The left are all anti-Semites. So says the Washington Post’s intellectual-in-residence George F. Will. This clearly sensible charge comes in a WP column titled ‘The left’s latest radical chic: anti-Semitism’ reproduced in the Guardian Weekly. Read it here. (You have to register to read Washington Post stories.)
The crux of Will’ s argument is that because the left is, on the whole, opposed to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people, they must be anti-Semitic.
This is a confusion that has been apparent in conservative discourse for a long time.
Just to help the ailing Mr. Will along, let’s clarify the issue. Being opposed to the policies and actions of the government of Israel is a political and humanitarian stance. Being opposed to Jews is a racist stance.
The left is well aware that the Israeli state and Jewishness are not necessarily the same thing.
Mr. Will, is every non-American opposed to Mr. Bush’s government a racist? Don’t think about it too long.
The left — if there is indeed such a homogenised thing with a single perspective we can point at — objects to the ethnic cleansing and de facto apartheid practiced by the Isreali state. The left decries the tacitly sanctioned land grabs by Jewish settlers. The left objects to the raids into Palestinian territory that leave great numbers of civilians dead.
The left equally emphatically deplores the Palestinian suicide bombs that kill innocent Israelis. The left can see both sides of the argument but is well aware that the Israeli state is an antagonist and not a victim.
There are many conservative Jews who believe violently in the Zionist cause. There are many secular Jews – including left wing Jews – who do not. Are the Jews opposed to Israel’s policies concerning the Palestinians anti-Semites also?
Mr. Will cites a few examples of things that add up in his mind to left-wing racism. One is the appearance in demonstrations against Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians of Israeli flags in which the Star of David is replaced by a swastika. Is Israel a direct equivalent of Nazi Germany? Of course, no. Considering the history of the Jews in the Europe in the thirties and the forties, could the swastika be a reminder that having suffered extreme persecution, the Jewish people might not want to be responsible for persecuting another race?
Mr. Will points out that in a recent poll, EU citizens said that they consider Israel the greatest threat to world peace. I don’t know what poll Mr. Will was looking at, but I was under the impression that most Europeans consider the US to be the biggest threat to world peace. Whatever.
The population of Europe is not the same as ‘the left’ or socialism. The population of Europe is not socialist. I wish that it were. The majority of people in Europe are economically conservative. France’s Chirac, despite being against the Iraq war is a conservative and not a socialist. Spain’s Aznar is conservative and the PM elect’s Zapatero is hardly better. Italy’s Prime Minister Berlosconi can in no way be considered a socialist — right wing firebrand, is more like it. Germany’a Chancellor Schroeder is hardly a Stalin or a Trotsky either. He is a champion of free enterprise.
Blair is a free market acolyte in lefty drag. Other socialist paradigms, Denmark and Holland have troops in Iraq. How lefty is that?
Mr. Will tells us that 19 percent of Germans believe that the September 11 attacks were sponsored by Mossad and the CIA. The CIA is not a Jewish organisation. Sorry to be the one to break that to you Mr. Will. And to repeat a point, objecting to the practices of Mossad is not the same as being anti-Semitic. It is the same thing as being opposed to the practices of Mossad.
” If Israel is not the Great Satan, it is allied with him — America” says Mr Will. So, if we are not anti-Israeli in the first place we are anti-American. But Mr. Will, your thesis is that the left is anti-Semitic, so what has being anti-American (assuming we are ) got to do with it? Is anti-American the same as anti-Semitic? Considering the ethnic diversity of the US, this position is clearly ridiculous.
Is opposition to Israeli policies to the Palestinian people a new radical chic as the title of Mr. Will’s essay suggests? I first saw the star of David turned into a swastika twenty years ago when I was at college. Is this really new? And if not, is it just chic? The fact is, people of intelligence and conscience have been objecting to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians for a very long time and will continue to object as long as the hypocricy continues.
It might be that Mr. Will is simply intellectually unable to grasp the simple points set out here. Or it might be that he is well aware of what he is doing and that his article is mere sophistry and propaganda. Either way I can’t see how the Washington Post can justify paying him to write this rubbish — and surely there comes a point where readers will have to conclude that the Post’s editors are condoning this propaganda.