Over at the always-excellent Harry’s Place, I ran across this thought provoking piece about modern anti-Semitism which I thought was particularly illuminating, given this University’s continuing controversies surrounding the Pacifica Forum and certain of their guest lecturers.
The author, Anthony Julius, makes explicit a crucial distinction that I think has long been missing from the debate over anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism, that of the “fellow traveler”. The out-and-out anti-Semite is usually not difficult to spot. These are the David Irvings and Hassan Nasrallahs of the world. Their distaste for Jews is barely concealed, if at all.
The “fellow travelers”, on the other hand, are like their counterparts who rooted for the Soviet Union (and the author makes clear that the comparison is deliberate) in that they dissemble and downplay actual instances of anti-Semitism, often unconsciously. Sometimes, as in the case of Palestinian terrorism, anti-Semitic acts are explicitly justified as being appropriate (or even automatic) responses to “oppression” at the hands of Zionists (read: Jews). In many cases, however, the very same people would find, say, the vandalizing of a synagogue here in Eugene appalling. As with the Soviet Union’s fellow travelers, a distinction is draw between what is considered normal and acceptable elsewhere and what is intolerable at home.
The article is especially timely, as the Register Guard has, within the last week, published letters like this one today (July 8) by George Beres (you might have to scroll down… the RG’s letter’s page doesn’t allow linking to specific letters) and this one on July 5 by Valdas Anelauskas, who should already be familiar with readers of the Commentator for his comments regarding a piece written by former Oregon Daily Emerald columnist Deborah Bloom:
Even if the author’s name wasn’t Deborah Bloom, after reading your opinion piece in the Emerald (Feb. 7) there is no doubt that it was written by someone who is Jewish. Because only from people of that peculiar tribe can we expect such Talmudic hatred for humanity. There is even a famous saying that wars are the Jews’ harvest.
In any case, the piece is rather long (11 pages + 9 pages of footnotes), so I won’t attempt to summarize it any further; it really does merit reading all the way through. Julius’ recognition of the “fellow traveler” is, I think, an important and useful addition to the lexicon of the debate.
Here’s a fine (if somewhat nauseating) example of the “fellow traveler” phenomenon, though it’s not really so much about anti-Semitic themes as an apologia for Islamic fundamentalism from a hardcore Marxian perspective. (Also via Harry’s Place)