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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Attacks on Jews, and a Leftist’s Attempt to Speak a Bit of Inconvenient Truth

 

I read Bari Weiss’s new book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism out of curiosity. I wondered if she would really speak truth to power and slap the hand that pays her salary, the New York Times. She did not. She is a woman of the left and a talented columnist, both of which come across in this small, easily read volume. I do not envy her the task she set for herself. I do not know if anyone could write an approachable appeal, that would both address the prominent sources of anti-Semitism and keep the ear of even one major faction on either side of the great political divide.

This is a lengthy and critical review, arranged with the following section headers: “A few administrative details,” “Book outline,” “Too far right?” “Not far enough left?” “Naming radical Islam,” “Review of reviews,” and finally some closing thoughts under “Civility?” Fair warning: this ended up being a very critical review. For balance, you should go read Cathy Young’s review, and Melissa Langsam Braunstein at the Federalist, both of which I link and excerpt in the “Review of reviews” section.

A few administrative details:

How to Fight Anti-Semitism was published 10 September 2019. At 206 pages plus four thank-you pages, it fits nicely in a cargo pocket or pocketbook. There are no footnotes, no endnotes, no index, and no references. The prose is very approachable, making it a fairly quick read.

I borrowed the book from my local library, first in line for one of two copies being processed for library use. There were no other patrons jumping on the waitlist. I got it on a Thursday afternoon, read it cover to cover with one cup of iced coffee, closing the book with my notes about three hours later.

It has been three weeks since reading and first drafting some rough thoughts, as I mulled things over. A check of the Mesa library kept showing no one else requesting the book. Checking the Maricopa County Library District, there was only slight interest. Usually, when a new book shows up in the cue to be processed for library loan, there is a bit of a waiting list. Not so with this book. Indeed, even in the Phoenix library system, the vibrant Jewish community in Phoenix has not generated a strong demand for Bari Weiss’s warnings and recommendations.

Book outline:

Bari Weiss begins with a personal account of hearing about the deadly attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, October 27, 2018. She grew up in that community and was bat mitzvahed in the Tree of Life congregation. This raised in her mind the question of whether and how America had become dangerous for Jews. While a woman of the left, she is determined to clearly identify the full spectrum of threat sources, not just those approved by Democratic Party partisans. Weiss describes “a three-headed dragon” of anti-Semitism: far right, far left, and radical Islam. She seems to invite all people of goodwill in America to consider her warnings, yet from the very outset there are hints her notion of people of goodwill excludes a great many Americans:

This book is for anyone, Jew or gentile, who is concerned not with what is fashionable but with what is true. This book is for anyone, Jew or gentile, who loves freedom and seeks to protect it. It is for anyone, Jew or gentile, who cannot look away from what is brewing in this country and the world and wants to do something to stop it. (p.25-6)

Weiss seeks to build a brief historical case for each of these threat sources and then address the current environment and possible near future. She starts with the right wing, then, having tried to bank some credit with the left, turns to criticize the left, followed finally by the especially sensitive (to the left) Islamic source of modern anti-Semitism or Jew-hatred. Having made the case for concern about a rise in violent anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss ends with a series of recommended actions for Jews to take.

Yes, the recommendations are for her fellow Jews, not a mix of recommendations that include that wider audience she seemed to invite at the beginning. This disconnect was noted in a relatively favorable review we will come to in a bit. Ultimately, then, Bari Weiss has crafted a readable threat-assessment and self-help book. I cannot speak to the efficacy of the self-help portion, and invite Ricochet members with a better vantage point to address this. Choosing such a self-limiting approach might help explain the lack of interest, at least in the Arizona reading public.

Too far right?

Bari Weiss seeks to keep Jews on the liberal left, painting an inflated picture of the far right. She includes the Ku Klux Klan when Jonah Goldberg laid out in Liberal Fascism the plain truths that the KKK was reborn in the early 20th Century as fanboys of The Birth of a Nation. [Liberal Fascism, p.259] As any informed journalist should know, this movie was given a rocket fuel boost by the first Progressive Democrat in the White House, President Woodrow Wilson, a stone-cold white supremacist. Wilson shows up nowhere in this brief account, certainly not on the left side of the ledger, and we do not learn that the KKK’s party was the Democratic Party.

Father Coughlin is entered into the right side of the ledger as a prefigurement of the dangerous demagogue Weiss wants to make President Trump out to be. Yet, if she had consulted Jonah Goldberg, at least before he was undone by the 2016 electorate, she would know that this is a mistake. Father Coughlin was far more of a leftist. He hated the KKK because they hated Roman Catholics, but he advocated for FDR and state control of the economy.

In painting the standard liberal left picture of populism and nationalism leading up to World War II, Weiss smuggled in the assumption that Nazism was of the far right, when Jonah Goldberg showed many years ago now that:

The Nazis’ ultimate aim was to transform both the left and the right, to advance a “Third Way” that broke with both categories. But in the real world the Nazis seized control of the country by dividing, conquering, and then replacing the left. [ Liberal Fascism, p.70]

At the heart of this chapter is President Trump, and his supporters, who Bari Weiss paints in all the ugly and false terms one expects of a New York Times writer. Her perceptions were certainly not contradicted by those on the conservative side who she acknowledged:

In our collective fight against anti-Semitism, I am grateful to be connected to . . . Meghan McCain . . . . And to have deepened my friendships with . . . David French . . . .

While Weiss believes she is proceeding fairly, reasonably, her circle of friends and advisers cited are well within the left and anti-Trump establishments. Missing from her list of friends and allies are such names as Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, and Jonah Goldberg. She name-checks Ben Shapiro as another public figure who has been deluged with vile anti-Semitism online, but even though her previous job was with the Wall Street Journal, Ben Shapiro is probably too politically toxic in her professional circles. The same likely holds for Dennis Prager, who just happens to be the co-author of a 2003 book, Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism. In short, those on and off her acknowledgments list help explain her tone-deafness to how her choice of words misdirect threat perceptions and reinforce divisions rather than build a broader defense against violent anti-Semitism, including ultimately genocidal hatred of Israel.

Not far enough left?

Bari Weiss showed journalistic courage in turning a light on the left as a source of anti-Semitism. She points out the path Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has taken, both in its direct anti-Semitism and in its alliance with radical Islam. The result has been a movement of the Labour Party to the extreme left. Weiss names Rep. Ilhan Omar and the Squad, and points to the Democratic Party’s failure to reject or discipline Omar in their party. Weiss even calls out President Obama on one point, criticizing his outrageous circumlocutions about the attack in France on a Jewish deli.

In providing context for the current threat on the left, Weiss never mentions Woodrow Wilson as an instigator of the modern KKK. She is silent on FDR and the Holocaust. Both of these Democratic Party giants also imprisoned many thousands on suspicion of disloyalty during war. See Johan Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, generally, on both of these presidents.

Of course, to bring up FDR, who Father Coughlin supported, would be to open the door to questions about her current employer. The New York Times and its owner covered themselves in disgrace with suppression of credible reports of the Holocaust. They had earlier been all but the American branch office of Pravda during the Holodomor and the Great Terror. Two weeks before How to Fight Anti-Semitism was published, another book, very relevant to this portion of Weiss’s argument, was published: The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust.

The Jews Should Keep Quiet further reveals how FDR’s personal relationship with Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, American Jewry’s foremost leader in the 1930s and 1940s, swayed the U.S. response to the Holocaust. Documenting how Roosevelt and others pressured Wise to stifle American Jewish criticism of FDR’s policies, Medoff chronicles how and why the American Jewish community largely fell in line with Wise. Ultimately Medoff weighs the administration’s realistic options for rescue action, which, if taken, would have saved many lives.

The New York Times, in its Holocaust coverage during the war, was part of that establishment effort, to hide the full truth and keep everyone on the side of the FDR administration.

The publisher at the time, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, and his family were members of the “our crowd” German Jews in this country, and they didn’t want to alienate the powers that be in government and business. So questions of Jewish identity were often diluted in the paper’s pages, lest the Sulzbergers be seen as being on the “pro-Jewish” side. A conscious decision was made from the top to downplay stories which might give the impression that The Times was a “Jewish newspaper.”

Today, apparently, questions are not to be asked of a newspaper that publishes blatant, classic anti-Semitic cartoons. Nor are questions to be asked of Michelle Obama, who may be the Democrats’ future nominee. While the long streak of attacks on Jewish men in Brooklyn are seen on film to be perpetrated by young black men, no one is to raise questions about African-American anti-Semitism, personified in Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and Jeremiah Wright, in whose church Barack and Michelle Obama sat for all those years.

Jews being hit with rocks. Jews being chased down and punched. Jews being beaten with belts. Jews being stabbed on the street. Jewish school buses being set on fire. Jewish women having their wigs ripped off. Swastikas being painted on sidewalks. Jews being forced to take off their kippot. These are scenes that could be straight out of 1940s Nazi Germany, or perhaps from France today, but they’re not. These recent assaults have all happened in Brooklyn, New York. The worst part is, no one seems to care.

See my earlier piece on Jamestown 1619 for more detail on the disgraceful response by local Democratic politicians and media. Further, consider the behavior of the New York Times since World War II, including in the middle of Weiss’s book project. Deborah E. Lipstadt started a review of Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel, 1896-2016:

In late April 2019, the New York Times international edition published a cartoon depicting a blind, kippa-wearing President Trump being led by a dachshund with a Jewish star around its neck. The dog’s face was a distorted caricature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visage. The message was indisputable: Israelis qua Jews, despite being the national equivalent of lapdogs, have the unique ability to blind presidents and shape political events. Beguiled, not only does Trump do their bidding, but he is, like the other unwitting victims on the world stage, blissfully unaware of what is going on. The cartoon gave vivid expression to the conspiracy theory, or rather myth, that is at the heart of anti-Semitism and did so in an image that, as was widely noted, could have appeared in Der Stürmer. How did it end up receiving the New York Times’s imprimatur?

Bret Stephens, another columnist recruited to the New York Times from the Wall Street Journal, clearly denounced his own paper.

Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it? The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

So, Bari Weiss already had some evidence that she could put her employer’s publication under critical scrutiny without losing her job. Since the infamous New York Times cartoon was published in late April of 2019, there was time to consider the paper’s responses in the fuller context Weiss sought to apply to other current actors and incidents.

The Times faced increased backlash after their non-apology and was forced to issue a new statement claiming the paper was “deeply sorry” after a white nationalist terrorist opened fire at a synagogue in California on Saturday, killing one and injuring three others.

“We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday in the print edition of The New York Times that circulates outside of the United States, and we are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again,” The Times said in a new statement. “Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable.”

Were it not for the white nationalist, and the need to attack President Trump with clean hands, would Bari Weiss’s employer ever have made the revised and extended apology? There was time, especially with this book’s format, to include the Times April cartoon as an instance of the link between the left and radical Islam.

In citing authority for the problem of the left’s near singular focus on Israel as a villain, Bari Weiss quotes Susan Rice instead of Nikki Haley:

[A]s Susan Rice put it less poetically but just as clearly: “No country is immune to criticism, nor should it be. But when that criticism take the form of singling out just one country, unfairly, bitterly, and relentlessly, over and over and over, that’s just wrong—and we all know it.” [106-7]

Weiss could have had the same and better from Haley, but that would raise questions about Trump and Obama. Why is this choice especially problematic? Weiss is silent on Susan Rice, as President Obama’s U.N. Ambassador, engineering the U.S. abstention, on a vote only days before President Trump took office, so the rest of the Security Council could pass the infamous U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, declaring Israeli settlements illegal. So, Weiss might just wonder if Susan Rice and her old boss were a bigger part of the problem on the left. Are the moves in American politics, against Jews and Israel since 2018, a continuation of what President Obama set in motion in 2009?

Naming radical Islam:

Bari Weiss gives an accurate account of the reemergence of dangerous enmity towards Jews (and Christians) from Muslims in the Middle East, radiating out to the world. She starts with an account of medieval Roman Catholic Europe generating blood libels that excused large scale murders of Jews, and claims:

until the twentieth century, it was Christianity that was responsible for the murder of more Jews than any other ideology on the planet.

We do not have good enough records to compare the pagan Roman empire, or earlier pagan conquests, each with their own ideology, if Christianity is an ideology, but the point should be taken. At the same time Weiss does not whitewash the systemic oppression in the Islamic world, under a form of legal segregation and discrimination called dhimmitude. By this account, it is Western Christian European empires, in the 19th Century that brought their virulent blood libel accounts into the Islamic world, and the Islamic world was already fertile soil.

Once majority Muslim societies experienced Christians and Jews empowered not to submit to dhimmi status, the reaction was extreme. Contrary to self-flattering secular Western intellectuals’ belief, more education brings with it deeper anti-Semitism, through reading and connecting texts supporting an account linking abandonment of the old-time religion with decline in material and political success. Weiss points out that the same thing actually happened in Germany leading up to the Nazi regime. While she does not make this claim, beliefs of Prussian, then greater German, superiority and rights to more territory, lebensraum, was observed at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century.

Weiss believes in America, as a unique solution that has allowed Catholics and Protestants, who once slaughtered each other in religious wars, to brunch together. That same American system was relatively hospitable to Jews, living in their faith, from the founding, as Weiss recounts. She also holds to a positive assessment of the European Enlightenment, and the related modernizing or moderating of both Christianity and Judaism. This may be another unexamined Western secular elite myth, assuming that education and modernity bring skepticism and bending of religion, rather than the world being put under the lens of religious texts and teachings.

This all passed for uncontroversial opinion until recently. Now, however, Weiss is speaking secular heresy, as any moderately aware observer of our time knows. Weiss dares call anti-Zionism, as it is actually practiced, anti-Semitism, and challenges the weaponization of intersectional theory in the service of anti-Semitism. The response from the left was swift and strongly negative, as several reviews below illustrate.

Of course, riding the intersectional social justice tiger is tricky. The Forward was harsh in its treatment of Bari Weiss, yet their opinion editor just experienced the inconvenient truth Weiss wrote: there is no separating anti-Zionist agitation from Jew-hatred:

[Forward opinion editor Batya] Ungar-Sargon was asked to speak at the conference hosted by Bard’s Hannah Arendt Center, where she was to be part of a discussion on “Racism and Zionism: Black-Jewish Relations.” Prior to that, she was slated to take part in another panel that was to discuss anti-Semitism along with Harvard University scholar Ruth Wisse and a Holocaust survivor. Students for Justice for Palestine, a group that actively promotes the BDS movement and which engages in anti-Semitic incitement, planned to protest at the conference. But what threw Ungar-Sargon for a loop was that these opponents of Israel weren’t going to be satisfied with protesting at the session about Zionism but would first seek to disrupt the one about anti-Semitism.

The chapter on extremism in Islam is the one that most signaled the need for notes and references. It was here that Bari Weiss’s strength as a columnist worked most against her as a book writer. The book would have been strengthened by even a two-page appendix of suggested readings and internet resources for each chapter.

Review of reviews:

Bari Weiss’s effort to speak inconvenient truths to all sides was not well received by her own side. Both Slate and the New York Times were not kind. It seemed to go downhill from there on the left, in the Forward, the Nation, and JewishCurrents. She got a more sympathetic view from across the pond at the Observer, and from National Review because of their agreement that President Trump is horrible and that he is responsible for destroying our civic discourse and politics, not those who have sought to nullify the 2016 election. Finally, I comment on your reading reviews by Cathy Young and Melissa Langsam Braunstein.

Jordan Weissmann at Slate attacked Bari Weiss’s research and her focus:

Bari Weiss’ new book on combating hatred of Jews in the Trump era is more interested in condemning the left than actually confronting the problem.

[…]

Here are a few things that a journalist might want to do if she were attempting to write a good and worthwhile book titled How to Fight Anti-Semitism.

The journalist could carefully explore the online radicalization process that leads men to violent white supremacy, and detail possible ways to curb it. She could talk to students involved in the campus boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement to more clearly understand their motivations, before unpacking whether or when the effort is anti-Semitic. She could go to Crown Heights in New York, where a long history of tension between the black and Hasidic communities has lately erupted into violence against the neighborhood’s Jews, and perhaps interview local leaders trying to bridge those divides. She could explore why American schools are doing a miserable job teaching the Holocaust and how that affects discourse about Jews and Israel.

The New York Times review by Hillel Halkin of How to Fight Anti-Semitism goes right at Bari Weiss’s core beliefs about the natural fit between Jewish identity and history and the liberal left. The reviewer directly attacks Judaism’s history from an intersectional politics perspective:

Weiss approvingly quotes a friend of hers, hurt to the quick by the proposed banning of “Jewish pride flags” at the 2019 Washington Dyke March. Always? As if the right to define oneself sexually as one pleases were a cause Jews have fought for over the ages!

As a matter of historical record, it was Greek and Roman high society, not the Jews, that practiced and preached polymorphous sexual freedom. Judaism fiercely opposed such an acceptance of sexual diversity, against which it championed the procreative family, the taming of anarchic passions, and the cosmically ordained nature of normative gender distinctions that goes back to the first chapter of Genesis: “So God created man in his own image. … Male and female created he them.” And while we’re at it, it was the Greeks, not the Jews, who invented democracy. What mattered to Jews throughout nearly all of their history (and still does to a considerable number of them today) was the will of God as interpreted by religious authority, not free elections.

Judaism as liberalism with a prayer shawl is a distinctly modern development. It started with the 19th-century Reform movement in Germany, from which it spread to America with the reinforcement of the left-wing ideals of the Russian Jewish labor movement. As much as such a conception of their ancestors’ faith has captured the imagination of most American Jews, it is hard to square with 3,000 years of Jewish tradition.

Tell it to Greek and Roman women. That “sexual freedom” was for the powerful, like today’s Afghan warlords with their pubescent boys. I learned that truth indirectly from translated Greek classics long before intersectionality was a thing. We read to understand the art and thought of the time, as progenitor to our “Western Civilization,” not for the sexual politics, but there were the powerful men with their young male objects of desire.

There was real debate over the morality, the ethics of elite sexual behavior at the time, debate clear in the literature, but it was the successful spread of Christianity, which came out of Judaism, that imposed limits on men’s appetites. Nevertheless, the New York Times makes clear the intersectional hierarchy and places both Christianity and Judaism, as a religion, in the position of privileged oppressors.

These were the good reviews from the left. It got a lot uglier with Talia Lavin at the Nation:

As a Jewish woman who has faced the same anti-Semitic harassment as Weiss and who has felt twinges of discomfort in leftist spaces, I found myself doubly frustrated: I had genuinely hoped to locate some commonality in struggle with this woman who claims to be my sister in it. Yet the profound lack of intellectual curiosity, proportionality, and material analysis in the book renders it worse than simply useless. Instead of being the jagged, urgent cri de coeur Weiss imagines herself to have written, the book suffers from the limitations of one particularly sophistic opinion columnist. I have written numerous op-eds in my time, and while the form is excellent for advancing a polemic or highlighting some facet of a broader problem, it does not lend itself to a book-length analysis of one of the knottiest issues in the modern world. Weiss is in the business of delivering weekly hits of dopamine to a right-of-center readership, and perhaps those readers will enjoy a book that offers more of the same. But readers who seek a more robust and rigorous analysis of contemporary anti-Semitism are advised to look elsewhere.

Right-of-center? Talya Zax at the Forward attacks both the general thrust of the book and especially her look at radical Islam:

Despite the preponderance of space Weiss gives to analyzing what she sees as the landscape of contemporary anti-Semitism, her book isn’t actually about ringing an alarm bell. What it’s fundamentally interested in is providing reassurance: No, we aren’t making this up, yes, we have the power to fight, yes, the other side is delusional — even though yours is, too. Most consoling of all, the solution comes through embracing our identity, by having confidence in our values and bravery in applying them. “Trust your discomfort,” Weiss advises. “Don’t trust people who seek to divide Jews. Even if they are Jews.” And: “Never, ever forget to love your neighbor.” And: “Choose life.”

[…]

The dangers of that perspective are most apparent in the book’s chapter on “Radical Islam,” and specifically in Weiss’s insistence on using the term “Islamist.” That term technically refers to Muslims who believe that Islam ought to be the strongest political force in a country, but in common American parlance generally refers to extremists bent on establishing fully Islamic states. Yet Weiss uses it to apply to every instance she cites of an alleged anti-Semitic attack by someone of Arab origin, and to the problem of Muslim anti-Semitism at large. These instances follow a familiar pattern, she writes, beginning when “An Islamist does something terrible.” “It is very hard,” she writes, “to absorb the extent of Islamist anti-Semitism in Europe.”

Judith Butler naturally was unhappy with the whole project, especially Bari Weiss’s criticism of the reality of intersectional politics and of questioning the existence of Israel.

Weiss’s book turned out to be both passionate and disappointing. She repeats her urgent pleas for the reader to wake up and avert a recurrence of a nightmarish history. At the same time, she does not take up the issues that make the matter so vexed for those who oppose both antisemitism and the unjust policies of the Israeli state. To do that, she would have had to provide a history of antisemitism, and account for the relatively recent emergence of the view that to criticize Israel is itself antisemitic. To fight antisemitism we have to know what it is, how best to identify its forms, and how to devise strategies for rooting it out. The book falters precisely because it refuses to do so. Instead, it elides a number of ethical and historical questions, suggesting that we are meant to feel enraged opposition to antisemitism at the expense of understanding it.

[…]

Weiss makes clear that there can be criticisms of Israel that are legitimate, but only if they take the form of demanding that Israel live up to its higher ideals. Under such conditions, we are barely permitted to ask the more fundamental question: what political form would lead to the flourishing of all the people who now lay claim to that land?

[…]

And yet another line of history runs through and past the Naqba, a history that intersects with the story Weiss tells: state Zionism provided sanctuary for Jewish refugees even as it dispossessed more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, producing more refugees for whom there is no clear sanctuary. 1948 was a year in which multiple histories intersected. There is no one line of history. If we accept wholesale Weiss’s proposition that Israel exists and is therefore legitimate, then we are excused from asking too many historical questions about why it was established in the way that it was—on what legal terms, and at what price, and through the vanquishing of what alternative possibilities.

At the Guardian, a British paper of the left, Yehudah Mirsky praised Bari Weiss’s effort generally, before using the occasion to go where the left wants to go, targeting Donald Trump and evangelical Christians, along with the majority of voters in Israel:

Loosely written, going not deep but wide, she brings together trends whose crisscrossing makes for much current confusion. And her observations generally ring true. Her taking aim at both right and left will infuriate some but is on the mark. What, for Weiss, is antisemitism? “An ever-morphing conspiracy theory in which Jews play the starring role in spreading evil in the world.”

[…]

Enter today’s conspiracist-in-chief. Calling Donald Trump antisemitic mistakes him for someone with beliefs. Rather, stereotypes that make Jews’ flesh creep – greedy, power-hungry, tribal, ruthless – are his idea of virtues. Demagogic egomaniacs like him are Jew-haters’ natural friends. His relentless assaults on minorities’ rights, free speech and the rule of law strike at the very things that for most American Jews are not only strategic pillars but deep articles of faith.

Trump’s version of pro-Israel policy is meant to please not the majority of American Jews, most of whom side more with Israel’s center-left, but the harder-line and Orthodox and, above all, evangelicals, whose professed love for Jews is, it often seems, not so far from its opposite.

[…]

Jews met this strange, frightening new hatred in different ways: religious retrenchment or, alternatively, reform, political liberalism, socialism, nationalism – and Zionism, which mixed and matched with them all. Ironically, the sheer diversity of Jewish responses to modernity’s dangers and opportunities, with Jews on all sides of the ideological barricades, set fevered imaginations wild.

Brian Steward at National Review took to Bari Weiss’s book like catnip, predictably taking the same course as their counterparts in the Observer:

As Weiss is fully aware, her book is most apt to court controversy by providing a political guide to these fresh outbreaks of anti-Semitism. She begins rather dauntingly by noting that Jews in the West, especially in Europe, are confronted by a “three-headed dragon.” First, there is an antagonistic environment for Jews, thanks in large measure to the rapid growth of Islamism on the Old Continent. Second, there is ideological vilification by the political Left, which increasingly regards Israel as an illegitimate state serving no other purpose than as a bastion of Western (read: white) colonialism. Third, there is a recrudescence of reactionary populism on the political right that, while often professing sympathy for Israel, evinces a fervent commitment to blood-and-soil politics that seldom ends well for Jews.

Not everybody will agree with Weiss’s portrait of the hydra-headed enemy, which itself points to part of the problem. The tribal impulse in our political life has grown so pronounced that it has overwhelmed a common civic culture, rendering many classical liberals politically homeless. There is a well-oiled habit among the political class and in the press of excusing obvious, often deplorable, transgressions by one’s “own” side. The acid test for fighting anti-Semitism, as with so many other derangements, is to face it down with equal enthusiasm and commitment when it flares up on one’s team — or, better yet, to be more discriminating about which team one belongs to in the first place.

[…]

In addition to being more diffuse than many imagine, the lunatic fringe is also thicker than is generally understood. Weiss is justly concerned by the spike in violence against Jews and other minorities from the identitarian right and about the grisly ideology behind it. After some years of dormancy, in August 2017 it flared into the open in Charlottesville when a “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists gathered at the University of Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Carrying tiki torches, these doughy goons shouted the slogans: “Blood and soil,” “White Lives Matter,” and, in a nod to the ancient anti-Semitic notion of the Jew as the evil puppeteer, “Jews will not replace us.” Lest we forget, President Trump’s reflexive response to this wicked nonsense was to put in a good word for such “very fine people.”

That last sentence is a lie. National Review knows it is a lie. Now pay close attention to the conclusion:

If the populist-nationalist view of Israel continues to dominate the right side of the ballot in both Israel and America, and if that view continues to command electoral majorities, it will help vindicate the Left’s suspicion that Israel is in essence an ethnocracy, or will soon evolve into one. As progressive politics lurches to the left, the Israeli Right will find new support in subverting democratic institutions and entrenching the occupation. In place of a smaller, plucky Israel punching above its weight against fearsome enemies while upholding a laudable multiethnic democracy, the cycle of dueling left and right populisms risks helping to foster a Greater Israel that loses sight of the liberal Zionism that birthed it. If this comes to pass, it will be a moral and political catastrophe, no matter where America’s embassy in Israel is situated.

Never mind that Israel was recast as oppressor by the left in the early 1970s, after the economic class warfare gambit failed in the 1960s. Arabs became the virtuous victims of colonization by the victorious Israeli colonizers. The deplorables of Israel and America, as they dare to elect the wrong people, are to blame, according the National Review‘s review of How to Fight Anti-Semitism.

Melissa Langsam Braunstein, with the Federalist, offers an even-handed review. You should really go and read her review after what I have written.

Weiss deserves credit for calling out not only “the Squad,” but also President Obama’s response to the attack on Paris’ Hyper Cacher supermarket, which he pretended was random rather than anti-Semitic. However, the example I wish she had used was President Obama’s handling of opponents to the Iran deal.

I would also have added The New York Times shamefully discussing Iran deal opponents in reference to their districts’ Jewish populations. Lest anyone miss those statistics, The Times highlighted the figures in yellow, recalling the Nazi-era yellow star. If we’re going to speak honestly about how we arrived at this moment, it’s important to acknowledge not only what’s happened since 2016, but also what happened the year before.

[…]

The closest I found to an explanation of Trump’s antisemitic remarks were three examples offered 18 pages earlier. One example is a behind-the-scenes insult from Michael Wolff’s first book about the Trump White House. So is the anecdote definitely true? I know not.

The other two were comments Trump made at Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) events (one of which I covered for The Federalist), which sound terrible out of context. However, as a Jewish conservative familiar with those gatherings having joined the RJC decades ago, I’d say those examples mostly underscore the gap between how Jews in those rooms heard Trump’s words and how liberal journalists chose to cover them.

To maximize the impact of this chapter, especially for conservative readers, I would have selected different examples. The two times President Trump has made comments related to Jews that have concerned (at least some, if not all) Jewish conservatives were his response to Charlottesville and his recent remarks about Jewish disloyalty. The first emphasized the president’s unwillingness to definitively tell off his alt-right fanbois, while the latter saw him dipping into anti-Semitic language.

Cathy Young comes at the book from a different viewpoint, but is similarly fair-minded:

In fact, Weiss has written a smart, thoughtful book that defends increasingly embattled liberal values. That means it has something to offend both major political tribes right now. It’s pro-Israel and against the “social justice” progressivism currently dominant on the left. It’s also resolutely against the populist/nativist ideology prevalent on the right. It’s against “The Squad” and against Donald Trump.

How to Fight Anti-Semitism is a thin book without endnotes (and one that, at times, could have used a bit more explanation and sourcing), but it does a remarkably good job of examining the three main strands of anti-Semitism today: right-wing, left-wing, and Islamist.

[…]

Civility?

It should be clear that I do not share Young’s assessment of the book and, at least in part, of the author. Way back in 2010, Dennis Prager wrote:

Liberal Jewish columnist Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote recently that Tea Partiers had engaged in a “small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.” The November 1938 Kristallnacht (“Night of the Broken Glass”), with its murdered Jews, broken and vandalized Jewish businesses and homes, and burned-down synagogues, is widely considered to be the opening act of the Holocaust.

[…]

Where liberal and conservative Jews differ is where each group thinks the greatest danger to the Jews lies. Jews on the Left are certain that the greatest threats to Jews come from the Right. Conservative and centrist Jews believe that dangers to the Jews can come from the Left, from the Right, from Islam, from a renewal of Christian anti-Semitism, indeed from anywhere, but that at this moment the world’s Left is far more an enemy of the Jewish people than the world’s, not to mention America’s, Right.

Yes, the Tea Party was being compared to Nazis when these good citizens dared politely stand up and civilly protect the bipartisan crazy deficit spending, driving our national debt into a near vertical climb. “Clinging to their guns and God?” “Basket of deplorables?” Who was really being uncivil in their discourse? Though the book and in her speaking appearances, Bari Weiss shows a consistent lack of self-awareness:

…Weiss, who describes herself as center-left politically and holds pro-Israel views that include criticisms of the Jewish state, went on to speak about her own family’s wrestling with the politics of the day, with her sisters and her mother not allowing their “Trump-curious” father to vote for Donald Trump for president in 2016.

“We prevented him from voting for Trump, and he wrote [on his ballot] Steph Curry [the NBA star]. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next election, especially if it’s Bernie [Sanders] or Elizabeth Warren [as the Democratic candidate],” Weiss said. “I think a lot of Jews could be writing in Steph Curry.”

Weiss said while she supports Trump’s relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his scuttling of the Iran nuclear deal and his recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights, Trump’s disregard for civil discourse has had a poisonous effect on the country.

Yet, Bari Weiss calls Congresswoman, and U.S. Army major, Tulsi Gabbardan Assad toady [language warning].” On camera, she spelled it “t-o-a-d-i-e” when asking for someone to look up the meaning, after Joe Rogan asked her what she meant. In the book, she goes with -y, and offers precious little justification beyond the vague hand-waving she offered on air. Of course, this is perfectly acceptable in the Democrat media complex bubble, as the New York Times and CNN proved together in the lead-up to the October Democratic Presidential primary debate sponsored by CNN.

Oh, and many Ricochet readers and me? When I had just finished reading How to Fight Anti-Semitism, I mentioned it to a friend. He expressed interest and I handed him the book copy, brand new from the library, only ever read by me. He opened it towards the middle and this is what he read:

When the president of the party of Lincoln praises Robert E. Lee as a “great general,” they hear the whistle. When the president talks not about patriotism but about nationalism, they hear the whistle. When he denigrates immigrants and declares “America first,” they hear the whistle loud and clear. [p.63]

“Dog whistles!? She’s going with dog whistles?” he exclaimed derisively, snapping the book shut and thrusting it back to me. I could not disagree.

In the end, Bari Weiss may be in the position of the young stock-trader woman after the 1984 election. The woman was completely unashamed to tell a news periodical that she was so thankful that President Reagan was so far ahead in the polls because that let her vote for Mondale to feel good about herself. Weiss, her sisters, and mother can gang up on her father again, and maybe even join him in voting for some socially acceptable sports figure, safe in the knowledge that the object of her fear and loathing will secure real safety for another few years. At the same time, it may be up to us to pick up the pieces of a political culture that she and her fellow leftists and TruCon lapdogs, not we, helped imperil, as both Peter Robinson and Kimberly Strassel explain.

Published in Culture
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There are 113 comments.

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor

    A lot of work, here, CAB, and you are to be commended for your thoroughness. But a few disagreements.

    Father Coughlin was at first a supporter of FDR, then turned totally against him. He spread the lie that Jews were conspiring to drag us into war with Germany. The church slammed him down. 

    In my childhood, the elderly Jews did all but worship FDR–at one time. BTW, so did the Irish of the day. (My grandmother thought he was the greatest president who ever lived.) For years after he died, so did nearly everyone else. (though the Catholics hated Eleanor later in life). They came around when more information came out about his actual lack of effort on their behalf. 

    Bari Weiss is not wrong that there’s still an anti-Semitic fringe on the right. I remember vividly seeing a pamphlet after 9/11 called “God Bless America. God Damn the Jews”. It’s much less a factor than it used to be, but it’s there and it’s not a figment of anyone’s imagination. 

    Jews resist Trump and Republicans not because Orange Man Bad, but because conservatives usually have very different ideas than they do about issues like race relations, welfare, and social conservatism. 

    • #1
    • October 18, 2019, at 7:29 PM PST
    • 14 likes
  2. Boss Mongo Member

    Colonel Brown, great review, but jeez, for a couple of minutes I thought it was going to run to 204 pages.

    Clifford A. Brown: Having made the case for concern about a rise in violent anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss ends with a series of recommended actions for Jews to take.

    So, given your review, I’m guessing one of her recommendations was not to get strapped and carry a tool based on COL Colt or Mr. Browning’s products.

    • #2
    • October 18, 2019, at 7:30 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    A lot of work, here, CAB, and you are to be commended for your thoroughness. But a few disagreements.

    Father Coughlin was at first a supporter of FDR, then turned totally against him. He spread the lie that Jews were conspiring to drag us into war with Germany. The church slammed him down.

    In my childhood, the elderly Jews did all but worship FDR–at one time. BTW, so did the Irish of the day. (My grandmother thought he was the greatest president who ever lived.) For years after he died, so did nearly everyone else. (though the Catholics hated Eleanor later in life). They came around when more information came out about his actual lack of effort on their behalf.

    Bari Weiss is not wrong that there’s still an anti-Semitic fringe on the right. I remember vividly seeing a pamphlet after 9/11 called “God Bless America. God Damn the Jews”. It’s much less a factor than it used to be, but it’s there and it’s not a figment of anyone’s imagination.

    Jews resist Trump and Republicans not because Orange Man Bad, but because conservatives usually have very different ideas than they do about issues like race relations, welfare, and social conservatism.

    I do not disagree with your points, in the main. It can be simultaneously true that Father Coughlin was a Jew-hater all the way down and that his policy advocacy was what is generally recognized as of the left. There is a fair amount of cross-cutting stuff there, as he was also against the KKK, a violent enabler of the Democratic party at the local and state level, because they hated both Roman Catholics and Jews, among others.

    There surely is an anti-Semitic fringe on the right, but I believe she casts the net too wide on the right and too narrowly on the left.

    Bari Weiss goes beyond different ideas on race relations, welfare, and social conservatism. Indeed, she discounts all good that President Trump might do because, in her view, it is he who is placing our polity in danger of irreparable damage, from which the worst of the left or right might enter into power.

    And. I again recommend two far more positive reviews for everyone’s consideration.

    • #3
    • October 18, 2019, at 7:41 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Colonel Brown, great review, but jeez, for a couple of minutes I thought it was going to run to 204 pages.

    Clifford A. Brown: Having made the case for concern about a rise in violent anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss ends with a series of recommended actions for Jews to take.

    So, given your review, I’m guessing one of her recommendations was not to get strapped and carry a tool based on COL Colt or Mr. Browning’s products.

    Target cease fire.

    • #4
    • October 18, 2019, at 7:48 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Colonel Brown, great review, but jeez, for a couple of minutes I thought it was going to run to 204 pages.

    Clifford A. Brown: Having made the case for concern about a rise in violent anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss ends with a series of recommended actions for Jews to take.

    So, given your review, I’m guessing one of her recommendations was not to get strapped and carry a tool based on COL Colt or Mr. Browning’s products.

    The recommendations are all non-violent and start with individuals. I thought they were all reasonable and grounded in reality, but again differ to others who had read and assessed them.

    • #5
    • October 18, 2019, at 7:52 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Gary McVey Contributor

    That’s a fine and measured reply and rebuttal, Clifford, actually a model of how an R> post’s author ought to reason with his readers. Thanks!

    • #6
    • October 18, 2019, at 7:57 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  7. Zafar Member

    Thank you for the book review, it sounds interesting.

    Re Left/Right proportion, from Forward:

    The Anti-Defamation League found that 3,044 total acts of hate, extremism, anti-Semitism and terror were committed in the United States in 2018. 1,879 of these were anti-Semitic acts – including assault, vandalism and harassment.

    Of these 1,879 acts of anti-Semitism, 249 (13 percent) were attributable to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology, according to the ADL’s classification system. In a call, Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that all 249 acts that they were able to attribute to extremists were carried out by white supremacists.

    I couldn’t find their classification system on the ADL’s website, but there is this interesting heat map of incidents.

    • #7
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:24 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Thank you for the book review, it sounds interesting.

    Re Left/Right proportion, from Forward:

    The Anti-Defamation League found that 3,044 total acts of hate, extremism, anti-Semitism and terror were committed in the United States in 2018. 1,879 of these were anti-Semitic acts – including assault, vandalism and harassment.

    Of these 1,879 acts of anti-Semitism, 249 (13 percent) were attributable to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology, according to the ADL’s classification system. In a call, Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that all 249 acts that they were able to attribute to extremists were carried out by white supremacists.

    I couldn’t find their classification system on the ADL’s website, but there is this interesting heat map of incidents.

    And your quote shows the problem with the ADL a Jewish organization captured by progressives. By definition its “extremists” are on the right which begs the question – who did the other 87% of these incidents? Perhaps they were just “random acts of violence” as President Obama characterized the murder by a Moslem terrorist of five Jews at a Jewish grocery store in Paris.

    • #8
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:47 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  9. Boss Mongo Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Thank you for the book review, it sounds interesting.

    Re Left/Right proportion, from Forward:

    The Anti-Defamation League found that 3,044 total acts of hate, extremism, anti-Semitism and terror were committed in the United States in 2018. 1,879 of these were anti-Semitic acts – including assault, vandalism and harassment.

    Of these 1,879 acts of anti-Semitism, 249 (13 percent) were attributable to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology, according to the ADL’s classification system. In a call, Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that all 249 acts that they were able to attribute to extremists were carried out by white supremacists.

    I couldn’t find their classification system on the ADL’s website, but there is this interesting heat map of incidents.

    @zafar, dishonest people with agendas have gotten me to the point where, unless the stats are broken out so that I can see their guts, I don’t trust anyone’s numbers. So,

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Of these 1,879 acts of anti-Semitism, 249 (13 percent) were attributable to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology, according to the ADL’s classification system. In a call, Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that all 249 acts that they were able to attribute to extremists were carried out by white supremacists.

    Okay, so all 1,879 acts were solved? People were arrested, charged and convicted? We can definitively state that we know the perpetrators motives and ideology? What’s the criteria by which the ADL attributes acts to specific groups or ideologies? No acts were committed by extreme Islamists? Black Lives Matter?

    Seems to me, the most attribution I’ve seen the media state is black kids knocking out Hasidic Jews in NYC.

    I know I’m suave, sophisticated and urbane, but I come from blue collar roots, half of which can legitimately be labeled “redneck.” And Ima tell you what, I only ever met maybe–maybe–two or three people that I might have come close to almost possibly suspecting of being white supremacists.

    I think that “racist” was overused and lost its cachet, so the media (and groups with an agenda) had to ramp up their info ops to “white supremacist.”

    It makes me weep, but I’m more than willing to bet that were I to state that my entire philosophy on race is ensconced in MLKjr’s “I Have A Dream” speech, there are those that would say, “Well, there ya go, you are a white supremacist.”

    • #9
    • October 18, 2019, at 9:04 PM PST
    • 16 likes
  10. Zafar Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Thank you for the book review, it sounds interesting.

    Re Left/Right proportion, from Forward:

    The Anti-Defamation League found that 3,044 total acts of hate, extremism, anti-Semitism and terror were committed in the United States in 2018. 1,879 of these were anti-Semitic acts – including assault, vandalism and harassment.

    Of these 1,879 acts of anti-Semitism, 249 (13 percent) were attributable to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology, according to the ADL’s classification system. In a call, Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that all 249 acts that they were able to attribute to extremists were carried out by white supremacists.

    I couldn’t find their classification system on the ADL’s website, but there is this interesting heat map of incidents.

    @zafar, dishonest people with agendas have gotten me to the point where, unless the stats are broken out so that I can see their guts, I don’t trust anyone’s numbers. So,

    The heat map has a number of filters, and the incidents it then includes are listed below it, along with a brief description.

    So just by filtering for Islamist ideology, it shows not zero but 4 incidents in 2018, one of which was an ISIS inspired murder. Which seems pretty extremist to me.

    If you look at incidents that are classified right wing in some manner (eg white supremacists) the descriptions are much looser – it’s sometimes unclear whether they were inspired by an ideology or just criminal acts by people who are also white supremacists.

    So, indeed.

    I know I’m suave, sophisticated and urbane, but I come from blue collar roots, half of which can legitimately be labeled “redneck.” And Ima tell you what, I only ever met maybe–maybe–two or three people that I might have come close to almost possibly suspecting of being white supremacists.

    There just aren’t that many. But like the other extremist options, you don’t need that many for it to start to be a problem. I think it’s understandable for the ADL to be hypersensitive to this, though that doesn’t necessarily make their numbers more accurate.

    I think that “racist” was overused and lost its cachet, so the media (and groups with an agenda) had to ramp up their info ops to “white supremacist.”

    It’s a pity. Terms like racist, antisemite, homophobe etc. have indeed lost real meaning – imho because they been overused by so many, so manipulatively and for so long. 

     

    • #10
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:07 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  11. Judge Mental Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    If you look at incidents that are classified right wing in some manner (eg white supremacists) the descriptions are much looser – it’s sometimes unclear whether they were inspired by an ideology or just criminal acts by people who are also white supremacists.

     

    This is itself ‘problematic’. All too frequently, it simply means people who are also white. Period.

    • #11
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:12 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  12. Boss Mongo Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    This is itself ‘problematic’. All too frequently, it simply means people who are also white. Period.

    Judge, you got to the nut of it, right there.

    • #12
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:52 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. lowtech redneck Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown:

    How to Fight Anti-Semitism

    When the president of the party of Lincoln praises Robert E. Lee as a “great general,” they hear the whistle. When the president talks not about patriotism but about nationalism, they hear the whistle. When he denigrates immigrants and declares “America first,” they hear the whistle loud and clear. [p.63]

     

     

     

     

    I appreciate all your effort, but frankly, like your friend, that’s all I needed to know.

    • #13
    • October 19, 2019, at 4:45 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I find myself becoming increasingly skeptical, and tired, of claims of anti-Semitism. The charge seems extraordinarily overused, and it appears to be the same tactic employed by Wokeists in all of their causes. Any criticism gives rise to a charge of anti-Semitism. I see this even in commentators who I generally like, such as Ben Shapiro.

    Examples include Ilhan Omar’s “all about the Benjamins” comment and the Netanyahu/Trump cartoon cited in Clifford’s post. I disagree with the position of Omar and the cartoonist, but I found these to be a perfectly reasonable (and even clever) expressions of their position.

    But no, their positions are smeared as “anti-Semitic,” they must be condemned, and debate and discussion must be stifled. Why? Because Holocaust. Because Tree of Life. These were terrible crimes, but the idea that any criticism is going to escalate to violence, and even genocide, is precisely the hysterical and defamatory tactic used by the Wokeists.

    I dissent. I do not accept the proposition that the smear of “anti-Semitism” is a proper response to any criticism of Israel, any criticism of our policy towards Israel, any criticism of anything said by a particular Jewish person, any criticism of Judaism in general, any criticism of the actions of Jewish organizations — indeed even of any evangelism by Christians directed at a Jewish person or the staging of a Passion play in a Christian church that it faithful to the Gospel accounts.

    I do not claim that anti-Semitism does not exist. I condemn violence directed at anyone or any group (except in self-defense, which does not apply here). I do assert that, like accusations of racism and sexism, the accusation of anti-Semitism is vastly overused, for the purpose of stifling legitimate discussion.

    • #14
    • October 19, 2019, at 10:53 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Stina Inactive

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I do assert that, like accusations of racism and sexism, the accusation of anti-Semitism is vastly overused, for the purpose of stifling legitimate discussion.

    Here here!

    • #15
    • October 19, 2019, at 11:17 AM PST
    • Like
  16. Gary McVey Contributor

    Omar’s “It’s all about the Benjamins” is a gross insult not only to Jews but to any American gentile who supports Israel for any reason. It says we were bribed into it, and Jews did the bribing. This is BS, pure and simple. If you don’t think that’s an anti-Semitic lie, then I doubt that anything is going to look like anti-Semitism to you. 

    • #16
    • October 19, 2019, at 11:47 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  17. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Omar’s “It’s all about the Benjamins” is a gross insult not only to Jews but to any American gentile who supports Israel for any reason. It says we were bribed into it, and Jews did the bribing. This is BS, pure and simple. If you don’t think that’s an anti-Semitic lie, then I doubt that anything is going to look like anti-Semitism to you.

    Gary, it’s a criticism of money in politics. That is a legitimate criticism. I do not think that it is true that pro-Israel politicians have been bribed, in general, though I think that money has some influence. 

    Are you claiming that there are not Jewish groups who raise money in order to lobby in favor of Israel? I don’t know details, but I wouldn’t be surprised if pro-Israel lobbyists, both Jewish and Evangelical, use campaign donations and other funding to support pro-Israel candidates.

    It is permissible for Jews, or any other group, to raise money in order to lobby for causes that they support. It is also permissible for others to criticize such activities.

    I regularly see the same accusation — of bribery — hurled at other groups. Just today, it was used against Never Trumpers in the comments to one of my posts. I responded with reason, not with an accusatory slur.

    The effectiveness of this to you, and I think to many others, troubles me greatly. It explains the effectiveness of similar accusations in stifling debate — accusations like racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic.

    • #17
    • October 19, 2019, at 4:38 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    There surely is an anti-Semitic fringe on the right, but I believe she casts the net too wide on the right and too narrowly on the left.

    Thank you, Clifford, for this huge effort to review Barri Weiss’ book. I only read your review, not the others. I think I saw enough evidence that she is blinded by her Leftist orientation.

    Coincidentally, I will be posting on progressive Jews tomorrow. My post is more limited in scope than anything Weiss did, and I don’t try to suggest that it is balanced. It is more of a personal, rather than intellectual, assessment of Jews in America today. And in my case, I hope I’m wrong.

    Thank you for the many times you have shone a light on the perceptions of Jews in America. This Jew is very grateful.

    • #18
    • October 19, 2019, at 5:12 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I do not claim that anti-Semitism does not exist. I condemn violence directed at anyone or any group (except in self-defense, which does not apply here). I do assert that, like accusations of racism and sexism, the accusation of anti-Semitism is vastly overused, for the purpose of stifling legitimate discussion.

    I’m sorry to hear this Jerry. Accusation of anti-Semitism is widely overused compared to what? How much would be sufficient to make an issue of it? And I think considering the 2,000 year history of anti-Semitism, comparing it to racism and sexism which are modern phenomena is naive and unfair. We know that feminism has exaggerated sexism, and that the Leftist community exaggerates racism, but who is behind creating a political agenda regarding the Jews? Is the ADL doing that all by itself? Comparing the acts of anti-Semitism against the tiny population of Jews to the entire population of blacks or the entire population which is potentially victimized by sexism is comparing apples to oranges.

    • #19
    • October 19, 2019, at 5:23 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I dissent. I do not accept the proposition that the smear of “anti-Semitism” is a proper response to any criticism of Israel, any criticism of our policy towards Israel, any criticism of anything said by a particular Jewish person, any criticism of Judaism in general, any criticism of the actions of Jewish organizations — indeed even of any evangelism by Christians directed at a Jewish person or the staging of a Passion play in a Christian church that it faithful to the Gospel accounts.

    I do not claim that anti-Semitism does not exist. I condemn violence directed at anyone or any group (except in self-defense, which does not apply here). I do assert that, like accusations of racism and sexism, the accusation of anti-Semitism is vastly overused, for the purpose of stifling legitimate discussion.

    And. It is rare to see the charge or label employed against “any” criticism. Bari Weiss calls out the SPLC as a corrupted organization that falsely labeled a moderate or dissenting Muslim as a bigot. I believe that individual won a substantial settlement or judgement from the SPLC.

    When discussion and criticism always seems to go against one nation and one people group, it is fair to question the hearts of the questioners.

     

    • #20
    • October 19, 2019, at 5:32 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Gary McVey Contributor

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Omar’s “It’s all about the Benjamins” is a gross insult not only to Jews but to any American gentile who supports Israel for any reason. It says we were bribed into it, and Jews did the bribing. This is BS, pure and simple. If you don’t think that’s an anti-Semitic lie, then I doubt that anything is going to look like anti-Semitism to you.

    Gary, it’s a criticism of money in politics. That is a legitimate criticism. I do not think that it is true that pro-Israel politicians have been bribed, in general, though I think that money has some influence.

    Are you claiming that there are not Jewish groups who raise money in order to lobby in favor of Israel? I don’t know details, but I wouldn’t be surprised if pro-Israel lobbyists, both Jewish and Evangelical, use campaign donations and other funding to support pro-Israel candidates.

    It is permissible for Jews, or any other group, to raise money in order to lobby for causes that they support. It is also permissible for others to criticize such activities.

    I regularly see the same accusation — of bribery — hurled at other groups. Just today, it was used against Never Trumpers in the comments to one of my posts. I responded with reason, not with an accusatory slur.

    The effectiveness of this to you, and I think to many others, troubles me greatly. It explains the effectiveness of similar accusations in stifling debate — accusations like racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic.

    The “It’s all about the Benjamins” slur is exactly equivalent to gun controllers blaming the money and power of the NRA. They have it backwards, and so does Omar. The NRA draws its power from the fact that many people, many of them not even NRA members, agree with them. Their money didn’t hypnotize Congress or the country. The pro-Israel lobby (presumably, AIPAC) doesn’t draw its power from money, but from the fact that many Americans, many of them not even Jewish, agree with them. Their money didn’t hypnotize Congress or the country. To say otherwise is a lie, and a slur.

    Criticism doesn’t stifle debate when it’s true.

    As for trying to convert Jews, of course they regard it as harmful to them. Do you think Muslim attempts to convert Catholics wouldn’t be regarded as harmful by Catholics? Of course they would.

    Criticize “The Passion”? That’s their right, is it not? It was one of the highest grossing pictures of that year. The rental companies–owned by Jews–the film labs–owned by Jews–and the movie theaters–far from all, but a plurality owned by Jews–didn’t refuse to deal with Gibson. What is there in their response that you’re criticizing? That they didn’t like the movie?

    • #21
    • October 19, 2019, at 5:34 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I dissent. I do not accept the proposition that the smear of “anti-Semitism” is a proper response to any criticism of Israel, any criticism of our policy towards Israel, any criticism of anything said by a particular Jewish person, any criticism of Judaism in general, any criticism of the actions of Jewish organizations — indeed even of any evangelism by Christians directed at a Jewish person or the staging of a Passion play in a Christian church that it faithful to the Gospel accounts.

    This disturbs me, too. Who says that any criticism of the items you list should be called anti-Semitic? That’s ridiculous. That kind of huge generalization shows you aren’t even trying to look at this objectively. When is it okay to call something anti-Semitic?

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    But no, their positions are smeared as “anti-Semitic,” they must be condemned, and debate and discussion must be stifled. Why? Because Holocaust. Because Tree of Life. These were terrible crimes, but the idea that any criticism is going to escalate to violence, and even genocide, is precisely the hysterical and defamatory tactic used by the Wokeists.

    Who says that criticism will escalate to violence or genocide?? Who is trying to stifle debate and discussion? Not me! What are your topics of debate and discussion?

    So let me make sure I understand. You are saying that the charge of anti-Semitism is used way too much, unjustifiably, and it’s done to stop discussion and debate? Of what? Whether there is anti-Semitism? Whether it was anti-Semitic or not? Just to be clear, I criticize Jewish organizations when criticism is justified, and when it is done with evidence and rationally, it’s fine. Otherwise, it’s a smear. Okay, I’ll stop now.

    • #22
    • October 19, 2019, at 6:03 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  23. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    There surely is an anti-Semitic fringe on the right, but I believe she casts the net too wide on the right and too narrowly on the left.

    Thank you, Clifford, for this huge effort to review Barri Weiss’ book. I only read your review, not the others. I think I saw enough evidence that she is blinded by her Leftist orientation.

    Coincidentally, I will be posting on progressive Jews tomorrow. My post is more limited in scope than anything Weiss did, and I don’t try to suggest that it is balanced. It is more of a personal, rather than intellectual, assessment of Jews in America today. And in my case, I hope I’m wrong.

    Thank you for the many times you have shone a light on the perceptions of Jews in America. This Jew is very grateful.

    I believe blinded is too strong. Blurred, distorted, better fits my claim “casts the net too wide on the right and too narrowly on the left.”

    I think back to the Soviet Union. I have lost the names, but the story is that a Jewish communist approached an old comrade, now an important regional official, for help/protection of Jews being targeted by Stalin’s regime. The official, ethnically Jewish, cut off his old comrade, coldly stating that there are only communists now; no other identity had any claim. I welcome comments with the names and better quote.

    It seems to me that the Forward editor just had such a moment.

    And.

    Even renouncing all Jewish identity is not a survival strategy. See the forced conversions in Spain leading to accusations that the converts were really conspirators. Compliance became crime, in a lethal no-win scenario.

    /Break/

    Underlying my review is a concern that there is blindness to the danger of the agenda, of which the NYT 1619 project is a manifestation, act in a line of effort. Why is real anti-Semitism manifesting now? Why is the left turning on Jews, who have been such loyal comrades?

    Failing to trace the links between W.Wilson, FDR, and Obama may matter.

    • #23
    • October 19, 2019, at 7:05 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. Gary McVey Contributor

    I recommend Clifford’s review, now on the Main Feed! No one is obliged to agree with every word of the post, but it’s thoughtful and valuable, and yes, chances are you’ll agree with a great deal of it at the very least. 

    • #24
    • October 19, 2019, at 7:17 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. aardo vozz Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I’m sorry to hear this Jerry. Accusation of anti-Semitism is widely overused compared to what? How much would be sufficient to make an issue of it? And I think considering the 2,000 year history of anti-Semitism, comparing it to racism and sexism which are modern phenomena is naive and unfair. 

    Not to nit-pick, Susan, but I think we’re talking about a history of anti-Semitism that goes back well over three thousand years. It wasn’t always fun times with the Pharoahs.🙂

    • #25
    • October 19, 2019, at 7:59 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Susan and Gary and Clifford, thanks for the responses.

    I gave specific examples of what I consider to be wrongful accusations of anti-Semitism — Ilhan Omar’s comments, the Netanyahu cartoon, criticism of the Passion, even evangelism to Jews. The ADL smeared Steve Bannon for his alleged connection to anti-Semites, though admitting that they did not know of any anti-Semitic statements attributed to him personally (here).

    Frankly, I think that the ADL is itself a Leftist hate group, nearly as bad as the vile Southern Poverty Law Center. 

    I thought that the Netanyahu cartoon was particularly clever. I am a huge fan of Netanyahu and a big supporter of Israel. But others have different views, and I can acknowledge a clever image, while disagreeing, without descending into a hateful accusation of anti-Semitism.

    These are not isolated incidents. Here is the Wikipedia entry reporting that: “Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League have described attempts to convert Jews as anti-semitic and have directly compared those efforts to the Holocaust.” The Wikipedia entry cites this article, describing the ADL response to an Evangelical group’s announcement of an effort stating its commitment to evangelize to European Jews. Some quotes:

    “Promoting a campaign to convert Jews away from their faith is a serious affront to the Jewish people and disrespectful to Judaism’s own teachings.” “Though the World Evangelical Alliance claims it seeks to convert Jews out of their “love” for Jews, we believe that if the WEA really loved Jews, they would respect Jewish teachings and recognize the integrity of Jewish tradition.” ADL called the document “not an offer of love, but a prescription for hate.” “As long as the WEA teaches that Judaism is incomplete or misguided, anti-Semitism will continue.”

    Really. So sharing my faith with a Jew is anti-Semitism. So much for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. See the problem?

    We live in a country with freedom of religion. Part of that is the right to evangelize — to peacefully seek to persuade our fellow citizens to join our faith. But the ADL calls that anti-Semitism, when Jews are evangelized.

    [Cont’d]

     

     

    • #26
    • October 19, 2019, at 8:47 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  27. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    There’s more. Here is an official ADL statement describing Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ as anti-Semitic. It, frankly, lies about the accuracy of the movie, which is quite faithful to the Gospel accounts. This is a technique that the ADL (and others) appear to have used often to demand that Christian churches stop teaching or presenting the Passion story in accordance with the Gospels. It is, frankly, outrageous.

    The lies of the ADL about this are quite appalling. Just an example:

    In Mr. Gibson’s film, there is absolutely no ambiguity as to who is responsible for the death of Jesus — it is the Jews. Roman soldiers are seen bribing Jews to come out en masse to his trial by the Sanhedrin, in the Jewish Temple and at night.

    Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, calls for Jesus’ death time and time again, and all the Jews (literally hundreds and hundreds) rally behind this cry. The compassionately portrayed Pontius Pilate does not want to harm Jesus, but the Jewish high priest, supported by the crowd of Jews, time and time again calls for Jesus’ crucifixion.

    Throughout more than two hours of brutal and bloody footage, only a handful of Jesus’ followers shows any compassion. The Jews are portrayed continually as bloodthirsty and vengeful. Love and compassion are demonstrated by the Romans — only a few sadistic Romans harm Jesus and only because the Jews made Pilate punish him.

    . . .

    There is still time for Mr. Gibson to change the way he is marketing this film so that it can be portrayed honestly as his own personal religious vision and not “historically accurate.”

    This is outright falsehood. Gibson’s movie was historically accurate to the Gospel narrative. I know that story very, very well. Perhaps the ADL does not, though if they are going to comment, they really should.

    Gibson portrayed Pilate as reluctant because . . . that’s what the Gospels report. Pilate found no basis for a charge against Jesus. The Jewish crowd, headed by Caiaphas and most of the ruling counsel (not Gamaliel, and not Nicodemus, and not Joseph of Arimathea) demanded His crucifixion.

    There is nothing in Christianity that would justify Christian violence toward Jews on the grounds that they were “Christ-killers.” It is true that some Christians, or at least purported Christians, have used this argument as a vile justification for mistreatment of Jews. 

    But this does not justify Jewish demands that Christians change the teaching of our Scriptures, backed by an accusation of “anti-Semitism.”

    It is the same type of slander hurled by the Wokeists. I am getting very, very tired of it.

    • #27
    • October 19, 2019, at 8:48 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I want to say more about the Netanyahu cartoon. From Clifford’s OP:

    Bret Stephens, another columnist recruited to the New York Times from the Wall Street Journal, clearly denounced his own paper.

    Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it? The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

    Notice Stephens’ examples. It’s only wrong to put a Sacred Victim in a dog cartoon, according to Stephens.

    Here is the Netanyahu cartoon (April 2019):

    Gee, who would ever portray a leader, or other political figure, as a dog? Well, there’s this, from February 2018:

    There’s this, from about 1810 — I think that’s Jefferson as the dog:

    There’s this, from the Daily Kos in 2007:

    There’s this, by Chip Bok in 2016:

    Also by Chip Bok, May 2018:

    From the Chicago Tribune in 2017:

    Here’s William Jennings Bryan, over a century ago — the name “Bryan” is on the collar, to make sure he is recognized; the Star of David is on the Netanyahu collar for the same reason:

    Back to the future, here’s one from 2018:

    I’m sure that I could go on and on. You can Google images for “political cartoon dog” and find many, many more.

    But when it’s a Jew like Benjamin Netanyahu, all of a sudden it’s outrageous anti-Semitism.

    This really bothers me. You get smug, self-righteous virtue signaling from a (rather mushy) conservative like Bret Stephens, who reacts to any negative portrayal of a Jew, or a woman, or a black, or a Muslim like the worst type of knee-jerk Wokeist SJW, and can’t be bothered to take 5 second to realize that political cartoons have always been outrageous (and often cleverly so), and can’t be bothered to take 5 minutes to check whether any other political figures have been so portrayed.

    And if he had done so — and if my friends here, Clifford and Susan and Gary had done so — you all would have found that this type of portrayal is nothing unusual.

    See what I mean? It’s not anti-Semitism. It’s actually Jewish Privilege — or Black Privilege, or Muslim Privilege, or Woman’s Privilege — because the apparent rule is that you can portray an ordinary white guy as a dog, but God forbid that you treat a Sacred Victim in the same way.

    We all really need to lighten up.

    • #28
    • October 19, 2019, at 9:28 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I’m sorry to hear this Jerry. Accusation of anti-Semitism is widely overused compared to what? How much would be sufficient to make an issue of it? And I think considering the 2,000 year history of anti-Semitism, comparing it to racism and sexism which are modern phenomena is naive and unfair.

    Not to nit-pick, Susan, but I think we’re talking about a history of anti-Semitism that goes back well over three thousand years. It wasn’t always fun times with the Pharoahs.🙂

    I must be feeling really disagreeable today. Sorry about that.

    The idea that there is a unique history of anti-Semitism is incorrect. Everybody has been fighting everybody else, for millenia. The Israelites had it rough in Egypt. They were pretty rough on the Amalekites, and the Midianites, and the Canaanites, and the Philistines, and many others. And their enemies were rough on them, and on each other. The Israelites had plenty of civil wars, too, such as the slaughter of the Benjamites, and the civil war between David and Ish-bosheth, and the rebellion of Absalom, and the rebellion of Sheba, and Jehu’s war against Ahab. 

    By the way, Elijah slaughtered the priests of Baal, and Josiah did the same. There were several times that the Israelites nearly wiped out entire cities, or even small nations.

    History is a bloodbath. There is nothing unusual about the suffering of the Jews, except that after becoming stateless as a result of failed rebellions against Rome, they did not have a victory until 1948. Rome, by the way, was quite tolerant of the Jewish faith.

    Look at England, just as an example. Roman conquest; Anglo-Saxon invasion; internal warfare; Danish invasion; more internal warfare; Norman conquest; more internal warfare and the French wars; the Scottish wars; multiple civil wars, including the War of the Roses and the English Civil War; the Napoleonic Wars; the Blitz. 

    Most places had it much tougher than England. My ancestors were Poles and southern Italians. They had it really, really rough, too. So what? What is the point of playing a game of “my ancestors were more oppressed than your ancestors”?

    The claim of unique Jewish suffering is not true. Everybody suffered. But few other groups keep alive such historic grievances, as a basis for claims of special privilege or special treatment today.

    I am glad that the Jews have survived as a people. I am utterly confident that they will continue to do so, as Biblical prophecy includes a very important role for many Jews at the end times. I am glad that they have Israel as a refuge, and the US, too.

    But this claim of unique historic victimization is precisely the narrative that most of us object to among the Wokeists. False accusations of anti-Semitism may stoke actual anti-Semitism, just as false accusations of racism may stoke understandable racial resentment on the part of whites.

     

    • #29
    • October 19, 2019, at 10:51 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Gary McVey Contributor

    So in addition to the Netanyahu cartoon, you came up with seven other obnoxious ones. I don’t doubt you could find more. During the hostage crisis, Iranian newspapers depicted Americans as monkeys and pigs. In WWII, the Japanese depicted us as dogs. I didn’t lighten up over any of them. I didn’t shrug them off. Instead of saying, “These are all, unfortunately, evidence of how depraved cartoonists can be”, you said:

    “I thought that the Netanyahu cartoon was particularly clever.”

    Own it man, own it.

    EDIT: You know what? This is getting too heated and personal. Given the subject matter, it’s not surprising. I’ll back off a little. But just a little.

    Why not just say “Other people besides Jews have suffered.” Not only is it true, but one of the most noted–and by some people, disliked–characteristics of the Jews is a willingness, even a duty to fight for the rights of others. Without that willingness, there never would have been a civil rights movement. Long before “Social Justice Warrior” became a conservative joke, the Jews were the Bible’s original social justice warriors, and to this day they recognize the necessity of helping others find justice. Sometimes to a fault, sure.

    How about saying “You can criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic” Obviously true, as plenty of American Jews criticize Israel freely and publicly, not always to Israel’s liking. It depends what you say and how you say it, like any other group of people.

    What’s the point about “You can’t criticize Jews”? Of course you can. Heck, they do it themselves all the time.

    They didn’t like a movie that matches up with your faith because it doesn’t match up with theirs. Do you do it any differently?

    I draw the line at any claim that everyone else has suffered like they have. No, we haven’t.

    • #30
    • October 19, 2019, at 11:00 PM PST
    • 4 likes
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