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Who is semite { April 30 2002 }

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    >, April 30, 2002

who is a Semite? (fwd)

Anti-Semitism, Real and Imagined
> By Tim Wise,
>, April 30, 2002
> [Tim Wise is an anti-racist essayist, lecturer and activist. He
> can be reached at]
> Watching former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak
> to Congress a few weeks ago, I must admit, I was almost sucked
> in. No, not by his distorted version of reality in the Occupied
> Territories, nor by his opportunistic and transparently
> disingenuous comparisons between Yasir Arafat and Osama bin
> Laden.
> Nor by his insistence that there is no political solution to
> terrorism, but only a military one: a claim, the absurdity of
> which is evidenced by the fact that after decades of trying to
> bring peace by way of tanks and guns, most Israelis feel less
> secure than ever. (It is also disproved by the fact that such
> military actions have themselves amounted to terrorism, but
> that's another story for another column).
> However, after only a few minutes of his sales pitch -- a plea
> for the U.S. to give the green light to whatever slaughter is
> deemed necessary by Israel in the West Bank -- I did find myself
> overcome by an emotion that was both unhealthy and deeply
> disturbing.
> And that feeling was a profound shame and revulsion at the fact
> that this man and I share a faith tradition; a common religious
> heritage; a kinship of sorts. And as he spoke -- not only for
> Israel, but to hear most American Jewish leaders tell it, for
> Jews everywhere -- I felt the pangs of collective guilt rising up
> in me in a way I had never felt before.
> And that of course was tragic. Who, after all, was this
> meshugganah to speak for me? Who appointed him, or for that
> matter any Israeli leader, the "spokesperson of the Jews?"
> Who deemed Zionism to be synonymous with Judaism, and decided
> that to be Jewish means to support the evisceration of
> Palestinian rights, the slaughter of innocent children under the
> rubric of stamping out terrorism, or the IDF's firing on
> ambulances to ensure that those wounded by their actions will die
> slowly, rather than receive the emergency assistance to which
> they are entitled under international law and all notions of
> basic human decency? Who was Netanyahu to make me feel guilty as
> a Jew?
> The answer, unfortunately, to all of these questions, is that an
> ironic combination of overt Jew-haters and pro-Israeli Jews are
> the ones who have inculcated the above-mentioned beliefs in so
> many. Neo-Nazis, for example, insist that all Jews are Zionists
> and support the actions of Israel: a claim that allows them to
> weave their hateful narratives of Judeo-inspired evil,
> undisturbed by critical thought.
> But on the other hand, the blurring of the lines between Judaism
> (a religious and cultural tradition stretching back over five-
> and-a-half-millennia) and Zionism (a political and ideological
> movement less than a century-and-a-quarter old) has also been
> perpetrated by much of the organized Jewish community itself.
> It is this community that has sought to silence Jewish criticism
> of Israel and the Zionist enterprise with cries of "anti-
> Semitism" or "self-hate." It was the head of the New Orleans
> Jewish Federation who, in the early 1990's, suggested I be
> removed from my position in the main anti-David Duke organization
> because I had written a column criticizing Israel for its support
> of South Africa's apartheid governments.
> To the person in question, a criticism of Israel made me little
> better than Duke himself: a man who has said Jews should "go into
> the ashbin of history," held birthday parties for Hitler in his
> home, and called the Holocaust "bullshit."
> To Zionists and Nazis alike, it is one for all and all for one so
> far as the Jewish community is concerned. To attempt to decouple
> the concepts of Zionism and Judaism, or anti-Zionism and anti-
> Semitism, are seen as lost or ignoble causes by both groups. As
> one writer in Commentary recently explained: "To defame Israel is
> to defame the Jews."
> But it is indeed necessary to decouple these concepts: to
> demonstrate that one can oppose Zionism without prejudice towards
> Jews as Jews, and also to show that one's support for Israel
> doesn't necessarily insulate oneself from the charge of anti-
> Semitism.
> Indeed, such support often goes hand in hand with a deep
> antipathy for Jewish people. Consider the words of Billy Graham,
> who has been exposed in a taped conversation with Richard Nixon
> exclaiming his love for Israel while simultaneously ranting about
> the "Jewish-controlled media" and their pernicious behind-the-
> scenes political machinations.
> Indeed, most fundamentalist Christians profess their love for
> Israel, all the while propagating the belief that Jews are
> destined for a lake of fire unless they accept Jesus as their
> personal savior: in other words, unless they cease to be Jews.
> Their Zionism is opportunistic at best: based solely on the hope
> that once the Jews return to Israel, the Messiah will soon
> follow, damning the Jews to hell in the process. Their goal of
> conversion is itself intrinsically hostile to Judaism,
> irrespective of their "love" for the Holy Land: after all, to
> convert the Jews to Christianity would be to complete an act of
> spiritual genocide; to end Judaism altogether.
> The fact that these fine folks might plant trees in Israel or say
> prayers for her survival hardly compensates for their desire to
> eradicate Judaism just as surely as Hitler sought to do so. And
> yet, few in the organized Jewish community have condemned Billy
> Graham, nor do they speak much at all of the anti-Semitism so
> embedded in evangelical Christianity, as mentioned above. Perhaps
> they're too busy trying to garner acceptance from the majority,
> or being grateful for their support of Israel to notice.
> At the just completed conference of the American Israel Public
> Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the same persons who criticize anti-
> Zionism as anti-Semitism gave a rousing ovation to right-wing
> Congressman, Tom Delay. And why?
> Because he said that Israel was entitled to the West Bank, which
> he called by the Biblical names of Judea and Samaria. That he
> also said earlier this month that Christianity is the "only
> viable, reasonable, definitive answer" to life's key questions --
> a statement dripping with contempt for the very Jews about which
> he claims to care so much -- apparently matters less to some than
> his messianic support for "Eretz Yisrael."
> Of course, this all has a certain logic to it. After all, the
> early Zionists cared only about acquiring land, and had no
> problem with anti-Semitism, per se--and in the case of Theodore
> Herzl and Chaim Weizmann actually claimed to understand and even
> sympathize with it. As I have noted previously, it was Herzl (the
> father of Zionism) who issued the ultimate in self-hating, anti-
> Semitic pabulum when he noted that anti-Semitism was "an
> understandable reaction to Jewish defects."
> The continued blurring of the lines between Zionism and Judaism
> is of course actually dangerous for the Jewish community. So long
> as Zionists insist on the inherent linkage between the two, it
> will only become more and more likely that some critics of Israel
> will also blur the lines, transforming a righteous condemnation
> of colonialism, racism, and imperialism, into a condemnation that
> includes anti-Jewish bigotry as well.
> In recent weeks there have been desecrations of synagogues and
> Jewish cemeteries, apparently carried out in protest of Israel's
> latest incursions and depredations, and these have occurred in
> places as far flung as Tunisia, France, and Berkeley, California.
> Anti-Semitic propaganda, like the Czarist hoax, The Protocols of
> the Elders of Zion -- which professes to "prove" a Jewish plot
> for world domination --is popping up throughout the Arab world,
> with snippets of its poison even finding space on otherwise left-
> progressive websites like Indymedia.
> In the understandable rush to condemn Israeli actions, at least
> one pro-Palestinian listserv operated by ostensible
> left/progressive radicals, has distributed one of David Duke's
> commentaries on the conflict: a column filled with anti-Jewish
> invective, which of course undermines the credibility of the
> sender and the righteousness of their insights on the struggle
> for Palestine.
> To be sure, we who criticize Israel must unequivocally condemn
> all such anti-Jewish actions: not only because they are hateful
> on their own terms, but because they help perpetuate the lie told
> by the government of Israel and its supporters: that they are the
> Jews and the Jews are they.
> And this is an idea that both weakens the struggle against the
> Occupation --by making all criticisms of it suspected of anti-
> Jewish bias -- and puts the Jewish community at greater risk, as
> they (we) become increasingly seen as Israel Firsters, instead of
> people committed to principles of peace, justice, and fairness:
> those concepts that I learned in Hebrew School were paramount to
> my people.
> What's more, tolerating anti-Semitism within the movement for
> justice in the Middle East is especially risky for the very
> Palestinian people we seek to defend. The more that anti-Jewish
> rhetoric and imagery animates the struggle against Israeli
> occupation and brutality, the more that Ariel Sharon can
> transform his maniacal drive for power and land into a fight for
> survival of the Jewish people.
> And the more successful he is in casting the debate in these
> terms, the more Israeli Jews and their U.S. supporters will
> accede to ever-intensified levels of violence, ever more death
> and destruction wrought upon the victims of Israeli colonialism.
> Let it be made clear that Zionism's problem is not that it is
> Jewish nationalism, per se, but rather a form of ethnic supremacy
> in thought and action. And more than that: a form of European
> supremacy to boot.
> After all, there were Jews who had remained in and around
> Palestine continuously for millennia, without substantial
> conflict with their Arab and Muslim neighbors. Likewise, many
> Jews lived under Muslim rule in the Ottoman Empire, where they
> received a generally warm reception--far better indeed than the
> treatment received from Christian Europe, which expelled them
> from one place after another.
> These Jews, unlike the European Jews who sought to displace said
> Arabs from their land, lived there peacefully and sought no grand
> designs for "Greater Israel." They did not create Zionism, nor
> lead the charge for the development of a Jewish state. For that,
> it took a decidedly Western, European and frankly white Jewish
> community.
> The Jews who were most indigenous to the land of Israel, or those
> of Africa, or the rest of Asia Minor -- in short those who were
> most directly Semitic peoples -- were never the problem. Nor
> indeed was their faith. A decidedly colonial mentality, itself an
> outgrowth of European thought and culture from the late 1800's
> forward, was the fuel for the Zionist fire. Zionism's problem is
> that it is a form of white supremacy and Western domination.
> And like all derivations of white supremacy, it neglects one of
> the most obvious ironies of all: namely, the close genetic
> relationship between the dominant and the dominated; the reality
> that the oppressor is oppressing family.
> As recent research has demonstrated, there is no significant
> biological difference between Palestinians and Jews in the Middle
> East. Any Jew with Semitic roots is, in effect, Arab--for
> whatever that's worth. All of which is to say that Zionism and
> its effects, by virtue of its immiseration of the Palestinians,
> is perhaps the most profound and institutionalized form of anti-
> Semitism on the planet today.

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