Celebrity venting against Israel was probably pioneered by British actress Vanessa Redgrave, a chronic Trotskyite who once ran in British elections for the British Workers Revolutionary Party. In 1978, she availed herself of the opportunity afforded by her Oscar acceptance speech for the title role in Julia to sound off about “Zionist hoodlums” – a reference to Jews who had exhibited the temerity to demonstrate against her support for the PLO, an organisation that was then not only actually committed to Israel's destruction, but publicly so.
More recently (and blatantly under the influence of alcohol), Mel Gibson divulged what he thought of the Jews – a people “responsible for all the wars in the world.”
All of which prompts some questions: Some 25 million people are estimated to have been killed in internal conflicts since 1945. Are the 8,000 civilians killed in the Arab-Israeli conflict, thereby ranking 46th in the list of victims, to be laid all at Israel’s door and to take centre stage to the exclusion of all other pressing humanitarian issues? Isn’t the genocide in Darfur indicative of worse tragedies and problems than those allegedly unleashed on the world by Jews? Why the obsessive exaggeration of Jewish power and influence?
I’ll return to this subject another time.
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Daniel Mandel - 12/14/2006
Regrets for the lateness of response to comments on this blog.
Valerie Kabov argues that outrageous stupidity of utterance is a staple of celebrity life and that outrageous remarks about Israel therefore are not to be regarded as a unique occurrence; also that double standards towards Jews is a millennial historical verity. But the second point goes some way to qualifying the first: admittedly, outrageous remarks are not limited to Israel, but the special character of anti-Semitic utterances are their drastic nature – to speak of Jews as alien malefactors bent on world domination or to declare the need for wiping the Jewish state off the map is a departure from the usual canons of hatred and bigotry. No-one calls for Botswana, Russia or Saudi Arabia to be wiped off the map – and anyone who did would be regarded as beyond the pale. The distinctive feature of anti-Semitism is that such things are said – and tolerated – about Jews.
Howard C. Berkowitz contends I speak interchangeably of Judaism and Israel. I do – since such is the interchangeability of these subjects to the anti-Semitic mind. He also contends that logistical complexities could rule out major efforts to end the genocide in Darfur. They might indeed – but as I never raised the issue of what might be done to stop genocide in Darfur and he did not discuss the obstacles standing in the way of such action, that is an issue for another blog.
Howard C Berkowitz - 11/29/2006
I note that the original posts seems to assume comments about Judaism, a religion, and the State of Israel, are interchangeable. There is a classic comment on Talmudic study that given two Jewish scholars, there will be three opinions. This tends to argue against some grand Jewish conspiracy. On the other hand, the policies of the State of Israel can be tracked, as Cabinet or parliamentary decisions, and not all policies are necessarily supportive of world or regional peace rather than playing to their domestic politics.
I will preface comments on Darfur and elsewhere that Muslim on Muslim violence is indeed involved. That being said, I find the assorted solutions being proposed generally not to have involved a look at a tramsportation map, considered the economics and power blocs of Sudan, or the military character of that conflict. There is no question that terrible things are happening in Darfur, which, as many people forget, is part of Sudan. I'm afraid I tend to tune out demands to "do something" that do not at least begin to consider logistics to and in Darfur, and the nature of the North-South coalition and how pressures a bit more creative than sanctions could be applied within the concerns of the Northern component of the coalition.
Valerie Kabov - 11/28/2006
to hell is paved with good intentions. Dan, I think you are reflecting on two dissimilar phenomena. 1) that actors i.e. people who get told what to say for a job have the temerity to assume that they indeed have something to say that deserves hearing -- if you had to bring up disasters of that genre, Israel is not unique I am sure Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon's pearls of wisdom are equally delightful (and on a sadder note Woody Allen's equally unqualified). 2) the double standard that has applied to the Jews since the year dot. The phenomenon as you know is universal and fundamental to anti-semitism but also in some measure to the aspirational nature of Judaism i.e. religiously Jews are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard. Removing Jewish religion as an intrinsic factor in the ME conflict (but not others) and separating Israel from the Jews politically has failed as an approach -- for Jews more than anyone else -- but that is whole different blog topic...