Saturday, February 07, 2009

Obi Wan on the power of the dark side

Norm Geras, whom I think of as the Obi Wan of the blogosphere, outdid even his usually splendid self in the last few days with two deadly-accurate posts on antisemitism in the media:

This is from today:

Mond here licenses the idea that Jews need to earn the right not to be objects of anti-Jewish hatred, to earn it by taking the same view he does about Israel-Palestine; and that if they do not, if they are uncritical of Israel, the anger directed against them will be justified. He doesn't say whether corresponding forms of anger, prejudice or hatred should be directed against non-Jews
whose attitude to Israel is not sufficiently critical according to his lights, or whether other ethnic minorities are tasked with earning acceptance from their fellow citizens by having the 'correct' political judgements. (All, here)

This from a few days earlier:

Part 4: Conclusion.

(i) Centred on accusations against Israel of war crimes, the reaction of outrage... might be thought to have been motivated by a respect for international humanitarian law. The arguments set out above show that that isn't so. The outrage is based rather on a cynicism towards international law which I have posted about before and which consists of treating international law as a mere convenience, something to use rhetorically and polemically when it suits you to do so - but only then....

(ii) ... Fellow-travellers to Stalinism, the greatest political disaster for the left since 'the left' became a concept, then celebrants of or apologists for one undemocratic and illiberal, sometimes murderous, enterprise after another - here Mao, there Castro and Guevara, today Chavez, and more or less every day one bunch of terrorist thugs or another - there are always leftists ready to believe that if a movement has some justice to its cause, a progressive component in its programme or outlook, it is to be supported. And that means its crimes and deficiencies must be passed over, be silently ignored or at the very least played down. Today Hamas is the beneficiary of this complaisance and this complicity. [...]

(iii) To hold Israel to the standards of international humanitarian law, the elementary standards entailed by codes of human rights, is only right and proper. But to hold Israel to those standards, but not also its regional adversaries, suggests a special hostility towards it that needs some explanation. Not all of this hostility can be accounted anti-Semitic. But some of it is. Only the blindest can ignore the plain manifestations of anti-Semitism now evident both amongst Israel's regional adversaries and within the worldwide protests against Israel's actions in Gaza and disfiguring them. [...]

In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today, it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world and to be obsessed about accordingly. Both are forms of anti-Semitism. The old poison is once again among us.


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