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Saturday, January 10, 2009

David Frum Has a Low Bar for "Anti-Semitism"

I was reading a Glenn Greenwald column on how much (most?) of the world--outside of the US--is growing increasingly concerned with the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza, whereas the US Senate just issued an incredibly non-neutral proclamation. (Really, I was surprised by unambiguously they said "Israel is right"--I would have expected them to give some weasely "both sides need to settle down" official verdict while giving Israel assurances behind the scenes, but that's not what they did.)

Anyway, GG linked to this David Frum piece, alerting us to the fact that Frum was bringing the claim of anti-Semitism into the debate. Well, I thought surely Frum wasn't going to explicitly say that, so I went to see. When discussing reasons that Democrats tend not to support Israel in this conflict, one (among several) of Frum's reasons is:
Fourth, Democratic attitudes are poisoned by the influence of an anti-Zionist hard left, a vociferous faction whose ideology can bleed into outright anti-Semitism. The foreign policy page at the Barack Obama transition website, Change.gov, features many disturbing examples of this trend. There you will find questions and comments like the following:

Now at this point, I was getting ready to see some CRAZY comments. After all, I have had my eyes opened to true anti-Semitism, when certain LRC readers send me emails chastising me for being such a wuss and being unwilling or unable to "tell the truth about the Zionist plans..." etc. (Many of these emails have a lot of words in CAPS.)

But the list of comments Frum reproduces is rather tame, and hardly seems indicative of "outright anti-Semitism." It's true, these people might be mistaken in what they claim are the state of Israel's objectives, but there is hardly anything below that sounds like "outright anti-Semitism":
“How might you propose to hold Israel accountable for their awful record of human rights abuses? My personal sense is that Israeli abuse of non-Jewish residents in Middle East is our #1 problem.”

“The root cause of the world's problems is the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the ongoing war crimes perpetrated by Israel.”

“The massacre of the Palestinian people by the excessive forces of Israeli military should be soundly condemned—why is Obama NOT taking a MORAL stand on this holocaust? Shocking!”

“What will you do to help end the illegal and immoral occupation of Palestine, to end the oppression of the Palestinian people by the genocidal government of Israel?

“How will President Obama uncouple the ‘Israeli Lobby’ from the US political process, to prevent its current undue influence over U.S. foreign and domestic policy?”

Now maybe there are really crazy comments at the original site (I'm not bothering to check), and Frum is shielding his viewers from true incivility. But if so, he botched making his point. After all, it is hardly evidence of anti-Semitism for someone to claim that the massacre (and yes, it IS a massacre, regardless of whether you think it is justified) requires condemnation.

Last point: I realize the guy hasn't been sworn in yet, but those of you who thought Obama was going to be a refreshing voice for peace in the world... Is his silence on this troubling you?

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Regarding your last point: It seems to me that one of the aims of the invasion and the near-unanimous Congressional & pundit cheerleading is to show Obama who's really the boss.

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  2. This is more - and very sad - evidence of our tribal nature.

    My side is good, well-intended and virtuous; those who disagree are the enemy and evil.

    Man is cooperative within packs, and our consciousness does not really alter our behavior.

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  3. BTW, here is more evidence that Obama is not going to be bringing us needed change:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/opinion/12cohen.html?_r=1&em

    ReplyDelete