The True Double Standard

A question that no respectable person now dares to address is whether anti-Semitism is a rational response to being victimised by the state of Israel. In all other contexts but this one it is more or less accepted that if someone takes your land, bulldozes your house, uproots your orchard, shoots your relatives and so forth, then you have some excuse for hating them. By “them” is meant not only the individual officials and soldiers who performed these acts, but whatever nation stands behind them.

The ideal human being may be able to rise above this generalised group hatred, but in practice not many do, and in any other context it is considered in poor taste for outsiders to rebuke the victims for their resentment. “The toad beneath the harrow knows, Exactly where each tooth-point goes”, wrote Blake, “The butterfly upon the road, Preaches contentment to that toad.” Certainly no one would dream of complaining about Holocaust survivors who demonstrated a marked lack of enthusiasm for SS veterans, about Louisianan blacks who tended to make cutting remarks about men in white sheets, or about Korean “comfort women” who felt that distance lent enchantment to their view of the Imperial Japanese Army. If, however, any scepticism regarding Jews is detected among Palestinians and Lebanese, among rebels and dissidents in Latin America, Africa and Asia who have been tortured and slaughtered by Israeli-trained secret police, death squads and military advisors to oppressive regimes, or among the wellwishers of said Arabs, rebels and dissidents, then this is “anti-Semitism” and there is no more to be said. In other words, resentment of one’s oppressors is understandable except when one’s oppressors happen to be Jewish.

It will be objected that the cases are not parallel because not all Jews live in, or support, the state of Israel. The corollary suggestion is that a victim of Israeli oppression is thereby entitled to hate the state of Israel, or even Israelis, but not Jews per se. This high-minded hypothesis may be tested by asking whether a Holocaust survivor is entitled to a measure of scepticism regarding all Germans of his own generation. If the answer is yes, then we are dealing with a double standard. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what is commonly heard from Israeli apologists, that they are being held to a higher standard; in this case the Jews are allowed to hate Germans (who may be personally innocent) for the Holocaust while Palestinians are not allowed to hate innocent Jews for what they call the Nakhba, the Catastrophe.

At this point I would remark that I spent six months of my youth on a kibbutz that did not particularly welcome German volunteers; but it was myself to whom one individual refused to speak, and at whom she yelled abuse, because the British had hanged her husband – ten years before I was born. Was that woman aware that she was the precise moral equivalent of the Palestinian who hates all Jews, past present and future? How dare such a person ever complain about prejudice against herself?

Since only about a third of the German electorate voted for Hitler, the chance that the Holocaust survivor who hates all Germans is doing them an injustice is actually far greater than the chance that the Palestinian who hates Jews is doing them an injustice. Within Israel itself there is a small but passionate peace movement, but in the USA, Jews who oppose illegal settlements and so forth appear to be an even smaller minority, and are scarcely allowed a voice. It is, after all, a general rule that the most uncompromising warriors live at a safe distance.
Moreover, the question of whether Jews in general may be held responsible for the acts of the state of Israel has been answered, at least to their own satisfaction, by the Israeli apologists themselves. For it is they who tirelessly repeat the equation, Opposition to Israel = Anti-Semitism. With the aid of the expression, “self-hating Jews”, they even apply this formula to their own. In this way they are actually multiplying the number of anti-Semites, at any rate by their own definition; and applying your own definitions to others is a dangerous game, as those others may adopt them out of sheer defiance. The intention is obviously to scare everybody away from criticism of Israel by reproaching them for anti-Semitism and thereby suggesting co-responsibility or sympathy for the Holocaust; but another outcome is possible. They are saying, “Everyone who disapproves of Binjamin Netanyahu, or the deeds of Mossad in Central America, must necessarily hate all Jews,”,to which one possible response is, “Okay, if you say so!” They themselves have set the table of anti-Semitism, arranged the flowers and printed the dinner invitations.

As on the plane of state policy, so too on the individual level; the Jew who attempts to prevent all criticism of his own words and deeds under the rubric of anti-Semitism will in the long run achieve nothing other than an increase in the number of anti-Semites in the world. I was once attempting to convince a Jewish acquaintance that knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism had the effect of infuriating innocent gentiles. Not until he remembered a black woman in his university department who routinely accused him of racism whenever he disagreed with her over policy, did he understand what I was getting at.

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  1. Written by urban
    on November 7, 2011 at 15:53
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    My, my, a lot to digest.

    Since the category of ‘self-hating Jew’ implicitly defines Jewish self-love as strict adherence to an extreme and blatantly racist political agenda, it does follow that Gentiles who object to that agenda do so only out of hatred for Jews. Sick and twisted? You bet! But not incoherent.

    How convenient it must be to define the entire group one belongs to as virtuous, every Jew an innocent victim, Israel a light unto the nations. Any Gentile who objects to anything any Jew does or says can only be motivated by an essential anti-semitism. There is no second possibility.

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