I merely asked a question with a video camera to a columnist. She answered me with an opinion that was unacceptable not just to me but to former and current press secretaries, politicians, the president, her agent and a great many other people. Her freedom of speech was not stifled; on the contrary, it was respected.
She didn’t say that the blockade was unjust, or that aid was not getting to Gaza, or that there was a massacre on the high seas, or that East Jerusalem is occupied, or that the settlements are immoral . . . and get out and go back to West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. No. This was not the two-state solution. This was get the hell out and go back to the places of the final solution, Poland and Germany. The Jew has no connection with the land of Israel.
And why? Because, as Thomas went on to explain to me, “I’m from Arab descent.” That’s it? That’s all you got? Do we all travel with only our parents’ stereotypes to guide us, never going beyond them to get to a peaceful destination?
In the past weeks I have relived this moment over and over, on television and radio, in newspapers and blogs. I’ve listened to a constant stream of commentary. And my sharpest impression is this: Where before I saw a foggy anti-Israel, anti-Jewish link, it’s now clear. This feeling is not about statehood. It’s about an ingrown, organic hate. It’s a sentiment that bears no connection to history, dates, passages or verses. Erase the facts, the dates and the lore. Erase the Jew. Incredibly, even the Nazis said to the Jews, “Go home to Palestine.” But Thomas and a babbling stream in our world and country dictate to Jewish people to “go home to Poland and Germany.” Yeah, I said “oooh.”
I think that it’s theoretically possible to express the kind of hatred of Israel that many do and not be anti-semitic. But I don’t think it happens much in real life.
The other day Jim Davis asked me in comments why I (and the Tea Partiers) object to being called “racist” because we oppose President Obama’s policies (or “liberal” or “progressive” policies in general), when I’m willing to call people anti-semitic for their views about Israel.
Here’s the difference. I would be (and have been) criticizing those policies regardless of who was advocating them, or what color their skin is. I’m pretty sure that’s true of most of the Tea Partiers as well. The fact that a black man has ascended to the presidency doesn’t somehow magically and suddenly make such criticism racist.
Israel’s attackers, on the other hand, have a double standard. They attack it for things (e.g., abusing Arabs) that they completely ignore when other countries (notably Arab countries) do them on a much grander scale. They accuse it of war crimes when it takes greater pains, and greater risks to its own troops, than any nation in history, with the possible exception of the US, to minimize collateral civilian casualties. But these same hypocrites ignore or defend the real war crimes of the “Palestinians” — hiding weapons in hospitals and churches and mosques, sneaking through borders in ambulances, deliberately targeting children, fighting out of uniform, using their own women and children as human shields — while castigating Israel.
So yeah, sorry, I think there’s something else going on there. And Helen Thomas just made a massive Kinsleyan gaffe, and revealed what she (and many others) really think. Oooh, indeed.
[Update a couple minutes later]
I’ve observed this before, but leftists seem (unaccountably to me) to get their panties much more in a twist about human rights abuses when they’re cross race. Israel making Arabs second-class citizens? The horror! Saddam murdering thousands of his own people? Hey, it’s his business. Mao wiping out tens of millions of Chinese? No biggie, they’re his people. Gotta break some eggs to make the omelette, you know.
Another example was apartheid in South Africa. Not to defend it, but was it really that much worse than what Idi Amin or Mengistu were up to? Really?
[Update a few minutes later]
Well, Israel is going to partially lift the Gaza blockade. That won’t satisfy the critics, though. They won’t be happy until the weapons are flowing freely in. And probably not even then.
[Late evening update]
But there’s no anti-semitism involved:
Radicals, Islamists and Longshoremen blockade Israeli ship in Oakland.
And when someone compares the Israelis to Nazis, it can only be either anti-semitism or profound stupidity and ignorance, even when (or especially when) it’s a Nobel Prize winner. It’s been said before, but the Nobel Prize (in fields other than science) ain’t what it used to be. If it ever was…
[Tuesday morning update]
More useful thoughts from (Christian) Mike Potemra:
…the support for Israel that is offered by me and like-minded people is based not on headline-devouring apocalypticism but on something perduring and eternal: a sense that the fate of the Jews implicates humanity, that a world that refuses to find a place for the Jews is engaged in a rejection of even more fundamental truths. This State of Israel is, yes, a state like all other states; that should go without saying. But how strange that, of all the 200 or so states-just-like-other-states in the world today, this one alone is treated increasingly as a pariah that’s on a deserved path to being wiped out.
I am not ashamed to say that some of my own support for Israel is based in religious motives, even if these motives are not those presented in caricature form by the cultured despisers. And I resent the caricature less than I otherwise would, because I view it as rooted in a deeper obtuseness, the one these despisers show in regard even to their own self-interest and to their own intellectual consistency. The only country in the region with liberal values — that lets, e.g., its religious minorities vote; that has, e.g., gay-pride parades — is the one they view as an embarrassment. This, again, is a level of obtuseness that cannot be explained on a purely rational basis.
It’s the oldest hatred in the world. Of course it’s not rational.