On Normblog, Eve Garrard writes with her usual lucidity. From the piece:
“The resurgence of anti-Semitism is most noticeable in (though it’s by no means confined to) parts of the liberal-left; that is, among people who would otherwise be expected to be very alert, and very hostile, to any form of racism. And it’s hard to know how to combat this, since a largely successful campaign has been mounted to defuse the charge of anti-Semitism by way of the Livingstone Formulation – the all-purpose response which claims that charges of anti-Semitism are all really attempts to distract people from the crimes of Israel (or possibly the insidious influence of the Jewish Lobby). This, too, is a traditional anti-Semitic trope – Jews, it is said, whine about their ill-treatment in order to escape censure for their misdeeds. Furthermore, there are also people on the left who refrain from deploying the worst anti-Semitic tropes themselves, but who nonetheless belittle, and deride as exaggerated, Jewish concern about anti-Semitism, thereby strengthening the position of those whose hostility is more overt. It is not surprising that some people who have spent a great deal of energy trying to fight anti-Semitism from the left over the last few years begin to feel that their efforts have been largely pointless, since their adversaries don’t actually care about the arguments, or even about the facts: the gratifications of believing in (supposed) Jewish conspiracies and bloodthirstiness and duplicity are too great to yield to reasoned argument or empirical evidence.If anti-Semitism is really on the march again, then this is a seriously worrying development. Already Jews are beginning to feel that the environment in which they live has become more hostile and alien (and hence of course more alienating). Many of us used to think that the terrible precedent of the Nazi genocide would itself prevent any recurrence of Jew-hatred, since the contemplation of what anti-Semitism had led to was and is so appalling. But if in spite of that history Jew-hatred is once more on the rise, then we simply can’t tell whether people will continue to see, or even care about, where it might lead. There are parts of the left which do not have a good track record of seeing, or caring about, crimes against humanity when it’s politically inconvenient to do so. (It goes without saying that there are also parts of the right which suffer from a similar selective blindness.)”
I agree with her that the behaviour of the onlookers is profoundly worrying.
After describing current circumstances, Eve proceeds to consider a number of possible responses for those concerned about these developments.
“There is, however, one further strategy which can be canvassed. We should bear in mind that Jews are not friendless, even on the left, and we should try to build on that. There is a distinct section of the liberal-left which sees what is happening, and doesn’t like it – within the blogosphere, and beyond that domain as well. Some of these people are heroes, who have themselves been the object of hostility and condemnation for the stance which they’ve adopted. They don’t think that Jews should be singled out for special obloquy for supporting the Jewish state, nor do they see Jews as exercising sinister powers in expressing that support. The anti-racism of these people doesn’t make an exception for anti-Semitism; they and their views form the basis for a genuinely universal struggle against discrimination uninfected by the traditional prejudices which are once again crawling out of the shadows. One strategy for Jews is to work with these figures and others like them to revive a universal anti-racism, alongside support for other universal rights and values, as well as more particular ones appropriate for individual situations and commitments.”