Some edits: (1) Added a CC notice. (2) Changed the last panel to read “without resorting to common anti-Semitic tropes” instead of “without resorting to anti-Semitic slanders”.
Tags: antisemitism flowchart
A former UCU (or rather AUT) member writes…
This would make a most excellent PowerPoint presentation. May I borrow it (with appropriate attribution, of course)?
Hmm, and Engage have linked to it. They do realise it is intended to be ironic, I hope? It is, isn’t it?
Francis: feel free to use this as you please. Anyone else is also free to use it as they please.
Peter: what do you mean by ironic? There’s a certain amount of sarcasm embedded here and there, but it’s intended as an actual tool to make people think about their criticisms. It’s also not meant to be 100% inclusive. I’m sure there are other anti-Semitic tropes that I forgot to add, but I think it covers the common ones. It can also be used both ways, that is, as a defence If someone is reflexively accused of anti-Semitism because of a completely fair criticism of Israeli policy.
1. “Fault” is not a boolean—there are degrees of fault—and the proposition advanced by your chart, that all fault regardless of degree must be dealt with in all argument, is specious.
2. Your chart, in its deliberate use of the terms “exclusively” and “every”, provides that merely hat-tipping the proposition that Israel is not always at fault allows one’s arguments to be exonerated of anti-Semitism.
3. Israel is not Jews; Jews are not Israel. Your conflation of the two when discussing anti-Semitism is an example of begging the question, and acts to obfuscate rather than clarify. A State, like a Corporation, is not merely, and can never be directly compared with, a group of individuals. (For example, States operate in a different intellectual and political space, have different rights and responsibilities, and should therefore be held to different standards, than individuals.) Many Jews oppose Israel; are they therefore anti-Semitic (or indeed “self-hating”, as that most monstrous of slurs would have it)? Many Israelis oppose the actions of their State. Does this make them anti-Semitic? Some Israelis, regardless of their views of the State, are not Jews. How do they fit into this argument?
Some anti-Semites are supporters of Israel, and not all critics of Israel are anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism does not necessarily intersect with criticism of Israel regardless of the degree or exclusivity of that criticism; suggesting otherwise is a correlative fallacy. Nevertheless, the fact that it’s a Straw Man until it becomes logically dubious three steps before the end aside, removing all references to Israel from your chart could bring it at least within spitting distance of rationality.
I was already working on a change to the flowchart before you wrote your comment because I realised that the chart couldn’t possibly cover all conceivable anti-Semitic statements.
I’ve conflated Israel and Jews because (i) Israel is a Jewish state, not just a state which has a high population of Jews, and (ii) the conflation is incredibly common, and (iii) I was thinking of the conflation as it is currently applied by the UCU and the UN Human Rights Council. Given the number of left-wing, right-wing, theocratic, and kleptocratic nations that have engaged in extraordinary human rights abuses, the unswerving determination of these two groups to punish Israel, and only Israel, can really only be explained by anti-Semitism.
I agree there are Jews who are not Israeli, Israelis who are not Jewish, and Jews who disapprove of some, or even many, Israeli policies. This chart is directed at people making criticisms regardless of background. Also, I agree that the “self-hating” tag ought to be avoided at all costs.
I also agree that fault is complex, but nevertheless I think it’s fair to say that where there is fault on both sides, one should acknowledge it even if one side is clearly more deserving of criticism — within reason, obviously. I’m not trying to claim that every trivial misdemeanour on one side should be lined up against horrific atrocities on the other. I was hoping this would be the obvious inference; sorry if it wasn’t clear.
Having said that, I don’t quite understand your criticism since your last paragraph was almost exactly the point I was trying to make. It is possible to criticise Israel and/or Jews without being anti-Semitic, but it is too easy for people to either (i) hide their anti-Semitism behind a veneer of “fair” criticism when their criticism is entirely one-sided, or (ii) to dismiss genuinely fair criticism as anti-Semitic. I would also point out that this chart is not intended to cover “support for” or “antagonism to” Israel overall. It is intended to address specific claims and arguments. What I was hoping to achieve was some sort of recognition that (i) if one is going to be critical of Israel or Jews, then try to avoid these pitfalls, and equally, (ii) if one is going to call a criticism of Israel or Jews anti-Semitic, you’d better make sure there’s a good reason for doing so.
As for those anti-Semites who support Israel, they are almost entirely protestant fundamentalists in the US who think the state of Israel is part of god’s plan for the end of days. These people are utterly bonkers and their arguments (for want of a more disdainful word) can’t even really be mapped on the plane of coherence. Any flowchart to deal with them would have to go right back to the root of all rationality.
I was struggling for appropriate words.
The implicit beauty of this chart is that it can easily apply to discrimination resp. racism against about every group or people, including certain neighboring ones.
Jeremy Byrne apparently knows some things about spitting distances from rationality – and ingenuousness. While Israel (rather than Israeli) and Jewish, as classes, are not identical, they are hugely overlapping concepts, especially in consideration of the complexity of the terms. Israel as an historical idea, in addition to a national entity, will embrace, for instance, non-Israeli Jewish Zionists. Certainly, in contrast, when critics of Israel do criticize it, they do not have the Arab population of the country in mind. Israel as anything more than phonemes has no meaning apart from its Jewishness. One need only review the comments sections at the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Mondoweiss, and many other monomaniacally Israel-focused venues to witness how readily and commonly does concentrated yet purportedly unbiased concern with Israel’s alleged flaws come crashing into widely varied manifestations of anti-Semitism.
Rather than any straw man in the many oft-visible conflations of anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel that Chris notes, the empty suit of an argument in this discussion is in Byrne’s rather quick and ready assertion that “[s]ome anti-Semites are supporters of Israel” – a claim that is problematic on its face, despite the pretense of rational distinction. Chris provides one answer to that claim. Another is in the call for a clear definition of terms. What do we mean by “supporter,” what by “Israel”? By the latter do we mean, significantly, what is, rather than a fulfillment of Jewish identity and history, instead an ultimate development in another belief system’s eschatological realization? Good on Christian fundamentalists, but not quite what Jews mean by Israel. This then requires clarification of what is meant by supporter. Does practical (perhaps even unsought) political alliance equate to support? Was circumstantial Allied alliance with the Soviet Union during World War II the equivalent of American and British support for Stalinism? No doubt, it would be a convenience to many if one might reasonably argue that anti-Semites can be “supporters” of Israel – the way rapists and physically abusive men “love” women.
Jeremy Byrne has offered dazzling slashes and twirls of his logical scimitar, but Indiana Jones is still standing, unscathed. Byrne may even have cut himself.
There, fixed it for you: http://i.imgur.com/fHwgL.gif
Well, that’s practically a gift in confirmation from a little birdy. Clearly, “(self-)chosen people” is a criticism of Israel. Anti-Semitism, the gift that keeps on giving.
Your flowchart has no outs, which means that in your schema *any* criticism of Israel or Jews is automatically anti-Semitic. This is not what I meant, as should have been obvious. At the risk of misunderstanding you, I am guessing from the tone of your last box that you think the chart is designed to dismiss all criticism.
But a critic who is unable to construct an argument free of proven forgeries, negative stereotypes, gossip or hearsay, crude generalisation, double standards, one-sided moral attribution, or singling out one nation among many for punitive measures, is not, I would suggest, motivated by reasonable concerns. If you disagree with this, I would be interested to know how you think one can tell if a criticism is reasonable or anti-Semitic?
A. Jay Adler,
Thanks for your posts. Jeremy, by the way, is a good friend of mine and although we have quite a few disagreements on political issues, his views are very much geared towards humanist values and against racism. I believe our viewpoints are much closer than his post seems to indicate. My feeling is that Jeremy was trying to get me to disengage Israel from Jewishness in the flowchart because he feels that criticism of Israel should not automatically be dismissed as anti-Semitism. I happen to agree with his conclusion, but not his premise. That is, I don’t think the flowchart leads to that outcome.
I really like this.
I have a few minor comments.
1. Hasn’t the UCU strategy & finance committee done several of these things? The flowchart implies that it has given all but the last a miss. Also, maybe you should provide a version without the direct UCU reference. That box is awesome, but without it, the flowchart might be more useful as an educational tool. Also, removing that box would ensure that the flowchart would remain accurate in the future even if the UCU – though this seems unlikely – were to reform. :-)
2. The points about proximate cause and reflexive action are solid, but the terminology will probably fly over the heads of a lot of English readers, especially those for whom English is a “second language.” Simplifying the language will allow the graphic to reach more people.
3. The point about double standards does not relate exclusively to faults. Criticism of Israel also becomes anti-Semitic when it is predicated on denying Israeli Jews/Israel the basic rights that are accorded to citizens and governments of every non-Jewish country in the world, e.g. right to basic self defense when violently attacked, right to exist peacefully in the first place, right and indeed obligation of a government to defend its citizens. If a person is a complete pacifist, then their criticism of an Israeli strike agains Hamas is NOT anti-Semitic, because they employ the same standard with every other country too. But when only Israel and its people are singled out and criticized in a manner that attempts to deny them their basic rights, that’s a very different matter.
4. I like the fact that you gave this a Creative Commons license.
Regardless, well done!
Do you trace every moral causation back to actions by Israel?
I thought this may also include “the establishment of” or “the existence of” Israel: often in anti-semitic discourse the establishment of Israel (as a wholly artificial implant in the Middle East) is the original sin implicitly justifying any action by the other side.
Is that supposed to be a CC-BY license? See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ for a complete set of current licenses to pick from.
A. Jay Adler, while praising me with faint damnation, does raise a couple of points worth addressing. Israel indeed likes to portray itself as embracing historical Zionism; however, while some historical Zionists felt that a State in the Levant might be a good idea, many (some of whom modernity can thank for The Yiddish Policeman’s Union) didn’t, and the majority of their contemporaries saw early Zionists as wing-nuts. I do think A. Jay is right that when we criticise Israel we don’t think of its Arab minority, but he’s wrong when he implies we think of its Jewish majority; a State is not its people, and the character of Israel is not in any meaningful sense a Jewish one, but rather a modern secular democracy. (Indeed to claim that Israel is nothing apart from its Jewishness seriously undervalues the malevolent potential of Nation States. Israel is perfectly capable of violent oppression without needing help from religion.)
Finally, my reference to anti-Semites who supported Israel was as much about Balfour and his successors ostracising European Jewry to the far-distant wastes of Arabia as the Dispensationalists viewing Israelis as End Times conversion fodder. In fact Israel is as much a creation of anti-Semites as of Jewish Nationalists: if it hadn’t been for pogroms and holocausts, mainstream Jewish Europeans could have continued to enrich the lives of their countrymen at home instead of having to chose between death and flight into the desert to live out their days fighting the neighbours, reviving dead languages and bulldozing olive groves. Sometimes, when the news is full of towering concrete walls splashed with the blood of innocents, the whole “Middle East situation” begins to feel like a Nazi plot to try to make Jews look bad.
I’ve conflated Israel and Jews because (i) Israel is a Jewish state, not just a state which has a high population of Jews
That seems a lot like conflating criticism of Jordan with criticism of Islam, or Cambodia with Buddhism. Sure, Israel may be the only modern State professing to be Jewish, but while some of its ardent supporters would like it to be so, Israel is no more the State of All Jewish People than Britain is the State of All English People, or of All Anglicans.
(ii) the conflation is incredibly common
Well yes, amongst people trying to label critics of Israel as anti-Semites it is.
(iii) I was thinking of the conflation as it is currently applied by the UCU and the UN Human Rights Council. Given the number of left-wing, right-wing, theocratic, and kleptocratic nations that have engaged in extraordinary human rights abuses, the unswerving determination of these two groups to punish Israel, and only Israel, can really only be explained by anti-Semitism.
I admit I’m ignorant of the UCU’s monstering and only peripherally cognizant of the depravities of the UNHRC, but surely there are other explanations, even if only in the hypothetical. Might they not see Israel as a modern, wealthy nation, founded by some of the cream of Europe’s intellectual elite, whom they would seek to hold to particularly high standards? Perhaps they feel they have a better chance with Israel, because many Israelis are well-educated, liberal and cosmopolitan. Could it be they feel a kinship with Israelis that they don’t with the people of those other nations (which might say more about cultural biases in other directions, I suppose)? What about the possibility they may see Israel’s destabilising role in the region as the last remnant of a colonialism for which the Europeans amongst them feel some personal responsibility? They might even see the ideological and moral burden imposed by Israel’s actions as simply too onerous for the Jewish diaspora to continue to bear. Surely it can’t only be because they’re all hateful racists who see Jews as subhuman and Israel as an existential threat.
I find the cognitive bias implied by this assessment baffling. Maybe it’s an indicator of the enormous psychological power of a term like “anti-Semite”; so loaded is it with societal guilt and association with lunatic regimes that it exerts an almost Orwellian power to distort perceptions. Antisemitism is a real phenomenon with both unique and extraordinary historical manifestations and a continuing influence at personal and political levels. However, use of the term as a blunt-force instrument to stifle debate over the actions of the State of Israel mocks and devalues that reality. It’s a cheap shot: a criticism rarely worthy of serious debate, and It really deserves a Godwin’s Law of its own. Machiavellian Victorian-Era Prime Ministers aside, most actual anti-Semites are remarkably stupid people, readily revealed in their ignorance and bigotry. If you find yourself positing sinister, hidden motivations in your quest to unmask them, it might just be you’re over-sensitised.
this is gay
I’m curious — why is this blog showing up on a page link to Asimov’s Science Fiction? The question about whether you can be anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic (or rather, anti-Jewish) seems out of place here. (By the way, the answer is yes.)
And I find the post by Jewishnegro to be odd. How is this “gay”? Is that using the word in the context of being derisive, as in “that is so gay”? Haven’t you seen the PSA by Wanda Sykes (who is both African American and lesbian) showing how that usage is derogatory towards gays (as the word “gypped” is to Gypsies, or Roma)? What if someone said “that is so negro”? Think about it.
Are you anti-goyim?: then I’m antisemitic. Try any trick you want, what you give is what you get. And we know you all too well to fall about any thing like this.
Evidence about history, evidence in what’s all around now with YOUR jew financial power; control of the mass media, hiding of all that misery YOU caused, all the facts you’re not interested about, the deliberate financial disasters of JEW ANTI-GOYIST BANK, which is as much as saying all the rulling top bankers. And now you seek to master our thoughts once more. Don’t go on: you started this, and so, fault is far more yours than anyone else’s.
& We also know what the Talmud is all about. I read it myself, what a pity, we are not the ignorants you’d like, neither our ancestrors were when they told what yours were.
Let’s see when are we seing one authoanalisyng article of yours by here- the sort:
“I’m I manipulative?”, “do I squeme for sumiting all of mankind to my desires?”, “Don’t I care nothing about how much people do I need to walk over for gettig my way?”, “can I justify myself all of my plotting, all of my means of goyim subyugation?”, “is not all the huge power we have through complete economic control suspectfull enough?”, “can anyone even think of believing one single word that goes out of my mouth?”, “I’m a good person?”, “what’s a good person”, “what in the world does that odd word good mean?”, “Am I a compulsive liar?”, “what do I think about this stuff: Schulchan Aruch, Choszen Hamiszpat 348, Libbre David 37,
“do I consider we jews are in war agains everyone else, a hidden one, and that it is righteous and is ok that we spread worldwide eventualy taking over on our own?”, “are many fellow jews doing all they can to get goym misserable and helpless, while we get sick rich?”, “doesn’t all what has happened since 11/09/2001 and therefore have it’s origing in some very powerfull jews’ esquemes?”, “Am I willing to answer sincerely to all this?”
Hash. There you should have to recognize much more shit than anyone can handdle.
Come on, man.
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“Might they not see Israel as a modern, wealthy nation, founded by some of the cream of Europe’s intellectual elite, whom they would seek to hold to particularly high standards? Perhaps they feel they have a better chance with Israel, because many Israelis are well-educated, liberal and cosmopolitan. Could it be they feel a kinship with Israelis that they don’t with the people of those other nations (which might say more about cultural biases in other directions, I suppose)? ”
But to believe this one would surely need evidence of some underlying sympathy from the critics for the cultural, intellectual and, if I might use the term, “soft” side of Israel as opposed to its inevitably harder e.g. military face. Also acknowledgment of Israel’s democracy and liberalism. Yet a mere moment’s thought would disabuse one of such ideas. The BDS movement for example makes no distinction between a dance company and a speech say, by an Israeli military figure, whilst the epithets often launched at Israel are to the effect that it is anything but a liberal democracy and rather a “Zionazi” “Apartheid” state.
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