Skip to main content

Originally published in Tikkun Daily|

If the only impression you had of me came from the comments to a recent review of my bookWhat Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?this is the picture you would have of me:

  • I'm "a most virulent anti-Israel and anti-American blogger" who seeks to inspire anti-Semitic comments at progressive sites like Daily Kos and Tikkun.
  • I suffer "from Stockholm Syndrome" for meeting with the Palestinian family of the man who perpetrated the 2002 Hebrew University bombing that injured my wife.
  • I "spit on Israel," am a "self-hating Jew" and "advocate for the destruction of Israel" due to my political critiques, stances and book.
These smears, made primarily by American Jews, appear in the Times of Israel, an English-language news site intended primarily for the American market. They are not novel in their target or approach. And this is precisely the issue: it has become normative in American political discourse for progressive Jews, such as myself, to be labeled as 'anti-Semitic' by more conservative Jews for recognizing the humanity and human rights of both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Now, if this post was about my feelings, I'd be engaging in nothing but self-indulgent navel gazing. However, this post's intention is not to generate sympathy on my behalf. Rather, its intent is to explore an important dynamic that seriously affects political discourse in America.

See, the strategy behind such smears is clear and calculated: delegitimize political positions, and the people who hold them, by evoking an emotionally-powerful charge sure to make most people cringe. Anti-Semitism.

The smear has power, particularly in the American Jewish community, and holds sway in larger political discourses – so much so that members of Congress sometimes sound more right-wing in their opinions than most Israeli politicians in order to placate those who hold such virulent views. (Remember Romney's campaign-inspired claim in 2012 that President Obama threw Israel "under the bus" due to his Iran policies? It's cut from the same cloth – an influential one.)

There have been several high-profile incidents recently in which American Jews have wrongly tried to smear others as anti-Semitic. One involved Sadia Saifuddin, who became the first Muslim student to serve on the University of California Board of Regents. Predictably, she was slandered as anti-Semitic for her critiques of Israel and her membership in Muslim student groups by those who wanted her removed. The incident prompted the L.A. Times to ask in an editorial, "Oh, for goodness' sake, will this never stop?"

The answer, unfortunately, was "no." For another high-profile case occurred just weeks ago, when the University of Michigan's Center for the Education of Women dis-invited Alice Walker to speak after a chorus of anti-Semitic claims. (The university, embarrassed at how easily it succumbed to such pressure and its failure to protect free speech, quickly re-invited Walker.)  

Now, anti-Semitism remains a very real, exceedingly dangerous prejudice. However, the charge has been so overused by my fellow Jews that all it really amounts to anymore, in political discourse, is this: I am frightened by your politics and don't agree with them.

And yet, the smear still holds sway. Particularly in the American Jewish community. Which is why those Jews commenting on a review of my book could, with a straight face, call someone like myself – a Jewish studies teacher, for goodness' sake – anti-Semitic.

The more we, as progressives, pose the same question asked by the L.A. Times – "Will this never stop?" – the more attention will be called upon this phenomenon and those disingenuous attempts to stifle geo-political dialogue on Israel.

At a time in which the Obama administration (however flawed) is attempting to re-start peace talks, at a time in which John Kerry is investing much of his political capital on ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such questions are needed.

For without them, political discourse in America will never be balanced. Nor will America's role in the region.


Originally posted to David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour) on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by Writing by David Harris Gershon, More and Better Democracies, and Street Prophets .

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Egg, claude, Lupin, Superskepticalman, cslewis, KeithH, Paleo, Jack K, PhilK, native, tikkun, badger, PeterHug, Shockwave, Wintermute, dsb, Ed Tracey, LeftHandedMan, gjohnsit, Dumbo, Gustogirl, TheMomCat, Dr Know, cskendrick, magnetics, whenwego, ehavenot, gakke, farmerhunt, roses, Bronxist, MadEye, Nate Roberts, ctsteve, sidnora, Texknight, recontext, SneakySnu, tomephil, psnyder, TexDem, NYC Sophia, mrkvica, businessdem, Damnit Janet, HeyMikey, outragedinSF, OneCharmingBastard, zerelda, ybruti, Deward Hastings, ScienceMom, Emmy, bibble, Sassy, Armand451, davidkc, Brecht, nailbender, historys mysteries, radarlady, 3goldens, jrooth, ichibon, geruta, caul, Chinton, democracy inaction, corvo, run around, Simplify, basquebob, david78209, YucatanMan, Kevskos, Lepanto, ratzo, owlbear1, cris0000, bleeding blue, Sun Tzu, aaraujo, sofia, lotlizard, RichterScale, Sandino, kaliope, Rydra Wrong, Blu Gal in DE, Rogneid, peacestpete, Ekaterin, skywriter, LeftOverAmerica, kovie, K S LaVida, poco, esquimaux, tommymet, 417els, Mr Bojangles, ActivistGuy, koNko, ruleoflaw, Catesby, VictorLaszlo, kck, Hobbitfoot, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, NBBooks, triv33, StrayCat, erratic, philipmerrill, twigg, Ooooh, agnostic, Libby Shaw, Crashing Vor, JVolvo, ER Doc, syolles, blue in NC, callmecassandra, doingbusinessas, Dianna, Cassiodorus, Johnathan Ivan, Little, OHdog, Aaa T Tudeattack, cpresley, DBunn, tegrat, ammasdarling, fiver, anna shane, Tamar, Russ Jarmusch, EdSF, edsbrooklyn, FishOutofWater, Sydserious, CTDemoFarmer, la urracca, david mizner, Cofcos, daveygodigaditch, Dave in Northridge, suejazz, sfbob, newpioneer, artisan, US Blues, Aunt Martha, martyinsfo, letsgetreal, bobswern, pioneer111, Chico David RN, janatallow, Assaf, Ralphdog, shmuelman, Conservative Socialist, on the cusp, TomP, Empower Ink, cville townie, JDWolverton, gzodik, misterwade, JeffW, gfv6800, kimoconnor, spacejam, Marko the Werelynx, Johnny Nucleo, poligirl, crescentdave, Involuntary Exile, skohayes, Buckeye Nut Schell, lavorare, monkeybrainpolitics, Lujane, royce, Cassandra Waites, bluesheep, catly, mofembot, Gemina13, 3rdOption, oak park progressive, Karl Rover, lenzy1000, HarpboyAK, priceman, palantir, sydneyluv, Celtic Merlin, BvueDem, maggiejean, Rhysling, zmom, Throw The Bums Out, arendt, rudewarrior, jarbyus, dharmasyd, cantelow, LeftOfYou, maryabein, earicicle, JesseCW, DefendOurConstitution, mHainds, Bonsai66, petral, geebeebee, Leslie in KY, Flyswatterbanjo, catilinus, Railfan, Just Bob, commonmass, pyegar, FogCityJohn, barkworsethanbite, Observerinvancouver, Lost and Found, Simple, Eddie L, Klaus, psychbob, cordgrass, gulfgal98, pixxer, ffour, Funkygal, Johnny Q, kenwards, Oh Mary Oh, slice, TheHalfrican, Onomastic, janemas, Miniaussiefan, Matthew D Jones, slowbutsure, afisher, implicate order, cv lurking gf, marleycat, Carolyn in Oregon, badscience, thomask, Claudius Bombarnac, midnight lurker, tardis10, MRA NY, voicemail, worldlotus, PhilJD, VTCC73, zenox, too many people, caryltoo, jaebone, DawnN, BlueDragon, BocaBlue, quill, isabelle hayes, DeadHead, Mozzochi, Williston Barrett, greenbastard, rexxnyc, rustypatina, Mostel26, Horace Boothroyd III, Darryl House, Mr Robert, mapamp, reginahny, MartyM, New Minas, Glen The Plumber, DarkLadyNyara, onceasgt, argomd, Linda1961, remembrance, JayRaye, SanFernandoValleyMom, goodpractice, kmfmstar, JosephK74, northerntier, Orcas George, Ishmaelbychoice, Fishtroller01, boriskamite, The Marti, eagleray, OldSoldier99, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, JohnWKelly, patbahn, Gurnt

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site