Thursday, April 15, 2004

A Letter to the Jews, on the Topic of the New Anti-Semitism 

speakingcorpse writes:

Dear Fellow Jews,

Some leftists have tried to deny that there is a new anti-Semitism in the world today, one that threatens the Jews as never before. No, these leftists say, this is rage against Israel, and it is not related to traditional anti-Semitism.

These leftists are wrong. The massive hatred of Israel worldwide is anti-Semitic; it is the new form that the old anti-Semitism has taken. It is out of all proportion to reality, it is fixated ferociously on Israel, and it is associated with exterminationist rhetoric. We as Jews are right to call the hatred of Israel anti-Semitic--even if Israel has done many, many bad things that have never been acknowledged.

But we Jews have failed fully to understand this anti-Semitism. For it is perpetrated not just by many Muslims worldwide, but also by the U.S. government and its Christian-Zionist supporters, and by the self-hating Jews in the American Jewish establishment.

Let me explain. It is wrong of many Muslims to call Israelis (and the Jews in general) a people determined to steal Arab land, to destroy Palestinian social life, to deny the humanity of the Palestinians. It is wrong because, though many of Israel's policies have indeed been undertaken to advance these nefarious purposes, Israel and the Jewish community are not comprised entirely of such people. There are many distinct human voices among Jews in and out of Israel, many who oppose the racism of the settlers and the militant Zionists. It is wrong, and anti-Semitic, to reduce Israel (and the Jews is supposed to represent) to this one policy (and to kill Jews indiscriminately, as if they all support it). But if it is wrong for Muslims to reduce the reality of Israel and the Jews to this caricature, it is equally wrong for American Christian Zionists and self-hating Jews to do the same thing, to reduce Israel and its Jewish supporters to mere caricature--to see them all as single-mindedly bent on the annexation of lands that belong to other people. But, sadly, this IS how Bush, and the American enemies of the Jews, see Israel and the Jews. Just read this article, in which we learn that Bush will try to appeal to Jewish voters by sanctioning the racist agenda of Ariel Sharon. Bush, an anti-Semite, obviously thinks that all Jews are narrow-minded haters of Palestinians. Bush is an anti-Semite, just as are the many Muslims around the world who refuse to understand the origins of the state of Israel in the Holocaust, and who refuse to recognize the internal diversity of the state and of the worldwide Jewish population.

Bush (and the alliance of Christian Zionists and self-hating American Jews) hates the Jews in the same way that some of the international anti-Israel forces hate the Jews. On both sides, the Jews are reduced to mere caricature: we become bearers of the flag of freedom among the savages, or, and this is the SAME THING, close-minded colonialist land-grabbers impervious to the sufferings of other ethnic groups. What we must recognize is that there is a SINGLE caricature, with a double aspect. Bush et al. praise the Jews (with the most vicious condescension) for conforming to caricature, while the international anti-Semites hate the Jews for conforming to caricature.

Now, it should be said that Jews themselves (especially the self-hating allies of Bush and the evangelical prophets of Armageddon) deserve some of the blame for making the caricature stick. But this is always true when caricatures stick--they stick because of a basis in reality. This does not mean that the caricature is any less unjust, any less anti-Semitic.

So we have reached a new phase in the long, sad history of anti-Semitism. We have a worldwide conflict, or the possibility of one, and the Jews are being asked to take this conflict upon themselves--as the heroic frontline fighters, as the vicious instigators. The caricature of the Jews is the linch-pin of the whole conflict. It is, or would be, an apocalyptic conflict. Depending on which side of the conflict you are on, the Jews fighting the Palestinians in the West Bank are either good or bad, moral or infidel. But the very terms of the world conflict are inherently anti-Semitic. As in older forms of anti-Semitism, the Jews' "chosenness" is reified and taken for granted, and then we are asked to bless it or curse it.

Well, if God has not chosen the Jews, then someone or something has. Call it history. It's too late to deny the choice. Jews of America and the world, we must accept the fact that we have been chosen, that history and its invisible masters have placed us, again, at the center. But let us reject the choices given to us by the anti-Semites. And let us reject the world conflict that the anti-Semites are USING US to perpetrate. There need not BE a world conflict about whether or not the Jews have the right to rule in the West Bank. This conflict depends, structurally, upon the reduction of Jews either to racist colonialists or to proxies of the Christian soldiers of heavenly freedom. We, as Jews, must stand up and fight back against anti-Semitic stereotypes: we are not, as some Muslims say, the root of all evil in the Middle East; and we are not, as Christians and self-hating American Jews say, carrying the flag of civilization into the barren Middle East. We will not play the role foisted upon us by anti-Semites the world over. We will defend ourselves and try to make peace, even if a secure peace does not fit into the agenda of the world's holy warriors. The world's holy warriors, on both sides, will use us to bring about more death and destruction.

Their use of us is anti-Semitic.



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