When the Anti-Racists are the Racists: The Case of British Left-Wing Anti-Semitism

The far left acknowledges Jewish corporate existence only when Jews rely on memories of collective oppression to aid left-wing "liberation" movements.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

With leftist anti-Semitism in the news in both Great Britain and the U.S., I thought I'd republish this blog post from two years ago:

Writing in the left-wing Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz yesterday, Joel Braunold, a former member of the executive council of the British National Union of Students (NUS), reaches essentially the same conclusion about left-wing anti-Semitism as I have, to wit: The far left refuses to recognize Jews as a legitimate ethnic group, and for Jews to think of themselves as such is "racist." I wrote, "Exactly why Jewish solidarity is racist, but not solidarity among other groups, is never clearly explained, but it seems to have something to do with the fact that Jews aren't a legitimate ethnic group to begin with," and that the far left believes that Jews have a duty to ultimately "assimilate or disappear." Braumold writes:

I would engage those who were part of the hard left – those who saw themselves as belonging to the same leftist faction as Ken Livingstone – on how they could possibly justify their anti-racist credentials when they were doing things that were so offensive to the Jewish community.

It all came down to their inability to understand why Jews were anything more than a religious group….

Jews did not have a place in the traditional liberation campaigns of the NUS. Being Jewish was not the same as being black, LGBTQ, female or disabled. Jews were hated by fascists; the hard left just wanted them to assimilate. According to the hard left in the NUS, being particularist about your Jewish ethnic background was to buy into a racism that was forced upon you.

Braunold, though very critical of his former left-wing comrades, is nevertheless too easy on them. The far leftist opposition to recognizing Jews as an ethnic minority, which Braunold suggests is based on a coherent if misguided version of anti-racism, disappears when it's politically convenient, which suggests a lack of principle. Britain, after all, has a large, vocal contingent of "As a Jews"–left-wing individuals of Jewish descent, typically atheists with no ties to the organized Jewish community, who preface their harsh criticisms of Israel with "As a Jew…" "As a Jews" were mercilessly satirized as "ASHamed Jews" by Howard Jacobson in "The Finkler Question."

The "As a Jews" are especially valuable to the anti-Israel left, for obvious reasons. [This has since come to be called |"Jew-washing" anti-Semitism.] I have yet to see any British "anti-Zionist" leftist respond to an "As a Jew" by stating something along the line of, "I appreciate your anti-Israel sentiment, but as a good anti-racist I don't recognize Jewish ethnicity. Therefore, being that you're an atheist and all who hasn't observed any Jewish ritual since at least your circumcision, you're not a Jew, and it's highly offensive to cynically use the fact that your ancestors were of the Jewish religion to try to score political points." Instead, the "As a Jews" are trotted out, front and center, to serve as "anti-Zionist" spokesmen.

This accentuates my point that the far left is, in fact, willing to acknowledge Jewish corporate existence beyond religious ties, but, as a I wrote, only "to the extent Jews rely on their residual memories of collective oppression to aid left-wing liberation movements," including and especially the Palestinian nationalist movement. As I've pointed out before, if you're only against racism when it serves your broader political goals, then you're not really against racism.

It's also worth noting that while the British far left relegates Jewish identity, which has always had an ethnic/peoplehood component, to oblivion except when it's political useful, it has racialized Muslims, so much so that the Malia Bouattia, who is of Algerian descent and not of especially dark complexion, is said to be the "first Black president" of the National Union of Students. There's no rhyme or reason to any of this except what's politically useful.

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  1. “When the anti-Racists are the Racists”

    As near as I can tell that’s almost all of the time.

    1. “When the anti-Racists are the Racists”
      As near as I can tell that’s almost all of the time.

      Sure seems that way, especially with politics.

    2. Pretty much. Kind of similar to Antifa being the real fascists.

      1. Well, if you claim to be anti-fascist and go around literally wearing black shirts, you’re doing it wrong.

        1. “you’re doing it wrong.”

          +1

    3. Brett, you nailed it. I came here to say exactly that.

  2. I’m often confused when criticism of Israel gets labeled as “anti-Semitism”. Is there no position between “gee, I think this national policy or action by the nation of Israel is objectionable” and “kill all the Jews”?

    1. Of course there are positions in between. For example there’s “Drive all the Jews into the sea,” “Kill most of the Jews,” “Rob the Jews and steal their property,” “Make all the Jews suffer,” and “Hold all the Jews to a standard we hold literally no other group to and castigate them if they don’t meet it”

      More to the point, when people like you keep doing this, holding the Jews and the Jewish nation to a standard that no other group is held to, repeatedly castigating them while other similar (or usually worse) actions by other groups go unremarked on….

      Then we hold you as being antisemitic. Got it?

      1. When Israel acts badly, they deserve criticism. Just like any other country. Any other interpretation is AIPAC bullshit. Don’t fall for it.

        1. But too often that criticism is dispensed as praise for the poor harmless Arabs and veiled criticism of Israelis in general. If they limited their criticism to “Israel” understood as the Israeli government, few people would call them racist.

          FWIW, I despise the Israeli government, but I despise all governments for the thieves and plunderers they attract. .Mmany of their decisions with regards to Arabs are misguided, but much less so than Arab government actions towards Israel and their own people. It only takes one to start a fight, and the Arab governments would love to start one with Israel. It makes about as much sense to rebuke Israel for not being nicer when it would only encourage Arab countries to act even worse.

        2. When Israel acts badly………….

          You mean when they don’t sit back and let vicious Muslims brutalize and murder them without retaliation! Yeah, it’s just horrible when the victims fights back, isn’t it?

          1. “You mean when they don’t sit back and let vicious Muslims brutalize and murder them without retaliation! Yeah, it’s just horrible when the victims fights back, isn’t it?”

            Since I didn’t mean nor say that, I’m not sure why you wrote that.

        3. The problem isn’t criticism of Israel. No country is so perfect as to not merit criticism.

          The problem is screaming about the splinter in the Israelis’ eyes while remaining silent about the beam in the Palestinians’ eyes.

          The Palestinians are, by any rational standard, so much worse than the Israelis that to focus on Israel’s sins is evidence of that antisemitism.

          1. “The problem isn’t criticism of Israel. No country is so perfect as to not merit criticism”

            The guy up above decided I was anti-Semitic, and I just *hypothesized* criticism of Israel.

          2. “is evidence of that antisemitism.”

            I don’t necessarily agree with it being anti-semitism. It’s just hating on Israel, which is much like hating on America. I don’t believe that irrational hate of Israel is motivated by anti-semitism. It’s just hate.

            1. But, what’s the reason for hating on Israel, apart from antisemitism?

              I can sort of understand anti-Americanism, on a theoretical level, what with the US being the most powerful nation on Earth. This drives foreigners to have strong feelings about the US.

              But Israel isn’t in that position. They’re, objectively, one of the most civilized countries in the Middle East, but they’re not a huge player on the international scene.

              What reason is there to hate on them, except that they’re a Jewish country?

              1. “What reason is there to hate on them, except that they’re a Jewish country?”

                Any of the many, many reasons to hate (or dislike, or criticize) any other country. You don’t automatically assume anti-Catholic, or anti-Christian, bias on people who keep fantasizing about Mexican border walls.

              2. “…but they’re not a huge player on the international scene.

                What reason is there to hate on them, except that they’re a Jewish country?”

                So if you criticize a state that is (1) not a huge player on the international scene but (2) is, say, made up of a Muslim majority, then you must be an anti-Muslim?

          3. Some day, a big chunk of the world will go, “Yay! Palestine is finally a true state!”…as it turns into another kleptocratic dictatorship.

            Is that something to be happy about?

          4. I agree with you Brett, and that is a legitimate discussion. Simply branding any criticism of Israel as anti-semitic is not.

        4. Oddly enough a certain subset of people ONLY criticize Israel, and no one else really. And repeatedly. They’re like cops who ignore murder and rape, but then see a Jew speeding 2 mph over the speed limit and….siren on, time to pull over the evil Jews for their crimes again.

          1. Some people have a chosen cause. For some it’s the death penalty. For others it’s abortion. I don’t think one can make much of arguing that Palestinians are getting a raw deal (rightly or wrongly – I tend to think they largely make their own bed, though Netanyahu sucks)

            1. And for some people, it’s discriminating against the Jews as much as possible.

              Congrads.

              1. So for you Israel = Jews?

          2. “Oddly enough a certain subset of people ONLY criticize Israel, and no one else really. And repeatedly.”

            I suggested criticism of Israel, without actually making any, and from that you extrapolated my entire opinion AND made some wildly inaccurate guesses about my social circle.

            Because, apparently, there are no opinions between “say, I object to this or that policy of the nation of Israel”, and “kill all the Jews”.

            1. I noted some of the options in between. And the clear and obvious dog whistle you were making.

              1. Pick one side or the other. Straddling both isn’t working for you.

      2. “More to the point, when people like you keep doing this”

        What are “people like me”, and what is the “this” you are objecting to?

        “holding the Jews and the Jewish nation to a standard that no other group is held to”

        What the fuck are you talking about?

        “Then we hold you as being antisemitic. Got it?”

        I hold you to be an idiotic asshole. Got it?

        1. What you’re doing is playing dumb. Trying to discuss criticism of Israel in a hypothetical manner, instead of merely criticizing an actual policy (notice how few people actually do this), is like trying to discuss the intellectual merits of National Socialism. You know damn well 99.9% of the people who agree with you are just Nazi larpers, yet you still decided to associate the discussion with National Socialism instead of merely addressing the ideas you find interesting in a different context. Likewise, critics of Israel could do the same, but they use dogwhistles like “criticism of Israel” which, while it may not be your intention, does in fact cover the overwhelming majority of its critics who do not recognize its legitimacy and wish to finish what Hitler started.

          1. “You know damn well 99.9% of the people who agree with you are just Nazi larpers”

            You know who agrees with me, without knowing what any of my opinions are? Impressive.

            1. You framed the initial discussion through a blatant dogwhistle. If you really don’t understand how the phrase “criticism of Israel” is a Nazi dogwhistle, then you’re just ignorant.

              This is a common problem with non-Jews. I don’t blame you, but you just aren’t as educated about the types of coded language people have used throughout history.

              1. For comparison, consider the BDS movement. It’s a common dogwhistle to ask “What’s so bad about boycotting a nation whose policies I don’t agree with?” The question is a dogwhistle because it ignores the pretense of BDS entirely. Anyone with a serious policy grievance against Israel would avoid BDS entirely, yet they associate with it regardless. It’s the same reason I criticize Trump for his language. At times, he has dogwhistled to the alt right. I don’t believe he intends to do so, but intent has never mattered with language.

                1. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.

                  Speaking of dog whistles.
                  Whatever British-drawn borders used to say doesn’t really matter.

                  You all for expulsion of all the Palestinians?

                  1. Statements of fact aren’t dogwhistles. There is no such thing as a Palestinian. There are millions of Arabs who have lived in the territory known to some outsiders as Palestine for centuries. And yes, British borders are irrelevant, just as 1967 Israeli, Ottoman, Umayyad, ancient Israeli, Judean, Samarian, and other borders are irrelevant.

                    1. Statements of fact that unperson a bunch of people currently living in Israel is sure about more than a statement of fact.

                    2. Unpersoning isn’t a thing and even if it were, stating there is no Palestinian people does not unperson the millions of people who live there. It just means they aren’t a body politic.

              2. “You framed the initial discussion through a blatant dogwhistle”

                Bullshit. You made assumptions, and rather than consider the possibility that your assumptions are or were wrong, you chose to double-down.

                1. I didn’t make any assumptions. You chose the language you chose. I told you how anti-Semites use coded language to disguise their intention (principle being a facade for hatred). You’re the one doubling down on what your words meant as if intent somehow matters. Sorry for being less trusting, but with overt anti-Semitism on the rise (major news personalities like Marc Lamont Hill, Omar and Tlaib in Congress, increased sectarian violence, increased importation of Muslims, etc.) I don’t exactly trust someone who uses obvious dogwhistles and then pretends they aren’t one.

                  1. “I didn’t make any assumptions.”

                    And you refuse to consider that they were incorrect.

                    “You’re the one doubling down on what your words meant as if intent somehow matters.”

                    Srsly?

                    ” Sorry for being less trusting, but with overt anti-Semitism on the rise”

                    I don’t trust you on this premise, since you’re on the record as seeing it where it isn’t. And insisting it MUST be there even after having been corrected.

          2. Bingo. It’s what James does. When he’s not whistling his antisemitic dog whistle.

            1. Now I’m against Jewist dogs, too?

              1. When your Freudian slips make it clear? Yeah….

                1. This is the most bizarre commentary thread I’ve ever read here. Nothing James has written here is even remotely anti-semitic. And “criticism of Israel” is not a Nazi dogwhistle, it’s criticism of Israel.

                  1. It most certainly is a Nazi dogwhistle. You’re not paying attention if you don’t think it is. The alt right use any tactic necessary to attack Jews and one of their tactics is using the facade of principle and free speech to spread their hate. If you’re not aware of how that phrase is a dogwhistle, start looking into alt right forums and learn their tactics. If you’re aware and you’re still using it, you’re a complete moron for playing into their agenda.

                    1. “It most certainly is a Nazi dogwhistle.”

                      It absolutely is not. The Nazis were defeated in 1945. Israel was established in 1947.

                      “The alt right use any tactic necessary to attack Jews”

                      Therefore someone who hasn’t attacked Jews is a member of the alt-right. Right?

                      “start looking into alt right forums and learn their tactics.”

                      You… WANT me to go to alt-right forums, and learn their tactics??? Dude, YOU’RE the one acting like an anti-Semite recruiter in this exchange.

      3. “Then we hold you as being antisemitic. Got it?”

        If you cared about preventing antisemitism, you wouldn’t water down the brand so hard. But if you want to behave like this, I’ll just brand you as being a culture warrior loser. Got it?

    2. Yes. There are such positions.

      The way to tell is the nature of the criticism, and what exactly is being criticized. Expressing disapproval of Israeli policies in the West Bank is not antisemitic. Talking about how “Jewish money” is used to control US policy towards Israel is.

      Let me add that there is no need to stretch any points to declare Corbyn an antisemite. It is hardly arguable.

      1. no need to stretch any points to declare Corbyn an antisemite. It is hardly arguable

        Could you walk me through this? I’ve been under the impression that this was just Murdoch tabloids working an angle. Wikipedia is nuanced to the point of uselessness.

        1. When nine Labour MP’s resign over antisemitism there is very likely to be fire.

          Wikipedia covers a lot of it. Did you follow the link to the mural Corbyn defended?

          Here is a useful summary.

          You might also read this, or, for a slightly different view, this.

          Basically, he has a habit of associating with antisemites, Holocaust deniers, and the like, making unfortunate remarks, and offering up not very credible excuses when called on it.

    3. The problem is what exactly you mean by criticism of Israel. There’s already criticism of Israel; it’s called multi-party parliamentary government in Israel. Many leftists, predominantly the anti-imperialist and Muslim sympathizer types, consider challenging the existence of Israel to be legitimate criticism. It’s extremely difficult to be critical of Israel and not end up dogwhistling for these types because anti Semitism is more powerful than ever before. The Western world is slowly forgetting about the Holocaust and as we import more Muslims who want to genocide us, we draw closer to sectarian conflict every day.

      1. “The problem is what exactly you mean by criticism of Israel.”

        I mean “criticism” of “Israel”. The first is expressing a state of disapproval of some policy or another, and the other is a national entity currently existing east of the Mediterranean Sea. You know, the common, English definitions of these words.

        1. Or you could just actually make your criticism without suspiciously playing around with this semantic bullshit and appeals to emotion. You might not realize it, but this is exactly how the alt right talks nowadays. They frame the debate from a “common sense” and reasonable perspective (What’s so bad about criticizing another nation?” and hope that people will not notice the context by focusing on the principle.

          1. “They frame the debate from a ‘common sense’ and reasonable perspective (What’s so bad about criticizing another nation?’ and hope that people will not notice the context by focusing on the principle.”

            Those bastards… they use common sense and reasonable perspective? And then just wait for people to wildly overreact to common sense and reasonable perspective? What monsters they are for doing this!

  3. The simplest explanation is they don’t care about racism for its own sake. They are using accusations of racism to progress a socialist economic agenda. So there is no point caring about racism directed at any group that is not at an economic disadvantage.

  4. If some people pre-emptively shield themselves from accusations of racism by declaring that Jews aren’t a race anyway (unless convenient), then maybe they’re capable of what the rest of us would call anti-Semitism.

    If someone insists on giving himself a get-out-of-racism-free card, it’s probably not with an innocent purpose.

  5. In the scandal over The Education of Little Tree, one of the things not noticed was that the Cherokee had in fact contracted an alliance with the Confederacy, and many of them in fact owned slaves. They had reason to despise the US government given what President Jackson did to them, but they threw their lot in with the Confederates all the same.

    This was simply not noticed. Because of their race, Native Americans, it was simply assumed the Cherokee Were victims of racists, good guys, whereas Confederates were racists and bad guys, so there couldn’t possibly be any association between the two. Cognitive dissonance prevented believing there was any relationship. What they did, what the history was, simply didn’t matter.

    The American experience suggests that Americans are very vulnerable to people’s claims of being oppressed. After all, for half a century or more, class textbooks depicted white southerners as oppressed victims of Yankee imperialism, subjected to an illegal occupation and numerous indecencies and degradations. The Ku Klux Klan were depicted as noble freedom fighters working to kick the colonialist oppressors back where they belonged. When a white southerner was injured, there was a hue and cry about how unjust and oppressive it all was. When black people were lynched, if anyone cared they got what they deserved; at any rate they simply didn’t matter, they simply didn’t count as casualties.

    1. There was also the small matter of the book being written by a white supremacist named Asa Earl Carter.

  6. Its not just race. ‘Progressivism’ is the ultimate exercise in projection. Progs claim to be against racism and sexism yet thoughts of race and sex consume every waking moment of their lives. They build institutes and college departments and monuments and entire industries to their obsession. They claim to be for equality and against elitism yet every major prog society from the Soviet Union to San Francisco and holy weird are among the most pyramidal and elitist societies in history. Progs claim to be the founders of the ‘Free Speech Movement’ yet as soon as they were the ones in power they became far more implacable enemies to free speech than the right ever was. To be a ‘progressive’ is to be a walking contradiction and the worst sort of hypocrite.

  7. Mr. Bernstein: could you clarify, do you consider the people you label “As a Jews” to be Jewish, from your perspective?

  8. The real sizzle here is the headline. The left are the real racists/intolerant is always going to warm the hearts of many around here, the the point that the actual OP is kind of occluded.

    But as to the OP, I don’t see a lot of support in the OP for thesis that the left is antisemetic because they want to assimilate the Jews, and I find the treatment of “As a Jews” kind of a problematic delegitimizing of a bunch of Jews, some of whom are Israeli.

  9. “The far left refuses to recognize Jews as a legitimate ethnic group, and for Jews to think of themselves as such is “racist.””

    Extrapolated to an even greater degree, they refuse to recognize the legitimacy of whites too. I hope they realize how dangerous identity politics really are. White identity groups don’t bode well for Jews like me.

    1. Whites aren’t an ethnic group. They are more various than Africans, who themselves aren’t really an ethnic group either.

      1. Whites have become the same type of ethnic group that Jews have become. They used to be a few distinct ethnicities in a traditional sense (Anglos, Normans, Saxons, etc.) but now they’re just whites. Their culture is distinct and there’s brotherhood between them the same as between Jews irrespective of the fact there are people of many different technical ethnicities, cultures and histories.

        The prevailing point is that regardless of semantics, white identitarianism is inevitable. It’s already occurring in case anyone hasn’t noticed yet. If white men couldn’t vote, all but 2 states would be blue at all levels of government. If whites couldn’t vote at all, America would be a one party nation.

        1. That you named three English nationalities in your attempt to encompass whiteness is pretty telling.

          white identitarianism
          Neato.

          1. Normans and Saxons aren’t English. Normans are Viking settlers in Normandy (hence the name) and Saxons are another Germanic tribe of Vikings who invaded Britain. When you don’t even know that much about the cultural diversity of white peoples it kind of makes it look like you drank a bit too much SJW kool aid.

            1. ” it kind of makes it look like you drank a bit too much SJW kool aid.”

              Yeah. I was right. You’re an alt-right recruiter.

      2. Like I said in a previous post, I’m not sure where you’re getting this idea. Subsaharan africans are more disparate genetically, (europeans and asians are more closely related to each other than to the rest of the african population) and through very strong argument culturally (subsaharan africa has generally been much more decentralized than Europe). Pan africanism and the current nationstate set up is a european import destroying a previous much finer grained tribal ethnic system.

        1. Genetically has not much to do with how people group, though.

          1. African American is an ethnicity. African not so much. And then what about Jamaicans?

            Similarly, go to South America and try and pretend a Bolivian is the same as a Columbian.

            Same with white people in America. Being the wide majority for so long, anyone who thinks whites share much in America is reacting on behalf of a group most of which don’t share much with him or her.

  10. I don’t consider Judaism as an ethnicity, but only as a religion. That’s why I (of Jewish descent) find it very frustrating when Jews call me a “cultural Jew,” even though I don’t identify with Judaism, want nothing to do with American Judaism in particular, and have not practiced any elements of it in over 20 years.

    1. I don’t identify with Judaism, want nothing to do with American Judaism in particular, and have not practiced any elements of it in over 20 years.

      I consider this good news indeed.

      1. People like you are why I don’t

        1. Glad to be of service (to Judaism, not you.)

    2. It’s not an ethnicity but I do think it is a culture. I am also of Jewish descent but am religiously atheist (some would call it agnostic atheism). Still it is an inescapble fact that antisemites don’t care about religious beliefs but heritage. The Nazis didn’t quiz people on their religious beliefs. A drop of “Jewish” blood and you were sent to the camps. So while I understand where you come from that is simply not reality, at least in the context of antisemitism. We would be just as much in the cross hairs of someone anti-semitic as any orthodox jew.

      1. Of course, which is why I stay armed to the teeth. But I resent being told I’m a Jew or have a “Jewish soul” because I had a bar mitzvah back in 1988.

    3. Judaism isn’t an ethnicity in the traditional sense because diaspora Jews have mixed with local populations to the point that there are distinct ethnic groups within Israel who are all Jews (Ethiopians, Indians, Central Asians, etc.) but it is an ethnic group in the sense that Jews have isolated themselves and until recently predominantly married within the faith. In that sense, there is a Jewish “people” that are far more akin to an ethnic group than, say, German Catholics and Italian Catholics. Judaism is unlike most religions in that it does not proselytize and that makes our people far more than just a faith anyone can believe in.

      1. Many non-Jewish religious people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the concept of a religion that doesn’t teach what to believe, but rather how to act and behave.

  11. The Left has a real problem when the road of identity politics intersects such as it does with the question of Israel.

    The tradition view from the Left is that Israel has a right to remedy the historical injustices the Jewish people have had to endure over the centuries. If this means they get their own sovereign state that is more of less OK in the eyes of the identity political sphere.

    Where it gets dicey though is when their victimhood intersects with the victimhood of how they treat the Palestinians (who have a good argument the creation of Israel took land that historically belonged to them) and other “minorities” in that geographical area. If Israel had decided to govern with at least a hat tip toward a diversity, multicultural state like what is demanded from the West, they could probably skate along just fine. But, they have decided to wall themselves off and act like a heterogenous society identifying mostly as a Jewish state. This gives the Left a literal identity crisis.

    They deal with this by just shutting up and saying “go Israel” without much more. When someone mentions the plight of the Palestinians that is met with the usual “these are not the droids you are looking for” type approach. But sooner or later, as the extreme left wing takes over the democrats this isn’t going to work and they are going to have to come up with a more refined position. That is when it is going to become popcorn time.

    1. I agree allowing Israel to exist as an homogeneous society while demanding the West be “multicultural” is hypocritical. But I see no evidence that Israelis do that. It’s only liberal American Jews, whose opinions I value about as much as my dog’s.

      1. Israel is not by any stretch of the imagination a homogenous society. Not by any prism. Not ethnically, not culturally, not religiously.

    2. Interesting question of whose land is it.

      The Arabs generally view the Crusades as aggression against their legitimate claim to the area, however before Arab armies conquered it the area was officially Christian for around three hundred years and officially long Jewish before that.

      How far back do you go for these claims?

      Were the Israelis simply reclaiming what was once theirs?
      What about the Crusaders?

      1. Land claims ultimately boil down to practicality. It is impossible to create a separate state given the Arab position on the issue and it is also impossible to suggest a unified state and subsequently maintain Israel as a Jewish state. The most amicable outcome at this point is scorched earth. Retake the entire territory, allow individual Arabs to resettle and assist them, deny right of return to refugees, and work with Arab neighbors to resettle the others in existing countries.

    3. The problem is how the debate is fundamentally framed. Even you just call the peoples there Palestinian as if that’s assumed to be a thing. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. There are Arab peoples who occupied the land when it was British Palestine, but the linguistic history that led to the British calling the territory Palestine is not in reference to a people. The origin of Palestine is from Philistine and its reintroduction into history came from the Roman Empire after they exiled the Jews from Israel. The people who lived there are no more Palestinian today than they were Ottomans for the past 600 years or part of various Caliphates for the next thousand years. They’re just people who inhabit the land in a capacity that does not fit our Western conception of nation states. Whether or not they’re entitled to it is an almost impossible task to verify, but it is quite clear that returning their land via a blanket policy of establishing a separate state and enshrining the current PA/PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah/ISIS/Iran hierarchy is not on the table in any capacity.

      1. Who has “ownership” rights to land is of course a tricky question. I can’t remember who to attribute the quote to but I think this best describes who has the right to land at any given time. “Land belongs to any people who currently occupy it and have the will, resolve, and might to keep it.”

        1. I think legitimacy does come into play, but it gets checked at the door by practicality. Does anyone deserve anything? I doubt there’s ever been a state that was formed without violence. I always laugh when people refer to previous American Natives because the historical facts prove they were Asiatic settlers who migrated across the Bering Strait and slaughtered the previously-native Clovis people. But you know, death to oppressors and whatnot…

    4. The conflict you are describing here is entirely a product of your own imagination.

      1. The entirety of Israeli history begs to differ. Arab opposition remains strong and the only thing remotely resembling an ally in the region is Egypt, and they’re not exactly a firmly established nation given how they almost became a caliphate in 2012. If you can find a way to surrender geographically significant land tracts to the Arabs without they putting the PA and Hamas in power, then you’ll get a nobel peace prize. Otherwise, the status quo will continue.

  12. “Britain, after all, has a large, vocal contingent of “As a Jews”?left-wing individuals of Jewish descent, typically atheists with no ties to the organized Jewish community, who preface their harsh criticisms of Israel with “As a Jew?” “As a Jews” were mercilessly satirized as “ASHamed Jews” by Howard Jacobson in “The Finkler Question.””

    If you’re arguing for a Jewish ethnic identity it’s probably a bad idea to exclude ethnic Jews who happen to not adopt the religious views of Jews.

    1. Yeah, it really muddies the waters here. Doesn’t seem like Bernstein really thought this through.

  13. The left hates Israel because
    1. Israel is an explicitly Jewish state;
    2. They are, and have been for since ’48, American allies;
    3. They are seen as a colonial power–even worse: the are seen as colonizing people who hate America, and people who hate America, are, almost universally, lionized by the left;
    4. They were Anti-Soviet when it mattered to people like Bernie Sanders and Noam Chomsky;
    5. They took a pigsty (compare Israel to ANY former European colony in sub-Saharan Africa, or, for that matter, any country in So America which was ruled by a European power) and made it into an economic and military regional power, mostly via hard work and economic freedom–things that are anathema to the left as far as public policy is concerned.

    There is plenty of ammo for the left to hate Israel without the need for anti-Semitism.
    Then again, like the man said: ” anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools”.

    1. Lots of Jews on the left not going to track with your explanation of what the left actually thinks.

      In fact, thanks for telling me what I think and why.

      1. It’s all people like him can do. They can’t argue with what people actually say in any real way, so it’s just one straw man after another.

  14. Avenue Q had it right.

    1. Sadly, Tom Lehrer was more right, which is why we have this mess.

  15. I think the main issue with Jews/Judaism when it comes to identity politics is that both the cultural/ethnic aspect and religious are so closely entwined that they are hard to separate and frankly most ethnic Jews, even if “atheist”, like it that way since they can play both sides of the identity politics fence.

  16. I make lots of money by commuting to GMU and accusing critics of my favorite government in the whole world of being evil racists through practicing the simple art of whataboutism and being slightly less cracked than Nick Gillespie and Brett Bellmore! You can do it too, just email me at disingenuous1312@gmail.com!

  17. Bernstein makes exactly the same mistake that some critics of Israel make, which is to write from a position of near complete ignorance about the subject matter of his writing.

    Anyone with any knowledge of the history of the Britain since the early- to mid-1800s knows that British Jews have very much pushed the concept that Judaism is a religious and not a racial categorisation. British Jews didn’t want to be seen as racially different, only religiously different. Jewish emancipation in Britain followed shortly after, and exactly the same lines as, Catholic emancipation. The position of Jewish institutions in Britain is dependent on Judaism being characterised in religious rather than racial terms. State-funded racially-exclusivist schools and nursing homes would not be acceptable whereas religiously-exclusivist ones are.

    The studied ambiguity on this point has become less sustainable over the years as, post-Holocaust and with the rise of secular Judaism, the global character of Judaism assumed a more racial and less religious aspect. In the 2009 case of R (E) v Governing Body of the Jewish Free School (a state-funded boys high school), the UK Supreme Court found that the school had unlawfully racially discriminated against pupils on the basis that it treated differently an applicant with a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father from an applicant with a non-Jewish father and a Jewish mother.

  18. When Bernstein states that “the far left refuses to recognize Jews as a legitimate ethnic group, and for Jews to think of themselves as such is “racist.” ” he’s not describing the far left, he’s describing the attitude of the British state and society generally and, at a minimum, a very proportion, if not the majority, of British Jewry.

    Bernstein states, without any citing evidence whatsoever, that British Jews opposed to Israeli apartheid and terrorism are “typically atheists with no ties to the organized Jewish community”. I’m certain that such British Jews are much more religious than the average Zionist American Jew. On the right-wing rather than the left wing of politics, British Jews are very happy to claim Disraeli as one of them when he was baptised into, and a practising member of, the Church of England.

    The only true statement that Bernstein makes is that “[t]here’s no rhyme or reason to any of this except what’s politically useful.” That sums up pretty much all of the claims of anti-semitism that have been made since Corybn became Labour Party leader.

    1. I’d love to hear your basis for saying that British atheist “Jews” are religious. Going to services once a year on Yom Kippur so that you can brag about how tikkun olam means giving “marriage” licenses to sexual deviants doesn’t qualify.

      1. He didn’t say British atheist Jews are religious.

  19. Recently a group of Palestinians deliberately rammed their car into two Israelis who were fixing their car by the side of the road. They were shot. The Guardian reported the story as “Israeli Soldiers Kill Two Palestinians after car ramming.”

    Apparently even existence of the Israelis who were rammed, let alone their lives, doesn’t matter enough to be worth mentioning.

    1. The headline is accurate. The Israelis were IDF soldiers, and their names probably weren’t made available to the AP.

  20. The main problem is the number of people who buy into the fallacy that if one side is wrong, the other must be right. The secondary problem is the number of people who buy into the fallacy that all are guilty of the acts of one. Put those together, and you get a conflict that can never end.

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