2003.12.19 // Filed under: Aux
In a further appendix to my recent postings on the anti-Zionism/anti-semitism confusion, here is an opinion piece by Emanuele Ottolenghi which illustrates perfectly the infuriating obstinateness of the right-wing viewpoint on this issue.
As a whole, the article is not much more than a spew of binary oppositions that obscure the reality of the situation. But I have chosen a few particular quotes that would make for a great comedy routine, were it not for the fact that Ottolenghi is deadly serious:
>Many equate Israel to Nazism, claiming that “yesterday’s victims are today’s perpetrators”: last year, Louis de Bernières wrote in the Independent that “Israel has been adopting tactics which are reminiscent of the Nazis”. This equation between victims and murderers denies the Holocaust.
Denies the Holocaust?!? How does drawing a fair parallel between the active treatment of the Jews under Hitler in 1930s Germany and the treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories by the current Israeli administration deny the Holocaust? Someone please tell me, because to me this isn’t even a logically valid conclusion.
>The argument that it is Israel’s behaviour, and Jewish support for it, that invite prejudice sounds hollow at best and sinister at worst. That argument means that sympathy for Jews is conditional on the political views they espouse. This is hardly an expression of tolerance. It singles Jews out. It is anti-semitism.
True, that is anti-semitism. Israel’s behaviour, and Jewish support for it, should not invite prejudice. But prejudice is not synonymous with criticism, as much as Ottolenghi would like it to be, and this is the neon-lit weakness in his shoddy rhetoric.
Sympathy for Jews is not conditional on the political views they espouse. At root, religion has nothing to do with it, but it seems people like Ariel Sharon, and apparently Ottolenghi too, continue to use Judaism, or at least their Jewishness, as a shield to protect their own agenda, which is not representative of Jewish people as a whole. To scratch past the surface, sympathy for the Israeli administration is and should be conditional on the political views they espouse, and the political and military actions they take.
>Israel errs like all other nations: it is normal.
Isn’t it disingenuous to say that Israel merely errs? As if the Israeli administration’s systematic (and on the verge of racist) policies and activities with regard to the Occupied Territories are just boo-boos, and they’re vewy vewy sowwy and they won’t do it again. Sure. The Israeli government doesn’t merely err — it knows exactly what it’s doing. And that’s scary.
Update 22/12: Yet another addition! This here is an interesting piece on avant-garde jazz saxophonist John Zorn regarding his commitment to (what he terms) radical Jewish culture, inspired by a strain of Zionism that most (Zionists and anti-Zionists alike) don’t seem make any distinctions about, which no doubt confuses the situation even more.