In case anyone had missed the message, the cause of and movement for Palestinian rights is flatly incompatible with anti-Semitism. Put differently, there is no justifiable way of being in favor of Palestinian rights on anti-Semitic grounds or for anti-Semitic ends. When anti-Semites try to appropriate the Palestinian cause for their own purposes, or hijack the cause by attacking innocent Jews, consistent defenders of Palestinian rights are among the first–and loudest and clearest–to call them out. Here’s a piece from CommonDreams for anyone who still has doubts about the supposed “connection” between anti-Semitism and Palestinian rights (ht: Kevin Carson). There is no connection, just the wholehearted disavowal of one.
And here is a particularly cynical and ignorant example of what it is that defenders of Palestinian rights oppose, along with an inadvertent reminder (from the same culpably ignorant source) that it makes no sense to claim to defend Palestinian rights while wishing secretly for the day when you can force American Jews back to Israel. Where does the speaker think all those expelled American Jews are going to live but East Jerusalem and the West Bank? And who are they going to displace in the process but Palestinians? In other words, the supposed critic of the Israeli occupation–the guy who pathetically claims to live under Israeli occupation in the United States–wants to intensify the Israeli occupation in Palestine. Yeah–no thanks.
More proof, if any was needed, that you can’t dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools. More proof, beyond that, that white nationalism is just Zionism with an exceptionally pale face. And more proof, finally, that anti-Semites have about as much place in the Palestinian movement as do the followers of Meir Kahane, Avigdor Lieberman, or Benjamin Netanyahu. Which is to say, none.
I’m no journalism scholar, but I’ve always been taught one of the core competencies of journalism is to research things before concluding that something that might be in plain sight doesn’t exist. And certainly before putting together an opinion piece that sprays rhetorical bullets of accusation everywhere, but rests its argument on the premise that there aren’t people speaking out in advocacy of Palestinians who are also speaking out against anti-Semitism. Maybe Stephens should spend a little more time reading his memos before he points fingers.
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Bret Stephens is just a colossal fraud. The argument of this piece turns literally on the following non-sequitur:
1. Some anti-Zionists are anti-Semites.
2. Therefore, anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic.
Still hasn’t gotten the Logic 101 memo, I guess.
What is ‘anti-Semitic” about noting the deep pockets and control of the media that Israel has in the United States? Stephens’s attempt to deny both things, and re-describe them as “anti-Semitism,” is just an attempt to gaslight his readers. It’s way, way too late to deny that Israel’s supporters have deep pockets, and that they literally control large swatches of American foreign policy. Instead of writing hysterical bullshit on this topic, he should try to engage with the scholars and journalists who have written on it, like Mearsheimer and Walt (The Israel Lobby), Peter Beinart (The Crisis of Zionism), and Nathan Thrall (The Only Language They Understand). Even the New York Times is starting to figure things out:
Thrall’s analysis on a different point is particularly telling, and something an honest person would go out of his way to deal with. Stephens wonders whether an indiscriminate attack on Israelis rather than American Jews would be justifiable. “Is hatred of an entire country and threats or violence to its people acceptable as long as the hate is untainted by some older prejudice?” This is a pointlessly loaded question–a rhetorical question in the worst sense of that term. The obvious answer is “no.”
But the obvious counter-response is that Israel is collectively responsible for what it does, and so are Israelis. Thrall argues in excruciating detail that Israeli policy is what it is because on the whole, Israelis want it to be what it is. Does every single Israeli want that? No. Are there many admirable exceptions to the preceding generalization? Yes. But is it entirely permissible to speak of collective liability and collective guilt when it comes to national policy, voted on and ratified across five decades? It absolutely is. Zionists keep bragging about the wonders of Israeli democracy. But when you vote to keep policies in place, you assume responsibility for those policies, and you assume the risks of the consequences that arise. Likewise when you support those policies in the diaspora, whether you vote or not. If you vote, consistently, to keep people under military occupation for five decades, and put them under a murderous blockade for more than a decade, then don’t complain when they shoot rockets at you. You invited those rockets. You are not innocent victims.
Memo: Stop gaslighting us. And maybe join us in ending the state of affairs you started, or at least, the state of affairs started by the side you support, and ratified ex post facto by your ongoing support. I’d say that takes precedence over comfortable little tete-a-tetes at Princeton with Yoram Hazony.
I’ve said the same thing about Americans and drone policy.
Stephens claims that Israel is “singled out” for criticism like no other country. Actually, in the United States, it’s singled out for support like other country, so singling it out for criticism is just a natural way to avoid complicity in the support.
He lists the accusations made against Israel, makes a series of pro forma, irrelevant responses to them, then tells us that the accusations remind him of blood libels. But the issue isn’t what these accusations “remind” him of, as though his feelings were somehow the determinative issue. The issue is: what are their merits? And on that, he has nothing to say.
He complains about “silence” about anti-Semitism. He doesn’t appear to be listening. Palestinian activists have consistently repudiated anti-Semitism, and the fact is that most pro-Palestinian organizations in the US are mixed Jewish-Palestinian enterprises. As for silence, I haven’t heard Bret Stephens say anything about the crowds of Jews dancing in the Western Wall Plaza as a fire burns near the Al Aqsa compound.
Why doesn’t this episode prove what Stephens takes the anti-Semitic episodes to prove? That Israel is a racist country through and through, and that defenders of Israel should focus on, and beat their breasts continually about that, rather than focus elsewhere? I’ve been paying attention to Jewish discourse in the US for forty years, and lived in a Jewish household for ten. American Jews only started to become reflective and self-aware about their blindspots re Israel in the past decade or so, and still have a long, long way to go.
Think about the mind-blowing arrogance of Zionists like Stephens. Our own family has been on the receiving end of Taliban bombs and death threats in Lahore. And this fucking shill wants to lecture us about the dangers of the Taliban? What the fuck does he know about the dangers of the Taliban? It’s our family that’s faced down the Taliban, and my comrades in Palestine who have faced down the military occupation that he supports. It’s time to call the bluff of assholes like him. Fifty fucking years of gaslighting is really long enough. Now the tide is finally turning against them, and they’re starting to feel it. I hope so. It’s about time.