[DEBATE] : 21st-century anti-Semitism?
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Jan 21 19:38:44 GMT 2009
Louis Proyect's antidote to this gibberish is below:
grinker at mweb.co.za wrote:
> Monday 19 January 2009
> After Gaza: what’s behind 21st-century anti-Semitism?
> Anti-Israel sentiment is morphing into anti-Jewish sentiment, as more and more people project their disdain for the modern world on to ‘the Jew’.
> Frank Furedi
I am somewhat ambivalent about answering Spiked online since so few
people nowadays, especially them, view it as having anything to do with
the left. With the exception of James Heartfield, just about every
contributor to Spiked has stopped pretending to be part of the left.
However, since they are in the habit of writing “critiques” of the left,
particularly the activist sector that organizes mass demonstrations
against the war in Iraq and more lately the war on Gaza, it is worth
responding to them.
Since Spiked online accuses protesters of adapting to anti-Semitism, a
charge that is almost as serious as the one being mounted at notoriously
pro-imperialist outlets such as Harry’s Place in which the
demonstrations themselves are described as anti-Semitic, it is worth
countering them here. Ultimately, one of the main defenses of the
Zionist propaganda machine is that Israel’s critics are anti-Semitic. It
is rather sad that ex-leftists involved with Spiked can get on board the
Zionist propaganda machine but this would not be the first time that
radicals have traveled this route. Just read Richard Seymour’s “The
Liberal Defense of Murder”, a book that I am about half-way through now,
to get the big picture.
It is worth noting that Professor Frank Furedi, the founder of their
current, has had another major complaint about the Israel-Palestine
dispute apart from the specious “anti-Semitism” question. This is from a
piece that Frank Furedi wrote for the U. of Kent departmental newsletter
several years ago:
Tuesday: I am in a quiet state of agitation. The headlines are dominated
by the outbreak of violence in the Middle East and no matter how hard I
try, I cannot remember the name of the right-wing Israeli politician,
whose visit to the Muslim shrine (whose name I can also not recall),
sparked the whole thing off.
Wednesday: More violence in Israel. But things are looking up — the
debate on sex education is in the news. That’s more my kind of issue.
Now if only there was another nice controversy about something with a
Thursday: I am feeling depressed. The violence in the Middle East
dominates the news. The media have dropped the sex education debate.//
One supposes that Furedi would be happier if the demonstrations taking
place during the war on Gaza had been organized on behalf of how to
achieve simultaneous climax during intercourse, but fortunately the
activists have a better sense of where their priorities lie.
Thankfully, Furedi’s “After Gaza: what’s behind 21st-century
<http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/6117/>” makes no
mention of sex education, but it is a bit fucked—to use the vernacular.
Its most egregious error is to consider the question of anti-Semitism
ahistorically. For example, when windows are broken at a Starbucks
because the president is an outspoken Zionist, Furedi worries that a
Kristallnacht is in the offing.
Increasingly, protesters are targeting Jews for being Jews. They have
agitated for the boycott and even harassment of ‘Israeli shops’, but in
practice this means boycotting and harassing Jewish-owned shops, such as
Marks & Spencer (some of whose stores have been barricaded by
anti-Israel protesters) and Starbucks (a number of whose coffee shops
have been attacked in London and elsewhere). Some protesters in Italy
don’t share the linguistic subtlety of those ostensibly calling for a
boycott of ‘Israeli shops’. Giancarlo Desiderati, spokesman for the
trade union Flaica-Cub, has called for a boycott of Jewish businesses in
Rome. A leaflet issued by his union informed Romans that anything they
purchase in Jewish-owned shops will be ‘tainted by blood’.
Once upon a time, when Furedi was a Marxist rather than the libertarian
that he is today, he might have considered the question of the economic
crisis that fueled anti-Semitism. The likelihood that Jews will be
persecuted in the same way that they were in Germany during the 1930s is
almost nil. Instead, the likely victims will be Arab and African
immigrants. For example, Great Britain’s largest fascist organization,
the BNP, has been virulently opposed to the left-wing protestors
targeted by Furedi:
/I/ndeed, the destruction of Israel (which is the generally stated aim
of all the far-left and Muslim demonstrators screaming and on occasion
rioting outside the Israeli Embassy in London, and the generally
unstated aim of the far smaller number of neo-Nazi cranks siding with
them on the Internet) would most definitely not placate a single
One of the fundamental lessons of the West’s long and at times desperate
defence against Islam’s institutionalised aggression, sexual predation
and imperialism, is that every victory for Islamic fighters reinforces
the hysterical certainty in the word of the Prophet and in Islam’s
self-proclaimed destiny to conquer the entire world.
Now these are the real successors to Adolph Hitler, not the left-wing
protestors who break a Starbucks window. While it is obviously wrong to
target Jewish-owned businesses, the main activity being carried out
today by the left are mass demonstrations demanding an end to the
Israeli assault on Gaza. If Furedi and his co-thinkers were half as
worked up by entire city blocks being leveled by IDF bombs as they were
by a broken Starbucks window, they would be taken more seriously by
their readers. For long-time monitors of this peculiar British group,
such as me, the last thing we have learned to expect from them is a
desire to engage with the left. They are much happier in the role of
nose-thumbing contrarians, even when this means being wrong 99 percent
of the time.
Most of Furedi’s article is about attitudes toward the Jews of Europe
rather than anti-Semitism as an institution. In early 20^th century
history, Jews suffered institutional oppression just as Blacks in the
U.S. did. For example, Hitler enacted laws that were modeled on Jim Crow
laws in the U.S. Also, before the Bolshevik-led revolution, Czarist
Russia was rife with anti-Semitism. For example, Jews were forced to
live in the “Pale of Settlement” and pay twice the tax that a Christian
paid. In other less repressive countries, Jews suffered job
discrimination and were excluded from educational institutions. In
France, the Dreyfus affair in France epitomized the tendency for Jews to
be singled out and punished.
What is missing from Furedi’s analysis is the /role of the state/. If
anti-Semitism were a real threat today, there would be evidence of
proposed legislation to punish Jews as Jews. No such evidence exists,
nor is there evidence that Jews are being excluded from professions or
universities because of their ethnicity or religion.
If anything, raising “anti-Semitism” as some sort of impending threat is
just another example of the public relations campaign that gets mounted
whenever Palestinians are asserting themselves. During the spate of
suicide bombings in Israel taking place in 2001, a major campaign
against alleged anti-Semitism on American campuses was organized. It was
transparently clear that the real target of this campaign was the
anti-Zionist left, as I tried to make clear to one of the signatories of
an open letter on anti-Semitism that appeared in the N.Y. Times:
Open Letter to Bard College President on “Anti-Semitism” on campus
Oct. 8, 2002
Dear Leon Botstein,
I hope everything is going okay with you and your master plan for
turning Bard College into a first-rate American institution. No doubt
the new Performing Institute designed by megastar Frank Gehry will
catapult Bard into the stratosphere even though to me it looks like a
melting gingerbread house designed by somebody who ate one too many
peyote buttons. But–hey–what do I know. For me, some of the most
emblematic buildings at Bard during my stint (1961-1965) were the
barracks that had been constructed after WWII for returning veterans.
They might have looked like dormitories for migrant farm laborers, but
they did contain some extraordinary students. Other times–other places.
But the reason I write you now is to express my disappointment that you
would jump on the “Anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism” bandwagon. Surely, you
must understand that this was the purpose of the full-page ad in the NY
Times, even though it was framed in terms of protecting Jewish students
from another Kristallnacht. Here at Columbia University, where I have
worked for the past 10 years, you can find a vibrant anti-Zionist
movement that is spearheaded by Jews in fact. Now maybe they are in some
sort of dark conspiracy to punish their co-religionists but mostly they
seem intent on raising fellow students’ awareness of what Gush Shalom
leader Uri Avnery calls “a cruel, brutal and colonizing state.”
When you turn to the Chronicles of Higher Education (Oct. 4) article on
“anti-Semitism” on campus, the evidence is pretty thin. Your fellow
signatory Arthur Levine, president of Teachers College of Columbia
University, said that he noticed a graffiti on a men’s-room wall that
said, “Let’s kill the Jews.” He said he looked in several stalls and
found other graffiti, both anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic.
Now my offices are in Teachers College and I have had occasion to visit
many of their facilities on account of my chronic irritable bowel
syndrome. But I have never seen such graffiti myself. Is it possible
that President Levine is manufacturing evidence like the Gulf of Tonkin
incident? I wouldn’t rule this out myself.
(I would hasten to add that the only threatening graffiti I spotted was
“Death to Short People”, which is on the first floor of Thorndike, in
the rightmost stall in the bathroom near the photocopying room. I often
go there to do my business and read a little CLR James while I’m at it.
Now I have never felt threatened by this graffiti, even though I barely
On the other hand, there are lots of real attacks taking place against
professors and students who are protesting Israeli brutality. I am
acquainted with Mohammad Alam, an economics professor at Northeastern,
whose “dossier” has turned up in a website run by Daniel Pipes. Along
with institutions such as my employer Columbia University, these voices
are being singled out as virtually in league with suicide bombers.
I think you probably understand why this point of view is being policed
right now. The Zionist establishment is deathly afraid that a divestment
movement might take root among Jewish progressives on campus. My
suggestion to all the esteemed college presidents who signed the ad is
to use their good influence to stop Israel from acting like apartheid
South Africa. That is surely the best way that such a movement can be
Louis Proyect, class of 1965
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