Israeli media has blared headlines over the past three days charging UK MP Jack Straw with making anti-Semitic statements during a Global Diplomatic Forum held in the Houses of Parliament. The charge was made by former Labor Party MK, Einat Wilf, who participated on the panel with him, and wrote on her Facebook page:
Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said “unlimited” funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US are used to control and divert American policy in the region and that Germany’s “obsession” with defending Israel were the problem. I guess he neglected to mention Jewish control of the media…
…“It was appalling to listen to Britain’s former foreign secretary…His remarks reflect prejudice of the worst kind.
Though Wilf never produced (nor apparently did any reporters ask for) any documentation to substantiate her charge, and though she never produced any exact quotation of anything Straw said, headlines in Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel and elsewhere trumpeted charges that Straw had blamed a shadowy conspiracy of “Jewish money” for causing all manner of evil in the world, specifically in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, Straw waited two days to issue his own statement, in which he categorically rejected the charges against him, saying he’d never uttered or written any anti-Semitic statements, and that in fact he was a strong supporter of Israel:
I spoke of the problems which faced President Obama from AIPAC and the “Israeli lobby” more generally. I pointed out that Prime Minister Netanyahu was a player in domestic US politics on the Republican side, and that under US political funding rules (or their absence) huge sums were spent by AIPAC [sic] in support of some elected politicians (or candidates), and against others. This is in sharp contrast to the rules in the UK, where spending is tightly controlled, and, for example, no political advertising is allowed at all on television and radio.
A second set of headlines in most of the above publications blared the equivalent of: “Straw Refuses to Deny ‘Jewish Money’ Charges.” The Times of Israel’s sub-headline read:
“Veteran politician doesn’t deny account of his comments in debate last week.”
It reminds me of a newspaper reporter who witnesses a press conference in which a murder suspect says: “I didn’t kill my wife.” The reporter returns to the newsroom and writes up the paper’s lead story with the headline: “Husband doesn’t deny stabbing wife.”
One of the reasons Straw didn’t explicitly deny the statements imputed to him by Wilf is that she didn’t quote anything he said except the word “unlimited” as in “unlimited Jewish money.” A subsequent story in the Jerusalem Post even questions whether he used that specific term:
Straw did not say that AIPAC has “unlimited” funding or that Germany had an “obsession” with Israel – as Wilf had claimed – and he did not directly link AIPAC to obstruction of Middle East peace.
So why should someone deny a specific statement or word attributed to him if it doesn’t quote him? What are you supposed to deny: I didn’t make the statement that wasn’t even a quotation of anything I purportedly said?”
The problem with the Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post both saying that Straw didn’t refute Wilf’s charges is that they’re claiming he didn’t specifically deny the claim he had talked about “Jewish money.” But that’s penalizing Straw for not making the statement they, the reporters, wanted him to make. It’s not a reporter’s job to write stories attacking someone for not saying something. It’s their job to report what they DO say. And Straw denied saying anything anti-Semitic, which by inference was a denial of Wilf’s charges.
Unlike all the Israeli reporters covering this story, I actually tried to contact Wilf via Facebook, Twitter, and her website. Since the latter features a link to her old Knesset e-mail address, I sent an email instead to her “advisor,” Noah Slepkov. I asked him to forward my query to her for response. I asked her if she had a video, audiotape, or contemporaneous notes documenting any statements she attributed to Straw.
Slepkov replied with a statement that is so troubling and revealing, I’m going to quote it in full:
As you may have seen from Straw’s subsequent comments as reported in some media including the Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post…he doesn’t dispute what Einat said he said, rather he denies that it was anti-Semitic. He clarified his comments in a statement he issued this week that “the problems which faced President [Barack] Obama from AIPAC and the ‘Israeli lobby’ more generally” had “pointed out that Prime Minister Netanyahu was a player in domestic US politics, on the Republican side, and that under US political funding rules (or their absence) huge sums were spent by AIPAC in support of some elected politicians (or candidates), and against others”.
What that statement is clearly implying [ed. my italics], and perhaps it was less subtle in his actual comments, that Jewish money is controlling American politics to negatively influence American foreign policy in favour of Israel. In other words, there is an international Jewish conspiracy that is preventing Middle East peace. At the heart of this debate is whether such claims are anti-Semitic. I would argue that taking classic anti-Semitic rhetoric, such as “Jewish money controls the world”, and using it in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as Straw did so unapologetically, is still anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Do you agree?
It is important to add, that on a factual basis, Mr. Straw’s comments quoted above are objectively false. As you may recall, Mitt Romey and Newt Gingrich, who both received stupid amounts of campaign funding from Sheldon Adelson, a strong supporter and ally of Netanyahu, lost their elections. Lee Rosenberg, one of Obama’s staunchest Jewish allies in the 2008 campaign, later became president of AIPAC. AIPAC does a good job of making sure they are politically neutral. As much money was spent by Jews electing Obama and other democrats as was spent on republican campaigns, but that is less relevant, although Mr. Straw might not be aware of the overwhelming support democrats, including Obama, receives from Jews (69% of Jews voted for Obama in 2012).
Of course, AIPAC does lobby for Israel’s interests. But if Mr. Straw’s belief that the lobbying for Israel is taking pressure off of Israel to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, isn’t it logical to assume that Jewish money is causing pressure on the Palestinians to resolve the conflict with Israel? That is to say, the absence of Jewish funding to the Palestinian cause has not enabled American pressure on the Palestinians to resolve the conflict. Was it the Israel lobby that forced Arafat to reject Barak and Clintons peace offer in 2000? Was it the Israel lobby that forced the Arab states to reject the partition plan in 1947?
If the Israel lobby in the US ceased to exist, perhaps American politicians and the general public would be less informed about Israel, but it wouldn’t change the intractable nature of the Arab/Israeli conflict.
So much bizarre logic and unexamined assumptions here, where does one even begin?
I wrote back to Slepkov noting that he stated that Straw “implied” that “Jewish money” undermined the Israel-Palestine peace process. But I pointed out that Slepkov’s use of the term “implying” was itself an interpretation of what Straw said, not what he actually said. I asked once again if the could produce any original evidence of what he actually said.
Slepkov’s reply was a stunner:
In case my email below wasn’t clear, there is no dispute with what Mr. Straw said. I accept Mr. Straws version of what he said. I simply explained why such statements are anti-Semitic.
Do you think it is anti-Semitic to say that there is an international jewish conspiracy to control the world?
Here is the crux of the matter. Is it anti-Semitic to state what seems obvious: that tons of cash (hundreds of millions of dollars) donated by American Jews at the behest of the Israel Lobby have a toxic effect on the peace process?
Those donors give that money to protect Israel’s interests before Congress and the executive branch. The Lobby’s definition of “Israel’s interests” includes limiting any pressure on Israel to make any compromises or concessions to the Palestinians. This power and these funds ensured the U.S. would veto a Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements, and veto a resolution calling for UN recognition of a Palestinian state. Saying that this phenomenon is harmful is almost stating the obvious, rather that what Slepkov-Wilf say it is.
Neither Straw nor I believe that this is a conspiracy out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. We simply believe that well-intentioned (I know some of my readers will argue with me here, but for the sake of argument, hear me out) American Jews are harming, rather than helping Israel. We believe that these bags of cash exert a stranglehold on Mideast policy and prevent a reasonable compromise. That is not “anti-Semitic.” It is an accurate depiction of reality.
In fact, Slepkov-Wilf’s inability to accurately quote Straw, and their immediate translation of his actual statements into traditional anti-Semitic rhetoric show that it is they who have no concept of reality. They are living in a world in which danger lurks around every street corner, and anti-Semites eager to destroy Israel work their nefarious plots. It may be that they sincerely believe this or that they maintain such views out of cynical pro-Israel political calculation. It matters little what their real motivation is. The cold hard facts of the matter are that Einat Wilf made a false allegation against Jack Straw and most of the Israeli and American Jewish press bought it.
Only after Asa Winstanley began preparing his piece for Electronic Intifada and approached Straw did any media outlet obtain his perspective. Further, none of these outlets pressured Wilf to support her charges with verbatim documented accounts of the speaker’s remarks. This is some of the sloppiest journalism I’ve seen in a long time. It’s journalism, whether intentional or not, in service to an ideological cause.
I asked Haaretz editor Aluf Benn why he’d run a JTA story accusing Straw of anti-Semitism under the headline, ‘Ex-U.K. FM: Jewish money biggest obstacle to Mideast peace,’ (and note the quotation marks around a phrase that isn’t a quotation), without determining whether the story was provable. He responded that Haaretz doesn’t vet third-party stories it publishes. That explanation didn’t satisfy me. You participate, whether wittingly or unwittingly, in a campaign to destroy a politician’s reputation and your excuse is it isn’t your policy to check whether such stories are supportable? My hope is that neither Haaretz nor other media outlets will ever trust anything Einat Wilf says again, unless she can support it with facts. Her word is no longer sufficient and should not be trusted.
The fact that Wilf, when she served in Knesset, was in the Labor Party caucus, further illustrates that it is not a real left party, but rather a part of the rejectionist Israeli political consensus opposed to compromise with the Palestinians. Another ‘sterling’ piece of legislation she endorsed wholeheartedly when she served in Knesset, was a bill that would declare Israel the national state of the Jewish people. Haaretz called it (Hebrew) a means to erase the nation’s Declaration of Independence, which calls Israel a Jewish and democratic state. The newspaper further said that the bill would be a means to enshrine the supremacy of the Jewish majority and the subordinate status of the non-Jewish minority in violation of democratic values.
Thanks to her alliance with Ehud Barak and her move into his Atzmaut faction, which was obliterated in the past elections, she was tossed out of the Knesset. But she continues to do her damage. She is invited to speak at prestigious forums like the J Street national conference and the Global Diplomatic Forum. She is seen by some as a voice of the moderate pragmatic center. A view that should be blown to smithereens by now.
In case it hasn’t, keep in mind that Wilf (along with another figure long known falsely as a voice of humanity and conscience, Elie Wiesel) is a member of the NGO Monitor board of directors. Indeed, her performance in this encounter with Straw is quite reminiscent of the gutter fighting that characterizes Gerald Steinberg’s tactics. These are tactics that have no place in reasoned discourse, nor should they be featured in any mainstream media forum. They belong in FrontpageMagazine or Middle East Forum, rather than JTA, the Jerusalem Post or Haaretz. By opening the gate to such swill, the editors have allowed the ultra-nationalist Israeli right to further coopt political discourse.
A note about Noah Slepkov, Wilf’s political advisor. He’s an “adjunct fellow” at the Jewish People Policy Institute, which has also included Dennis Ross among its ‘distinguished’ members. Current fellows include the Jerusalem Post’s rightist columnist, Shmuel Rosner and Prof. Yehezkel Dror, who I’ve profiled here as a devout war hawk who argues on behalf of an Israeli attack on Iran. If Slepkov’s argument is characteristic of the quality of JPPI analysis in general, it’s a piss-poor lot.
I have more respect for Michael Scheuer than former FM Jack Straw. Too often, when in power, politicians don’t speak out or hide behind the “establishment” only to come forward with criticism afterwards. Very cowardly.
Former Labor “colleague” Ms Einat Wilf must have been too absorbed with Jack Straw, she missed the heated exchange before the US House Foreign Affairs commission between Rep. King and former CIA operative William Scheuer. The Times of Israel covered the story – ‘I’d Dump the Israelis Tomorrow’: Ex-CIA Analyst Michael Scheuer. See YouTube video link in article. Mr. Scheuer doesn’t mince his words.
On the I-P peace talks, Secretary Kerry met PM Netanyahu in Rome for a 7 hour discussion followed last Monday by a phone call between Obama and Netanyahu. Europe is still applying pressure on Israel for goods not originating in Israel but fron Occupied Palestinian territory. Tough times for extremist elements.
Oh those notorious and well-known antisemites, Jack Straw and Jimmy Carter (to say nothing of Walt and Mearsheimer). And how do we “know” that they are antisemites? Because those well-exercised in making the accusation of antisemitism have told us so. Thanks, guys and gals! So nice to be informed.
“And Straw denied saying anything anti-Semitic, which by inference was a denial of Wilf’s charges.”
Not exactly. He probably said some of what Wilf said he said. But was what he said antisemitic? Was what Wilf said he said antisemitic. In my view, no to the second, and I don’t know what he said so I cannot answer the first.
We know that there are a very, very few, very, very rich Jewish Americans who (via campaign contributions and in other ways) seek to control BOTH PARTIES (as to Israel) and who appear to most people to be successful in doing so. (Are they successful? Well, the lock-step pro-Israel policies of most American pols certainly makes it look that way. Are we to believe our eyes? And are we to believe AIPAC’s claims of success?)
Straw quite reasonably does not think it is antisemitic to point to the obvious, the apparent control of the USA by AIPAC and its friends. And reasonable to say that they use MONEY to do it. And he seems to have said so. Nothing antisemitic about that, he appears to think. And so do I.
But the accusers get so much mileage out of making accusations of this sort that they just keep making them. Wow! Biff! Bang! Antisemitism under every rug! What fun! let’s accuse everybody who says anything about any Jews, even if only a very, very small number of Jews, of antisemitism!
And while were at it, let’s explain why so many educated Israeli Jews are moving from Israel to Germany. Are they, too, antisemites?
Alan Abbey says
A few notes:
1) AIPAC is not a Political Action Committee that makes direct financial contributions.
2) Do you have data to back up your claim of “hundreds of millions of dollars” donated by American Jews at the behest of the Israel lobby?
3) Shmuel Rosner is not a writer for the Jerusalem Post, but rather the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and he was recently named as a contributor to the Editorial Pages of the newly renamed International New York Times, formerly the International Herald Tribune.
I would say that Mr. Silverstein doesn’t improve or raise the tenor of debate by making personal, ad hominem attacks and suggests guilt by association, even as he bemoans the fact that others (in his opinion) do so.
Personal disclosure: Noah Slepkov is a friend of mine, but he did not ask me to make this post, and I did not show it to him before making the post.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Alan Abbey: 1) I didn’t say Aipac donated money to candidates, Straw did. If you’d looked more carefully you’d see that I added a [sic] to that to show it was not a correct statement. But for you to infer that Aipac or those in direct contact with it & directly influenced by it don’t direct tens of millions to these candidates is disingenuous in the extreme. Aipac doesn’t need to be a PAC. It is wired into scores of pro-Israel PACs which coordinate their giving with or through Aipac or Aipac-inspired entities. Please don’t insult our intelligence by denying the obvious.
2) Sheldon Adelson alone gave $150-million to GOP candidates in the last election cycle. That’s one donor alone. His motives were solely motivated by the values of the Israel Lobby. Is there anything you dispute in this statement? If so, you’re a miracle of obtuseness.
3) Shmuel Rosner is a columnist for the Hebrew edition of the Jerusalem Post. I am deeply saddened to hear that the IHT has named him a columnist. His views are puerile & ideologically biased.
If you accuse me of “ad hominem” attacks you don’t know Latin or what the phrase means. Why don’t you define it & see if you understand the term you used. I have not used anything remotely ad hominem. If I called you fat or ugly (which I haven’t) THAT would be ad hominem.
As for Noah Slepkov being a friend of yours: ‘Nuff said.
Piotr Berman says
I actually read accusations that Adelson has a hidden agenda. The best theory was on a website “Online gamer” that Adelson wants to gain enough influence to ban online poker. Other theory was that he hates unions and supports most anti-union candidates. This has some credibility: his spent a lot to harm the Senate run of a Jewish and Zionist women who supported unions representing workers of his Las Vegas casino. But most spending was most probably motivated by his brand of Zionism.
I still like the poker theory better because that would be truly a HIDDEN agenda.
Dave Terry says
The caption is wrong: Einat Wilf ISN’T “staring down” a vampire. She IS the vampire!
Thanks for the insight into (ghoulish golem) Wilf and her ‘advisor’ Mr Schlep-kopf. There ought to be a Halloween ‘rogue’s photo gallery’ of these spin-meisters and hasbaRats.
No wonder Israelis by the thousands have left…(nearly 1 million in North America and another 500,000 in Europe –Germany, mostly)…yet GOI keeps threatening/building thousands more settler houses on stolen Palestinian land.
When will this miserable circle jerk end ?
Fred Plester says
Depending on where in the Houses of Parliament the “Forum” was held and on what basis, BBC Parliament may have taped it for broadcast at some point. They tape even the obscure “debates” held in committee rooms which are used to give local media images of their MP “debating” an issue of importance in Parliament, in an age where Mr Cameron, with the active support of “opposition” leaders, does his best to keep anything of actual importance (like Press Regulation) out of the chamber as far as possible.
I would expect that Jack Straw picked his words as carefully as he usually does, and the one thing that those trying to vilify him are not doing, is addressing his actual point.
It may actually be the case that the smear campaign is intended to convince the BBC that whatever was said by Mr Straw was somehow racist or otherwise unacceptable, and thereby deter them from broadcasting it.
In which case they should be encouraged to put it out soon.
There’s going to be a short pause in normal Parliamentary activity as the current sessions suspends and the cellars are searched for large amounts of gunpowder, during which the BBC’s Parliament channel may intend to broadcast some of the more peripheral stuff. It’s the sort of time when they even broadcast Mr Salmond’s appearances at the Holyrood Parliament.
Censorship “De Telegraaf” [google translation]
Right-wing Dutch national newspaper refused my comment on the I-P issue. A politician from the far-right Christian Conservative party (CU) requested less funding for the Palestinian Authority. Joël Voordewind accused the PA of using funds to sponsor terror against Israel.
In my comment, I wanted to place Voordewind’s bias in some perspective to the 95% of posts who agreed with him. The moderator notified me my comment was refused! This is a novelty for me.
De Telegraaf has no problem with speeches by Geert Wilders in Tel Aviv calling for the transfer of Palestinians to Jordan.
“Financial Aid Goes to Palestinian Terrorists”
Dutch Christian political parties had invited Yossi Dagan, leader of Homesh First, and his compatriate Shay Attias who teaches public diplomacy in Israel [read: an hasbara diplomat] to a meeting in The Hague. Based on this information, Dutch politician Joël Voordewind acted.
Oui: I find it strange that you call the CU (Christen Unie) far right. They are a mixed bag. I loathe Voordewind: He is the worst with his Christian Zionist views on Israel, but the program of the CU cannot be called ‘far right’ in many ways. They are for instance easier classified as left wing in their views on issues like the distribution of wealth, ecology, foreign aid and taking in refugees. I know some people who vote for the CU exactly because of these things, and they are definitely not right wing, let alone far right. But the CU are also evangelicals, and so their views on the IP issue are way out.
Is a reference to “Jewish money” considered “anti-Semitic”?
Is it not just like saying Arab money, or Tea Party money…people are fighting the “Koch money”…
It seems it is a descriptive term to identify the source of money/fund raising, etc.
At this rate, the word “Jewish” used in connection to just about anything might be exploited, and misused to suit political or other purposes.
It is “free speech”, not necessarily racist to say “Jewish”… anything. I think, it is an attempt to curb free speech, in fact, to say otherwise.
Richard Silverstein says
Yes, it is anti-Semitic unless you wish to blame all Jews for funding the Israel Lobby. It is more appropriate to use a term like “pro-Israel money.” That more accurately defines the motivations of the donors.
Hundreds of years of false charges & prejudice against Jews for their alleged control of money & financial institutions makes use of that term offensive, while there is no similar tradition of prejudice & violence against the Tea Party for their money.
I have always avoided using the term “Jewish money” for the reasons Richard gives. But I go back and forth using “pro-Israel money” or “Zionist money”. My wife thinks that later term is too harsh and has antisemitic overtones. I am unsure but have restricted my use of ‘Zionist’ as a result.
Richard Silverstein says
@ TovioS: I’m with your wife on this. I prefer “pro-Israel” to Zionist. It seems more precise at least to me.
Fred Plester says
How about “Money from Adelson and Reitman or people so like
them as to make no difference”?
Much the same happened to a former Finnish foreign trade minister, party leader and ambassador and present MP Pertti Salolainen in 2012. Salolainen was asked in Finnish TV after the voting in UN why USA opposed Palestinian status lifting in UN. Salolainen simply said: “It is difficult for USA to take a more neutral stand in this Israel Palestine question, when they have a so influential Jewish population which controls quite much of the money and media. Because of that the US administration has not dared for internal political reasons to do enough with this matter.”
One reason, that this short, mild and accurate analysis became such “scandal” was that the Finnish Broadcasting Company in its English about this interview forgot the words QUITE MUCH of controlling US money and media. That mistake made it possible to use the “Jews control the world” – defense techniques. At once the “Finnish” ultra right wing, islamofobic and pro-Israeli blog Tundra Tabloids begun to hyperventilate with this “news”. This blog is published by American Kenneth ”KGS” Sikorski (who had “ideological” contacts with Anders Breivik) non-Jew living in Finland. He was enforced by Finnish Jew, Dennis Mitzner, living in Israel.
At once the Jewish organizations, individuals in Finland and abroad with media stormed to attack mode. Salolainen was labeled as a Nazi and anti-Semitist hinted having Mein Kampf and Elders of Zion as his bedtime reading. Salolainen told later that of the ten top Finnish foreign policy expert authorities five had congratulated him of his short analysis, but no one had the courage to say that it in public. The Finnish ambassador in USA, Ritva Koukku-Ronden, even made a indirect apology to Simon Wiesenthal institute, which had demanded the Finnish government to fire Salolainen from all his political positions of responsibility. This was done without any contact with Salolainen. The most significant public defender of Salolainen in this case was a Finnish Jewish MP.
Finns have got in recent years also other anti-Semitism “treatments” by Jewish organizations and media. The head of Amnesty International’s Finland Branch, Frank Johansson, called in some interview Israel a scum state. That caused completely disproportional attacks against him and Amnesty.
It is understandable, that nobody has the “courage” to express publicly anything real analytical views about Israel-Palestine in Finland. Who wants to fight with these aggressive influential lunatics? Only the empty rhetoric Israel wants is “allowed” and encouraged. Well, that is what these Zionist and Israeli interest groups want and what is the real goal of these organized “Jewish crusades” and character assassinations. What is hilarious is, that these same “groups” make (and have made) in all possible contexts with Islam and Arab countries demands of the right to “free speech”.
Richard Silverstein says
@SimoHurtta: Once again, I have a real problem with anyone discussing the I-P conflict who talks about “Jewish money” or “Jewish control of the media.” The truth is that the money comes from those who are pro-Israel. There are many, many Christian evangelical churches which send millions both to Israel & DC to support a pro-Israel agenda. Plus, there are millions of Jews who do NOT donate money to candidates on behalf of Aipac or Israel. So it’s much more precise to call this money “pro-Israel.”
As for the issue of the media, that’s a far more complicated issue that can’t be encapsulated by deriding “Jewish control of the media.” Almost all publishing avenues are closed off to me. And some of those closed doors have nothing to do with “Jewish control.” Progressives can shut the gate for other reasons. I think there is a deep chill in the media regarding progressive discussion of the I-P conflict. But it has to do with all sorts of emotional & psychological processes colliding with editorial policy and judgment. It’s far more complicated than just saying a Jew or even a lib Zio is editor. Finally, there are Jewish editors who do allow some progressive voices to be heard in their publications. So it’s far better to use nuance in discussing this issue.
In Finland is a Swedish speaking minority, which in average is wealthier than the Finnish speaking majority. Some of the wealthy old families have had much power in the Finnish economy and politics. There are also very wealthy “Swedish” funds in Finland. When we speak about their influence in the society we have to identify them as a group, even most Swedish speaking Finns are not wealthy nor influential. The is completely common to use of them the term Finland’s Swedes and speak about “Finnish Swedish money” (meaning assets owned and controlled by these Finns in question). How else can it be done?
What do the terms Israel and Israeli mean? Same as Finland and Finns. A country and people living there. There is nothing complex in that. Neither it is not anything complex in admitting, that in Israel today Jews dominate completely the country. These Jews there and many abroad also demand the country to be internationally acknowledged as the Jewish State. What actually means the Jewish state if the concept of Jew and Jewish is a partial or total tabu in discussion? Because some Jews do not like that Jews in Israel do.
Israel is a country where a significant amount of the population are Arabs (= Palestinians). Actually the majority of people living in the area under Israel’s control are Palestinians and non-Jews. Especially if we take account those living permanently at the moment in the country. Is the term Israel equal to a country, where all inhabitants = Israelis (really) are equal? Or is Israel, what its leadership demands to be acknowledged – the Jewish state.
Using only terms like Israeli (=means person living in Israel/Israeli citizen) and pro-Israel (=pro the country) simply washes away much of the other side in that civil war in the land between river and sea plus legitimatizes the concept of the Jewish state.
There is no problem in the “media” to say Arab money is doing “that” or Chinese and Russian money is “there”. Even we all know that 99,99999999 percent of Arabs do not finance anything or have petro dollars to invest. We have no problems in saying that Americans invaded Iraq or Grenada, perfectly well knowing, that the term Americans is not meant to taken as comprehensive (= all Americans). Many equal examples could be made.
The terms Jew and Jewish are problematic. Not in them selves, the term are very clear and simple. But problematic in that what is allowed for us non-Jews to be used when we speak about Israel and Jews around the world. We are not allowed to mention the influential Jewish minority in USA and the assets their members without any doubt control. Why, because not all Jews do agree or own assets. How on earth can anybody describe, what is USA’s position in this Israel/Palestine conflict if he/she can not describe and name the lobbies and the wealthy minority of the minority behind that financing and control. The political movement behind creating today’s Israel, Zionism, is not “allowed” to be taken in account, because not all Zionists are like “that” (what exactly?). Using pro-Israel is encouraged, but what does that pro describe?
This “Israeli” invention of “kosher” terms and with laws cemented history is intelligent. One can very effectively control and end discussion with them. When it suits term Jew is equal to a religion Judaism, and demanded to be treated with respect. When it suits Jews are simply members of an ethnic nation with a claimed religious “freedom”. It is allowed to brag about the wast number of Nobel Prices Jews have achieved. But try to analyze the reasons why and how they are able to get those awards? If the result of that “analysis” doesn’t please you are anti-Semitist and the discussion ends. Simple isn’t it.
Pro-Israel means that also a group which doesn’t want a Jewish State and wants only one state (Israel or Palestine) is as pro-Israel as the most narrow minded Apartheid supporting bunch of religious lunatics. That is the problem with terms pro-Israel and Israeli.
It does appear that the charge of anti-semitism against critics of Israel is losing its impact. Eliot Cohen in his review of Walt and Mearsheimer in the WaPo in 2006 put the charge in the title of his article and it was barely mentioned. Now there is real push back. Also there seems to be a corollary to this loss of impact — Israeli defenders seem to becoming more hysterical in response. Certainly, Wilf’s retreat into non sequiturs would indicate so.
Fred Plester says
Over use of the term could indeed devalue and even
legitimize anti-semitism: if those making the charge are
consistently seen as extremists advocating war against Iran, ethnic
cleansing against Palestinians and so forth, then people aren’t
going to feel ashamed to be labelled anti-semites for opposing
Dave Terry says
(RS) ” I prefer “pro-Israel” to Zionist. It seems more precise at least to me.”
Of course, you have every right to your “preferences”, BUT the term ‘pro-Israel’ is absolutely NOT
more precise than ‘Zionist’. Zionism is VERY specific, (perhaps, if you remove the CAPITAL “Z” one
could make the term a LITTLE more generic).
The term “Zionism” was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum. It refers specifically to the movement
for the return of the Jewish people to THEIR homeland and the RESUMPTION of Jewish sovereignty
in the Land of Israel. (Eretz Ysrael) and the establishment of a JEWISH State. There IS no provision
for a multi-national, multi-ethnic, or multi-religious status anywhere in Israel.
On the other hand, the term “pro-Israel” can include Zionists as well as proponents of any of the other
variations. It ALSO includes MANY who are simply ignorant of and/or non-committal on the implications
of the narrower meaning of Zionism.
I have personally observed three occasions where Zionists have referred to you, Richard, as a self-hating Jew.
Any opinion on THAT subject?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Dave Terry: Ah, if I could count every idiot who’s shouted such slogans at or about me & turn them into money, I’d be a rich man.
As for how one defines Zionism, I prefer to see it as a flexible movement (somewhat like BDS in that sense) one of whose factions defines Zionism as Jewish sovereignty in its own land. There are others & I side with them. I don’t find Jewish sovereignty to be a deal breaker as long as Israelis whether Jewish or non-Jewish all have their rights (including ethnic & religious rights) protected.