Never forget, has been the admonition from those who rightly insist that the world should never forget the horror of the Holocaust. Strange then that the term which describes the hatred that gave rise to the Holocaust should have been turned into a cheap political weapon whose primary purpose is to stifle criticism of Israel. It seems that those who say we should never forget, have themselves forgotten the meaning of anti-Semitism.
One of the most compelling illustrations of this fact is Yoav Shamir’s brilliant documentary, Defamation, currently viewable on YouTube (though it has a habit of periodically getting pulled down) and if not watched there, also now available for instant viewing at Netflix.
Glenn Greenwald writes about the latest ruckus kicked up by the Israel lobby and the efforts of former AIPAC spokesmen Josh Block, to silence those who dare criticize Israel or even question the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. (And note, as I pointed out earlier, Block — like many others — treats “nuclear program” and “nuclear weapons program” as synonyms.
Look at what Josh Block told Politico about what makes someone an anti-Semite:
As a progressive Democrat, I am convinced that on issues as important as the US-Israel alliance and the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, there is no room for uncivil discourse or name calling, like ‘Israel Firster or ‘Likudnik’, and policy or political rhetoric that is hostile to Israel, or suggests that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, has no place in the mainstream Democratic party discourse. I also believe that when it occurs, progressive institutions, have a responsibility not to tolerate such speech or arguments.
So according to Block, you are not allowed (unless you want to be found guilty of anti-Semitism) to use “policy rhetoric that is hostile to Israel” or — more amazingly — even to “suggest that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.” Those ideas are strictly off limits, declares the former AIPAC spokesman. Apparently, then, America’s National Intelligence Estimates of 2007 and 2010 are both anti-Semitic, since they both concluded that Iran ceased work on developing a nuclear weapon back in 2003 and that there is no conclusive evidence demonstrating it resumed; to cite those reports and to embrace their conclusions makes you an anti-Semite, since you’re not allowed to “suggest that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.” Israel’s government is also evidently suffused with anti-Semites, given that Haaretz reported this week that “the Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon.” Make certain, though, not to mention that because, according to Block, that expression of anti-semitism “has no place in the mainstream Democratic party discourse.” To avoid being an anti-Semite, you must quietly and gratefully accept the most extreme claims about the state of Iran’s nuclear weapons program: it is not permissible to debate it.
Then there’s Jason Issacson of the American Jewish Congress, who told The Jerusalem Post that “references to Israeli ‘apartheid’ . . . are so false and hateful they reveal an ugly bias no serious policy center can countenance.” Make sure to write that down: unless you want to stand revealed as an anti-Semite, you’re not allowed to point out the stark and tragic similarities between South African bantustans and the way in which residents of the West Bank are walled off into tiny enclaves and Gazans are forcibly confined to ghettos. Those guilty of anti-Semitism on this ground not only include the President of Turkey, the Foreign Minister of Finland, and a former American President – all of whom have made that comparison – but also the publisher of Haaretz, who last year repeatedly compared Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to South African apartheid; the Israeli writer Yitzhak Loar, who has argued that the situation in the occupied territories is actually worse than South African apartheid in material ways; and also, once again, Israel’s own Defense Minister (and former Prime Minister), who last year warned that the only alternative to peace is apartheid: “If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”
But the most revealing decree comes from Abe Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League, which said this when arguing that these anti-Semitism smears against CAP and MM are warranted:
Most of their blogs come from a perspective of blaming Israel for the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian affairs and minimizing or rationalizing the Iranian threat.
So Israel has been brutally occupying Palestinian land for 45 years, and continues to aggressively expand settlements that all but foreclose any possibility of a two-state resolution. But as an American taxpayer — contributing to the billions of dollars of annual aid sent to Israel and affected in all sorts of ways by this conflict — you are not allowed to opine that Israel is primarily at fault for the lack of a peace agreement. If you do so opine, you’re not merely wrong, but you’ve exposed yourself as an anti-Semite. That opinion regarding the assignment of fault in the Israel-Palestinian conflict is strictly off limits.