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Ottolenghi on Anti-Semitism in Europe:

A brilliant analysis:

Even as much of the bickering is about terminology, the refusal to acknowledge a return of anti-Jewish prejudice in mainstream European society is about substance as well. Presuming that anti-Jewish prejudice can only manifest itself under the guise of a racially driven hatred that always and invariably leads to Auschwitz prevents European societies from acknowledging anything but the most glaring expressions of anti-Jewish outrage, preferring to downplay or ignore its other, and currently more widespread manifestations. It should be self-evident that between Auschwitz and social harmony there are infinite shades of grey. Yet the problem is precisely in recognizing that the racially-driven anti-Semitism that eventually begat Nazism was neither the first nor the only form of anti-Jewish prejudice in the history of Europe. And that immunization against it does not necessarily guarantee that other forms of prejudice will not recur.

The main difficulty thus is that today's prejudice focuses on Israel's role in modern Jewish identity. Despite its centrality in their communal identity, Jews are targeted for their attachment to and support for Israel and are asked to relinquish them in exchange for legitimacy. This demand, far from being seen as anti-Semitic, is vigorously pursued in certain quarters in the name of a liberal vision that rejects nationalism and religion as foundations of a collective identity. Europe is today guided by a post-national, secular and pacifist vision of international politics - a 'brotherhood of mankind' worldview. Once again, Jews seem out of step with the dominant ethos of society, and for this they are chastised and under pressure to conform.

Israel is perceived as evil, both for its conduct and for its essence as a nation-state. Israel's policies - understood as the product of Israel's Zionist identity - are blamed for the rise of anti-Semitism. According to such view, Israel today deserves utter condemnation. It follows that as 'accomplices' in Israel's behavior, Jewish supporters of Israel are blamed for their own suffering.

To shield themselves, Jews are asked to discard Israel from their own collective identity. This step, and an active denunciation of Israel as the antithesis of liberal and Jewish values (themselves, in this vision, synonymous with one another), will gain them full acceptance in European societies. Scores of Jews, especially among the intellectual and secular elites, indeed comply in public acts of mea culpa, thus lending an alibi to anti-Semites and gentrifying anti-Jewish prejudice in the process.

In some quarters of Europe today, the only uncontroversial way to express a proud Jewish identity is through the experience of suffering and victimization from the past, which the Holocaust has come to embody more than anything else. The Jew as a victim and as a witness of the quintessential, archetypal experience of suffering emerges as Europe's positive Jewish role-model, in sharp contrast to the Jewish pro-Israel or even Zionist voice, which Europe chastises for having betrayed both European values and what Europe sees as the authentic Jew.

I would add that Jews played a very specific role in the history of the European Left: they were victims of all the forces, religious and nationalist, that the Left opposed--consider Dreyfuss--and the plight of the Jews, in turn, was used to further the European Left's agenda of internationalism, secularism, and Socialism (and exploited by anti-Semites who opposed the Left's agenda). Jews overwhelmingly responded to the Left's aid by becoming part of the Left, and Jews disproportionately, though hardly universally, adopted the Left's agenda. The height of the Left's sympathy for the Jews came after the Holocaust, which itself was seen as a vindication of the Left's views, as they saw Naziism as an unholy alliance of all of their enemeies: capitalism, nationalism, and reactionary religion (which, they assert, with some justification, saw Naziism as a bulwark against Godless Communism).

But instead of remaining perpetual victims, the Jews started their own country. As a struggling social democracy that replaced a British imperialist presence, Israel initially received a fair amount of sympathy from the Left. But Israel today is no longer socialist, and its Jewish population is far more nationalist and religious than the average in Europe. Plus, Israel "occupies" land that the Left sees as belonging to Third World people, leading to the charge that Israel is itself a colonial power.

Worse yet, Jews, once the Left's most reliable allies, have been pulled away from that position, in part by the pull of nationalist and religious ideology spurred by Israel. Although unjustified, as Jews have no obligation to be the handmaidens of the left, it's not surprising that the European Left hates Israel, and resents the Jews.

Imagine if after the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., African Americans would have, within a few generations, become far wealthier than whites, and suddenly become more economically conservative, and more supportive of right-wing Republican policies, than the average white! Do you think the American Left would have applauded their success, or do you think they would have resented African Americans for "betraying" their liberal allies, and seen prejudice against blacks increasing in their ranks? If you have any doubt, look at the way significant elements of the Left in the U.S. treat people like Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas, and Thomas Sowell.

AntonK (mail):
This post entitled: Diagnosing Death through Demographics may explain a good portion of the rise in anti-semitism in Europe.
10.26.2006 5:45pm
jota:
This is slightly tangential to this post, but I noticed that both you and Prof. Bernstein in his post recent post on israel discuss the religiosity of the israeli public. To clarify, roughly 10 percent of the population can be perceived as very religious, while the vast majority is secular. Israel is religious in the sense that it aims to be a "jewish" state.
10.26.2006 5:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"Secular" in Israel means that someone sends his kids to non-religious schools, and doesn't regularly attend synagogue. A significant percentage of the "secular" population in Israel has fairly traditional religious views. The data I've seen suggest that 15-20% of Israeli Jews are Orthodox, 40% are "traditional", and the rest are truly "secular."
10.26.2006 5:57pm
te:

If you have any doubt, look at the way significant elements of the Left in the U.S. treat people like Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas, and Thomas Sowell.

Oh my.

Could it possibly be that the "left" is repulsed by that trio because of the trio's views and their character. (You know actually looking at the content of the person's character rather than their skin color.)

It seems that the "left" dislikes pasty white males like Scalia and Rumsfeld at least as much as it dislikes Rice and Thomas.
10.26.2006 6:47pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Could it possibly be that the "left" is repulsed by that trio because of the trio's views and their character.
No, because they're not equally repulsed by whites with similar views and character.
It seems that the "left" dislikes pasty white males like Scalia and Rumsfeld at least as much as it dislikes Rice and Thomas.
Scalia gets plenty of criticism from the left, but there are not mass boycotts when he appears to give a talk, the way there sometimes are for Thomas.
10.26.2006 6:49pm
Bored Lawyer:
te:

Nice try, but not buying. True, the left despises Bush and Rumsfeld. But an extra level of venom is reserved for such as Rice and Thomas. (Sowell I think is a relative unknown).

Rice was portrayed in a cartoon as a slave in a rocking chair in front of shack, with exxagerated lips, and speaking patois.

You don't see anything like that for Scalia.
10.26.2006 6:52pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
Unlike in science, society does not exactly advance from generation to generation. Thus, the lessons learned by Europe in the 1930's and '40s have slowly died with those generations. Learning about the evils of anti-semitism (or any other extremism) from a book just doesn't convince people the way that living it does.

There is nothing in the near future of Europe that will halt the rise of anti-semitism, and there are a number of factors that may well increase it.

Couple of quotes (semi-screwed up, by me): "Experience is the best teacher, and man will learn from no other." "Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it."
10.26.2006 6:56pm
Tareeq (www):
Even when cursing Scalia, critics on the left always admit his brilliance. He's portrayed as Darth Vader.

On the other hand, Thomas's intelligence is insulted by journalists who couldn't understand the fine print on a speeding ticket, and by politicians who ought to know better, such as Harry Reid. Thomas is portrayed as Anakin Skywalker.
10.26.2006 6:58pm
Spartacus (www):
Tareeq: while I agree (I think) with your point, your analogy is flawed: Anakin Skywalker is Darth Vader. Do you mean Thomas is treated like an annoying teenager (Hayden Christensen) while Scalia is treated like an evil voice with commanding authority (James Earl Jones)?
10.26.2006 7:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Rice and Thomas are often branded as "traitors to their race." Apostates usually receive the greatest opprobrium. Look at the Muslims. The penalty for conversion in many Islamic Republics is death. Mere infidels get the chance to convert or sometimes live as second-class citizens.
10.26.2006 7:30pm
te:

Scalia gets plenty of criticism from the left, but there are not mass boycotts when he appears to give a talk, the way there sometimes are for Thomas.

You know, there is also the fact that - when compared to Scalia - Thomas is a moron.

So, while Scalia's views are odious to some, he can still be witty and interesting. Thomas just ain't got the chops.


Rice was portrayed in a cartoon as a slave in a rocking chair in front of shack, with exxagerated lips, and speaking patois.

So you are using the "I saw a cartoon once somewhere" argument to characterize how the "left" views someone?
10.26.2006 7:54pm
Michael B (mail):
"Moral relativism is the fear of believing that your values are somehow better than others. The minute that you find it distasteful to defend those values because you are not sure they are worth defending or because someone else might get offended, the door is open for freedom to be trampled upon." Emanuele Ottolenghi, unexcerpted, in his concluding reply to an Uzi Silber

Bingo, and profound ironies abound.
10.26.2006 8:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Israel is perceived as evil, both for its conduct and for its essence as a nation-state. Israel's policies - understood as the product of Israel's Zionist identity …"

So why are Jews denied the right to pursue a collective identity through a nation-state? What makes Israelis different from Russians, Mexicans, French, Japanese etc? There are pretty much only three groups the left denigrates for the pursuit of a collective identity: Jews, whites, and Americans. One sometimes hears that "America has no culture." This viewpoint treats the US as little more than an agglomeration of different races and foreign nationalities, making it a borderless country. As far as I can tell, the US and Israel are the only countries expected to forgo the right to have borders. It also seems that many Republicans and conservatives also buy into the idea of a borderless America. They seem to regard the US as primarily a "trading zone," not a nation-state with a collective identity worth preserving through borders and limited immigration.

Notice also the left also expects white people to have no collective identity. To assert anything of the kind will quickly get you branded as a racist, a white supremacist or even a Nazi. Now I think race alone is a kind of flimsy basis on which to assert a collective identity, but that should hold across the board, and it doesn't. Virtually everyone is afraid to even discuss race unless you're bashing white people.
10.26.2006 8:12pm
Justin (mail):
Zarkov, you *are* a racist.

White people who claim a "collective identity" lack anything other than racism to base that on, because, and get this, WHITE PEOPLE DON'T HAVE A SHARED SET OF HISTORY, VALUES, OR BACKGROUNDS. Russians do, Italians do, English people do, Poles, and even certain geographic regions of the US (Western PA, particularly).

Collective identities aren't "Black" or "Hispanic" but "African-American" "West Indian American" or "Mexican-American" - however, there are bonds by similar MINORITY status that give such collective identity natural social alignments - thus, La Raza or the NAACP.

Excuse me if I don't find Grutter v. Bollinger to be on the same par.
10.26.2006 8:47pm
PoohPoohBear:
"Could it possibly be that the "left" is repulsed by that trio because of the trio's views and their character. (You know actually looking at the content of the person's character rather than their skin color.) "

I suppose that when the left uses the words "Oreo" and "house slaves" to critique Thomas and Rice, they are discussing their character and not what they're suppposed to think based on their race.
10.26.2006 8:51pm
Michael B (mail):
A couple of well researched and well documented resources on Thomas's jurisprudence:

Henry Mark Holzer's The Keeper of the Flame: The Supreme Court Opinions of Justice Clarence Thomas 1991-2005

An earlier analysis by Scott Douglas Gerber, First Principles: The Jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas
10.26.2006 8:58pm
m.croche (mail):
I believe this whole line of discussion significantly overstates the importance of Israel in determining levels of anti-Semitism among the general population of Central Europe (though conflict no doubt radicalizes extremists).

Professor Bernstein seems to have forgotten the name of Waldheim. When I lived in Germany and Austria (which was many years after that affair) every single one of the anti-Semitic remarks I heard came from older, conservative folks.

So far as I can tell, the situation has not changed much since Henryk Broder's 1986 treatment "Der Ewige Antisemit." Whereas the center and left people I met were relatively matter-of-fact about acknowledging their nation's past, the conservatives I met and read were annoyed by the "Auschwitz bonus" they thought present-day Jews unfairly received. "What, just because some woman tells me she's Jewish, I'm supposed to give her my seat on the bus?" one Austrian woman asked me rhetorically. It's quite similar to the resentment felt by some whites (predominantly conservative) against the advantages and benefits they perceive to be conferred upon minorities, especially blacks.

I'd also bet dollars to doughnuts that anti-Semitism elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe - Poland, Hungary, Belorussia, Russia remains largely the province of the Right - But I'll leave that judgement to those better versed in the matter than I.
10.26.2006 9:15pm
te:

I suppose that when the left uses the words "Oreo" and "house slaves" to critique Thomas and Rice, they are discussing their character and not what they're suppposed to think based on their race.

Please do go on and tell me more about this thing you call "the left".

After you finish we can talk about the pedophiles (Foley), flaccid membered viagra smugglers and drug addicts (Limbaugh), and felons (Cunningham, et al.), closeted nutjobs (Drudge) that make up "the Right".

Good grief.
10.26.2006 9:19pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Again, Foley wasn't a pedophile.
10.26.2006 9:42pm
te:

Again, Foley wasn't a pedophile.

"Pedophile: An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children."

Have you spent much time talking to Mr. Foley about whether he is sexually attracted to children? Otherwise, how do you know?

But maybe you are right. From the IM's that I read, Foley seemed to be very interested in talking about the sexual equipment of the pages, so maybe Foley does draw the line at children who are too young to have an erection.
10.26.2006 9:48pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Justin:

Note the comment policy for this forum, which reads in part:

"We'd like the posts to be civil, of course (no profanity, personal insults, and the like), …"

A minority status does not necessarily confer shared values or history other than perhaps opposition to the majority. If a minority should grow into majority, does this mean it now loses any claim to a collective identity? Saying that white people have no shared values other than racism is itself a racist statement.

That being said you provide a perfect example of what I'm talking about. You obviously don't believe Americans have a collective identity, (except for a few regions like Western PA), but every other country in the world does. You need to study a little history to appreciate the values Americans share. You might also learn how to express yourself without recourse to personal insults.
10.26.2006 9:50pm
te:
Zarkhov

Boy am I chastened. Thank you for having the guts to stand up for Rush Limbaugh.

But, just so I am clear, Is it an insult to call a felon a felon?
10.26.2006 9:53pm
te:

You obviously don't believe Americans have a collective identity, (except for a few regions like Western PA),



?
10.26.2006 9:53pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Specifically, pedophilia means an attraction to prepubescent children. I think you know that. You're just making yourself look bad if you insist attraction to 16 year olds is pedophilia.
10.26.2006 9:58pm
Michael B (mail):
"Whereas the center and left people I met were relatively matter-of-fact about acknowledging their nation's past ..." m.croche

The Left is renown for acknowledging others' sins, both real and imagined. What is being addressed however, in the Ottolenghi article, in part (see his final response to Uzi Silber), are the sins of the Left. The Left is renown for slighting or entirely dismissing so much as the concept of their own culpability: they are the righteous, their opponents are evil, and not merely incorrect or in disagreement with the Left.
10.26.2006 9:58pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
David Bernstein seems to think that Jewish support for Israel is the cause of the recent anti-Semitism on the left, and in this he agrees with his anti-Semitic enemies.

Is it not more likely that things are the other way around?

Moslems don't hate Jews because they hate Israel; they hate Israel because they hate Jews. (That is why they have always refused to share "their" land with Israel, in spite of the huge benefits of doing so.) The extreme Left became anti-Israel because ... Well, actually they forget why, but it's because the Soviet Union became anti-Israel, and the reason the Soviet Union became anti-Israel is because its leaders hated Jews. (It might have something to do with Stalin and his doctors.) And I think that one reason that Israel drifted away from Communism is because the Communists abandoned Israel.

Today the extreme Left is anti-Israel partly because they are anti-Semitic, but mostly because:
(*) they know they are supposed to be anti-Israel,
(*) the U.S. is viewed as being pro-Israel and they know they are supposed to be anti-U.S., and
(*) Since most Moslems want to destroy the U.S, the extreme left has become pro-Moslem; since most Moslems want to destroy Israel (because they hate Jews), the extreme left must be anti-Israel.
10.26.2006 11:14pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
If you go to Sweden, interestingly, you'll find a country of people that are extremely diplomatic, so to speak, about what views they take. Simply wearing a Swedish flag on your clothes, for instance, is seen by many as an overt symbol of racism. This is part of why, I'm told, that Swedes get so excited about sporting events -- it's the one chance they have to be patriotic without looking like racists. I guess this sort of thing happens all over.

I don't know -- it seems to me that Ottolenghi is trying to guilt people for being anti-Israel on the ground that it has a disparate impact on Jews. I'm never so good with arguments by vague implication, but that's what I get. Pretty PC! Interestingly, though, Bernstein's last paragraph also seems like a justification for conservative racism... Am I really supposed to believe that if blacks were rich, liberals would widely start to have a problem with them? I wouldn't even necessarily say that conservatives are more racist than liberals, but it seems like kind of a weird argument.

As to Justin, is your test for who shares an experience scientific? I think most people identify in much less historical, and probably much more irrational ways. I might argue people share certain experiences at many levels, from as small as the family to as large as the West or humanity. Do Chinese people share an experience? I'm not sure how much we should focus on these groups, but I'm pretty sure there isn't any obvious test that people would accept either.
10.26.2006 11:30pm
Justin (mail):
Marcus1, the OP asked a question about a specific theory of political philosophy, and then tried to liken it to a position that, under that theory, can only be defended by inferences which most of us would see as racist. Plus, I've read much of his other posts, particularly on affirmative action, and he's not shooting too far to the left of George Allen.
10.26.2006 11:36pm
therut:
The Left would have lost one of its favorite pets. But instead they are like Madonna still putting them in their social petting zoo to be cared for of coarse but never to be let out.
10.26.2006 11:41pm
therut:
I think Justin made the most racist remark I have ever heard. I am glad to know since I am white I have no collective history. Nothing. To him white people have nothing of shared value, history or background. Where did he learn his racism? He just made me a nothing a nobody and my race dead. I can not believe he wrote what he did. I am shocked. He is reason enough that from this day forward I am going to consider and call my self a Western European-American and demand my culture be respected and accepted by racists like him. I demand it and embrace it and he or people like him can not take what is mine away from me.
10.27.2006 12:01am
Vovan:
Wow, that was some complicated explanation... this one is simplier

Back in the day, some dude thought that Jews secretly rule the world... many people believed him... old beliefs die hard... the rest is history.
10.27.2006 12:13am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Marcus, I didn't state or imply that liberals would dislike blacks if they were rich, I suggested they would dislike them if they became conservative Republicans. The analogy is that the European Left thinks that the Jews are obligated to be secular, internationalist, socialists, and resent Israel and its Jewish supporters for not being any of the three, especially the failure to eschew nationalism. Similarly, many in the American left think blacks are obligated to support the American left's agenda, and would express particular disdain for blacks if they became right-wing Republicans.

Justin, I'd probably delete your comment for rudeness if I could figure out what you are saying, it's completely incoherent, except for the part about George Allen.
10.27.2006 12:56am
Just a Nut (mail):
The fact that Jews have only one default country to belong to, Israel, is a destabilizing factor. More Jews live in the USA, but tend to see USA as a fair weather friend, and they may be right.
It would have been more just, and is possible even now, to require Germany, now united and everything, to have open an offer to grant Jews automatic citizenship (including dual citizenship) regardless of their present domicile. That would encourage gradual rebuilding of the European Jewry, take some pressure off Israel, dilute the extreme elements in Europe, and provide a voting block that would need to be catered to by the politicians all of the time.
It is the hammering of Arabs, no saints but no Germans either, by Israel to overcome a sense of imminent disaster due to the anti-semitism in Europe, that makes people cringe. When reading of shooting Arab school girls or being mean as a matter to routine (recall the Israeli launching of cluster bombs in the last two to three days of the Lebanese adventure with reluctance to help clear them) with slaps on the wrist for punishment, it seems something is wrong with the whole idea of Israel in so far it has to dispossess the inhabitants, many of which are Arabs now but were Jews in the past and were converted by force or choice to Islam or Christianity. in light of such a history for Jews and Arabs alike, more meanness seems to be the less desirable way to go.
10.27.2006 2:01am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Now I don't know much about anti-semitism in Europe but the argument that the European left is anti-Semite because they demand jews give up their support for israel to be accepted is just ridiculous.

I have no doubt that pretty much everyone here would demand that Palestinians give up support of Hezbollah or Hamas to be respected. Similarly I doubt you would have any trouble demanding that blacks give up support in some radical black separatist organization to gain respect.

Now I'm not claiming that support for israel is equivalent to any of these other examples. However I am pointing out that most people in the European left do believe support for Israel is morally equivalent to support for Hamas/Hezbollah. Yet surely we can all agree that IF supporting Israel was morally equivalent to supporting Hamas then it would be justified to demand jews not support israel (suppose counter factually israel starts engaging in massive genocide).

Thus the argument presented here adds nothing to the discussion. Either one already has separate grounds to conclude that the European left's beliefs about Israel are anti-semitic or you believe they are simply in error for non-anti-semitic reasons and their demand for jews not to support israel is not anti-semitic either.

Just because someone believes something false that has a disproportionate impact on some ethnic group doesn't make it racist/prejudiced.
10.27.2006 3:55am
Steve:
This business about the Left being anti-Semitic is nothing more than Prof. Bernstein looking into a crowd and picking out his enemies. There's plenty of white supremacist groups out there who hate everyone with a drop of Jewish blood in them, but you don't see me babbling about the anti-Semitism of the Right.

Isn't it about time for another post about the sloppy generalizations of Mearshimer and Walt?
10.27.2006 4:29am
dearieme:
In 40 years of adult life in Britain, I've heard 3 anti-Jewish remarks. One was from someone generalising from some aspect of Israeli treatment of Palestinians - but he did seem to accept uncritically the BBC line (which is always Left and recently anti-Israel). One was from someone mocking the attempt to ring part of North London with a bit of wire which in some way would allow Jews to evade their own sabbath restrictions - that's a polite paraphrase of his scornful account. The third was a complaint about yet another crooked businessman fleeing to Israel to evade arrest. That's your lot - 3 in 40 years, proportionately far LESS than about any other British group, and far, far, far less than about groups seen as unwelcome immigrants foisted on us by Government. Do keep a sense of proportion.
10.27.2006 6:27am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"There's plenty of white supremacist groups out there who hate everyone with a drop of Jewish blood in them,…"

That's true, but they don't hold positions of power or influence. How many college professors are white supremacists? As a result of their diminutive status, they can't provide aid and comfort to the adversaries of the US. Chavez came to the US publicly clutching a copy of one of Chomsky's books. Now you might argue that Chomsky is not anti-Semitic, only anti-Israel. However he gave himself away during a debate with Dershowitz when he referred to a "Jewish highway" that Muslims were not allowed to use. He got corrected. The highway is open to all Israelis, both Jews and Arab Muslims (who are citizens) alike. It's closed to foreigners. Chomsky reluctantly had to agree.

BTW you need more than a "drop" of Jewish blood. Even Hitler required at least three grandparents to qualify a person as Jewish.
10.27.2006 7:46am
Jon Ihle (mail) (www):
It's a mistake to think that anti-Semitism is usually manifest in the form of bigoted comments or overt hatred. That's the cartoon version of racial prejudice. The more serious form of racism, which is widespread among the European left, is a structure of prejudiced logic which, in the case of modern anti-Semitism, ascribes sinister motives to Jews generally on account of many Jews' support of Israel, holds that Jews have a disproportionate and sinister influence on contemporary events and which is founded on a falsified history of the Middle East that erases the legitimacy of a Jewish presence there while privileging blatantly dishonest Arab narratives of oppression and suffering at the hands of these "colonizers". The fact that the European left has so enthusiastically adopted the equation of Israelis with Nazis suggest more than a little guilt expiation is going on. Just as Americans can't seem to forgive blacks for having once been slaves, Europe hasn't yet been able to forvive the Jews for Auschwitz.
10.27.2006 8:41am
JoshL (mail):

More Jews live in the USA


Just a note- this is actually getting to be a questionable claim. See this Haaretz article. Even if there are more Jews in the U.S., that probably won't be the case by the end of the decade.
10.27.2006 9:15am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I'm sure there are a lot of anti-Semites out there, but there really is something a little bit weird about many diaspora Jews' relationship to Israel. More royalist than the king, and all that. There's more diversity of opinion in Ha'aretz than any mainstream American newspaper reporting on Israel.

For example, Chomsky wasn't that far off in calling a particular road a "Jewish" highway. First, the most egregious of these highways are bypasses linking the West Bank settlements, and there would be little reason for Arab Muslim Israeli citizens to use them. But more significant than that: these roads have checkpoints and where there are no Arab Muslim Israeli citizens living along them, it's not at all certain to me that they would be permitted to pass. It's easy for soldiers to spot Arab Israeli citizens, since (up until 2001, when I heard the practice was gradually being dropped) their cars had distinctive numbers on their license plates, and Israelis' official identity cards, at the time these roads were built, identified Jews and non-Jews. (Sharon, of all people, wanted to take this field off the ID card, but I don't know if it ever happened.) And the claim the roads are closed to foreigners is utter rubbish: Jewish American tourists to the settlements had no trouble whatsoever in using them. What Zarkov meant to say is that "Jewish Israelis, Jewish settlers, and pro-settler visitors can use these roads, which were hastily constructed over lands that had formerly belonged to or been used communally by non-Jewish Palestinians". Frankly, that's not so far from what Chomsky said.
10.27.2006 10:59am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):

European Left thinks that the Jews are obligated to be secular, internationalist, socialists, and resent Israel and its Jewish supporters for not being any of the three.


Well, to an extent, there are people who probably tie racism into just about everything, either in their reasoning, or simply as an extra added insult. On the other hand, I'm trying to imagine the person who holds this view, and coming up a bit short.


Now you might argue that Chomsky is not anti-Semitic, only anti-Israel. However he gave himself away during a debate with Dershowitz when he referred to a "Jewish highway"


Giving himself away by one comment? I'm sorry, but that's ludicrous. Did Michael Moore give himself away when he referred to "Stupid White Men?" There could be many many reasons why he would have made such a slip. Indeed, it may be that one of the problems with having an officially Jewish state is that people will sometimes slip in describing one as the other (or simply be factually mistaken). Is that not potentially a problem? On the other hand, if Chomsky's claim itself is that Israel acts in racist ways against the Palestinians (I don't know, but I'm assuming it's at least beneath the surface), then he has no choice to think not just of Israel, but also of the extent to which it is Jewish, as Michael Moore necessarily refers to America being white (or Christian). I would also be interested in studying the psychological effects of constantly being accused of hating a group of people, but that's a more complicated issue.

Personally, I try not to be a partisan on Israel issues. If I may speak ignorantly, though, I do find somewhat of a disconnect between people who are extremely supportive of Israel as a Jewish state, but then also aggressively fight any non-supportive connection between the two. Isn't there kind of an inconsistency there at some point? Not, of course, to the extent that it would justify someone in being anti-semitic because they're anti-Israel; but to the extent that if I were deciding whether or not to have a single Jewish state, I think one of my concerns would have to be that people might start to associate the two, or at least that criticism of one would have a disparate impact on members of the other.
10.27.2006 11:32am
Ivan Ivanovich (mail):
"It seems that the "left" dislikes pasty white males like Scalia and Rumsfeld "
Whoever wrote that doesn't know much about "pasty". Being pasty white myself (pink really) with 4 grandparents from above 52 degrees north in Europe I know that the Italian Scalia is not pasty.
10.27.2006 11:41am
te:

Specifically, pedophilia means an attraction to prepubescent children. I think you know that. You're just making yourself look bad if you insist attraction to 16 year olds is pedophilia.

I don't claim any particular expertise in pedophilia, but the definition I quoted was the first one that popped up on google. (Which, as we all know, is the gold standard for reliability.)

But your distinction between wanting to diddle a 16 year old versus a 14 year old versus a 12 year old strikes me as an argument that NAMBLA would make.
10.27.2006 1:21pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Logic, your point would have more heft if the European Left was demanding that Islamic extremists denounce extremism, instead of calling for "understanding." Even if Israel were as bad as Hezbollah, why do Hezbollah supporters get understanding, Israel supporters get derision?
10.27.2006 1:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Jewish American tourists to the settlements had no trouble whatsoever in using them."

Only Jewish American tourists? How about all Americans? Are you telling me an American Christian tourist would not be able to use the highways? The last time I looked at my American passport, it lacked an entry designating my religion.

"Giving himself away by one comment? I'm sorry, but that's ludicrous."

It's not ludicrous in the context of the debate together with Chomsky's past and current behavior.

"On the other hand, if Chomsky's claim itself is that Israel acts in racist ways against the Palestinians …"

How could Israel be "racist" when both Jews and Arabs belong to the same race? Moreover as of 1948 the territory called "Palestine" by the British ceased to exist. Constantly referring to Palestine and Palestinians is yet another way of trying to delegitimize the state of Israel. We don't refer to the ethnic Germans and their descendents who were expelled from the Sudetenland by the Allies as "Sudetenese" or even "Czechs." Nor does anyone call expulsion of 16 million ethnic Germans from their ancestral homes all over Europe a "racist" act.
10.27.2006 2:38pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):

Logic, your point would have more heft if the European Left was demanding that Islamic extremists denounce extremism, instead of calling for "understanding." Even if Israel were as bad as Hezbollah, why do Hezbollah supporters get understanding, Israel supporters get derision?


Do you really think the reason for this is that Europeans like Arabs more than they like Jews?

When I was in high school, one of my teachers said that when you run out of time at the end of the day, just make sure that you get your homework done for the less reasonable teacher. I think there's certainly an element of this in people's thinking on the ME, and that the Israelis fully recognize it when they therefore try to act less reasonably. You may call this type of analysis faulty, and bad in the long run, but trying to say it results from anti-semitism seems pretty farfetched. Maybe you should start thinking of it as a compliment.
10.27.2006 2:47pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Only Jewish American tourists? How about all Americans? Are you telling me an American Christian tourist would not be able to use the highways? The last time I looked at my American passport, it lacked an entry designating my religion.
Well, that would be up to the soldiers at the checkpoint, wouldn't it? And they will interrogate you to find out where you are going and why. If you are a Christian affiliated with the messianic wing of American evangelicalism going to show solidarity with the settlers, you'll probably be allowed onward. If your name is Rachel Corrie and you're in the Israeli records as a member of the International Solidarity Movement, no, you probably don't get past the checkpoint. And if you have a full beard and a knitted kippa, hey, they may just wave you through.

The reality of the situation is pretty simple. When it became too dangerous for settlers to travel on the existing highways, or when new settlements (authorized or not) were built, new roads followed. They were built on both public and privately-owned lands from Arab villages (in the latter case, there was in fact cash compensation), and after the roads were built, the former users of the land weren't allowed on the roads.

As I said, the statement that the roads were closed to "foreigners" is rubbish, and you seem to have retracted it. For your next task, you might consider how someone who lived in a place for generations was a "foreigner" with respect to use of the road running past (or through) his lands.
10.27.2006 4:24pm
Seerak (mail):
I would add that Jews played a very specific role in the history of the European Left: they were victims of all the forces, religious and nationalist, that the Left opposed

I have no idea what you mean by "the Left" in that context. Perhaps you mean the mere political movements?

I ask, because the very notion of "collective identity" (as opposed to the American/Enlightenment concept of individual identity) is a core principle of the philosophical Left. It was also a core principle of communism, of National Socialism, and of primitive tribal societies. It is an essential building block for racism in general and anti-Semitism in particular.

For that reason (among others), I don't accept this idea that there was any sort of significant "opposition" between the Left and the Nazis. Their relationship was more of a competitive nature, fighting over who would be in charge of the "collective identity", than any kind of fundamental ideological difference.

The main kernel of truth in Prof. Bernstein's post, as pointed out by others here, is this: "But instead of remaining perpetual victims, the Jews started their own country." The Jews left the plantation -- instead of remaining victims, they dusted themselves off and built a nation.

The core Left therefore no longer feels it necessary to do more than pay lip service to the disintegrating old lie of anti-Semitism as a "right-wing" phenomenon. They need not resist this paticular bit of logical inevitability anymore.

To the extent that black Americans do the same, is the extent to which we see racism returning home also.
10.27.2006 6:08pm
spider:
Zarkov says: How could Israel be "racist" when both Jews and Arabs belong to the same race?

This is a lame argument -- just as lame as when Islamists say disingenuously: "How could I possibly be anti-Semitic when I'm a semite myself!?" The ambiguous semantics leads to the apparent logical victory.

If you don't like the term "racist", perhaps we can say that the Israelis are tribalist, or ethnicist, or whatever.
10.27.2006 11:39pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Marcus, I don't know whether Europeans, in general, like Jews or Arabs more, though I'd guess the former. But we're talking about the European Left here, and the point is not whether, in general, even they like Jews or Arabs more, but whether they have unreasonable expectations of the Jews that they don'thave of the Arabs, which leads them to make unreasonable demands of the Jews, which leads to a somehwat novel form of anti-Semitism, which requires Jews to be left-wing, especially on Israel, before they are acceptable, whereas nothing in particular is demanded of other groups, including Arabs. Note the echoes of this in the bitter condemnation by folks like Juan Cole of "Likudnik" Jews in the Bush Administration.
10.28.2006 12:02am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
David Bernstein,

I think you are granting exactly my point. Either you are already convinced that the left's criticism of israel is anti-semetic (which I take it you are arguing) because it unfairly holds jews to a higher standard and this argument adds nothing OR you believe they (fairly or unfairly) pick on the jews for some non-anti-semetic reason and this argument doesn't show they are anti-semetic.

In other words we should just dispense with this bit about expecting jews to renounce support of Israel and get back to the only real issue on the table, is the European left's criticism of israel anti-semetic.

Now while I agree that much of the 'left's' (as much as I hate that generalization) criticism of israel is unjustified and unfair I still don't buy it is anti-semetic. In fact I think you correctly intuited the origin of this double standard in your post. The left is biased toward the powerless and Israel is in a position of power over the Palestinians. I mean cmon if you knew nothing about various races in the middle east or if the races were switched who do you think the left would support?

In fact the very reasoning in your post denies that this is an incidence of racism. The fact that the left changed their tune on israel/jews when they went from powerless victims to a having their own country with a strong military is proof that this isn't racially motivated. If tomorrow the Palestinians subjugated israel and the Israeli jews become terrorists pretty shortly the left would switch sides.
10.28.2006 2:10am
DavidBernstein (mail):
But the precise point of the piece linked to is that anti-Jewish prejudice can manifest itself in different ways, and is not necessarily "racial anti-Semitism." In fact, if I had to do the post over, I would use the phrase anti-Jewish prejudice, rather than anti-Semitism, for clarity's sake. I think we can then agree that the European Left has a great deal of anti-Jewish prejudice, and it's based in part on their disappointment and anger that the Jews have gone from being helpless victims allied with the Left to having their own state which pursues its own interests, not much in sync with the worldview of the Left. The Left wouldn't like Israel if it were not a Jewish state, but was otherwise a European founded country in the midst of the Third World, but they especially dislike it because it's a Jewish state, and Jews are "supposed" to be pacifist, internationalist, secular Leftist victims.
10.28.2006 2:42am
jojo (mail):
Could you give some eamples of Europeans asking Jews to denounce Israel iust because they are Jewish?
10.28.2006 2:32pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Hmm, well I think our disagreement boils down to whether we think the anti-israel prejudice is stronger because the jews used to be victims.

I don't think so. I mean imagine if Israel was instead founded as a Caucasian/Nordic/etc homeland. I think the criticism would be much harsher.

I think you just underestimate the magnitude of the (implicit and sometimes explicit) bias towards the powerless and against the powerful. Thus I think the fact that jews were formerly victims actually dampens part of this bias to get where we are today.

In any case if you aren't claiming anti-semitism (which I think requires more) this debate is kinda academic. We both believe israel is overly criticized because they are in an apparent position of power.
10.29.2006 5:38pm
rmark (mail):
Or as Tom Lehrer put it in one of is songs "everyone hates the Jews".
10.31.2006 1:38pm