Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Even the Guardian (U.K.) is finally getting it about rising anti-semitism: Our dulled nerve. As they ask, after recounting the recent bombings in Istanbul and the arson of a Jewish school in Paris over the weekend:

Why is the liberal left not sufficiently concerned about the growth of anti-semitism? On this year's anti-war march in Paris, Jewish peace activists were beaten up by other demonstrators. There were less dramatic confrontations on London's million-strong march. It did not matter to the attackers that Jewish writers and activists have been vocal against the Iraq war. Nor did the attackers care that many criticise the current Israeli government's policies towards the Palestinians. Their victims were targets just because they are Jews.

Even the police are now being more proactive in pursuing people spreading virulent anti-semitic literature or inciting religious hatred. Could not the liberal left, which in an earlier era vigilantly sought to protect Jews from prejudice and bigotry, rediscover its old values?

Honestly, I think the liberal left doesn't want to touch this issue because they've bought into the anti-semitic myth that all Jews=Israel and that supporting Jews against anti-semites=supporting the Sharon government. I remember an incident that happened to me in 1981, right after Israel bombed the Osirak reactor in Iraq (thank God!). I was talking to a friend -- who knew that I was Jewish but who had no idea what my politics about Israel were (I'm not sure I really had formulated them very clearly at that point), who launched into an attack on me because of what the Israeli government had done. As if I were the Israeli ambassador or at least an Israeli citizen. For him, Jew=Israeli, and thus I was fair game for his criticism. In other respects his politics were quite radical and I'm sure he would have asserted that he was anti-racist. But when it came to Israel he had a big blind spot, and coupled with his large dose of ignorance about Jews, it ended up with his attacking me for Israeli policies and actions.

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