Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Lindsay Beyerstein, Ezra Klein, David Sirota, and I are all Jewish progressive bloggers noticing the increasingly annoying blasts coming from the Lieberman camp that opposition to Lieberman comes from some mythical antisemitic corner of the left-wing blogosphere.  This is starting to get under the skin of the younger Jewish crowd, which doesn't equate being Jewish with going to war based on lies.  Actually, it's probably getting under the skin of the majority of Jews (though not older male Jews who work in the finance industry in New York City), since Lamont is leading among Jewish voters in Connecticut. 

I know I would join 'Jews Against Lieberman' or 'Jews for Lamont'.  Is there something like that out there?

This is a bigger problem than just Lieberman, of course, and speaks to a rather appalling lack of conversation about the alliance between the right-wing of the Republican Party, Christian right-wing death cultists, politicians like Lieberman and Schumer, and groups like AIPAC.  I'm rather embarrassed by AIPAC, which according to nonsensical conventional wisdom is somehow representative of a liberal Jewish voting block yet assumes that this voting block is monolithically right-wing and neoconservative in its outlook.

I have to confess, I don't really know the world of progressive Jewish organizations, but I'm sure that there is leadership out there willing to organize the liberal Jewish community to take on the neocons who keep claiming to speak for American Jewry.  

Do you know of organizations or groups out there who are working on this problem?

Tags: Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont (all tags)

Comments

30 Comments

Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Dunno about orgs, but count this Jew in.

by juls 2006-07-13 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Matt,

thanks for taking this issue so seriously. as a progressive jew i am also deeply embarassed about folks like lieberman who hide in the trappings religion and try to use it to justify some of their most heinous positions.

The Jewish Funds for Justice (Jspot.org) is a neat progressive organization that would at the very least have some insight into the question of how to mount Jewish-identified opposition to Lieberman.

There is a progressive faith blog con this weekend. Perhaps someone should hit the pavement with an eye towards this issue.

by MrT 2006-07-13 01:25PM | 0 recs
Eric Alterman . . .

. . . is my go to guy, for Liberal Jewish smackdown of the AIPAC Likudnik crowd.

He can probably point you in the right direction.

by ck 2006-07-13 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Well, I'm not "officially" Jewish (50% ethnically, but of the wrong parentage to count, and a Christian cleric to boot), but I would point you to Rabbi Michael Lerner and his Tikkun organization (www.tikkun.org).

My one reservation about Tikkun is how effective it, and like organizations, can present themselves to be at this time.  A quick scan of the Tikkun website's forum over the past year has shown that every post advocating what you would describe as a "progressive Jewish" opinion will promptly get drowned out in a storm of hard-line responses that could have come straight from AIPAC talking points, many accusing the original poster of, you guessed it, anti-Semitism.  Whether the community of progressive Jews represented by Tikkun is as tiny as it appears, or whether AIPAC's supporters are simply more well-organized and mobilized for "rapid response" is beside the point -- it's hard  to take seriously any group whose positions are in the minority on their own web site.  How much attention would you pay to, say, Democratic Underground, if most of the posts in that site's threads seemed to have come from members of Free Republic?

by JDWalley 2006-07-13 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Hey Matt,

My family regularly gives to this organization
www.PeaceNow.org

They are the leftwing alternative to AIPAC.  It is tragic that the Pro-Israel/Neocon Right has monopolized the voice of the jewish people the way the Christian Right has to the entire Christian community.

PeaceNow's policy positions are all on their website.  

by dayspring 2006-07-13 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

There is a faction out there that wants to argue that Likud = Judaism, that support of AIPAC equals Judaism. And frankly non-Jews are handcuffed here. Until the broader Zionist movement recaptures Liberalism a buch of otherwise sympathetic  Leftists are going to be left on the sidelines at best and sympathizing with the Palestinians at worst.

Why should we align ourselves with a movement which venerates the the American born doctor that gunned down unarmed muslim worshipers?

by Bruce Webb 2006-07-13 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

His message is subtle but maybe effective in one way: A lot of supporters of Iraq who are supporters of Israeli policies may equate the two situations as the same. I have seen these sorts of equating of Israel, Iraq and being jewish all linked in some blob of anti-semitism when someone disagrees w/ the Iraqi situation.  

by bruh21 2006-07-13 02:18PM | 0 recs
A disheartening situation

The news today from Israel and Lebanon is heart breaking, the latest in a now self-fueling, seemingly eternal cycle of violence and inhumanity. In the end (being an American citizen), I don't see it as my fight one way or another, with all due caveats to the effect that I would like to see my country do what it can to ameliorate suffering in other lands when possible and above all, not throw gasoline on the fire.

I see the spiraling violence as dangerous for the United States and would like our government to do what it can to dampen it. Yet reflexive support for Israel on its own terms seems to preclude that. You would think a third party honest-broker would be of great value in a situation like this, but it doesn't play out like that.

Sometimes people get into a cycle of destruction and self-destruction they are powerless to escape, you see it in personal life on occasion. That's where you could use an honest third party mediator. Rather than playing that role, US administrations ally with the bloody-minded faction in Israel. That doesn't move you towards peace, it guarantees everlasting war and continued brutality, violence, and suffering all around.

This is going to get us all killed eventually if we in the US can't produce the statesmanship necessary to move towards a solution.
.

by MikeB 2006-07-13 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

"And frankly non-Jews are handcuffed here."

There is no reason to be handcuffed, or gagged either.  When logic and morality have fail, a scoundrel's last defense may be to claim discrimination.  But that doesn't mean that the term "anti-Semitism" is a magic phrase that defeats all argument.  There is no reason to accept it, and it can be easily rebutted when it is not applicable.

Likud<>Judaism
Zionism<>Judaism
Israel<>Judaism

Just like

Christianity<>America
Christianity<>Republican
Christianity<>Conservatism

by AlphaHydroxy 2006-07-13 02:37PM | 0 recs
Clever Politics

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm an agnostic of Roman Catholic upbringing who has incredible respect for Judaism (the only one of the "big three" monotheistic traditions that didn't decide killing people to make them pray their way was a good idea).

All this is is an attempt to shut down opposition.

Are there anti-semites supporting Lamont for that reason? Of course...there are nut jobs everywhere.

But by playing that loony fringe up, they can attempt to guilt others into not saying anything bad about Holy Joe. BTW - I intentionally use "Holy Joe" as a personal protest on this. He earned that moniker a long while ago from those of us who were teens and 20 somethings during his crusade on naught song lyrics. But if you say it now, someone will pull out the AS canard eventually. If that were true, then we would also be Anti-Uptight Upper Class White chicks because the same group coined this phrase for HJ's partner in fuddy duddyness...

"Tipper Gore is Satan's Whore."

(Note to everyone, I'm just quoting the phrase from back in the day.)

This is an old tune used by everyone. Oppose some issue that has the most marginal impact on a minority racial group? You're a racist. What an inheritance tax? Class Warfare and "The Politics of Envy".

Oldest rhetorical trick in the book, and unwiorthy of the slightest respect or concern.

by ElitistJohn 2006-07-13 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

The situation is more complex than you would like it to be. Most of the opposition to Lieberman is based on the principle that he is a Republican lapdog involving issues ranging from illegitimate wars to fascistic judicial appointments. However, intellectual honesty dictates acknowledging the fluorishing anti-Semitism on the far left. Any doubts can be dispelled by tripping over to DailyKos and reading the many diaries that are variations on this theme:

Imagine a world without Israel
by qrswave
Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 06:41:50 PM PDT

Or is that not allowed?

   * qrswave's diary :: ::
*

Muslims, Jews, and Christians could live in peace without fear of mutual destruction.

There would be no more need for US AID or justification for Dimona.

We could bring down the Wall, send prisoners home, and families could be reunited.

We could dismantle checkpoints, open crossings, and pull down barbed wire fences.

There would be no more settlements or armed settlers because the people would be united.

We could replant trees and olive groves and rebuild battered cities.

No more suicide bombers or sniper fire, and no more dead civilians.

No more targeted killings and hell-fire missiles, or systematic demolitions.

Palestinians and Jews could live together and the world could address other issues.

What a simpler place this world would be

if there was no need for a Jewish majority - where there would otherwise be none.

Is it so hard to imagine?

{end diary excerpt}

It would be easier to ridicule Lieberman's self-pity if far leftists were not publicly yearning for a world devoid of a Jewish state or claiming that Juan Cole is a victim of the international AIPAC conspiracy.

by georgewturd 2006-07-13 03:44PM | 0 recs
Cite?

I've missed all this, myself.  Do you have links for evidence of fluorishing far-left antisemitism?

by Avedon 2006-07-13 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Cite?

The British have a notoriously high threshold for these matters. As previously stated, DailyKos is infested with diaries that accuse Jews of conspiracies and dual loyalties. There have been at least ten such diaries posted today, so if you are "missing" them it is not for lack of opportunity.

Here is a representive link in which the scholar receives 129 approving ratings and zero disapprovals from the community as he accuses Jews of the entire Goebbels litany: greed, disloyalty, conspiracy, depravity: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/6/14/ 161822/181

Here is another Kos classic you might savor in which Zionists are deemed to be fucking assholes who cry anti-Semitism and deserve an ass kicking (25 positive ratings, zero negative): http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/6 /28/154837/147

Rather than suffocating you in links, just go to DailyKos and peruse today's diaries. You will learn that Jews control the US government, the media, the oil market, and the banking system (you won't have to peruse long).

If Kos is insufficiently Jew-phobic for your continental tastes, stop by HuffingtonPost and sample the reader comments on any topic even remotely related to Israel, with the cautionary note that David Duke would consider some of the more fervent anti-Semitic insights to be over-the-top.

I hope I have been of some assistance. It must be grueling to live in a cave.

by georgewturd 2006-07-13 05:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Cite?

Your summaries of those diaries are false and maliciously so.

by Matt Stoller 2006-07-13 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Cite?

You are a self-hating Jew and a coward. You may now deactivate this account as well, bitch.

by georgewterd 2006-07-14 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Cite?

Although I believe Grand Moff Texan is mistaken in his belief that Juan Cole was the victim of Israel-firsters rather than just part of an attack on someone who is a critic of George Bush (they are more appropriately called Bush-worshippers; not sure Israel really matters one way or the other to them), this error is not anti-semitism.  I cannot tell from the post whether Grand Moff Texan is an anti-semite, but there is certainly nothing anti-semitic about assuming that people who appear to support a Likudnik view are doing so because they really are Israel-firsters.

Richard Carlucci's point is one I usually hear from Jews, so I don't think it can be based in anti-semitism.  I know quite a number of Jews (mostly American, but a few Brits and several Israelis), and almost none of them would disagree with what Carlucci wrote.  It is hard for me to discern where you find the anti-semitism in these posts.

FYI, I was born and raised in the United States, spent most of my life just barely outside the Beltway, went to a Jewish school in upstate New York where I was taught and cared for by Holocaust survivors and their families, and only moved to England when I was 33.  But I've been here long enough to know that the criticisms of Israel from the left are criticisms of policy, and not anti-semitism.  

Since most people assume, because of the way I look, that I am Jewish, I think I'd have some awareness of that.

The only people who have subjected me to anti-semitism in this country have been on the far right.  Of course, most of them had swastikas tattooed on their knuckles.  The American anti-semitism I've been exposed to back home is usually more polite and subtle, but still hard tro miss.

by Avedon 2006-07-15 03:39AM | 0 recs
Antisemitic far leftists

Just how do you figure someone hope-ing "Muslims, Jews, and Christians could live in peace" without "suicide bombers or sniper fire" "and hell-fire missiles", means, "far leftists are publicly yearning for a world devoid of a Jewish state"?

by William Domingo 2006-07-13 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Antisemitic far leftists

Because the diary explicitly calls for the elimination of the Jewish state, dumbass.

by georgewterd 2006-07-14 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Seems to me that Lieberman's making such an embarassment of himself that it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to accuse HIM of anti-Semitism.  After all, if you really loved the Jewish people and you were viewed by much of the country as a representative of the Jewish people, wouldn't you try NOT to make yourself look like the world's biggest doofus?  And, if you were really a Zionist, would you still support giving Iran total control over Iraq (which is, after all, one of the primary impacts of the war)?

Now, Lieberman's clearly not an anti-Semite, but his actions indicate that he's quite a bit closer to being one than Lamont is.

by DanM 2006-07-13 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Joe Lieberman has demonstrated just what a wretched specimen he is.  His attitude has been that he has an inherent right to the senatorial seat.  Now, anybody who opposes him is an anti-Semite?  Lieberman uses the term as a sword rather than a shield.  He is to be denounced for what he is, a self justifying scoundrel.

As contrast, here is some very real genocidal anti-Semitism from the floor of the Knesset last week.  Spoken by an elected official of the Israeli government, as a part of his official duties.

On the floor of the Knesset, MK Moshe Sharoni said "We need to obliterate Gaza and call it the City of Murderers, the City of Terrorists."

The targeted Semites here just happen to be Palestinians.  

by AlphaHydroxy 2006-07-13 04:50PM | 0 recs
Yes. So much for &quot;Never again.&quot;

I might understand Lieberman's ignorance if he were under 30, but he's old enough that the memory of the lessons of the Nazi terror should have taught him always to oppose the very things he has been supporting.

It just makes me sick.

by Avedon 2006-07-13 05:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism
Matt:
I'm going to the Progressive Faith Blog Convention in Montclair, NJ this weekend. I'll see what we can gin up for you. Mik Moore from JSpot.org will be there, among others.
by pastordan 2006-07-13 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

Why wouldn't a professional political activist not know about something like this already?

Just asking.

by Epitome22 2006-07-13 06:23PM | 0 recs
try the National Jewish Democratic Council

www.njdc.org

by desmoinesdem 2006-07-13 08:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

network of spiritual progressives - led by rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun

by rallydemocrat 2006-07-13 11:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

My sense is that spreading this slur will just cost Lieberman more among Jews generally.  I am sure that a Jew ascribing his shortcomings to anti-Semitism will be seen for what he is.

by Bob H 2006-07-14 02:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism

lerner is regarded as a fringe personality within the jewish community. not to say he doesn't have good ideas, just that if you want to build a movement you need people who don't care about the credit and who want to do the work. lerner may not be such a person.

by MrT 2006-07-14 05:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Snake-Oil Antisemitism
I've never seen anyone work harder than Lerner at getting this message out there and trying to spark and prod others to join him across a wide ecumenical spectrum.
He launched a new organization in the past year, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, which held well-attended conventions in California and Washington, D.C.-- in the same period published his book, "The Left Hand of God" and went on a book tour.  The emphasis was always on building a movement, bringing people in, trying to establish a voice in the larger community, and in the Press.
From what I've seen this is a truly sincere and well-fought effort, consistent and motivated, to build a movement that will represent the many whose voices are not heard because AIPAC drowns out everything and everyone, and certainly does not represent us.
It deserves a lot more attention and support.
syolles
by syolles 2006-07-14 10:55AM | 0 recs
Lerner's concepts

Michael Lerner also wrote a book called Healing Israel/Palestine in 2003 that is excellent and still relevant today.

He talks about how both sides have experienced a lot of oppression and violence, and the importance of both sides compassionately listening to each other in order to end the cycle of hatred and violence.  Lerner's educational background is in psychology and he applies it in a very thoughtful way to the Mideast.

The short and easy-to-read book not only has an excellent historical review of Mideast conflict (and who initiated violence at various times and which groups were most affected by it), but also includes a chapter or two on what steps are needed to move forward to peace and justice for all.  Lerner definitely thinks strategically and provides policy outlines and activist recommendations.  

As mentioned above, he's been around a long time and has developed some enemies, and also a perception of being a crazy guy within the mainstream Jewish community.  That might make him problematic as a spokesperson on this issue, but his ideas and progressive frameworks continue to be well-researched and thoughtful during this increasing conflict.

by susan 2006-07-14 11:26PM | 0 recs
by maakawa 2006-07-17 01:43AM | 0 recs

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