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UK Columnist Admits: ‘Anti-Semitism Plays a Some Role in Hostility Towards Israel’

While I was shocked to read Greenwald acknowledge that “anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel”, I gather from his additional complaint about those who “exploit” the term “anti-Semitism” to “discredit” people that he may have been stung by criticism about his own record of advancing Judeophobic narratives concerning ‘dual loyalty’ and the danger of ‘Jewish power.’
Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald
Photo Credit: YY

There are two things Glenn Greenwald and I have in common – which is two more than I realized only an hour ago.

He has the flu, according to his latest ‘Comment is Free’ post, and I have flu-like symptoms due to a recent ill-advised flu shot.

The other more substantive commonality pertains to one acknowledgement in his post – one of seven miscellaneous observations by the Guardian’s new U.S. blogger.

In the context of complaining about the alleged recent smearing of Matt Stoller (former Democratic staffer and MSNBC producer) as a racist, Greenwald pivoted to make a broader point:

“There are few things more reckless and disgusting than publicly smearing someone as a racist – easily one of the worst things you can say about someone in America, for very good reason – purely for partisan gain. That’s especially true when you are well aware that you have no basis for the accusation.

For years, neocons did the same thing with “anti-Semitism” charges. They seized on a real and serious problem – anti-Semitism – and converted it into an exploitative, opportunistic weapon to punish those who deviated from their political views, particularly on Israel. The worst part of that behavior – aside from ruining people’s reputations by casting them as bigots without any cause – is that it dilutes the power of that term and makes it no longer effective to use when it actually appears.

That is precisely what spouting knowingly baseless accusations of racism achieves. Obviously, racism plays a substantial role in motivating some of the hostility toward the first African-American president, just as anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel. That’s precisely why it’s so vital to avoid casually exploiting those terms for gross partisan opportunism: because people will stop taking the terms seriously when they genuinely arise.

Few things are lowlier than tossing around those accusations purely to discredit someone for partisan gain. It happens often, but this case is particularly egregious given the accuser’s admissions in the comment section combined with the total lack of retraction or correction by that blog.

While I was shocked to read Greenwald acknowledge that “anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel”, I gather from his additional complaint about those who “exploit” the term “anti-Semitism” to “discredit” people that he may have been stung by criticism about his own record of advancing Judeophobic narratives concerning ‘dual loyalty’ and the danger of ‘Jewish power’.

I’ll leave you with a brief selection of quotes by Greenwald and you can judge for yourself if he has been unfairly smeared as a commentator who subscribes to anti-Semitic calumnies. (These quotes were documented in a report I wrote about antisemitism on progressive blogs for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2010.)

* “So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.”
* “Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”
* “The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.”
* “The point is that the power the [Israel lobby] exercises [is] harmful in the extreme. They use it to squelch debate, destroy the careers and reputations of those who deviate from their orthodoxies, and compel both political parties to maintain strict adherence to an agenda that is held by a minority of Americans; that is principally concerned with the interests of a foreign country; and that results in serious cost and harm to the United States. In doing so, they insure not only that our policies towards Israel remain firmly in place no matter the outcome of our elections, but also that those policies remain beyond the realm of what can be questioned or debated by those who want to have a political future.”
* “Anyone who has argued that a desire to protect Israeli interests plays too large of a role in our foreign policy has been subjected to some of the most vicious and relentless smears. Ask Juan Cole about that, or John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Those tactics have, as intended, prevented a substantive debate on this question, as most people have feared even approaching the topic.”
* “If you don’t…pledge your loyalty to our policies toward Israel and to Israel, what will happen to you is what just happened to Charles Freeman. You’ll be demonized and have your career ended.”
* “It is simply true that large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.”
* “The dominant narrative among neocons and the media is that, deep down in his heart, [Obama] may be insufficiently devoted to Israel to be president of the United States. Has there ever been another country to which American politicians were required to pledge their uncritical, absolute loyalty the way they are, now, with Israel?”
* “[Charles] Freeman is being dragged through the mud by the standard cast of accusatory Israel-centric neocons (Marty Peretz, Jon Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, Commentary, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, etc. etc., etc.).”

Glenn, the floor is yours.

Visit Cifwatch.com.

About the Author: Adam Levick serves as Managing Editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and is a member of the Online Antisemitism Working Group for the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism. Adam made Aliyah from Philadelphia in 2009 and lives with his wife in Modi'in.


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2 Responses to “UK Columnist Admits: ‘Anti-Semitism Plays a Some Role in Hostility Towards Israel’”

  1. Bernie King says:

    When I read the Greenwald quotes above, my first thought was that they did not support the conclusion that he subscribes to antisemitic calumnies. But then I asked myself if I even knew what the definition of antisemitism was? So I went and looked it up from various online sources (e.g. Wikipedia, ADL, EUNC). Under these definitions (which seem to be widely recognized as authoritative), antisemitic speech can include more than objective expressions of anti-Jewish bigotry. In other words, it can also encompass a variety of tropes and historical imagery that could, conceivably, be used innocuously, even though they will carry the connotation of anti-Semitism to audiences familiar with that usage. Under this definition, the difference between coded antisemitism and innocent speech depends on the subjective intentions of the speaker, and identifying coded antisemitism involves ascribing to someone's comments a subjective hate or bigotry toward Jews. The variety and number of subtle antisemitic references throughout history surprised me and would probably surprise most young Americans. In some cases, identifying something as antisemitic is tediously complex. Speaking personally, I am not always sure where to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable or antisemitic criticism of Israeli policies. With the caveat that I do not know Mr. Greenwald's subjective motivations, I am still not persuaded that his criticisms of Israel and Israeli lobbying organizations rise to the level of antisemitism. I am open to the fact that I might be wrong, and if that is the case, I welcome further discussion. At the same time, please don't attribute any antagonistic motivations to this comment.

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