Why did Wiesenfeld’s ‘unhinged tribalism’ command instant assent from powerful board?

Israel/Palestine
on 17 Comments

The Kushner laurels are a teachable moment, if ever there was one. Andrew Sullivan does a broadside post explaining that Jeffrey Wiesenfeld’s description of Palestinians as non-human is a powerful belief, it is all through the American discourse and it is connected to the Israeli conceptualization of Palestinians as “cockroaches,” which justifies ethnic cleansing and massacre and humiliation. Then there’s this part:

All of this is a deliberate and sustained dehumanization of an entire people. Now I am not saying that this kind of thing isn’t also common throughout the Arab and Muslim world with respect to Jews, who are demonized, dehumanized and lied about on a regular basis. It is extremely common; it is more prevalent than its opposite; and the hideous history of anti-Semitism in the twentieth century makes eliminationist language about the Jewish people and their absolute right to a homeleand repellent in every way. But we would not allow such anti-Semites to sit on university boards judging the work of Jewish writers, would we?

So why is Wiesenfeld not just on such a board but capable of commanding instant assent from his peers? How has American public discourse on this question been so thoroughly distorted by the unhinged tribalism of a few maniacs? And when will we begin to stand up to these bullies?

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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17 Responses

  1. Donald
    May 6, 2011, 2:45 pm

    “So why is Wiesenfeld not just on such a board but capable of commanding instant assent from his peers? How has American public discourse on this question been so thoroughly distorted by the unhinged tribalism of a few maniacs? And when will we begin to stand up to these bullies?”

    I think the answer to the second question is that it isn’t just a few maniacs–Wiesenfeld is just voicing what a lot of people probably think in private, and it’s not always so private. Look at some of the Zionists we have here (not all). In some cases it seems to be a bedrock belief with them that the atrocities committed by Palestinians are much worse, far more heinous, than anything done by the IDF.

    Then also, with Westerners this is a common belief. Our crimes simply don’t seem as criminal as the crimes of the Other, at least not to many Americans. That helps answer the first question.

    • thetumta
      May 6, 2011, 8:50 pm

      Donald,
      How do you propose to stand up to these bullies? I’m game.
      Hej!
      P.S. I think this might be your first experience with rampant “Tribalism”?
      It’s always a shock to a thinking mind.

  2. Shunra
    May 6, 2011, 2:57 pm

    If Sullivan doesn’t understand why Wiesenfeld commands instant assent from his peers, there is only one cure: he should be adopted by a Jewish family and go to a year or two worth of Shabbases & seders.

    That should make things abundantly clear.

  3. pabelmont
    May 6, 2011, 3:04 pm

    Everyone who doesn’t actually believe that Weisenfeld baloney is at least concerned for the “feelings of my Jewish friends”. They probably did not — in that instant — imagine this blowing up into a public scandal. (No-one that I’ve ever heard of says, in similar circumstances, “I have to consider the feelings of my Arab or Palestinian friends.)

  4. Thomson Rutherford
    May 6, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Sullivan: “… the hideous history of anti-Semitism in the twentieth century makes eliminationist language about the Jewish people and their absolute right to a homeleand repellent in every way.

    In an otherwise excellent piece, the language extracted above is jarring. If I say that the Jewish “people” do not have an ABSOLUTE right to a homeland that already belongs to another “people”, is that equivalent to using “eliminationist language about the Jewish people”? I don’t think so.

    It’s this ABSOLUTE business about Jewish rights, and only Jewish rights, that bothers me no end. That is what we’ve got to ELIMINATE – just that. But I think that implies we must get rid of Zionism as we know it in America.

    • American
      May 6, 2011, 3:52 pm

      I agree…Sullivan can’t even write about Wiesenfeld’s racism without first putting the Jews and anti semitism front and center…..and throwing in all the ‘absolute rights’ of Jews.
      Gads!….there he (Andrew) is right front of his own nose and he doesn’t see it in himself.
      Always with the Jews first, always. Never speaks to anything on just plain ‘any person’ or all peoples’ terms.

      They don’t get it and they never will.
      No matter how many times you explain the obvious to them.
      I guess they just don’t want to get it.

      • Kathleen
        May 6, 2011, 4:04 pm

        You can bet your ass Sullivan has been taking a slamming

      • ToivoS
        May 6, 2011, 5:12 pm

        I agree Kathleen. That line was very jarring and I interpreted it as an attempt to preempt the attack that he knows will follow.

        It was during cast lead that Sullivan started to criticize Israel — before that he was very tight with the neocons. Hell in 2003 he was calling those of us opposed to the Iraq war traitors who should be dealt with as such. Sullivan remains a conservative and I accept the changes he has made.

      • American
        May 6, 2011, 11:35 pm

        I am tempted to convert to Judaism or declare myself a Jew just so they can slam me too…somehow being called a plain vanilla anti semite doesn’t enrage me like it use to…. I want to be a self hating Jew, they get all the attention these days. LOL

      • Shingo
        May 6, 2011, 11:57 pm

        I agree…Sullivan can’t even write about Wiesenfeld’s racism without first putting the Jews and anti semitism front and center…..and throwing in all the ‘absolute rights’ of Jews.

        I agree, but I don’t blame Sullivan for that. His non anti Semitic credentials have have been established by the Hasbara gate keepers, and he is taking precautionary measures by reaffirming these every time he posts such a criticism.

        We witnessed In recent debates that Zionists will only listen to criticism when it is prefaces with such declarations. If it means more will actually listen to what he has to say, then good luck to him.

      • Shunra
        May 7, 2011, 2:24 pm

        Funny how you can’t criticize Israel unless you are proven to have absolutely no criticism you want to make, because any criticism is anti-semitic.
        Seems a bit of a paradox to me, but what do I know? I’ve been critical of Israel since I met it.

      • RoHa
        May 7, 2011, 9:27 pm

        “We witnessed In recent debates that Zionists will only listen to criticism when it is prefaces with such declarations. If it means more will actually listen to what he has to say”

        Good point, but it means that they only listen to criticisms which will pass through that filter, and interpret them in the light of that view.

        But I suppose that is better than nothing.

    • tree
      May 6, 2011, 4:08 pm

      I also found this jarring:

      Now I am not saying that this kind of thing isn’t also common throughout the Arab and Muslim world with respect to Jews, who are demonized, dehumanized and lied about on a regular basis. It is extremely common; it is more prevalent than its opposite;

      Why did he consider this a necessary caveat about Arabs and Muslims when talking about racist attitudes on the part of an American? And how does he know that it is “extremely common” and “more prevalent than its opposite”? And what does he mean by “its opposite”? Dehumanization of Arabs in the Jewish world? If so then its likely he’s wrong about that, or at least subject to serious dispute, so why mention it with respect to Weisenfeld? Why criticize Arab and Muslim culture when talking about the attitudes of an American Jew?

      Why is it considered necessary to tread so lightly in calling out racism exhibited by a Jew?

      • thetumta
        May 6, 2011, 8:53 pm

        It’s not unless your a coward. There not going to physically lynch you. Maybe sick the Justice Department on you? But you can stand up.
        Hej!

  5. Kathleen
    May 6, 2011, 4:04 pm

    “All of this is a deliberate and sustained dehumanization of an entire people.”

    This sentence would apply to the lack of accountability for the Iraqi war crimes committed by the Bush administrations invasion of Iraq based on a “pack of lies” and OBL being held accountable for his crimes against humanity. When the world and the US value Iraqi, Palestinian lives as much as we value Americans who were killed on 9/11 then we know “justice has really been done”
    Glenn has a great piece up about our values application of international laws and standards
    link to salon.com

  6. Debonnaire
    May 6, 2011, 5:07 pm

    CCNY: Circumcised Citizens Of New York (Lenny Bruce) has Fear of the Jews as so many do. If you stand up to these scrofula – they’ll scurry away.

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