in itself, antisemitic.

  183. GallingGalla
    January 15, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Lauren@169: I’m not leaving Feministe, and I’m not leaving threads regarding israel/Gaza in general, just those for Schraub’s articles.

    I am leaving the Schraub threads, however, because I cannot continue to debate with someone who thinks that anti-zionists are “fundamentally and lethally misguided” from the get-go. I do not think that Mr. Schraub is debating in good faith and I believe that this “fundamentally and lethally misguided” phrase is just a coded way of saying “anti-Zionist = Hamas-hugger”; I need to step away for my own sanity and self-respect.

  184. Ruchama
    January 15, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you Ruchama for clearing that up. :)

    For my self education, could you link to a book or article please?

    Thanks! You mean the Jews historically in what’s now Israel part? The wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_the_Land_of_Israel is a decent overview. I can’t think of any books off the top of my head, but “The Source” by Leon Uris is an interesting sort of novelization of the past few thousand years of history there — the frame story is an archeological dig, and then the main sections are stories of the time periods that the people digging are studying. I don’t really know enough about the ancient history there to know how accurate it is, though.

  185. Sylvia
    January 15, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Kristin, I understand what you’re saying but all I can say is please reconsider. For every person who reads your posts as STFU, there is at least one other person who values your viewpoints (even if they don’t agree with you). I would even go so far as to say that David, the author, benefits from your arguments in the sense he can either vindicate his opinions and/or possibly perhaps see where you’re coming from. Because of the emotional nature of the topic, I can see that you’re also both upset and so maybe a breather is warranted. But once again, please don’t leave. And if you have any way of bringing back GallingGalla, that would be highly appreciated I’m sure by many of us on the sidelines reading this thread (and all of the subsequent threads too boot.)

  186. January 15, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    David @ 134:

    And I also have said I think [anti-Zionist Jews] are fundamentally and lethally misguided, and noted what a peculiar disagreement this would be if I didn’t think that

    Eva @ 175:

    I have “historical ties” to Africa, as a black person, but it would still be pretty crazy if I moved to Ghana, then invited 300,000 of my closest friends and declared myself a sovereign state, open to any black person anywhere. I would still call that colonialist, just as I call Liberia colonialist.

    I just think putting these two quotes next to each other raise some very interesting questions that I wish I had the time and energy to tease out. All I will say, for now, is that ,leaving aside the sarcasm in Eva’s “300,000 of my closest friends,” her parallel is one that Jewish nationalists, whether they oppose the policies of the State of Israel or not, need to confront.

  187. Rachel
    January 15, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    David, just wanted to thank you for taking the energy and effort to write this series. I am very much looking forward to reading it in full and I think it is important. I sympathize with the whole “something is wrong with the discourse and a lot of it is people not really ‘getting’ anti-semetism” Starting with the fact that I feel the need to add the disclaimer “and of course I don’t believe *all* criticism of Israel is anti-semetic.”

  188. January 15, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Wow, you really caught me there with that incisive argument, Anne, scraping away my surface to reveal my Jew-hating core. “Scratch the surface of an Israel-hater long enough, you will eventually find a Jew-hater lurking below.” Is that really all you’ve got? It’s been debunked a hundred times over. Nice to see that you have shifted from implying that Jews who oppose Zionism or Israel’s policies are “self-hating” over to trying to tar the allies of those Jews as anti-Semites. If anyone on this thread is doing hard work at discrediting David’s original post, it’s you more than anyone else; I almost suspect you’re a troll with that goal, but I’ve seen this stuff crop up too many times. Sorry, “pro-Israel” does not equal “Jew” and by the same token, “critiquing Israel” does not equal anti-Semitism. The whole purpose of this discussion, as I understand it, is to try and forge and spread a more nuanced understanding of what anti-semitism is, and you’re doing a nice job of shitting on that and on any appreciation of the plurality and diversity of Jewish opinion (which as I understand it, has deep roots in Jewish tradition). How grotesque.

    It’s also real classy of you to feel bad for the people dying in Gaza and then declare, with one fell swoop encompassing all of them, that the only goal of Gaza residents is not to live in peace and have water and electricity and trade, but to terrorize Israel. Real classy. Isn’t that supposedly the JUSTIFICATION for killing all of them and bombing UN buildings, etc? I can’t really buy your hand-wringing.

  189. January 15, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    After Anne’s last mess of a comment–and the apparent approval of that sort of thing throughout the thread, considering that it’s been let go without censure both from the OP and anyone else moderating–I’m with Kirstin and Galling Galla. This thread–and any of Mr. Schraub’s, considering that he’s begun the next comment thread with a whole lot of snideness and sarcastic contempt–is not a healthy place for me, either.

    I’m done here. I’ll sign onto what Galling Galla said in #160, with again, this emphasis: yes, we as Jews have undergone a centuries-long history of bigotry and persecution. And that still gives us no right whatsoever to do what we’ve done in Israel, and in no way justifies the current actions of the Israeli Defense Force.

    Peace, y’all. I think it’s time for me to go renew my focus on the work of people of color, again.

  190. January 15, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    (Sorry, by the by, Holly, if you’re moderating at all here. You’ve been stand-up, and at least you’re saying some of what’s needed to be said.)

  191. January 15, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    If you guys (GallingGalla and little light) are totally checking out of these threads, I have to say it makes me less optimistic about where they’re going, since your voices are pretty badly needed. I’ve been modding this thread, and I have a pretty light hand, but I think Anne’s relative extremism speaks for itself and ought to sit there where it is.

  192. January 15, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    It can sit there, but disemvoweled. Extremism has its (illustrative) place, but I’m not willing to let it devolve the community.

  193. January 15, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Ruchama, lol, no I know that part and referenced it in my comment. I meant the coining of the term antisemitic. :)

  194. Ruchama
    January 15, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Ruchama, lol, no I know that part and referenced it in my comment. I meant the coining of the term antisemitic. :)

    Oh, OK. There are references at http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000691.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism and there was an article in The Forward a year or two ago, but I can’t find it now.

  195. January 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Holly,

    You said you were looking for bloggers inside Gaza. Here’s a blogger inside Gaza City – an Arab of indeterminant origin working for Oxfam International – the world hunger organization. Good stuff:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/war_on_gaza/2009/01/200917111341829322.html

  196. Ellen
    January 15, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    David, Anyway you could put the pompousness aside for the subsequent posts? Just because we disagree does not mean we are misguided. I find that incredibly patronizing.

    “Meanwhile, given that about 60% of the comments on this thread directed at me have been variations on the “shut the fuck up” theme, I find it rather fantastic that some folks are saying that this thread is an “unsafe space” for folks critical of Israel.”

    I can see why you think that, we have felt quite safe criticizing Israel, but Anne did call Kristin deaf and dumb, and GallingGalla was called a Jew hater. Also take a look at some of the other posts about Gaza over the past month. It’s pretty prevalent.

    And I don’t think anybody was saying shut the fuck up, I think we just wanted you to explain what you were saying with something besides “I will discuss that (explain it to your dumb ass) in parts VII IX and III.

  197. Sailorman
    January 16, 2009 at 7:58 am

    # Cara says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 6:21 pm – Edit

    Really? You’ve never interacted or associated with a Palestinian activist who supports Hamas?

    Why the hell would you assume that Palestinian activist = supporter of Hamas?

    1) Read my post again and learn grammar. The modifier “who supports Hamas” makes it explicitly clear that you are both misquoting me and attacking a straw man.

    And why would you suggest that Kristin just MUST hang out with those Palestinian activists who do?

    I didn’t say must, (you’re misquoting me. Again.) but i think it’s likely. Because a fair number of Palestinians and Palestinian activists support hamas, it is probable that some of Kristen’s acquaintances do. And yet she posts in a manner that implied she’d be surprised–shocked!!–if one of them wanted to, say, kill jews. Which is PART OF THE HAMAS CHARTER.

    # Kristin says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 7:39 pm – Edit
    For the record, though, of course I’ve read the Hamas charter. I will say, though, that I think there’s a difference between strategically supporting Hamas on the ground (in Gaza) because your school just got firebombed, and supporting Hamas because you support the death of Israel. I think it is very unfortunate that Palestinians are being painted as rabid anti-Semites here because they voted (in a minority vote, btw) for Hamas.

    Hmm.

    So if, hypothetically, Israel agrred to a cease fire but passed a resolution swearing as one of its goals to kill Muslims, eliminate Palestine as a unit entirely, and subject the entire area (including surrounding countries) to Judaism, you’d be just peachy keen with that? You would be willing to give Israelis the benefit of the doubt regarding, er, ‘strategic voting’?

    That is, I’d guess that many of the Hamas votes that were cast inside Gaza had a lot more to do with personal survival than with “Jew-hating.” If Hamas was the only party building schools and hospitals where I lived, I guess I’d probably have voted for them too.

    And therein lies the antisemitism problem. When you are easily able to justify a government having “kill the Jews” as a stated policy goal and you are easily able to justify people openly and tacitly supporting that government without requiring them to affirmatively reject the “kill the jews” part of it… you are exhibiting an eerily frightening view of Israel and its occupants.

    And, no, I’m not a Hamas supporter. Yes, I know what their charter says. Yes, I understand that their charter is anti-woman, and I know that it calls for the death of Israel.

    You are misstaing it, either stupidly or deliberately.

    First of all, the Hamas charter w/r/t women is a bit different than w/r/t jews. One of those groups is put in a lesser state, and one group is to be hunted down and killed (guess which?) so if you’re focusing primarily on the gender problems then you’ve got pretty bad priorities. Second, to reflect it as “death of israel” rather than ‘death of Israel and the jews in it” is a deliberate and foolish misstatement.

    The Hamas charter calls for the killing of the Jews. You’re spending more time trying to justify it than you are to condemn that fact. Why?

    I fervently disagree with both of these things. And I don’t support terrorist actions. But

    How quickly that pesky “but” pops up here; how short the condemnation. That was quick.

    But sometimes, frankly, people just don’t have good options available to them. Non-violent groups attempting to provide humanitarian aid are being *turned away from Gaza* right now.

    Why are Palestinians thought to be any less capable than we (non-Palestinians) are of strategic voting? …we need not be so quick to judge the ascendancy of Hamas as proof of Palestinians’ enthusiastic support for the totality of the Hamas charter–or of some kind of deep seated anti-Semitism.

    It is you, not I, who is being patriarchal, and more than a bit blind.

    Palestinians who vote for hamas, or who support hamas, know what the hamas charter says.

    They are intelligent, free thinking, human beings.

    If THEY vote for Hamas and choose not to disclaim the most glaringly problematic aspects of the Hamas charter, or if someone supports Hamas and takes the same path, then I conclude that they are intelligent enough to know exactly what they are doing. You, on the other hand, would like to assume that you know more than the Palestinians do about what their motivations are.

    And as for your past sentence: Are you serious? We “need not be so quick to judge” that the electoral success of a “kill the Jews and eliminate Israel” platform is evidence of antisemitism? What the fuck WOULD be evidence of antisemitism, in your view?

  198. Kristin
    January 16, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Sailorman: And THAT (above) is why I hadn’t planned on answering you until I saw Cara’s comment. You twisted everything I said to paint me as some kind of Rabid Hamas Supporter. Fuck you.

  199. Kristin
    January 16, 2009 at 9:36 am

    And… I’m in mod queue. Seriously… Why are these bullshit accusations getting through unmodded, while those of us who disagree with the guest blogger are being modded and told we’re being assholes? Why? Is this the anti-Semitism equivalent of White Guilt or something? Gentile Guilt?

    Fucking hell. I’ve been posting here for ages. I’ve never seen people toss around bullshit accusations with quite this much freedom. Somehow David’s posts are serving as a platform for this kind of thing. This is ridiculous. Now I’m not only an anti-Semite, but I’m a terrorist supporter? And in a (US) political climate in which that could get me declared an Enemy Combatant. Lovely innit.

  200. Sylvia
    January 16, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Kristin, you can’t let people like Sailorman get you upset. His past posts will dictate exactly what he aims to do- whiich is to derail and offend. Please ignore him. He’s not worthy of a response.

  201. Sylvia
    January 16, 2009 at 9:50 am

    *indicate – not “will do”

  202. January 16, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Kristin, just FYI, a LOT of these comments are going in the mod queue automatically on these posts — that happens sometimes when a post generates a bunch of comments all coming in at once (I assume it’s part of our spam system). I literally refresh it every 5-10 minutes and clear out a handful of comments. I was on my way to work when your comment was posted, which is why it stayed in the mod queue for a while.

  203. January 16, 2009 at 10:54 am

    1) Read my post again and learn grammar.

    Sailorman, talking to a Feministe blogger like that is going to get you banned. Final warning.

  204. January 16, 2009 at 11:02 am

    But informed discussion requires the discussion of anti-Semitism just as informed discussion of the Jena6 requires the discussion of racism.

    This has bugged the shit out of me since I read it yesterday. Regarding Palestinians and Israelis, the ones with the power are the Israelis. Regarding Jena6 the ones with the power are the white people. So you should have said a discussion of Jena6 requires the discussion of the white people and their troubles.

    That is the direction I see this going in. Some white people do find excuses for discriminating against and even murdering black people. I see this as misdirection so that people don’t even think about Gaza. Instead we’re told to focus on antisemitism and the unspoken part is: excuse the Israelis for starving, bombing, denying medical care to Palestinians.

  205. Sailorman
    January 16, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Kristen,
    It is not true that I think you support the killing of Jews, as does Hamas. I didn’t say that, and if you think that’s what I said, then I apologize for that.

    It is true that I conclude you are demonstrating a type of willful and extremely dangerous antisemitism, as I have described. And it is true that I think you are giving Hamas, and those who support Hamas, an unusually high and unjustified benefit of the doubt.

    If you feel like I am unfairly accusing you of exhibiting antisemitic behavior because I note (complete with quotes) that you consider the election of a party with an explicit “kill the jews and eliminate Israel” policy to be insufficient proof of antisemitic beliefs in the people who support that party, that is not my fault .

    Regarding your accusation of misquoting: I do not think I’m the one misquoting here. That’s why I use blockquotes, so (unlike cara’s mischaracterization of my statements) people can see exactly what was, or was not said. If you think I misquoted you, show me where–I have certainly made errors in the past, and I will apologize. But I’m copying and pasting every word I reply to, on purpose, to deal with that exact issue.

    Blockquote exists for a reason, so don’t put words into my mouth when you can cut and paste them just fine.

  206. CassieC
    January 16, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for all the commenters here supporting the humanity of the people of Gaza. My family is Jewish, some are on the AIPAC side, and others, like my dad, support the Palestinians. We don’t “self-hate”: we sure do hate what violent nationalists some Jews have turned into. Another thing to hate is how weak the arguments are. All the people here thanking David for his post just make me laugh: if your argument is good, you shouldn’t need a 7 part diarrhea to get the gist across.

    How about this for eloquence: All people are equal and have human rights. Those rights sure as hell seem to be violated for Gazans by Israel right now, and many pro-Israel folk sure seem to think that Palestinians are far less than equal.

  207. M
    January 16, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    (Completely unsubstantial comment.)

    Wow, I just read most of these comments and damn. That’s a lot. Ditto what Kristin said, and I just wanted to thank her for engaging in this.

  208. SunlessNick
    January 16, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    SunlessNick, do you really not know what I mean by “win?”

    I know you mean; I’m just turning the same eye on it that I do the critics of feminism who use that turn of phrase.

  209. January 16, 2009 at 6:52 pm
  210. Eskandar
    January 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you CassieC for putting it so eloquently and succinctly. Buried in the pages and pages of psuedo-academic doublespeak is the notion that Israel’s horrific crimes against humanity in Gaza are somehow justified. I am also Jewish and am disgusted by many of the racist claims made in the above article, but perhaps most especially by this comment:

    And if you’re an anti-Zionist critic of Israel — well, yes, I’m going to say that I think your ideology is misguided and untenable for a liberationist agenda

    The utter arrogance of that statement. I’m “misguided” because I refuse to accept a supremacist ideology, Zionism, that declares my people’s so-called “liberation” at the expense of another people’s very existence. An ideology that erases our diasporic identities, our struggles and homes created in the diaspora, that calls for the homogenization of the incredibly diverse Jewish community into a singular Israeli identity, that demands we abandon the places we’ve occupied in the diaspora for millennia to go squat in a Palestinian’s home–this ideology is untenable for liberation. That’s what my family, who suffered pogroms in eastern Europe but refused to accept Zionism and carry out pogroms in Palestine, believes. And I think it’s utterly arrogant to suggest that any Jew who disagrees with you is misguided, if not “self-loathing.” There is nothing progressive about Zionism, and there is no defense for it. I don’t understand why a defense of Zionist racism written by a white man belongs on a feminist blog, but I can’t say that I am surprised. The feminist blogosphere seems to be dominated by the same kind of white Americans who brought us the Feminist Majority and their campaign to bomb the hell out of Afghanistan.

    Aren’t Palestinians women too? Or is Israel somehow progressive and feminist because they allow (force) women to participate in their military campaigns? Unbelievable.

  211. Kristin
    January 16, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    “I don’t understand why a defense of Zionist racism written by a white man belongs on a feminist blog, but I can’t say that I am surprised.”

    I had the same reaction. And dressing this up in language that sounds progressive does not an emancipatory theory make.

  212. armchairshrink
    January 20, 2009 at 5:08 am

    I came over here from a link on Livejournal’s feminist community and really enjoyed the essay. Which I could say the same for the hyper-reactionary comments. I can’t imagine any form of racism being so loudly glossed over as these very serious points about anti-Semitism within the left, and unfortunately much of the same was repeated within the LJ feminism community (with a disabled woman living within shelling range in Israel being screamed at as a “genocidal asshole” for attempting to explain an Israeli position as par for the course).

    I am not at all supportive of Israel’s current actions in Gaza in the slightest, and I consider myself a progressive, but I am always deeply, deeply disappointed whenever the left decides to attempt to talk about Israel. To be honest I don’t think that old hatred has ever gone away, it just as a shinier, modern form. And the assumption that internalized racism isn’t possible is just laughable.

  213. January 21, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Being a non-Jewish, secular lefty Black man who opposes this madness ongoing in Gaza, and who sees BOTH sides (the Zionists and right-wing Israeli political leadership AND the fundamentalists of Hamas) as equally reactionary and fascist, I’m nevertheless a bit taken aback that a putatively progressive blog such as this would give so much of its bandwidth to an argument that anyone who happens to oppose Israel’s actions must be either a reflexive anti-Semtic or a cheerleader of Hamas.

    Sorry, but it is the ACTIONS of the Israelis in turning Gaza into an open air prison and a living nightmare for its original residents that is driving the opposition, not so-called “anti-Semitism”.

    Perhaps, Mr. Schraub should spend a day or two in Gaza fighting endless bombs and white phosphorus before he so eagerly demonizes critics of his.

    This isn’t to say that Hamas is that enlightening — in fact, they are pretty damn reactionary on their own behalf — but when you have been put down and oppressed as much as Palestinians in Gaza have been (remember the blockades and the checkpoints preceding the rocket launchings into Southern Israel), you tend to want assistance from wherever you can find it.

    Personally, I think that both the Zionists and the Islamic fundamentalists should both fall off the cliff together and leave right- and moral- (as in genuinely progressive) Jews and Arabs to resolve their differences as fellow and sister human beings. That won’t happen, though, until progressives here in the US start disabling themselves of this “Israel, always right, and anyone who disagrees must be a Nazi” mentality. (And the same goes for those on the Left who reflexively back Hamas as “revolutionaries” without pointing out their own fascism, too.)

    Since the only take that Mr. Schraub can give, once you get past all the flowery BS, is that Israel should be allowed to do as she pleases and Arabs who disagree are simply “Jew haters”, I consider him more a part of the problem rather than part of the solution. And that would be true how many parts of his “series” on “anti-Semitism” he posts here.

    “Hatred of Israel”, you say?? No…just accountability for that state’s totally disproportionate actions against innocent people for merely voting for the wrong party…or for being different.

    Anthony

  214. January 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I just want to let people who might still be interested know that there’s a very interesting conversation going on about some of the issues David was trying to raise at my blog.

    I also want to invite people over this post: Maybe We Should Share Our Stories of antisemitism on Alas.

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