Monday, August 27, 2012

Critics Of Israel On The Left Try To Dodge Accusations Of Antisemitism

Robert Wistrich, author of From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel, has written an article on How the contemporary left can reclaim its moral authority.

Wistrich writes about a growing trend among those who demonize Israel to counter accusations of Antisemitism with the claim that such accusations are merely an attempt to stifle debate:

[W]henever the subject of contemporary anti-Semitism also is thrown into this boiling pot, an infantile counter-accusation is usually evoked -- that one is cynically “stifling criticism” of Israel or dishonestly playing the “Zionist card.” In other words, any critic who detects even a hint of anti-Jewish bias in the venomous demonization of Israel as “Nazi,” “fascist” or a “racist apartheid state” par excellence is assumed to be protesting in bad faith or acting as a venal apologist for Israel.

If anything can stifle genuine debate, it is surely such unjust accusations. They invariably shut down any serious discussion of the very real anti-Semitic legacies, the stigmatizing vocabulary and paranoid conspiracy theories so widely prevalent today among many Islamists, Marxists and supposedly “liberal” adversaries of modern Zionism.

There is something profoundly dishonest about reducing anti-Semitism to a discourse about “immunizing” Israel from legitimate criticism. Among other things, it assumes that Jews actually have the power to silence critics of Israel. Yet, it should be obvious that such “criticism,” far from being silenced, is in fact rampant in the Western media. The appalling fact is that obvious falsehoods such as branding Israel as an “apartheid state” or trying to demonize it through the “Nazi” analogy have become rather fashionable in much contemporary Western discourse.
I wrote 2 years ago that we have in fact reached the stage that not only are there those who will claim that being called an Antisemite is in fact a badge of honor -- there are in fact critics of Israel who go out of their way to claim that they have in fact been accused of Antisemitism when in fact they have not.

Thus Eric Fingerhut asks Who's really using the term "anti-Semite"? and writes about:
an emerging trend among critics of Israel: Their eagerness to allege that they've been accused of being an anti-Semite. I do agree that some of Israel's defenders are too quick to throw out charges of anti-Semitism or "self-hating Jew," and that's lamentable and a problem. But it seems that among many of Israel's critics, claiming that you've been accused of being an anti-Semite has become some sort of bizarre badge of honor. And quite a few of those that have allegedly been accused of being an anti-Semite, according to Wieseltier's critics, either were never smeared with such a term or were only accused of making a specific problematic remark and not tarred with some broad brush of disliking Jews, as they claim.
These are 2 aspects of the same problem -- we have a growing number of critics of Israel on the Left who attempt to avoid being called on their use of extreme and exaggerated language to demonize Israel and delegitimize it through the use of a double standard.

This is a problem that has still not been brought into the open and discussed to the degree that it must, and it won't be, until critics of Israel are held responsible for demonizing Israel.
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