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February 19, 2019


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I had a conversation with someone who complained that the Israelis and their proxies were mudslinging against Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK’s Labour Party, accusing him by association of anti-semitism.

They got rather upset at me when I responded – the Israelis mud-slinging against a critic of Israel for his associations with anti-Semites – “is water wet??” Though I think pointing out that Jeremy Corbyn had left so much mud lying around to sling was a more serious issue. Corbyn, inter alia, is one of those fashionably leftwing types who thinks being a “Freedom Fighter” forgives anything.

There are plenty of legitimate issues to criticise Israel about - I think many of Israel's actions are disgraceful - but you always have to remember there are those who will always combine those legitimate criticisms with outright antisemitism.


Further to my earlier post - Corbyn’s problem is that he has been far too comfortable, and far too silent and oblivious when associating with antisemetic critics of Israeli policy - and willing to accept the idea that all Jews agree with all Israeli policies (itself an antisemetic trope.) That’s not to say criticizing Israeli policy equates with antisemitism, but you are guaranteed antisemites will agree.

Corbyn has a lot of ugly associates - and he’s obliviously stood by as they created mud - he seems unable to grasp the problem - he left the mud around and now it’s being flung.


I agree with almost everything stated above.

One note of caution, however. I don't necessarily believe it is useful for a group under attack to dictate to others the "appropriate" way to attack.

Germany recently had the experience of trying to combat hate speech online: ironically, Russia copied the law and then waited for the howls of outrage when Russia did it.

Critics have pointed out: the haters simply modified their speech to avoid the verboten ways of expressing themselves. Language, after all, is almost infinitely flexible and "code words" work just as well as outright slurs.

Just think of all the ethnic slurs you've ever heard. Some would make no sense if you didn't have a definition.

The Left often speaks of "dog whistles." Perhaps they are justified in accusing others of this fault, as they don't seem to hold back anything at all when unleashing an endless stream of baseless exaggerations, accusations and hate speech against those who don't share their views.

The left, of course, won't ever accept any code applicable to themselves. They seem incapable of self reflection: and now, can't even bring themselves to question the tactics of the security state (because they so want to use any means necessary to fulfill their hatred and disappointment about the last election).

So, I'm not sure who will be listening to Ungar-Sargon's prescriptions. The haters on the right will cloak their speech in coded memes; the left doesn't give a ... who they insult and how they insult them, and, as established in these pages, much, if not most, of the anti Israel and anti Jew speech in this country now comes from the left.

Howard Wasserman

Here is why I am not sure it is that simple:

Suppose someone wanted to criticize the malign influence of political contributions and how that money influences US policy--whether NRA money that results in no gun control, Koch Brothers money that results in whatever the hell the Koch Brothers want, or AIPAC money that influences policy towards Israel. So imagine one wants to criticize AIPAC's use of contributions to influence policy towards Israel just like NRA's use of money contributes to unregulated firearms (both of which are legitimate criticisms). Is the former prohibited (while the latter is OK) because of the anti-Semitic trope?

Steve L.

Actually, Aipac does not make campaign contributions, and the total of explicitly pro-Israel contributions is in fact relatively small. But in any case, it is wrong to use ethnic stereotypes in pursuit of even valid political positions. There is no doubt that Aipac is influential, but not because of Benjamins.


Actually, though, Steve, it is about the Benjamins.

The fallacy is that Jews are the only ones who have and use them to influence politicians.

The scurrilous calumny against the Jews always has been that they acquire wealth by cheating in business (because they are separate from and never a part of the communities in which they live, so they prey on those who aren't jews) and then use their riches to manipulate and pervert the innocent people of those communities and their representatives, to further the Jews evil plans to dominate the world.

You see this theory advanced in academia fairly frequently. It works so well because Jews who acquire wealth are identified and then any use by Jews of their wealth is easy enough to spot and demonize=.

As pointed out above, the reason this is an example of Jew hate is that every other ethnicity does the same thing. THe argument that AIPAC doesn't make campaign contributions and that Jewish donations are minimal and comparatively insignificant is exceedingly weak and counter productive.

AIPAC wields power, that power is based on money influence (like all the rest of America) and everybody knows it. TO deny it is sort of leading with your chin.

Not sure? Go back to Nixon telling his staff to go after those big "Jew donors."


"The definition states anti-Semitism can take the form of “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” ... Macron said ... “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism,” ... “Behind the negation of Israel’s existence, what is hiding is the hatred of Jews.”"

02/20/2019 06:06 pm ET

"President Macron: France To Define Anti-Zionism As A Form Of Anti-Semitism"

The author quoted with approval above states:

"If you’re upset the U.S. gives Israel unconditional support despite anti-Democratic measures like the racist Nation State bill and the entrenchment of the Occupation of millions of Palestinians, and that the U.S. makes no demands that Israel stop oppressing the Palestinians in exchange for the billions of dollars in aid we supply it, you’re not alone."

"You're not alone." Yeah. That's the way to say it. For sure: the millions of whom Macron spoke applaud you!

Howard Wasserman

Steve: But suppose AIPAC did make monetary contributions to candidates or did spend money to support candidates and issues. Would it be off limits to criticize AIPAC for that because it comes close to the trope, while being ok to criticize other groups for doing the same thing?

Steve L.

You are missing the point, Howard. Ethnic stereotypes are corrosive and damaging, especially when they have historically been used for discrimination and oppression, even if there is occasionally some truth to them.

Imagine that a congressperson tweeted something that evoked a stereotype about a minority group, evoking, say, violence or drunkenness or dishonesty or laziness or stinginess. You wouldn't rationalize it by saying "well, sometimes it's true" or "suppose that it sometimes happens." Rather, you would call it out of bounds, and rightly so.

The claim that "Jewish money" controls the government is every bit as objectionable.

Howard Wasserman


I am not suggesting the stereotype is sometimes true so traficking in it is ok.

I am asking whether it is ok to criticize a specific Jewish group for the true fact that it is spending money in order to influence politics in the same way you would criticize a non-Jewish group for the true fact that it is spending money in order to influence politics. If [Insert Jewish Group] is making political contributions to influence politics just as [Insert non-Jewish Group] is making political contributions to influence politics, is it not OK to level the "spending money to influence politics is bad" criticism against the former but OK as to the latter?

Let me frame it differently: In the OP, you suggest that people can and should stick to specific problems with Israel conduct and policies. But what if my criticism is that all of these groups, including the Jewish groups, are spending lots of money in politics and that this is a bad thing? Are Jews immune from that criticism in a way that other groups spending money are not?

Steve L.

Let me put it this way, Howard: How do you feel about Viktor Orban's posters calling George Soros a puppet master and blaming him for illegal immigration in Hungary?

But to answer your question, sure, listing Aipac in a group of too-influential lobbies would not be anti-Semitic. Falsely accusing Aipac, and only Aipac, of controlling U.S. policy with "Benjamins" was offensive. And later saying, "Oh, I meant everyone," doesn't fix it.

That was Ungar-Sargon's main point. If there is a specific criticism of Aipac, say it, but don't resort to harmful stereotypes. Same goes for other minorities.

Different anon

Wait just a sec. AIPAC does use money as a lever to exert political influence. I don't think links are allowed in comments here, but just Google "AIPAC Congressional Club" for one such mechanism. Of course, AIPAC is not alone in doing this--most if not all issue groups do similar things. Nonetheless, it cannot be any more inappropriate to call out AIPAC for doing this than it would be to call out the NRA or Ducks Unlimited or MADD (though the last two seem to have gotten a pass...).

The fact that a reprehensible stereotype holds that African Americans are lazy does not mean that no one can ever criticize a particular African American for laziness. The existence of a terrible stereotype holding that Native American drink too much does not mean no one can ever criticize a specific Native American for drunkenness. And the fact that Jews have been unfairly and incorrectly castigated for using wealth to control politics does not mean that AIPAC cannot be criticized for efforts to do just that.

Cries of antisemitism, at least those made by Omar's opponents in this case, are just a crutch. It's a far more difficult task to demonstrate that she's wrong using logic and evidence. In this case, though, it would be particularly worthwhile. Because, if you can demonstrate that she's wrong on the facts--that AIPAC does not achieve its influence through money, or that U.S. policy is not discernibly more pro-Israel than the opinions of the electorate would support--and if she continues to assert the same opinions without addressing the identified inaccuracies, then--THEN!--it would be quite reasonable to raise the possibility of antisemitism as an explanation.

Howard Wasserman

So we're back to the "no singling out" principle. Criticism of a Jewish organization's use of money to influence politics bleeds into anti-Semitism when only the Jewish organization is criticized for it. Just as criticism of Israel bleeds into anti-Semitism when Israel is singled out from among all governments for some conduct. That makes sense.

But does a critic then have to qualify the criticism every time: Can I say "I do not like the way [Jewish Org] uses political contributions to influence policy"? Or must I say "I do not like the way [Jewish Org] uses political contributions to influence policy, much as I don't like how the NRA and other groups use political contributions to influence policy."

Steve L.

What do you think, Howard? You can have the last word.


Again, it is futile to instruct one's opponents about the proper way to deliver criticism. The Left specializes in this tactic, because the Left believes that above all else, the elites in the Left must have the power to control every aspect of the lives of every person: what they say, what they think, what they do, what they have, etc.

And, again, it IS all about the Benjamins. "There is no doubt that Aipac is influential, but not because of Benjamins," Steve says. This is an untenable position. For all lobbying groups, it IS all about money and influence, and, in this society, the two go hand and hand.

What is valid is to push back on the "jewish conspiracy" theories peddled by Jew haters. But, in so doing, let's not pretend that the truth isn't the truth. That makes Jews seem to be demanding special treatment.

And, again, this fits nicely with the Left. The Left believes that certain favored groups deserve special treatment, and can break the rules with impunity. Let's not allow the Left to coop Jewish thought and discourse, and enfold the Jewish community in its elevations of supposed "victimhood" (real or imagined) as a proxy for, once again, power.

a non

I think there should, at the very least, be a strong presumption of bigotry when criticism of a member of a group is based on longstanding and pernicious negative stereotypes, and when a similar criticism is not proportionally made to other groups.

This would apply if you disproportionately criticize specific Native American individuals or communities for their alcoholism, irrespective of whether the individual or community in question has a problem with alcoholism. This would likewise apply if a disproportionate share of your "don't be lazy" criticism is directed towards African Americans -- even if you do not exclusively criticize African Americans.

Here, even if it were true that AIPAC uses money to exert influence, Rep. Omar's critique would be problematic insofar as it disproportionately singles out the influence of "Jewish" money. I suppose I don't know for sure, but I'd be shocked if the amount of attention that Rep. Omar has given to the influence of "Jewish" money isn't substantially disproportionate to either any relative influence of "Jewish" money or to the attention that Rep. Omar has given to the influence of other lobbies.

In short, and this is mostly directed to Howard, it may be possible, as a White man, to legitimately care deeply about laziness in African American communities without giving nearly as much attention to greater problems of laziness in other communities, including your own. But given the longstanding negative stereotype, I think it's also entirely fair to seriously question whether such a selective belief and passion is rooted in bigotry (with, as I argue above, a presumption towards answering that question in the affirmative). And accepting that laziness in the African American community is a relatively minor issue, you wouldn't defeat this presumption of bigotry simply by advocating against, for example, "the plight of laziness among African Americans among our community of retirees."

a non

*...AND among our community of retirees.


a non

Although I agree with your point in general, aren't you sort of beating around the bush, so to speak?

The bottom line is that this person doesn't direct her venom at other lobbying groups like the NRA and the fossil fuel industry (as she claimed in her "apology") in the same manner she does AIPAC because, in truth, she hates Jews: it is obvious, and I think everybody knows it.

a non, your overall point is well taken about groups that find so much fault with those they despise (and never find anything of merit), but base their opprobrium nearly solely on traits that their group typifies just as much as the despised group that is their constant, never ceasing target.

Democrats come to mind.

a non

anon@ 1:56pm -- I doubt that Rep. Omar "hates" Jews; in any event, that's far stronger of a claim than I'm willing to make. But I also think that, applying my framework above, it's entirely fair to apply a presumption of bigotry to her comment. And this would hold true even if she directed similar critiques to the NRA and the fossil fuel industry.


hate: to feel intense or passionate dislike

bigotry: (Merriam Webster) : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Me thinks you might be slicing the baloney a bit thin.

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