Understanding Antisemitism

One point on which I disagree with Seismic Shock is where he describes Ben White as a journalist. Ben White is a blogger; who graduated from Oxbridge in English literature in 2005, now living in Sao Paolo, Brazil from which he writes polemics against the state of Israel.

White claims to be able to “understand” antisemitism (which he hyphenates), in fact he can understand why respondents to a questionnaire also “understand very well why some people are unpleasant towards Jews”. Wait a minute, Jews? Not Israelis? Not even Zionist Jews (of which, since a massive bottleneck of non- and anti-Zionist Jews in the early 1940s, the overwhelming majority of Jews on Earth are? Yes, Jews.

White attributes this lack of felicity to all the Covenant of Frith towards actions of the modern state of Israel, and the “(theologically false) merging of Zionism with Judaism” (remember, White is an English literature graduate) as well as the disregard for Israeli misdeeds by the “unconditional support for the state of Israel in the media” (has anyone noticed the mini-pogroms on European streets, and somewhat critical approach of the main stream media? Yes, let’s move on).

White also describes Hezbollah, the Shi’a religio-political organization, as a national liberation movement. One could argue that it did have such a role during the Israeli military occupation of southern Lebanon of 1982-2000, but this arguably ended with the pull-out in 2000. After which Hezbollah continued to fire rockets into northern Israel, culminating in the shelling of civilians areas around Shlomo on 12 July 2006 and capture/killing of Israeli soldiers within Israel which sparked Operation Summer Rain.

Ante 2000, however, Hezbollah had already demonstrated a strong desire to target Jews as Jews, as seen in the Interpol arrest warrents currently active for operatives following the 1994 AMIA Jewish community centre bombing in Buenos Aires in which almost 100 people died and many more were injured. As with arguing that the seeking out of a non-Zionist Rabbi and his family at the Chabad House during the 2008 attacks on Bombay was a response to Israeli policies and “not necessarily” antisemitic, the distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism surely becomes meaningless… which White insists is not his intention.

White tells the reader that this “can lead some to misguidedly respond with charges of a ‘Jewish conspiracy’” and that he “does not consider [himself] to be an anti-Semite (sic.)”. A common feature of 19th and early 20th antisemitism in Europe, I have found, is a sense of superiority in the speakers who insist they would like to like Jews, but their actions make it so difficult at times. As White was discussing the emergence of antisemitism amongst Muslim and non-European populations, it is reasonable to assume he expects such individuals to be more susceptible to anti-Jewish racism.

I have said before that I suspect a large part of the animus towards Israel is based on low-expectations of Arabs and Muslims, whereas Israel is assumed to be a European colonial outpost and, therefore, populated by fully formed moral creatures (in fact, White does inform Jews that he knows Zionism is an alien colonial project).

White goes on to reduce the pathopsychcology of all racism to a “disturbed emotional profile”, but with the caveat:

I do not pretend to be a psychologist, but I imagine factors could be ignorance, a dominant influential personality in their life, low self-esteem and numerous other religious, socio-economic dynamics.

Presumably this is in the same sense that cleaning one’s teeth with steel-wool and horse urine is not efficacious dental care.

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