A tsunami of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism?

by Chris Bertram on October 15, 2004

The pro-war British blogs seem to be linking to and discussing an article in David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine which alleges that the UK is in the grip of a frightening epidemic of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. In the words of one of their number, Melanie Phillips :

This article describes vividly what it’s like to be an American and a Jew facing the tsunami of anti-American and anti-Jewish hatred that has swept over Britain

I’m neither American nor a Jew, so I hesitate somewhat to downplay these reports. Certainly unthinking anti-Americanism—of the kind depicted in Whit Stillman’s film Barcelona —is a feature of European political and social life. (Only the other day, a supermarket checkout assistant told me that “after all, Michael Moore is just another fat American”.) And anti-semitism also exists in a number of forms: there’s a residual British conservative strain of it and it has come to infect some of the discourse of anti-Israeli polemic on the Left. But American and Jewish friends and colleagues do not tell me of hostility of the kind recounted in the article, and the judicious Jonathan Edelstein reports in comments to one of the blogs discussing the alleged phenomenon :

I’m a fairly frequent visitor to London and just returned from four days there, where I hung out with quite a few Guardian and Independent-readers, some of them avowedly Marxist. None of them had any problem with me as an American, a Jew or a Zionist – we had some lively arguments, certainly, but none of them degenerated to personal abuse, anti-semitism or “Israel is a pirate state” rhetoric. I’ve never encountered that kind of crap in the UK, although I’m sure it exists; there are idiots everywhere. The reception of Americans in London probably has a great deal to do with the particular people they meet.

I’d be interested to hear of other experiences.

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1

wcw 10.15.04 at 8:21 am

One, FPM has even less integrity than the Bushies. If they tell you the sky is blue, get confirmation.

Two, in manifold visits (both brother and father have worked in London) I have never experienced anti-Americanism in the UK — not even of the toy variety depicted in the film _Barcelona_, and certainly not of the venomous and real variety that has at times existed in various places, and very likely exists now in large swaths of the Middle East.

Three, I remember a lot more unthinking antisemitism remaining in Central Europe (whence my family hails).

Four, see One.

2

John Quiggin 10.15.04 at 8:45 am

There’s at least one checkable claim in the FPM story by Carol Gould story

We all know about poor Philip Lader, former US Ambassador to the Court of St James who was reduced to tears on BBC ‘Question Time’ on 15 September 2001 as the moderator, Davis (sic) Dimbleby, sat and dispassionately watched a crazed studio audience stomping its feet and shouting anti-American epithets two days after the Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

Here’s a Telegraph report of the same incident. It’s pretty clear that a section of the (self-selected) audience was vociferously anti-American. OTOH, Gould’s description appears grossly exaggerated, which suggests she might not be a reliable reporter on points where she can’t be checked.

3

jeet 10.15.04 at 9:33 am

I lived in the UK for three years and experienced it unthinking anti-Americanism twice while there. There was another incident involving an anti-American Briton but that took place in Thailand.

4

Michael Otsuka 10.15.04 at 9:44 am

As an American who has lived in London since 1998, I was astonished by Carol Gould’s account. I’ve never experienced anything remotely resembling the anti-Americanism she reports anywhere in Britain — not in a cab, a shop, a restaurant, or a bus, and not at any dinner party of Guardian-readers. I emailed some American ex-pats (or Canadians who are likely to be confused for Americans) — some of whom are also Jewish — to ask them whether Gould’s account rings true in their case. The replies I received were: ‘I haven’t noticed anything like what is described by our columnist’; ‘The amount of anti-americanism that I have experienced in 35 years has been negligible… [Gould’s column] reads like a self-indulgent mixture of exaggeration, self-deception and straightforward fabrication’; ‘I must say I’m surprised … she sounds a bit paranoid’; and one person who reported regular experience of mild anti-Americanism over the years. One of my respondents said he thought there was a genuine strain of anti-Semitism in Britain along the lines which Chris describes.

This is merely anecdotal evidence. But so is Gould’s account.

5

abb1 10.15.04 at 9:46 am

Wait a second, what’s wrong with “Israel is a pirate state” rhetoric? Or “US is a pirate state”? They are pirate states – at the moment, for the time being, as long as they are being ruled by wingnuts; hopefully it’s going to change soon.

And the fact that US and Israel are being ruled by pirates is exactly what the so-called ‘anti-Americanism’ and so-called ‘anti-Semitism’ are all about.

Poll reveals world anger at Bush

…The results show that in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Spain and South Korea a majority of voters share a rejection of the Iraq invasion, contempt for the Bush administration, a growing hostility to the US and a not-too-strong endorsement of Mr Kerry. But they all make a clear distinction between this kind of anti-Americanism and expressing a dislike of American people. On average 68% of those polled say they have a favourable opinion of Americans.

The 10-country poll suggests that rarely has an American administration faced such isolation and lack of public support amongst its closest allies.

Israel could become pariah state, warns report

According to the Foreign Ministry document, which was written in August, Israel could become increasingly isolated in the coming years if Europe becomes more influential.

“In extreme circumstances, this could put Israel on a collision course with the European Union. Such a collision course holds the risk of Israel losing international legitimacy and could lead to its isolation, in the manner of South Africa,” according to the document.

6

Alon Harel 10.15.04 at 10:05 am

I am not sure anecdotal experiences can be usefully used here. Think about any anti-groups sentiments such as anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiments, anti-American sentiments or anti-French sentiments. These sentiments will typically be directed against those members of the group who are stereotypically Jewish, Muslim, American or French. Anti-Semitic sentiments in France typically will be directed against a person who wears a necklace with a star of David, sends his kids to Jewish schools etc. My guess anti-American sentiments will be directed against those who look and behave in a way which is perceived as American or perhaps advocates views which are considered pro-American or whatever. Hence from the lack of open hostility towards some or many Americans, one cannot infer that the lack of anti-American sentiments in Britain.

7

Julian Fischer 10.15.04 at 10:08 am

I share the general admiration for Stillman’s “Barcelona” — I think it’s like a Jane Austen novel designed for boys — but I sometimes wonder whether it’s attack on anti-americanism isn’t undercut by a glaring omission. The movie never mentions Franco — not once. God knows there’s no excuse for the kind of faddish anti-americanism Whitman satirizes. But Spaniards in the late 1970s did have some legitimate gripes with the US, and it would have been nice if Whitman had acknowledged them. Still, there’s no beating this priceless bit of dialogue:

‘no, you don’t understand. I’m reducing everything to ant-scale!”

8

Matthew2 10.15.04 at 10:26 am

Yes: a global reaction to the increased radical and arrogant actions of the US and of Israel is being conveniently conflated with irrational ethnical hatred (which no doubt exists) by some wingnuts (quoting Melanie Philipps??).
Personally I think the irrational voices have not changed in amplitude (maybe in tone, as they feed their prejudices with real causes), and that the rational voices criticising US/Isreal policy are indeed widespread, but for justifiable reasons.
I hope CT is not trying to prove to the trolls it is “fair and balanced” with this? They do not care.

9

Matthew2 10.15.04 at 10:50 am

Oh and I’m amazed that people keep darkly muttering about a French anti-semitism “epidemic”. Not only is this often a crude appeal to Francophobia (a very clearly expressed sentiment in US politics, compared to French “anti-Americanism”), but having lived there it’s actually anti-arab racism that is an overriding problem. The truly fascist and racist Front National always scores around 15% in election, which is truly scary.

10

abb1 10.15.04 at 10:58 am

Exactly, Matthew2. I highly doubt that the amount of irrational anti-Jewish and anti-American hatred in the UK is anywhere near the scale of anti-‘Islamofascist’ movement in the US (not to mention Israel) that has really gone mainstream in the last few years.

11

mona 10.15.04 at 11:23 am

If you had a penny for every single item of propagandist sensationalist hype that David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine has been alleging for years, you’d have a tsunamy of money.

12

Matt McGrattan 10.15.04 at 12:01 pm

I read that article after it was linked from Amygdala and it’s frankly delusional paranoid ranting.

It bears utterly no relationship to anything like the reality of the UK. Certainly not the reality that I experience as a British person who sometimes moves in precisely the kind of centre-left circles which are a supposed nest of anti-Semitic and anti-American bigots.

Where are all these raving anti-Semites? Do they keep their opinions concealed when I am around but spontaneously volunteer them only to others? Why do they keep those anti-Semitic opinions so carefully hidden when almost every day one can hear any amount of racist remarks about other minorities?

Nor does the article bear any relationship to the kind of day-today reality described to me by my American or Jewish friends who live in the UK.

Chris is right that there is a strain of sometimes unthinking anti-Americanism among some in Europe and I can see how some might be offended by that (perhaps with some cause) but the reality is simply nothing like as described in that article and most on the, for want of a better term, anti-American left, are perfectly capable of distinguishing between extreme distaste for the policies of the current US regime and Americans per se.

Chris is also right that there is a residual strain of anti-Semitism in the UK however it’s primarily to be found among older, private school-educated upper-class people. Indeed the Guardian quoted a borderline/veiled anti-Semitic remark from a Tory party grandee with respect to his own party leadership only last week.

[For those who don’t know the current leader of the Conservative party and his Shadow Home Secretary are both of Jewish origin.]

The Guardian’s own Richard Ingrams has, on anything but the most charitable interpretation, exhibited precisely that kind of strain of anti-Semitism in some of his past columns.

However it’s important to distinguish this strain of anti-Semitism which is more or less restricted to a small number of aging, out-of-touch, fusty and increasingly irrelevant old men from the kind of widespread anti-Semitism which is being alleged in the article.

13

mona 10.15.04 at 12:25 pm

Of course, the real existing strands of racism, the paranoid way some right wing tabloids in the UK talk of immigrants and asylum seekers, especially if they’re Pakistanis, Arabs, Muslims, etc., must fit right in with the FrontPage philosophy so it’s not considered a frightening epidemic (it’s not, but it definitely is more substantial than whatever it is they’re talking about).

14

G. Svenson 10.15.04 at 12:31 pm

That article is yet another example of the dark and revolting contest that exists between anti-American and pro-Palestinian extremist sections of the European political left and anti-European and pro-Israel extremist sections of the American right about who can write the most odious smear propaganda about the dispositions and motives of the people on “the other side”, wherein they usually quickly do away with even the fig leaf of any particular political designations and simply point their finger at entire countries (or an entire continent, as the case becomes in the broadest screeds against Europe) and declaring that the only inhabitants who reside therein are Demons and their Victims.

It makes for pretty disturbing reading, and it’s sad to know that these things have a market, but in the end it is only so much hot air.

15

Scott Martens 10.15.04 at 12:37 pm

Yeah, I have to wonder too where some of this is coming from. As a Canadian living in Europe with an American wife – and indistinguishable from an American when I’m speaking English – I’ve never had any impression that anti-American sentiment extended to personal abuse, even among European Arabs whose political anti-Americanism is far more vitriolic than most other Europeans.

Opposition – and often irrational knee-jerk opposition – to America as a political entity, that you’ll find easily enough. Personal attacks on Americans, no. I suppose it must happen, and going out of your way to be visibly pro-American might well make it more likely. But there are loads of Americans, most of them goverment and military people, here in Brussels, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain of anti-Americanism here.

As for anti-semitism… I have heard some mublings, mostly about very orthodox Jews in the diamond business. Antwerp’s Jews are widely perceived to be very wealthy because of their disproportionate presence in the secretive diamond business, and many of them speak French at home, which is a real faux pas in Antwerp. This makes them something of a target, but it’s nothing like what Middle Easterners face in this country.

16

Antoine 10.15.04 at 1:34 pm

I’m French and after months of putting up with silly and crude and wholly unrealistic articles on French anti-semitism and the rise of “dhimmitude” in Europe -in Front Page, Commentary, Roger Simon, LGF and others- I’m inclined to entirely dismiss this kind of over the top rhetoric which amounts to little more than vengeful smearing. What’s interesting is that Britain now seems to be coming in the sights of the wingnut crowd. The Telegraph pulled an article by Mark Steyn that was a harsh attack on the character of the British society today and there was a thread on LGF that disparaged Britain. (Btw, funny how the Telegraph routinely disparages other nationalities but can’t stand the heat when Britain criticized).

17

Jimmy Doyle 10.15.04 at 1:51 pm

There is an elephant in the room and it’s a double standard of elephantine proportions.

Exhibit A: An article by Richard Dawkins, The Guardian, March 22, 2003, included the following:

“[T]he reason Bush can now get away with his war is that a sufficient number of Americans, including, apparently, Bush himself, see it as revenge for 9/11. This is worse than bizarre. It is pure racism and/or religious prejudice. Nobody has made even a faintly plausible case that Iraq had anything to do with the atrocity. It was Arabs that hit the World Trade Centre, right? So let’s go and kick Arab ass. Those 9/11 terrorists were Muslims, right? And Eye-raqis are Muslims, right? That does it. We’re gonna go in there and show them some hardware. Shock and awe? You bet.”

Notice the denunciation of racism and prejudice. As I wrote in my letter to the Groan:

“Professor Richard Dawkins’ inept attempts at US-redneck dialect (“Eye-raqis” etc) would have been denounced on all sides if he had parodied the accent of any ethnic or any other national group in order to sneer at them.”

My letter was published; this (opening) sentence was cut.

Exhibit B (which I have already presented in comments at Pootergeek and SBBS): Guardian feature from last year (not online) where people write in with questions about curious everyday phenomena (why does water go the other way down the plughole in the southern hemisphere etc). Reader’s question: “Is there a reliable way of telling the difference between Americans and Canadians? I don’t want to take an instant dislike to the wrong person.” Now substitute “Pakistani” and “Indian” for “American” and “Canadian.” Can anyone doubt that Rusbridger would be getting death threats? From white people?

18

No Preference 10.15.04 at 2:01 pm

I think there is clearly a campaign on the part of Israel and supporters of Israel to greatly play up incidents of antisemitism in Europe, real or imagined. I think that this is partly based on genuine fear, but is also motivated by a desire to punish societies, such as France, which have not gone along with policies supported by Israel.

The media have catered to this campaign. For example, the NY Times recently published a story about the vandalization of a Jewish community center in Paris. The story unambiguously identified the culprits as “neo-Nazis”, despite the fact that there were no statements from the police to support that. The story contained a long recap of supposed French antisemitism. Within a week a Jewish former employee of the center was arrested for the crime. The Times’ followup story contained no acknowledgement of how wrong the previous story had been, but it did contain another lengthy and breathless recap of alleged French antisemitism.

Anyone who has been publicly sympathetic to Palestinians in the US knows how quickly the charge of “antisemitism” is raised. In my opinion the use of the false charge of “antisemite” to bludgeon critics of Israel in the US is a greater problem for our country than antisemitism itself, of which I have seen very little.

19

harry 10.15.04 at 2:02 pm

I’m ultra-english, my wife is American, and we lived in England 2000-2002. First thing: I conjecture that Marxists are the last brits you’ll experience anti-americanism from: they tend to be more cosmopolitan in outlook than brits in general, and more capable of distinguishing the actions of a government/system from the character of the people lviing under it. When I moved to the US in 2985 all my Marxist friends were encouraging, thought it exciting, etc; none of my other friends did.

Second; I think, contrary to the thread here, that anti-americanism is quite pervasive. It is especially notice-able to me among right-wingers who purport to favour closer relations with the US. They like free markets, low taxes, sticking it to the poor, etc. But, in my experience (which is all I have to go on) they frequently despise Americans and their culture more than leftists do. Americans are frequently blissfully unaware of this because they mistake subtle sarcasm for sincerity — as they are supposed to.

As an academic I was struck, several times in my first few months, by comments which evinced a kind of envious contempt for American academia, which I found rather shocking in the circumstances.

My wife never experienced the kind of things that Gould is talking about — she is just being silly, just as Phillips is. But both of us detected a quiet underlying hum of anti-americanism throughout the whole period we were there (most of which was pre-9/11). Some of it was couched in truth ‘Oh, well, americans don’t understand X, Y, Z’, when, indeed, they don’t. But this was said without any apparent awareness that brits don’t undertsand A, B, C, where A,B,C are just as significant in the grand scheme of things as X,Y,Z.

It dissipated, noticably, after 9/11, only to come back with greater force when the Bushies took it upon themselves to re-establish America’s place as the most hated country in the world.

So, this may all sound rather anti-british. But I have to say that America presents itself to the world in a less-than-savvy way. I watched both Covnentions thinking to myself: ‘These people seemed to have designed their conferences to make themselves look as hateful as possible to everyone else in the world’. What foreigners see is tourist spots and political news (and Jerry Springer et.al.) They don’t see the decency, politeness, everyday and sincere friendliness that I am often struck by here.

20

harry 10.15.04 at 2:06 pm

1985, not 2985

21

Michael Otsuka 10.15.04 at 2:28 pm

_Americans are frequently blissfully unaware of [Brits who despise them and their culture] because they mistake subtle sarcasm for sincerity — as they are supposed to._

As an American, I’d like to thank you, Harry, for those kind words of understanding.

(Wait a sec. Maybe they weren’t so kind. Ooophs. Too late. Already pressed the ‘post’ button.)

22

harry 10.15.04 at 2:37 pm

Michael — I don’t believe for a second that you are unaware of what goes on. What I meant (or am I protesting too much) was that it takes a while (maybe quite a while) to learn how to ‘read’ the gestures, tones, etc, of another culture; and brief visits, eg, don’t do it. This is one reason why brits who think they know America because they’ve had holidays in FL and CA are aren’t as well informed as they think. I’m no more immune to this than anyone else — in fact, after nearly 2 decades in the US I still come across social situatons I can’t read.

23

rdg 10.15.04 at 2:58 pm

I’ve been in London for the past two years, living in a poor Muslim area (Whitechapel) while I study at a university known for its controversial politics (the LSE).

I’ve experienced anti-Bush rants. But I’ve experienced a lot of those in the States as well, so i don’t think they count. I’ve never, EVER, been threatened, accosted, blamed, intimidated, or any of the other things Ms. Gould describes. I figure that if such behavior were so prevalent, that I would have experienced it – I live in a Muslim neighborhood, go to school with ‘intellectuals’, and work in a pub that tends to be filled with English people at most hours of the day. No problems.

Reading it made me quite angry – she’s gone and insulted EVERYONE in London who doesn’t happen to be American, for according to her, they’re all filled with anti-American vitriol and are ready to attack. This, of course, is absurd. There’s usually a word for blanket statements about people in a foreign country; probably starts with ‘anti’ and ends with ‘ism’.

24

harry 10.15.04 at 3:10 pm

Michael — did my response to your comment display a complete lack of a sense of humour? Sorry — I did laugh, but then wanted to clarify anyway!

25

Josh 10.15.04 at 3:16 pm

As an American Jew living in England for 2+ years now, I’ve experienced a certain amount of anti-Americanism. This has mainly been from very drunk people (of which there are rather a lot here). I can only think of a couple of incidents. Overall, I’ve been pretty well-treated. There have been times when I’ve felt rather uncomfortable as an American, and times when I’ve worried about people I’ve met making assumptions about me, or treating me differently, because I’m American. Some non-American friends report that there’s a fair amount of anti-Americanism that Americans don’t see. But it’s certainly no tsunami. And the nasty, in-your-face anti-Americanism reported in Front Page has simply not been apparent.
This may have something to do with the fact that Oxford is over-run by Americans, and so people have gotten used to us. It may also have something to do with the relative absence, in my orbit of experience, of the sort of right-wing nativists that Harry mentions. But I suspect that it has more to do with the fact that, here at least, it’s still possible for individuals to interact as individuals, not as Americans or Brits. This is not to say that national differences don’t exist, and aren’t often quite sharp. But they don’t close off communication, or understanding, or friendship. And I’ve encountered very little ill-will or nastiness. (It is certainly true that there is overwhelming opposition to the current US government; and also sometimes criticism of ‘America’, meaning American society as a whole — I have noticed more of this lately, but it has not been accompanied by any personal rudeness or resentment or contempt. And it has often come from non-Brits. I do imagine that were I more right-wing, I would feel rather defensive and set-upon. But Oxford, and Britain more generally, is a very good and friendly and supportive place if you’re a liberal, Democrat-voting American — rather more so than some parts of the US).
As for being Jewish: that there is a good deal more anti-Israel sentiment here than in the US cannot be denied. I tend to think that the anti-Israel sentiment one finds here tends to be facile and excessive (the same may be said of pro-Israel sentiment in the US); but again, with the exception of a few ugly incidents, it does not affect personal relationships or treatment of either Israelis, or Jews from other nations. (The only incident I’ve been personally privy to was when I got into an argument with a very left-wing German student here about the Middle East, and he defended Hamas; a left-wing Scot came to my aid.) As for anti-Semitism proper, it’s certainly true that I feel more self-conscious about my Jewishness here than in the US; and the British Jews I’ve met have tended to also be more self-conscious about their Jewishness than the American Jews whom I’ve known all my life. Britain is, for all its secularisation, a deeply culturally Christian nation; there are very few Jews, and there is generally less knowledge of Jewish life here, and less sensitivity towards Jewish feelings, than one finds in the Northeast US (I cannot speak of other areas of the US which have much smaller Jewish populations). But again, I’ve not encountered any overt anti-Semitism. I’ve neither hid nor trumpeted my own Jewishness, and its rarely been an issue.
To conclude by going beyond my personal experience to moralise: I do think that individual relationships are all, and national stereotyping (however amusing) deeply pernicious. Britons, and Europeans more generally, should judge and treat Americans as individuals; we Americans should do the same. There are a good many failures in this on both sides — and Front Page Magazine provides a very good example of such failure. This is the last thing we need.

26

Barry Freed 10.15.04 at 3:48 pm

I’m an American who has lived in North Africa, although that was a number of years before Sept. 11 2001. I’ve also travelled in Spain, England, and fairly extensively in Turkey (again, long before Sept. 11 2001.)

Based upon my observation of the behavior of many Americans in these places I offer the following suggestions towards better public relations and making a more friendly user-experience for both sides of the cultural encounter.

1. The TSA should inspect the luggage, carry-on and checked of all Americans travelling to overseas destinations and as with fingernail clippers and other potentially dangerous implements of mayhem and murder, any shorts or short pants, Hawaiian shirts, macrame shirts and baseball caps found among the travellers items should be subjected to immediate confiscation at the security gate.

2. There should be decible meters installed at every security check-point. Americans found to be talking too loudly, say, approaching the level of Pres. Bush in the second debate, should have a hearing aid installed with the volume turned up to the appropriate level so they will be forced to modulate their voices to a lower and more culturally acceptable level.

—-

Based solely upon the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen here, what are the odds that Ms. Gould is, in a word, an asshole?

27

seth edenbaum 10.15.04 at 3:52 pm

How’re Tottenham Hotspur doing these days?
And as for the continent, how about Ajax?

For the record, I’m an American, and a Jew; and zionists disgust me. But a stadum full of Europeans yelling, “The Jews! the Jews!” seems rather odd. I end up feeling both charmed and nervous.

28

seth edenbaum 10.15.04 at 4:01 pm

As response to Barry Freed, everything you wrote about americans applies just as much to the Germans and the Brits.

You’re been to Spain right?

The vulgarity of northerners on holiday in the sunny south: no wonder the Germans are taking over Jewish Miami.

29

Barry Freed 10.15.04 at 4:24 pm

Yes Seth, it’s true. And it goes double for Australians. ;-)

a stadum full of Europeans yelling, “The Jews! the Jews!”

That reminds me of a very funny old Robert Klein bit of stand-up.

I suppose an exception ought to be made in the case of those Americans travelling to the Carribean. But we might want to ask them how they feel first. I suspect that they’re dependent enough on US tourists’ dollars that they’ll be willing to be incovenienced, but I don’t know.

30

Sebastian Holsclaw 10.15.04 at 4:44 pm

“Not only is this often a crude appeal to Francophobia (a very clearly expressed sentiment in US politics, compared to French “anti-Americanism”)”

Hmm, it is the French who have high level officials who openly talk about the need to create a “counterweight” to American power. Amusingly the French government wants to be in charge of such counterweight but want the Germans to pay for it.

“Personal attacks on Americans, no. I suppose it must happen, and going out of your way to be visibly pro-American might well make it more likely.”

Depending on what you mean by this, it skirts with blaming the victim.

31

abb1 10.15.04 at 5:16 pm

Seth, just curious: why do zionists disgust you? Are you against all forms of nationalism or you find this one more annoying than others?

I don’t think anything is wrong with Zionism as such; “zionists disgust me” doesn’t sound good; perhaps you meant something else.

Thanks.

32

M. Gordon 10.15.04 at 5:48 pm

Oh and I’m amazed that people keep darkly muttering about a French anti-semitism “epidemic”. Not only is this often a crude appeal to Francophobia (a very clearly expressed sentiment in US politics, compared to French “anti-Americanism”), but having lived there it’s actually anti-arab racism that is an overriding problem.

This is a particularly bizarre bit of rhetoric that I’ve come across before, which implies (and I’ve heard it said more explicitly in the past) that there is some sort of “calculus of hatred,” whereby one may assume that, because the French hate Arabs more than they hate Jews, that it all balances out, or their anti-Israel policy must not be because of anti-Semitism, or something along those lines. I somehow fail to believe that one can treat racial hatred as having mathematical properties which allow one to draw any rational conclusions about their origins or impact.

33

Scott McArthur 10.15.04 at 6:11 pm

Countires that attempt “full spectrum dominance” end up being the target of suspicion and hatred from the world community. This has happenned to every nation that has ever attempted it: 16th c Spain, 17 c France, 19 c Germany, 21c America,
22c China ? On and on it goes …

A noble leader of a dominant nation would look for ways to end this game.

34

Dan McEnroe 10.15.04 at 6:12 pm

My wife’s Swedish, so I’ve spent a lot of time in Stockholm. I’ve got friends in London, and I’ve also spent some time in Paris. The only place I ever felt anti-Americanism to any large extent was in London. Two of the instances involved young drunk lefties who finally had their chance to take it out on a fat, drunk, greedy American. (I took exception to the characterization; I’m not greedy.) One of the guys in question later apologized and we had a grand old time. The other occasion was when I had dared comment on a cricket match. The comment wasn’t disparaging (I have a little knowledge of the game) but you would have thought I had dropped my pants and told the Queen to blow me. Consensus among the Britons was there was no way I could possibly understand cricket since American sports were all invented simply to be shown on television! I pointed out that baseball pre-dates televsion by about 150 years, but was told, “Sorry, you’re wrong, and that’s the way it is.” Since the last comment came from the father of the groom whose wedding I was attending, I let it drop. This was all pre-Iraq; I haven’t been to London since 9/11.

35

Nasi Lemak 10.15.04 at 6:16 pm

This is a really difficult topic to talk about, I think, largely because what is meant by “anti-Americanism” is a pretty disparate set of things with not much in common.

(Let alone anti-semitism; I have to meander a bit here and point out that as a non-Jewish Brit the only occasion I have ever encountered an overtly anti-semitic remark was in Washington DC, something I wrote about here.)

To meander back to the point. I’ve taught American politics to British undergraduates in for about a decade. For nearly all that time this has involved me confronting their rather snobbish and ill-informed assumptions about (say) the inferiority of the US political process and the savagery of its outcomes; for example by pointing out that the existence of the death penalty in the US is prima facie evidence for less, not more, elite dominance of politics there, or that a state probably doesn’t get to be the hegemonic world power if its policy apparatus really is foolish, paralysed and incapable. (Over the past year and a bit I’ve kind of lost faith in America myself, and I don’t have the enthusiasm for this confrontation that I used to have.)

*but* pretty much every one of these students has, along with a bunch of very British assumptions about the incompetence of colonials at self-government, been at another level a deep admirer of America at other levels: its cultural products, or its economy, or its progressive left, or its openness, whatever (and different strokes for different folks here), such that the sum of negative and positive elements is very positive.

You can see the origins of political Atlanticism in their thinking, and that remains the case even with the current generation of new students. So even at the impersonal level of how one relates to America in the abstract, I think there is a deep and abiding respect for it (or for major aspects of it, or for what it represents or might represent).

Conversely, I can offer up the factoid that the number of final year undergraduates at Oxford taking the US politics option paper is 40% down on what it was up to 2002.

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Nasi Lemak 10.15.04 at 6:34 pm

This is a really difficult topic to talk about, I think, largely because what is meant by “anti-Americanism” is a pretty disparate set of things with not much in common.

(Let alone anti-semitism; I have to meander a bit here and point out that as a non-Jewish Brit the only occasion I have ever encountered an overtly anti-semitic remark was in Washington DC, something I wrote about here.)

To meander back to the point. I’ve taught American politics to British undergraduates in for about a decade. For nearly all that time this has involved me confronting their rather snobbish and ill-informed assumptions about (say) the inferiority of the US political process and the savagery of its outcomes; for example by pointing out that the existence of the death penalty in the US is prima facie evidence for less, not more, elite dominance of politics there, or that a state probably doesn’t get to be the hegemonic world power if its policy apparatus really is foolish, paralysed and incapable. (Over the past year and a bit I’ve kind of lost faith in America myself, and I don’t have the enthusiasm for this confrontation that I used to have.)

*but* pretty much every one of these students has, along with a bunch of very British assumptions about the incompetence of colonials at self-government, been at another level a deep admirer of America at other levels: its cultural products, or its economy, or its progressive left, or its openness, whatever (and different strokes for different folks here), such that the sum of negative and positive elements is very positive. Really almost none of them would be an enthusiast for an end to relatively benign American world leadership, as much as they might contest particular aspects of that leadership.

You can see the origins of political Atlanticism in their thinking, and that remains the case even with the current generation of new students. So even at the impersonal level of how one relates to America in the abstract, I think there is a deep and abiding respect for it (or for major aspects of it, or for what it represents or might represent).

Conversely, I can offer up the factoid that the number of final year undergraduates at Oxford taking the US politics option paper is 40% down on what it was up to 2002.

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Nasi Lemak 10.15.04 at 6:44 pm

Sod. It actually told me there was a server error the first time, and the comment didn’t show up after fifteen minutes waiting. Sorry.

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dsquared 10.15.04 at 6:49 pm

I’ve been in London for the past two years, living in a poor Muslim area (Whitechapel)

Chuckle. Whitechapel was, not so long ago, the poor Jewish area.

Josh, above, has it right. Americans living abroad are almost always going to find anywhere anti-semitic, because everywhere on earth except Israel has a much smaller Jewish population than America. Simple as that.

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abb1 10.15.04 at 7:22 pm

It actually told me there was a server error the first time, and the comment didn’t show up after fifteen minutes waiting.

After you get this error the page for some reason doesn’t refresh anymore until you post another comment. What you can do to make sure your comment has been posted is to hit the ‘Preview’ button and scroll all the way down.

40

Thlayli 10.15.04 at 7:28 pm

How’re Tottenham Hotspur doing these days?
And as for the continent, how about Ajax?

Spurs are in fifth place at this early stage, which is a good start by their standards. Ajax is in fourth in their home league, which is a poor start by their standards, and have lost their first two Champions’ League matches (their next opponent in that competition is, of all teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv).

41

Omri 10.15.04 at 8:50 pm

To anyone who is dismissing the extent of antisemitism east of the Pond, I give the following challenge: put on a yarmulke (or a star of David necklace), and take a walk downtown. Then come back here and report. Gould might be exaggerating, but many of you are downplaying the phenomenon way more than you have any right to.

42

John Quiggin 10.15.04 at 9:36 pm

As a general observation on all this, people of ‘other’ groups behaving obnoxiously tend to attract stereotypical negative responses – the ugly American, Australian and so on.

It’s a pretty safe bet that anyone associated with David Horowitz is obnoxious, since that’s his main raison d’etre and my limited knowledge of Melanie Phillips suggests that she’s in the same class. So, among the many negative reactions such people elicit, I expect there are quite a few that focus on American-ness, Jewishness and other points of difference.

43

Martin Wisse 10.16.04 at 12:07 am

First, Frontline Magazine is one step away from Holocaust Denier territory; not to be taken serious by decent people.

Second, I cannot imagine why there would be a rise in anti-americanism when this country is doing such good work, like ummm invading a country for no real reason, blatantly violating international law as well as its own, fucking over old allies, unwilling to take its responsibilities regarding the environment and in general behaving like it’s auditioning for the part of sinister new empire.

Third, anti-semitism in this report means people criticising Israel, which again has of course done nothing to rile people. The occupied territories? Repression of the original inhabitants of land taken by force? State terrorism? No biggie.

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WeSaferThemHealthier 10.16.04 at 12:51 am

Josh,

“less sensitivity towards Jewish feelings”

I hesitate to give ethnic groups feelings, but, if one can speak of such a thing, what are you referring to? What are Jewish feelings?

Surely I misunderstand another part of what you say. You seem to be saying that having little knowledge of Jewish life, if it leads to Jews there being self-conscious, counts as a type of anti-Semitism. Is this accurate?

45

Matt McGrattan 10.16.04 at 2:29 am

“To anyone who is dismissing the extent of antisemitism east of the Pond, I give the following challenge: put on a yarmulke (or a star of David necklace), and take a walk downtown. Then come back here and report.”

I’ll tell you what, I’ll put on a kilt and walk around in a major English city and I’ll see how many cheeky or crass remarks I hear.

I don’t doubt there’ll be plenty but that would hardly count as evidence of a widespread and deep seated hatred of Scots among the English.

I really don’t mean to trivialize this issue and I don’t doubt that genuine anti-Semitism exists among a minority of people. I also think it’s wise to be wary of becoming too complacent about levels of such hatred.

The problem here, however, is not that someone is pointing out that there are some people (in any Western country) who hold unacceptable anti-Semitic views. I’m sure that is true although I strongly suspect that the numbers of people who hold such views are considerably lower than those who hold, say, more straightforwardly racist or homophobic views.

Rather, the problem is that the article is giving the entirely mistaken and deeply pernicious impression that anti-Semitism is vocal, widespread, and hostile here. And that, by any rational standard, is utterly and totally false.

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Josh 10.16.04 at 2:45 am

Whoah whoah whoah, wesaferthemhealthier! Hang on there! I fear that you have indeed misunderstood me! Dsquared is much closer to understanding what I said (and thanks for the words of assent), but still also indicates that I’ve made myself unclear. I didn’t mean to say that people who are unfamiliar with Jewish life, or don’t show special sensitivity to Jewish feelings (by which I mean, for instance, people automatically asking one what one is doing/did for Christmas, or not providing any not obviously non-kosher food at a dinner or other function, or asking you if you’ve been to Church, etc.), are anti-Semitic, or even might seem anti-Semitic to American Jews — I think that anyone who isn’t paranoid ought to be able to recognise the difference between ill-will and simple non-thinking about the likely concerns, reactions, and experiences of many Jews. I was merely talking about my own experiences as a Jew in Britain, and those of some other Jews, some British, some not, I’ve spoken with here. My point was that there isn’t much noticeable anti-Semitism here, but that it does feel different than the parts of the US I’m familiar with.
As for the other point, hopefully already partially dealt with: I don’t want to claim that there are any universal feelings that all Jews experience, or any feelings that belong to some sort of collective entity called ‘the Jews’. But many Jews do share certain experiences, reference points, traditions; and many of us do share the feeling of being a bit out of place in very clearly non-Jewish settings (say, those that are overtly or pervasively Christian). This doesnt’ seem to me a very mysterious or unreasonable point to make. But then, I’ve yet to encounter a statement about Judaism or Jewishness or Jewish people that hasn’t evoked disagreement with someone, somewhere. This itself seems peculiar.
By the way, Omri, I was just at a Shabbat dinner here earlier tonight, and a great many of the guys present came over wearing yarmulkes. None of them made any mention of having felt uncomfortable or harassed, or seemed worried about feeling so on the walk back. That said, one doesn’t see too many people wearing yarmulkes around here, compared to, say, where I grew up. But then, as I said, there simply are fewer Jews here.

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Josh 10.16.04 at 2:52 am

By the way (and sorry to blather on so): All this opining based on anecdotal evidence is great fun, and not without its own value; but if anyone hankers after some hard statistical data to bring to bear on the question of anti-Americanism in Britain (and elsewhere), there is actually a poll that’s just come out. It’s in the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/viewsofamerica/table/0,15223,1327308,00.html
The Graun also has also published Carol Gould’s piece of invective, which prompted this whole discussion. This is surely remarkable. Can anyone imagine the Wall Street Journal, say, publishing a piece about American Francophobia on its op-ed page?

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Josh 10.16.04 at 2:56 am

Whoops! I see abb1 has already posted a link to the survey I just mentioned. Many apologies to all. I should go to bed now.

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seth edenbaum 10.16.04 at 5:17 am

I become wary whenever I hear attacks on Israel from non Jewish whites and Europeans. It’s a reflex and I’m not bothered by it. I don’t have that reflex when that criticism comes from or non jewish semites, or other minorities. Jews are white to blacks and still a little black to whites. That’s just the way it is.
But Zionism disgusts me.
It’s not only nationalism it’s an artificially constructed modern derivative of nationalism. The nationalism preceeded the existence of a state. The idea of blood and soil came first! In it’s modernity it’s near fascism. Every child born on german soil is german to me. I’m offended by any argument against it. But Israel is a state where racism is not a byproduct of provincialism but ITS CAUSE.
Europeans are beginning to learn that they have no right to nations built on race. It was a very pleasant surprise to read that Islamic leaders in France told groups in the middle east to fuck off during the fight over the Hajib. “It’s a French problem!” they said. That was lovely.

There is no right of Jewish statehood, on stolen land.
No matter. It’ll end up a binational state sooner or later. The 2 state soilution was always crap. And the plan is falling apart as we speak. But still, I’ve never met an Israeli I’ve liked much. The arrogance is grotesque. And then they invtite me there: “But you’re a jew” they say.
I want to puke.

Thlayli: Thanks for the report!

Shalom

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q 10.16.04 at 5:56 am

It seems the author of the original article has missed the point completely, which is that the UK was drawn into a US Middle Eastern campaign recently, on dubious grounds. A lot of people in the UK are irritated at the apparant fabrications behind the reasons for the war.

The only epidemic sweeping across the UK is an epidemic of Reality TV programmes, which is indeed frightening. Judging by the people who appear in these programmes, most people in the UK would have trouble locating Iraq on a map, and are more familiar with the 299 shades of Pastel Blue to renovate the kitchen, than the political, social and religious history of the British Isles, or anywhere else.

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Alon Harel 10.16.04 at 8:26 am

Yes indeed one state solution is great. Look at Yeguslavia. Such an immense example of peaceful united state.

Once the US joins Mexico and the Soviet Union is united with China perhaps it will be advisable to implement one state solution in the Middle East

52

Lance Boyle 10.16.04 at 10:28 am

The intentional fog the language creates, the monolithic “group” that gets named, and accused unfairly, and the subsets of the group that are nameless and run to hide behind the named whenever they’re accused, rightly, that’s what’s causing this.
I’m an “American”, a citizen of the US, but I have less to do with American policy in the world than Ariel Sharon does. There’s a lot of men and women in America who are opposed to the American government’s vicious bullying, domestically and in the rest of the world. We are Americans.
Naomi Klein is Jewish, someone I’d go a long way at great personal risk to defend.
John Negroponte is Jewish, someone I wouldn’t.
Negroponte has an affinity with a lot of other Jews, men who are doing much evil in the world, and who are in powerful positions from which to accomplish that evil; but what they are together – what they make as a group – has no name.
It’s specious to pretend their Jewishness has nothing to do with their positions and actions. But it’s a terrible error to link them with people who oppose everything they are and represent.
Derrida’s obituary in the NYTimes was dismissive because of his championing, such as it was, of the Palestinian cause. Derrida was a Jew. The insulting obituary was written by a Jew. It was answered, cogently and with heartfelt sincerity and erudition, by Judith Butler, herself a Jew.
There’s a group of some kind at work behind that dismissive obituary, but it isn’t Jewish, even though it is.
These are men who function in the dark, almost invisibly. So that when they’re attacked for their chauvinism, because it’s impossible to call them anything else as a group, it’s far too easy to call them Jews, and it becomes hate-crime. It’s a failure of language.
What they are is what’s endangering all of us, Jew and Gentile.
Even “Zionist”, with its biblical overtones and its dreams of home, doesn’t catch it.
It’s something darker even than that.
Personally I prefer “Satanist”, but I’m not as calm about these things as I once was.

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abb1 10.16.04 at 10:28 am

Seth, I agree that Mein-Kampf-style militant ethnic exceptionalism is not an appealing concept, but I don’t think political Zionism is based on this concept.

I am not an expert, but I thought the original idea was pretty much a reaction to European anti-semitism (exemplified by the Dreyfus affair) – a perfectly healthy nationalist reaction, IMO.

So, this is a matter of terminology. You’re talking about so-called ‘Revisionist Zionism‘, which is, indeed, a fascist-style movement. But it doesn’t necessarily indict the concept of Zionism itself.

Cheers.

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Gary Farber 10.16.04 at 12:26 pm

“I read that article after it was linked from Amygdala….”

I’m grateful to Matt Mcgrattan for having read me first, and for mentioning this, but since he (understandably) didn’t link to my actual post, I’d like to very carefully, lest anyone leap to mistaken assumptions (not that many are likely to think about it one way or the other), quote what I actually said, if you don’t mind:

“HMM. I can’t speak to how exaggerated or not this might be, or how accurate or inaccurate, and in any case, I’m entirely sure different people, different Jewish Americans in Britain, not to mention different Britons, will have different perceptions from each other, and, yes, FrontPage prints a lot of crazy right-wing nonsense, but this piece by Carol Gould on her perception of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism in Britain is rather a disturbing read, nonetheless.”

That was the entirety. I don’t want anyone assuming I was endorsing her POV (nor contradicting it, which I am in no place to do), let alone FrontPage. Thanks.

55

Gary Farber 10.16.04 at 1:01 pm

“Americans living abroad are almost always going to find anywhere anti-semitic, because everywhere on earth except Israel has a much smaller Jewish population than America. Simple as that.”

I have to say I think this contains some extremely questionable assumptions, Daniel, such as that one will automatically interpret and define ignorance of things Jewish as anti-Semitic. I, for one, certainly wouldn’t, in innumerable contexts, though in certain limited contexts in regard to certain limited things I might.

As for Scott Edenbaum’s statements such as “But Israel is a state where racism is not a byproduct of provincialism but ITS CAUSE” and “But still, I’ve never met an Israeli I’ve liked much,” and the like, I won’t bother to argue with them or him, but I will note my lack of respect for these sorts of views. (And for those who don’t know me, this is hardly due to my [non-existent] religious views or lack of willingness to criticize an Israeli government, particularly a Likud government.) But at this point in my life I have very little interest in arguing with anyone over the right for the Jewish people to have a (free, democratic, guaranteeing human rights) state; I probably waste more time defending the justice of a Palestinian state, ironically enough. Nationalism, like it or not, happens to not yet be dead, and for not entirely unreasonable reasons, and, as a rule, if a group of people are large enough to economically and otherwise sustain a state, I tend to support their right to one. Meanwhile, as usual, why pick on the Jews first, before demanding that any other of the states in the world dissolve themselves, and its people offer themselves up to the kind and democratic likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, I leave to the reader.

And to note for the jillionth time, any sensible person can, or should be able to, tell the difference between reasonable and strong criticism of an Israeli government, and anti-Semitism, though granted their seem to be considerable number of non-sensible people, of various ilks, by this definition. (And, yes, of course, there are many points on which reasonable people can, will, and do, disagree.)

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dsquared 10.16.04 at 1:20 pm

Actually I meant that in, say, London, it’s possible to go into a pub and talk about Jews in the way in which white people talk about black people when there are none around, but in, say, New York, it isn’t.

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Fergal 10.16.04 at 1:29 pm

John Negroponte is Jewish, someone I wouldn’t (defend).
Negroponte has an affinity with a lot of other Jews, men who are doing much evil in the world, and who are in powerful positions from which to accomplish that evil; but what they are together – what they make as a group – has no name.
It’s specious to pretend their Jewishness has nothing to do with their positions and actions.
(per “Lance Boyle”)

Quite apart from the fact that Negroponte is Greek Orthodox, what in heaven’s name is such vile stuff doing in Crooked Timber? Or shouldn’t I be surprised?

58

G.G. 10.16.04 at 2:24 pm

…what in heaven’s name is such vile stuff doing in Crooked Timber? Or shouldn’t I be surprised?

This isn’t par, Fergal, but sadly, you shouldn’t. “Vile stuff” is no longer the province of Indymedia.

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seth edenbaum 10.16.04 at 2:25 pm

The Germans, in my opinion, do not have a right to a democratic state for those people it considers genetically ‘German’. The Jews do not have a right to a democratic state for those it considers to be Jews.
By that logic we can have a democracy of the free (minus the slaves).

Zionism is the racism of a double fiction.

Also I’m not arguing or planning for a binational state. It’s inevitable and will be recognized as a fact on the ground soon enough.
But nobody has responded to my basic point: the black white duality of Jewish life.
Yes there is anti-semitism in Europe, just as there is racism. But ‘Jews can hide’
and darker skinned people can’t.

60

Jonathan Edelstein 10.16.04 at 5:22 pm

I give the following challenge: put on a yarmulke (or a star of David necklace), and take a walk downtown.

I saw quite a few people doing so on the Tube last weekend, and nobody seemed to be bothering them. I’m sure that happens sometimes, but it happens in New York as well; London has never struck me as being like medieval Germany.

I also won’t join the meta-argument over the merits of Zionism – I’ve been in enough such arguments on CT, and my views on such issues are a matter of record – but I’ll second everything Gary Farber said.

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Barry Freed 10.16.04 at 5:45 pm

Why I love this blog.

It’s not just the intellectual eclecticism of the community that gathers here. It’s also the diachronic diversity. From Harry’s living in the US of 2985 (glad to see we’re still around. I forgot to ask, does Kerry win? Did the Dems capture either the House or the Senate?), to Jonathan Edelstein’s time spent in medieval Germany (How’s the beer Jonathan?) it’s really quite amazing.

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seth edenbaum 10.16.04 at 11:58 pm

The beer probably tastes about the same, what with those damn purity laws
Weihenstephaner Bitte!

Oy…

63

Roger Hurwitz 10.17.04 at 3:14 am

an employee of Scaife’s named Poe, who earns his living from attacking George Soros, was quoted in the latest New Yorker in calling Soros: “a definite type.. the self-hating Jew.”

Now I have heard Mr. Soros on several occasion speak warmly, intimately, lovingly of his Jewishness. I am not sure what a self-hating Jew is or who has been one since Otto Weininger (and maybe not even him). So does anybody have an idea. Does anybody fulminating against anti-Semitism in England believe this is an anti-Semitic remark, like does it mean “dirty, bloody Jew”? Or should we congratulate Mr. Poe in seeing behind Soros’s apparent comfort with being Jewish and his claim that being Jewish challenges him to make the world a better place.

64

abb1 10.17.04 at 11:06 am

Killing children is no longer a big deal
By Gideon Levy

More than 30 Palestinian children were killed in the first two weeks of Operation Days of Penitence in the Gaza Strip. It’s no wonder that many people term such wholesale killing of children “terror.”
[…]
The public indifference that accompanies this pageant of unrelieved suffering makes all Israelis accomplices to a crime. Even parents, who understand what anxiety for a child’s fate means, turn away and don’t want to hear about the anxiety harbored by the parent on the other side of the fence. Who would have believed that Israeli soldiers would kill hundreds of children and that the majority of Israelis would remain silent? Even the Palestinian children have become part of the dehumanization campaign: killing hundreds of them is no longer a big deal.

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Anatoly 10.17.04 at 12:22 pm

Seth,

And then they invtite me there

I’ll put up a note on the all-Israel Zionist Outreach bulletin board asking everyone to not invite you anymore. Sorry; if we’d realised earlier what a prick you are, we wouldn’t have bothered.

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seth edenbaum 10.17.04 at 5:55 pm

Anatoly,
If you want to insult me feel free. But defend your position while you’re at it or you’ll just bore us all.
And I’m still waiting for someone to comment on the race question.
Are jews white, nonwhite or both?

Or is it impossible to be both A and not A?

67

Alon Harel 10.17.04 at 6:23 pm

Can you clarify Seth what your question is because I am puzzled. Why does it matter whether Jews are defined as whites or blacks or yellows? Perhaps the reason why people do not address your question is that it irrelevant precisely as your fundamentalist belief in a binational state is abusrd given the horrendous catastrophies in Yugoslavia, Cyprus etc. Some people seem to love solutions which will inevitably lead to great bloodshed, greater even than the existing one. I personally am not very fond of demographic experiments.

As to Germany I would recommend you look at their immirgration laws. They are based on race like many other european laws including for instance Ireland. Greece, if I remember adopts religion rather than race as a relevant criterion. Hungary, on the other hand prefers race. BTW in the 1990’s Germany also gave preference to Jews from eastern Europe.

I would recommend that people who deal with the legitimacy of the existence of nation-states that they examine the immigration laws and practices prevalent in Europe and not only to rely on the American/Canadian model. They can of course ultimately reject these rules and practices and prefer perhaps to adopt immigration laws based on capital (Canada) or whatever. But they must at least be aware of the prevalent practices of immigration and the historical emergence of these practices.

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Gary Farber 10.17.04 at 8:43 pm

Anyone who defines Jews genetically says something about themself. Ditto if they worry about Jews and race.

Certainly, and obviously, it is not how Jews define Jews, under any circumstances, and it is certainly not how Israel defines its citizens, or Jews (two separate categories, of course).

(For all its problems and injustices — which obviously are many and great — it’s worth noting that, for now, Israel is still the only country in the world with a fully sovereign and democratic parliament with several Arab members, and full voting rights for its Arab citizens.)

Anyone want to argue the case that Palestinian nationalism is wrong because nationalism is dead, and besides, it’s a racist notion? (Furthermore, Palestinians can “pass” as other Arabs, and even other ethnicities at times, which I guess means that discriminating against them doesn’t matter, or something. Something.)

I didn’t think so.

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abb1 10.17.04 at 11:07 pm

Anyone want to argue the case that Palestinian nationalism is wrong because nationalism is dead, and besides, it’s a racist notion?

I think he argues that community-based nationalism is OK, but ethnicity-based nationalism is wrong. And, I think, it’s a valid point.

The exception, I think, is where people are assaulted or harassed because of their ethnicity and so they have to develop ethnicity-based nationalism just to defend themselves. Unfortunately in the aftermath of the WWII and the holocaust this concept was taken too far.

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elizabeth 10.18.04 at 2:44 am

I think its plainly obvious that zionism, as a form of racism, as a form of nationalism, is an exaggerated tendency of many other nations of people. Like schizophrenia, the characteristics can be found to a lesser extent in many. The exaggerated tendencies can be found in a few. Doesn’t make zionism in Isael, or schizophrenia in the few, any easier to deal with.

What would you call current American foreign policy

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reinstein 10.18.04 at 3:12 am

the issue of community vs. genetics for Jews has been an underarticulated but potent influence in Zionist thought. classical Zionism from Herzl through Mapai & Labor generally defined Jews on the basis of a community with a common destiny. Hence the possibility of territorial minimalism, the problems of Who is a Jew (as in the brother Daniel case), the question of the Fashamoura, etc. The Revisionists, influenced by the European 1930s mentality, put considerable influence on a racial basis: hence the blood motifs in Begin’s rhetoric, the demand for the Land of the Fathers, the view by folks like Eitan and Za’ebi of the Palestinian as racially inferior. This leaves the issue of identity today in Israel very murky. Like a) many of the Russian immigrants, perhaps 100,000 are not Jews, except when being counted as Jews vs. Palestinians, so they’re registered as Jews; b) naturallization is almost impossible, since it involves becoming an Israeli citizen without a nationality; c) the citizen status of the few children of Israeli women and Palestinain men from the WB or GS was unresolved last time I checked (any update on this appreciated).

Does any of this matter with respect to charges or facts of anti-Semitism in Britain or the continent? Maybe not, but it might remind us that race, etc. are constructed, not primordial, yet we also live with the facts of earlier constructions. And of course nobody wants to a victim of a construction accident.

but it might also remind us that indeed what constitutes anti-Semitism is also constructed and raises the question who defines it: Sharon, Abe Foxman, David Duke and to what end. I think it is indisputable that for the last 30 plus years the state of Israel and it many supporters have vigorously played the anti-Semitism card as a way of deflecting criticism against Israeli policies. this has undisputably raised sensitivities to anti-Semitism but also exagerated their level. a recent example was the Marie B. case in Paris, a fabrication by a disturbed woman that she was attacked by Arab youth who believed she was Jewish. the attack was denounced and Arab quarters rousled by the gendarme, until the fabrication came to light. perhaps because there had been just enough real and maybe incidents in France to make the allegation credible. it reminded me much of a case in Boston about 15 years ago, when a man claimed that an African-American had killed his pregnant wife, while he & she sat in their car. The claim was something a lot of people in Boston wanted to believe and black neighborhoods in the area were scoured for sometime, before the police smelled a rat and realized the husband had killed the wife.

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Alon Harel 10.18.04 at 5:31 am

To the very useful comment by Reinstein one should add one observation on the sources of Zionism. If you look at Herzl and Pinsker and many other early Zionists, their primary concern was antisemitism. They regarded it as an ieliminable disease that inflicts Europe. The idea of a Jewish state was for them a mechnaism to “normalize” the Jewish nation and thus to eradicate antisemitic sentiments. It was clearly the antisemitic sentiments that created the need for an ethnically defined nation. The complexity of what makes a person “Jewish” for the purpose of the law of return is to a large extent a reaction to what made a person Jewish in the eyes of antisemites in Europe or what is perceived by Jews to make a person a Jew in the eyes of antisemites in Europe.

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reinstein 10.18.04 at 6:43 am

an apology: in my mention of the case in boston 15 years ago, i wrote “a man claimed that an African-American..” It should of course have been “a white man claimed that an African-American man” To use the cliche, I am sorry, if I offended anyone.

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Gary Farber 10.18.04 at 7:41 am

“I think he argues that community-based nationalism is OK, but ethnicity-based nationalism is wrong.”

I’m sure I’m dense, but I don’t understand how the citizenry of Israel is an “ethnicity.”

I don’t even understand how Judaism is an ethnicity, nor the set of people who identify as “Jews.”

Could you unpack this for me, abb1?

How are, say, Jews from a gillion different places across the former Soviet Union, formerly Syrian Jews, immigrants from Poland, Bedouin, former Iraqi Jews, former Brazilian Jews, former South African Jews, former Italian Jews, Druze, former American Jews, former French Jews, Circassians, former Australian Jews, former Ethiopian Jews, and on and on, all one “ethnicity”?

Is this like there being an “American ethnicity”?

How many European countries have such ethnic diversity?

On another point: “The exception, I think, is where people are assaulted or harassed….”

Would that be your description of Europe’s historic treatment of Jews?

Elizabeth says: “I think its plainly obvious that zionism, as a form of racism….” And: “Doesn’t make zionism in Isael, or schizophrenia in the few, any easier to deal with.”

We hear that Zionism-is-racism, Zionism-is-unique, Zionism-is-evil, but, hey, self-rule, self-determination, national rights, and a state, are good enough for all the other countries on earth, good enough for people to support it for the Kurds (who obviously don’t have one yet), the Ukrainians, the Croatians, the Belarusians, the Guatamalans, the Pakistanis, the Kuwaitis, the Belgians, the Syrians, the Lebanese, the people of Palau, the Cayman Islands, the Maltese, the Palestinians, the Tibetans (who also obviously don’t have a state at present — but those who object to Zionism undoubtedly oppose the “ethnically-based” claim of the Tibets, I’m sure), the Ecuadorans, the Andorrans, the Maldivians, and on and on and on.

Presumably Ireland should never have had any quibble or claim worth breaking away from the United Kingdom.

Presumably the U.S. should renounce all treaties with Native American “nations,” because such “ethnically based” claims are repugnant and unjustified.

Somehow the Jews, who are somehow a single, unique, “ethnicity,” and not a “community” — unlike, say, the nation of Japan (have you tried obtaining citizenship there?; checked them out for lack of virulent racism and sense of ethnic superiority?) are unique. Their state is uniquely bad. Their state is uniquely racist. Their state is so uniquely bad that it should constantly be railed against and marched against.

The Jews are simply unique.

Well, that’s a rather old claim, isn’t it?

And whenever Israel is mentioned in CT comment threads, we see this sort of thing consistently crawl out. Not perfectly reasonable “I’m am completely repelled by last week’s shooting of a young girl in Gaza” or “I oppose Israel building a fence outside the Green line,” or any other sort of normal objection, including horrified objection or plaint, to an act, alone; those would be simply arguable and fine. But what always turns up is the Jewish State is uniquely illegitimate and has no right to exist.

Not “the United Kingdom has no right to exist” or “the U.S. has no right to exist” or “the Russian Federation has no right to exist” or “China has no right to exist” as states. Because, after all, none of these states has any history of racism or mass murder or unjust war.

No, the Jewish State is unique.

Not exactly a chorus of concerted objection is heard here, either.

Niebuhr occurs to me.

I’m old enough to remember when support of the socialistic State of Israel was one of the firmest pillars of the left there was.

And it’s not because Israel has slowly or quickly become a uniquely evil, racist, state that that’s changed.

This is why I should know better than to get enmeshed in these threads.

But I also can’t stand to see the left enmeshed in these sorts of ignorant, bigoted, disproportionate-at-best, repulsive, views.

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abb1 10.18.04 at 8:27 am

I don’t even understand how Judaism is an ethnicity, nor the set of people who identify as “Jews.”

Reinstein’s (October 18, 2004 03:12 AM) comment above has a good explanation.

And Europe’s historic treatment of Jews definitely does fit the description and is the source of everything that’s going on now, no question about that.

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Lance Boyle 10.18.04 at 11:09 am

Vile stuff indeed.

“Meanwhile, as usual, why pick on the Jews first, before demanding that any other of the states in the world dissolve themselves, and its people offer themselves up to the kind and democratic likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, I leave to the reader.”

Not Jews, not picked on first. The only effective discriminator seems to be “Zionist” though as I said above it doesn’t work accurately enough. Plus for a lot of younger ahistorical folks it’s reminiscent of Bob Marley more than it is the atrocities of Sabra and Gaza and the death of Rachel Corrie.
It is precisely to not be picking on “Jews” that I speak to this issue.
Naomi Klein is a Jew but she isn’t killing women and children for personal gain. And that is what’s happening in Israel. Personal gain is the motive, though it’s diffused into a larger mold, the group, the ethnically circumscribed nation-state. But it is not “Jews”, something less proud, and undeserving of the legitimate sympathy Jews have earned.
Whatever that is, it’s armed with nuclear weapons, and it’s belligerent, and it’s sociopathically irrational. That’s why it’s getting picked on.
Again, it’s not “Jews” it’s a subset of the group which I believe the Torah itself defines as “someone whose mother was a Jew”.
The US Abassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, is a Jew, as is Paul Bremer, and what that says about who’s directing Bush’s “policy” there is as clear as day.
The Father of Lies is much harder to see than evidence of his work.

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abb1 10.18.04 at 1:27 pm

The only effective discriminator seems to be “Zionist” though as I said above it doesn’t work accurately enough.

There is no mystery in this, it’s called “Revisionist Zionism”. It’s a radical fascist movement that, unfortunately, controls the country at the moment.

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yabonn 10.18.04 at 1:49 pm

But what always turns up is the Jewish State is uniquely illegitimate and has no right to exist.

You saw that in CT? No right to exist? Always turning up?

I find that a bit surprising, to be frank.

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.18.04 at 5:15 pm

No, the Jewish State is [perceived to be] unique.

That’s the crux of it, I think. Speaking only for myself, I can respect criticism of Israel – or even anti-Zionism – that is founded upon a logically consistent principle. For instance, I can respect the views of someone who opposes all nationalism including Zionism, or someone who believes that sanctions should be applied against all countries including Israel that commit human rights violations. I can even respect “abb1’s” arguments, which on available evidence seem to proceed from notions of Westphalian sovereignty – i.e., nations that commit atrocities outside their borders commit crimes against the international order while those that commit atrocities within their borders do not. I don’t agree with these arguments or the premise upon which they are founded, but they proceed from a consistently-applied principle and do not depend on double standards. Presumably, “abb1” would make the same arguments in respect to Armenia or Morocco.

What I can’t and don’t respect is arguments that depend on special pleading, double standards or reasoning from the conclusion. I have yet to see a historical uniqueness argument that doesn’t depend on one of these, given that there has been so much history and so many conflicts that nothing is beyond comparison. Also, in my experience, 90-plus percent of the existential arguments against Israel are founded on such flawed premises. The pro-Israel side is by no means innocent of double standards and special pleading, but I’ve seen a good deal more of it coming from the pro-Palestinian camp. Such rhetoric from either side doesn’t impress me as persuasive or intellectually honest.

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abb1 10.18.04 at 7:08 pm

Come to think of it, I agree that ‘sovereignty’ argument is not very strong.

I think maybe there is a cumulative effect in this: it’s a 37-year-long military occupation. It’s a colonization of land and natural resources. It’s imperialistic. It’s secretive. It’s done by Europeans to third-worlders, to olive growing peasants. It’s racially/ethnically motivated. It’s brutal, more and more brutal every day. It’s supported by the US elite. It’s produced unbelievable amount of successful demagoguery where perpetrators are always portrayed as victims.

IOW it’s a poster child – it has everything a typical left-leaning person stands against. Maybe that’s where we should look for logical consistency.

And there’s another angle. It may also be the case that many on the left feel in a way responsible for all this by virtue of their own ethnicity – and some (or many) of them suffer from guilt almost on the physical level and they simply become obsessed; that’s people like Michael Neumann, Norm Finkelstein, Israel Shahak and to almost clinical cases like Israel Shamir. It is unique for people who feel personally responsible. It’s personal.

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.18.04 at 7:38 pm

it’s a 37-year-long military occupation. It’s a colonization of land and natural resources. It’s imperialistic. It’s secretive. It’s done by Europeans to third-worlders, to olive growing peasants. It’s racially/ethnically motivated. It’s brutal, more and more brutal every day. It’s supported by the US elite. It’s produced unbelievable amount of successful demagoguery where perpetrators are always portrayed as victims.

Yes, yes, yes, no, no, no, maybe, to an extent, and yes but from both sides. And I don’t think the poster-child status of the I-P conflict can be truly evaluated without examining the acts and motivations of the Palestinians, who are hardly passive participants. Any view of the conflict that casts one side as the perpetrator and the other as the victim is reductionist to the point of inaccuracy.

Surprisingly enough, though, as a Labor Zionist, I agree with much of what you say about Revisionism. Never thought I’d see the day.

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Luc 10.18.04 at 7:58 pm

or someone who believes that sanctions should be applied against all countries including Israel that commit human rights violations.

A silly premise. Sanctions are there to achieve (political) goals. Thus the US has sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Sudan and a list of others. Not against Israel. Other countries have other lists, which might include Israel, Taiwan, Birma etc.

The sports boycott against SA and Yugoslavia weren’t there because they were the worst human right abusers, but they were there to send a message. And that message was recieved pretty well. Ask the cricketers in the SA case and the football players in the Yugoslav case.

Thus the sports boycott of Israel by Iran isn’t that strange or wrong. It is pretty useless though since Iran is (currently) isolated in its action. Just as the US is in the Cuban cigar smoking boycott.

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Gary Farber 10.19.04 at 1:13 am

Abb1: “…And Europe’s historic treatment of Jews definitely does fit the description….”

That the appropriate words are “assaulted or harassed…” is something we’ll have to agree to disagree about. I hope you will forgive that I shall not take the time to even begin to list here, let alone link to sources about, the history I have in mind, but the words I choose as appropriate are “slaughtered, expelled, mass murdered, forcibly converted, raped, committed pogroms against, and committed genocide against.”

I also don’t think that Europe “has engaged in giving offensive parking tickets to Jews” as an appropriate description of the last 2000 years. But clearly your mileage varies on this.

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seth edenbaum 10.19.04 at 1:20 am

As I said I think there is something artificial about the Jewish state. It’s an invention, the product of utopian idealism,. The left used to celebrate quite a few such places.

If I was separating one form of nationalism, perhaps it’s merely a difference of scale. Hypertrophied nationalism, nationalism not as idea but ideology. My favorite irony in life is that the Jewish state should be so Germanic.

And for the record my father was always annoyed that he was never given the option to check “Jewish” instead of White or caucasian on any form that included questions about ethnicity. There are a few Chinese jews but it’s called anti-semitism for a reason.

Apologies for rambling, it’s been a long day.

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Gary Farber 10.19.04 at 1:27 am

Lance Boyle: “The US Abassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, is a Jew, as is Paul Bremer, and what that says about who’s directing Bush’s ‘policy’ there is as clear as day.”

Wow. You believe Bremer and Negroponte are Jews.

Wow.

I could have argued rationally with the rest of what you said, although, again, the point that Israel is being said to have no right to exist because it does evil (without arguing specifics, I agree it does evil), yet, say, no one is marching to dissolve Russia because of Chechnya, nor to dissolve China because of Tibet, nor to say that the U.S. and the U.K, and on and on, is a point you don’t touch.

But you believe that the Jews have been and are ruling Iraq.

Say no more, say no more, because now we’re into the Monty Python realm.

I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but that you actually believe this is plausible, that Bremer and Negroponte are Jooos simply says something for itself. I’m not sure what, but I don’t care to engage it.

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Gary Farber 10.19.04 at 1:50 am

“As I said I think there is something artificial about the Jewish state.”

There’s something artificial about all states. That’s why Wilsonian concepts of self-determination are somewhat incomplete and self-contradictory.

I also, incidentally, as anyone remotely familiar with my opinions and writings knows, have always condemned Revisionist Zionism.

Seth Edenbaum says: “There are a few Chinese jews but it’s called anti-semitism for a reason.”

Yes, there is, but it seems you don’t know what it is. Does the name “Wilhelm Marr” ring a bell? No?

Clearly not. Because then you’d know that “anti-Semitism” (“S” gets capitalized, by the way; so does the “J” in “Jews”) has nothing to do with being Semitic. I’m sorry, but you’re ignorant.

“…it’s a 37-year-long military occupation. It’s a colonization of land and natural resources.”

Etc., etc. As Jonathan says, yes to much of that. But is anyone here arguing that Israel should be immune from harsh criticism? Or arguing that the U.S. hasn’t, shall we say, cut Israel slack? Or arguing that Israel hasn’t done lots of awful things?

No.

I’m only arguing that this provides no grounds whatever for arguing that Israel uniquely has no right to exist. I don’t know if you take issue with that, or not. If you simply want to criticize Israel, fine; I’ve spent decades doing so, and have been on plenty of marches, been active years ago in organizations with Palestinians, etc.

But if you’re arguing that this means Israel as a Jewish State shouldn’t exist, than why should China exist, given Tibet? Why should the Russian Federation exist given Chechyna? Let alone getting into the historical occupations of the U.S. and the British Empire, let alone….

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seth edenbaum 10.19.04 at 3:24 am

Oy Vey…

Gary, you wanna see some photographs of my father’s family. My Uncle looks like Hosni Mubarak. He looks like a sand nigger, because that’s he’s the descendent of sand niggers. Still, my mother, who is the descendent of French Huguenots [Virginia, 1720] does not claim a right of return to the Loire Valley.
You think any bunch of schmucks from Minsk wanna claim 3000 years in the desert? Gimme a break.

And please don’t say I’m not a Jew. My last name is Jewish. And the Nazi’s wouldn’t listen to me if I said I were really a protestant frog. I could also just take it personally and assume that you were accusing my mother of something she wouldn’t do without birth control. And she’s pro-choice too, so it really doesn’t apply.

-What’s the difference between a cult and a religion?
-A few hundred years.

Israel is an artificial state, an Instant state.
Poof! 2000 years later… We’re back! And we speak…
Hebrew!?

Israel exists. America exists. I don’t claim America had a god given right to be founded. America is simply a fact on the ground, and great crimes were committed in the process of creating that ‘fact.’ But does a modern state have the right to exist under the set of assumptions upon which Israel is based.
In my opinion, No. And also in my opinion, to argue otherwise is reactionary: Haidar, Le Pen, et al.

I’m betting on a bi-national state not because I defend zionism in any form. I’m betting on it because no one there is gonna leave.

Tschuss!

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Gary Farber 10.19.04 at 5:01 am

“And please don’t say I’m not a Jew.”

Where did I express the slightest opinion on the topic? (This is the Internet; I have no way of knowing if you’re the Chief Rabbi of Britain having a lark, or an eight-year-old Russian Orthodox dwarf with exceptional language skills.)

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se 10.19.04 at 1:42 pm

My mother was a shiksa goddess.

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reinstein 10.19.04 at 1:52 pm

much thanks to someone for mentioning chinese jews. that gives a new layer of meaning to the “Hu is a Jew” controversy.

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Tom 10.20.04 at 1:49 am

For anyone’s information… neither Paul Bremer nor John Negroponte are Jewish. This simple fact doesn’t seem to stop the conspiracy mongerers on Indymedia and similar sites. Nor does it appear to dampen the anti-Semitic enthusiasm of such CT trolls as “Lance Boyle” aka “MSG”.

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Gary Farber 10.20.04 at 2:29 am

Before this post completely scrolls off the front page, and commenting likely ceases, I don’t know if Chris is still reading this, but if so, I’d like to think that, at least in regard to the Internet, and some of the commenters attracted to CT, rather than in regard to Britain, he’s been provided with a couple of more “experiences” in these comments.

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Tom 10.20.04 at 8:49 am

Exactly, Gary. And despite intimations of scientific neutrality, what Chris seems to be doing here is deliberately attracting what someone above called “vile stuff” (Shorter Oxford: troll, verb intrans.: Fish by drawing bait along in the water). His timber just got a little more crooked.

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se 10.20.04 at 1:30 pm

Do 2 million Russians- the number of arrivals since 1990- have more rights to land in the state of Israel than the 2 million Palestinians in the camps.

You are attempting a moral and logical justification for saying that they do.

Jonathan Edelstein: “What I can’t and don’t respect is arguments that depend on special pleading, double standards or reasoning from the conclusion. I have yet to see a historical uniqueness argument that doesn’t depend on one of these, given that there has been so much history and so many conflicts that nothing is beyond comparison.”

2 million Russians become 2 Million Israelis overnight, and you argue against special pleading and reasoning from the conclusion?
Israel was built on such arguments. I can’t read that paragraph without wondering about your ability to reason. I have no patience with this any more.

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Gary Farber 10.20.04 at 6:31 pm

“…2 million Russians become 2 Million Israelis overnight….”

Yes, figuratively speaking, 2 million Jews become citizens of the Jewish state overnight.

How many millions of Indians became Pakistanis overnight? In the previous two centuries, at one time or another, how many French became German and vice versa? How many Poles Russian or German? How many Germans became Russian?

There’s nothing whatever unique about changes of citizenship. But, of course, you make this one unique. Same as it ever was. Do let us know when Europe rearranges with perfect justice all the population/citzenship changes of just the 20th century alone, and then get back to us about Israel.

It’s this kind of blindness that’s so telling.

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seth edenbaum 10.20.04 at 10:23 pm

There’s a difference between moving borders and moving populations. Obvious yes?
And there is a difference between a group of people who are and have been the residents of a given area and those who’s claims are based on their status as long lost descendents and distant relatives of people from that area.
By all means give the Anglo citizens of Boston the ‘right of return’ and kick all the blacks and Pakis out of England.

What really disgusts me after all these years is not the fact of the new population in the middle east, but the sense of fucking moral superiority that the rest of us are supposed somehow to recognize and to acccept.
That’s why I have so much more contempt for Israeli liberals than for Likudniks:
“But we’re such nice people.”

No, you’re not.

You ask a White American about the native population and what happened to them and more likely than not he or she will admit we pretty much wiped them out. Will they defend this!? No, But it’s a fact in’t it?
How about Australia? Canada. South America? There’s a difference between the nationalism of populations and the nationalism of invaders. But guess what. The invaders won.

Cut the moralizing crap. Stick to the facts and they’ll be peace a lot faster.

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.21.04 at 12:03 am

2 million Russians become 2 Million Israelis overnight, and you argue against special pleading and reasoning from the conclusion?

As Gary pointed out, there’s nothing particularly unique about mass migration, in the twentieth century or otherwise. India and Pakistan, Greece and Turkey, the Volksdeutsch of Sudetenland and western Poland, etc., etc.

You ask a White American about the native population and what happened to them and more likely than not he or she will admit we pretty much wiped them out. Will they defend this!? No, But it’s a fact in’t it? How about Australia? Canada. South America?

Might the fact that the morality of conquest is no longer politically relevant in any of these states have something to do with this? (I notice that you left out New Zealand, where the morality of conquest is still relevant and where much of the population will deny that the indigenous people got a raw deal.)

In any event, I don’t see too many Israeli liberals or leftists defending what happened in 1948. At most, they argue that it is a fait accompli like what happened in other settler states, and that Israel now has the right to exist on the same terms as other settler states.

“Moralizing crap?” I think you’ve been listening to the wrong people.

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seth edenbaum 10.21.04 at 1:13 am

“In any event, I don’t see too many Israeli liberals or leftists defending what happened in 1948. At most, they argue that it is a fait accompli like what happened in other settler states, and that Israel now has the right to exist on the same terms as other settler states”

Are the British still transporting Scottish Presbyterians to Ireland?

There’s nothing new about ethnic cleansing. So what? I’m not defending it, am I?
You think the morality of conquest is no longer politically relevant in the United States or the EU!? You equate Israel with New Zealand?

This could turn into an interesting discussion. What’s the difference between monarchist empire and fascist empire, the difference between violent barbarism and violent hypocrisy? Fascism ‘is the pederast from ‘Opus Dei'”, the violent and insecure. The violent and indifferent gave us great crime and great art. The violent and hypocritical gave us Soviet Socialist Realism, Arno Brecker and the bureaucracy of death. Nationalism is the barbarism of tradition. Fascism is the barbarism of ideas. And which one defines the barbarism of Little Israel, the Civilized, Western, even Germanic[?] mini-state with the bomb?

Barbarians don’t ask for anyone’s approval They do what the have to do to get what they want. I can respect that, even as I oppose them.
But I have no respect for those who get upset when I don’t offer my approval of their crimes.

Recently on CT someone responded to a post by Brad DeLong on the language used in the PSATs. I seem to have been the only one who spends any time here who was disgusted by DeLong’s post. Before anything else, we’re stuck with langauge. We need to learn to use it well. Cookie-cutter technocrats and cookie-cutter club kids are at about the same level of arrested developement. it’s the moral philosophy of “neat,” as in “cool.”

There is nothing more important in the world than an an understanding of language and how it is used. What is the difference between the crimes of monarchism and the crimes of fascism. What’s the difference between Albert Speer and Guarino Guarini? Between Bernini and Brecker?

Take it away Brad.
I’m done with politics for now. I’m sticking to art for a while.

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Luc 10.21.04 at 1:36 am

Yes, figuratively speaking, 2 million Jews become citizens of the Jewish state overnight.

As no-one is supposed to be reading this anymore, let’s add some cynicism. A significant minority of those immigrants were as Jewish as Negroponte and Bremer. There.

And to add to your list of anti-semites, here’s another “professor” –

without a substantial Jewish intellectual and financial presence in the next generation, the American far left, which has long had a very substantial Jewish presence, will have lost much of its power.

Ah, those Jews controlling the current American far left with their capital and intellect…

Peace, stop drinking, and keep smiling!

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.21.04 at 3:27 am

There’s nothing new about ethnic cleansing. So what? I’m not defending it, am I?

Nor are the Israeli liberals you deride. Or, all right, its more complicated than that. From my (fairly wide) experience with the breed, the most common view of the events of 1948 is that it was something bad that resulted in something good. In other words, the ethnic cleansing was a crime for which amends must be made, but its result – the state of Israel – is something that is nevertheless worth preserving and has brought much good to the world.

That’s also the default attitude of most American liberals. For all they may acknowledge that the Indians got a raw deal, few would argue that the United States isn’t worth preserving or that it is irrevocably tainted by the circumstances of its foundation. Stop 100 American liberals on the street, and see how many think immigration to America was a net positive or whether the founding fathers were great men within the limits of their times. As Americans view Washington, so do Israelis view Ben-Gurion.

You think the morality of conquest is no longer politically relevant in the United States or the EU!?

Maybe I was sloppy with language. The morality of the conquest of the United States by European settlers is no longer politically relevant. It’s quite safe for descendants of settlers to acknowledge that American Indians, Australian aborigines etc. were hard done unto, because the cost of making amends is insignificant. Nobody’s talking about giving them back the country, so it’s easy to weep crocodile tears over their plight. (I say “crocodile tears” because I very much doubt that many Americans, Australians etc. are kept up nights by the immoralities surrounding their respective countries’ foundation.)

The morality of American conquest as applied to other countries – e.g., Iraq – is another story.

You equate Israel with New Zealand?

Two settler states with indigenous minorities that make up about the same proportion of the population, plenty of unresolved land issues and shooting wars within recent historical memory. The comparison only works up to a point, of course – I don’t “equate” the two – but I think it’s telling that New Zealanders often show the same hypocrisy with respect to conquest as Israelis.

If you prefer, compare Israel to New Caledonia. Indigenous plurality, shooting wars, land issues, nasty right wing, yada, yada, yada. And the same hypocrisy, or maybe more of it.

But I have no respect for those who get upset when I don’t offer my approval of their crimes.

Possibly there’s a difference between crimes and their fruits. And it isn’t your approval that’s being asked for, it’s your acquiescence – that is, unless you are principled enough to withhold acquiescence to all settler states.

At any rate, this thread has long since left the front page and I doubt anyone but us is still reading, so I’ll leave off the moralizing crap.

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Gary Farber 10.21.04 at 6:50 am

“There’s a difference between moving borders and moving populations. Obvious yes?”

Yes, Seth Edenbaum, and I was speaking of the second, not the first. Perhaps you are as unaware of the European and Indian subcontinental history which I alluded to as you are of who Wilhelm Marr is, and what “anti-Semitism” is. Did you bother to click on the link about Marr I gave, or otherwise Google on him, by the way? You discreetly entirely ignored my point.

“There’s nothing new about ethnic cleansing.”

If Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing — and on an extremely small scale, in a State smaller than New Jersey, I’d agree with that — can you please explain ~781,350 Arabs, constituting about 17.8 percent of the population? Can you please explain Balad, Hadash, and the United Arab List? Could you please explain Abd el-Malek Dahamsha, Taleb a-Sana’a, Hashem Mahmeed, Tewfik Khatib, Muhammad Kena’an, Mohammed Baraka, Issam Mahoul, and Ahmed Tibi?

Could you explain why Israel hasn’t just declared that Palestinians should all go live in Jordan, which is majority-Palestinian, and expelled them all there, taking over the entire West Bank? What’s the hold-up?

(What’s with all the Israel-is-Germanic-like stuff, by the way? I don’t even get that, unless you’re doing the Nazi comparison.)

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.21.04 at 11:29 am

If Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing

I think it’s “has” rather than “is” – one episode, in 1947-49, and since then a fitful and often ham-handed attempt to reach a modus vivendi with its Arab citizens.

What’s with all the Israel-is-Germanic-like stuff

Herzl was a great admirer of Habsburg liberalism, although I’m not sure that’s what SE had in mind.

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Luc 10.21.04 at 1:09 pm

Israel even maintains targets for its current “ethnic cleansing” campaign:

The outline plan notes that the government’s target with regard to the demographic balance between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem – 70 percent Jews and 30 percent Arabs – is no longer realistic.

Small scale stuff really. Nothing to be taken serious. And they are even failing at it.

And this piece of wisdom is again sourced from the poor man’s MEMRI.

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elizabeth 10.21.04 at 2:16 pm

It seems ludicrous to rationalize the actions of Israel, at a time when their influence extends into the White House at an unprecedented level, and their influence is possibly a major reason for this war in Iraq. Yes, many countries have committed unthinkable atrocities in their founding, and history, against indigenous peoples. What is dangerous now, is the fanatical actions of Israel, and its genocidal policy towards the Arabs. The stakes are much higher, for all of us, than when Colombus touched down in the new world. Comparing Israel to New Zealand is like comparing apples to french fries.

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mona 10.21.04 at 4:25 pm

You know, it’s statistically proven that one of the main causes of antisemitism is Jews arguing with other Jews on who’s more Jewish than the other, what is Jewishness and who knows more about it. The gentiles, poor simple creatures they are, can get very confused by that.

But not to worry, what political debate can’t do, pop culture will. If the Brits hated Americans and Jews so much, why do they love so many American and Jewish actors and pop stars? How ancient are Horowitz and his FrontPage crew? Yeah, thought so, tsk…

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josh 10.21.04 at 10:03 pm

Another point about the 2 million Russians becoming Israelis overnight: they weren’t Russians.
Of course, they were from Russia, and spoke Russian, and all that. But under the laws of the Soviet Union, their nationality was Jewish, not Russian. So a great many of those people who have migrated to Israel grew up being legally regarded as Jews, not Russians. And many were subject to quite vicious anti-Semitism, as many Jews in former Soviet territories still are.
This does not, of course, in any way excuse Israel’s crimes. But I think the preponderance of anti-Semitism in recent European history is a relevant bit of information here.
As to Mona’s last comment: ‘scuse me? ‘it’s statistically proven that one of the main causes of antisemitism is Jews arguing with other Jews on who’s more Jewish than the other, what is Jewishness and who knows more about it.’ Is this supposed to be funny? I’m sure it was meant innocently, but to blame anti-Semitism on Jewish behaviour — or, rather, on the behaviour of some individual Jews — as a way of making a point, even in jest, seems to me pretty thoughtless.
All that said, I also think the snipes at Chris above are most unfair. He read reports of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in his country; being neither anti-American nor anti-Semitic, he was concerned by this; so he asked people for their experiences. This all seems a fair, reasonable, humane thing to do. That the comment board has attracted a certain number of anti-Semitic whackos, and that the conversation has been taken over by arguments about Israel, may not be greatly surprising; but it’s in no way Chris’s fault. I think we all owe him a word of thanks for starting this discussion — and some of us owe him a word of apology for dragging down its level.

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seth edenbaum 10.22.04 at 12:26 am

I’m as tired of Gary Farber as I am of the occasional anti-semitic trolls.
The partition of India? It was a disaster for all involved. The difference between populations and borders? You spoke of them at first as if they were identical. Wilhelm Marr? Thanks for the link, but if Jews are not Semites or the mixed ‘race’ descendants of Semites, then they really have no more right to land in the middle east than the French did in Algeria.

As time goes on, Gary, you’re sounding more and more reactionary: We humans know only the pure simplicity of battle. We’re all base creatures, victims of our own bloodlust. Why deny the Jews their place?
That’s not a moral argument is it?

And I’m not going to bother to explain my ‘Israel is Germanic’ comment. How many of the founders of the country spoke Ladino?
European Judaism is a Germanic culture.

Josh Cherniss,
At the beginning of this I asked someone to respond to the thought that Jews in the white world are both part of that world and not. This seemed clear enough. No one has responded.
My ex girlfriend’s grandmother, a woman in he 80’s, a backer of Likud, extremely wealthy, and conservative to the point of racism, while watching reports of the Rodney King fiasco on TV, blurted out the following in front of her entire family:

“I feel sorry for the blacks… They can’t hide”

And I did not say that Israel was or is a Fascist state; I said it was an artificial state, with an artificial nationalism. Israel was an ideology before it was a fact. There is in this a relationship to Fascism as there is to the various failed attempts at utopia.

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Gary Farber 10.22.04 at 1:47 am

There’s little point, from my point of view, in my continuing further; I’m not going to convince someone who believes “Israel, and its genocidal policy towards the Arabs” is an accurate description of events — but when the death camps are running, get back to me — and they’re not going to convince me, any more that Bremer or Negroponte are going to be inviting me their kids’ bar mitzphas, or black masses, or drinking blood parties, or whatever, any time soon.

A word to Mona, though, regarding: “If the Brits hated Americans and Jews so much, why do they love so many American and Jewish actors and pop stars?”

I gather that the popularity in the UK and US in the fifties of black jazz musicians meant that racism wasn’t a problem, and that by the Sixties and Seventies, given Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, Willie Mays, and a gazillion other black entertainers and basketball players and boxers and track starts and sports stars in general as well as musicians, racism completely ceased to exist. Good to know! Today, of course, there is no longer any racism, anti-Semitism, or sexism, in either the U.S. or Britain.

Or, conceivably, no one was saying that “Brits hate Americans and Jews so much” (maybe the FrontPage writer, but conversation in this thread long since left her behind as a topic), and no one sane would say there is no anti-Americanism or anti-Semitism in Britain, and the only reasonable question is how prevalent or rare those phenonena are; but I don’t see a likelihood of more truth being squeezed out of those left on this thread.

Seth Edenbaum says “And I’m not going to bother to explain my ‘Israel is Germanic’ comment” before bothering to explain what he meant. “Ashkenazi” is the word you were looking for. And the majority of people who put Begin and the Likud in power, as it happens, were Sephardic (Ladino/Middle Eastern), which kind of messes with your reiteration, but since I find your focus on ethnicity pointless in the first place, it’s no surprise that I’m not going to find your path of reasoning interesting.

“Israel was an ideology before it was a fact.” Yes, this makes it entirely different from all the other socialistic states that were created out of the same storm of formative ideology of the 19th century. Not at all like the Soviet Union, or Mao’s China, no siree! They were/are, you know, natural states. Ditto Pakistan. And so many others….

“Wilhelm Marr? Thanks for the link….”

I’ll take that as as close to an admission that you were completely clueless as to the meaning of “anti-Semitism” as you are likely to make. I’m sorry to be so rude — that’s not my preferred style — but you’re not exactly approaching these topics with an attitude of humbleness about your cluelessness in at least some areas, or great politese, either.

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Gary Farber 10.22.04 at 1:57 am

Oh, and regarding that Haaretz story, it’s interesting to read the context. While Lupolianski suggested rezoning plan for a single neighborhood is dubious, and there seems to be good cause for objecting to it, several things are notable. One is this: “Commenting on Lupolianski’s request to the Housing Ministry, the chairman of the Yahad branch in Jerusalem, Ehud Arnon, said that the mayor, who always spoke nobly of equality for the Arab population in the capital, was now revealing himself to be no different from his predecessor. Arnon, a former Jerusalem city councillor, opposes the rezoning proposal and is demanding that the neighborhood be built for the capital’s Arab population, which, he says, has suffered land appropriations and discrimination for many years.” This is not precisely the act of Nazis, or even apartheid-era rulers in SA. Ditto this: “Jerusalem Municipality spokesman Gideon Shmerling said that Lupolianski was doing a lot to prepare outline and construction plans for the capital’s Arab sector, too. With regard to the planning of the neighborhood on the slopes of Mount Scopus, Shmerling noted that it was intended to create territorial contiguity between the Mount Scopus, French Hill and Ramat Eshkol neighborhoods and that a decision on the matter had yet to be made.

Housing Ministry sources have said that Lupolianski’s request makes a lot of sense from a planning point of view; but they also noted that no decision on the matter had been made.”

Lastly, reading this: “Meanwhile, according to data compiled by officials drawing up the new outline plan for Jerusalem, the capital’s Jewish population is expected to shrink by up to 60 percent by 2020.

At present, the city’s population is some 67 percent Jewish and 33 percent Arab; but the last two years have seen a dramatic slowdown in the growth rate of Jerusalem’s Jewish population in relation to the growth rate of the Arab sector.

The figures in the new outline plan show that between 1967 and 2002, Jerusalem’s population grew at an average annual rate of some 12,000 residents, with the Jewish sector comprising around 63 percent of this number. Over the past two years, however, the Jewish sector’s part in Jerusalem’s population growth has been 43 percent only.

The outline plan notes that the government’s target with regard to the demographic balance between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem – 70 percent Jews and 30 percent Arabs – is no longer realistic.”

This hardly makes the last paragraph, as so honestly represented here, evidence of “ethnic cleansing.” On the contrary, the Arab proportion of the population of Jersusalem is growing!

There are more than enough real offensive acts of the government and individuals in Israel to complain about than it’s worth spending time making this into what it isn’t. And, hey, by all means, let’s only take note of the faults and wrongs of one side.

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Luc 10.22.04 at 4:38 am

This is not precisely the act of Nazis, or even apartheid-era rulers in SA.

It isn’t. Just as Israel isn’t New Zealand.

This hardly makes the last paragraph, as so honestly represented here, evidence of “ethnic cleansing.” On the contrary, the Arab proportion of the population of Jersusalem is growing!

I do consider it a form of ethnic cleansing. To quote another piece out of context:

The compound is currently, and gradually, being cleared of its Arab population by means of legal procedures; but tension has erupted from time to time.

Israel has politicies in and around Jerusalem that are clearly in conflict with international law, as recently confirmed by the ICJ.

You can talk around that, say it is not ethnic cleansing, Har Homa is no settlement, it is no population transfer because there were Jews living there before 1947, ethnically separated neigboorhoods are a fact of live etc. but for me those are flimsy excuses for not dealing with the problem.

I troll these things because many, especially Jonathan Edelstein, have the habit of somehow posing their views as the unbiased or reasonable one, while clearly having a horse in the race, so to speak.

And, hey, by all means, let’s only take note of the faults and wrongs of one side.

A weird excuse that I fail to grasp. Besides I made a reference to MEMRI, to show off the one-sidedness and propaganda character of my post.

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.22.04 at 2:36 pm

Dude, I have never, ever, claimed to be unbiased, and have declared my bias on numerous occasions.

Reasonable is another story. That’s in the eye of the beholder.

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.22.04 at 2:42 pm

And if you can’t understand the difference between “Israel is New Zealand” and “Israel is similar to New Zealand in some significant ways,” then this discussion is truly hopeless.

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mona 10.22.04 at 4:35 pm

Josh and Gary Garber: actually, yeah, in theory, that *was* supposed to funny, or really just silly, light-hearted, a joke, nothing prize-winning, there was just something that I found humourous in the exchanges between Gary and Seth.

No denial of the existence of antisemitism or racism today or in the ’50’s, and no blaming antisemitism on targets of antisemitism, was implied. Gee, nothing that serious was implied at all, really. I never thought *anyone* would take it seriously, I mean, wasn’t it obvious I was being silly, talking about pop culture and tv series? Did you actually think I thought The O.C. is proof antisemitism doesn’t exist? Now that is funny. Nevermind.

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Jonathan Edelstein 10.23.04 at 12:01 am

And if you can’t understand the difference between “Israel is New Zealand” and “Israel is similar to New Zealand in some significant ways,” then this discussion is truly hopeless.

Actually, I wonder if this might be the impetus behind some of the historical uniqueness arguments – the belief (conscious or otherwise) that drawing parallels between two situations is tantamount to equating them. Frankly, I find the idea of discussing a geopolitical situation without comparison to other experiences silly, but your mileage may vary.

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