Eric Alterman responds to Cathy Young

Eric Alterman has sent a response to Cathy Young's latest column to both Reason and The Boston Globe. His message, and a reply from Cathy Young, follow:

To the editor:

It is quite painful for a proud, practicing pro-Zionist Jew who was Bar Mitvah, educated in Israel, lights candles on Shabbat, attend shul regularly, contributes to the Forward, and educates his own child into the religious tradition, to be accused publicly of anti-Semitism. It has happened to me on occasion in extremely obscure, right-wing websites, but only twice in the mainstream media. Both times it has been done by Cathy Young on the editorial page of The Boston Globe. The last time I was denied the courtesy of a response. I hope that will not be the case today.

As most people are aware, the accusation of anti-Semitism, like that of anti-Americanism, can be employed by people to stifle debate and stigmatize points of view with which they disagree. In this case Cathy Young seeks to silence anyone who recognizes the reality of Jewish responsibility for Palestinian suffering. This is unfortunate, for many reasons—one cannot hope for peace in the Middle East without a mutual recognition of the pain the conflict has caused—but more to the point, phony accusations of anti-Semitism have the effect of weakening societal strictures against the real thing. By employing this slander against me, now twice, Cathy Young is actually aiding and abetting the anti-Semites by robbing the term of any coherent meaning.

Here, for the record, is the entire text of the blog text that has led Young to call me these horrid names:

"I'm a Jew, but I don't expect Arabs to pay tribute to my people's suffering while Jews, in the form of Israel and its supporters—and in this I include myself—are causing much of theirs. Would Andrew [Sullivan] want to go to a service in honor of the suffering of gay bashing bigots? (Wait, don't answer that. Would a gay person who didn't regularly offer his political support to gay bashing bigots want to go?) Anyway, I'm sure what I'm saying will be twisted beyond recognition, and so I suppose that makes it stupid to do, but I'm sorry. The Palestinians have also suffered because of the Holocaust. They lost their homeland as the world—in the form of the United Nations—reacted to European crimes by awarding half of Palestine to the Zionists. They call this the "Nakba" or the "Catastrophe." To ask Arabs to participate in a ceremony that does not recognize their own suffering but implicitly endorses the view that caused their catastrophe is morally idiotic—which is why, I guess, I'm not surprised Andrew's doing it. Also via Little Roy, here's another conservative Jew joining David Horowitz in endorsing Mel Gibson's anti-Semitism and even William Donohue's disgusting anal-sex-obsessed anti-Jewish attack, which was broadcast on MSNBC and implicitly endorsed by Pat Buchanan."

You can see from the above that while the item does recognize the political folly of demanding that Arabs who have suffered their own catastrophe at the hands of Jews be demanded to pay fealty to Jews without any recognition of their own suffering, the item also contains an attack on the genuine anti-Semitism of both The Passion of the Christ and the Catholic League's William Donohue blaming America's moral ills on "Hollywood's secular Jews," who, he informed MSNBC's Buchanan, "like anal sex." Nowhere do I, as Young accuses, hold "Jews responsible for 'much' of the suffering of Muslims everywhere," as I was clearly talking about Palestine, and nor, for the same reasons can I be accused of arguing that "every Muslim is justified in viewing every Jew as the enemy." As for her accusation that I actually blaming "long-dead Holocaust victims," well, it boggles the mind that your editors would allow this hateful poison into your newspaper, whatever Young's motives may be for spreading it.

That a newspaper with the reputation of The Boston Globe would allow itself to be used for Young's vicious vendetta against me, now twice, is both shameful and shocking. I would appreciate a retraction and apology.

Sincerely,

Eric Alterman
New York, New York

Cathy Young replies:

Where to begin? Maybe with the fact that prior to my last column, I had never accused Alterman of anti-Semitic rhetoric. The only other time I mentioned his views on Israel on the editorial page of The Boston Globe was after Alterman wrote a column about pro-Israeli bias in the American press and listed me among ''commentators who can be counted upon to support Israel reflexively and without qualification'' (even though, at the time, I had never written anything about Israel). My column and a subsequent exchange with Alterman can be found here. At no point did I make any charge of anti-Semitism.

As for my last column: I think it is entirely possible to argue that Israel bears the primary responsibility for the enduring Middle East conflict, and consequently for the suffering of the Palestinians, without being anti-Semitic. But, of course, that was not what Alterman wrote, and that was not the issue in this debate. After all, the ceremony that the British Muslim Council boycotted was not meant to honor (say) the memory of fallen Israeli soldiers, or even of the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism; it was commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. It is those victims whom Alterman says Muslims have the moral right to view the way gays would view dead "gay-bashing bigots" (how else does one interpret his analogy?)—simply because those victims were Jews, just like the Israelis and their supporters.

For the record, I also believe that one can sympathize with suffering of the Palestinians without comparing it to the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Alterman, as his post makes clear, acts as an apologist for the mentality that views the creation of Israel as a catastrophe for the Arabs equivalent to the Jewish catastrophe of the Holocaust.

Alterman goes on to point out that in the same blog item in which he (rather nastily) ridiculed Andrew Sullivan for criticizing the British Muslim Council's boycott, he also attacked "the genuine anti-Semitism of both The Passion of the Christ and the Catholic League's William Donohue blaming America's moral ills on "Hollywood's secular Jews" (a fact I noted in my column as well). Apparently, Alterman is now the self-appointed judge of what is and isn't "genuine" anti-Semitism. Conservative Christian bigotry exemplified by The Passion and Donohue's rant makes the cut; Arab/Muslim hostility to Jews as a group because of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank does not. This despite the fact that the latter kind of anti-Jewish animus is far more likely, in our day and age, to turn into literal Jew-bashing. (In July 2003, Alterman wrote that assaults on Jews by Muslim immigrants in Europe had to be understood in the context of Muslim anger at Israeli policies, and that the best way to deal with this problem was to change those policies.)

Rather oddly, Alterman quotes from his blog post only to turn around and deny his own words. He writes, "Nowhere do I, as Young accuses, hold 'Jews responsible for 'much' of the suffering of Muslims everywhere,' as I was clearly talking about Palestine, and nor, for the same reasons can I be accused of arguing that 'every Muslim is justified in viewing every Jew as the enemy.'" Yet this is what Alterman said in his initial post: "I don't expect Arabs to pay tribute to my people's suffering while Jews, in the form of Israel an its supporters—and in this I include myself—are causing much of theirs." He referred to "Arabs," not just Palestinians; presumably, the British Muslim Council does not represent solely Palestinians, or even solely Arabs.

Finally, I will readily concede that Alterman's Jewish credentials are far more impressive than mine. But then, I'm sure Rabbi Daniel Lapin's Jewish credentials are even more impressive— which didn't stop Alterman from accusing him (rightly, in my view) of abetting anti-Semitism.

Cathy Young

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  • ||

    Do you know who he is?

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    who is he?

  • Matt||

    Ms. Young deserves "a retraction and an apology" for the stultifyingly false claim that "Cathy Young seeks to silence anyone who recognizes the reality of Jewish responsibility for Palestinian suffering." But I note that she was adult enough not to demand one.

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    who is he?

    As I think the post makes abundantly clear, he is an ass.

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    I don't get into media fights much, but this one could turn out to be a doozy.
    Alterman should have known better than to play "the accusation of anti-Semitism...can be employed by people to stifle debate" card.

  • ||

    Since Colin Powell's an Uncle Tom,
    and Andrew Sullivan's an Auntie Tom,
    does this make Alterman an Uncle Tamir?

  • Franklin Harris||

    Do you know who he is?

    Sure.

    His dad owns a dealership.

    He can hook you up.

  • ||

    JJ-
    does this make Alterman an Uncle Tamir?

    Ellsworth Toohey...

  • ||

    Usually, it's writers on the left who end up countering asinine rhetoric by pointing out that Israel and the Jews aren't one and the same. The amusing part about this debate is that it's Alterman's nonsensical arguments that have to be refuted with this obvious point.

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    Sometimes Alterman is just delusional. As Cathy Young alludes to, he accused her a while back of being a knee jerk supporter of Israel, even though she had NEVER written a column on that subject. When she did write a column in response to his accusation, it was clear that she was deeply conflicted about Israeli policies. Alterman's response was that he was clearly prophetic and justified in his original accusation! This latest episode just confirms Alterman's inability to separate fantasy from reality.

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    I've got no truck with Eric Alterman, one way or ther other. A lot of you, I hear the same howling noise as when Teddy Kennedy or Dan Rather comes up. Arrooo!

    Regardless, I thought Young was out of line. She stretched in her reading of Alterman's passage (which is not Nobel material itself) about the Palestinian delegation's boycott (really cringe inducing stupidity there), and went overboard in her attack.

    Not exactly a banner day for the blogosphere.

  • The Lonewacko Blog||

    Could we lock them both in a room and check back in a couple years or so? There might be a Slate diary in the deal, let me check.

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    I give this one to Cathy Young, even as one who has no problem with putting primary blame on Israel for many M East troubles. The Muslim boycott was stupid as was Alterman's defense of it. I knock both however for finding anti-Semitism in The Passion of the Christ.

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    I really like it that Christians accuse Jews of killing their g-d. Yep, makes me proud to be a Jew when I can claim my ancestors killed their wussy g-d.

    The bastards ought to celebrate us and thank us for making their prophecy come true.

    They could always change the story to take out the Jews but I suppose that "For g-d loved the world so much that he gave his only son to die of old age for our sins" wouldn't be so inspiring.

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    The Bible actually says that 1. the Romans killed Jesus and 2. God made the people demand for the release of the other prisoner, instead of Jesus.

    I'm totally not getting "the Jews killed Jesus" out of that. I must've missed that day of Sunday School.

  • raymond||

    We live at a time when anti-Semitic rhetoric is creeping into the respectable mainstream: on the left, in the form of Israel-bashing;

    I don't get that. Must we apply the my-country-right-or-wrong standard to Israel, too?

    If we "bash" the (former BJP) government of India for not bringing to justice Modi and the (other?) perpetrators of the massacres of Muslims in Gujarat, are we anti-Hindu? If we criticise Putin, are we anti-Slav?

    And while I didn't follow the vagaries of the Muslim Council's decision, when I first heard about it I figured the invitation itself was a pr provocation. (As it turns out, a successful one.)

    I wonder if the NAACP or SAARC or AARP was invited.


    The Bible actually says that 1. the Romans killed Jesus...

    Strictly speaking, Adam was responsible. If he hadn't succumbed to Eve's tempting offer of knowledge, we wouldn't all be in this original-sin mess. And then there's each and every one of his descendants (with the exception of Mary and Jesus) who regularly sins.

    And since the Circumcision would have been more than enough to redeem mankind, we can only presume that God was making a pr point with the crucifixion.

    What troubles me is... Christ died in effect to save us from the knowledge of good and evil, without which freedom is sort of useless.

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    Let's say somebody wanted to know more about Cathy Young and her background, but didn't see her on the Reason "meet the staff" webpage, and didn't want to google because the response would choke the internets, hers being such a common name. What to do?

  • raymond||

    You can go here, or you can do this search on google.

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    Cathy had to know that Alterman would go ape-shit over her column. By libertarian standards, the man is pure evil and totally irrational. I bet his response had to make her chuckle.

    How can any thinking human being hold Israel primarily responsible for the problems of the Middle East. Why don't you people read some actual ME history. (Not just the last 50 years.) What Arabs and Muslims have done to the Jews for centuries is atrocious. Jews have always been in Palestine. I think the Arabs liked it. Without the Jews, whom would they have slaughtered during their sporadic pogroms? Whom could they blame for their cultural and economic malaise? If the Germans acted like the Arabs, they'd be terrorizing Poland. If the Native Americans acted like the Arabs, they'd be terrorizing the U.S. If the .... I think you get my point.

    Israel is not blameless, but they have more reasons than most to behave badly. I do blame Israel for not doing the right wrong thing: If Israel needed the land for defense (after it had been attacked for the third time), then it should have ejected the Arabs. Occupying land only leads to centuries of strife. Take the land completely and be done with it. I do not support conquest, but done badly, it ends up much worse than need be.

    It's pretty sad when even the opinions of libertarians are mostly formed by the MSM. But since most people seem incapable of ever seeing "the big picture", I'm not really surprised.

  • Cathy Young||

    You can go here. It's a board I set up some time ago -- I haven't updated it in a while and one of these days I'm going to set up a real website, but in the meantime you can check this out.

    A quick comment on "Israel-bashing." I don't think all criticism of any particular Israel government equals "bashing" or anti-Semitism. In many instances criticism of Israel is justified. As I said in response to Alterman, one may argue that Israel bears primary responsibility for the problems in the Middle East without being anti-Semitic. However, in some cases anti-Israel rhetoric does morph into anti-Semitism. My article on the subject can be found here.

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    I do need to say, that many innocent Palestinian Arabs have suffered greatly, by no fault of their own. I feel for them. Sadly, the Palestinians can't seem to do what would surely bring them peace and freedom: renounce violence and accept Israel. For a short time at least, an overjoyed West would send in big development $$$ (as it did post Oslo) to kick-start economic growth. Israel would likely be (cautiously yet possibly enthusiastically) quick with the freedoms and relatively decent treatment.

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    The Real Bill:
    "Why don't you people read some actual ME history"

    I would suggest that you do the same too, becasue clearly your comments have no grounds in reality. I'm not in the mood to discuss ancient hisotry. But, let's look at one idiotic comment . You say:

    "If Israel needed the land for defense (after it had been attacked for the third time), then it should have ejected the Arabs. "

    First of all, 'ejecting' the Arabs was planned long before the establishment of Israel. Do the names Ben Gurion and Begin ring a bell, Bill?

    (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_UN_Partition_Plan)

    "
    David Ben-Gurion declared in 1938, "after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine"

    In 1948, Menachem Begin said, "The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever". "

    Second, Israel attacked Egypt in 1956, and invaded Lebanon in 1978 and 1982. In 1967, Israel attacked (pre-emptively as it claims) Syria and Egypt. Yeah, Israel never attacks its neighbours (Israel defended itself as much as the US defended itslef by invading Iraq).

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    a,

    I won't argue the points you make about Ben Gurion and Begin, or the invasions of Lebanon.

    But to claim that Israel was unjustified in attacking Egypt and Syria in 1967, and comparing this to the US invasion of Iraq, is nonsense. If Iraq's army had been massing on our northern and souther borders, making it obvious that war was imminent, then your analogy might fly.

    And in 1956, while I would agree that Israel might have been itching for a fight, Egypt handed it to them on a silver platter by closing the Straits of Tiran, effectively an act of war.

  • Jim Henley||

    I hear many pro forma declarations that "of course it's possible to criticize Israel without being antisemitic" from people who then go on to accuse someone criticizing Israel of antisemitism. So I've decided the thing to do is to ask: Cathy, who would you say is a strong critic of Israel who is not antisemitic? Alternatively, what do you think is a strong criticism of Israel that is not antisemitic?

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    I was going to reinterate this of what Cathy said, but she did it herself just above at 4:14AM.
    Namely, while sticks and stones will break my bones, words will never harm me; intelligent folks understand which words uttered where are more likely to cause sticks and stones to fly.
    Ain't it nice we don't need to worry too much about it on H&R?

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    I dislike most of what Alterman writes, but I think the muslim boycott was totally legit. And Cathy did go a little overboard in calling him an anti-semite just for defending them. You know for a bunch of anti-collectivists, were sure ganging up on a group of people who didnt want to be coopted into a ceremony they didnt support.

  • Ayn_Randian||

    Muslim boycott legit? If anything, it weakens the Muslim position.

    Respecting tragedies like the Holocaust ensures that something like it never happens again. If a Muslim group released something about how the Holocaust was a tragedy, etc. etc., that could be seen as bridging a gap between Muslim and Jew, something most moderate Muslims should be interested in if the Palestinians are to have any future at all. A boycott, however, of something the entire world agrees was a tragedy makes you look like you're on the fringe, and makes me (as well as millions of others who make WAY more important decisions than I do) think that "Hey, if the HOLOCAUST doesn't elicit any sympathy, then working with these people is hopeless". If you don't take the Holocaust seriously, then I don't take you seriously.

  • Geoff||

    Interestingly, Jim, I often hear people give the pro forma "I'm not anti-Semitic" before commencing with holding Israel up to a standard to which no other nation is held. Perhaps, someday, that could be explained to me.

    However, although, I'm not Cathy Young, I will offer the Guardian's David Aaronovitch and 90% of the Ha'aretz staff as answers to your question.

  • PG||

    Interestingly, Jim, I often hear people give the pro forma "I'm not anti-Semitic" before commencing with holding Israel up to a standard to which no other nation is held. Perhaps, someday, that could be explained to me.

    I imagine that you also are likely to think that people who hold American to a higher standard than Iraq are "anti-American," rather than people who love America enough -- or who hear enough of our We're #1 rhetoric -- to expect much of us.

    As for the Holocaust's "Never again" value, can you honestly say that it's more than words? After all, to have stopped the Holocaust, other nations would have had to go to war with Germany before it invaded Poland. Whether or not they knew of the extent of the horror to come, that wasn't going to happen.
    And now we do not intervene to stop genocide in Rwanda or the Sudan. So forgive those who don't see "Never again" as being useful. One can argue that Muslims may have benefited from that attitude in the decision to intervene in the Balkans, but that's about it.

    None of the comments I have seen directly address Alterman's claim that Palestinians/ Arabs/ Muslims can see the Holocaust as something more than the murder of six million Jews, that in their minds it carries another significance as the justification for creating a Jewish homeland. If you find a Muslim who declares this genocide to have been a good thing, please call him an anti-Semite. But guilt over failing to even try to stop the Holocaust motivated other nations to support the creation of Israel, and so people who opposed that creation might be inclined to refuse participation in further manifestations of that guilt.

  • David Nieporent||

    Alterman does in this defensive post the exact thing the post is denying he did originally.

    In this case Cathy Young seeks to silence anyone who recognizes the reality of Jewish responsibility for Palestinian suffering.

    Note that he doesn't say "Israeli" responsibility or even "Zionist" responsibility. He says Jewish responsibility.

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    I don't follow the Middle East debate very closely, and at the moment I'm hard pressed to think of many "strong critics of Israel" by name. But I'll give it a shot.

    The Washington Post's Richard Cohen may not qualify as a "strong critic of Israel" but he has certainly written articles strongly critical of present Israeli policy. Check out, for instance, this column in which Cohen summarizes a New Yorker article by Jeffrey Goldberg about the extremist Jewish settlers and the danger they pose. Cohen starts out by saying, "Fortunately for Jeffrey Goldberg, he not only once lived in Israel but served in its army. Without those credentials he almost certainly would be denounced as an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew." I, for the record, thought Goldberg's story was an excellent and powerful piece of journalism.

    Jimmy Carter has been quite critical of present Israeli policies with regard to the Mideast conflict, and I have never heard him make any statements that had anti-Jewish overtones. Same goes for Christopher Hitchens.

    Also, I recall that in his book The Return of Anti-Semitism (which I discussed in my column linked in the earlier post), Gabriel Schoenfeld treated a number of articles in the European press calling Ariel Sharon a "warmonger" as evidence of anti-Semitic attitudes. I disagree with that chracterization, and said as much in my column.

    I really do not go around calling people anti-Semites lightly. I was even willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the British cartoonist who depicted Sharon as a child-devouring monster, which many people saw as a reference to the "Jews kill Christian children in their rituals" trope -- because the cartoon was clearly based on the Goya painting of Saturn devouring his children, and the reference was clearly to Sharon and Likud, not Jews or even Israel in general. However, there is rhetoric that clearly crosses the line.

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    Stuff like this makes me glad I don't have any serious religious heritage to get all worked up about.

    Oy vey, it all gives me a headache.

  • ||

    The attitude of the British Muslim Council towards Jewish suffering is not unlike the attitude of many Jewish Zionists towards Arab suffering.

    I know people (some of them members of my immediate family) who boycott the New York Times because of what they perceive as its anti-Israel bias. Their main example is the presence of news stories documenting Palestinian suffering.

    You may recall that Paul Wolfowitz was booed at a major pro-Israel rally when he mentioned that Palestinians are also suffering.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but it is only fair to acknowledge that there is plenty of vitriol on both sides of the fence, which can lead some otherwise decent people to dehumanize the "enemy" and even deny the other's suffering.pinhas

  • Jim Henley||

    Cathy, thank you for your response.

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    Hadayn, that's a good point and I generally agree. I thought the booing of Wolfowitz was disgraceful. Actually, in my column back when I first grappled with Alterman, I specifically made the point that no decent person can remain indifferent to the suffering on both sides. (Again, here's the column.) I mean, how can you not be moved when you read about a family whose child died on the way to the hospital because the ambulance was detained at an Israeli checkpoint for a search (as a result, it should be noted, of Palestinian terrorists repeatedly using ambulances as cover)?

    A few caveats are in order. I do think that it's ridiculous to accuse media outlets of anti-Israeli bias because they show Palestinian suffering, but sometimes it is a question of emphasis and balance. For instance: if a suicide bomber kills 20 people and the coverage devotes more attention to the grief of the suicide bomber's family than to those of the victims, something is definitely out of kilter.

  • M. Simon||

    The Arabs bear primary responsibilty for making "Mein Kampf" a best seller in the Middle East.

    Even today.

    Of course nothing wrong with hating Jews. Nothing at all.

    In fact such hate proves Jews are the root cause of most of the problems in the ME. If that wasn't true why would they be hated?

    The fact that one or two divisions of Muslims raised by the Mufti of Jerusalem (a close friend of Arafat's) assisted in the "final solution" proves more than any other fact who is the real cause of the problems in the ME.

    If Jews weren't the problem why would so many people be trying to kill them?

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    You know, for a second there I forgot that Christians are supposed to keep their spiritual beliefs off the silver screen.
    Christians believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that they could be forgiven for their sins. Alterman thinks they are wrong, and, in the great liberal tradition, that they should be punished as hatemongers for their beliefs.
    Alterman is despicable, but he is not a hypocrite. He hates Jews as well as Christians.

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    " You know, for a second there I forgot that Christians are supposed to keep their spiritual beliefs off the silver screen."

    Oh please. Plenty of other films with Christian themes have been made with no objection from anyone. Heck, if you just count all the TV movies based on various gospel stories, it'll add up to a pretty impressive list. IMO, Gibson's movie did have anti-Jewish themes. The initial alarm about the film was raised by reports that Gibson's gospel-based narrative was embellished with stuff from the visions of a rabidly anti-Semitic 18th Century German nun, Catherine Emmerich. The fact that Gibson belongs to an ultra-traditionalist Catholic splinter group that frowns on the Catholic Church's attempts to improve relations with Jews -- a group in which Gibson's father, a Holocaust denier, plays a prominent role -- didn't help.

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    I saw the Passion. There was not a thing anti-semitic about it. Do you recognize how far into Gibsons history you needed to look to decide that a movie is anti-semitic? Why is that needed and do you do the same for other directors? Don't you see the problem in that? Do you not see a problem in a major movie house blackballing a director for the stated reason of his religious beliefs. This anti-Catholic or anti-Christian public bigotry is a mistake and directed at a faith that has done more to champion Israeli and Jewish causes than most other and certainly more than the leftists who champion the rights of terrorists and use the word Nazi every chance they get to discuss Israeli politics.

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    I don't feel like getting involved in the Passion debate again, but here are some of the articles I've written on the topic:

    Personal Jesus

    Does Gibson deserve 'Passion' backlash?

    Gibson's contentious "Passion"

    Incidentally, are you aware that when The Passion opened in Germany, Germany's Catholic bishops and Protest and leaders

  • ||

    That last link didn't work....

    German Churches Join Jews in Attack on 'Passion'

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    Cathy, no I did not know that, but I think the Germans are correctly sensitive to Jewish feelings. I'll ask you this and then check out your links: If you saw the film, did you see anything anti-semitic in it (I did not and was looking for ANY semblence), or do you just think that the Christian/Catholic belief that Christ was crucified is anti-semitic? In other words, is it something in the movie or just the whole idea? Thanks for taking the time to provide the links.

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    I recognized each of the links when they opened. I had already read them 'back when', but re-read them anyway. I think you are reaching into Gibson's background and into history as a reason to call a movie that is not anti-Semitic exactly that. You are effectively damning an entire faith into either silence about its core beliefs or a rain of verbal abuse if they try to portray it. I note that you found the Scorcese movie entertaining, since it plainly poked fun at Christian beliefs about Jesus. How telling.
    I find your dismissal of Christian/Catholic concerns unpersuasive. I live in a small, very liberal community. I, and other viewers, endured the most hateful
    remarks for simply trying to see a film. The head of that (I forget which one) movie studio publicly declared that he would never allow his corporation to work with Gibson because "The Passion" movie. I just wonder how dismissive you would be if blacks endured what we did walking into "Malcolm X" at the theater or if the head of a major studio declared he would not work with a black director because the director made a movie that offends some whites. I know what your reaction would be. The same as mine and the same as my reaction to the stream of verbal abuse I witnessed and endured.
    It is hard to understand the disparity in treatment of Christians/Catholics by a sizable portion of America without concluding that there is a tacit agreement that abuse of C/C beliefs and adherents is permissable, where as other faiths are to be respected.
    I'll have to add this too, Cathy. I'll be curious to see how you address the background and history of Muslim filmmakers in light of Muslim beliefs when their films make the American marketplace. They and the Muslims who want to watch them will be in for rough ride, I'm sure.

    Thanks for allowing the long comments and for responding.

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    Mike, from whom exactly did you endure verbal abuse when you went to see The Passion? I went to see it with no incident, so did other people I know who live in liberal communities such as New York City.

    Where exactly did I say I found the Scorcese movie "entertaining"? For the record, I thought that far from making fun of Christian beliefs, it portrayed Christ's sacrifice in a very moving way. Between The Passion and Last Temptation, if a movie was going to convert me to Christianity it would be the latter. Incidentally, for all your whining about the oppression of Christians, Last Temptation was basically squelched by the (misguided, in my opinion) Christian backlash against it (the studio severely limited its release and marketing).

    There are many Christians who were highly critical of The Passion, so it's pretty ridiculous to suggest that those who dislike the film must dislike Christianity itself. And no, of course I don't think that the belief that Jesus was crucified is anti-Semitic. It's all in the presentation. In Gibson's case, the very first time we see Jews on the screen, they're haggling over money. How charming.

    Incidentally, are you suggesting that I would hesitate to criticize Muslim anti-Semitism because I feel that Islam deserves more deference than Christianity? Did you by any chance notice that I do precisely that (criticize Muslim anti-Semitism) in the column to which Alterman was responding?

  • ||

    For the record: I have criticized genuine anti-Christian/anti-religious bias. However, I also think that a lot of people who clamor against the suppression of religious speech in the public square don't want to allow criticism of religion in the public square.

    Yes, there's anti-religious bigotry against the cutlural elites. At the same time, nearly 60% of Americans espouse the religiously bigoted view that one must believe in God in order to be a moral person. Indeed, it's not unusual to hear public officials and mainstream commentators express that belief. Given this fact, claims of widespread anti-Christian persecution leave me a little cold.

  • ||

    Oops.

    Make that "there is anti-religious bigotry AMONG the cultural elites."

  • ||

    Cathy: From the protesters outside our neighborhood theater who screamed at us as we walked in. There were also days of letters and commentary in the paper that called on residents to show up there and make sure our 'bigotry' was not rewarded by a 'normal' evening at the theater. (Where, for instance, Michael Moore was wildly acclaimed despite his often racist and hateful remarks.)
    I am aware that you have spoken out against anti-Semitism. I am surprised that you think I don't realize that. What I was suggesting was that you probably do not and will not examine the religious or family background of a director from any other faith before deciding if a movie itself is bigoted or encourages bigotry. With all the anti-Catholic/Christian jokes and remarks that show up in movies, have you ever stopped to examine the background of the movie producers? Would you even think to do so for a movie that overtly criticizes them? But you have gone to great lengths to find ammunition to use against this movie.
    I realize that you are trying to be patient and provide me with reassurance that you treat all faiths equally, so it bothers me to conclude that we just can't have a fruitful discussion about this. You are sure that you are fair and that the C/C faiths are shown the same consideration as others. My observation of newspapers, movies, TV shows and liberal commentary is quite different than yours apparently. I don't want to bore you with a long list of Catholic/Christian jokes, snide remarks about IQ's and rosaries/ovaries etc. but I'll mention one recent laugh that all the liberals were enjoying after the election. The Jesusland maps and attendant snide remarks. Imagine if anyone other than Jessie Jackson referred to NY City as JewTown or greater New England as New Jewland etc. (Or insert Torah or some other symbol of faith for Jews) or how about some other 'humorous' name that poked fun at the black voters of DC. You see what I mean. You and I would be outraged. But there was not a peep of indignation from the PC crowd, or of course from liberals who championed the map.
    The C/C crowd is an acceptable target for all the forms of insensitivity that liberals normally find repulsive.

  • ||

    How dare a Jew like Eric Alterman violate the sacred rules of Conservative Correctness and suggest that Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians might still harbor resentments and conflicted feelings over Palestine that leave them unwilling to pay respects to the Holocaust.

    Surely Cathy Young knows one or two good Re-education Camp she can recommend to Alterman.

  • ||

    Cathy,

    If you're not Jewish, you're an ignorant insensitive idiot for calling Alterman a self-hating Jew. You deserve all the shit that comes your way. Period. Full Stop.

    It is not acceptable at all for anyone to call anyone a self-hating jew.

    "Self hating Jew" is an epithet meant only to stop discourse. It is foul. It is foul play.

    There is little more hurtful you can say to a Jew than that.

    And I bet you know this.

    So fuck you.

  • ||

    A few years ago, any advocate of any peace process was deemed a self-hating jew. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for trying to make peace. Ariel Sharon's life is considered to be endangered:

    http://tinyurl.com/3nu56

    From the NYTimes:

    "
    Israel Gears Up for Burst of Far-Right Anger at Pullout
    By GREG MYRE

    Published: February 20, 2005

    JERUSALEM, Feb. 19 - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is increasingly denounced as a traitor. Israeli government ministers are receiving death threats. Protesters have accosted senior politicians and yelled at them during public appearances.

    Far-right Israelis are growing increasingly strident in the months leading up to the planned withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip this summer. Many Israelis are drawing parallels to the period of inflamed passions that preceded the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was killed by a nationalist who rejected Mr. Rabin's concessions to the Palestinians.

    Advertisement

    Mr. Sharon, a supporter of the settlers for decades, has been the target of their wrath since last year, when he announced his plan to evacuate all 8,500 settlers from Gaza and several hundred from the West Bank.

    Israel's security services have not cited any evidence of specific plans for violence against Mr. Sharon, but senior Israeli officials are calling for pre-emptive steps like detention without trial, which is permitted under Israeli law. The practice, known as administrative detention, has been widely used against suspected Palestinian militants, but only rarely against Israelis.

    "Sometimes in order to safeguard democracy, we have to use undemocratic means such as administrative detention," President Moshe Katsav said this week.
    "

    Cathy this is what comes from calling people self-hating jews.

    It is hate speech.

    Please now, fuck off.

  • ||

    "Interestingly, Jim, I often hear people give the pro forma 'I'm not anti-Semitic' before commencing with holding Israel up to a standard to which no other nation is held."

    Yeah, and plenty of times I hear others refusing to hold Israel to standards that are expected of every other nation, and denouncing as "anti-Semitic" those who dare to do so. So I guess we're even.

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