Rants and Raves

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Anti-Semitism Part 1

In the early 1930s in Germany, a Nazi brownshirt stops an elderly Jewish man and demands that he answer a question, "Who is responsible for all of Germany's problems today?"

"The Jews and the bicycle riders" the old man answers.

"Why the bicycle riders?"

"Why the Jews?"

Last night I watched most of the PBS documentary "Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence."

Verdict: Thumbs up - with some caveats.

Andrew Goldberg did a great job of this and Judy Woodruff was an excellent presenter. It was well organized, thoughtful and balanced. When they talked about European and Islamic anti-Semitism they backed it up with videoquotes, facts and figures. More importantly, they sampled a wide range of opinions, not just the most extreme. And they didn't shy away from what Israel has done that Arabs have a legitimate right to resent.

Nonetheless, the conclusion that Islamic hatred of Jews is way out of proportion to their grievances is well-supported. They examine the role of state propaganda in fostering this hatred and the motives of Middle Eastern elites in using Israel and Jews in general as scapegoats for their failed states.

Given that there was a lot of Jewish financial support for this project, which they put right up front in the credits, Goldberg must have known that he was going to have to do a really good job supporting his conclusion, since it was likely to be attacked as Zionist propaganda. (We'll see, perhaps it'll simply be militantly ignored.) However in attempting to be fair and balanced he did something questionable at the beginning.

The documentary attributed Islamic anti-Semitism to something they learned from Christian Europe. After reviewing the Islamic-Nazi alliance during WWII (something a European friend of mine dismissed as "that old chestnut" as if it were trivial) they seemed to attribute modern Islamic hatred of Jews as somehow starting at this period.

This is historically unsupportable. Muslim anti-Semitism has existed for a long time, is supported by the Koran, and existed long before the establishment of the state of Israel.

European anti-Semitism at times may have been more extreme and violent during the Middle Ages, though the image presented herein of the golden age of tolerance for Jews and Christians in the Muslim lands during the Middle Ages has recently been questioned by some historians.

Judy Woodruff commented on her participation in the project, “We live in a time of growing intolerance, especially religious intolerance, and it is unsettling to see anti-Semitism on the rise once again. As a journalist, I am proud to be associated with this documentary, which sheds light on a particularly troubling form of hateful behavior.”

With respect to Ms Woodruff, this is misleading at best. We do not live in a time of growing religious intolerance, we live in a time of rising Jew-hatred.

Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and cultists of all kind flourish in Europe and America, where a Mormon politician is regarded as having a pretty good shot at the presidency. Muslims live unmolested in the lands of the West, maintaining their own communities, places of worship, modes of dress - and increasingly making demands for their own laws. No one is defacing their cemetaries or spraypainting swastikas on their properties. And none go in constant fear of assault.

I will deal with the origins of anti-Semitism and the question of Israel in later parts, but for now I'd like to throw out some observations and questions to consider:

*Does anybody doubt that anti-Semitism is getting worse, both in the West and the Muslim lands?

The documentary cited figures on vandalism and assaults. Personally, I remember when the accusation of anti-Semitism was a career wrecker in academia, just as "racism" is now. Nowadays it's a respectable position once again, as long as you make it out to be "anti-Zionism".

*And speaking of which, does anybody see a difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism anymore?

I remember a generation back, when my Arab friends on campus tended to be religiously relaxed and made it plain that they didn't hate Jews but just weren't crazy about Zionists. (A Saudi friend thought it was scandalous that some Christians still believed that the Jews killed Christ - and could quote the Pope on the subject.) Many expressed profound sympathy for the sufferings of the Holocaust and didn't deny the right of Jews to settle in Palestine as members of a Palestinian state.

You don't hear that now. The Holocaust is either actively denied (or "exaggerated" a Jordanian colleague told me) or actively excused, and sometimes denied while promising a real one in the near future.

*Does it seem as plain as the proverbial nose on the face that the Left is in the process of selling out the Jews?

Jewish intellectuals have long been the brain trust of the Left, from moderate Democrats to the hard Left. Now the Democratic Party leadership has taken in minority leaders with strong anti-Semitic feelings and they are finding that in a democracy, votes delivered outweigh brains and money. And... within the past few decades, the number of American voters of Middle Eastern origin has approached parity with the number of Jewish voters.

On the Hard Left, they have discovered the plight of the Palestinians and the nobility of the Jihadist hatred of Western civilization.

*Does anyone doubt that the first war Israel loses will be the last one it ever fights? Because they'll be dead. All of them.

*The Iranians have stated publicly what many of us have considered privately. That in an age of nuclear weapons, a geographically small country is at an inherent disadvantage compared with larger countries, i.e. it takes fewer nukes to blow it all up.

So... when contemplating the nuking of Israel, have the freakin' Palestinians noticed that they and the Israelis are living in each others laps? Are they so consumed with hatred that they haven't noticed that when it's bye-bye Israel they get it from the blast and fallout too? Have we heard a single expression of concern from the Palestinians about Iran's nuclear program and openly stated intention of using nukes when they get them - on THEM?

And in the rest of the Islamic world, does concern for the plight of the Palestinians go out the window when they see a chance to turn the Jews into radioactive ash?


  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger Cindi said…

    No, not really. There *is* no real concern for the plight of the Palestinians by the Muslims or the Arabs or there would be no Plight and there would be no Palestinians; they'd be Jordanians or Egyptians, or etc.

    The Palestinians are merely a stick with which to beat Israel.

  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger Cindi said…

    When they're done with the stick, they'll permit it to burn with the Israeli conflagration.

  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger Mark said…

    Hey, first-time commenter.

    Misapprehensions about the nature of new technologies do tend to spring up in the wake of their invention, but I have no idea precisely how much of a novelty a thermonuclear device is in the Middle East. That could explain being so casual about the risk Palestine is under....

    Alternatively, didn't you, in an earlier post, mention something about a different concept of the truth? Could that, perhaps, be a part of it?

  • At 12:30 PM, Blogger Galt-In-Da-Box said…

    It's hard to imagine America remaining neutral in all of this.
    It's also amazing how many of the so-called "Zionists" are actually atheist, and therefore, not legitimate targets of Islamo-fanaticism's religious-hate-driven war on them. Can those who are no relation genetically to the Hebrews of Scripture accurately be deemed "semitic" anyway?
    This complex issue has many relevant, though unconsidered - perhaps one could go so far as to say ignored - facets. I hope you bring them to light in future posts.

    BTW: Thanks for the excellent Atlasphere article!

  • At 4:09 AM, Blogger Canker said…

    I'm not quite sure what you, or Ms Woodruff mean by `religious intolerance', but if you or she means the `intolerance of religion' then you are wrong to limit it to Jew-hatred (widespread and disgusting though that is). In the UK, at least, there is a rabid atheist anti-religious agenda. It is totally ignorant of history and ascribes most/all the bad things in history to religion. Try out Butterflies and Wheels if you want to see some of the better-written idology of the movement. Listen to Richard Dawkins in rant-mode if you want to hear their patron saint.

  • At 7:43 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Good point. I have heard the pseudo-history of flakey neo-pagans about how Christianity spread "by fire and sword" throughout Europe, displacing the original "life-affirming nature worship" of the European peoples.

    Utter BS. Christianity offered a much more upbeat vision of the destination of the soul than the grim pre-Christian vision, a simpler taboo system, and spread remarkably quickly.

    Ireland became Christian without a simgle martyrdom (though they've made up for it ever since), Iceland by a court case whereby the Christians agreed to abide by the decision of a pagan arbiter. And even in Norway, where the first Christian king was killed by the nobles, the men who killed him eventually converted and petitioned to have him recognized as a saint.


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