According to the American Jewish Committee:
January 8, 2009 – New York – AJC expressed alarm at prominent displays of anti-Semitism in the Greek media during the ongoing conflict in Gaza, and urged their condemnation by Greek political and religious leaders.
On December 29, leading newspaper Eleftherotypia ran a story comparing Israel to the Nazi regime and accusing it of genocide. On numerous occasions since, Eleftherotypia, among other newspapers, has featured editorial cartoons depicting Israeli soldiers in uniforms with swastikas. On January 5, Apogevmatini, another major daily, ran a banner headline accusing Israel of a “Holocaust.”
Firstly, let’s get rid of this silly word “anti-Semitic”. “Anti” means against; “Semitic” is a family of languages which includes Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic, Aramaic, Babylonian, Maltese, etc; and “-ism” means a belief system. So “anti-Semitism” ought to mean “dislike/hatred of Semitic peoples”, but people don’t use it to mean that, instead they use it to mean “hatred of Jews”, where terms such as “anti-Jewish” would be more accurate.
You may dismiss this as mere pedantry, but you’d be wrong. Writing clearly is a good habit of mind to adopt, because when we’re not writing clearly, we’re probably not thinking clearly either. And if you don’t think thinking clearly is important, you are probably too stupid to read this blog; in fact, you should fuck off and die, for you are a worthless waste of space.
Anyway, the AJC think that comparing Israel to the Nazis is anti-Jewish. So what do they make of Israel’s deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, who last year compared Israel with Nazi Germany:
Israel’s deputy defence minister has said Israel will have “no choice” but to invade Gaza if Palestinian militants step up rocket attacks.
Matan Vilnai said Palestinians risked a “shoah”, the Hebrew word for a big disaster – and for the Nazi Holocaust.
By the AJC’s reckoning, Vilnai is “anti-Semitic”. Of course, this is nonsense. Every politician or government gets compared to Hitler or the Nazis from time to time, it’s part of the territory. If Israel gets compared to the Nazis a lot it’s because Israel kills lots of people — certainly more people in an average year than most governments manage.
The AJC’s whining is contemptable: “boo hoo, someone said something nasty about Israel”. Well tough titty, AJC, killing and maiming thousands of people is a nasty thing to do. And when governments do nasty things, people will say and think badly of them. The AJC’s position amounts to saying that no-one should ever criticise Israel. Another example of the AJC’s stance is this:
January 29, 2009 – New York – AJC called today’s vicious verbal assault on Israeli President Shimon Peres by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “a public disgrace that may well encourage further outrages against Israel and Jews.”
“When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill,” Erdogan yelled at Peres, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, during a panel on Gaza at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Erdogan then stormed off the stage.
I’m sure if I looked up Peres’s public statements, I’d find some praising the efficiency of the Israeli armed forces, and any such praise means the same as “know[ing] well how to kill”, but tarted up with long words.
Indeed, supporters of Israel often feel they have to be unconditional supporters of Israel, which means they and up defending the indefensible. (A notable exception is Jonathan Edelstein, who sadly no longer blogs.) Note that there is nothing wrong with being a supporter of the Israeli people (or any other people). What is wrong is to be an unconditional supporter of the Israeli government, or any other government.
As Matthew Yglesias says of Noah Pollack:
This kind of thing really pisses me off. One simply doesn’t talk about any other country this way. Countries implement policies. In democratic countries, like Israel, those policies are subjected to debate and criticism. To have a disagreement about policies is to be engaged in political debate. But here in the United States we see this constant campaign to label political disagreement about Israeli policy or about US policy toward Israel as “anti-Israel” or even anti-semitism. It’s offensive, it’s nonsense, it’s contemptible, and it ought to stop. A person who’s opposed to the existence of Israel is “anti-Israel”; a person expressing disagreement with something the Israeli government does is criticizing public policy. It’s very hard to see how eliding the difference between the two helps the Zionist cause. The label is a useful bludgeon for Pollack to try to wield against J Street, but the blowback around the world of convincing everyone who dislikes something or other the Israeli government does that they ought to adopt an “anti-Israel” self-conception is enormous.
Indeed Pollack is clearly talking Pollacks. Why the shrillness? Why the urge to remove all nuances, to force all debate into a black-and-white you’re-for-us-or-against-us polarisation? I think it’s because the Pollacks of this world, the unconditional supporters of Israel, know that their case is often weak.
Which of course it has to be. When you commit yourself in advance to defending any policy that a government is ever going to do, you’re going to find yourself defending the indefendable, which is why Noah Pollack — and the echo chamber that is Harry’s Place — are intellectually and morally bankrupt.
(via Greater Surbiton)