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Old 10-19-2007, 07:28 PM   #1
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Those New York money people again

Recently there was some controversy over comments by Jewish American journalist Sy Hersch when he slated wealthy Jewish Americans who, it is claimed, back neo-con policies such as the conquest of Iraq:-

This harkened back to comments earlier in the year made by retired general and mooted Democratic Presidential candidate Wesley Clark (who is partially Jewish by blood) along similar lines, when Clark claimed that what he described as "New York money people" were pushing for a war on Iran.

What was Sy Hersch talking about? Is he an anti-Semite, or a self-hating Jew?

Hardly, as Jewish Americans are more opposed to the conquest of Iraq than ANY OTHER US RELIGIOUS GROUP.

On this very forum, an Iraq war supporter once claimed that critics of neo-conservatism are motivated by anti-semitism.

Are critics of neo-conservatism motivated by anti-semitism?

Do Jewish critics of the Iraq war secretly hate themselves?

If I condemn the actions of the provisional IRA, does that make me a self-hating Paddy?

If an English person condemns the BNP does that make them unpatriotic?

Is a Muslim who condemns Al-Queda a traitorous infidel?

The answer to these questions is obvious.

So when is the US mainstream media going to cut the bullshit?

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Old 10-20-2007, 02:56 PM   #2
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I hadn't personally heard about either the Hersh or Clark 'incidents,' but I'm not surprised they got flak for saying that. They didn't say anything you won't hear Jewish and non-Jewish liberals grumbling all the time, though it probably would've been politically savvier to name the specific lobbying groups and/or individuals they had in mind instead. The accusations of anti-Semitism, 'self-hating Jew' etc. you hear from AIPAC et al. are mostly straightforwardly cynical or at the very least reflect a warped sense of entitlement, though occasionally some amount of it is sincere (i.e. based on perceptions that what's being said isn't 'These neocon hawks are playing a race card to deflect criticism' but 'Well, they're Jews and we all know that means they're rich, conniving and deceitful').

It isn't just the media and Washington establishment though; the average American voter simply is much more conservative on Middle East policy including Israel than his/her counterpart elsewhere, and Jews with a progressive stance on the issue are just as likely to be written off as anyone else. There are plenty of American Jewish organizations opposed to AIPAC and their ilk (Jewish Voices for Peace, Jews Against the Occupation, Jews for Peace in the Middle East, the Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Tikkun, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice etc.) but they are not wealthy, allied with powerful Washington interests or other influential lobbying groups, or much written about.

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Old 10-21-2007, 10:30 AM   #3
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This reminds me of the survey conducted here in Europe asking who the people think is the greatest threat to world peace. It was in 2004 or 2005 if I remember correctly, and about 45% named Ariel Sharon back then.
Some of the accusations from the Central Council of Jews in Germany and Israeli politicians were, of course, those 45% were clearly anti-semitic.
If you say that you don't agee with Israel's policy regarding Palestine, or the arrest of Mordechai Vanunu, or utter anything else slightly criticising Israel's policy on any regard first you will hear is that you are anti-semitic.

Of course, it's clearly a minority that calls you anti-semitic, but it's often people in powerful positions.
Yes, sometimes it is anti-semitic, and those people rightfully get called out on it and lose their position.
But I think it's sad that you can't discuss those issues on a serious basis without having at least one who disregards you as anti-semitic. And even worse when those are in high positions.

I also agree, critizising any group, like here Jewish lobbyists, you should be more specific and don't overgeneralisem as there are million of people behind it that are as diverse in social background, wealth and opinion as any other group.
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Old 10-21-2007, 09:13 PM   #4
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Originally posted by Vincent Vega
But I think it's sad that you can't discuss those issues on a serious basis without having at least one who disregards you as anti-semitic. And even worse when those are in high positions.
I agree. For AIPAC et al. to cynically charge anti-Semitism as a means of deflecting criticism of their actions and the unacceptable international consequences of them is infuriatingly disingenuous and insulting; I understand completely why it incenses people. I just hope it doesn't get lost sight of that the proper way to respond to such ruses is no different from any other situation where someone cynically exploits a very real history of collective persecution and discrimination in order to cover their ass against criticisms which transparently have nothing to with that. You shouldn't react by fuming bitterly about 'Those damn ______, always playing the ______ card to silence critics'; to do that is actually to buy into their attempt to reframe what's happening: 'Right, you're _______ and I'm not, that really is the problem here, isn't it.' You have to keep your focus trained on the specific individual or organization in question and say, 'No--that is baseless; I am criticizing you because you are doing A and B, which has unacceptable consequences X and Y, and that is the issue here.' I understand very well that the reality that American public opinion tends to be strongly biased towards Israel to begin with makes it that much harder to do this, especially publically. But you do have to hold the proper party accountable for the proper action and stand by the case you were making to begin with. If some can't handle direct criticism, that's their problem--don't let them make it yours by fuming about 'damn ______,' which was never your intended point, as you back down.

I can understand quite well, I think, where Sy Hersh is coming from. He is Jewish, grew up with immigrant Yiddish-speaking parents in a Jewish community, has probably personally known quite a few of the cheering-everything-Israel-does-is-the-sine-qua-non-of-Jewishness types, and has spent years as a reporter cataloging the damage wrought by US policy in the Middle East. And he was talking to another Jew (Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! ) when he said that. For him this is likely highly personal, not simply a question of abstract anger at 'The System'. I could say, actually I have said (not publically though), similar things about certain individuals at the yeshiva I finished high school at in Brooklyn. But it's not a way I would recommend politicians or activists, especially non-Jewish ones, talk about the issue and try to build consensus if they don't want to risk alienating a lot of people who actually share their criticisms of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, US policy in the Middle East, and groups like AIPAC. One of the comments on Philip Weiss' blog (financeguy's first link, in which Weiss applauds Hersh's comments) illustrates this quite well, I think:
...the Jews should thank [Weiss]...if some Jews wern't speaking out about our very sick Isr-US relationship than it would be very easy for true anti-semites to blame all "The Jews".
Getting comments like this over and over is the major reason why I generally avoid getting into discussions on these issues in the academic environment I work in (which is broadly characterized by a more critical stance on Israeli/US foreign policy in the Middle East than is US society generally--which is great, as far as it goes). People who don't get that that comes across as a threat aren't anyone I'm interested in joining hands with politically. I share their policy criticisms because, like them, I believe those policies are wrong--not because being Jewish means I owe anyone a shouting-through-the-bullhorn routine so as to not be "asking for it."
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