Response to “Being Anti-Zionist is Not Anti-Semitic” on Daily Kos
Because responding to that kind of writing is, essentially, what my blog is for.
There’s no guarantee this diary will stay on Daily Kos (again, such diaries, although they represent the unspoken opinion of the majority of Daily Kos members, are often deleted because of the fear they could yank Jewish votes away from the Democratic Party), so here’s a screenshot:
The diary is “Being Anti-Zionist is Not Anti-Semitic”, by Vincent Amato, at
"Joe Lieberman should register as the agent of a foreign government." At one point I wrote this quip in one of my blogs, and one friend liked it so much he started using it as a tag line in his email.
That kind of thing was taboo just a few years ago. It was not absent from the hearts and minds, just waiting for an opportunity to justify it. As Daniel Finkelstein of The Times puts it:
[…] I explain that for most people the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians is like that between the Cypriots. It’s a complicated row between two sets of foreigners making competing claims that are hard for anyone except an expert or a participant to evaluate.
For years that didn’t matter much. A few overexcited people (mark me down as one) arguing about a country the size of a pocket handkerchief somewhere miles away. Israel, Shmisrael. Who cares?
But now things are different. A few days after 9/11 I watched a television reporter wandering through a street in the Israeli capital. He was telling viewers: “I am here in Jerusalem where it all began and where it will all have to end.” That remark, hotly though I might dispute it (9/11 did not start there and won’t end there), has become the consensus — the road to peace in the world runs through Jerusalem.
I bring this tidbit here as a first refutation of Vicent Amato’s argument. The one prominent hallmark of Jew-hatred (anti-Semitism) is that it evolves to fit each age, finds a new justification for itself whenever a former justification has gotten old-fashioned. Anti-Zionism is our age’s justification.
Continuing with the diary:
At one point I wrote this quip in one of my blogs, and one friend liked it so much he started using it as a tag line in his email. The more I think about it however, the more I wonder if there is not some literal truth in the line. Last night, I watched an interview with Hilary, and she, too, sounded as if she had taken a public relations job with the Israeli government.
Those words aren’t surprising any longer, but what I’m still wondering is: when David Duke speaks of the “Zionist Owned Government”, people (rightly) condemn him, but when Vincent Amato here, taking a cue from Walt and Mearsheimer, phrases it as, “Joe Lieberman should register as the agent of a foreign government” and “Hilary, […] too, sounded as if she had taken a public relations job with the Israeli government”, it’s acceptable, although those are just two different ways of expressing the same sentiment: the insinuation that the government of the United States of America is acting in the interests of Israel rather than its own.
During the Israeli debacle in Lebanon last year, few if any voices in Congress were raised against Israel’s precipitous behavior in Gaza and the ensuing battle in Lebanon.
Not all people regard air strikes on a country harboring terrorists as “disproportionate response” and a “war crime”. A pity, all these people in the world still knowing the difference between good and evil, I know, but that’s life…
Is it premature to ask for a Congressional inquiry into Israel’s involvement in U.S. foreign policy decisions?
Wait a minute. When American congressmen refuse to condemn Israel for its retaliatory strikes on Hizbullah, that means Israel’s involved in US foreign policy decisions? And there was me thinking Bush’s and Condoleezza’s pressure on Olmert to accept the UN ceasefire agreement was US involvement in Israel’s foreign policy decisions.
What have we come to today, that refusal to condemn a state’s defending itself is proof that it is involved in the foreign policy decisions of those who refuse…
Now we come out of the particulars and into the heart of it:
At no point during the cold war did anyone ever equate anti-Communism with anti-Russianism.
At no point during its history was Communism a Russian nationalist movement.
Even during the hot war fought in the 1940s, most people refused to see being anti-Nazi or anti-Fascist as the equivalent of hating all Germans or Italians.
That’s because, by the 1940’s, it was evident to anyone with half a brain that Nazism and Fascism weren’t merely about the survival and well-being of the Germans and the Italians, but about their aspirations for world domination. The same cannot be said of Zionism, which even in its most expansionist version doesn’t set it sights on any more than a modest-sized area on the east coast of the Mediterranean; while it can (and should) be said about Islam.
Yet, there are many among the supporters of Israel who treat the term anti-Zionist as just code language for the term anti-Semitic.
Zionism is about the Jews having a homeland of their own, in their historical motherland. The extent of that homeland can be debated, but if you say you’re an anti-Zionist then you’ve as good as said you oppose the idea that Jews should have a homeland of their own in their historical birthplace. It’s that simple, so why do people find it so hard to understand?
To say that being anti-Zionist is not tantamount to being anti-Semitic doesn’t quite put enough psychological distance between the two terms. Certainly, saying that one is anti- the policies of Israel doesn’t get one past a prejudicial linguistic tinge. Thus there is a chilling of debate built into the very language available to us. This linguistic phenomenon contributes to making virtually all criticism of Israel taboo here in the United States.
I don’t get it: why is it so difficult for people to say, “I have issues with some policies of Israel”? And then to say which of the policies they oppose? You speak of debate being hindered by language, but you fail to see how you do that very thing yourself by taking the generic label, “Anti-Zionist” instead of saying you just oppose some policies of Israel and then which of them.
Informally, many will acknowledge that for any U.S. politician to criticize Israel’s policies is to commit political suicide. That is certainly the case here in New York. Just consider the aftermath of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.
It is good that you bring Carter as an example of criticizing Israel’s policies, for that illustrates the very problem. Carter does not criticize any specific policy; he has incendiarily titled his book to compare Israel to South Africa. Then, when called upon it, he has given the reply that his criticism of Israel is only upon its actions toward “the Palestinians in the occupied territories”, not upon the state of Israel itself; meaning, in effect, that he considers the territories taken in 1967 to be occupied (at best; “stolen” is becoming the more fashionable word nowadays) land.
Ask just about anyone outside of the Bush inner circle, and you will find a basic consensus about the major cause of the rift between the Islamic world and the U.S. and its Western allies, namely, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. (Emphasis original. —ZY)
How nicely this dovetails with the quote from Daniel Finkelstein’s article above! As with the previous DKos diary, by James Risser, we see how the mask of morality falls to reveal the real reason behind it all: appeasement. Take, then, Mr. Amato, another answer as to why anti-Zionism constitutes Jew-hatred: your willingness to win yourself a few more moments of peace by sacrificing (G-d forbid) the one and only Jewish state in the world.
Nevertheless, this issue is currently relegated to ancillary status in public dialogue.
Hardly. The left-leaning Mainstream Media has been bringing this issue to everyone’s lounge for at least five years now.
And while this is the case, it is clear that Israel uses the diversion of the spotlight as an opportunity to commit one outrage after another.
The outrage of defending itself from terrorists, yeah… The outrage of Jews actually inhabiting their own lands… But Mr. Amato, you forget yourself: it was just two sentences ago you were talking about “the rift between the Islamic world and the U.S. and its Western allies”; why, then, do you come back to questions of morality (or should that be: moralism) when the real reason for your concern about Israel’s actions is known?
It is fairly clear that from Israel’s perspective the only happy solution to the war in Iraq or the "problem" of nations like Syria and Iran being outside of the fold is either conquest or the kind of neo-colonization that has evolved among our Islamic client states in the area.
The irony here is that, in the matter of “All we’re saying is… give peace a chance”, that’s what we Israelis are after. Israel isn’t a world power, even if certain people think it is. Such sorts of plays aren’t in our interest, precisely because we know we don’t have the muscle to carry them through. We Jews don’t dream big (physically, I mean; spiritually, we dream bigger than everyone else has ever imagined, because that’s what G-d set us for); if it’s the big geopolitical dreamers you’re after, take a look at Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran. Then as now, one of the hallmarks of anti-Semitism is to attribute to Jews much greater power than they could have even theoretically.
Converting Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and even Pakistan into a terrestrial twenty-first century version of the Philippine archipelago might be nice for Israel, and the twenty-first century may look a lot like to the nineteenth to some, but it ain’t.
I agree the twenty-first century isn’t like the nineteenth. But I don’t see things now like it’s 1972 (Vietnam), which is how you lefties see things. The world is right now looking like a hellish amalgam of World War II and the Middle Ages: the destructive capacity of World War II (and then some), together with the religion-driven machinations of the Middle Ages. You won’t be able to appease yourself out of this, I’m afraid.
If Israel is truly interested in being a respected member of the international community, […]
It would give us a good feeling. But there are more pressing matters than such warm, fuzzy feelings. Like, you know, living without missile threats on our borders, for example. I think we can manage without being a respected member of the “international community” (assuming such exists at all…) for the time being until we have sorted those more urgent things out.
[…] it will stop acting like a roaring mouse, […]
“A roaring mouse”? You implicated, just a little back, the state of Israel in engineering spectacular geopolitical changes and foreign policy decisions. This from nothing but a mouse?! How about making up your mind, Mr. Amato? Then again, it was the 19th century founders of Secular Zionism said the mark of the anti-Semites was to lay contradictory claims upon the Jews (such as being both capitalists and communists back then). Chalk up another one for refuting Mr. Amato’s main thesis.
[…] give up its illegal nuclear arsenal, […]
Us first? You want us to beat our swords to plowshares when all the others in the region are doing the opposite? And in a region where, unlike in your soft humanist-socialist utopia, life and death are dependent on the sword or at least the perception of it? Your naiveté is bound to get you killed one day (by the Muslims); we’re not going to let it get us killed if we can help it.
[…] forfeit its claims to a free pass on the playing board […]
This isn’t a playing board, fella. Yeah, I know you meant it metaphorically, but it isn’t one even metaphorically. You’re talking here about our land (if you’re talking about the Israel/“Palestine” conflict) and about the battle between freedom and tyranny. This is no game, it’s about your lifestyle. For instance, it’s about whether the stadium you go to watch football games in will stay that way or be a place for watching beheadings and amputations instead. Even if the dismantling of the entire state of Israel (G-d forbid) really did succeed in putting out the fires of violent jihad (a very, very counterfactual “if”), that wouldn’t make so much as a dent in the demographic jihad Mark Steyn depicts so extensively in his book America Alone.
[…] and find its appropriate niche under the protection of the great powers.
Wow. So, after 2,000 years of Jews in the Diaspora seeking the protection of their non-Jewish hosts, effectively being at their mercies, you propose that the sovereign state of the Jews reinvent itself into one big shtetl seeking the protection of the non-Jewish great powers? How can we possibly refuse such an offer?
Thanks, but no thanks. It’s a sovereign state and a strong army for us, and the only Great Power whose protection we seek is the Power Who Rules Over All Powers. Rather than us needing to be “respected members of the international community”, it’s the “international community” that needs to be in the good graces of G-d.
To conclude, Mr. Vincent Amato: Your diary is a feat reminiscent of that of Balaam, in that it has succeeded in establishing the exact thesis you meant to refute. To date, never have I seen such a concentrated mass of hallmarks of Jew-hatred as in your diary. May G-d open your eyes to the right beliefs.