October 30, 2006

Underlying Anti-Semitism

I think Suzanne Fields says it quite well in this piece, which demonstrates the anti-Semitism underlying so much of the criticism of Israel today -- and the tendency of some people to blame every evil on the Jews.

When Jews is news

"Jewcentricity" is a word that sounds like it was coined by an embittered anti-Semite. But it's actually the inspiration of Adam Garfinkle, a Jew, writing in The American Interest magazine to call attention to a phenomenon that has roots in anti-Semitism and runs from the silly to the sublime: " . . . the idea, or the intimation, or the subconscious presumption . . . that Jews are somehow necessarily to be found at the very center of global-historical events."

"Jewcentricity" is most evident in the recycling of "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," a fictitious text commissioned by the czar's secret police for a Russian audience at the end of the 19th century, describing a fanciful cabal of Jews who plan to take over the world. Some critics of the neoconservatives, some of whom are Jewish, cite the protocols, so called, in their accusations that Jews have hijacked American foreign policy. Others, critical of Israel, hyperventilate over the power of the "Israel lobby."

"The Protocols" have naturally become a best seller in several Muslim countries, including Turkey and Egypt, where they were turned into a television series. ("Semitic Sex in the City," however, it was not.) "The Protocols" were featured on the Iranian stands at last year's book fair in Frankfurt "to expose the real visage of this Satanic-enemy," along with an abridged edition of Henry Ford's literary thriller, "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem" (which never made it to the screen). "The grip of the Jewish parasitic influence," asserts the preface of the new edition, "has been growing stronger and stronger ever since [Henry Ford's time]."

Serious examples of "Jewcentricity" are reflected in the media obsession with Sen. George Allen's Jewish mother, who was born in Tunisia and barely escaped the Holocaust, and before that, with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's Jewish roots in Czechoslovakia. The national newspapers and television networks spent considerably more time investigating the senator's "blood" parentage and its likely effect on his re-election campaign than the blood being spilled in Darfur. "Why?" asks Adam Garfinkle. "Because . . . Jews is news and there are no Jews in Darfur." That doesn't slow down the conspiracy theorists in other countries, with or without Jews, from obsessing over the myth of sinister Jewish power.

Germany's Jewcentricity is of a completely different order. No negative slur against Jews goes unanswered in the law courts or in the court of public opinion. This has hardly eliminated prejudice against Jews. In an anti-Semitic prank with echoes of the Third Reich, a high-school student in eastern Germany was forced by bullies not long ago to wear a sign around his neck in the school yard: "In this town I'm the biggest swine because of the Jewish friends of mine." The teacher reported it, the chief of police was firm in his outrage, and the state minister of the interior promised an investigation. Germany does not tolerate public exhibition of Nazi symbols.

But the strain of anti-Semitism that many thought would vanish after the horror of the Holocaust has again risen again in the Middle East and among European fellow travelers of the Islamists, whose rhetoric targets Israel in a way that Hitler would readily recognize. Israel is the euphemism for the demonized Jew. The Jews become, as Jonathan Rosen observed in The New York Times, "interchangeable emblems of cosmic evil."

It's not simply an empty gesture that maps available in Middle Eastern countries show Israel erased. Hezbollah demonstrated its capacity to send rockets into Israel, and the Iranian nuclear threat is aimed first at Israel.

Jews remain convenient scapegoats as they continue to haunt the fantasies of rationalizers and haters who want to avoid responsibility for their own culpability. In the 1930s, Jews were blamed for everything that went wrong in Germany (and later in Eastern Europe). Today they're perceived as the seminal cause of Islamic terrorism, subject to the same old media stereotypes that thrived in Nazi newspapers. Getting rid of the Jews in Europe wasn't enough.

"Jewcentricity" serves a specific purpose both in the Middle East and in Europe. It unites the Muslims against a common enemy and conceals their own divisions and discontents, which would be there even if there were not an Israel to hate. Increasing Muslim populations in Europe threaten the peace in ways that absent Jews do not. But we can blame the Jews, anyway.

The Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian novelist Imre Kertesz observes that Europeans mask their criticism of Israel in mournful tones about the Holocaust but use the language that led to Auschwitz. "Because Auschwitz really happened, it has permeated our imagination, become a permanent part of us," he says. "What we are able to imagine -- because it really happened -- can happen again."

And that some today wish to minimize or deny the historical reality of Auschwitz and the other death camps makes such a repeated attempt at genocide all the more likely.

|| Greg, 05:42 AM || Permalink || Comments (7) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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Comments on Underlying Anti-Semitism

 Scholar Tony Judt is among the increasing number of Jews who publicly lament that Israel's behavior is causing anti-semitism to grow by leaps and bounds. He calls for Israel's dismantlement and the installment of a Holy Land state with equal rights for all.

 Israel is simply "bad for the Jews" as the colloquial expression has it. A nation founded on terror eg the Stern Gang and Irgun Squad and which has kept large numbers of Palestinians in squalid camps since 1948 while barbarically engaging in attacks on neighbors like Lebanon can hardly expect a better reputation.




|| Posted by Ken Hoop, October 30, 2006 04:43 PM ||

Judt is no scholar -- indeed his contemptible thesis shows that his work is intellectually bankrupt.

Israel has not kept the Palestinians in camps -- it has been the Arab states who refused to resettle them that have done that. After all, when Jews were forcibly expelled from Arab countries, Israel took them in and saw to their needs -- but when the Arabs fled in the hopes that the Jews would be pushed into the sea 40 years ago, the Arabs kept them herded together in their own camps, breeding discontent and hatred they could use to perpetuate hatred against the Jews who take up only a miniscule portion of the Middle East.

Want proof? It is always israel that compromises and of whom further compromise is demanded. Whe Clinton wrung concessions equal to 97% of the demands of the Palestinians from Israel, what happened? It was the Palestinians who rejected them. Screw 'em.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 30, 2006 06:23 PM ||


The Saudi Ambassador  takes my side and condemns US Middle East policy. Your excusing Jewish supremacism in the form of Israeli banditry is the attitude which is bringing America disrepute and ultimate loss of any influence in the Middle East-and rightly so.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, October 30, 2006 07:23 PM ||

Well, KKKen, given your Nazi ideology and worship of Islamist jihadis as "soldiers of Christ", I'm not surprised you suppor the ambassador of the country from which most of the terrorists of 9/11 came.

Oh, that's right, you don't believe al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11 -- it was the JOOOOOOOOOOOOS!

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 30, 2006 08:13 PM ||

I made clear in the past I believe 9/11 was predictable blowback for an Israel-first policy of intervention in the Mosle world since circa 1950.

To your earlier distortions about Israeli oppression and Oslo, the Palestinians do not wish to settle in other Arab lands, they want their own land back to which most still posssess actual deed.

Oslo was the equvalent of offering a family whose home you stole a few disconnected rooms in it while you kept the halls. That's not 97% ,that's not even worth 7% of the claims.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, October 31, 2006 01:52 PM ||

My mistake, KKKen -- I forgot you were one of the "America deserved it" terrorist supporters, not one of the "Israel did it" terrorist supporters.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 31, 2006 05:58 PM ||

Among other patriots who made early predictions of  eventual specific blowback on our continent should America continue its egregious foreign policy in the Middle East, were (for your Texas benefit) Ron Paul & Pat Buchanan on the Right and Chalmers Johnson on the Left.

Don't kill the messenger.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, October 31, 2006 06:40 PM ||
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