Antisemitism Among Progressives, Liberals
and The Antiwar Movement.
Rob Kall OpEdNews.com
May, 16, 2003
op-ed piece was inspired by an article a reader pointed out to me
from a small paper, the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.
article talks about a few women past 50, who attended an anti war
rally, only to be vilified by anti Zionist pro-Palestinian
demonstrators who went a bit too far, in my opinion, treating
these Jewish women as though they were Zionists, even though they
really agreed on most issues. Part of the problem is in
definitions of Zionism. These women see it as support for a Jewish
homeland. They feel that they can support Israel, yet oppose
Sharon's brutal tactics.
a brief, representative remark by one of them: "I
support the position that Israel should get out of the occupied
territories immediately; I oppose Sharon 's policy of seeking
revenge after every suicide bombing against Israelis. "But
the suicide bombers are terrorists. Israel does have a right to
exist. I support moderates on both sides of the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict who seek a peaceful solution."
that's not the way most of the world sees it. To most of the
world, a Zionist is a person who supports settlements in the west
bank, Sharon's brutality and continuing mistreatment of the
see a scary situation developing. People at peace demonstrations,
on listserves, on email forwardings are saying nasty things about
Jews. I'm Jewish. I don't support the settlements in the West
Bank. It hurts me every time I read about another suicide bombing,
another killing of innocent Palestinians.... And yet, I
read, from kindred progressive spirits, messages of hate.
say they're talking about Zionists, but too often, they are
talking about all Jews. I need to make this clear. If a person
attacks the treatment of Palestinians by the IDF (Israeli Defense
Forces) I will probably agree with him or her. If a person attacks
fundamentalist Jews who insist on building new settlements in the
west bank, I agree this is wrong.
a person says Jews are behind the neocon movement, this is
anti-Semitism, even if there are Jews amongst the neocons. If a
star of David-- a symbol of Judaism for thousands of years--
has a swastika superimposed on it, this is anti-Semitism. If the
Poet laureate of New Jersey suggests that 4000 Jews left the WTC
buildings because they were warned by Israel, this is
don't be too quick to tell me that I am guilty of labeling anyone
who criticizes Israel an anti-Semite, as some on the moveon
discussion boards have been quick to do. I DO understand the
nuances. I will agree that Jews have to be careful not to over-react
and use the Anti-semitism label to deflect accusations about Israeli
abuses of the Palestinians. But supporters of the Palestinian cause
must also be cautious not to paint with too broad a brush, attacking
Jews when they mean to attack those Israelis and their supporters
who back the abuse of Palestinian civilians.
you are a progressive in the US, this rise in anti-Semitism should
scare you too, because the Jews have been among the most reliable
supporters of liberal, progressive causes and the Democratic
party. This new outpouring of anti-Semitism is partly due to
people's understandable compassion for the Palestinian cause. But
when that kind sentiment is translated into venomous hate talk
aimed a US Jews, this is a dangerous situation. It's dangerous for
such hate to be growing and it could be deadly to any hopes of
electing a Democrat in the 2004 presidential election-- or
democrats in general-- because the Jewish voting bloc, long pro
democrat, if alienated, so it votes Republican, could doom
the democratic hopes for years.
theory is that much of this hate comes from two sources--
who are not so much anti-war as anti- war which involves Arabs or
Palestinians. These people would have been happy to see Iraq attack
neo-nazis, etc. who are not really anti war and more anti-anyone
different than them. They're just riding the coattails of the
movement to spread their poison.
course, there are people who are antiwar who oppose the way the
Israelis treat the Palestinians (who hopefully also oppose the
suicide attacks on civilians in Israel..) But if they're really
anti-war and for the fair treatment of the Palestinians, then they
will not be anti-Semitic. They might be opposed to the
fundamentalists on both sides of the situation who tend to aggravate
fear that the combination of the anti-Semitism in the peace movement
and the Hawkish support for Israel that the Bush Administration has
demonstrated will cost the Democratic party a serious loss in Jewish
support come election time. This is an issue that Democratic and
anti war movement leaders need to work through. Failure to do so
could have a drastic effect on future efforts to reverse the
rightward trend of American politics. The solution is clear on both
sides. Jews must be careful not to use the term anti-semitism to
fend off criticism of Sharon-type Israeli aggressions. And
supporters of the Palestinian people must be careful not to confuse
all Jews with right wing, fundamentalist and violence supporting
Israelis and their allies. Not all Arabs are Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda
supporters. Not all Jews are supporters of the Sharon tactics. More
subtle lines must be drawn. Just taking this step will help bring
the Middle East closer to peace.
is publisher of progressive news and opinion website www.opednews.com
and organizer of cutting edge meetings that bring together world
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Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story This
article is copyright by Rob Kall, but permission is granted for reprint
in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.
writings of Rob Kall
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