Muffti often likes the stuff posted at DK but this is just warmed over Walt and Mearshimer. The poll results at the end were interesting, however, (at least when Muffti looked at them). The author does ask one question Muffti has wondered about for a long time – is criticism of israel, or even a downright anti-israel policy, a sufficient condition for being an anti-semite. Muffti has never been able to see the direct connection, but he does agree that criticism of israel does often come with a charge of anti-semitism and various of his intelligent friends have claimed the connection, in current climate, is completely clear. Is it that the motives and evidence betray an anti-semitic background?

Anyhow, here’s what a Kos kid has to say about criticism of Israel. Muffti likes most of all the part he bolded below.

There seems to be such a taboo in the media about anyone or any story that is critical of Israel. Witness the recent attacks on the Obama campaign via activities by his ex-pastor that was considered “Anti-Israel”. Remember the vicious treatment that Jimmy Carter got for mentioning the words “Apartheid” and Israel in his book title? Candidate after candidate has to pay lip service and claim his blind allegiance to that state… and why? why is it the “kiss of death” to be critical of Israel.

Israel is by far the largest recipient of our tax dollar funded foreign aid, shouldn’t we able to question the actions of that state? A lot of damage has been done in our name (and at our expense), yet we can’t seem to questions anything in public without being castrated as social pariahs… Why is it much easier to criticize Israel in Tel Aviv then it is in Washington DC?

Here is what I know:

– Israel has maintained one of the longest occupations in modern history controlling the fate of over 2 million palestinians
– Israel is the only nuclear country in the area with no open access to their inventory and no signatures on any non-proliferation agreements
– Israel maintains one of the largest concentration camp style prison in the world known as Gaza. And yes, that’s exactly what it is if you look at the living conditions of people there.
– Israel maintains an apartheid style system in the West Bank with separate roads and services for different groups.
– Israel continues to deny the right of return to over 2 million refugees spread all over the world for more than 50 years… can you imagine living in shanty towns and tents for over 50 years??
– Israel maintains a racial based system of government based on the failed ideology of Zionism. An ideology that at heart is based on racist nationalism granting rights to one “ethnic” (or is it religious?) group only
– While Israel claims to be living in the constant fear of terrorism, the death ratio of Palestinians vs. Israeli is roughly 13 to 1. Yet, somehow, they are the victims, and our media pushes that notion on us (and we wonder why the world hates us).
– Israel has TWICE invaded its northern neighbor, Lebanon and continues daily violations of its air space. Complaints to the UN are constantly blocked by, guess who?, the USA.
This list can go on longer, but I think I made my point.

So why, knowing all that, it is still a major faux pas for anyone to question our relation with Israel. And please don’t give me the “You’re an anti-semite” line… Being critical of Israel does not make one an anti-semite or a self hating Jew. Why is it that at a time when the US is heavily involved in a huge mess in the middle east, that our politicians, thinkers, activists, do not dare discussing the issue that is at the heart of the conflict?

I am anti-Israel and anti-Zionist and proud of it. Anyone who spends time looking at the history and facts of the region would come to the same conclusion. We should not be made to feel like a pariah in our own country for believing so.

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  • GM – Thanks for (yawn) posting about and (yawn) linking to (yawn) another Daily Kos piece (yawn).

    The only thing more tiring and redundant than Daily Kos posts are the comments. Or a Sieradski/Beery debate. 🙂

    But there is one interesting revelation from that Kos piece:


    The entertainment industry and nuclear weapons. We rock!

  • Muffti, where is your sophisticated and sensible scepticism? You actually bought into yet another bullshit straw man claim that people who are critics of Israel are automatically labeled anti-Semites?

    They aren’t. Maybe a small number of people make this claim, but the majority don’t. As you know, we’ve both been around these debates for a while so this is experience speaking.

    However, there are times when both the commentary and the manner in which information is acquired or distributed can be considered anti-Semitic, in large part because Israel is singled out or treated with different standards than other countries. When that happens over and over, one can question the motive and it may well be anti-Semitism.

    The critique of Zionism is sometimes also cloaked in a veneer of misrepresentation of intentions. The claim is that the speaker or writer is only attacking Zionists, not all Jews, but then they will begin to attack “media control” or “finance control” of those who are Zionists and at that point the game is up.

    There are many reasons to criticize Israel, and we do so here on Jewlicious frequently enough. I think we don’t slip into double standards or unfair comparisons although we tackle some difficult topics. In other words, there are ways to criticize without getting into anti-Semitic views.

    I was looking for some ideas about this issue and came across these:

    Thomas Friedman:

    “Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”

    Lawrence Summers:

    “….Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”

    Those come from a website and group whose aim seems to be to confront unfair and distorted criticism of Israel.

  • You see… when they were handing out brains in my neighborhood, they gave mine to Friedman!! All because he was on the “other” side of the tracks… not fair. I asked for them back, the greedy s.o.b..

    And they gave my sense of humor to that other… I wanted to run for Senate!! And why aren’t I making movies with Bardem?!

    In all seriousness, Friedman has been accused of taking complex situations and watering them down for mass consumption. But the reality is, he has a talent for taking complex situations and boiling them down to brass tacks. Which, I’m sure, draws the ire of so many undergrad Poli-Sci major Daily Kos contributors.

  • Here I was the whole time thinking this post was satire. 🙂 Then Middle comes along and makes it all serious. I agree with GM, the only part within that idiotic KosKid post that had any value to it was:

    “in our own country”

    That’s right. The Jews have their own country. Am Chai Yisrael!

  • This wasn’t satire. This was exactly what both the Right and the Left sound like on Israel and not just at Daily Kos. This Kos writer basically threw in half of Walt & Mearsheimer’s book into his list.

  • I know the Krazy Kos Kid’s post wasn’t satire. I was hoping GM’s was. I’m not THAT daft TM. Prey tell though, who on the right with the exception of Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, sounds like this?

    Let’s make a bet: you round up your quotes similar to his post on Israel from talking heads, pundits, public servants, entertainers, bloggers, writers, media heads, NGO leaders, and heads of state, etc, who are considered right wing, and I’ll do the same for left wingers and let’s see if your equivalence stands. Let’s set a deadline for end of next month with tax season upon us and all. Better yet, let’s do a pilot program and for the entire month of April (my birthday month!), we’ll monitor and categorize “opinions on Israel” and see if both the Right and Left have a unified stance. Last I checked, bible-thumping book burners don’t wear kaffiyahs over their Chompsky T-shirts. Deal?

  • Alex, for Buddha’s sake, just go to any neo-Nazi site, or look up any discussion that quotes Buchanan or Duke on Israel.

  • OMG! Common Middle. I know you are more intellectually honest than that. I’m talking mainstream here. AFAIK, no prominent Republicans write journal entries on neo-Nazi websites. Democrats like Spitzer wrote at Dailkos and several have frequently written articles on another mainstream left wing blog with mostly unfavorable views of Israel, that it’s even been profiled and debated here: Huffingtonpost.

    Now, I consider myself more conservative than liberal and I don’t frequent neo-Nazi sites while Muffti apparently “likes the stuff posted at” Daliy Kos. The main right wing site that I frequent is Hardly a hate site like Dailykos and Huffingtonpost. Far, far more objective. Much more rational as well, but a given as we know that liberals are mainly of the romanticist variety and conservatives of the classical, ie. the preference of logic over emotion, which we know is aplenty at places like DK and HP.

    So, like I said before, I’ll trade you Buchanan for Carter and Ron Paul for Cynthia McKinney. Without widening the goal posts again, please set your criteria for our little challenge at your will. My hypothesis will stand: the majority of conservatives (Right) are far more pro-Israel and have a favorable view of Israel/Jews than the majority of liberals (Left). We’re not debating whether the reasons for this are valid, we’re debating actual numbers here. (neo-nazis are hardly conservative by the way :)) What you say?

  • Sheesh, ease off on Muffti. He’s on spring break!

    Muffti didn’t say that anti-israel automatically led to charges of anti-semitism. Just that it happens often. He may be wrong about that, but anecdotally he does see that happen alot. Furthermore, he’s had most of his smarter friends defend that inference…and you see discussion of it all over the place. Even the link Middle gave, notice, was a careful attempt to distance oneself from the slip from anti-israel to anti-semitic. Hell, there is even a name for it the new antisemitism:

    Proponents of the concept argue that anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, third worldism, and demonization of Israel or double standards applied to its conduct may be linked to antisemitism, or constitute disguised antisemitism.[3] Critics of the concept argue that it conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism, defines legitimate criticism of Israel too narrowly and demonization too broadly, trivializes the meaning of antisemitism, and exploits antisemitism in order to silence debate.

    Muffti agrees that singling out Israel can be caused by anti-semitism. but he thinks the charge has to be laid with care. when comparing the actions of countries and nations ceteris is almost never paribus

  • Alex, I don’t care about centrist right or left, although I believe that between Carter (left) and Walt & Mearsheimer (right), the center is now open to these anti-Israel ideas. My point was that the farther-to-the-left are no different than the farther-to-the-right. The arguments made by the Kos writer( left), especially the fifth column hint in the “our own country” part of his post are precisely what I’d expect to hear from somebody on the right.

    Is the right more aligned with Israel today than the left? Probably so.

    What happens often are the attacks on Israel, not the attacks on the attackers. The supposed victims are actually the ones attacking and in order to shield themselves, they wear the bullet-proof “now I may be called an anti-Semite for saying what I’m saying, but I’m not at all and those who would call me that are manipulative bastards aligned with the evil Zionists” vest.

    In other words, it’s a straw man. There is plenty of valid and less valid criticism in the US, even if it is not as ugly, pervasive or hateful as what is found in Europe.

    Yes, one needs to be careful when leveling a charge of anti-Semitism against anybody for any reason, and certainly for criticism of Israel. However, what people are trying to do, much like the one who got your juices flowing to the point that you posted about him and quoted him at length, is to have their cake and eat it too. They want to single out Israel for criticism, and they want to pretend to be the victims of some nefarious conspiracy, and they want to ensure that they pre-emptively attack anybody who may challenge their emphasis on Israel.

    If you re-read his post, it encompasses some sort of conspiracy against critics of Israel and one that silences the truth about Israel. In the meantime, I see Carter and Walt & Mearsheimer giving talks all over the place about precisely this issue.

    Read this for more on this topic.

  • TM, I’m glad you agree that the right is more aligned with Israel than the left, and I would add, emphatically so.

    To this day, I’ve never heard that Walt and Mearsheimer are right wingers. First of all, they’re in academia, so it’s already about 75% chance that they are lefties. I am willing to entertain this idea, but can you please provide me with a link or something that talks about their political leanings, as I see info all over the net to suggest otherwise.

    In the end, there are very few rational arguments for Americans to be anti-Israel, so in most cases, anti-Israeli people aren’t rational in their disdain, which usually leads me and other Jews to believe, “If it has no good truthful reason, walks like a duck, and squawks like a duck, then…..”

  • OMG, every single statement that KosKid made is false. Where does he get his “facts”? Al-Jazeera?