A Peculiar Use of "Anti-Semitism":

As I've noted before, friends of Israel sometimes use overwrought charges of anti-Semitism to try to silence critics of Israel. That's undeniable, and regrettable.

Equally undeniable, and regrettable, is when a friend of Israel criticizes critics of Israel, and then gets accused of calling everyone who criticizes Israel anti-Semitic, even when the author never mentioned anti-Semitism, and even, oddly enough, when the author has explicitly disclaimed any intention of suggesting that the individual he criticized is anti-Semitic. I've lost count of how many times commenters on this blog have written something along the lines of "there goes Bernstein again, claiming that legitimate criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism," when accusations of anti-Semitism were never leveled, and even when they were explicitly disclaimed.

Consider how Matthew Yglesias (note: who, for the record, I think is neither anti-Semitic, nor even "anti-Israel", but is far too kind to those who are, perhaps under the "an enemy of my enemy [Bush foreign policy] is my friend" theory) portrays the recent AJC study on leftist Israel-hating Jews, who, according to the study, are playing into the hands of growing genocidal anti-Semitism in the Muslim world by engaging in highly inflammatory rhetoric criticizing Israel in terms normally reserved for brutal dictatorships. Yglesias sums it up as "AJC's 'Jews who have different political opinions from ours are anti-semities' [sic] essay."

A commenter responded:

Yeah, except that isn't what the essay says.

Just as when you said Abe Foxman branded Wesley Clark an anti-semite, only except for where Abe Foxman expressly stated he wasn't.

Just as when you criticized Leon Wieseltier for calling Tony Judt an anti-semite, only except for that part where he explicitly wrote "Tony Judt is not an anti-semite." You know, for someone in the midst of a crusade against rhetorical sophistry re: Israel & anti-semitism, & someone who defended Clark's inartful expression against accusations of anti-semitic conspiracy theory, you seem to have a nasty habit of misrepresenting other's views re: Israel/Jews. In the Matthew Yglesias equation, the rules are turned completely on their head; anyone who criticizes another commentator for treating the subject of Israel & the Jews in a manner, to quote Wieseltier "Icily lacking in decency" is accused of anti-semitism baiting.

Unfortunately, Yglesias is hardly alone.

So on the one hand, we have friends of Israel who are too quick to label others anti-Semitic, though I believe that this phenomenon is declining, as it has received increasing scrutiny and criticism. On the other hand, we have critics of Israel who try to portray anyone who defends Israel as a hysteric who sees anti-Semitism everywhere. This seems to be on the rise. And the most vociferous critics of the former phenomenon tend to be the most egregious participants in the latter.