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Bad Arguments About Israel

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Oh Roger Cohen, please stop.

Last month, a co-chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club, Alex Chalmers, quit in protest at what he described as rampant anti-Semitism among members. A “large proportion” of the club “and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews,” he said in a statement.

Chalmers referred to members of the executive committee “throwing around the term ‘Zio’” — an insult used by the Ku Klux Klan; high-level expressions of “solidarity with Hamas” and explicit defense of “their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians”; and the dismissal of any concern about anti-Semitism as “just the Zionists crying wolf.”
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The zeitgeist on campuses these days, on both sides of the Atlantic, is one of identity and liberation politics. Jews, of course, are a minority, but through a fashionable cultural prism they are seen as the minority that isn’t — that is to say white, privileged and identified with an “imperialist-colonialist” state, Israel. They are the anti-victims in a prevalent culture of victimhood; Jews, it seems, are the sole historical victim whose claim is dubious.

What follows is the classic cherry picking from bad campus newspaper articles and student statements used time and time again to generate worry about what the kids are doing on college campuses. Guess what? College students sometimes stay stupid things! News at 11. But worse is that Cohen then has to make dubious defenses of Israel that are as anti-Palestinian as the statements he decries are anti-Semitic.

What is striking about the anti-Zionism derangement syndrome that spills over into anti-Semitism is its ahistorical nature. It denies the long Jewish presence in, and bond with, the Holy Land. It disregards the fundamental link between murderous European anti-Semitism and the decision of surviving Jews to embrace Zionism in the conviction that only a Jewish homeland could keep them safe. It dismisses the legal basis for the modern Jewish state in United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947. This was not “colonialism” but the post-Holocaust will of the world: Arab armies went to war against it and lost.

Wow, I was unaware that colonialism and “the will of the world” were somehow mutually exclusive? And I was super unaware that Israel’s creation was the will of the world? Were the Palestinians part of that will? The Egyptians? The Jordanians? Or in the postwar massive ethnic cleansing of Europe, were the Jews simply given land that was away from Europe to start their own colonialist project? I don’t think any of this denies why Jews decided to embrace Zionism and move to what became Israel. It’s perfectly clear why they did that. It’s equally clear that the project was based on ethnic cleansing and the creation of an apartheid-like state that has only become more oppressive in the 21st century. Personally, I’d like to think that different peoples can learn to live together, but that won’t happen in a state founded upon ethnic cleansing that continues to define itself as a racially-based state in the present.

The Jewish state was needed. History had demonstrated that. That is why I am a Zionist — now a dirty word in Europe.

Ah yes, History is a thing when someone wants to make an dubious argument that is based upon oppressing others. History shows this to be true! Well, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust were true enough, but “History” doesn’t show the present that there was only one answer to a problem, an answer based upon its own version of racism.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again. If you aren’t OK with Jews living in ghettos, you can’t morally support the treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and especially Gaza and you can’t support the settlements. It’s not OK because of what happened in 1944. You don’t get a moral exception because of terrible things that happened to your ancestors.

What’s interesting is that Cohen admits most of this. He recognizes the injustice the Palestinians face, yet he defends the project that oppresses them and demonizes those fighting for justice in Palestine or supporting those fights on the left today.

Anti-Semitism is a real thing and it needs to be fought like any other form of racism or prejudice. But you can’t take a few idiotic comments by a few random students here and there and then create a huge scare about it in a major newspaper. I’m sorry but there’s no “demonization of Israel” on the left that is worth discussing. BDS has plenty of Jewish supporters, among other things. It is actually a reasonable argument that Zionism is racist as practiced, but that doesn’t mean that Israel should be eliminated. It means that Israel needs to treat the Muslims within its borders as human beings.

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  • Thom

    It means that Israel needs to treat the Muslims within its borders as human beings.

    Minor but important point: a significant percentage of Palestinians (including those in Israel) is Christian. They also need to be treated as human beings, of course.

    • Murc

      It would also be helpful if Israel would recognize that you can be an Israeli Arab or Israeli Christian, which is something a significant number of Israeli’s regard as impossible.

      • efc

        It would also be helpful if Israel would recognize that you can be an Israeli Arab or Israeli Christian

        I think that is a little unfair. The State of Israel certainly recognizes one can be a citizen of Israel and an Arab, or Christian, or Arab Christian.

        For example, Israeli Supreme Court justice and Arab ChristianSalim Joubran.

        But I think you are right a scary number of Israeli Jews don’t believe one can be a good citizen of Israel and a non-Jew.

        • Murc

          Which was my inartfully phrased point, yes.

          It was a bit unfair.

        • sonamib

          All the “Jewish state” rethoric certainly doesn’t help.

          And as I mentioned downthread, a lot of rights are (formally or informally) conditioned on having completed your military service, and are thus denied to most Arab citizens.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      Though the numbers of both Israeli and Palestinian Christians has been declining over the years.

      • shallowpate

        The number of Arab Christians is declining in Israel and Palestine, but with the influx of migrants from Eritrea, India, Philippines, and Russia, among other places, Israel actually has a quite large Christian community.

    • AlexRobinson

      Thank you for your humanity

  • rea

    And you know, if you are going to charge the Palestinians with a policy of indiscriminately murdering civilians, you might want to take a look at the body count numbers on each side.

    • DrDick

      AS well as the history of the foundation of Israel, especially the activities of Irgun and the Stern Gang (who infamously invented the car bomb).

    • aaronl

      I’m uncomfortable with your implied argument. While I am aware of Ehud Barak’s historic concession that, if born Palestinian, he probably would have joined a terrorist group, and the admonition back in the day of an Israeli general, perhaps Moshe Arens, that you don’t judge the occupier and the occupied by the same standard, terrorism has done tremendous harm to the Palestinian cause.

      The primary problem with charging “the Palestinians” with collective responsibility for all acts of terrorism has very little to do with body counts — it is that most Palestinians appear wholly content to live peaceful lives and raise their families, if allowed to do so, have no direct involvement in terrorism, and have no ability to influence terrorist factions.

      The world is not going to accept terrorism, and the world is reasonable in its rejection of terrorism. If the world at large seems far too willing to excuse ‘collateral damage’ in the context of conventional warfare, or even belligerent occupation, keep that in mind when assessing the other part of the equation — how to get world opinion on the side of the implementation of a just resolution.

      • DrDick

        I’m uncomfortable with your implied argument……The world is not going to accept terrorism, and the world is reasonable in its rejection of terrorism.

        What the hell is the indiscriminate bombing/shelling/missile attacks on Gaza or the wholesale destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, if not terrorism, and that does not even address the issue of Israel’s officially stated policy of disproportionate retaliation, which has resulted in massively more Palestinian deaths?

  • Dilan Esper

    I think it’s fair to say that most of the civilized world got behind the creation of Israel after the Holocaust showed that anti-semitism was still a clear and present danger. Yes, the Arab governments and nations were an exception to that “most”, but it’s still a “most”.

    The problem is that the nation was born in a state of original sin, or, as Malcolm X said, “we didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us”. And it was inevitable that once a Jewish homeland was created in that particular place, it was going to be expansionist given that so many Jewish religious sites were right next door.

    Apartheid is the wrong word for this, however. It definitely oppresses the Palestinians. The Palestinians haven’t helped themselves in their response to that oppression, but it is big-time oppression nonetheless. But Apartheid was based on a racial theory– this isn’t; it’s basically a pure land dispute between two ethnic groups.

    • I think it’s fair to say that most of the civilized world

      I’m not sure that “civilized” is the word you want to deploy here.

      • Dilan Esper

        It actually is. In these sorts of issues (i.e., what “the world” thinks about something), the voices of major democracies and major non-democratic powers really do matter, at least as a matter of realpolitik if nothing else. (For instance, the rights recognized in major UN documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights very much track those rights that such nations see as important.)

        You can certainly argue that this is unfair to the developing world; I’m not actually sure it is (for instance, I think that the Arab nations who repeatedly went to war with Israel were doing a piss-poor job of serving the interests of their populations), but there is, indeed, a sense that at least the powerful countries of the world formed a consensus that was one of the things that allowed Israel to come into being, and that consensus was in some sense legitimate.

        • Ormond

          the powerful countries of the world formed a consensus

          “Civilized.”

        • rea

          The distinction drawn by Dilan between “civilized” and “developing” is somewhat offensive.

          • DrDick

            “Somewhat”?

          • Much more than “somewhat”.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Might makes rightcivilized!

              • Dilan Esper

                It isn’t might makes right. It’s might makes relevant consensus.

                And it’s complete PC bullshit to object to the term “civilized world” to describe this. That is 100 percent standard terminology.

                • DiTurno

                  It’s not PC bullshit at all: “civilized” is a loaded and hugely misleading term.

                • Origami Isopod

                  And it’s complete PC bullshit

                  Thanks for tipping your hand.

                • And it’s complete PC bullshit to object to the term “civilized world” to describe this. That is 100 percent standard terminology.

                  From 1950?

                  And…standard terminology can’t be objectionable? What?

                  Well, I guess if you don’t mind gas lighting, what’s a little colonial condescension.

                  I’m amazed at the fact that you seem bound and determined to expose yourself as a bad person as well as a truly terrible arguer with systematically bonkers positions.

                  Of course, you could have just said, “slip of the keyboard”.

                • Thom

                  It was standard (though bad) terminology in 1948. It is terminology that has been widely disparaged for decades, long before the stupid term “politically correct” was used to apply to non-offensive usage.

    • sonamib

      Well, there is a similarity with South Africa in the methods used for oppressing Palestinians. Checkpoints, restricting them to live in rump Bantustans. Even Israeli Arabs are given less rights tha Israeli Jews, because they aren’t allowed to serve in the military (nor would they want to) and so many rights are conditional on having completed your military service.

      • Murc

        Even Israeli Arabs are given less rights tha Israeli Jews, because they aren’t allowed to serve in the military (nor would they want to)

        My understanding is that a nontrivial number of Israeli Arabs would quite like to serve in the IDF on the grounds that they’d very much like access to those rights and because military service is a sign of legitimation; that it is harder to deny you’re a full member of a nation if you’ve served in its army. Am I in error?

        • Certainly that was an argument African-Americans made for participation in wars from the Civil War to World War II–this would give them the chance to prove to whites they were good Americans who deserved full citizenship.

          • heckblazer

            I know that Indian nationalists, with support by Gandhi, made similar claims in WWI.

            • ajay

              Indian troops were not barred from combat roles in WW1. I know this because one of them was an ancestor of mine, and he died there.

              • Thom

                Yes, I believe a million Indians served in WWI.

          • Jackov

            Also a large segment of Japanese-Americans during WWII
            even though they or their family members were interned.

            • DrDick

              The 442nd Infantry, the most decorated US military unit ever, was recruited completely from the camps. I knew some of those guys when I lived in Chicago.

          • Thom

            In response to Erik’s point about African American service, African nationalists, like Blaise Diagne, a member of the French legislature from Senegal, made similar arguments. Large numbers of Africans served in the British and French armed forces in both world wars, both in combat and in service roles. In World War II the Communist Party of South Africa argued that black South African soldiers should have combat as well as support duties (to which they were limited), and argued this point with the slogan “Give Him a Gun!”

            • I worked that into a teaching assignment once.

              When I was an ESL teacher, I had a student whose 8th-grade history class was given a project to produce a French newspaper from World War I. This student was a Swahili speaker from a Swahili/Francophone part of Africa.

              I helped her write a letter to the editor about her two fictional brothers who had been killed fighting for France’s freedom, and wondering when her country would have its own.

              • Thom

                Good assignment! If she was both Swahili and French speaking, she was probably from Rwanda, Burundi, or Congo, all former Belgian colonies. But close enough.

        • sonamib

          You may be right. But surely they would face a lot of pressure in their community for not serving. After all, while serving they might be ordered to man a checkpoint in the West Bank. I don’t really know how that would work.

          • JL

            Those who serve are mostly either Druze (who are conscripted, as Jews are, thanks to a decades-old agreement with Druze religious leaders – something that pisses off some Druze) or Bedouin, where until 2000 and the Bedouin community disillusionment that happened around then there was something of a tradition of volunteering for service. The Bedouin who serve are mostly from the north – Bedouin in the Negev are poorer and much more overtly oppressed – and tend to serve in Bedouin-dominated infiltration-detecting units that guard the borders with Lebanon and Egypt.

      • JL

        Actually, Palestinian/Arab citizens of Israel are allowed to serve in the IDF (they just aren’t conscripted, except for the Druze, who are conscripted as part of an agreement between the state and their leaders), and a handful do. There have been Druze generals. It used to be fairly common for Israeli Bedouins to serve in the IDF (rates of 5-10% of the draft-age population), but since 2000 (when, among other things, a bunch of demonstrators were killed in Nazareth and other areas) it is much rarer, as a lot of Bedouins became disillusioned about how the Israeli state regarded them.

        • sonamib

          Thanks for the clarifications.

      • Thom

        Though there was a (nortorious) pass system in apartheid South Africa, and though there were sometimes checkpoints during the State of Emergency from 1985-91, there were no systematic checkpoints between designated black space and designated white space under apartheid. Even the phony Homeland states had minimal border controls.

        • JG

          South African apartheid was a lot more than the pass laws, though.

          • Thom

            Yes, it was many many things. But it did not, for the most part, include checkpoints. So in that sense the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is much harsher.

    • junker

      I think your description of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict as a “land dispute” seems designed to obscure the fact that one of these groups has all the real power in the situation.

      • Dilan Esper

        No it really isn’t. Israel of course has all the power and of course uses that power to oppress Palestinians.

        The point is, land disputes are different than assertions of racial superiority. Both can be used to oppress less powerful groups,but the issues are different.

        • Murc

          The point is, land disputes are different than assertions of racial superiority.

          My understanding is that a large part of Likuds rationale these days is based on both implicit and explicit assertions that the Palestinians are, in fact, an inferior people.

          • witlesschum

            That’s certainly what Max Blumenthal argues at length, that the Israeli public is becoming more and more appreciative of outright racist appeals.

            • Phil Perspective

              Did you check out what Netanyahoo said during the last election? He’s not afraid to use racism and hate, just like Trump.

          • Ronan

            A lot of the same sentiments, and something approaching a coherent political anti semitism, exist among Palestinian radicals though. And before that gets dismissed as “well what would you expect from Hamas /Islamic jihad”, look at the support such movements can draw from, and the claims that Hamas( at least) make on governing in the future.
            I don’t know how far the pro Israel groups endless emphasis on anti semitism in Palestine go, but equally I don’t see how far Blumenthal’s rhetoric goes. These are general consequence of these deep, intimate, extremely bitter conflicts

        • Lurker

          The question here is definitely not about race. You can’t tell an Arab from a Jew with Middle Eastern family background by sight if they dress similarly and shave.

          This is about ethnicity. It is, in a sense, a land dispute, but first and foremost, it is an ethnic issue. And when it comes to ethnicity, race is not a good explanatory factor. Not every country has the same situation a the US, where it is easy to discern a member of the oppressed caste by skin colour.

          • JL

            Race, being a social construct, is not just about physical features.

            • Davis

              Yes; the English once considered the Irish as an inferior “race”.

              • Ronan

                Yeah, but (for example) that wouldn’t have gone too far in explaining the troubles

              • Ronan

                Ie I’ve lived in both Israel and the occupied territories , and imo there’s plenty of anti Arab racism and anti semitism in each. But this isn’t the driver of the conflict, it’s an outgrowth of it. The cause being “a land dispute”, while typically simplistic from dilan, is probably closer to the truth than calls to racism.(Edit ie a conflict of rival ethic nationalisms for political control of a contested territory )

                • Lee Rudolph

                  I’ve lived in both Israel and the occupied territories

                  Good heavens. I don’t recall your ever having mentioned that here before.

                • Ronan

                  I only lived there for a while and it was during a very peaceful time (and not Gaza).

                • V. cool, Ronan!

                  Come over to Manchester some time!

                • Ahuitzotl

                  Come to Manchester?? I thought you -liked- Ronan?

                • Ronan

                  I’ll have to get myself over to Manchester some time, Bijan. I’ll give you enough notice to get the spare room ready, though

          • Ronan

            It is more about ethnicity, I agree. And rival nationalisms.

            Edit: but what I’ve come to realise, conversing with people from different countries and looking at my own political/cultural background, is that people will view the world through their own political cultural context . Which doesn’t necessarily equal reality (I’m obviously emphasising this applies to me as well)

    • Ormond

      I don’t know that we ought to credit Apartheid as a sophisticated ideological application of some sort of theoretical model of human populations. It was, itself, essentially the window dressing on a land dispute between ethnic groups – the land dispute of African colonialism. White South Africans wanted a claim on what they believed was their country, Apartheid was the political operation of this claim. In as much as it was a racialized dispute (which of course it was), so too the is the Israel/Palestine dispute. After all, why do these two ethnic groups have this dispute? Because of a racialized discourse of whose land it is. The claim of an original, Biblical sovereignty on the part of the Jewish people is essentially a claim of racial superiority – a sort of pre-emption by blood. The anti-Semitism of many Arab opponents to Zionism is a racial discourse as well.

      • Dilan Esper

        The window dressing is important. Slavery survived as long as it did because of the racial theories that supported it.

        And I don’t think the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is racialized in anywhere near the same way. Are there large groups of Israelis or Palestinians asserting that the other side is racially inferior and unfit to govern on that basis? I haven’t heard of any. It’s almost purely “my group has historical connections to this land which are stronger than your group’s”. That’s just totally different than South Africa, even though both situations involve groups fighting over land.

        • Ormond

          So…different kinds of ethnic disputes whose rhetoric is formed by the historical particularities of their respective environments. Both ultimately about the politics of occupation and the claims of different groups to the same land. Generalized statements about which ethnic group comes authentically from the land are definitionally racial. Statements about what ethnic group may or may not assume the responsibilities and rights of citizenship that flow with proper belonging to the land in the national sovereignty are definitionally racial.

          The idea that the racial theories are separate from the material conditions that give rise to their deployment is sort of obviously silly. The window dressing absolutely matters when we pose certain kinds of questions, but it doesn’t indicate that the post-colonial conditions of South Africa were exceptional rather than particular. And it doesn’t imply the same about Israel either.

          • Dilan Esper

            Both ultimately about the politics of occupation and the claims of different groups to the same land.

            That’s not right. Slavery is not “ultimately” about forced labor. It’s about a whole bunch of things, and one of the biggest things it is about is race. And that legacy of an ethnic groups systematically claimed to be inferior is with us to this day.

            In contrast, the Israeli-Palestinian group is ultimately just a land dispute between a very powerful national group on one side and a relatively powerless one on the other side, such that even though the claims are basically equally legitimate, the powerful group always wins.

            That’s terrible for the Palestinians, but it’s not South Africa.

            • Slavery is not “ultimately” about forced labor. It’s about a whole bunch of things, and one of the biggest things it is about is race

              Actually, no. At its core slavery is about forced labor. Many kinds of slavery don’t even have a racialized aspect to them. Yes, American chattel slavery was about both race and forced labor, but that’s just one type of a multi-faceted form of labor.

            • Ormond

              But slavery is absolutely, at its core, about forced labor. That is what it is, per se. I am flabergasted that you don’t think that race is itself an ideological outgrowth of the forced labor bit. Really, the forced labor is salient aspect of slavery. Slavery is instantiated in a particular way in colonial and early national America that has to do wit the particulars of its historical context. But man, it’s forced labor. American/Atlantic chattel slavery is one particular historical form of slavery. South Africa and Israel are not equivalent – among other things they are different places with different people who live in them – but they are not exceptional either. The way that colonialism structures disputes between different ethnic groups aver territory is largely racialized, and it is racialized in both of those instances. Both instances evince aspect of Western colonialism like state militarism, occupation, and racialized rhetoric. You don’t have to know anything about race, ethnicity and their applications in post-colonial contexts, but you also don’t have to say silly things about them either.

              • Thom

                If we are defining slavery only to include the racialized slavery in the Americas after 1500, then we can say it is primarily (but not only) about forced labor. But there have been many systems of slavery for which this is not an adequate definition, particularly in Africa. Theorists of slavery define slavery as kinlessness–being without social standing in the society in which one is enslaved. Even if one rises to high office, as could happen in African slavery in some times and places, a slave would remain disadvantaged by being a slave–a person without kin, with his or her master as the only protector. Being in such a situation made one easier to exploit compared to other people.

                Apartheid was many things, not just one thing, and it was heavily theorized by its founders, but at the same time was pragmatic and protean. Land was of course part of it, but white monopolization of land had happened through conquest and legislation long before apartheid. The question of labor was probably more central to apartheid than land. But fundamentally, apartheid was a state-eforced system of white supremacy that included fundamental disabilities for blacks in every possible arena.

                • Ormond

                  I am a (part time) theorist of slavery! I dispute that theory of slavery because I think the sociological/anthropological discussion of slavery is totalizing. One might look to the various disabilities of the Orlando Patterson argument about the slave being “socially dead.” Though that argument has been advanced and complicated, it still retains a distance from historical particulars that I think means its theoretical utility is minimal. Instead I think a historical emphasis on the bounded system of labor is far more empirically correct and theoretically useful. But I think the salient point for the argument I am having with Dilan is that post-colonial systems often give rise to their own racialized discourse of resource distribution which will underpin the political economy of the post-colonial states. It is not enough to say that Israel is not South Africa in that the racial conflict is “ethnic” and about land, rather than “racial” and about social resources too. They are both about both. Atlantic slavery (which is what you mean, not just U.S. slavery which puts post-hoc national boundaries on a transatlantic project that is precisely implicated in the formation of nationhood) was about forced labor exactly as much as it was about more abstruse biopolitical theories of the racial health of the nation and the formation of racialized hierarchies of citizenship[, disability, and belonging. To imagine that one of these things supersedes the other is to ignore the slave in order to view slavery, when we don’t have to be so…myopic.

                • Thom

                  Ormond, thanks for the response. I see your point about Patterson and have read those criticisms (and by the way, I said slavery in the Americas, not US slavery), but on a general level his idea works pretty well for African slavery. It was precisely the greater exploitability of outsiders, versus kin, that made slavery widespread in Africa. Nice to hear from a theorist of slavery. I am an Africanist historian.

              • Really, the forced labor is salient aspect of slavery.

                Salient for whom?

                Do you think, for an enslaved person in Alabama in 1851, that being compelled to labor is the core defining element of being enslaved? Or was it one (particularly large) manifestation of a social reality?

                • I have this question too. It’s all well and good to insist on the importance of the material, and it’s all well and good to say that people largely make decisions on the basis of personal self-interest which is primarily economic, but to say that oppressed people’s consciousness is limited to material existence, to the extent that anything more than that should be considered “abstruse” and impossible for them to grasp, seems condescending.

        • aaronl

          As a student life organization, Santa Barbara Hillel’s first responsibility is to the students we serve, providing them with a safe place to explore and engage in their Jewish identity.

          I guess we can quibble over what constitutes a “large group”, but the argument is frequently made that Palestinians aren’t capable of responsible self-governance, with that argument sometimes extended to the entire Arab world. The alleged incapacity of Palestinians to govern a peaceful state that borders Israel is an implicit (and sometimes explicit) part of the excuse given by many for not working toward a two-state solution.

          Ha’aretz, 5/7/09, “Netanyahu has said the Palestinians aren’t ready to govern themselves and has so far resisted international pressure to endorse the concept of Palestinian independence.”

  • ExpatJK

    This was not “colonialism” but the post-Holocaust will of the world: Arab armies went to war against it and lost.
    So, losing a war = the will of the world? (though I don’t imagine this is what he meant by this sentence construction)

    But you can’t take a few idiotic comments by a few random students here and there and then create a huge scare about it in a major newspaper. I’m sorry but there’s no “demonization of Israel” on the left that is worth discussing.
    I agree that the whole premise of his article is pretty silly. I wouldn’t call it “demonisation” per se, but in my experience (which does not mean this is true for all/most of the left), there is some of what I’d call essentially litmus testing for Jews with respect to Israel when it comes to other leftist issues. I don’t think this is demonisation, and nor do I think my anecdotal experience necessarily represents a trend, but I also don’t think it’s appropriate to ask Jewish people about their views on Israel when the topic is completely unrelated (e.g. abortion in another country which isn’t Israel). I would not even call this anti-Semitism necessarily, but it’s problematic.

    Despite this, I do agree that “there’s no ‘demonization of Israel’ on the left that is worth discussing.” I think some individuals on the left need to be more cautious about things like litmus-testing, but I certainly wouldn’t write a newspaper article on it.

    • JL

      there is some of what I’d call essentially litmus testing for Jews with respect to Israel when it comes to other leftist issues…I also don’t think it’s appropriate to ask Jewish people about their views on Israel when the topic is completely unrelated (e.g. abortion in another country which isn’t Israel).

      I agree with this.

      I think some individuals on the left need to be more cautious about things like litmus-testing, but I certainly wouldn’t write a newspaper article on it.

      I would, but I’d be doing it as a Jewish anti-Zionist leftist who has done some Palestine solidarity activism, aimed at colleagues to get them to recognize and address those behaviors in themselves and others (in the same way that I might write something about avoiding sexism or homo/bi/transphobia in a leftist movement that I had some involvement with). Which is not my impression of what Cohen’s column is.

      • ExpatJK

        I would, but I’d be doing it as a Jewish anti-Zionist leftist who has done some Palestine solidarity activism, aimed at colleagues to get them to recognize and address those behaviors in themselves and others (in the same way that I might write something about avoiding sexism or homo/bi/transphobia in a leftist movement that I had some involvement with). Which is not my impression of what Cohen’s column is.
        Fair enough. I don’t think this is what Cohen is doing either, not by a long shot. I would also say (again, anecdotally) that I experienced this more in Europe than elsewhere, which I find particularly problematic given the historical context. But again, demonisation is not the correct descriptor.

        As a side note, I’m impressed by the bad columnist: good columnist ratio at the NYT. There’s Cohen, Friedman, Douthat, Dowd (all of whom I put on the ‘bad columnist’ side)…and then Krugman.

        • kped

          …you missed David Brooks in the bad column…

          • ExpatJK

            ooh, indeed. I think I’d like to mentally blot out all of his writings, this is probably why I forgot to list him. Although I am tempted to read his writings on the GOP primary, just to savour the sure-to-be-delicious schadenfreude.

      • Origami Isopod

        I would, but I’d be doing it as a Jewish anti-Zionist leftist who has done some Palestine solidarity activism, aimed at colleagues to get them to recognize and address those behaviors in themselves and others (in the same way that I might write something about avoiding sexism or homo/bi/transphobia in a leftist movement that I had some involvement with). Which is not my impression of what Cohen’s column is.

        This I agree with. Cohen is using the issue to derail discussion of Israeli colonialism and anti-Arab racism.

    • Origami Isopod

      I strongly disagree that antisemitism is not a problem on the left. It exists, quite independently of anti-Zionism. It’s one of many reasons I am not as blithe as other people here about Tumblr, which is full of all sorts of bigoted bullshit masquerading as anti-oppression rhetoric.

      • JL

        Hmm. I have missed this part of Tumblr, apparently (I don’t have one of my own, but I periodically read through a handful of other people’s, or follow links). I would be interested to hear what you’ve noticed.

        Do you think it (anti-Semitism, not Tumblr) is worse on the left than in society in general? My experience has been that it’s similar-ish in magnitude but manifests a little differently.

        • Origami Isopod

          I really don’t know how to measure how bad it is on the left vs. the rest of society. I think that, at least in the US, there’s a lot of support for Israel on the right and center for political and for religious reasons (the latter, of course, being pretty creepy when it comes to fundie Christians). As for the left, I think it’s a combination of what I’ve said elsewhere in this thread about Americans not being very well-informed about racism against lighter-skinned peoples, and perhaps not critically sifting out the information they get from some Palestinian activists and some right-wingers who use the Palestinian issue as cover for antisemitism.

          I don’t want to derail this thread, even though it seems to be winding down somewhat, with the various other issues. I’ll just name one: homophobia in asexual rhetoric. If you google on “asexual homophobia” you can find a lot of links.

      • ExpatJK

        I don’t think I’ve said “antisemitism isn’t a problem on the left.” I was (or at least I thought I was) pretty specific about discussing the idea of “demonising Israel” rather than making a broad statement about antisemitism or supposed lack thereof on the left. I also brought up my own experience around litmus testing with respect to Israel, as a Jewish person who looks “stereotypically Ashkenazi” and is therefore seen as “obviously Jewish” by a lot of people.

        While I don’t think litmus testing is good, and was pretty clear (I think!) in calling it problematic, I am also hesitant to describe that sort of behaviour as antisemitic. This may be coloured by a close relationship with my grandparents and knowledge of the “real antisemitism” they experienced (not the greatest term but I am referring to the state sponsored kind that involves killing, systematic discrimination, etc). Certainly some bad behaviour in which I perceived no threat of physical violence is extremely minor in comparison. I think there are bigoted individuals on the left, and I have no problem believing they are on tumblr or elsewhere on the Internet. But I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say there is systematic antisemitism on the left (or right, for that matter, although I’d limit that geographically; the Hungarian right does seem antisemitic).

        Also, fwiw these experiences were outside the US (Australia, NZ and Europe), so I’m not sure how American race perceptions would play a role.

  • JL

    I’ve said this before and I will say it again. If you aren’t OK with Jews living in ghettos, you can’t morally support the treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and especially Gaza and you can’t support the settlements.

    And I will add to that that you can’t morally support the treatment of the Bedouin within Israel, the home demolitions in East Jerusalem, the massive discrimination in land allocation within Israel, or the Judaization (that is what Israel has historically called it) of the Galilee.

    I have no context for what is or isn’t happening at Oxford. My experience in the US is that sometimes you see anti-Semitism crop up in Palestine solidarity work, and in the activist left more broadly, but no more than it does in society in general.

    • heckblazer

      I have no context for what is or isn’t happening at Oxford. My experience in the US is that sometimes you see anti-Semitism crop up in Palestine solidarity work, and in the activist left more broadly, but no more than it does in society in general.

      That may well be the thing he’s seeing, as I’ve heard anti-Semitism is quite a bit worse generally in Europe.

      • Ronan

        Well Europe’s a big place, and the UK has generally done better than most on anti semitism. A significant amount of evidence shows Muslim communities are more likely to harbour anti Semitic feelings or agree with anti Semitic stereotypes than non Muslim communities. A lot of this is tied into the Israel palestine situation, therefore plausibly a lot of these groups could have significant anti Semitic constituents .

        • heckblazer

          The impression I’ve had is that the UK is better than much of Europe, but still worse than the US. Going by the most recent ADL anti-Semitism trends polls for the US and Europe, as of a few years ago the UK was very slightly worse.

          • Ronan

            I would assume they’re all worse than the US, I was just contesting your use of the term Europe . (Also I thin you have to tease out where in Europe, by who, and why. A lot of European countries, for example, have responded to threats against European Jews by guarding Jewish areas and synagogues etc. Also Palestinian activists aren’t particularly representative of the population, so where they’re better or worse on the topic prob can’t ‘ be generalised )

            • heckblazer

              Fair enough. By Europe I was thinking specifically of “general attitudes in Western European countries like France and Germany that you’d hope knew better but don’t”. In the US poll it found that anti-Semitism dropped sharply with education, so I’d expect college campuses to be less hostile than the general population. I suppose that may not hold true everywhere, though, and the European poll didn’t include that.

            • DrDick

              Anti_Semitism is definitely on the rise on the Continent, especially in France, Germany, and Eastern Europe, but is generally eclipsed by anti-Muslim sentiments in those countries, of which there is also quite a bit in Britain.

              • Ronan

                Where’s the evidence anti semitism is on the rise and relative to what? As I said above the communities it’s more obviously concentrated in are Muslim ones not non Muslim.

                • DrDick

                  Good grief. Have you been asleep?

                • Ronan

                  Your first link is an odd one, as the heading belies the text(which notes a drop in reported anti Semitic prejudice). This is my understanding of a lot of the polling, that there hasn’t been a noted increase in anti Semitic opinion even if there has been (afaik) an intensification of political violence(obviously there are problems with surveys explicitly designed to test anti Semitic prejudice, and reasons people might not be wholly honest when answering them)
                  But the question still stands as to what “the rise of anti semitism” in western Europe means.(I will leave out central and Easter European countries for the time being) I think you have three main culprits for any increase in anti semitism, if there has been:
                  (1) the past number of decades of religious tinged conflict, the use of anti semitism by some radical islamic groups and the fairly widespread appeal that anti semitism has in a number of European Muslim communities (particularly those who have more recently come from countries where anti Jewish prejudice Is prevalent in society and govt institutions)
                  (2) the rise of the radical right. This seems to vary country to country, to the point where far right groups like the edl developed relationships with Zionist organisations (Zionist being a legit term here because genuine Israeli nationalist groups), and Places like France where le pen specifically sought to distance herself from her father’s anti semitism. These are obviously politically convenient fudges, partly to build alliances against Islam, but also because it seems the appeal to anti semitism doesn’t have the same draw to even the western European far right as it did. The next category would be the far right in places like hungary and eastern Europe, where (afaik) the appeal of anti semitism (as well as anti Roma rhetoric, or against other minorities) still resonates more.
                  (3) the last group is the further left, who a number of people here seem to think don’t have much of an issue with anti semitism(apart from one or two Jewish commenters)
                  Again, I don’t see why claims about anti semitism in Europe don’t specify the who in Europe, the where in Europe and the why. How much is an objectively measurable increase and how much is more a Jewish perception of being besieged? What do we mean by claims like

                  “Anti_Semitism is definitely on the rise on the Continent..but is generally eclipsed by anti-Muslim sentiments in those countries, of which there is also quite a bit in Britain.”

                  This might be true in terms of public perceptions (but again what public are we talking about) but is it true of, for example, political violence?
                  This tends to be my problem with a lot of these claims to racism and prejudice, they become totalising, societal pathologies , rather than specific political acts and subgroup ideologies. And they become convenient stories in a morality tale that obscures more about what’s going on than it clarifies.

              • DrDick

                My focus has been on hate crimes and the like, so it may be more of a spike in anti-Semitic acts than in the attitude. This is quite clearly linked to the rise of the far right, especially in Germany and Eastern Europe.

                • Ronan

                  And linked to radical Islam?

                • DrDick

                  And linked to radical Islam?

                  Not that I have seen, which has all pretty much been neo-Nazism who are also rabidly anti-Muslim.

                • Ronan

                  ?? Now i have to ask have you been asleep ?!

                • DrDick

                  ?? Now i have to ask have you been asleep ?!

                  No, but it has not shown up in anything I have seen. I am not saying it does not exist, only that I have not seen it. Do you have links?

          • ajay

            “The impression I’ve had is that the UK is better than much of Europe, but still worse than the US. Going by the most recent ADL anti-Semitism trends polls for the US and Europe, as of a few years ago the UK was very slightly worse.”

            Anecdotally, yes: of my Jewish friends, one recently moved from the UK to the US because they felt under threat in Britain and regarded the US as a safe place to be Jewish; others have expressed similar ambitions. You can take a look at the security precautions felt necessary for, on the one hand, churches and mosques (lock on the door) and on the other hand synagogues (tall fences, security cameras, patrolling guards) in London.

  • milx

    This post dumb as heck. I’d give all the reasons why but luckily David Schraub beat me to it:
    http://dsadevil.blogspot.com/2016/03/worse-arguments-about-anti-semitism-or.html

  • DrDick

    I like how he lionizes the “long Jewish presence in, and bond with, the Holy Land”, while negating the equally long and much larger Palestinian presence and ties. The reality is the most Palestinians are descended from Jews who converted to Christianity and/or Islam.

    • milx

      So many misrepresentations in these comments including a bunch of ppl who apparently believe Arabs are not allowed to serve in the IDF (false). But this one is a frequently cited misrepresentation as well. Palestinians share genetic markers with Jews and it could very well be that some of them were Jews, but the genetic studies do not make that case. In fact, the same genetic studies suggested that Jewish genetics shared closer ties to Kurds, and that both Jews and Palestinians shared genetic links with other Levantine groups including Syrian Arabs, Lebanese Arabs, etc. Despite promotion to the contrary Palestinians are not a closer genetic match to Jews than other groups. This is just propaganda. Re “long Jewish presence in, and bond with, the Holy Land,” this is inarguable, whether or not Palestinians have a similar claim (which is also debatable). It’s amazing how on certain topics (ahem, Israel) people who seem otherwise bright will just repeat nonsense that they haven’t done any investigation of themselves. From the very link you posted:

      “The closest genetic neighbors to most Jewish groups were the Palestinians, Israeli Bedouins, and Druze in addition to the Southern Europeans, including Cypriots,” as Ostrer and Skorecki wrote in a review of their findings that they co-authored in the journal Human Genetics in October 2012.

      Does that mean Druze and Cypriots are also the descendants of forced converted Jews?

      • whether or not Palestinians have a similar claim (which is also debatable)

        This is the worst argument defenders of Israel make.

        • sonamib

          Forget it, Erik, I think we’re dealing with the infamous hasbara. I certainly don’t remember this commenter from any other thread.

          • milx

            I’m a lurker who has not commented before, but isn’t it interesting how critics of Israel have weaponized the term “hasbara” so that they never have to actually respond to arguments that might undermine their previously existing beliefs? It’s awfully convenient! Don’t worry, I won’t comment again. I hate to spoil the party.

        • milx

          Sure, it’s not like it’s a well-known fact that while some Palestinians can trace their time in the area back thousands of years, many can only trace it back to the 19th century. Let’s just deride and dismiss arguments that make us feel uncomfortable in our tummies. I don’t think the length of your time in the land should be some kind of trump card but I think that if you’re going to use it as an argument you should be honest about its complexity. You might also be surprised to learn that the argument that Palestinians are descended from Plistim is fallacious.

          • Hogan

            Sure, it’s not like it’s a well-known fact that while some Palestinians can trace their time in the area back thousands of years, many can only trace it back to the 19th century.

            Unlike, say, Jews?

            • milx

              Yes, correct. Even Ashkenazi Jewry – supposed European colonizers – as the OP itt noted – share genetics with other Levantine groups. (This doesn’t even get into the more than 50% of Israeli Jewry who identify as Mizrahi.) And there is a huge archeological record of Jewish presence in Israel, as well as historical consensus that Jews have lived in Israel ongoingly since the dispersion. nb I am not claiming that there were more Jews in Israel than Arabs in 1880. There were not. (However there were more in Jerusalem.) I am just saying that Jews have thousands of years in the land substantiated by a variety of academic fields.

              • Hogan

                Some Jews, yes. Like some Palestinians.

              • Rob in CT

                To take the example of diaspora Jews’ claim to the land vs. Palestinians “only” there since the 19th century (to use your example), why does 2000-year old broken connection trump a ~150-year continuous one, exactly?

                Obviously there are Jews whose families were there the whole time, and Palestinians who were too.

                So? What does any of this prove?

                • Origami Isopod

                  By Milx’s standards, anyone without Native American or other firstcomer ancestry should fuck off from the Americas back to where their ancestors came from. Which might not be unjust from the POV of Native Americans, but which would pose a massive logistical issue.

              • DrDick

                Let us start with the fact that the archaeology is quite clear that the Hebrews and Canaanites are the same people.

          • wengler

            Under this justification, I can’t wait to go back to Europe and carve a part of it for myself. My ancestors got kicked out of there for being Protestants in a Catholic area, so it’s perfectly justified under the Israeli re-occupation rules.

      • DrDick

        First off, nobody said anything about”forced converts”. All the Christians and many of the Muslim conversions were entirely voluntary. Secondly, the genetics are pretty clear on this. Genetic relations with Southern Europeans likely derives from intermarriage with local women after the Diaspora. The only propaganda is coming from racist Zionists like yourself.

    • sonamib

      Hell, if we’re talking about 2,000 goddamn years ago, any random person’s ancestor that lived that long ago is probably the ancestor of a significant part of humanity. Our most recent common ancestor might even have lived at that time.

      • DrDick

        Actually, you are off by a couple of orders of magnitude. The “common ancestors” are from 200,000 years ago (mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam) and really represented a population of 10,000-30,000.

        • sonamib

          My Wikipedia link says 2,000 to 4,000 years ago for the most recent common ancestor. (To be clear, this is different from the time when all ancestors were common ancestors. I’m just saying that there is one common ancestor.) I know Wikipedia isn’t always reliable, but they do have a source for that claim.

          • DrDick

            Speaking as an anthropologist who teaches this every semester, that is not a reliable source. In part, because there is no known single ancestor for all human beings (the closest we come is the 10-30K population I mention). Secondly, that date is way too late, since any common ancestor would have to date to before modern humans spread out from Africa at 50,000-100,000 years ago.

            • sonamib

              I believe you that 2,000 years is probably too soon. I can believe the 10-30K years range but this is not convincing

              Secondly, that date is way too late, since any common ancestor would have to date to before modern humans spread out from Africa at 50,000-100,000 years ago.

              Human populations are not hermetic. There are wars, migration, etc. Gene mixing might be slow, but 10K years is a very long time. I mean, the Romans traded with Africans and Germans. The silk road already existed at that time. The Americas were more isolated, so they would be the limiting factor. But even then native populations on both sides of the Behring strait did have contact with each other…

              Edit : And I’m not making this up, see : http://isogg.org/wiki/Most_recent_common_ancestor

              • DrDick

                It is actually 10,000-30,000 ancestors at about 200,000 years ago. There is also the fact that the Australian Aborigines had been genetically isolated for 50,000 years before the English arrived. The most recent common ancestor of all living humans must be older than 50,000-100,000 years ago, if there even is one that can be identified. I do not think you are making this up. I just think your source is wrong.

    • Crusty

      Your second sentence negates your first.

  • davidjoseph1

    This non-Zionist diaspora Jewish American reads this and gets depressed, again, as I’ve been over every iteration and reiteration of this basic dispute since 1990.

    Me and Roger Cohen? We largely come from the same starting place: we’re descended from or closely related to Holocaust refugees or survivors, we’re non-Israeli Anglophone Jews, we both read the f****ng New York Times. And I suspect we both have friends and family who live within and beyond the ’67 frontier in the settlement blocs. In my case, I have family who went to war (in Gaza, Jenin, Lebanon, Sinai, Jerusalem, Haifa), including family members who were ethnically cleansed from Ramat Rahel in ’48. I suspect we both try real hard to *want* peace and its corollaries (land transfers, reparations, mutual security guarantees, leading to the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state. My desired end state, emotionally, is a Jewish state, with a nominal defense budget, containing the same Jews who live there now plus the non-Jews, only nobody is trying to stab people or bulldoze olive orchards. No ethnic cleansing, build nice infrastructure, repress the religious nutbags because rabbis who want to go back to the seventeenth century are just as bad as mullahs who want the same.

    How to get there? Thirty years of low-intensity conflict has sharpened hatreds and seen the last decent leadership generation ushered from power by mortality, both the excess variety and the demographically predictable kind. And the other side has never, ever, committed to a cap on its maximum demands in peace negotiations, despite having lost militarily nine times. So deadly force continues to maintain the status quo. So that’s depressing.

    The one side won’t turn itself into a polyethnic secular liberal republic, and the other side won’t concede any Jewish sovereignty except after forcing and losing the repetitive enactment of millions of contests of coercive force. So that’s depressing.

    [what exactly is the BDS movement supposed to accomplish? I mean, I get the analogy to South Africa. I get the notion of economic boycott. But what exactly is it supposed to do? When you’re talking about a country with a $35,000 per capita GDP (in purchasing price parity terms), and hundreds of billions in multinational assets, what the hell is a university pension fund BDS pledge gonna do?]

    But I get, intimately, where Cohen is coming from. Is Anti-Zionism a stalking horse for anti-semitism? F**k yes. I have interlocuted with too many “Anti-Zionist” pro-Palestinian over the years, in university and civil society settings, and way-WAY-too often the interlocutor would adopt explicitly antisemitic tropes and language, advance programmatic solutions that would entail massive population transfers in the hundreds of thousands or millions, and go so far into privileged historicisms as to deny the presentisms of millions of Jewish people. Over twenty-five years of this in my personal experience. You know something? Fuck that shit. Fuck that shit to hell.

    In 2010, “Free Palestine!” was painted on the overgrown wall of the locked cemetery where my great-grandfather is buried, in a bullshit little Judenfrei! Since 1935! town fifty miles from Frankfurt, where last fall Neo-Nazis burned buildings that were supposed to be used for refugee housing. So, uh.

    Glad I’m not Israeli.

    • JL

      what exactly is the BDS movement supposed to accomplish? I mean, I get the analogy to South Africa. I get the notion of economic boycott. But what exactly is it supposed to do? When you’re talking about a country with a $35,000 per capita GDP (in purchasing price parity terms), and hundreds of billions in multinational assets, what the hell is a university pension fund BDS pledge gonna do?

      It’s a collective action matter. This is like asking what one vote is going to do (an example I use because there’s been several threads here about that lately).

      At any rate, the Israeli government considers it pressure enough to assign opposing it to the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

      I have…a lot of other thoughts on your comment, but I don’t have time to get into a long argument about who is forcing what, who ought to be able to demand what, and your erasure of anti-ZIonist Jews who do Palestine solidarity work (who are, in fact, quite overrepresented in Palestine solidarity work).

      In 2010, “Free Palestine!” was painted on the overgrown wall of the locked cemetery where my great-grandfather is buried, in a bullshit little Judenfrei! Since 1935! town fifty miles from Frankfurt, where last fall Neo-Nazis burned buildings that were supposed to be used for refugee housing. So, uh.

      This is shitty. I’ve met too many Western Europeans who are amazingly clueless, or willfully ignorant, about why they don’t encounter that many Jews in their countries. And I have observed that there’s plenty of overtly anti-Semitic Western Europeans. Using others’ oppression as cover for your own bigotry is a terrible thing to do.

    • Origami Isopod

      I agree with JL’s caveats to your comment, but I’m another Ashkenazi-American who gets where you’re coming from.

  • JG

    I occasionally see some anti-semitic slips from the pro-Palestine Left but I haven’t seen anything in my college SJP branch. For the most part these are smears to deligitimize resistance. I will concede that there are some legitimately troubling things out there like Oberlin incidents.

    • witlesschum

      I can recall one antisemitic troll at LGM who was at least portraying himself as left in the time I’ve been reading it. Outnumbered by the rightwingers in my memory, shockingly to no one.

  • Lee Rudolph

    Did the software play its occasional trick of misplacing a reply? Or were you replying to a troll’s comment that’s been deleted? Or…?

    [ETA a minute later: And, indeed, what I was replying to—davidjoseph1 saying “Usenet since 1992, baby.”—has now vanished. WTF?]

    • Don’t know. I’m not seeing anything unusual with the comments.

      • davidjoseph1

        I posted that comment and deleted it within a minute because it didn’t add anything to the discussion.

        (My bar mitzvah speech, given at the height of the first Intifada to a crowded Borscht Belt Orthodox synagogue, was on Abraham’s and Sarah’s injustice to Haggar and Ishmael, and that went over real well to the local worthies who several weeks later kitzeled Shamir and Peres at the Israel Bond Dinner at the Tamarack.)

  • LeeEsq

    1. In 1881. the area that became Israel/Palestine was a collection of provinces under the Ottoman Empire with a mixed Muslim, Christian, and Jewish population. Why is it that the Muslims and Christians get to be defined as indigenous and they can do so in a way that excludes the Jewish population while the Jewish population does not count as indigenous? Why is the right of Muslims and Christians of the area to form a national identity, and one that excluded the Jews of the area, greater than the right of the Jews to form a national identity? Why do they have the right to self-determination but not us?

    Now I know that the standard Left answer was that Jews were tolerated under Islam and things didn’t get bad until the “evil” Zionists showed up and started mucking things up. This argument is bullocks. White Southerners made similar arguments about how African-Americans were satisfied with their place in the Slave or Jim Crow South until “evil” Northerner showed up. These arguments are recognized as self-serving so I do not understand why Arabs are taken at their word when they describe Jews under Islamic Rule rather than being seen as making a self-serving argument.

    2. Today, hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Latin America are attempting to emigrate to the Europe or the United States. There are many people in Europe and the United States trying to keep them out. The raise various arguments like they are going to take us over demographically or they are going to completely change our culture that are called racist. Yet the Arabs made the same sort of arguments towards Jewish immigrants to the Ottoman Empire and it is considered valid. The Jewish immigrants were just as much refugees as the people from the Middle East or Latin America are today unless you really want to display a lot of hypocrisy.

    3. Leftists have long protested that Anti-Zionism isn’t anti-Semitism but things like this keep happening:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/198216/in-academe-shouldnt-blatant-and-repeated-anti-semitism-be-a-fireable-offense

    Many Leftist anti-Zionists have been caught and documented using blanketed anti-Semitic imagery and arguments to criticize Israel but they repeatedly get away with it. A lot of progressives are just blind about this. They recognize that decades of GOP dog whistles about race have led to Trump but Jews, even many Jews critical of Israel, have been pointing out all the anti-Semitic imagery used by people who hate Israel, Arab or otherwise, but have been repeatedly ignored. You could loathe Netanyahu but still be legitimately disturbed about political cartoons that depict with a blood thirsty man with stereotypically Jewish features or as an evil conspiratorial master mind. There has been simply too much repeated use of the worst anti-Semitic imagery by anti-Zionists for me to think “I’m an anti-Zionist not anti-Semite” is argument made in good faith.

    I was born in 1980. I am just old enough to remember the final leg of the struggle to Free Soviet Jewry. I’ve also read on the history to Free Soviet Jewry and as far as I can tell, it was basically an entirely Jewish struggle. I can not remember any significant demonstration to Free Soviet Jewry where the people protesting against all the other human rights violations of the time showed up. Protest Apartheid, protest Reagan mucking about in Central America, and protest everything else but absolute silence on the Soviet Union persecuting Jews from those who say they are concerned with human rights internationally. Either they very cold to Jews when we need help or the idea of temporarily having to be on the same side as Reagan and Thatcher was too off-putting to them. Neither particularly speaks good of them.

    • In 1881. the area that became Israel/Palestine was a collection of provinces under the Ottoman Empire with a mixed Muslim, Christian, and Jewish population. Why is it that the Muslims and Christians get to be defined as indigenous and they can do so in a way that excludes the Jewish population while the Jewish population does not count as indigenous? Why is the right of Muslims and Christians of the area to form a national identity, and one that excluded the Jews of the area, greater than the right of the Jews to form a national identity? Why do they have the right to self-determination but not us?

      Can’t you see the whole problem here? You rightly state that the region long had a heterogeneous population. And then you use that information to argue for an ethno-nationalist state around “self-determination.”

      • Joe in Australia

        The region was heterogeneous, but only in the sense that the American South was heterogeneous. The level of discrimination against Jews was extraordinary; they were socially and legally disadvantaged as a matter of course; they were subject to the whims of local governors; and they were occasionally the targets of semi-tolerated pogroms.

        Things only got worse with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Arab nationalism; consequently, almost every single Jew in the Arab world has been forced to flee. If you seek homogeneity you might find it in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, or Libya – all places that once had large Jewish populations; now they have perhaps a few dozen Jews between them.

        I’m not a fan of what you call ethno-nationalist states, but arguing that there shouldn’t be a Jewish homeland in the Middle East is like arguing that there shouldn’t be women–only spaces: it purports to be even-handed, but it’s really a way of cementing hegemony by denying a refuge to oppressed people.

        • JL

          Should we carve out a Romani homeland in northern India, then, where the Romani get permanent dominance, and kick out a bunch of the people who live in the area already to make room for them?

          There’s an awfully big difference between having a women’s lounge at a college or an LGBTQ center in a city – or a Jewish community center in a city, for that matter – and having a country where you are the permanent dominant class and get to oppress others, that you kicked other people out of to have.

          • LeeEsq

            Whether or not Zionism was a good idea, Jews were subject to a lot of pressures that would lead to a nationalist reaction during the late 19th and mid-20th century. Considering what Jews went through, Zionism should not be any more surprising than Black Power in the United States. A lot of the disgust at Israel’s more adamant critics is that they seem really aghast that some Jews would embrace a nationalist or at least Jewish centered solution to Jewish problems when they see it as something natural in other groups like African-Americans or LGBT people.

            • DrDick

              None of which justifies their barbaric and genocidal treatment of the Palestinians since the 1940s. There is nothing that the Palestinians are doing to Israelis now that the Jews did not do to them in the 1940s. Irgun was declared terrorist organization by the international community.

            • A lot of the disgust at Israel’s more adamant critics is that they seem really aghast that some Jews would embrace a nationalist or at least Jewish centered solution to Jewish problems when they see it as something natural in other groups like African-Americans or LGBT people.

              That’s quite the vague terminology there. It almost, but not quite, made me forget that there is no “they” worthy of even a plural pronoun that supports the establishment of an African-American or gay nation-state, somewhere that other people are currently living, let alone with an officially African-American or LGBT legal identity and basis of rights.

            • witlesschum

              I don’t think there’s anything about Israel’s history that isn’t understandable, but lots of things are understandable which I don’t think are okay. Israel doesn’t get to treat millions of people like they don’t have human rights.

              It’s understandable that George W. Bush would want to launch an agressive war against Iraq in 2003. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a crime.

          • Joe in Australia

            I’m not aware of a Romani nationalist movement. Not every subordinated people is the same, but if there were a substantial push for a Romani homeland I probably wouldn’t oppose it.

            As I said in my earlier reply, there had always been a substantial Jewish presence in and around Israel. Their position as a subordinated minority was rapidly becoming worse. That alone would have justified the creation of a Jewish homeland, every bit as much as the fall of the Ottoman Empire justified an Arab homeland.

            I would very much rather that this had occurred without anyone being kicked out of anywhere, but that’s what happened – mostly to Jews. Then as now, the primary reason for the existence of Israel as a Jewish home is its neighbours’ unwillingness to accept Jews as anything other than a perpetually subordinated minority.

      • I’ve made something like that argument myself, but it sounds so much stupider in Lee’s hands.

        I think “indigenous” only makes sense if a comparison is being made with the settlement of North America. In that sense, numbers of Palestinians aren’t “indigenous.” It seems odd to me to label “indigenous” economic elites that were planted or permitted by an imperial power. Bedouins are indigenous. Christian, Europe-educated capitalists who own property throughout the empire are not, necessarily. It isn’t immediately obvious that a Jewish-run multi-ethnic state in an empire is worse than an Arab-, Turkish-, European, or Christian-run one is.

        And FWIW, on the topic of “saving Russian Jewry,” since JL’s already airing dirty laundry, it’s been said that that effort, as well as Israel, drain charity dollars that might otherwise have been spent on the Jewish poor, who were moreover less likely to be echt German than those older Americans running the charities were.

        • It isn’t immediately obvious that a Jewish-run multi-ethnic state in an empire is worse than an Arab-, Turkish-, European, or Christian-run one is.

          Maybe, but a Jewish-run Jewish supremacist state that locks away Palestinians in Gaza while stealing land and resources to build settlements is a deeply unjust and racist state.

          • I agree, and at some point it became obvious that a multi-ethnic state in an empire wouldn’t be possible, because the empires were gone, and all the new states were monoethnic. Though I doubt there was ever a good theory about what a “Jewish state” was going to look like, what would be specifically “Jewish” and what would be specifically “statelike” about it. (At best, I think, vague theories about the Jews taking “their separate and equal place among the nations,” or some Germanic variant thereof.)

            In the 1970s we were regaled with films about how well Jews and Arabs got along and how they had equal civil rights. I can only imagine what our reaction was supposed to be when we discovered the truth. Or maybe the people who distributed them were entirely clueless.

            • LeeEsq

              Yet, many Pro-Palestinian activists and the Palestinians themselves refer to the Christians and Muslims as indigenous and the Jews immigrants as colonialist all the time. One of Steven Salaita’s main arguments is to compare the Zionist movement/Jewish immigration to late Ottoman Israel/Palestine with the European colonization of the Americas with the Palestinians occupying the place of the Native Americans. Other people use the South African or Rhodesia analogy but it is basically the same argument.

              • Yes, and the point about the word “indigenous” is a fair one (if I do say so myself), and moreover it’s easy to have sympathy for someone who lost their family home even if they sound like Charles Kinbote while lamenting it, but on the other hand, (a) the manner in which it was done was and is bad and people have rights even if they’re not indigenous, and (b) the lack of theory has always been a problem: vague aspirations to not-further-defined socialism on the one hand and to some kind of Western liberalism on the other weren’t enough, especially in combination with the really, really bad “one ethnic group per land/state” theory (which really needs to be confronted).

                • LeeEsq

                  I admit my initial wording was sloppy and there is a reason I stay clear of threads on Israel/Palestine or even the Middle East on this blog. This time I felt that a response was necessary though. My response was aimed at a certain rhetoric used that I think is at best dumb and completely disingenuous at worse.

                • LeeEsq

                  As to one ethnic group per land/state, ethnic-states have serious problems but I think that the rise of democracy is going to always be strongly linked to the rise of nationalism. When people start to want to select who is going to exercise governmental power on their behalf than you find that people generally like to choose leaders like themselves. Its really easy not to care about ethnic or national differences when everybody is a very hierarchical society with little in the way of representation but increases in democracy have a big tendency to lead to more patriotism and nationalism in the short run at least.

                • Nationalism and ethnic states are not the same thing. There are a number of theoretical and social-scientific arguments in favor of (and against) monocultural states. There’s also the outsider’s sense of everything not outside as a monolith from which s/he is excluded, which is something different.

    • Rob in CT

      Why is the right of Muslims and Christians of the area to form a national identity, and one that excluded the Jews of the area, greater than the right of the Jews to form a national identity?

      It… isn’t.

      Now I know that the standard Left answer was that Jews were tolerated under Islam and things didn’t get bad until the “evil” Zionists showed up and started mucking things up.

      It is?

      • LeeEsq

        For the second one, yes they do make that argument. Look at Erik’s response to my inquiry. It was standard blather about the Middle East being a heterogeneous place and Israel making it less heterogeneous. As Joe in Australia pointed out, that only makes sense as an argument if you ignore a lot of stuff regarding the actual social position of Jews in the Middle East. It also requires you to ignore the even more rampant exclusionary nature of Arab nationalism or the alternative Political Islam that arouse as the Arab response to modernity.

        Erik’s response also demonstrates a big problem when talking about Israel/Palestine. Since an official country called Palestine never existed, actual Israel gets compared a lot to various Fantasy Palestine states rather than an actual country with real positives and negatives. Islamic opponents of Israel like to imagine Palestine as the perfect Islamic state and Leftists have their own imagined Palestine but either way Israel is being compared to a utopia rather than a real country.

        • Islamic opponents of Israel like to imagine Palestine as the perfect Islamic state and Leftists have their own imagined Palestine but either way Israel is being compared to a utopia rather than a real country.

          Citations omitted.

        • DrDick

          Nobody here has made anything like that argument. The modern Israeli population overwhelmingly come from families who have been in Europe for millenia. The Palestinians are descended from people who never went anywhere, mostly Hebrews and others resident in the area 2000 years ago, along with various other groups, including European Crusaders, Byzantine Greeks, Ottomans, and Arab Jihadists. All of the latter groups have much longer residence in the region than the modern Israelis and have rather better claim to the land. Palestine may never have existed as an independent country, but it has been a well recognized province with a distinctive population since Roman times. To pretend that is a “made up” identity is nonsense and Zionist propaganda, as is the claim that they are recent immigrants to the region.

          Ultimately, however, the real issue is the genocidal violence and dispossession of the Palestinians by the recent Zionist immigrants. I acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, though I reject the notion of a “Jewish state” (or any other exclusive ethnoreligious stsate). However, when Israel conquers and colonizes the West Bank and Gaza, dispossesses the people who have lived there for centuries, and commits genocide against the Palestinians, which is the only realistic description of Likud policies, then it is a war crime and a crime against humanity, no different than the Holocaust.

          • Joe in Australia

            The modern Israeli population overwhelmingly come from families who have been in Europe for millenia.

            If you have solid information on Europe’s Jewish population even two thousand years ago you should definitely write up your findings; it’s quite a vexed academic question. It can’t possibly be as you describe, though, because that would take us before the destruction of the Temple in 69CE, let alone the fall of Jerusalem some sixty years later.

            I happen to think that the idea of nativity is intrinsically discriminatory: human rights cannot depend on where one’s grandparents were born. Leaving that aside, though, you’re applying the test selectively. It’s notorious that many Palestinian families arrived during the late Ottoman and the British Mandate periods; why is that not equally relevant?

            More significantly, European Jews were traditionally discriminated against on the basis that they were descended from immigrants and therefore weren’t really British or French or German or whatever. In fact, a common slur was to call them Palestinians or tell them to go back to Palestine. So if Jews don’t have native rights in Europe, and don’t have native rights in the Middle East, where are they to have these rights? Nowhere, I suppose …

            Incidentally, if anyone wants actual figures on migration to Israel you can find them here, at Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. They have annual summaries in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

            • DrDick

              Millenia includes anytjhing over 1000 years and the traditional dates for the diaspora start around 100AD. They have certainly been there for over a millenium.

            • DrDick

              I would add that the only place I have seen that argument about the recent advent of the Palestinian is in Zionist propaganda. Was Palestine suddenly depopulated before that? Most Palestinian families have been there since the Roman period, which has been well documented. The argument, frequently advanced by Zionists, that “there was no Palestine before the British mandate” is clearly nonsense and that name goes back the the Roman period as well. You also studiously ignore that your ancestors, and those of most modern Israeli Jews, voluntarily left Palestine prior to 600 AD (many in the 1st century BC). Whether they were “real citizens” of the countries they lived in is totally irrelevant. Also, by your argument, you should be expelled from Australia which belongs exclusively to the Aborigines, who have been there continuously for 50,000 years.

              • Given the relatively recent nature of the modern borders, the likelihood that there was zero migration in and out of Palestine is close to zero. I’ll grant that non-elite populations are generally considered more or less indigenous, and are granted the right to consider themselves local even when migration has certainly occurred–as in Europe–though intentional planting of peasant populations in different parts of the empire, as happened in Europe, might still raise issues.

                I’ll grant that “indigenous elites” should have rights where they exist. I do doubt however, that there was ever any chance, barring a miracle, that such indigenous elites could gain power in Palestine. They did not, elsewhere in the Middle East.

                None of these arguments is really on the main point. But they do raise the question why Jews in Palestine and elsewhere should be excluded from the “real” local population, as they were in Europe, especially given the longstanding practice of allowing Jewish in-migration for more or less religious reasons (though, of course, this raises other issues).

                I don’t think anyone in, say, 1940, could even begin to imagine the postimperial world we live in, in which most people no longer expect disputes to be decided by force, there are few remaining empires, and most national boundaries are accepted as settled even when internal disputes remain. The Irgun grew out of a time before that change. The worst thing about the behavior of the Israeli government is that they don’t seem to realize that everybody else has accepted this.

                • DrDick

                  You, along with others here, seem to miss the actual point. What is being questioned here is Jewish claims to priority in Israel/Palestine and their rejection of the perfectly legitimate and better supported Palestinian claims. The facts remain that regardless of their origin, the vast majority Palestinian population has been resident there since the Roman period, while the vast majority of the ancestors of Israeli Jews have not. Many, perhaps most, of the Palestinians are the descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity (all voluntarily) and/or to Islam, many of whom also did so voluntarily.

                  I am not advocating for the destruction of Israel and support its right to exist, within the pre-1967 borders. I reject the annexation of Palestinian lands and the ongoing marginalization and persecution of Arabs, both citizens and non-citizens, in Israel.

                • I still find part of that argument irrationally uncomfortable, as it recalls the idea that Jews lost their right to God’s favor through not accepting the new religion (s) after it/they were revealed.

                  I don’t know how prevalent or old the argument that Jews deserve Palestine because of an ancient claim is. Judaism traditionally held that the end of days would bring the fall of the earthly powers and the return of David’s kingdom in Jerusalem, but this was a theological hope, not a political one. Though it was considered good to make a pilgrimage to Palestine and hopefully be buried there, so as to be first to arrive when the dead were resurrected. Zionists were by and large secular and rejected the religious rapprochement with an evil government. Anyway, as a political claim it’s obviously false.

                  Given the reality of open borders at the time, and the number of Jews in Europe–especially the Russian Empire, from which you could more or less walk to Palestine–who weren’t wanted anywhere, there was no really humane way to prevent in-migration, though it was tried, and only enraged people sympathetic to the movement.

                  Given the reality of modern politics, it isn’t obvious how a non-ethnic state could have been realized. Given a certain strand of political thought (which I reject) there was no hope of Jewish survival or Jewish political adulthood without a culturally specific state.

                  Moreover, I doubt Europe could have permitted something like a Saudi state controlling the Holy Sites.

                  The alternatives at the time were genocide, forced repatriation to the Axis and Soviet states, or the acceptance of millions of refugees. Genocide would probably have been the fate of Jews in the new Muslim states, and continual war to enforce it. There was no other place in the world where Jews were permitted to migrate as a matter of course.

                  What’s needed now is the acceptance of liberal norms that require rights for all, and also require a more liberal attitude to people hostile to the state. I do not see the removal of special protection for Jews from the constitution as desirable.

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  Genocide would probably have been the fate of Jews in the new Muslim states, and continual war to enforce it. There was no other place in the world where Jews were permitted to migrate as a matter of course.

                  This is totally without any historical backing. A number of Jews continued to live in the New Muslim states without being killed. The removal of Jews from various Arab states was due to emigration, evacuation, and expulsion not extermination. In addition to Morocco, a former French Protectorate, which has a significant Jewish population today even after the migration of large numbers to Israel there have been until recently a small Jewish community in Syria and Tunisia.

                • DrDick

                  I still find part of that argument irrationally uncomfortable, as it recalls the idea that Jews lost their right to God’s favor through not accepting the new religion (s) after it/they were revealed.

                  My argument has nothing to do with religion, anymore than it does with race. The point is about residence. People whose families have continuously lived there for thousands of years clearly have greater rights than those whose families have not. Indeed, there were significant Mizrahi populations in Palestine throughout the Ottoman and British periods, who have a clear claim to their lands.

                  I don’t know how prevalent or old the argument that Jews deserve Palestine because of an ancient claim is.

                  Well, it has been repeatedly invoke by pro-Zionists here, as well as elsewhere.

                  Given the reality of modern politics, it isn’t obvious how a non-ethnic state could have been realized.

                  Whether that is true or not (and I strongly question that it was actually necessary for the Jews to have their own state), it does not justify their treatment of the Palestinians since the 1940s. Israel is fait accompli and cannot realistically be eliminated without horrific costs. The Israelis have won the right to exist and live there. However, they have no right to evict or slaughter the Palestinians, nor to deny them a right to live there. I actually strongly reject the notion of ethnic or ethnoreligious states like Israel (I also oppose the Sinhalese attacks on the Tamils and the Hindu Nationalists).

                • DrDick

                  The removal of Jews from various Arab states was due to emigration, evacuation, and expulsion not extermination.

                  For once JOtto and I agree. More importantly, the hostility toward Jews in most of those places is a direct result of the founding of Israel and the actions of the Israelis. Indeed, in many cases this only occurred after the 1967 conquest of the Palestinian Territories. The position of Jews may not always have been entirely comfortable, but the active persecution and efforts to expel them are much more recent.

                • LeeEsq

                  Bianca, I actually don’t think that the Jews of MENA would end up as a victim of genocide if there was no Israel. They wouldn’t be in a great position but it wouldn’t be a genocide either. A lot of it would be country dependent. The Jews of Morocco and Iran would probably end up alright and basically live in a state of benign neglect. They wouldn’t be totally included in the body politic but they would be considered part of the country at least. The Jews in Tunisia would end up similarly situated probably.

                  Others would probably end up in a situation similar to Christian minorities of malign neglect. They would be forced to align with whatever dictator was in charge for limited protection. It would be a bad situation but not genocide.

                • It’s certainly possible that those countries would have gone along quite happily with Jews in their populations if Israel hadn’t come along and annexed the Palestinian Territories. There’s no way of really knowing, I guess. I’m still thinking whether I think residence and length/continuity of residence are significant, improvements on religion and race in thinking about these things.

            • Playing dumb about whether people moved from Europe to Israel isn’t even really worth replying to. Nothing I could say could make you look worse than your own forced pretense of stupidity.

              But this bit I did want to answer:

              More significantly, European Jews were traditionally discriminated against on the basis that they were descended from immigrants and therefore weren’t really British or French or German or whatever. In fact, a common slur was to call them Palestinians or tell them to go back to Palestine. So if Jews don’t have native rights in Europe…,

              So you agree with the people who said they didn’t have native rights in Europe?

              • Joe in Australia

                Of course not. I’m saying that as a matter of fact, Jews in the Old World were not treated equally, and part of the rationale was that they were recent arrivals. The whole point of Zionism was to change that. If you want to argue with anyone, argue with DrDick above who said

                People whose families have continuously lived there for thousands of years clearly have greater rights than those whose families have not.

                Well, if it’s clear, it’s clear. Consequently, Jews (whose nativity is always to be scrutinised) will inevitably be subordinated, no matter where they live; in Europe or in the Middle East.

                By the way – do you even realise that you’re doing this? That you’re effectively arguing that the Jewish experience in Europe, culminating in the Holocaust, is to be treated as a sort of non-Jewish European mistake that can be corrected by someone saying “Sorry! We now realise that you’re Europeans, not aliens! We’re not going to kill you now!” Of course Jews are aliens in Europe: that’s the consequence of European Jew-hatred. They should have equal rights there; they should be treated equally, but that’s not going to happen while privileged non-Jews pontificate on where Jews “really” belong.

          • JL

            The modern Israeli population overwhelmingly come from families who have been in Europe for millenia.

            Without arguing with the rest of your point, this is a dubious claim. Half the Jewish population of Israel is Sephardi-Mizrahi, and while there are some Balkan, Polish, and Dutch Sephardi, the large majority of Sephardi-Mizrahi have been living in the Middle East and North Africa for centuries (or, for Mizrahi, for millennia). And then there’s the Ethiopian Jews and other smaller non-European groups.

            Now, you are correct in what I see as your larger point, that they were overwhelmingly not living in the region that is now Israel/Palestine. But I don’t think it’s particularly useful to portray Israel as whiter than it is.

            • DrDick

              Sephardi are also European Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, who were expelled after 1492. My point is not about”race”, but residence. Biologically the Jews and Palestinians are basically the same people.

    • Francis

      Lee, even if Jews get disproportionate blame for how the world ended up here, there remains the current problem (among others) of 1.8 million people living in the Gaza Strip.

      I hereby wave my magic wand and give you complete power over the Israeli government and military. What do you do with those people? Keep them there? Forever, really? With the blockade or without? Allow them to move freely with Israel and the West Bank? Expel them into Egypt? Put them on boats and send them to Greece?

      Is there any possible path to peace? Or are we just waiting for a [Pakistani/Russian/Chinese/Indian/North Korean] general to decide that the way to resolve the situation and make an absurd sum of money at the same time is to pass a nuclear warhead to the ultimate suicide bomber who detonates the device in downtown Jerusalem?

    • 1. In 1881. the area that became Israel/Palestine was a collection of provinces under the Ottoman Empire with a mixed Muslim, Christian, and Jewish population. Why is it that the Muslims and Christians get to be defined as indigenous and they can do so in a way that excludes the Jewish population while the Jewish population does not count as indigenous?

      Ooh, I know this one: because virtually no Christians or Muslims migrated to the area, while a global movement of millions of Jews did, so that the Christian and Muslim populations there are actually indigenous, while the Jewish population is almost entirely not.

      2. Today, hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Latin America are attempting to emigrate to the Europe or the United States. There are many people in Europe and the United States trying to keep them out. The raise various arguments like they are going to take us over demographically or they are going to completely change our culture that are called racist. Yet the Arabs made the same sort of arguments towards Jewish immigrants to the Ottoman Empire and it is considered valid.

      When did anyone from the Middle East or Latin America every conquer American territory by military force? Some might call consideration of this distinction as meaningful to come up slightly short of hypocritical.

      I don’t understand how you could possibly consider those two questions remotely difficult.

      • Ronan

        Yeah these struck me as very odd points by Lee. There’s also the idea that “the Arabs” made (sometime in the past) these claims, and they’re considered valid (by us, now), which is for some reason hypocritical. The obvious reason they’re seen as “valid” is because it happened. Much as if there was an actual Islamic takeover of Europe, the far right will have called it correctly, and their concerns will have been shown to be retrospectively “valid”

  • NewishLawyer

    Here are some of my observations as a Zionist whose heart is being broken.

    1. The settlement movement is a racist disgrace.

    2. Many pro-Palestinian activists are also a disgrace. The reason that anti-Zionism often seems to become anti-Semitism is because everything Israel does is considered a bad-faith and wicked action. Israel’s relatively strong support for LGBT rights is considered nothing but “pink washing.” Many anti-Zionists often seem to know little or nothing about Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history. They can’t tell the difference between Sephardim. Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and other Jews. To them Jews are all rich, white oppressors even though most modern Israelis are descendants are from the Middle East. They seemingly know nothing about the history of Zionism including the Dreyfuss Trial.

    I try to be liberal with the young who don’t know the difference between a sledge hammer and a fine point pen. Yet the current rhetoric is distressing with an Oberlin professor voicing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and calling the Holicaust “white on white” crime.

    • heckblazer

      As to 1., From what I’ve heard it’s also driven by insane real estate prices in Israel proper, which makes a place in a settlement the only way most people can get affordable housing. A brilliantly evil way of encouraging complicity, I’d say.

      • JL

        This is roughly what I was told by Israeli Jewish pro-Palestinian activists (from Jerusalem ICAHD) on my delegation – our East Jerusalem guide estimated that around 80% of settlers had an economic motivation. Though I observed that the purely ideological ones tended to concentrate in certain areas (is anyone a settler in Hebron/Khalil, or some of those super-extreme settlements in the north-central West Bank, for economic reasons? I rather doubt it, economically-motivated settlers go to places like Ma’ale Adumim). I’m not sure it’s quite as strong as “most people” but it’s certainly a major factor.

    • Crusty

      Perhaps summarizing your points one and two, but a good many people don’t distinguish between issues within the occupied territories and issues in Israel within its pre-67 borders. Or, put another way, they take wrongs committed with respect to the occupied territories and the people living there and indiscriminately apply them to Israel as a whole- not just the Israeli government, it is the same government, but to the conception of Israel.

      • JG

        I think there are three separate issues:

        1. Treatment of Arabs within Israel proper
        2. The occupation and settlements
        3. The right of return and “the original sin” of Israel’s foundation

        1 and 2 are resolvable (at least in theory) but 3 is the genie that is out of the bottle.

        • Thom

          Excellent point.

      • DrDick

        My primary beef is with the Israeli government, though it at least nominally represents the views of the Israeli beef, in particular their actions in the occupied territories. I also have problems with the treatment of non-Jews within Israel proper, and increasingly the treatment of nonreligious Jews as the ultra-orthodox gain greater power and influence.

    • JL

      The reason that anti-Zionism often seems to become anti-Semitism is because everything Israel does is considered a bad-faith and wicked action. Israel’s relatively strong support for LGBT rights is considered nothing but “pink washing.”

      I feel like a broken record here, but this is not what pinkwashing means. Pinkwashing means using Israeli support of LGBTQ rights for propaganda purposes. It doesn’t mean that the only reason there’s any support for LGBTQ rights in Israel is for propaganda purposes.

      Many anti-Zionists often seem to know little or nothing about Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history. They can’t tell the difference between Sephardim. Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and other Jews. To them Jews are all rich, white oppressors even though most modern Israelis are descendants are from the Middle East. They seemingly know nothing about the history of Zionism including the Dreyfuss Trial.

      There are anti-Zionists who are like this, yes. There are also anti-Zionists who know all of this in depth. There are also a lot of Christian and to a lesser extent Jewish Zionists who know very little about most of this (let’s face it, white Ashkenazi Jews with painfully clueless attitudes toward non-Ashkenazi Jews and Jews of color are sadly common in our communities regardless of ideology).

      And as I keep saying, Jews are overrepresented in Palestine solidarity activism. Jewish Voice for Peace has 9000 official members, and is one of the major US organizers of pro-Palestinian events and actions. Some 20% of the volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement, which does direct action on the ground in Palestine to strengthen unarmed Palestinian resistance, are Jewish.

      • NewishLawyer

        I don’t deny that there are many Jews who are passionate about their Judaism and strongly supportive of the Palestinians. But many Jews are still Zionist. I am not sure what the point is re overreprenstation.

        I have never heard anyone make a meaningful distinction between sincere Israeli support for civil rights and pink washing done for propaganda purposes.

        • JL

          I am not sure what the point is re overreprenstation.

          The point is that a lot of complaints about anti-Zionism and Palestinian solidarity activism frame it as something outside of (and hostile to) Jewish communities, as opposed to something that overlaps with it to the extent that Jews are more likely to be part of it than most other people are.

          I have never heard anyone make a meaningful distinction between sincere Israeli support for civil rights and pink washing done for propaganda purposes.

          Well, I’ve done this on my blog, as well as several times on this one. I’ve heard many other people do it as well. There are also various citations at the Wikipedia article.

    • Origami Isopod

      Many anti-Zionists often seem to know little or nothing about Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history. They can’t tell the difference between Sephardim. Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and other Jews. To them Jews are all rich, white oppressors even though most modern Israelis are descendants are from the Middle East.

      I replied at the bottom of the thread before I saw your comment, but a lot of this comes from seeing the world’s racial issues through a strictly American lens.

  • Ransom Stoddard

    I agree substantively with Loomis about Israel, but I think the college anti-Israel movement has adopted counterproductive tactics that limit its ability to influence US-Israeli relations. It’s not so much that they’re anti-Semitic as they are generally apathetic toward current and historical anti-Semitism in a way they aren’t towards any other kind of discrimination. It just bothers people that “politically correct” college students who consider the morning wasted if they haven’t uncovered Intersectional NeoLiberal Transphobic Cultural Appropriation going on in the cafeteria can’t make more of an effort to demonstrate they understand the long history of persecution of the Jews. (Consider how conservative denunciation of higher rates of homicide, public benefit use and unemployment among African-Americans, with no recognition of current and historical anti-black racism, sounds to liberals.) I don’t think any of that makes the policies of the Israeli state less horrible, but it makes it a political movement to stop Israeli state atrocities less effective.

    • LeeEsq

      From a Jewish perspective this isn’t surprising at all. The Further Left always had a very complicated relationship with Jews. They had opinions that ranged from outright hostility to apathy to sympathy in some rare cases. This was decades before any Jew decided that the solution to Jewish problems is a Jewish nation-state. Look at how little the Further Left paid attention to the plight of Soviet Jewry compared to all other ills in the world they were fighting at the time. You would figure that they could manage to at least show up for a few demonstrations but they did not.

      • I’ve heard an anecdote from my grandparents’ generation that went something like this:

        “Is he a Zionist?”

        “No, he’s a Communist.”

        So I’d guess there’s some hostility from that divide, too.

      • JG

        ook at how little the Further Left paid attention to the plight of Soviet Jewry compared to all other ills in the world they were fighting at the time.

        Well much of the Left was (and still is today to a much lesser extent) filled with shameless Soviet apologia so I don’t think that’s the best example.

        I have seen some pro-Palestine tankie people on twitter make excuses for Assad/Putin/Iran, which is a little disturbing. But then again this is loony bins far-left twitter.

        • LeeEsq

          This doesn’t raise my opinion of them tremendously.

      • witlesschum

        Was the plight of Soviet Jewry actually worse enough than the plight in general of people living in the Soviet Union that it should particularly have raised people’s ire?

        I admit I have no idea, having never heard anything about it other than the fact that a huge number of Jews from the former Soviet Union moved to Israel when they got the chance.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          It depends on what you mean by plight. In the late 1940s early 1950s Stalin eliminated most Jewish cultural organizations and killed a number of prominent members of the group like Solomon Mikhoels. They also suffered from some forms of official and popular discrimination particularly after 1948. But, they still had the highest rate of university attendance, membership in the Communist Party, and representation in desirable white collar jobs of any nationality in the USSR. The argument is that they would have had much higher representation if there had not been discrimination against them, often in favor of titual nationalities in their own republics. But, compared to other diaspora groups they did quite well. The ethnic Germans lived under a formal ban of living in European areas of the USSR until 1972 and had the lowest representation in universities of any nationality in Central Asia even lower than other marginalized groups like Uyghers and Dungans.This led to their almost complete exclusion from white collar jobs.

          • The Temporary Name

            This oddball place is always interesting to think about:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Autonomous_Oblast

            • Lee Rudolph

              Thank you for reminding me that my memory of its existence was not, in fact, implanted by mischievous aliens.

            • Wow.

              “Look, it’s not like we’re sending you to Siberia! Well, okay, technically, it’s like we’re sending you to Siberia…”

              • Origami Isopod

                Well…

                The territory has a monsoonal/anti-cyclonic climate, with warm, wet, humid summers due to the influence of the East Asian monsoon; and cold, dry, windy conditions prevailing in the winter months courtesy of the Siberian high-pressure system.

          • DrDick

            they still had the highest rate of university attendance, membership in the Communist Party, and representation in desirable white collar jobs of any nationality in the USSR

            Indeed, Russian Jews who have immigrated to Israel have great difficulty adjusting to the notion of poor, uneducated Jews, whom they encounter there.

          • Crusty

            The ones who wanted to practice Judaism freely did not do so well.

        • Joe in Australia

          Was the plight of Soviet Jewry actually worse enough than the plight in general of people living in the Soviet Union that it should particularly have raised people’s ire?

          Yes, as is demonstrated by the fact that (as you say) “a huge number of Jews from the former Soviet Union moved to Israel when they got the chance.”

          A lot of them didn’t move to Israel; I know a lot of former Soviet Jews personally. They were very, very glad to get out. Their religion and culture was suppressed; they were were identified as Jews (i.e., not as Russians) on their ID cards; consequently, they were discriminated against both officially and unofficially in a thousand ways. Just as an illustrative example, Jewish maths students were (semi-) secretly given different exam papers – much harder ones. The idea was to keep them out of the specialist maths colleges, in a deniable way. I really wonder at the obsessive hatred necessary to come up with that one.

    • Origami Isopod

      A big part of the problem is that many Americans who are interested in this sort of activism bring with them a very American racial lens. There is not sufficient understanding that people with fair skins can be oppressed or that people with dark skins can be oppressors. Or that the US term “person of color” can encompass fair-skinned people.

  • rjayp

    The Further Left always had a very complicated relationship with Jews.

    Starting when? Cite examples.

    • LeeEsq

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jewish_Question You can start with Marx himself and many other socialists and anarchists of the 19th century that identified the Jews with capitalist exploitation. August Bebel said that “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools” for a reason.

      Another example would be the loathing that Russian socialists had for the General Jewish Labour Bund. The General Jewish Labour Bund was a Jewish leftist organization that was anti-Zionist but believed in maintaining Jewish identity and autonomy within socialism. Many other revolutionaries hated the Bund for its insistence on maintaining a Jewish in addition to working class identity.

      You also had the decision of the USSR to strike down on Jewish culture within the USSR while fostering other minority cultures in the USSR to a greater extent. Than you had how Jews were treated in the Eastern Bloc after Communism.

      See also http://whatwouldphoebedo.blogspot.com/2011/07/anti-semitism-and-first-world-problems.html for something more recent.

      • heckblazer

        Dammit, just beat me.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        The repeated claim that Jews were the worst treated nationality in the USSR is simply not true. Many nationalities were treated far worse than Jews by the Soviet government. The Soviet government never subjected Jews to mass executions by the NKVD like Germans, Poles, Chinese, Latvians, Estonians, Finns, Greeks and Iranians in 1937-1938. Nor were they subjected to deportation of almost all of their population and the imposition of apartheid like restrictions like Koreans, Volga Germans, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Karachais, Balkars, Crimean Tatars, and Meskhetian Turks. Of all the diaspora nationalities in the USSR Jews received the most lenient treatment by the Soviet government. Germans, Poles, Chinese, Koreans, Finns, and Greeks suffered far more repressive treatment than Jews during the 1930s and 1940s and beyond. Interestingly enough Israeli scholars fully recognize this. It is only Americans like Lee that make this false claim.

        http://nevzlin.huji.ac.il/news/36

    • heckblazer

      Karl Marx, perhaps?

      Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew – not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew.

      Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew.

      What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.
      Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.

      An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it, he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement.

      We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time, an element which through historical development – to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed – has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily begin to disintegrate.

      In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.

      • DrDick

        Who, along with his collaborator Frederick Engels, was a Jew himself. Not the best example of Far Left anti-Semitism.

        • heckblazer

          Both of whom were also baptised and raised (at least nominally) Lutheran. LeeEsq specifically wrote “complicated” for a reason.

        • ExpatJK

          I don’t see why it’s not a good example. The quote is pretty clearly anti-Semitic; is it somehow less so because it was said by person with Jewish ancestry, albeit one who was not necessarily raised in the Jewish tradition? If we’re arguing that Jews can’t be anti-Semitic, I think that’s ridiculous. There are plenty of women who are sexist, for example.

        • 1. You probably know better than me, but I am under the impression that Engels was not a Jew.

          2. Making a point about “the not-German” by labeling it “the Jewish” wasn’t thought up by Marx or by any Jew, converted or otherwise. It was, however, something a Jew would have to come to terms with or oppose in itself,

          eta 3. And not to bring up the literature of Jewish self-hatred again, which I don’t much like, but some might claim that Jewish anti-semitism is in fact the best example of anti-semitism (which is when you think of it convenient, as it lets others off the hook and blames the victim).

          • Hogan

            1. You probably know better than me, but I am under the impression that Engels was not a Jew.

            He wasn’t, and Marx wrote Zur Judenfrage before they met.

          • DrDick

            I was wrong about Engels. I would point out that Marx’s Jewishness has routinely deployed to discredit his theories. It is quite clear that the conversion of his father, who was generally not religious, was to avoid anti-semitic laws and not a profession of faith. Given the large portion of 19th and 20th century professional class Jews who were largely secular, this is a meaningless argument. Such conversions also did nothing to protect Jews during the Holocaust.

            • This is all a very interesting question. France after the Revolution had emancipated the Jews, as citizens, and expected them to integrate fully, with no “special privileges”. Napoleon had spread this policy across Europe. Germany rejected it and generally required conversion before the granting of full civil rights. But anti-semitism remained and racial theories of Jewishness were formulated, then metaphysical theories. (For unsurprising reasons, sometimes mixed with anti-English, anti-French, or anti-liberal ideas.) It isn’t surprising, therefore, that Marx was conscious of a need to refute Jewishness.

              This line of thought has been misused, though, as positing a kind of German essentialism that’s racist in itself, and also through tracing a line to Luther that then tries to claim other Christianities never were truly anti-Semitic, and thus that a pure Christianity could be promoted that would allow Jews full equality, which is obvious nonsense.

              eta not because all Christians are anti-Semites but because, basically, the problem is not just the incorporation of a romantic kind of national idea into the ideology

              • Also worth noting perhaps that Judaism in Germany had been licensed only within Reform synagogues with liturgy, etc,, approved by the government, and thus naturally practiced only within Germany, different from what was practiced in the East.

              • DrDick

                I think Marx’s rebuke of Judaism may have as much to do with his disdain for religion generally and his belief that ethnicity served to mask and divert from class consciousness. I happen to think he was wrong about the latter, but he is pretty clear on that subject in his writings.

                • It’s actually really, really interesting, because Heine had said the Jew is a “Luftmensch” with his head in the clouds, exactly the opposite.

                • LeeEsq

                  Don’t we reject this argument as nonsense when it comes to class over identity politics arguments when it comes to other groups?

                • DrDick

                  Don’t we reject this argument as nonsense when it comes to class over identity politics arguments when it comes to other groups?

                  I have already said I disagree with him on this, but we are talking about what he thought, not whether he was right about it.

            • Given the large portion of 19th and 20th century professional class Jews who were largely secular, this is a meaningless argument.

              Then your argument that Marx’s genetic Jewishness makes his recognizably-anti-semitic commentary incapable of having been anti-semitic vanishes.

              • DrDick

                No, it means I do not think his comment is specifically anti-Semitic, but rather an attack on religious and ethnic identity, both of which he regarded as “false consciousness” impeding development of the socialist society.

        • Crusty

          If there’s a black police officer somewhere beating up black kids and calling them ghetto niggers he isn’t racist?

          • DrDick

            Is he the best example of systematic white racism?

            • A black police officer is not white.

              Karl Marx was leftist.

              The question, once again, was about leftist anti-semitism.

            • Crusty

              Nobody said anything about systematic leftist anti-semitism. The word was “complicated.”

  • socraticsilence

    I mean the Will of the World means the Will of the US and Western Europe right?

  • AMK

    A few points:

    1) The “who was there first/whose land is it really” theory of argument for Israel/Palestine is profoundly stupid on all sides, especially when argued among liberals who usually pride themselves on out-thinking religious fundamentalists. If we accept (and everyone here does) the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans evolved in East Africa and migrated out to populate the rest of the world, then all we have to do is look at a map. What’s the only piece of land connecting Africa to the rest of the world? The Sinai land-bridge that leads right into Israel/Palestine. Which means is that every non-African person alive today is descended from people who lived there at some point. Again, I can understand why religious literalists argue “who was there first” for the same reason they argue against global warming and gay rights . But for modern-thinking people to try to do the same by twisting themselves into knots over, say, Ottoman-era census figures is ridiculous, and only fuels the fire for the lunatics.

    2) The apartheid analogy is problematic for many reasons, but the most significant is that the liberation movement never practiced or endorsed terrorism in the form of indiscriminate mass attacks against white South African civilians. The armed wings of the various black African factions fought against Pretoria’s military and police forces, but if anybody can find instances of these groups deliberately targeting civilian schools or hospitals or cafes it would be news to me (and most everyone else). This is why the ANC et al succeeded while the PLO/Hamas etc. continue to fail miserably. It should not have to be explained to these people that trying to shoot or stab or blow up schoolchildren is not just morally depraved, but politically suicidal.

    3) Jews in the United States are a “minority” today only in the most technical sense, because to most people, “minority” means tangibly disadvantaged—and American Jews today are the most tangibly privilaged subgroup in the history of the country by virtually every metric. So it should not be so hard for Roger Cohen to grasp why kids on college campuses who face immediate problems like racism and debt have a hard time taking the children of millionaires at Hillel seriously when they insist on victimhood because of what happened to their great-grandparents.

    • AuRevoirGopher

      Could not agree with your #1 point more. I hate all that ranting madness. #2 however I don’t like. At his point, apartheid is just, to appropriate the words of one of the worst commentators, just the standard terminology for these types of oppressive systems. The fact that the sit. in Palestine does not exactly, precisely match the SA sit. seems as unimportant as the Ottoman census figures for 1880 Jerusalem.

      Also on point #2, terrorism is always disgusting, but I hope you recognize that indiscriminate terrorism against civilians, British and Arab, was used by Jewish terrorists in the 1930s and 40s. After all, they invented bus bombing. And politically, quite a few of these killers were very successful; more than one became the Prime Minister of Israel.

      • AMK

        Your’re right that I should have said “South African apartheid” on point #2, though I think there’s an argument to be made that “ethnocracy” is really a better term for the whole political situation (since it includes the issues non-Jewish Israeli citizens have with the current system as well).

        My understanding is that the Jewish guerillas used terrorist tactics against political targets (the King David Hotel, for example, was the British HQ) though they were never overly concerned with collateral damage. Ben Gurion and Begin may not have actually cared about non-Jewish casualties, but as Prime Ministers, they never ordered the IDF to go kill Palestinian kids for sport….if only because they knew the strategic value of moral superiority. Even a reptile like Netanyahu does not routinely order the IDF to massacre Arab civilians; it’s against Israeli law, and the rule of law is still strong enough that he would be removed from power if he tried.

        • Hogan

          as Prime Ministers, they never ordered the IDF to go kill Palestinian kids for sport

          True. Begin just let the Phalangists do it.

        • AuRevoirGopher

          My larger point was that human beings are, in essence, the same and no group, ethnic, racial or religious, has any inherent moral superiority. Certain Jews used terrorism in the 30s and 40s because they felt, correctly as it turned out, that these tactics would advance their interests. Certain Pals in the modern era used terrorism because they felt, incorrectly as it turned out, that it would advance their interests.

          But if you have an air force you don’t need to use terrorism any more. And even if Israeli PMs don’t explicitly order the IDF to go out and massacre civilians and kids, that is in fact what the IDF does, by the thousands. I don’t see this as moral superiority.

          Finally, set aside the IDF’s war massacres with planes, missiles and artillery strikes, and recognize that soldiers and border police do murder Pal kids, quite often, sometimes for sport and sometimes for revenge, and Israeli law does not do anything more than American law did for the kids at My Lai.

        • DrDick

          They also deliberately targeted civilian targets.

      • DrDick

        His #3 is also highly problematic. There is still a fair degree of anti-Semitism in this country, though not as systemic as it was up through the 1960s. Importantly “the most tangibly privilaged subgroup in the history of the country by virtually every metric” is clearly WASPs. I do not think Jews are even a close second or third.

    • Joe in Australia

      So it should not be so hard for Roger Cohen to grasp why kids on college campuses who face immediate problems like racism and debt have a hard time taking the children of millionaires at Hillel seriously when they insist on victimhood because of what happened to their great-grandparents.

      I understood this article to be talking about Israel, not the USA. For what it’s worth, though, the FBI says that more than half of the religiously-motivated bias crimes reported in 2014 were directed against Jews. Numerically speaking, that’s about the same number as reported bias crimes against gay men, more than three times higher than the number of reported bias crimes against Muslims. I’m pretty sure those figures are only a small fraction of the actual incidents, but I hope it will dissuade you from dismissing antisemitism as something that “happened to [students’] great-grandparents”. It isn’t; it’s a very real thing that goes on today.

      • AMK

        Sure, it’s a real thing. But I was talking about perceptions among liberal activists and on campuses, which Cohen brings up in the original article. Those FBI figures are way higher than I would have thought…..but that speaks to the perceptions issue.

        Part of the reason why is because major Jewish groups make a terrible impression. The Hillel on my campus (and the other campuses in the city where I went to school, and the campuses where my siblings went to school) was basically run as a closed-bubble social club for students from affluent Jewish families to network and mingle with their own kind, with Israeli flags hanging outside like an embassy. So it’s hardly surprising that there’s very little sympathy.

    • LeeEsq

      On point #2, a substantial plurality of the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims explicitly stated that their version of the just solution to the Israel/Palestinian conflict is that Israel disappears and all the Jews go “home.” There really isn’t any reason to think that they are not serious about this because they keep saying it and act accordingly. You might be able to combine Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza into one functioning country if you are extraordinarily lucky, get all the stars aligned, and have everybody on their best behavior with a lot of aid money to encourage best behavior. The idea of millions of Jews returning “home” is just dumb. Millions of Israeli Jews were born in Israel and most of the ones born elsewhere are not going to want to go back to former Soviet Union countries, Ethiopia, or somewhere else.

      Point #3 is overly dismissive of Jew hatred and its legacy. Remember the negative reaction Campos got when he pointed out that one of the leaders of the protests at the University of Missouri was really wealthy. Point #3 demonstrates the same level of insensitivity. Its like saying that LGBT people no longer have any problems because the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage or everything is fine for African-Americans because Obama was elected to the Presidency twice.

      • Rob in CT

        On point #2, a substantial plurality of the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims explicitly stated that their version of the just solution to the Israel/Palestinian conflict is that Israel disappears and all the Jews go “home.” There really isn’t any reason to think that they are not serious about this because they keep saying it and act accordingly. You might be able to combine Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza into one functioning country if you are extraordinarily lucky, get all the stars aligned, and have everybody on their best behavior with a lot of aid money to encourage best behavior. The idea of millions of Jews returning “home” is just dumb. Millions of Israeli Jews were born in Israel and most of the ones born elsewhere are not going to want to go back to former Soviet Union countries, Ethiopia, or somewhere else.

        Yeah, kind of a major issue there.

        I don’t see the status quo as tenable. But I also don’t see how to get from the status quo to a decent settlement that will hold. It’s a horrible mess.

        • LeeEsq

          The least worse course of action is a full scale Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank like Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal. Than let the Palestinians do as they please including having an Iranian embassy in Ramallah. Than basically Israel has to endure whatever stupidity comes from the West Bank and Gaza as much as possible without doing anything in response.

    • Rob in CT

      Totally agree with point #1. I tried to get at this yesterday, but you stated it even better.

      Sorta agree with point #2. Not sure how it makes the status quo not apartheid though.

      #3… yeah, no. American Jews as a group are doing well, sure. But anti-Semitism is a real thing and it wasn’t so long ago that things *were* pretty bad, even here (let alone in Europe!). Given an understanding of the history of people beating up on Jews, if you’re a low single digit % of the population somewhere, even if you’re well-off (perhaps especially if you’re well-off!), you’re not even slightly crazy if you are a bit paranoid. So yeah, no on #3.

      • ExpatJK

        Also, the idea of minority=”tangibly disadvantaged” is somewhat bizarre to me. Among other things, as a frame it can overlook issues like sexism (since women are not a minority in the sense that they are half the population).

    • J. Otto Pohl

      There were a number of terrorist attacks against civilians by the ANC.

      https://www.quora.com/What-terror-attacks-against-civilians-did-the-ANC-commit

      • AMK

        The 2003 article on the TRC report is really interesting, and I think it actually proves my point.

        It says the MK maintained an explicit policy of not targeting civilians, which is more than can be said of the Palestinian groups. The civilians who were killed in MK attacks were the result of either faulty intelligence, collateral damage from operations against political targets (military officers, police) or informers/collaborators with tha SA authorities—-who in that case were not really “civilians” at all.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Under your logic of collaborators there are no real “civilians” among male Israelis either since they are mostly in the military reserves.

          • AMK

            When the article said informers and collaborators, I think they meant non-white South Africans working with the aparthied regime against the ANC (as many “coloureds” did)…..so people who have chosen to side with the regime against the cause and act on its behalf.. That’s not being an innocent bystander or civilian.

            Being part of military reserves by law does not make one a solider until the reserves are called up to actively fight. Most white male South Africans were in the reserves as well, if I recall.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Being part of military reserves by law does not make one a solider until the reserves are called up to actively fight.

              I don’t think that’s so (operationally; it may be so as a matter of law in some or all jurisdictions): someone who is in the military reserves receives training as a soldier; and (at least in Switzerland, as I understood the case of an old friend there) being a conscientious objector relieves you from service in the military reserves (replacing it—again, at least in Switzerland—with civil service, e.g., as a firefighter in my friend’s case).

        • Thom

          The non-targeting of civilians is mostly, but not entirely true, of MK itself, though there were certainly some attacks that could be anticipated to kill civilians in the late 1980s. However, there was a lot of popular violence (that is not by MK, but by young “comrades” who saw themselves as fighting for liberation and who claimed allegiance to the ANC) that did target civilians, though this was usually justified as attacks on collaborators. Attacks on civilians were also carried out by Inkatha, and by the PAC. Meanwhile the state targeted civilians as well, and carried out attacks like bombings (of the SA Council of Churches, for instance) and assassinations. The idea that South Africa had a peaceful transition to democracy is wildly wrong.

          • Thom

            Of course, AMK is thinking of the liberation movements in South Africa killing whites civilians, which was quite rare. But most people in South Africa are black and that is mostly who was killed by all sides. Apart from young white men, who were drafted, whites in South Africa were rather minimally inconvenienced by the liberation struggle.

  • Daragh McDowell

    Ever so slightly OT, in terms of how this conversation has developed, but the incident that Cohen is referring to at the Oxford University Labour Club needs to be read within the context of current developments in the UK Labour party, namely the undeniable history of many on the hard-left of the party whose anti-Zionism has most definitely devolved into out and out anti-semitism, and who have largely been indulged by Corbyn. If one wants to get a flavour of the kind of people Labour used to – correctly – exclude from the party and whom Corbyn now appears to be courting, a quick search for Gerry Downing should give you a taste.

  • CDWard

    Israel:

    – is an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist Jewish State;

    – has been stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian land and
    oppressing, torturing and killing Palestinians for over 60 years;

    – refuses to honor its obligations under international law;

    – refuses to accept responsibility and accountability for its past and on-going war crimes; and

    – refuses to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

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