Cal Tzedek: 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005

Friday, February 11, 2005

Assorted Self-Hatred

A couple months ago, a DAFKA sympathizer commented here:

"The Germans had their "Jewish police" in the Warsaw Ghetto and thier [sic] "kapos" int he [sic]camps who gladly cooperated to control those other nasty Jews. This is Ehud and the Tzedek puppets for the Arabs."

Tzedek members and supporters have been called self-hating Jews and kapos on more than one occasion. This is generally the discourse of the right, and the majority of pro-Israel students, as much as they might have disagreed with our positions, refrained from and even repudiated such rhetoric.

Here's what I wonder: why the fixation on self-hatred? If what I say is anti-Semitic, why not call me an anti-Semite? If anything, you're doing a disservice to your cause --discrediting Jewish critics of Israel-- by explaining away our viscious Jew-hatred as some sort of inverted self-punishment.

The only reason I bring this up is because DAFKA has a current link to an article about the "Auschwitz Borders" which would threaten Israel if there were to be any sort of non-bantustan Palestinian state. DAFKA seems to love Holocaust imagery: IDF are Nazis (but only until 1942 or so), the PLO are Nazis (1942-1945), I'm a kapo, new houses within the Green Line are crematoriums, black is white, war is peace, etc. All these concepts are bungled up in a grisly view of today's world which thoroughly trivializes the actual suffering of Jews and the other Holocaust victims. (Members of the Left have been guilty of this too, and when such excesses occur they are no less offensive).

But since this discourse --which serves to justify references to Auschwitz so as to equate Israel's uncertain territorial future with the genocide against European Jewry-- is fixated on ethnic treason, it is ironic that this article is written by: Joseph Farah.

Another article by Mr. Farah, entitled "The Jews Took No One's Land" (and I appreciate this, because "The Jews," in fact, did not take anyone's land. But the I.L.A. did), begins:

"As the most visible Arab-American critic of Yasser Arafat and the phony "Palestinian" agenda, I get a lot of hate mail." So I assume DAFKA would think he was fair game for other Arabs to call a self-hating Arab, or a Mossad operative or something. But probably DAFKA does not feel that way. Anyone who would hurl those epithets, after all, Just Can't Stand that the Truth Is Getting Out!

Of course, even I think these would be grossly inappropriate, and I would implore critics of Farah's "work" to call him what he is: an anti-Palestinian bigot. He might not use cruel slurs involving sand and whatnot, but he clearly believes that Palestinians do not exist, an unmistakably racist position. In another article, Farrah "corrects" "myths" like the one about Palestinians existing:

"Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. (...) [Palestinian self-determination is] just a phony excuse for the rioting, trouble-making and land-grabbing. (...) They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough."

In other words, Palestinians do not exist and therefore are lying, uncivilized barbarians who are pathologically greedy. But I'm sure that if Farah were called out on this characterization, he would clarify that he by no means meant to suggest some sort of biological DARE we infer that from his work! I'm sure he would explain that he was refering only to Arab leaders, who are indeed fair game for the harshest of criticisms. But that such clarifications would come out only when he is put on the defensive calls into question their sincerity.

But I should give him the benefit of the doubt, since charges of racism are quite serious indeed. Why, therefore, do I have no doubt? Because of Israel Shamir.

These men are mirror-images of each other. They are caricatures of the Arab and the Jew who use their "credentials" to demonize Arabs and Jews, respectively, for being Arabs and Jews (also respectively).

for One Man, One Vote."

And I agree. Shamir is not offensive because of this position. He is offensive because of his fixation on the unique, pathological flaws of World Jewry. He is offensive because he is anti-Semitic. Some quotes from his articles:

"Such a concentration of any minority group (be it Korean or Mormon) in the media would be perilous. However, the concentration of Jews has its specifics, for the Jews profess a different, non-Christian, or even anti-Christian faith."

Earlier in that article, though, he concentrated on "the Jewish neo-Cons." And the neo-Cons (who are not all Jewish) are a pretty rotten lot who should be subjected to the harshest of criticisms --just like the corrupt PLO, just like the despotic Arab dictators, all of which Farah will trot out once his pure contempt for Palestinians becomes too obvious. Other Shamir quotes:

"A new spectre haunts America. It enters the well-protected boardrooms of newspapers and banks, shakes the deep foundations of its towers. It is the spectre of glasnost: the dark secret of Jewish power is out."

"I do not like philo-Semites, i.e. people choosing to fight anti-Semitism, of all ills." He then complains about Abe Foxman's hypocrisy, completely ignoring the understanding among progressive Jews that what Foxman does is not fighting anti-Semitism --it is silencing his political opponents. Next, Shamir describes the ouvre of legitimately racist Jews like Daniel Pipes to prove his case that Jews opposing anti-Semitism are being disproportionately chauvinistic. Of course this is an ethnocentric phenomenon, and of course all people should fight passionately against all forms of racism. But to suggest that some aspect of self-interest is unique to Jews is ridiculous, and it's the overwhelming theme of Shamir's work.

Some articles by other writers on his site:

-Philo-Semitic Attacks On The Rise in which Joh Domingo describes "Philo-semitism" as the force behind the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. There might be something to this, considering the "love" which the Christian Right has for the Jews, but here's another way to look at it: Jews aren't necessarily doing these things, but they are being done because of Jews. No Jews, no problems. Even Hamas has suggested a greater tolerance for Jews recently. And I do not think that Joh Domingo is advocating violence, genocide, or even expulsion of Jews from any society. But he wants Jews marginalized, by any rhetorical means necessary. Consider this closing line:

"In what appears to be a fantastic delusion, judeophiles believe that hundreds of thousands of people a month were incinerated in the ovens of Auschwitz."

-Jews or Zionists? Three approaches in which Elias Davidsson concludes that

"all those who take an anti-Zionist position because they espouse principles of human dignity and equality, would do well to also reflect on the more large perspective of Jewish Power and the religious and ideological grounds for such concentration of power."

-Jewish Power in which Paul Eisen discusses Jewish Power.

Some observations about

-It is littered with praise for how brilliant Shamir is. You just have to look for it. Not very hard, though.

-He invokes Edward Said whenever possible, which is quite sick considering that Edward Said deplored anti-Semitsm and particularly Holocaust denial. The only thing they had in common was their vision of one democratic state, and I can't help but doubt that such is even Shamir's goal. Said was all about justice and reconciliation. Shamir is an opportunistic schmuck.

-His links include Jewish Tribal Review (labeled a "Christian site") and (published by White Politics, inc.).

-He has links to mirror sites in a variety of languages: Russian, French, Norwegian, Swedish, etc...All European languages, with the exception of Arabic. No Hebrew, though.

I spent more time focusing on Shamir than on Farah, so I guess this makes me a judeophile supremacist. But my purpose in doing so was to make the case that no rhetorical postering can excuse virulent racism. Shamir is admittedly much more eloquent than Farah, and I gather that he was pretty subtle about these things until after he was called out for his rhetoric in 2001 by Hussein Ibish and Ali Abunimah (the latter of whom is the very intelligent and principled cofounder of Electronic Intifada). After their correspondence with him revealed his ugly side, he was shunned by much of the mainstream pro-Palestinian movement, and figured that he had nothing to lose.

Some conclusions:

1. Arabs are not obligated to condemn Arab atrocities. Jews are not obligated to condemn Jewish atrocities. The onus should not be on any Arab to "prove" that he does not support terror, does not hate Jews, is loyal to America, or what have you. The onus should not be on any Jew to "prove" that he does not support the Occupation, is not a Zionist, does not hate Arabs, etc. For Farah and Shamir, the burden of proof rests on each individual Arab and Jew. The positions described above are considered the default positions of the Arab and the Jew, respectively, unless he explicitly opts out to the satisfaction of Messieurs Farah and Shamir.

2. Shamir's self-glorification effectively demonstrates the inanity of the term "self-hating Jew." He clearly loves himself. He is an anti-Semite.

3. Farah's rhetoric is probably more dangerous, since it is so simplistic --and thus so effective. "Arabs = Liars = Hate America Push Jews to Sea" is the kind of thing that convinces people not to question wars against Arabs, by the United States or by Israel or by anyone else. "Talmud = Intrinsic Jewish Chauvinism = Uniquely Jewish Racism = Collective Jewish Responsibility for actions of Racist Jews" is more esoteric, and Shamir probably doesn't have the audience of Freepers and Protest Warriors and Lee Kaplans enjoyed by Farah. But both men are schmucks, and any self-respecting anti-racist would oppose both. For those of you who are liberal Jews who are on the fence about working with anti-Zionists, I would recommend Shamir as a kind of a litmus test. Anti-Zionist Jewish blogger Mark Elf, for instance, comes out strongly against the fellow, and other anti-Zionist Jews deplore his shtick but suggest that he is perhaps an agent provocateur trying to divide the pro-Palestinian movement. Maybe that's true. He's pretty over-the-top. But people who think Shamir is onto something must be challenged, and if they don't come around, you should proceed with caution.

Anyway, because Shamir is so clever, and because some people might be inclined to defend his writing contrary to all anti-racist instincts, it became clear that Tzedek needed to clarify some of its principles. The result was this:

"We will not turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism, racism, dehumanization, or ignorance. We reject broad generalizations about any group of people. We reject superficial explanations for trends within any community. We reject attempts to analyze a group of people which fail to acknowledge the complex dynamics within that group. We reject worldviews predicated on fearing other groups. We reject conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated innuendo. We condemn all forms of intolerance."

And I think that pretty much covers our bases so that it would be consistant with our principles to mobilize opposition to either man or their disciples should someone bring them to campus.

But then we'd be Self-Hating Philo-Semitic Judeophile Supremacist Kapos.



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