Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Formula Could Combat Campus Racism

Judea Pearl, in The Jewish Journal, writes about his recent visits to four "troubled" college campuses and he comes to an interesting realization:

Many condemn anti-Zionism for being a flimsy cover for anti-Semitism. I disagree. The order is wrong. I condemn anti-Semitism for being an instrument for a worse form of racism: anti-Zionism.

In other words, I submit that anti-Zionism is a form of racism more dangerous than classical anti-Semitism. Framing anti-Zionism as racism is precisely the weapon that our students need for survival on campus.

He rightly feels that Jews are being denied the basic right of other peoples to self-determination and to nationhood. He then makes the argument that I'm not sure religious people appreciate but that secular Jews understand.

Jewishness is more than just a religion. It is an intricate and intertwined mixture of ancestry, religion, history, country, culture, tradition, attitude, nationhood and ethnicity, and we need not apologize for not fitting neatly into the standard molds of textbook taxonomies — we did not choose our turbulent history.

He remarks that while religion is protected in our society, political views are not so our opponents have reshaped the argument. It's time for us to help students reshape it back.

So, in the name of “open political debate,” administrators would not think twice about inviting MIT linguist Noam Chomsky to speak on campus, though his anti-Zionist utterances offend the fabric of my Jewish identity deeper than any of the ugly religious insults currently shocking the media. He should be labeled for what he is: a racist.

Strategically, while accusations of anti-Semitism are worn out and have lost their punch, charging someone with racism makes people ask why anyone would deny people the right of self-determination in a sliver of land in the birthplace of their history. It shifts the frame of discourse from debating Israel’s policies to the root cause of the conflict — denying Israelis their basic rights as a nation.

Charges of “racism” highlight the inherent asymmetry between the Zionist and anti-Zionist positions. The former grants both Israelis and Palestinians the right for statehood, the latter denies that right to one, and only one side. This asymmetry is the most effective weapon our students should use in campus debates, for it puts them back on the high moral grounds of “fair and balanced” and forces their opponents to defend an ideology of one-sidedness.

I say anything we can do to help kids today combat the fear and bigotry on campus is a step in the right direction. Pearl (he's Daniel's father, by the way) summarizes it this way:

I believe the formula “Anti-Zionism = Racism” should give Jewish students the courage to both defend their identity and expose those who abuse it.

I think he's got it right.


At 8:47 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

I would tend to agree with that 100%.

All sorts of people claim these days to have "some" Jewish ancestry in their closet and thus rights to condemn Zionism.
There are freaks like Chomsky or Vanunu who do just that and are celebrated not only by the Islamists but also by the progressive-radical left and even National Vanguard and other supremacists.
Now, just imagine if we had the same kind of an “open season” on say Latvians or Lithuanians or Ukrainians or Georgians (or any nation for that matter).

At 9:52 PM, Blogger muse said...


At 5:23 AM, Blogger birdwoman said...

and often, just saying things a bit differently will force people to actually hear what you're saying.

Or is that hoping too much?


At 5:58 AM, Anonymous Rachel Ann said...

It is an interesting way to look at things, and he has a point. Why is it that no one protests the religious nature of any country but Israel?

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Esther said...

You are so right, felis.

Thanks for checking it out, muse.

We have to have some hope, bw or we're in trouble.

Rachel Ann, exactly! And thanks so much for stopping by. You have a great site, btw!

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

There is some sense to what he says. But, as far as I am concerned, it is a chicken or egg thing.

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Rory said...

Dr. Pearl made a point that's absolutely critical to challenging Jew-hatred. Jews and their sympathizers (yes, there are still a few), should no longer accuse people of anti-Semitism, but rather of racism. First of all, racism is a highly emotionally-charged term that, sadly, anti-Semitism no longer seems to be, and therefore it has more of an impact. But, the fact is it's also an absolutely valid description of what anti-Semitism really is. Also, the term "anti-Semite" gives self-hating Jews, like Chomsky and Finkelstein, an excuse to deny the accusation, since they claim they can't be anti-Semitic because they're Jews, or that Arabs can't be anti-Semitic because they're also Semites. We know what b.s. all of that is...but why should we make it easier for them?

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Avi Green said...

Dr. Martin Luther King had the perfect way of explaining anti-Zionism back in 1968, at the Harvard-Boston university campuses when he said:

"And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the Globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is antisemitism. The antisemite rejoices at any opportunity to vent his malice. The times have made it unpopular, in the West, to proclaim openly a hatred of the Jews. This being the case, the antisemite must constantly seek new forms and forums for his poison. How he must revel in the new masquerade! He does not hate the Jews, he is just 'anti-Zionist'!" -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Here's a link to an article on King from Front Page Magazine as well.)

I'd say that King's argument is one of the best to use when dealing with the problem as well.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Esther said...

I'm with you Rory! Absolutely.

Avi, thanks for stopping by and leaving a GREAT comment! MLK Jr was a good friend to the Jews. What the heck has happened since he was taken from us way too soon. :( Thanks for the link!

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Rory said...

Esther, I agree with you. There's been nobody worthy of taking the place of Dr. King...certainly not among the "usual suspects." He was a genuine hero and probably the most righteous voice to come along in many years. His death left a tremendous void for people of all races, and we can only imagine that he must be turning in his grave when he hears the vitriolic rantings of some of the people who thought they might be qualified to fill his shoes.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Avi Green said...

Your welcome, Esther. Always glad to be of good help. :)

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Avi Green said...

Your welcome, Esther. Always glad to be of good help. :)


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