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Latest twist in Sanchez tailspin underscores cost of being accused of anti-Semitism

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The other day DailyKos accused me of anti-Semitism and I hit back hard. Since then I’ve reflected on how damaging a charge of anti-Semitism can be. And it’s a lot worse for non-Jews than for me– I’m somewhat insulated against the charge cuz I’m Jewish. I believe that Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer refused to debate Alan Dershowitz because he’d called them anti-Semites, and I now fully understand their refusal to grant a platform to the person who makes such a charge.

Back in 2002 or so a bunch of Harvard and MIT professors signed on to a divest-from Israel initiative, and then-Harvard president Larry Summers said the initiative was anti-Semitic in effect if not intent; and his statement crushed the initiative. I remember interviewing a couple of the professors at the time. They were terrified. They didn’t want their names used. They had basically crawled under their desks, afraid of what the charge could do to their careers.

  As Jefferson Morley wrote recently, it doesn’t matter that he married a Jew; because he supports boycott of Israel, “I am by the current norms of the nation’s capital, a borderline anti-Semite whose views have no place in respectable debates in Washington.”

You’ll remember that venerable Helen Thomas paid a dear price, her career, for saying that Jews should leave Israel. Later Thomas further angered Jewish organizations by making comments about Jewish influence in Washington, on policymaking and on media institutions. 

That didn’t stop the Arab-American National Museum in Dearborn from unveiling a bust of her.

The bust is interesting. It demonstrates that notwithstanding the fearful orthodoxy around even talking about Jewish power, we have one conversation in shadow and one conversation in the light. People want to talk about these issues, because they’re obviously important. But an open debate is not allowed. There’s fear of a backlash of persecution of Jews if people talked publicly about stuff they’re already talking about privately.

Rick Sanchez got fired from CNN last year after accusing Jon Stewart of bigotry during a radio interview and then scoffing at his interviewer’s suggestion that Jews are a powerless minority– saying that Jews are all over the media. Steve Sailer gets off a quip about Jewish powerlessness, and adds:

Less than ten months later, Sanchez has now gotten a part-time job. Well, it’s not actually a job, since he isn’t getting paid to do it. Mediaite reported on July 27:
According to the Miami Herald, ex-CNN anchor Rick Sanchez will be back this fall–on the radio in South Florida–calling football games for the FIU Golden Panthers. … Sanchez says he’s taking the gig to “give something back” to a school he’s close to: ”I’m extremely excited to be volunteering my time to Florida International…”

Rick Sanchez has been in agony for the last year, and he’s been penitent. (I always liked his coverage of Israel and Palestine.) I wonder if Stewart has ever had Sanchez on to his show. I’m sure Sanchez would apologize for calling Stewart a bigot; and maybe they could have a real conversation?

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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