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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Anti-Semitism Claims Are Made Too Often

Berlin activists with a banner saying 'Against anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel'


No-one doubts that there will be people who hate Jews.

The most obvious example is devout and observant Muslims, who are commanded by their religion to do so. They are also ordered to hate Christians, but for some reason the latter injunction doesn't evoke even a fraction of the emotion inspired by the former, despite the fact that an infinitely higher number of Christians than Jews suffer the consequences of this today.

Incidentally - this is not relevant to the rest of the article -, I've found what I consider a better way to distinguish between Muslims of various degrees of radicalism. Rather than the self-contradictory expression "moderate Muslims", invented by the West for tactical (read "cowardly") reasons and not used by the Islamic world, I prefer to call "devout and observant Muslims" the Mohammedans who are usually referred to as "militant and extremist", with the implication that those of them who are not covered by this description are not Muslim in the truest sense.

Going back to the main topic, the reason why Islamic Jew-hatred provokes much more indignation than Islamic Christian-hatred is not difficult to understand. It's because anti-Semitism is - or rather has become - another buzzword of the politically-correct language of today's ideological orthodoxy. According to this prevailing dogma, being against Christians does not even remotely approach the same level of sinfulness as attacking Jews.

Accusations of anti-Semitism, without reaching the absurdity and scope of charges of Islamophobia, have nevertheless something in common with them. They say: there is a protected group here, designated as victim, that shouldn't be messed with, or else.

This is not healthy, as it doesn't effectively distinguish real Jew-haters from people who simply have criticisms to make which, as in the case of Islam or Muslims, may be directed at Judaism or Jews.

This is something I have observed over time, but a particular direct experience of it brought it home to me more forcefully.

It all started with the short post "Wrong to Have Animals Killed in War" I wrote on this blog a couple of months ago, prompted by the news of an Israeli military dog killed in a Gaza blast who saved her handler's life.

This elicited two responses which - although one is anonymous - I think came from the same people, as they are worded almost identically.

The first you can see on the post page as a comment:
time I took my Jewish support away from LIbertyGB
there were dogs used in WW2
the Isola da [sic] Elba is over-run with homeless cats
they eat live animal sushi in Japan
but look...can we talk about all this instead of being enemies?
The next day an email was received by my party Liberty GB from two Jewish ladies who were supporters, asking: "Can you please remove this blog?"

The rest of the email is a repetition of the above comment, and ends with: "Why pick on us Jews, clearly singled out?"

Now, one can disagree with my opinion. I have been involved all my life in the movement for animal equality, and I know we are a minority. But no-one can say that my post was anti-Semitic.

Predicting that in these days of heightened sensitivities about anything somebody could - wrongly - read it that way, I wrote (and this is the whole of my comment, the rest of the post being two lines of news):
I have to say that I consider immoral to have dogs or other animals take part in military operations - be it Israeli or any other - as they cannot give their consent.
The "non-anti-Israel" disclaimer is one fifth of the entire text.

I didn't scour the annals of war history to find an apt anti-Semitic episode I could exploit in order to express my hatred of Jews, as these ladies seem to believe. The reason why the post was about an IDF (Israel Defence Forces) canine is simply because it's seeing that news item that inspired it. If I had spotted a similar event in the context of any other army I would have written the same, mutatis mutandis.

What is sinister about these responses is their demand of the removal of my blog, whatever that meant. I'm not sure if these ladies actually know how these things work, but it's immaterial. The spirit of strict censorship - anything we don't like must be removed - is there in full view.

Also unpleasant is the remark "the Isola da [sic] Elba is over-run with homeless cats". Since I am Italian, it looks like a clear tit-for-tat and ad hominem attack. They can be excused for not knowing that I am a lifelong animal activist, but not for neglecting to try to find out something about the context before launching themselves into indictments for anti-Semitism.

Just browsing my blog would have shown them that I've written in support of Israel several times, and would have displayed my animal-rights credentials.

It's a small thing, you may say, and I would agree, if it were not indicative of a much wider and greater phenomenon, of which I was reminded when I read the following in Takimag:
He [American Congressman Jim Traficant] also gained infamy (along with Patrick Buchanan) for opposing the deportation to Israel of John Demjanjuk, whom Traficant insisted had been misidentified as notorious concentration-camp guard “Ivan the Terrible.”
Since Patrick Buchanan is the author of a book I'm reading with great interest, Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, that made me curious to find out more.

It turned out that the case of Ukrainian John Demjanjuk, first sentenced to death by an Israeli court for being the infamous "Ivan the Terrible" guard in Treblinka, the German concentration camp, and years later acquitted by the Supreme Court of Israel because Ivan Marchenko had been established as the real "Ivan the Terrible", is very interesting.

In the clearly not anti-Semitic Kyiv Post, Ukraine’s English-language newspaper, lawyer Andriy J. Semotiuk writes:
While I was not immersed in the case, over the years I became increasingly alarmed by the legal deficiencies that were evident in the prosecution of his case in the United States, then in Israel and finally in Munich.
I don't want to reproduce here all the story of Demjanjuk and his case, which you can follow by reading the links.

Gitta Sereny, an Austrian author of Jewish descent who investigated and wrote extensively about the Third Reich's extermination camps and is another unlikely anti-Semite, had this to say:
From the start of the trial I was concerned that a man was being tried whose identity was in question. My friend Albert Spiess, the German prosecutor of the Treblinka trial and the trial of Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka, considered the identification procedure that had been applied in Israel and which produced the identification of Demjanjuk as Ivan the Terrible to be unacceptable. He had told the Israelis, who had invited him to testify at the trial, that he would have to say so in court, at which point the invitation, not surprisingly, was withdrawn.
So, Buchanan and Traficant, who as the Takimag article says gained "infamy", were right all along: Demjanjuk had been misidentified as "Ivan the Terrible", and the latter was finally found to be another man, Marchenko.

That didn't save Buchanan and Traficant from being accused of anti-Semitism over this episode.

I repeat what I said earlier: anti-Semitism, like anti-Christianity, exists. But it is bandied about too often and too often wrongly.

The kind of defensiveness that leads to imputations of Jew-hate whenever there is a disagreement is too similar to "Islamophobia" for comfort, and doesn't help to isolate and address the real anti-Semitism as it confuses the latter with so many "cry wolf" false alarms.

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