To my mind, the most valuable point in here is: "Can we not ask that those concerned about the supposed silence of the left regarding anti-Semitism demonstrate their own good faith by denouncing Israel's behavior towards Palestinians?" * * * May 16, 2002 American Journal Israel and "Anti-Semitism" by Alexander Cockburn Right in the wake of House Majority leader Dick Armey's explicit call for two million Palestinians to be booted out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Gaza as well, came yet one more of those earnest articles accusing a vague entity called "the left" of anti-Semitism. This one was in Salon, by a man called Dennis Fox, identified as an associate professor of legal studies and psychology at the University of Illinois. Leaving nothing to chance, Salon titled Fox's contribution, "The shame of the pro-Palestinian left: Ignorance and anti-Semitism are undercutting the moral legitimacy of Israel's critics." Over the past 20 years I've learned there's a quick way of figuring just how badly Israel is behaving. There's a brisk uptick in the number of articles here accusing "the left" of anti-Semitism. These articles adopt varying strategies. Particularly intricate, though I think well-intentioned, was a recent column by Naomi Klein who wrote that "It is precisely because anti-Semitism is used by the likes of Sharon that the fight against it must be reclaimed." Is Klein saying the anti-globalization movement has forgotten how to be anti-anti-Semitic? I don't think it has. Are all denunciations of the government of Israel to be prefaced by strident assertions of pro-Semitism? If this is the case, can we not ask that those concerned about the supposed silence of the left regarding anti-Semitism demonstrate their own good faith by denouncing Israel's behavior towards Palestinians? Klein did, but most don't. In a recent piece in the New York Times Frank Rich managed to write an entire column puportedly about Jewish overreaction here to news reporting from Israel without even a fleeting reference to the fact that there might be some factual basis for reports presenting Israel and its leaders in a bad light, even though he found time for plenty of abuse for the "inexcusable" Arafat. Isn't Sharon "inexcusable" in Rich's book? So the left gets the rotten eggs and those tossing the eggs mostly don't feel it necessary to concede that Israel is a racist state whose obvious and provable intent is to continue to steal Palestinian land, oppress Palestinians, herd them into smaller and smaller enclaves and in all likelihood ultimately drive them into the sea or Lebanon or Jordan or Dearborn or the space in Dallas/Fort Worth airport between the third and fourth runways (the bold Armey plan). Here's how Fox begins his article for Salon: '"Let's move back," my wife insisted when she saw the nearby banner: "Israel Is a Terrorist State!" We were at the April 20 Boston march opposing Israel's incursion into the West Bank. So drop back we did, dragging our friends with us to wait for an empty space we could put between us and the anti-Israel sign.' Inference by Fox: the banner is grotesque, presumptively anti-Semitic. But there are plenty of sound arguments that from the Palestinian point of view Israel is indeed a terrorist state, and anyway, even if it wasn't, the description would not per se be evidence of anti-Semitism. Only if the banner read "All Jews are terrorists", would Fox have a point. Of course the rhetorical trick is to conflate "Israel" or "the State of Israel" with "Jews" and argue that they are synonymous. Ergo, to criticize Israel is to be anti-Semitic. Leave aside the fact that many of Israel's most articulate critics are Jews, honorably committed to the cause of justice for all in the Middle East. Many Jews just don't like hearing bad things said about Israel, same way they don't like reading articles about the Jewish lobby here. Mention the lobby and someone like Fox will rush into print denouncing those who "toy with the old anti-Semitic canard that the Jews control the press." These days you can't even say that New York Times is owned by a Jewish family without risking charges that you stand in Goebbels' shoes. I even got accused of anti-Semitism the other day for mentioning that the Jews founded Hollywood, which they most certainly did, as recounted in a funny and informative book published in 1988, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood by Neal Gabler. So cowed are commentators (which is of course the prime motive of those charges of anti-Semitism) that even after the US Congress recently voted full-throated endorsement of Sharon and Israel, with only two senators and 21 US reps (I exclude the chickenshit 28 who voted "present") voting against, you could scarcely find a mainstream paper prepared to analyze this astounding demonstration of the power of AIPAC and other Jewish organizations, plus the Christian Right and the military industrial complex which profits enormously from military aid to Israel since Congress put through a law concerning US overall aid to Israel, to the effect that 75 per cent of such supplies must be bought from US firms like Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin, lobbying for Israel. The encouraging fact is that despite the efforts of the Southern Povery Law Center to drum up funds by hollering that the Nazis are about to march down Main Street, there's remarkably little anti-Semitism in the US, and almost none that I've ever been able to detect on the American left, which is of course amply stocked with non-self-hating Jews. It's comical to find the left's assailants trudging all the way back to Leroi Jones and the 60s to dig up the necessary anti-Semitic jibes. The less encouraging fact is that there's not nearly enough criticism of Israel's ghastly conduct towards Palestinians, which in its present phase is testing the waters for reaction here to a major ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, just as Armey called for. So why don't people like Fox write about Armey's appalling remarks, (which the White House declared he hadn't made,) instead of trying to change the subject with nonsense about anti-Semitism? It's not anti-Semitic to denounce ethnic cleansing, a strategy which according to recent polls, around half all Israeli Jews now heartily endorse. In this instance the left really has nothing to apologize for, but those who accuse of it of anti-Semitism certainly do. They're apologists for policies put into practice by racists, ethnic cleansers and in Sharon's case, an unquestioned war criminal who should be in the dock for his conduct. -------------------- These days you can't even say that New York Times is owned by a Jewish >family without risking charges that you stand in Goebbels' shoes. ------------ And what's the point of making this point in the first place? How does the NYT's coverage of Israel differ from that of media outlets not owned by Jews (e.g., the New York Post, owned by the grandson of a Presbyterian minister)? And how does their editorial stance differ from that of the Bush administration? Doug ---------------- I think Doug's point (lots of 'points' here -- would avoiding it be Fowler's elegant variation?) -- anyhow, to start over. I think Doug's point is crucial. There is NOTHING to be gained by even marginally noting that the ownership of this or that is Jewish. And there is an awful lot to be lost. And his comparison to the Presbyterian owner of the Post is apt. There are very few instances where it is even minimally intelligent to add irrelevant or marginal information about the persons whose positions one is attacking. The NYT is a dreadful -- even criminal -- institution. Would it be one bit better if a presbyterian or an amerindian owned it and followed the same policy. In political discourse it is reasonable for the reader to assume that information transmitted is relevant and material. Going out of one's way to speak of "Jewish supporters of Israel" instead of merely "supporters of Israel" does suggest that the fact is relevant. How could it be relevant? The obvious (and vicious) answer is that u.s. policy toward israel is a jewish plot. It is worthwhile to note that a given critic of Israel is Jewish, because it is necessary to break through the lie that anti-zionism is anti-semitic. Hauling "The Jews" or "Jewish ownership of the Times" in really gives support to Israel. It is objectively anti-palestinian. And we have had several threads on this list (and the point has been discussed on other lists too) that conspiracy theories are in effect apologies for imperialism. Carrol ----- I must disagree: the jewishness of an institution could matter in some instances and not in others. It seems to me that it is not corret to say that it is relevant or not relevant without further argumentation. One reason it is relevant is that it is difficult to otherwise explain why the NYT lacks sensitivity to the plight of the Palestinians...a patently true observation. It may be simple economics -- circulation would be worse witha pro-Palestinian editorial page. As for the Post, one can look to its conservative politics as the reason for its position. The same does not hold true for the NYT, so one must turn to another explanation for the NYT's tone deafness on the issue. So, I see it neither as absurd nor irrelevant to point out the jewishness of the NYT. LIkewise, I do not see the fact that the NYT has Jewish blood, as it were, as meaningful without more. That "more" is the burden of the person making the point public. Certainly, we are right to point out that the NYT and most papers do not have racial diversity. By making that point you are saying either (1) they are racist or (2) they therefore lack sensitivity to issues meaningful to other races. In fact, that is the entire argument in favor of affirmative action: who you are affects what you say, do, and bring to the table. eric Carrol Cox wrote: I think Doug's point (lots of 'points' here -- would avoiding it be Fowler's elegant variation?) -------- That lack of "sensitivity" is endemic in U.S. society. The position of the NYT is almost indistinguishable from other publications and broadcasters. The paper reflects perfectly the thinking of the more liberal wing of the U.S. ruling class, just as the WSJ's editpage reflects that formation's right wing. With Zionists eager to treat every criticism of Israel as motivated by anti-Semitism, why do any of their work for them? >Certainly, we are right to point out that the NYT and most papers do >not have racial diversity. Yup. But that's more a labor issue than a content issue. Doug -------------------- The lack of sensitivity is endemic because that is what is communicated by the people in the know. For better for worse, the NYT is THE paper of record. There is no Whitewater, no Starr if the NYT does not run the Whitewater story. If the NYT repreatedly debunked the bull promoted by pro-Israeli commentators and the Israeli governement the debate would take on a much different tone. I would expect the NYT to side with black South Africans and in favor of an end to Apartheid. If the NYT did not, I would ask why. One ready answer would be that the editorial page is made up of almost exclusively whites. I do not need the same analysis for the WSJ because you can say that it is a syncphant to big business and big business prefers apartheid. My point is that it should not be beyond discussion a priori, though I would agree that one should look for a pretty good argument before you give the position any credence. -------------------- Aside from being politically dumb, citing the Times jewish forebears is positively ignorant. One ought not forget that the waves of Jewish immigration between 1890--1920 were not warmly welcomed by Jews already resident in the U.S. The former were from Poland and Russia and mostly poor, while the latter were predominantly German and relatively well-off. The Sulzbergers settled in America in the *18*th century. Adolph Ochs' family was from Bavaria and came before 1900. He bought the Times with somebody else's money, usually a good sign of someone already well-endowed. These people have little in common with most Jews, Zionist or otherwise. They are different from you and me. mbs -------------------- How do you explain the rabidly anti-Palestinian and unsensitive editorial and news page practice of the Chicago Tribune, which is not one whit better than the Tribune? The point about newspapers is that they are owned by capitalists. Bringing in ancestry just blurs this central point. Carrol ------------------------ What we really need is daily newspapers owned by left-wing political parties and/or supported by individual subscriptions of people in a mass movement (the latter of which is more difficult), but as Jim Cullen of _The Progressive Populist_ said, it's cost-prohibitive to put out a daily (in print) in the States. The JCP still has a daily called _Akahata_ [The Red Flag] -- with the circulation of about 700,000, I believe. Italy has _L'Unita_, _Liberazione_, and _Il Manifesto_, but.... ***** Who Will Pay the Price of a New United Europe? by David Bacon ROME, ITALY (1/15/98) ...L'Unita followed the PDS wing of the split in the old PCI. A daily with a huge circulation, it's been the envy of other western communist parties for years. The annual festival for the paper still draws over a million people. It is an institution, not just of the Italian, but of the European left. Pivetti warns, however, that sometime this coming year L'Unita will lay off half its 300 workers. The "Mattina" editions, started to serve readers with local news in cities like Florence and Milan, will likely be discontinued. This can't help but be a bitter irony, not just to the papers' staff, but to millions of Italians who loyally supported Europe's most widely-read communist periodical through thick and thin. The PDS won the government, but they may lose the paper. "The PDS can't carry the paper the way the old party did," Pivetti says. When the Italian Communist Party dissolved, party subsidies ended which had helped to pay L'Unita's bills. "Now we will have to make it on our own, just from sales, subscriptions and advertising," she explains. Whether the paper will survive in a chilly new market-oriented world is a question no one can answer. While it certainly has a loyal readership, it's hard to imagine department stores and big corporations paying for pages of ads.... ***** ------------- the NYT is the biggest agenda setting part of the media. it's not that signifigant that it is jewish owned but it is indicative of the dangerous line american jewish elites are towing esp with the way over abused allegations of "antisemitism". any serious analysis of antisemitism charges would probably find they out number actual antisemitism 500 to 1. antisemitism has pretty much been defeated fairly decisively it is most ridiculous with the american jewish's worse here than in even Israel where there is at least debate on these matters. there is a dangerous line being walked here and it's only going to cause an antisemitic backlash at somepoint. ~M.E. ------------------- i think there is a major contradiction with this..... if it doesn't matter that a jewish owned institution is prob the no 1 perpetuator of defamatory stereotypes against jews then it shouldn't matter if critics of zionism are jewish or not. ~M.E. -------  i think doug's analogy was a bad would have been more illustrative to ask if the NYT would be any different if it were owned by a palestinian or arab muslim family. that's the's very difficult to answer that definatively, one would have to first ask would it be even possible for a palestinian or arab muslim family to own the NYT. what if the saudi royals or some other wealthy saudi family owned it? fairly easy to speculate it would prob be rabidly anti shia.....that serves the interest of the state....but would it be rabidly pro israel? ~M.E. ------ Certainly, we are right to point out that the NYT and most papers do >not have racial diversity. Yup. But that's more a labor issue than a content issue. Doug * * * Hold up. Every year I go to conferences where African-American journalists argue that race coverage in this country's media is what it is because of the overwhelmingly white hue of media owners, editors and journalists. Sure, racism isn't just about individuals, it's institutional and systemic, etc. -- but the fact is that they have a point, and outlets that have more African-Americans in charge generally have better coverage. We can quibble over how much, come up with counter-examples, etc., but I don't think the overall point is deniable. So why is it somehow anti-Semitic to make the similar point that if, say, Arab-Americans ran the New York Times (and other U.S. media outlets), coverage of the Middle East wouldn't be so virulently anti-Arab? It's not a guarantee, but isn't it likely? ---------------- 1263 why the us supports israel --- Doug's post nicely explains why elite policy-makers support Israel, but the U.S. is a democracy, albiet a very imperect one, and there are many ordinary Americans who go along with the government. Why? Here I think we have to look beyond economic self-interest and bring in cultural explanations. 1) As already discussed on the list, many Christian fundamentalists support Israel because, in their religious fantasies, the founding of the Jewish State is a necessary pre-condition for the return of Christ. 2) Even Christians who are not fundamentalists see the world through a Biblical prism, so Israel is dear to there hearts simply as a place where their religion was born. 3) Among more secular folks, whites tend to support Israel more than non-whites. I suspect this is because Israel, like the U.S. is a settler colony and Americans, even in this supposedly p.c. world, have very little sympathy for the victims of a frontier society. The Palestinians are just another group of natives to be pushed out of the way. 4) Related to the three points above is the fact that on some deep level, many in the U.S. see their country as successor to the Bblical Israel, a choosen nation favored by God. Reagan's rhetoric about the US being a "city on a hill" offers clues about the emotional affinity felt between some Americans (largely white Christian conservative ones) and Israel ------------------------- NO IT DOES NOT! IT EXPLAINS WHY SOME REPUBLICAN NUT-BOYS NOW HOLDING EXECUTIVE POWER SUPPORT ISRAEL!! You forgot (4) the legacy of the Nazi war against the Jews... I would put (3) differently: it's both the resonance between the U.S. and Israel as the products of settler migration, and the lack of resonance between the U.S. and the Palestinian population in terms of their welcome to immigrating Jews. Think of it: People fleeing cruel, oppressive, anti-Semitic Europe--the Dreyfus Affair, Kishinev, et cetera--come to America, where they are welcomed and become an important part of the task of civilization. Others fleeing cruel, oppressive, anti-Semitic Europe come to Palestine, where they are scorned, attacked, told that they will be pushed into the sea--and then for good measure all the other Arab countries decide to expel their Jewish populations as well. It's both that the Palestinians are another group of natives to be civilized and assimilated if possible and pushed out if not, and also that the Palestinians have committed the historical sin (in American eyes) of failing to welcome distressed people fleeing cruel, oppressive, anti-semitic Europe. Both parts are there... Brad DeLong --------------- So it's mostly Republican nut-boys who support Israel now, or are there others who do so with equal passion for different reasons? U.S. support for Israel has been bipartisan since 1967. Aid goes up under Dem and Rep admins alike. Look at the vote on the Congressional support for Israel bill from the other week. Was that just RN-Bs too? What's Joe Lieberman, an honorary RN-B? Doug ----------------- I hereby declare that anyone who believes that Israel is or has been an important "strategic asset" to the United States is ipso facto a Republican Nut-Boy. There is a different set of nut-boys who support Israel for Fundamentalist Christian reasons--and they tend to support the colonization of Judea and Samaria by settlers and the expulsion of Palestinians as well (cf. Dick Armey). There is a different set of [insert your favorite characterization here] who, as I said before, support Israel because we have a moral obligation to prevent a second Holocaust. (I find myself in this group. We tend to loathe West Bank settlements.) There is, now, yet a third group--people who hadn't thought a lot about it before, but now support Israel because Yassir Arafat has failed to differentiate his brand sufficiently from Osama bin Laden. But the idea that I--that I--would support Israel because it played the important role of containing that Soviet Puppet Syria... First of all, Assad the Elder was not a Soviet Puppet. He had no desire to be a Soviet Puppet. He was happy to accept Russian weapons, sure, and to make pro-Kremlin noises. But he had no desire to have a Group of Soviet Forces in Syria powerful enough to pull a Prague Winter and thus able to make him dance to the Kremlin's tune, ever. Nevertheless, Alexander Haig's belief that "Peace for Galilee" was a great victory for the U.S.--our client beat their client, you see, and we gain prestige--came closer than anything else to actually getting Assad the Elder to invite a Soviet motorized rifle core to Syria, in which case Syria *would* have become a Soviet Puppet. Brad DeLong --------------- This is despicable anti-Semitism. The Jews who came to America did not arrive declaring their will to take over the country, expel the native inhabitants and dispossess them of their land. Seth -------------------- Evian! The St. Louis! The immigration laws! Virtually no Jewish refugees would have gone to Palestine if they had been acceptable, welcome or not, in the Land Of The Free. Shane Mage "Thunderbolt steers all things." Herakleitos of Ephesos, fr. 64 -------------------- I actually agree with this point, but it points out why another argument used by some pro-Palestinians, namely that Arabs can't be anti-semites since they are the same race as Jews, doesn't hold up. Jews in Israel get denounced as white colonialists when it serves one rhetorical purpose, then get treated as just one more semetic race among many when their unique history wants to be denied. Given the large number of Mizrachi/Sephardic Jews in Israel due to fleeing oppression in Arab states following the 1948 war, the "refugee" and "native" issue is not as completely one-sided as sometimes pictured. The Israelis are still far on the wrong side of the oppression stick on the Occupied Territories, but if the Palestinians deserve their own state instead of being absorbed into Jordan (as Sharon would have it), it would seem that the one million plus Jews in Israel who had to flee Arab oppression have a similar claim. -- Nathan Newman ---------------------- Yeah. But if you were a Sephardic Jew living in Israel, would you like to move and find yourself... as a despised minority in Cairo governed by Hosni Mubarrak? as a despised minority in Damascus governed by Bashir Assad? as a despised minority in Baghdad governed by Saddam Hussein? Methinks that the number of people wishing to take advantage of such a "right of return" to the old Jewish Quarters of Middle Eastern cities would be very small... Brad DeLong ----------------- I agree that the Nazi legacy (and perhaps guilt over not doing enough) > informs the way many in the U.S view the Middle East. But I'm not sure > that you're comparison of the U.S. with Palestinians is fair. Were the > Jews welcolmed with open arms to the U.S.? Yes, at the turn of the century > there was a great deal of philo-semiticism in North America and in general > the polygot culture of the US (and Canada) has been the best home the > Jewish diaspora ever had. BUT, lest we forget, in the crucial decades of > the 1920 to the 1960s, immigration to the U.S. was severly restricted, at > the behest of nativists and anti-Semites. (Also in Canada: asked how many > Jewish immigants Canada should accept, the head of Canadian immigration in > the 1930s said that "none is too many.") The fact is, if the US and other > Western democracies had the same immigration policies in the 1930s that > they had say in 1910, most of the Jews in Europe would have been save and > Israel would never have been established. So the contrast between the > welcoming arms o Very true... I tend to want to forget the complicity of the U.S. in the Holocaust through the interwar "reforms" of its immigration policy... But I'm not sure you're right about "most"; most of the Jews in Europe were Polish and Russian after all; a lot would have migrated to the U.S., but a lot would have still been there when the Nazi tanks came... Brad DeLong, trying to decide whether he should depress himself further by reading Benny Morris's _Righteous Victims_ or Christopher Browning's _Ordinary Men_... -------------------- BM says that in 1948, Israel had a military force clearly superior to that of any Arab country, and for practical purposes superior to the lot of them. In light of the importance of the Canal and oil fields, wouldn't that make it a strategic asset then? Now of course its military and intelligence forces are formidable. They also have nukes. Wouldn't they be a strategic asset now? Do you find yourself a little over-extended on this? Republican Nut-Boy --------------------- A strategic asset against whom? In what state of the world would we like to see Israeli tanks roll where? Countries we want to stay nice and peaceful and commercial loathe Israel--and loathe us too because we support Israel. Would we have wanted israeli tanks to roll... Against a Russian attack from north to take control of the Persian Gulf?--But rolling Israel's tanks would have made the Arabs join the Russians. Against Saudi princelings who had decided never to sell oil to the Infidels again?--But only the presence of Israel and the fact of U.S. support for it led them to ever think of the oil weapon at all. Against Syrian Soviet Puppets?--But operation "Peace for Galilee" was the only thing that came close to turning Assad the Elder into a tool of the Soviet Union. U.S. support for Israel is a strategic pain in the **** as regards our real, material, strategic interests in the Middle East--(back then) to contain the Soviet Union and to keep the oil flowing... Brad DeLong ------------------ How about potential left-nationalist revolutions in Jordan or Lebanon? How about an OBL takeover in S.A.? How about accepting the role of bad guy and bombing locales for producing weapons of mass destruction in, say, Iraq? Just to take some wild hypotheticals, how about being a transfer point for shipment of U.S. arms to people the U.S. would rather not be seen associating with, like the Ayatollah, apartheid South Africa, or right-wing death squads in South/Latin America? Republican Nut-Boy (M-L) --------------------- I hope this doesn't mean you're stepping down for your leadership role in the Anybody But Lieberman & Hillary movement. Hillary's stance on welfare reform earned a rebuke from the NYT edit page today. Gail Sheehey claimed that contrary to frequent liberal fantasy, Hill was often to the right of Bill. Doug ---- New York Times - May 15, 2002 A Surprise From Senator Clinton When President Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to "end welfare as we know it" six years ago, there was speculation that Hillary Rodham Clinton was a silent critic. But whatever her views then, Mrs. Clinton now favors a tougher policy. To the surprise of many, New York's junior senator has decided to side with President Bush and others advocating punitive new work requirements in legislation to be voted on this week in the House. The House bill, a travesty of the concept of reform, would undermine the positive features of the measure signed by President Clinton in 1996. Mrs. Clinton has pledged to improve the bill in the Senate, and some of her proposals are positive. But they do not go far enough. The House bill imposes a work requirement of 40 hours a week, up from the current level of 30. Mrs. Clinton and a few other Democratic senators propose raising it to 37, with a bonus for states that get recipients to work 40. Many governors have testified that this requirement is unworkable without a huge new investment in day care and other services, which the House bill lacks. Mrs. Clinton hopes to please both the right wing and left by combining the longer work requirement with $8 billion over the next five years for day care for welfare recipients and some limited exemptions for mothers with small children. But even in the unlikely event that the Senate can add all the money she wants, it would almost certainly not be enough. Outside experts say at least $11 billion would be needed to take care of the children of mothers affected by the House legislation. While Mrs. Clinton is making a mistake in thinking she can appease both sides on this issue, President Bush has betrayed his pledge of "compassionate conservatism" by supporting the House approach instead of building on the reforms of six years ago. The House bill would almost certainly force states to create make-work public jobs in order to meet new federal requirements. Worst of all, it would apply a "super waiver" enabling some states to ignore federal requirements in food stamps, housing, job training and education programs and spend the money in ways they prefer. This is the wrong kind of flexibility; it could easily allow states to cut back on serving the most desperately needy populations in their care in favor of more politically popular priorities. A better alternative in the Senate is a measure supported by a bipartisan group including some influential Republicans like Orrin Hatch and Olympia Snowe. It would keep the work requirement at its current level of 30 hours a week. However, in its current form it does not have a specific amount for day care or other services. Ideally, new welfare legislation should include both realistic work requirements and sufficient money to supply day care and education subsidies for all those who need them. Meanwhile, anyone who favors genuine welfare reform should oppose the destructive bill before the House. Forum: Join a Discussion on Today's Editorials
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