Friday, October 23, 2009

HuffPoWatch Begins: Defining Anti-Semitism

Before we can began shining a light on the blatant anti-Semitism running through the Huffington Post’s Talkback sections, we first need to define what it is. This can get into a very specific kind of discussion, involving precise definitions, so just be warned. It is possible that some of the talkbackers on the Huffington Post are not aware of all the forms of anti-Semitism. But the mods, who must approve every post in most threads, should be aware. There are other forms of anti-Semitism beyond the obvious. The goal of this blog is to record and report the anti-Semitism that arises out of the Huffington Post every day.

Most of us think we can tell anti-Semitism right when we see it. Mel Gibson’s rant, for example. But there are other forms that the layman may less familiar with. As others in the past have noted, anti-Semitism hasn’t really died, it’s just changed to become more “acceptable” in everyday discussion.

Let’s start with the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism.
The most common anti-Semitic comments are those that fit the EU’s definition in regards to the State of Israel. Here are some excerpts that deserve special attention, because it is the most common forms that we see on the Huffington Post talkbacks:

“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”
-Here is one example of this form of antisemitism by the user “DC,” though it was later deleted by the mods:

“Do not forget that Israel is part of the USA. Like an arm and a leg. Duel citizens in both armies, both governments. Accept it.”

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor”
-Here are two examples of that form of anti-Semitism, though both were later deleted:

"Israel is an inherently racist and undemocratic state..."

“It's Israel that is a terrorist, racist, elitist rogue state. Time to pull the plug on Zionism, and to expose false Ashkenazi "Jews" as being the true anti-semites and Nazis. Germany may have lost the war, but clearly Nazism (Zionism) has not been eliminated yet.” (This user was later banned)

“Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

There are perhaps too many examples of this to mention, but here is one from user “Heidi Kerr” in a recent HuffPo thread:

“The Palestinian Leadership is trying to protect its people, just like 60 years ago you tried to protect yours. You shelter yourselves under excuses of abuse and mass murder, you should know better”

The poster here is saying that the Palestinians are justified in making violence against Israel because they are “defending themselves,” but when Israel fights back, it’s only because they are making excuses that have no basis in reality. The implication is that the Palestinians can use violence to defend their people, but Israel can’t use violence to defend theirs. That’s a double standard: Both groups of people are allowed to use violence to protect their people.

“Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”

-I’m willing to give some HuffPosters the benefit of the doubt that they may not know that what they say is anti-Semitism (as laypeople are not always familiar with the intricacies of classic libels against Jews), but I do expect the mods to know. An example of this classic anti-Semitism transposed into the modern era can be found here, from user “Lefty83”

“Israel killed all the Palestinain [sic] children, or at least are on their way.”

This recalls the Medieval-era blood libel against Jews. At first it was merely that Jews killed the children of non-Jews for religious ritual, since then it has been changed into “Jews kill the children of non-Jews for no good reason, because that’s what Jews do.” This comment is saying that Israel kills children for no reason, because that’s what Israel does.

Another example from the user “Ithamer:"

“In 1947 99% of the World saw the Jews as victims and supported them completely, In 2009 99% of the World see them as the root cause of the middle east wars and reject them completely, why can't they ever learn.”

Accusing “the Jews” of being responsible for wars is not only contained in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but has been repeated in many other circles of anti-Semitism (see the Mel Gibson link, above). It is possible that the user meant to say “Israel,” but even accusing Israel of being the root cause of wars is slanderous, as there are many wars in the Middle East that have nothing to do with Israel.

You can also reference the DC quote above, as well as other posts that contain claims that Israel "owns" America. For example:

"Your first sentence is a joke. Israelis don't have to run around the world they can order it to happen through the US pentagon." (grn1)

This a reference to the classic anti-Semitic myth (contained in the Protocols) of a secret group of Jews running the governments of the world, most notably America. Since then it has taken on popularity with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and was even referenced in the movie "American History X." Wikipedia has a pretty extensive article about it. Nice to see the HuffPosters are in such good company.

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

-Probably the most common example of anti-Semitism that we see on the Huffington Post. You almost can’t have a major thread about Israel without it coming up at least once. Here are some examples. Though they were all (with one exception) eventually deleted, they still made it through the censors and remained on the thread for hours:

“Palestinian kids don't need to be taught it [the Holocaust]; they're living it. There's a really good reason why IDF officers planning the Israeli 2002 attack on the Jenin Refugee camp closely studied the tactics used in the Waffen SS assault on the Warsaw Ghetto, and that's because the conditions were so similar. Apart from the actual death camps, which Israel has never come close to replicating, life in the Israeli-occupied west bank and nazi-occupied Warsaw are very similar.

"Palestinians don't have to wear yellow stars, but they do have to have distinctive license plates on their cars, and to stay off the 'Israelis only' roads and highways.

"Yes, it's rude to refuse to teach the Holocaust to Palestinian children, but considering the conditions they're living under, Israel's demand that they do so adds insult to the injury of living under occupation. Even for the nation that invented chutzpah.”

(This comment continues to remain more than a week after being posted)

“The "master race" will never willingly pollute its sacred blood!”

“Its known as Jewish superiority, just like their German Nazi teachers. Repeat the Bull##t often enough especially to the mental midgits in the U.S. and it will become fact.”

“Israel is treating the Palestinians no differently than the Nazis treated them! The only thing that the Israeli government has not done is put the Palestinians in concentration camps!”

There are many other examples, and many other parts of the definition that will be discussed in future HuffPoWatch threads, but this covered the most common forms that we see. Of course, there are straight up insults and targeted attacks on Jews in general and particular Israel and their “Zionist” supporters. We will cover them all in subsequent posts.


  1. Something which I posted recently on Huffington Post, that may be relevant here...

    Because Israel is a Jewish state, the motivations of those who criticize "Israeli policies" are open to debate in ways that criticism of other states' policies are not. There is no deep-seeded global prejudice in Christianity and Islam against Buddhism, for example; but the Christian world is deeply tainted by the medieval church's assurance that "Jews killed Christ," while the Islamic world is deeply tainted by Muhammad's anger at the Jews who rejected his message and thereby (in the Islamic view) refused the truth and divided monotheism.

    What this means is that there is a special burden on those who criticize Israel to do so carefully and clearly, to explain in painstaking detail that their quarrel is with the "policies" of a legitimate Jewish nation, not with its existence, and not with the Jewish people itself, or with their existence.

    The lack of this clarity (it is often unclear here [on Huffington Post] whether an individual is opposing "Israeli policy" or whether they want Israel "wiped off the map", and this lack of clarity often seems deliberate) contributes heat without contributing any light on these issues.

  2. “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”"

    This is really the only legitimate criteria you list. The others are all thinly-veiled ways of trying to delegitimize criticism of Israel's ethnic cleansing.

  3. Adam,

    We didn't write the definition, the European Union did. You may want to consider taking your complaints up with them.

  4. "We didn't write the definition, the European Union did. You may want to consider taking your complaints up with them."

    The EU also endorsed Goldstone. I assume you are also okay with that.

  5. Tom, you have set up a classic false dichotomy. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but he also owned slaves. MLK made great progress in civil rights, but he also cheated on his wife. You can agree with a person or organization on one thing and disagree with them about something else.

  6. Matt and Zach,

    thank you for the excellent work that you are doing here. As someone who was a long time participant on Daily Kos I can tell you that we see much the same type of material that you are documenting viz-a-viz the HuffPost.

    One of my consistent messages to the dKos crowd (a message that consistently got me into hot water with them) is that if anti-Zionism and Israel hatred moves from the fringes of the left to the center than we will see Jews leaving the progressive movement and the Democratic party.

    I wonder if that is happening, yet? I know it has for me.

    In any case, keep up the good work.

  7. June 2010 One of the largest protests ever to take place in Jerusalem was about the white skinned Ashkenazi Jews of eastern European decent were upset that their daughters would have to attend school with Sephardic Jewish girls (dark skinned)of mid east and north African decent.The protest involved over 100000 white Jews in down town Jerusalem.Are the Ashenazi Jews Anti-Semitic or racist? and one last question why did the Ashkenazi Jews move to Israel if they dont like blacks.

  8. Aside from the historical fact that the vast majority of jews today are not Semites makes your attempt to smear Israel haters as anti semetic is just wrong but since you're talking about the Huffington Post we'll let that ride because the truth has little support from there.

    And it's so hard to seperate Judiasm and Zionism, a self created and manipulative move that you have little room to complain. Of course Israel's policies today resemble those of the Nazis but since you're immune to honesty I'll use quotes of the Zionists you celebrate as 'good honest victims'.

    David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister): "If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?" Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.

    "We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves." Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983.

    "Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it." - Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio. (Certainly the FBI's cover-up of the Israeli spy ring/phone tap scandal suggests that Mr. Sharon may not have been joking.)

    "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." Israel Koenig, "The Koenig Memorandum"

    "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don't grab will go to them." Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

    "It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism,colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of 14 July 1972.

    "One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail." -- Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 [Source: N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1]

    "We Jews, we are the destroyers and will remain the destroyers. Nothing you can do will meet our demands and needs. We will forever destroy because we want a world of our own." (You Gentiles, by Jewish Author Maurice Samuels, p. 155).

    Pile the attitude with the words and actions, particularly acts of war against your benefactor and co criminal [the peoples republic of the U.S.] and worldwide terror campaigns [murder all the moderates and then claim "there's nobody to talk too!"] is typical victimhood users crap]. Israel should just come out and tell it like it is. All the stupid fools, HP readers a prime example, would probably still line up and consent to giving 8 million dollars a day to, didn't some french guy call it "that shitty little country"? Spot on that one. And naturally an anti-semite. Tis odd but Israeli Zionists are the biggest anti-semites on the planet. And violent supressors of anti Israel Jews in Israel.

    When is the next false flag attack on the U.S.? You should write about that instead of the stupid Huffington Post.