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Are you an Antisemite?
Identifying as an antisemite is about as fashionable as toothbrush moustaches and invading Poland. This may be appropriate because this month is the anniversary of the publication in 1925 of Mein Kampf, an occasion that American commentator Walter Russell Mead has marked with this excellent piece The Hate That Dares Not Speak Its Name.
We know how precious the Israel bashing left can get about any suggestion of antisemitism on its part. So offended and indignant they are always compelled to deny it. True. Well, pretty much always. "Just because I criticise Israel does not mean I'm an antisemite!" "Just because I am concerned for the rights of the Palestinians doesn't mean I'm an antisemite!" And on and on and on ... If you are lucky you may even get a scoffing and sniffy dismissal of the very suggestion. Fairfax does that well. Very occasionally the denial is offensive and faintly threatening. "If you suggest that by standing up for the rights of the Palestinians I am an antisemite, then so be it, I am an antisemite.!" Ahuh. The problem with all of this is that the suggestion is always theirs.
This is called the pre-emptive defensive denial and it has been talked about here before. It is part of the armoury of any typical anti-Zionist or no particular Israel basher in general. The phenomenon is so widespread it is a defining feature of the assault on Israel from Europe and the left and has been for decades. Go to anywhere indulging in a spot of nasty Israel bashing and you will see it.
You don't have to go as far as Europe or even necessarily to the left, of course Here's an example from just across the Tasman. By this I mean the disgusting spectacle last week about the Israeli backpackers.
For those who missed it here's the story in a nutshell. Or should I say nutshall.
A young Israeli tourist is killed in Christchurch a little while ago along with a lot of other people and his friends stranded and their government does its job so well it gets accused of spying.
On New Zealand.
That's pretty much it really.
Check out the blogs and what passes for comment in silly little provincial NZ. Suddenly NZ is awash with non-antisemites. We know this because they say so A lot. Much of the content that points out Israel is evil and that mossad is everywhere is devoted to denying antisemitism. About 30% I'd say. Meanwhile a young Israeli tourist tragically killed in the Christchurch earthquake, and his traumatised friends, and their families have been treated by the NZ media in a way that would disgust us all had it been our kids, or young kiwis, involved. The performance of the Israeli government, by the way, in reaching and bringing home their people, and being able to deliver real practical aid on the ground to local emergency services on the other side of the world, would delight us had the kids been Aussies caught up in such a horrible thing. Surely?
Not so for some New Zealanders it seems. For them this could only mean Mossad. Theyyy'ree backkk ...they'll get that godamn kiwi passport no matter what.. even if it means deploying the earthquake gun!
I don't want to pick on the poor Kiwis. They have enough troubles after making global gooses of themselves and anyway I digress.
The question is are you an antisemite?
The reason I ask is because I would prefer it if people stopped asking me. I have no idea. Just as well. That would require an exploration of the darker inner reaches of your mind and that thankfully is not my line. Ultimately it's a question for you really. Just as ultimately it's up to you to do something about it.
I do know there's a lot of it about. I also know that it inflames much of the debate on Israel/Palestine just as surely as it inflames the dispute itself.
So to help you with your question
Walter Russell Mead says:
Meade has identified what he calls the "five pillars of anti-Semitism" which perhaps can be a test. These are belief in any of the following ideas:
Remember, the question is are you an antisemite not whether you are a nazi. Mead says:
Since Hitler’s death, the world has defined anti-Semitism down. Nurturing ancient fantasies of secret Jewish cabals that control the media and play politicians like puppets on a string, and making political judgments based on these fantasies isn’t sort of or almost anti-Semitic. To believe that Jews control public discourse and the media and bend the gentile masses to their sinister agenda is the essence of old fashioned anti-Semite. In some countries these beliefs are so common that they are no longer recognized as an aggressive and communicable mental disease. These ideas have become so widely accepted that they are seldom questioned or examined; when that happens, a whole society is poisoned and distorted.
So? How did you go? I reckon Meade has got a pretty good benchmark going here. Do you have any of ideas? Any one of them?
In Nazi Germany people were imprisoned and even killed for trying to fight anti-Semitism. In America we are free to fight it, but too many of us choose to ignore this hate that dares not speak its name. Anti-Semitism is real, it is murderous, and it is very much with us today. Speak the truth and shame the devil. Whatever your religion, your politics, your views about Israeli policy, fighting anti-Semitism is part of what it means to be a decent human being.
We must all do our part to keep this filthy hatred in the ignominious pit where it belongs.