Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Are They Out Of Their Minds?

CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, has lost whatever little credibility it had.

At a news conference held to denounce Jewish defamers of Israel, who did they pick out for particular opprobrium? Not out right anti-Zionists like Finkelstein, Chomsky, or (l'havdil) the Neturai Karta representatives at last year's Iranian "Holocaust" conference. No. The real evil guys are Haaretz and Michael Lerner (editor of Tikkun Magazine.)

Haaretz is labelled as "printing outright lies and failing to issue corrections, even when the mistakes are pointed out."

Lerner is labelled "one of a growing band of ambitious, self-touting Jews whose hostility to the State of Israel more and more takes on the character of spite."

In one of the more convoluted arguments of the press conference Alvin Rosenfeld, a professor of English at Indiana University, called furious criticism of Israel by Jews a new genre, a "central convention" of which is the notion that Israel's supporters try to shut up critics with charges of anti-Semitism. In other-words Israel supporters do not call critics of Israel anti-Semites - its just false paranoia, or a cynical tactic, on the part of Israel's critics.

But then Rosenfeld - author of the book "Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism" stated "There is a connection between anti-Semitic acts and anti-Semitic utterances. ... It is Israel's Jewish defamers who have contributed to rising anti-Semitism with their relentless demonization of the Jewish state."

(Way to shoot your argument in the foot, Alvin!)

Another speaker, Kenneth Levin, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, claims that Jewish critics of Israel are suffering something akin to Stockholm syndrome. He suggested that the tendency to identify with one's attackers is typical of besieged populations. He likened the condition to that of an abused child that blames himself, rather than his alcoholic father, for his suffering.

Author Cynthia Ozek rounded out the panel with a presentation, "Reflections on Apostasy," vilified Jews who appear to identify with the enemies of the Jewish people. Among its gems: "Only imagine Karl Marx davening and you will comprehend the dazzlement of Rabbi Lerner’s current achievement."

In response, David Landau, Ha'aretz's editor-in-chief, called CAMERA, "Mcarthyite."

More like the lunatic fringe, if you ask me. (Though sadly we know they are more lunatic than fringe.)

For more detail see this story at the JTA.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the basis for calling Finkelstein and Chomsky anti-Zionist? If you define an anti-Zionist as someone who wants to reverse the effect of Zionism, that is to end Israel's existence as "the Jewish State", I don't believe you will find anything in the writing of either to support your claim. In fact, both are well-known advocates of the "two-state solution", which would leave the state of Israel as it is. If by "anti-Zionist" you mean someone who criticises the actions of the Israeli state, then aren't you putting yourself in the same camp as CAMERA? (Since "everyone knows" that anti-Zionism is just a polite word for anti-Semitism).

Neturei Karta, by contrast, really are anti-Zionists. They don't want a "Jewish state" unless it's been set up by the Messiah.

1:44 pm  
Blogger Sydney Nestel said...

I am using Zionist as it has come to be used normatively today - advocating for a "Jewish State" where Jews and Jewish Culture are privileged over non Jews and non-Jewish culture.

Both Chomsky and Finkelstein oppose such a construct. Furthermore, I don't think either Chomsky or Finkelstein would self-identify as Zionists - though I can't say whether they self-identify as "anti-Zionists" either. Chomsky describes himself as an anarchist, so it is hard to see him endorsing the idea of any state.

I recognize that once, there where Zionists who where against a "Jewish State", but they where a de facto minority within the Zionist movement even before 1942, a de jure minority after 1942, and completely marginalized within the Zionist movement after 1949.

4:47 pm  
Anonymous Maurice said...

Your normative definition is highly problematic. "Jews are privileged over non Jews"? I can't see how that's different from saying that Zionism is racism.

My question was, how are C & F "anti-Zionist?" If your answer is, Zionism is racism, then I guess they are. Equally, if anyone who doesn't identify themselves positively as a Zionist is an anti-Zionist, then I suppose they may be anti-Zionist (along with a lot of other people who would be surprised to find this out about themselves).

But I would have thought the only sensible modern definition of anti-Zionism is to be against the existence of a Jewish State. And both of them have explicitly (and consistently) supported a political solution which would leave Israel within the 1948 borders, and therefore with a permanent Jewish majority. So my definition of anti-Zionist certainly doesn't apply to them.

This argument is important because people use tags like "anti-Zionist" and "anti-Israel" as terms of abuse rather than serious descriptions of political viewpoints.

3:23 pm  

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