Tony Greenstein | 22 December 2011 | Post Views:

False Accusations render anti-Semitism meaningless

When Gilad Atzmon proclaimed, in his article ‘on anti-Semitism’ that there is no such thing as anti-Semitism [‘I am here to announce as loudly as I can: there is no anti-Semitism any more’] he has a point.

Zionism and its supporters have, by accusing supporters of the Palestinians and anti-Zionists of ‘anti-Semitism’, rendered the term meaningless. They have demonstrated their disinterest in genuine anti-Semitism and made it abundantly clear that their only concern with anti-semitism is with its effectiveness as a tool of political intimidation.

By associating Jews outside Israel with Israel’s racist and apartheid policies, Zionist propagandists and their court academics have in fact increased the level of anti-Semitism in society almost single handedly. Indeed Zionism’s tame academics have had to invent a ‘new anti-Semitism’. They have been in bed so long with real anti-Semites that they need a new definition of anti-Semitism in order to cleanse themselves.

Take Glenn Beck, someone who was so racist and anti-Semitic that even Fox News had to fire him as a presenter. He ran a two day feature on Fox attacking George Soros, a survivor of the Hungarian holocaust, as a Nazi collaborator as well as repeating many well-worn anti-Semitic themes:

‘he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what his happening in our world today.”

Griffin’s Web site dabbles in a variety of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including his view that “present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order.” … A few months before that, he [Beck] had attacked the Jewish billionaire George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, as a “puppet master” and read descriptions of him as an “unscrupulous profiteer” who “sucks the blood from people.” Beck falsely called Soros “a collaborator” with Nazis who “saw people into the gas chambers.”

Fox fired glenn beck for attacking Jews especially, Rothschild involvement in the Federal Reserve. The same Glenn Beck was busily promoting a book ‘The Red Network’ by an American Nazi Elizabeth Dilling. . After all, as Glenn Beck noted when praising the book, ‘there were Americans in the first 50 years of this nation that took this seriously, and they documented it.’ Which is of course true. A motley collection of Nazis, KKK supporters, McCarthyites and assorted right-wing loonies had indeed been documenting the anti-fascist left.

The fact that Glenn Beck wasn’t the first to document ‘the Reds’ just confirmed how right he is to do the same again. What does it matter if his tutor was an American Nazi? None of this, of course, preventing the Israeli Knesset inviting Glenn Beck to be its star speaker.

And then there is Pastor John Hagee of the Southern Baptist Convention and Christians United for Israel, who is a real favourite of the Zionists, meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to John Hagee, Hitler had divine inspiration. He was a ‘hunter’ chosen by god to drive the Jews to Israel.

As these anti-Semites perform like braying donkeys, their Zionist friends applaud each calumny. It was only after much criticism that the Zionist Anti Defamation League spoke out. None of this, however, prevented the Zionist Organisation of America, from defending Hagee. ZOA Defends Pastor Hagee and Applauds His Support For Israel

Morton A. Klein, the National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), issued the following statement in defense of Pastor John C. Hagee, the Evangelical Christian leader and head of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), against attacks upon his work in support of Israel and the Jewish people: [May 29, 2008]

“Pastor John C. Hagee is a staunch friend and supporter of the State of Israel, of Zionism, and of the Jewish people. The recent attacks on him that have surfaced in the media are ill-informed, offensive and deceitful ploys to marginalize and isolate particular pro-Israel opinions and sow further seeds of dissension between Jews and Christians. The political context of this controversy is no less troubling.’

It is one of life’s ironies that as the Zionists spew out charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ they invite a classic Christian anti-Semite to flatter and entertain them. It is because the Zionist movement and its leaders regularly accuse anti-racists of ‘anti-Semitism’ whilst at the same time giving cover and support to genuine anti-Semites, that people like Gilad Atzmon can sneak in under the radar undetected and use the Palestinians as a head rest for their own anti-Semitism.

But whereas as we are busy cleaning our Augean Stables of the pollution caused by Atzmon and his followers, the Zionists revel in their own racism. And the anti-Semitism of Hagee and Beck is a thousand times more dangerous than anything Atzmon can say or do. Atzmon is a clown without power. Hagee, Beck and company are a powerful part of the US political establishment.

Dershowitz’s Hypocrisy

Republican Presidential candidate, John Cain, welcomed the endorsement of Hagee for his candidature before the outcry forced him to distance himself from Hagee. See McCain Rejects Hagee Backing as Nazi Remarks Surface Alan Dershowitz’s attack on Gilad Atzmon are not merely hypocritical. They have all the ethical qualities of Harold Shipman denouncing euthenasia. Having Dershowitz attack anti-Semitism is like recruiting Dracula to front a campaign for the Blood Transfusion Service.

Dershowitz, who plagiarised Joan Peter’s forgery, which alleged that the Palestinians had been brought to Palestine by the Zionist settlers and that Palestine really was an empty land, [Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial] wrote that:

‘In light of this Der Stürmer-like bigotry against Jews, it should come as no surprise that even some of the most hard-core anti-Israel activists have shunned Atzmon out of fear that his anti-Semitism will discredit their cause. Tony Greenstein, a self-styled “anti-Zionist” who recently participated in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s unprecedented disruption of an Israel Philharmonic Orchestra concert in London (which Greenstein compared to protesting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1930s), denounced The Wandering Who? as “a poisonous anti-Semitic tome.” Sue Blackwell, who co-wrote the Association of University Teachers’ motion to boycott Israeli universities in 2005, removed all links to Atzmon from her website and placed Atzmon on her list of “nasties” along with David Irving and Israel Shamir.’

I certainly haven’t ‘shunned’ Atzmon – rather I’ve been a consistent critic of someone who combines Zionism and anti-Semitism in equal measures. The more obvious point clearly eludes our Zionist professor. Dershowitz wrote a book ‘The Case for Israel’ justifying Israel’s apartheid and racist practices. He attacked Richard Goldstone for having been part of the judiciary of Apartheid South Africa, because he authored a Report, which stated the obvious, namely that Israel’s blitzkrieg on Gaza, in which 1,400 civilians were killed, was a war crime. In other words Dershowitz was attacking Goldstone for not having also defended Israel’s Apartheid regime! A racist denouncing another racist is hardly the stuff of conviction.

Of one thing we can be sure. If Jews in America received the same treatment as Arabs in Israel, then Dershowitz would have been the first to cry ‘anti-Semitism’. If an American National Fund were to stipulate that Jews cannot rent or boy 93% of American land there would be an outcry. If American Jews were refused admission to the USA if they’d been away more than two years or if they were prevented from obtaining jobs on ‘security’ grounds – e.g. if it was alleged that they had dual loyalties – then the outcry would be even more vigorous. But all these things happen to Arabs in Israel.

Although it is probably beyond the good professor’s comprehension, some of us oppose the anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon because we are consistent anti-racists. We oppose racism as a principle, not a tactic. It is therefore very welcome that a Canadian immigration lawyer, Ed Corrigan, a strong supporter of the Palestinians, has decided to sue for libel those who have defamed him as anti-Semitic.

The article below, although it wrongly labels Corrigan as the person being sued, is well worth reading. Also included is Ed Corrigan’s appeal for support as his libel case is extremely important, even though a libel court may not always be the best forum for challenging political defamation.

Below are also articles on Josh Block, a former AIPAC staffer, who has been caught out distributing a briefing encouraging budding young McCarthyists to target critics of Israel as ‘anti-semites’. Unfortunately his targets were powerful Democratic Party think-tanks and Block has been left with a lot of explaining to do and egg on his face. It’s one thing to attack demonstrators and people like Norman Finkelstein. It is quite another to attack the organs of the US ruling class.

And finally there is an article detailing both Beck’s attack on George Soros and the furious response to this treasure trove of anti-Semitic tropes. This includes the embarrassed reaction of the Anti Defamation League (an organisation which specialises in defamation!).

Tony Greenstein

Richard Forer December 19, 2011

Perhaps the most dominating and confusing accusation emanating from one side of the Israel-Palestine debate is that virtually anyone who criticizes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people hates Israel and is, ipso facto, an anti-Semite or self-hating Jew.

The libel case that has been brought against Canadian immigration attorney Ed Corrigan is a case in point.

What is it about criticism of Israel that provokes such an extreme reaction?

After all, anyone with the decency to find out what sparks the criticism would learn that the vast majority of critics, including prominent Israelis and other members of the Jewish community, are motivated not by hatred but by justice; and that their intention is not to harm the state of Israel but to prevent the state of Israel from harming Palestinians.

So where is the hatred? The hatred is in the minds of those who are afraid to ask why someone is critical of Israel. Rather than doing honest research to refute or confirm the criticism, the accuser panders to his feelings of fear, confusion and anger, all of which are animated by unexamined beliefs and images within his own mind. This mind colors his perception so that he sees the world in terms of personal victimhood versus the world’s hostility.

Because he is unconscious of this deeper thought process, the accuser can only project his perception onto the world and then assume that the world he sees proves the reality of his perception. He creates his own suffering and then scapegoats the world (in this case Palestinians and their sympathizers) for his suffering. Triggered through denial, this thought process attributes to Palestinians and their sympathizers the accuser’s own hatred.

In other words, the accuser makes the unknown “other” responsible for, or the repository of, his unresolved pain. He objectifies the other and rejects his humanity. Then he supports inhumane policies, which he justifies under the guise of Israel and the Jewish people’s security. In so doing, he brings the world’s anger down upon Israel which, in turn, reinforces and perpetuates the cycle of perceived victimhood.

The real conflict, then, is an inner one and can only be resolved through self-reflection or inquiry into the beliefs and images the accuser takes for granted that form a large part of his personal and collective identity. Without inquiring into his beliefs and images, or indoctrination, he will not be able to integrate the hard-to-believe but inescapable awareness of Israel’s treatment of non-Jews with unquestioned loyalty to the Jewish state. One consideration acknowledges Israel’s dark side. The other denies the dark side exists.

If the accuser can find the courage to commit to the truth – to the best of his ability – and take advantage of the clarifying tools of research and inquiry, he will inevitably apprehend the astonishing reality that, as regards Israel-Palestine, criticism of Israel has never been his principal concern. In fact, he has never defended Israel, at least the Israel that actually exists.

What he has always defended is an idealistic image of Israel that he unconsciously projects or superimposes upon the Israel that actually exists. This projection enables him to deny painful revelations that he would otherwise discover about Israel and about himself if only he would look at Israel and the world without the errant influence of an unexamined, or indoctrinated, mind.

The fruits of the accuser’s sincere efforts will be the transformation of fear into compassion and confusion into clarity. He will know that no behavior occurs in a vacuum and that each of us is responsible for the suffering in the world. The unnecessary and self-created boundaries of his mind will dissolve, the intelligence of his heart will awaken and he will recognize his connection to all of humankind. Finally, he will understand that peace must first manifest within his inner world before he can see its manifestation in the outer world.

Richard Forer is author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion –A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.

Forer can be contacted through his website

I have now received 26 letters of support from Jewish academics and activists. I have also received a letter of support from Independent Jewish Voices (Canada). A copy of IJV’s support letter is found below. I have also received promises of letters from a number of other Jewish individuals and Jewish organizations. More letters are need to make an overwhelmingly strong legal case that criticism of Israel or Zionism or defending Palestinian human rights is not anti-semitic.

I have also received letters of support from the editors of Middle East Policy, Outlook (published by the Jewish Outlook Society) and from Dissident Voice. I am expecting several more such letters from other publishers. I have also received seven letters from prominent Canadian peace activists and organizations in support of my law suit. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) have written a powerful letter addressing the issue of “anti-semitism” and Palestinian human rights. CJPME are currently sponsoring Amira Hass’s tour of Canada.

I thank those individuals and organization who have come forward on my behalf.

As noted in my previous update I have now received the Defendant’s list of witnesses. The list includes the defendant; Clayton C. Ruby, a well known Civil Liberties lawyer and member of the Law Union of Ontario; Windsor Lawyer Victoria Cross also a member of the Law Union and who is active with the NDP; and Winnipeg lawyer David Matas who is the senior legal counsel of B’nai Brith Canada. Victoria Cross and Law Union member also asked to be put on my personal Middle East information email list, no doubt to gather information for the case.

My witnesses include a leading Jewish academic, a prominent Jewish activist and another prominent academic who has published a book critiquing the so called “new anti-semitism” who have agreed to testify on my behalf in the law suit and to support the premise that criticism of Israel or of Zionism is not anti-semitic. I have also approached a number of other individuals to give testimony. Representative’s of one of the major Christian Churches in Canada has also contacted me requesting information on the case and expressing strong concern that criticism of Israel not be deemed anti-semitic. Hopefully they will put their concerns in writing. I have also been contacted by a leading Israeli human rights lawyer who wishes to assist in the law suit.

This case will be a precedent setting legal decision on the question “is criticism of Israel or Zionism anti-Semitic.” With David Matas, and B’nai Brith, weighing in on the case it is clear the Defense intend to argue that mere criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic. In their Statement of Defense, in my opinion, they could not produce anything of substance that indicated that I had written any articles or said anything even remotely anti-semitic.

In one instance they cite my posting of an article published by the New York Times about an Israeli court case where an Arab who had consensual sex with an Israeli Jewish woman was convicted of a criminal offense for misrepresenting his name and that he was not Jewish. Even many Israeli commentators say this decision was racist.

The second item, they attack my defense of noted movie producer Steven Spielberg and award winning playwright Tony Kushner, both Jews, for at least acknowledging the Palestinian side of the issue in their movie Munich. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer had launched a blistering attack against Speilberg and Kushner for presenting a glimpse of the Palestinian perspective. That article was selected as a top article by the Alternative Press Review and republished by them. All of the information in that article is historically accurate and at minimum defensible even if it runs counter to the Zionist version of the narrative.

They also attack me in the Statement of Defense for stating that the author of an article critical of Israel’s policies, or critical of Zionism, is Jewish. Almost all articles written by Jews on the Israeli/Palestinian issue make reference to the writer’s Jewish identity if that is the case. I have scores of such articles who the author either self identifies as being Jewish or refer to the author as being Jewish.

The vast majority of my articles published on the Israel-Palestine issue has been quoting Jewish and Israeli authors in defense of Palestinian human rights. Quoting Jewish writers can hardly be considered anti-semitic. The rest of my published articles are on Immigration and refugee issues or other political matters.

If this allegation of anti-semitism is not refuted in a libel action it will stand against me in terms of my public and professional career. If not with drawn by the Defendant or deemed libel and defamatory by the Court the charge of anti-semitism can be leveled at any person who criticizes Israel, or anyone who posts articles critical of Israel on a list serve or who tries to publicly defend Palestinian human rights. The charge of anti-semitism, as you all know, is the big stick that right-wing Zionists and uncritical supporters of Israel’s government’s policies use to suppress criticism of Israel and Zionism and attack those who defend Palestinian human rights.

Resources legal and financial are going to be very important in deciding the outcome. I have received $360 in contributions to help off set the costs of the law suit and for bringing in expert witnesses to testify on the subject of anti-Antisemitism and Palestinian Human Rights. Much more money will be needed to proceed with this law suit if it proceeds to court and to win the legal battle and to establish a legal precedent that criticism of Israel or Zionism is not anti-Semitic. It will cost a great deal to pay for experts and professional legal counsel. I am presently in discussions with a prominent legal counsel about moving the case to a higher court.

I need more letters of support from Jewish academics and activists and also from others concerned that criticism of Israel policies or defending Palestinian human rights might be considered anti-Semitic. If this legal battle is lost it will establish a most unfortunate legal precedent that will be used to silence criticism of Israel and criticism of Zionism in Canada and even beyond. It would be a disaster if defending Palestinian human rights can be attacked as anti-Semitic. Both electronic and signed hard copies of the letters would be appreciated. Donation of cash and other in kind support are also needed. Any money raised will be allocated specifically to this case.

If you would like more information on this subject especially to write a support letter please do not hesitate to contact me.

Edward C. Corrigan Barrister & Solicitor Certified Specialist in Citizenship and Immigration and Immigration and Refugee Protection 383 Richmond Street, Suite 902 London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3C4 (tel) 519-439-4015 (fax) 519-439-7657 Toll free 1-800-883-6217
web site

By Joshua Holland, December 16, 2011

When Josh Block, a former communications director for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), sent an “oppo dump” about a group of progressive journalists and bloggers at the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters to a list-serv of conservative journalists and asked them to push the narrative that the writers were echoing “the words of anti-Semites,” he probably didn’t think much of it.

After all, this is how self-identified “pro-Israel” activists have long policed the discourse surrounding the Middle East conflict and the “special relationship” that exists between the United States and Israel.

In 2009, an influential Israeli think-tank carefully cherry-picked posts from the Huffington Post, Daily Kos and Salon, quoted them out of context and concluded that “progressive blogs and news sites in the United States are a new field where Jew-hatred, in both its classic and anti-Israeli forms, manifests itself.” Advocates of maintaining the destructive status quo in the Middle East have long attempted to define a “new anti-Semitism” to include criticism of the Israeli government that goes beyond the pale, as they define it. (So-called pro-Israel groups have managed to get the EU to adopt a “working definition” of anti-Semitism that includes harsh criticism of the Israeli government — a definition Block sent to journalists to ostensibly prove his case.)

But Block appears to have made a crucial miscalculation. He wasn’t smearing Middle East studies professors, Palestinian rights activists or liberal bloggers; he went after two very mainstream Washington DC think-tanks that are closely connected with the Democratic establishment. And he did so at a time when the debate over U.S. policy towards Israel is becoming more partisan than ever before (the GOP has worked hard to paint Obama as “anti-Israel”) and tensions between the White House and the Netanyahu government are running high.

The backlash was swift. Just as Joe McCarthy, having terrified Hollywood screenwriters with his red-baiting over-reached when he peddled conspiracy theories about the military high command being infested with Communists, Block appears to have picked the wrong target. In doing so, he exposed the inner workings of what scholars Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer called the “Israel lobby,” and proved that reckless charges of anti-Semitism are used to narrow the discourse.

The incident appears at first blush to be just one more small brushfire in the ongoing war of words over the Israel-Palestine conflict. But the immediate backlash against Block may have far-reaching consequences, opening up more space for a broader range of views and making it harder to silence critics with accusations of malign intent.

The Smear

On December 7, an article by Ben Smith titled, “Israel rift roils Democratic ranks” appeared in Politico. The gist of it was that a handful of bloggers with the Center for American Progress and Media Matters were not only “challenging a bipartisan consensus on Israel and Palestine that has dominated American foreign policy for more than a decade,” but employing “borderline anti-Semitic” rhetoric to do so.

The piece named CAP bloggers Matt Duss, Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib, and Media Matters’ MJ Rosenberg – a former AIPAC staffer turned apostate – and also took a swing at a column Eric Alterman wrote for CAP. (Disclosure: Gharib is a personal friend.)

Smith quoted Block in the piece:

“There’s two explanations here – either the inmates are running the asylum or the Center for American Progress has made a decision to be anti-Israel,” said Josh Block, a former spokesman for AIPAC who is now a fellow at the center-left Progressive Policy Institute. “Either they can allow people to say borderline anti-Semitic stuff” – a reference to what he described as conspiracy theorizing in the Alterman column – “and to say things that are antithetical to the fundamental values of the Democratic party, or they can fire them and stop it.” (Alterman called the charge “ludicrous” and “character assassination,” noted that he is a columnist for Jewish publications, and described himself as a “proud, pro-Zionist Jew.”)

The story took a dramatic turn the following day, when Salon’s Justin Elliot reported on “an email sent by Josh Block to a private listserv called the Freedom Community, in which he throws around accusations of anti-Semitism against liberal bloggers and calls on other list members to ‘echo’ and ‘amplify’ his assault and ‘use the below [research] to attack the bad guys.’” The email included Smith’s Politico story, and “thousands of words of opposition research” on the writers, whom Block called “the bad guys.” “These are the words of anti-Semites, not Democratic political players,” wrote Block.

Smith later acknowledged that he’d received Block’s opposition research prior to writing his story.

The Response

On its blog, Think Progress, CAP’s Ken Gude and Faiz Shakir responded to Smith’s Politico article and Matt Duss took on the cherry-picked quotations Block had disseminated. Alterman penned a post for the Nation calling Block’s charges “ludicrous.”

But what was different about this episode was the reaction from Block’s own allies. After leaving AIPAC, he had become a fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute and a member of the Truman National Security project – two “centrist” Democratic think-tanks.

As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reported, the two organizations were “mulling whether to sever ties with a controversial former AIPAC spokesman after it emerged that he was encouraging conservative writers to echo charges that critics of Israel are guilty of anti-Semitism.”

The fate of the former AIPAC spokesman, Josh Block, will be a big deal to people in left-leaning foreign policy circles in Washington. For them, the question of whether the think tanks will remain affiliated with Block will be seen as a referendum on the larger issue of whether demeaning Israel critics as anti-Semitic will be considered acceptable discourse among foreign policy experts.

Sargent wrote that Will Marshall, the head of PPI, “privately told Block that the think-tank would sever ties with Block if he didn’t retract the charges detailed in Salon.” Block later offered a statement to Smith denying that he had accused CAP or Media Matters of anti-Semitism, but otherwise standing by his claims.

Block Proves Critics Right

Critics of Israeli policy — and the U.S.-Israeli relationship — have long charged that the “Israel lobby” squelches dissenting views by accusing them of holding “anti-Israel,” and anti-Semitic views. Block and his cohorts have responded by claiming that such an analysis itself “echoes” anti-Semitic tropes, notably in attacking Measheimer and Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

The claim goes like this: the portrayal of Jews as a minority who hold no loyalty to the countries in which they live was long a traditional anti-Semitic narrative in Europe and elsewhere. Today, people like MJ Rosenberg call so-called pro-Israel politicians and groups like AIPAC “Israel firsters,” and accuse them of holding dual loyalties to the United States and Israel. The narratives are vaguely similar, ostensibly proving that the critics hold malign views of American Jews.

The problem with this is that the image of Jews as a disloyal minority preceded the existence of a modern “Jewish” state – subject to criticism like any other — to which many American Jews openly profess some degree of loyalty. Acknowledging this is not even the slightest bit controversial in other contexts. Just this week, for example, Jonathan Tobin wrote a column in the neoconservative Commentary magazine lamenting the fact that liberal American Jews would put environmental concerns about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline over “promoting American energy independence, which would thereby reduce our dependence on the Arab oil that finances both terrorism and regimes that support the war on Israel.”

The other problem is that “Israel firsters” – a term used often by MJ Rosenberg that Block condemns as “fringe” and “borderline anti-Semitic,” aren’t necessarily Jewish. The Israel lobby today rests as much on the activism of evangelical Christians as it does Jews. Support for Israel – often uncritical support – has become an ideological touchstone on the right, and politicians like Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich fall all over themselves to genuflect to the Israeli government. At a recent GOP debate, Mitt Romney said that he wouldn’t dare try to influence the Israeli government. “If I was president,” he said, “I’d get on the phone to Bibi [Netanyahu] and say ‘Would it help if I said this?’” Israel-first, indeed.

MJ Rosenberg writes that he doesn’t accuse anyone of putting the state of Israel first; rather, they “are putting the interests of Binyamin Netanyahu and his hardliners first.”

After all, if they were putting Israel first, they would not be promoting policies (such as war with Iran or the perpetuation of the occupation) that could very easily lead to Israel’s destruction or, at least, to the loss of its Jewish majority. The people I call “Israel firsters” are, in fact, Netanyahu firsters.

Policing the Discourse

In the non-retraction to Ben Smith, Block also illustrated quite clearly that these smears are used to narrow the range of acceptable debate to that which is approved by people like Block. He told Smith, “policy or political rhetoric that is hostile to Israel, or suggests that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, has no place in the mainstream Democratic party discourse.”

It’s a remarkable revelation; Block is saying that suggesting that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon “has no place in the mainstream” discourse, despite the fact that this is a crucially important question and one subject to intense debate within intelligence circles. As Patrick Pexton, the onbudsman for the very-mainstream Washington Post wrote recently, the International Atomic Enegry Agency “does not say Iran has a bomb, nor does it say it is building one, only that its multiyear effort pursuing nuclear technology is sophisticated and broad enough that it could be consistent with building a bomb.”

Iran steadfastly denies it is aiming for a nuclear bomb and says its program is aimed at civilian nuclear energy and research. Of course, Tehran could be lying. But no one knows for sure.

This is what the U.S. director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March: “We continue to assess [that] Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

Far-Reaching Effect?

This is more than an inside-baseball story about feuding Washington institutions. It may prove to be a sea-change in the debate over Middle East policy. While Block probably didn’t think twice about accusing those with whom he disagrees of harboring some sort of “fringe” ideology, it backfired in a very public, very noisy way.

For years, casual accusations of anti-Semitism against journalists, scholars and politicians resulted in damaged reputations, career problems and exile from the public sphere. Perhaps supporters of the Israeli government’s policies will look at this incident and think twice about employing such smears in the future. And if that happens, it may well open up new space for a broader debate within the mainstream discourse.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America.

Nov 10, 2010

The Fox host’s stunning two-day tirade against George Soros is a new low on American television. Michelle Goldberg on the roots of his hatred—and the Anti-Defamation League’s response.

Anti-Semitism, like all ideologies, tells a story about the world. It’s a story about almost occult Jewish power, about cabals that manipulate world events for their own gain. In classic anti-Semitic narratives, Jews control both the elites and the masses; they’re responsible for the communist revolution and the speculative excesses of capitalism. Their goal is to undermine society so that they can take over. Through the lens of anti-Semitism, social division, runaway inflation, and moral breakdown all make sense because they all have the same cause. Nazi propaganda called Jews drahtzieher—wire-pullers. They constitute a power above and beyond ordinary government authority. “There is a super-government which is allied to no government, which is free from them all, and yet which has its hand in them all,” Henry Ford wrote in The International Jew.

If you know this history, you’ll understand why Glenn Beck’s two-part “exposé” on George Soros, whom Beck calls “The Puppet Master,” was so shocking, even by Beck’s degraded standards. The program, which aired Tuesday and Wednesday, was a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles. Nothing like it has ever been on American television before.

“Glenn Beck’s two-part “exposé” on George Soros
… a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles”.

“There is a crisis collapsing our economy—George Soros,” Beck said on Tuesday’s show. “When the administration and progressives look for a savior to step in and save the day—George Soros… He’s pulled no punches about the end game. It’s one world government, the end of America’s status as the prevailing world power—but why?” Because, Beck suggests, Soros wants to rule us all like a God: “Soros has admitted in the past he doesn’t believe in God, but that’s perhaps because he thinks he is.”

Soros, a billionaire financier and patron of liberal causes, has long been an object of hatred on the right. But Beck went beyond demonizing him; he cast him as the protagonist in an updated Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He described Soros as the most powerful man on earth, the creator of a “shadow government” that manipulates regimes and currencies for its own enrichment. Obama is his “puppet,” Beck says. Soros has even “infiltrated the churches.” He foments social unrest and economic distress so he can bring down governments, all for his own financial gain. “Four times before,” Beck warned. “We’ll be number five.”

Beck went beyond demonizing Soros; he cast him as the protagonist in an updated Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

It’s true, of course, that Soros has had a hand in bringing down governments—communist, authoritarian governments. Beck seems to be assuming a colossal level of ignorance on the part of his viewers when he informs them,

“Along with currencies, Soros also collapses regimes. With his Open Society Fund… Soros has helped fund the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic, the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia. He also helped to engineer coups in Slovakia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia. So what is his target now? Us. America.”
Beck’s implication is that there was something sinister in Soros’ support for anti-communist civil society organizations in the former Soviet Union. Further, he sees such support as evidence that Soros will engineer a communist coup here in the United States. This kind of thinking only makes sense within the conspiratorial mind-set of classic anti-Semitism, in which Jews threaten all governments equally. And as a wealthy Jew with a distinct Eastern European accent, Soros is a perfect target for such theories.

To inoculate himself against charges of anti-Semitism, Beck hurled them at Soros, pointing out that he’s an atheist and a critic of Israel. He accused Soros of helping Nazis steal Jewish property as a teenager and of feeling no remorse about it. In fact, when Soros was 14 in Nazi-occupied Hungary, his father bribed an agriculture official to pretend that the boy was his Christian godson. Soros once had to accompany his protector to inventory a confiscated Jewish estate. Asked by 60 Minutes if he felt guilty about it, he said no, because he wasn’t at fault. The slander that he was a Nazi collaborator has proliferated on the right ever since.

It’s entirely possible that Beck has waded into anti-Semitic waters inadvertently, that he picked up toxic ideas from his right-wing demimonde without realizing their anti-Jewish provenance. Early on Wednesday’s show, Beck cited the “Prime Minister of Malaysia” on Soros’ villainy. As Media Matters pointed out, he was almost certainly talking about former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Maybe he doesn’t know that Mohamad also said,

“We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality
it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally
Soros is a Jew.”

“There’s a difference between first-degree murder and vehicular homicide, which is intentionality,” says J.J. Goldberg, a columnist and former editor in chief of The Forward, America’s leading Jewish newspaper. Goldberg wasn’t convinced that Beck meant to attack Jews. Nevertheless, he described the show as “as close as I’ve heard on mainstream television to fascism.”

On Thursday morning, the Anti-Defamation League, which exists to combat anti-Semitism, finally condemned Beck. Earlier, I’d criticized the group for its silence, a change that Todd Gutnick, the ADL’s director of media relations, fiercely disputed. “Sometimes the ADL likes to consider what it’s going to say before it says it,” he said.

“In this case we wanted to see the totality of what he was doing on the air before speaking out.”

In a statement, Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director and a Holocaust survivor himself, expressed outrage over Beck’s charges about Soros’ behavior as a boy in Nazi-occupied Hungary, which Beck made on television on Tuesday and again on the radio Wednesday. “Glenn Beck’s description of George Soros’ actions during the Holocaust is completely inappropriate, offensive and over the top,” said Foxman.

“For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say—inaccurately—that there’s a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, as part of a broader assault on Mr. Soros, that’s horrific… To hold a young boy responsible for what was going on around him during the Holocaust as part of a larger effort to denigrate the man is repugnant.”

Michelle Goldberg is a journalist based in New York. She is the award-winning author of The New York Times bestseller Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World . Her third book, about the world-traveling adventuress, actress, and yoga evangelist Indra Devi, will be published by Knopf in 2012.

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Tony Greenstein

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