Anti-Semitism a Problem? Not For The Guardian

anti-Semitism

The Anti-Defamation League recently released a major survey of attitudes towards Jews in over 100 countries around the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 16 countries deemed to hold the most anti-Semitic attitudes were all located in the Middle East and North Africa. The Palestinian territories topped the survey with an overall “score” of 93%.

Racism against various ethnic groups is held up internationally as inherently evil and must be fought without question. Those ethnic groups are given the right to determine what defines racism against them. But not for the Jewish people. Only racism against Jews, more commonly referred to an anti-Semitism, can, it appears, be justified or excused and only definitions of anti-Semitism can be questioned and ridiculed in a way that no other ethnic or national group experiences.

So trust The Guardian to reduce the entire ADL survey into its narrow prism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Anti-Israel activists Donna Nevel and Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark wrote a particularly nasty piece on the Comment is Free site under the headline “Anti-Semitism should not be waved around like a propaganda tool.”

First was an attempt to shoot the messenger by describing the ADL as:

an organization with a long history of trying to silence and intimidate those who don’t share their unwavering support for Israel and its policies.

This is now a typical maneuver by anti-Israel activists who claim that Jewish concerns surrounding anti-Semitism are made in bad faith and meant to shut down the debate. As David Hirsh points out:

This is a formulation which often appears in response to an accusation of antisemitism, which I have called The Livingstone Formulation (Hirsh 2007; 2010).  It is a rhetorical device which enables the user to refuse to engage with the charge made.  It is a mirror which bounces back an accusation of antisemitism against anybody who makes it.  It contains a counter-charge of dishonest Jewish (or ‘Zionist’) conspiracy.

According to Nevel and Kleinberg Neimark:

Rather than advance our understanding of this serious issue, the survey seems predictably designed to stir up fear that Jew-hatred is a growing global phenomenon that puts the world’s Jews universally at risk, and that the biggest culprits are Muslims and Arabs, particularly Palestinians.

They continue:

The most striking example of a leading question undergirds the ADL’s claim that the highest percentage of anti-Semitism is among Palestinians who live in the occupied territories. The ADL asked a group of people for whom the movement of goods, money and labor is controlled by Israel, “Do Jews have too much power in the business world?”. Were they really to be expected to answer anything but “yes”?

guardian-magGlassEven if this were a valid point, it is undermined by the fact that the ADL survey showed Palestinians reacting with similar figures to statements such as: “Jews have too much power in international financial markets,” “Jews have too much control over the global media,” and “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” These could have come straight out of the pages of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion (or the Hamas Charter) and have nothing to do with localized conditions of the Palestinians.

Instead, the authors of The Guardian’s piece are more concerned with excusing anti-Semitism, much of which is a direct result of Palestinian incitement against Jews in their own media and education systems (as documented by Palestinian Media Watch), which promote Jew-hatred. If the anti-Semitism “score” of 93% for the Palestinians is due solely to Israeli treatment of Palestinians, how then to explain the 92% of Iraqis who also hold anti-Semitic views? After all, Iraq has no territorial dispute with Israel and Israelis have no direct influence on the lives of ordinary Iraqis unless one believes the anti-Semitic stereotype of Jewish control over global affairs.

Nevel and Kleinberg Neimark write:

The survey also labels as anti-Semitic any belief, including by Palestinians in the occupied territories, that Jews talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust – despite other responses that indicate that too many people in the world don’t know about the Holocaust at all. But Palestinians commonly hear the Holocaust used to justify the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948, and as justification for the continued occupation under which Palestinians are subjected to daily denial of their basic human rights.

Where exactly do Palestinians hear the Holocaust used “to justify the expulsion” of Palestinians in 1948 or “justification for the continued occupation?” While Palestinians may believe that Israel’s creation is a direct result of the Holocaust, Israelis can justify their existence through historical, national and religious ties to the land as well as the legitimacy bestowed upon a Jewish homeland through various international agreements and mandates going back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration well before the Holocaust even happened.

The authors even indulged in their own anti-Semitic stereotyping in this paragraph that was eventually removed by The Guardian following a complaint by CiF Watch:

guardian150514

Indeed, trying to justify and excuse the number one stereotype in the ADL survey was too much, even for The Guardian which, in an addendum stated the reference to “loyalty to Israel” as “inconsistent with Guardian editorial guidelines.”

Ultimately, while the Middle East and North Africa may be the epicenter of global anti-Semitism, The Guardian can lay claim to being the consistent champion in the mainstream media of justifying or explaining away genuine Jew-hatred as a result of its myopic obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You can send your considered comments to The Guardian – letters@guardian.co.uk.


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