The Warped Mirror/JPost
14 February '10
A bitter and protracted war of words has developed since Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, suggested in a recent article that some of the commentary of the popular Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan on Israel seemed to reflect "something much darker" than mere opposition to Israeli policies. Inevitably, the resulting debate in the blogosphere has once again fuelled the longstanding controversy about the question of if and when criticism of Israel can be described as anti-Semitic.
The complaint that critics of Israeli politics always risk being unfairly accused of anti-Semitism is rather common, not least because many people refuse to acknowledge that debates about the Jewish state and its policies are sometimes "heavily indebted to anti-Semitic tropes." Likewise, the glaring double standards that are routinely applied to Israel - summed up recently by Anthony Julius in a superb article in The Jewish Chronicle - are all too often ignored or denied.
Instead, it's rather popular to pretend that anti-Semitism has been frozen in time. Writing in defense of Sullivan, an Economist blogger urged:
We American Jews have simply got to stop accusing people who object to Israeli policies of being anti-Semitic, unless they're literally waving around drawings of hook-nosed bankers and arguing that Auschwitz never happened."
No doubt: if we built on this and came up with similar definitions for other cases of bigotry and racism, we would soon be able to declare that mankind is close to eradicating all such forms of prejudice. But somehow, I can't quite imagine that anyone would want to argue, for example, that accusations of racism against blacks are only justified if the perpetrator "literally" wears a Ku Klux Klan outfit and threatens a lynching...
(Read full article)