I am thankful for this thread. At first, I was, embarrassingly, and a little surprisingly, a little convinced by JVPs arguments. This despite my general disagreement with JVP’s approach, and their empty and under-informed “anti-racist” principles that seem to me to approach blackwashing, and which are all too familiar in the Liberal Zionist para-lobby.
But this thread (along with some other pieces linked to in this thread) has done an amazing job completely desiccating JVP’s hit job against Alison Weir, and in the process, kind of exposing JVP’s own racism as something similar to the white supremacist radio shows they are so concerned about.
I will be personally reevaluating my own distrust of Alison Weir, and reading her work. Despite the fact that I don’t know anyone in JVP, or any anti-Zionist Jews who find her to be anti-Semitic, and that I know many, many, who hold her in high, high regard, I admit I have always suspected a hint of anti-semitism, racism, and imperialism in her work, and because of that, I have personally prioritized reading the work of other activists. This thread has certainly made me reevaluate that suspicion, and add her work to my priorities list. She is a favorite punching bang of overt Zionists; that never made me think her work was worth reading. But now that the covert Zionists have piled on, and in the process risked completely exposing themselves, I will be reading her work.
… At some point we need to de-Zionize the discussion of anti-semitism, and reclaim the concept from these hatemongers. We always say that anti-Zionists aren’t anti-semitic… but, dare I say, and I say this carefully, very carefully… maybe pure non-anti-semitism is a ridiculous , absurd, and completely misguided goal. When many anti-racist activists speak about racism, they talk first about acknowledging the depth and intricacies of racism, and acknowledge that even the most devoted anti-racist can have latent racism. To be anti-racist, people who benefit from white privilege must first acknowledge that they are racist. That all white people start from a racist state, because racism is not just a matter of overt propaganda that can be logically deconstructed, but also invades our deep subconscious. And even the overt propaganda can take a lifetime to completely understand. And, of course, non-white people can still internalize racist structures and attitudes, can still have conditional access to some forms of white privilege, and say unintentionally racist things. The discussion of what is and what is not racist can legitimately go on forever.
Along those lines, Maybe we should stop saying, “I’m not an anti-semite,” and start saying, yes, I’m committed to anti-semitism, but I don’t claim to be completely devoid of anti-semitism. “We are all anti-semites.” Ok, not exactly that, that was a bit of a joke.
But, more importantly to anti-Zionists, the discussion of anti-semitism is most often totally and utterly irrelevant. Palestinians face an extreme violence every day, and it is not a matter of historical discussion or prophylactics, it is an urgent situation which needs our attention yesterday. And within that context the discussion of anti-semitism is too often abstract and indulgent.
To go further along those lines, the discussion of anti-semitism is too often completely dissociated from all anti-racist principles. To talk about racism is to talk about white privilege in the context of structural racial oppression. Zionism, among other things, is a system of structural racial oppression. Jews have white privilege. With Zionism, Jewish privilege is white privilege.
It is not necessarily racist or bigoted to criticize whites for being whites. To generalize the oppressor and call attention to the dominant race, which attempts to make itself invisible and unmarked (using words like “colorblind” or “post-racial”) is not racist or bigoted. That argument approaches the reverse racism charge.
And this is the problem with anti-semitism in the context of Zionism. To be anti-semitic is not always to be racist. Just like to be anti-American or anti-White is not always racist. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. We don’t always know when it is and when it isn’t. That is just too complicated. And, also, no one cares if a child whose parents have just been killed by the IDF in Gaza says something negative about Jews as a whole. In some contexts it really is okay.
Sometimes I am surprised to see how strong my own latent Zionism can still be, despite my (not always best) efforts. And certainly, after this thread, I see a lot of latent Zionism in my distrust of Alison Weir.
While I will be reading her work now, I question the human rights approach (which is of course also the approach of JVP). There is very often a covert racism and imperialism to human rights. In some ways it’s obvious that Weir is going further than anyone else… but still… this national interest stuff has got some real issues. The blood libel thing was unnecessary. It doesn’t matter if a Jewish historian corroborates it. Jewish white privilege is inconsistent, so I think the concern is not entirely unfounded. Similarly, with JVP, sometimes I think JVP is worse than the KKK, but then sometimes I see how dedicated and real some members are, how valuable their work is…