2019-01-21

It needs to be said (anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Matthew Rozsa has an article in Salon.com and repeated in Alternet:

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism: But disentangling them can be tricky

Rep. Rashida Tlaib has been unfairly accused of anti-Semitism, but there’s a reason why these issues get confused

Some extracts:

Yes, it is fair to be suspicious of anyone who drags up anti-Semitic myths like the idea that Jews have dual loyalties, or that Jews have too much power, or that Jews are somehow to blame for racist violence in other parts of the world. It is obvious bigotry to blame “Jews” as a group for the actions of Israeli officials, or to invoke greed and other anti-Semitic stereotypes when describing Israel, or to disproportionately focus on the atrocities in Israel while being conveniently silent about human rights violations committed by Arab or Muslim nations. Whether or not a Jewish state should have been created in the Middle East, it has now been there for 70 years — denying its right to exist is also, de facto, anti-Semitic.

Those who employ such rhetoric speak in the language of anti-Semitism.

. . . . . 

At the same time, the truth is that Israel does commit human rights violations. The fact that many wrongs have been done to Jews in the past — and I say this as a Jew who personally experienced a hate crime — does not excuse the suffering that the Israeli government and individual Israelis, have inflicted against the Palestinian people. This explanation by Human Rights Watch from 2017, the 50-year anniversary of the Six Day War, summarizes the problem all too well:

Fifty years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it controls these areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

At least five categories of major violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law characterize the occupation: unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.

. . . . ..

Many people of good will look at these offenses and are rightly horrified, and it is both cheap and wrong to seek to use the label of “anti-Semite” to shame them into silence. Similarly, if individuals choose not to do business with the State of Israel because they disapprove of its actions, they have a right to do that without being automatically labeled as bigots.

Yes, to wish for a democratic state of Israel with equal rights for all ethnicities and religions is surely a noble dream. I side with those who think it is now too late for a two-state solution and the best option for human rights and dignity for all is for Israel and the West Bank and Gaza to form a single state. (Oh, and those still stuck in refugee camps be allowed to return.) That does in effect mean the “end of Israel as a Jewish state” in the same sense that we speak of the end of South Africa as a white/Boer state. I think what is holding the parties back from going that far is racism, both anti-Jewish and anti-Arab racism. But I do see evidence of non-racists on both sides, the Jewish and the Arab. (But that sounds cruel .. “both sides” .. as if they are both equally to blame: they are not equally to blame, not by a long stretch). Now if only those persons could take the lead….

But I dream.

 

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13 Comments

  • proudfootz
    2019-01-21 12:33:20 GMT+0000 - 12:33 | Permalink

    It’s very difficult to reverse the trend. The extremists often will expend a lot of effort to eliminate any moderate leaders who threaten the state of crisis in which extremism thrives.

  • Neil Godfrey
    2019-01-21 12:39:23 GMT+0000 - 12:39 | Permalink

    I fell into the “both sides” trap. I have since tried to reword it, though it is clearly a clumsy effort.

  • Kelly D Wellington
    2019-01-21 13:40:13 GMT+0000 - 13:40 | Permalink

    Palestinians are Semites, too.

  • 2019-01-21 16:07:48 GMT+0000 - 16:07 | Permalink

    Agreed.

  • db
    2019-01-21 17:12:37 GMT+0000 - 17:12 | Permalink

    • Per boycott of Israel: “Sanders . . . opposes the bill penalizing supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (better known as BDS), and Tlaib was expressing solidarity with his position.”

    Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who responded to Tlaib by accusing her of anti-Jewish bigotry.

    “This ‘dual loyalty’ canard is a typical anti-Semitic line,” Rubio tweeted. “#BDS isn’t about freedom & equality, it’s about destroying #Israel. And if boycotting #Israel is constitutionally protected, then boycotting companies that boycott #Israel is also constitutionally protected.”

    In her response, Tlaib tweeted, “Sen. Rubio, it’s clear my earlier tweet was critical of U.S. Senators like yourself, who are seeking to strip Americans of their Constitutional right to free speech.” She later added, “The American people need Trump and Republican Senators to focus on ending the shutdown instead of inventing controversy to distract from your inaction.”

    • How to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism—when disentangling them can be tricky.

    [T]he truth is that Israel does commit human rights violations. The fact that many wrongs have been done to Jews in the past — and I say this as a Jew who personally experienced a hate crime — does not excuse the suffering that the Israeli government and individual Israelis, have inflicted against the Palestinian people. This explanation by Human Rights Watch from 2017, the 50-year anniversary of the Six Day War, summarizes the problem all too well:

    Fifty years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it controls these areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

    At least five categories of major violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law characterize the occupation: unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.

    Many people of good will look at these offenses and are rightly horrified, and it is both cheap and wrong to seek to use the label of “anti-Semite” to shame them into silence. Similarly, if individuals choose not to do business with the State of Israel because they disapprove of its actions, they have a right to do that without being automatically labeled as bigots.

    • I do not find it even remotely “tricky” to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. As usual, the real issue is overcoming the vast ignorance of the American public.

  • Lowen Gartner
    2019-01-21 18:07:03 GMT+0000 - 18:07 | Permalink

    “Whether or not a Jewish state should have been created in the Middle East, it has now been there for 70 years — denying its (a Zionist state) right to exist is also, de facto, anti-Semitic.”

    Wrong!

    Right: “… democratic state of Israel with equal rights for all ethnicities and religions…” Not only a noble dream but the only hope for peace in that area of the Levant.

    I am with r.g.price – this does not seem tricky to untangle. There is no reason for a country to exist that selectively benefits some citizens and systematically disadvantages others based on putative ethnic heritage and/or religious beliefs. That country needs to be “woke”.

    • Steven Watson
      2019-02-08 20:51:25 GMT+0000 - 20:51 | Permalink

      LOL. The term “woke” comes ironically from an ideology that would selectively benefit some and systematically disadvantage others based largely on putative ethnic heritage and/or religious belief itself. But I agree with were you are coming from.

  • Steven Watson
    2019-02-08 21:54:46 GMT+0000 - 21:54 | Permalink

    It’ll most probably end abruptly in tankers worth of blood and millions of corpses. The only Jewish state that seems to have avoided this was the Khazar khaganate, and that wasn’t Semitic. It is also only one of two that I can think of that wasn’t beholden on, or to the sufference of, some mighty empire for its existence. Thomas L Thompson is someone we should all be very familiar with on here; his ‘The Bible in History’ shows convincingly that states arising in this neck of the woods existed only fleetingly in the interstices of empire. This remains so.

    Suppose a unitary de jure non-sectarian state arises peacefully; what then? From what I can gather Israel is only surviving by massive water theft from its neighbours. I can’t see aliyah for everyone being realistic; doubling the population in an already parched, and on a trajectory to be even more so, land is a tad ridiculous. Given that a one state solution, however it is going to be achieved, seems the only viable one, everyone with a stake in it needs to be thinking about the implications, and planning in depth how to overcome or ameliorate the significant problems it is going to create RIGHT NOW.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-02-09 02:43:22 GMT+0000 - 02:43 | Permalink

      Suppose a unitary de jure non-sectarian state arises peacefully; what then?

      We have seen what happens then. The western imperial powers invest in overthrowing that state either from within or without. The rise of Islamism today can be directly related to the Western backed destruction of popular, secular states that sought to assert their independence from the inroads of western interests.

      • Udaho
        2019-05-05 13:40:21 GMT+0000 - 13:40 | Permalink

        Yep! Al-Wahhab was also created by Western powers I guess. The Holy Koran’s instruction to launch mass murdering spree against basically anybody who disagrees was also written by Western powers.
        And zakat funded jihadi madrassas are also run by CIA – aren’t they?
        Islam has no concept of Nation. It has Umma – only an international cult like brotherhood. Western backed destruction? Read history for once. The groups funded by any Western power pre-existed, sometimes having tribal history of hundred to thousand years. It is these groups who invited Western interest for their own political goals-which had their own set of followers.

        Middle East experienced the shortest period of imperialism out of all colonised parts of the world. It was hardly used as a colony by the British – mostly because post Ottoman Empire, Europe was embroiled in wars of its own and this region was in most parts useless desert.

        Muslim on Muslim violence and Muslim on non-muslim violence exceeds the war toll in Middle East post 1980s by a large margin. Armenians and Jews were also killed in large numbers. Hindus, Chinese and Cambodians too. Japanese were killed in WW 2. None of these groups go tie a bomb and blow up people elsewhere, or fund terrorism. Look at the civility of the Japanese in accepting defeat and then going about to recreate their civilization.
        When West gives power plant to Iraq, jihadis destroy the infrastructure.
        Problem with Muslims is a 7th century book. It is Islam.
        For being exceptionally well read on Christianity is and also being a liberal atheist, your sympathy with this barbaric cult called Islam seems like an Oriental fantasy. Love affair or Stockholm syndrome?

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-05-06 05:52:20 GMT+0000 - 05:52 | Permalink

          I invite you to search this blog for its in depth posts on Islam, Islamism, the background to and rise of Islamist terrorist movements, the activities and history of terrorist activity both Islamist and non-Islamist, the history of Zionist efforts to enter Palestine, etc. I try to keep well informed and your comments would be more to the point if they did not jump to conclusions about where I am coming from or what has been posted here.

          If someone read the Bible and saw the commands to wipe out all non-Israelite people from the land that is now Palestine and saw the history of Zionism there they might be tempted to blame the Bible and the Jewish religion for the terrorist attacks and wars perpetrated upon the native inhabitants. They would be wrong, just as wrong as is your sweeping assumption about Muslims.

  • Udaho
    2019-05-08 06:25:57 GMT+0000 - 06:25 | Permalink

    “If someone read the Bible and saw the commands to wipe out all non-Israelite people from the land that is now Palestine and saw the history of Zionism there they might be tempted to blame the Bible and the Jewish religion for the terrorist attacks and wars perpetrated upon the native inhabitants. They would be wrong..” – They would not be wrong. Bible was freely used in Zionism, though another fact was that less well off Jews(the eastern ones) were sick of being travelers on the globe and wanted a final home for themselves, just as almost everybody else has a certain ancestral homeland. Financially well off Jews never migrated and still live in New York, UK, France and Germany. Just as earlier Babylonian Jews or Alexandrian Jews decided to stay put instead of going back to Jerusalem.

    Niel, you blog is unparalleled mine of information for Christ Myth defendants, and I have my own insights to add too. In fact, I came across a YouTube channel called warningthepeople – a young pastor who left his Church to start his own ministry. What is surprising is that his interpretation of Jesus is very close to Paul that you(and others) propose in Christ Myth theory. He is visited by divine Jesus who in dreams or visions tells him – parables, moral values, some ethical statements, sermons, signs etc. And yes, he has that same compulsive attitude like Paul, an passionate urge to send his message across. He rejects Bible as “God’s word” and only considers it as a testimony. People say – how can we consider that Paul believed in a divinely revealed Jesus? Well – here we have a 21st century Paul exhibiting the same kind of faith.

    In your blog, you have correctly shown correlation between NT texts and Hebrew bible, how one derives largely from the other. Jesus gospels are recycled Hebrew bible texts(I imply literary dependence).

    Quran also does the same thing – copy the Hebrew Bible, but in a different manner. Muhammad was trying to be a prophet. The best thing would have been to perform a miracle, which of course was impossible. The next best thing was to copy the prophets, which he does well with a sword. Why does Muhammad massacre men in a Jewish tribe and take their women as sex slaves – Moses does the same in Midianite massacre. Moses is the man who is remembered in Bible as one who brought the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” from Yahweh. He is also the man who began his career with a murder. Similar ironies abound in Muhammad’s life. If you compare major decisions deliberately taken by Muhammad, a lot of them can be traced back to (legendary) actions of Hebrew prophets.

    So yes, the violence in Christianity and Islam is direct result of the narcissistic self aggrandization that pervades Jewish texts, and celebration of tribal victories and wars, as well as divine massacres(Purim, Passover) in Jewish religion. But non-Jews, unfamiliar with older Hebrew thought, often get fooled by its texts as though they are real. Unlike most other religions and cultures who give shape to their myths in form of superhuman heroes or demigods(Zeus, Thor, Odin, Athena etc.), Jews(those who wrote the texts in present day Bible) had a peculiar habit of writing political mythology with human like characters, yet everything that happens in these texts is divine play, and anything that takes place is far removed from normal life. For example, the entire episode of Saul and David in Bible revolves around divine mandate of Yahweh. In real life, an actual David would not be facing the kind of challenges that he faces in this myth. Other Hebrew books (e.g. Enoch) which had superhuman hero like tales were discarded. What we have is a collection of political myths masquerading as history.

    Jews are not singular in celebrating tribal victories, or making festivals out of war massacres. A lot of tribes did the same. Kings erected stele as monuments to victory. Where 100 people would have died, the myth would make 10,000 people. Where a man fought for one day against a small troop, the myth would make it a man fighting three days without food or water devastating an entire unit. That is how myths grow.

    But Jews never begged anybody to take their own tribal bigotries seriously. In fact, they guarded their scriptures within their own priesthood. Had Christianity and consequently Islam would not have taken brazenly violent claims in Hebrew texts seriously, and spread them around the world, inventing a complex web of apologetics to justify all of it, thereby maligning many great civilizations(Egypt being the one routinely maligned), Judaism would long ago had been dismissed as a lone obscure tribe, with a violent tribal deity, much like many other tribes. In fact, description of ideology of Jewish fundamentalist fanatics from 1st century is most closely apparent in present day Islam.

    In 2 millennia, Jews have reformed themselves a lot. Polygamy was officially banned a thousand years ago. It is out of research by Israeli scholars and archaeologists that we can make solid claims about Hebrew Bible being in large parts a myth. Throughout the world, Jews are still a small minority, and they never beg anybody to take any of their fables or festivals as models of governance. It is Christians and Muslims who do so(though Islam despises Jews, Judaism inspires greater number of practices of Sunni Islam, than even Arabic customs).

    Being an Australian of Irish descent (I guess, sorry if I’m wrong), your confrontation with Islam(as a civilization clash) has been nil. You have not lost an entire civilization under damning influence of Islamic tyranny or lived a groveling life under Sharia. Western Europeans either have had little to do with Islam or they have ruled over Muslim countries. They have not been ruled by them. Hence, all this good will gesture is more like armchair Orientalism. For example, do you have any ill will against the Japanese? Most probably not. But the same cannot be said about Koreans, who have had very violent episodes, massacres, slavery and rape under Japanese occupation dating back many centuries. Our historical memory shapes present day attitudes.

    I went through the books that you have read to understand rise of Islamic jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, opinion on democracy in Muslim countries, rule of Sharia etc. What I observed was that you are turning into an armchair apologist for Islam. As I said, the perception of one who has not confronted Islam, and only observed milder Muslim population within Australia, that is mostly there for higher studies or job, simply cannot understand the darkness that hits right in the face when Islam confronts you as a relentless, savage force. A lot of western Muslim scholars you quote are brazen apologists. Scholars – yes, qualified and intelligent – indeed, but shamelessly biased. And opinion polls on equal rights for men and women – Muslims do not even get what Western concept of a “right” is. For them, Islam and Sharia, Islamic street processions and prayer conventions – these are also “rights”. It would take quite a while to educate a Muslim in North Africa to Middle East what “right to free speech” means. It implies criticism of Islam is valid and cannot be punished. You’ll see how quickly those Muslims will deflect this “right” as soon as you mention this. If you go taking opinion polls that every human being should have a “right to be good”, 100% Muslims will say yes. When an Islamic order is established and freely converts non-Muslims(non-Abrahmics) under force, you’ll find >80% supporting it as this “makes them good”. Such is their concept of “rights”.

    I cannot change opinions in comment section. But it is indeed quite hilarious seeing you grasp at meager statistics and minor liberal opinions by nominal Muslims as representative of Islam. Turning leaves of narratives churned by scholars with an aim to whitewash history – some sitting on chairs funded by Saudis. And then you defend Sharia – that is where I lost it. Christianity is studied in historical records, not flowery language of apologetic encyclicals that Papal office churns out. Semitic religions are experts in producing narratives to brainwash people – Islam has long expertise in this, far longer than any Western propaganda machine. Islam’s backbone is not ethics, morality or philosophy. It is narrative, narrative and more narrative, all painted over with apologetic gymnastics. Stop reading apologists to feel good about yourself. Read history and look what is the logical end point of Islam. It is a tyrannical theocracy. As an atheist, you should talk more about how to get rid of Islam, rather than say why Islamic law is good. Once there is Sharia in a state, even if each statement is passed by democratic vote, it will imply that for all posterity, no new religion or philosophy can ever come up and no new sect can ever establish itself. Is that good? Is it freedom? Should there not be a Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Kant, a Buddha, a Rama, Mahavira – something that brings Islam to its knees and ends it. Muslims won’t die if Islam dies, would they? Focus on atheism and high philosophy. Please do not become apologist for a barbaric cult to feel good about yourself or to absolve some racial white guilt for which you are not responsible. If Islam is sheltered by west and grows extremely powerful, would you take responsibility for its atrocities in its force conversion spree to hail Judgement day close? Of course you believe in stability and power of West to pressurize Islamic countries to desist from atrocities. But will West always remain in power? When we choose a side in life, it should not be with a view of decade or so, but with consequences that will affect next 1000 years of history. I think by supporting Islam West is opening ways for new set of genocide in future, much as when West adopted Christianity as state religion. Just stop with giving state support to Semitic cults. These are old tribal cults which should end. Most of Judaism has become nominal.

    You are comparing Islamic jihadis to “toxic white nationalists”. Then your 2007 article about Muslims in India – how “oh so toxic Hindus, Nazi Hindus, went about killing Muslims” blah blah. India is full of oh so good, peaceful Muslims – those cute, cuddly teddy bear Muslims. Under that article you refer to a typical liberal leftist Martha Nussbaum using liberal philosophy to – wait for it – support Islam. Dang, idiotic ironies are having a field day here. Man, stop. Just stop. This is turning into dark humor. At some point your ignorance drives you into an idiotic drivel – and you swear that it is an absolute fact. Stop reading into Islamic apologetics. It has a subconscious tendency to brainwash people. I see that you have not referred to “Reliance of the Traveller” on Sharia readings. (sorry if I’m wrong). Read it. That is much more authentic on what real Sharia is.

    But your studies on sources of Christianity(particularly Gospels and Acts) are par excellence. Please, please bring out a book based on your blog. I’ll be very eager to buy it. Thanks.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-05-08 07:56:42 GMT+0000 - 07:56 | Permalink

      You have made many serious accusations about my sources on Islam and I would appreciate it if you would cite the particular sources/authors you are referring to and cite what their actual faults are — with evidence — not just blanket assertions.

      I am sorry you have such a monolithic view of Islam. For you information I have lived in a country for a couple of years with a strong Muslim population and worked alongside many Muslims in that country. I have spent many months over the years in another Muslim nation and have gotten to know first hand a wide range of Muslims. I have also spent some time in Turkey and rubbed shoulders with Muslims-only there. A branch of my family has actually married into a non-Australian Muslim family.

      What I try to establish is some of the best and most authoritative scholarship on Islam and Islamism. If you think I am selecting “mere apologists” for Islam then, as I said, support your claims with evidence.

      What disappoints me somewhat is that many readers of this blog are very keen to address varieties of Christianity and Christian thought and history but are so entrapped in myths about Islam and the nation of Israel. Yet my reading and posts on all of those topics are grounded, I hope, in some of the best and most thorough scholarship.

      Cite posts and specific claims I have made to support your criticisms and let’s discuss. But please, don’t just make such generalized swipes.

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