The Rev. Bruce Shipman controversy at Yale— Israel’s carnage in Gaza is fueling anti-Semitism — is echoing in other places. Ken Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, is the son of a Holocaust survivor, but Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic polices him for speaking incorrectly about the effects of Israel’s actions on European anti-Semitism:
A few days ago, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, tweeted the following statement: “Germans rally against anti-Semitism that flared in Europe in response to Israel’s conduct in Gaza war. Merkel joins.” Roth provided a link to a New York Times article about the rally, which took place in Berlin.
Roth’s framing of this issue is very odd and obtuse. Anti-Semitism in Europe did not flare “in response to Israel’s conduct in Gaza,” or anywhere else. Anti-Semitic violence and invective are not responses to events in the Middle East, just as anti-Semitism does not erupt “in response” to the policies of banks owned by Jews, or in response to editorial positions taken by The New York Times. This is for the simple reason that Jews do not cause anti-Semitism.
It is a universal and immutable rule that the targets of prejudice are not the cause of prejudice.
Is NYT wrong that antiSemitism “flared up..following Israel’s invasion of Gaza” … was it the weather?
From that Times story:
“Thousands of Germans, many wrapped in Israeli flags, gathered at Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate on Sunday for a rally against anti-Semitism, which has flared up in Europe following Israel’s invasion of Gaza.”
Why don’t you admit a connection? It doesn’t justify anti-Semitism. It’s always wrong to blame Jews for Israel’s abuses.
The instances of anti-Semitism in that Times piece are horrifying, but we all recognize the logic of Roth’s position. Especially because the Jewish community and the Israel lobby seek to enforce an identification of Jewishness with Zionism; because Israel’s rightwing warmongering prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he is the “leader” of the Jewish people. Thus, this new report by Amcha, a pro-Israel group, on anti-Semitic activity on campus include supporting Boycott, divestment and sanctions; comparing Israelis to Nazis, “demonizing” and “delegitimizing Israel,” and so forth. Throughout the report, attacks on Israelis are deemed to be attacks on Jews. If the two categories, Jews and Israelis, are held to be co-extensive by these propagandists, then is it any surprise that some Europeans who dislike Israel will make the same error?
Gary Rosenblatt at the Jewish Week seems to agree with Roth; he says that Netanyahu’s indifference to world opinion in the wake of Gaza makes Jews around the world “cringe.”
Did you, like me and many other supporters of Israel, cringe on reading the other day that the Jerusalem government had laid claim to nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank, presumably for settlement expansion?…
The bottom-line message he projects to the world, and especially to the U.S. and to American Jews, is that Israel is not subject to international pressure, even from its best friends…
What, if anything, can we as American Jews do to stop the hemorrhaging of goodwill in Washington and around the country toward Israel?
[We should] let Israel’s leaders know of our discomfort with their diplomatic arrogance. They need to understand that while American support for Israel continues to hold, there is slippage among younger people, particularly among minority groups and women. The same unease holds true for many younger American Jews who feel that Israel has not done all it could to make a two-state solution a reality. These are not healthy signs for the future.
Second, challenge Israeli government officials to take a wider, deeper view of their decision-making process, and to appreciate the serious consequences.
Again: among those serious consequences is a widespread confusion of Judaism and Zionism, which the Jewish state and its supporters have propagated. And anti-Zionists are doing the hard labor here, of explaining that Judaism and Zionism may be overlapping categories, but they are in no way congruent.
P.S. Goldberg’s neoconservative ally, James Kirchick at Tablet, doesn’t accept Goldberg’s rule, that the targets of prejudice are always innocent. Not when it comes to Muslims anyway:
While it’s true that many Europeans are prejudiced against Muslims, to conflate all critical attitudes of Islam is to act as if Islam itself and the behavior of Muslims play no part in generating negative views.
Thanks to Scott Roth.