Thursday, May 9, 2013

Shai Franklin Teaches Us How to Hate

Huffington Post blogger Shai Franklin is there to discuss pretty much only Jewish-related topics, because I guess the Huffington Post can't get enough of them. Sometimes he's had some pretty questionable ideas, like saying that Israel should help the Syrian refugees, which led to generic anti-Israel hate speech. However, his latest article has a lot of questionable statements in it, coming right from the title: "Israel's Overused Anti-Semitism Card." Naturally this is music to the Huffington Post readership's ears, and what's annoying is that I think a discussion could be had about whether Israel and its supporters overuse the accusation of "anti-Semitism" but Franklin doesn't seem to be too concerned about that. In order to work at the Huffington Post you must believe the Great Anti-Zionist Strawman that Israelis and their supporters are constantly accusing their critics of anti-Semitism even if there is no actual evidence that they are.

So let's get into Franklin's article, and right from the beginning he is running into problems:
"Barely a day goes by without someone being branded "anti-Semitic" or "borderline" anti-Semitic for criticizing or condemning Israel or its supporters -- as Chuck Hagel learned when he was nominated for Secretary of Defense."
Chuck Hagel is possibly the worst example Franklin could find to start off his article. Hagel was accused of anti-Semitism not because he criticized Israel but because he said what people viewed as anti-Semitic things.
“Chuck Hagel said the Haifa port is costing the U.S. too much [and] that if the Jews wanted one, the Jews should do the fundraising,” an unnamed supporter of the outpost told the Washington Free Beacon.“The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” on Capitol Hill, Hagel told Aaron David Miller in 2008. “I’m a United States senator,” Hagel declared in 2008. “I’m not an Israeli senator.”
Now, do you believe that Hagel is an anti-Semite? Do you believe that these quotations indicate a prejudice against Jewish people? Either way, they certainly aren't criticisms of Israel.

Franklin is being extremely lazy with this example, probably because it's the only prominent example he could actually find and needs to back up his thesis. So he turns it into a logical fallacy of causation:

  • Chuck Hagel criticizes Israel.
  • Chuck Hagel is accused of anti-Semitism
  • Therefore Chuck Hagel must have been accused of anti-Semitism because he criticized Israel.
The possibility that Hagel might have been accused of anti-Semitism because of statements he made about the "Jewish lobby" and not Israel does not appear to have crossed Franklin's mind. Clearly it didn't cross the minds of those who lined up in defense of Hagel either.

Let's move on, because Franklin's main point is that he is going to find the difference between "legitimate criticism" of Israel and anti-Semitism. But not before making some things up:
"On the political level, especially on Capitol Hill and college campuses, crying "anti-Semitism" can gain instant, if short-lived, tactical advantage by marginalizing Israel's critics and stifling unpleasant debates. Sadly, some of the people who'd be interested in real answers get turned away and turned off."
I have a challenge for you, Shai Franklin. I would like you to find me an example Israel's supporters 'crying anti-Semitism' to someone who is actually a critic of Israel and not a propagandist or a hater. It just does not happen. Now you can't use Hagel either because I just proved that he actually did say things that crossed the line passed criticism of Israel. So if it happens so often then find me an example and not from some blogger in his basement or a college student on Facebook. Legitimate, actual people who call mere critics of Israel "anti-Semites." I am not expecting a response.

After this he moves to the UN and messes up again:
"At the United Nations, diplomats routinely engage in hardball rhetoric and parliamentary tricks to gain advantage and penalize adversaries. It's the big league, it's not meant to be fair. As a small but staunch U.S. ally, Israel is an easy target, and would gain neither respect nor lasting advantage by throwing down the "anti-Semitism" card every time it got bumped or singled out."
Do me a favor and click on Franklin's link. If you do, you will find that it was a statement by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. Who the last time I checked is not an Israeli nor does she speak for Israel. And all she says is that some of the regimes in the UN are anti-Semitic. Which is true, and not a "card" and does not describe anyone's actions. Franklin needs to double check his links before he throws them down.

Anyway, the most offensive part of Franklin's article is when he goes down a list of common accusations made by anti-Semites against Israel and explains how to spin them so that they don't look anti-Semitic. Isn't that nice of him? After making it clear that he doesn't agree with what he calls "legitimate criticism" he posts about ten of them. Of course I still took issue with a couple, and since I have no intention of reproducing them all let me show you some examples:
"Anti-Semitic: The Palestinians are victims of a Holocaust.Legitimate: As a people subjected to centuries of persecution, Jews should be more sensitive to the plight of others."
Sorry Shai, your "legitimate" criticism of offensive as well. Why? Because it is very clearly still about Jewish people and not the actions of the State of Israel (which is not all Jews). Secondly, as Chas Newkey-Burden explains here, holding Jews to a higher standard because of their history is actually a double standard, and a bigoted one at that. No one would say things like "well black people were enslaved so they know what racism is like, so they should be nicer to white people." White people should be the ones feeling guilty about their treatment of black people and change their behavior. Ditto with non-Jews.

Furthermore, Israel is not persecuting the Arabs and certainly not because the Arabs are not Jews. They are defending themselves from those who try to kill them. Who is the one who always plays the race card again? Next up:
"Anti-Semitic: Zionism is Racism.Legitimate: Granting automatic citizenship to Jewish immigrants while denying Palestinians the right to return to their birthplace is hypocritical."
My problem with this is two-fold, though the first kind of expands to all of his "anti-Semitic" examples. Franklin does not explain why saying that Zionism is racism is anti-Semitic. We all know that denying Jewish self-determination means that Jewish people don't have the same rights as everyone else, but a "critic" of Isreal's "policies" might not?

Secondly, his legitimate criticism is based on a false premise, I'm not sure if he's aware of that. Israel doesn't grant citizenship to anyone automatically and even if you are a Jew you might still get shown the door. Let's do one last example:
"Anti-Semitic: All Israeli Jews are legitimate targets.Legitimate: Israel doesn't seem to care if Palestinian civilians get hurt."
Here my criticism goes in the opposite direction: saying all Israeli Jews are legitimate targets is not offensive. How could it be? It's certainly kind of psychotic and hateful but not anti-Semitic specifically.

I think Franklin needed to take this one to the editor before he posted it. Or maybe he should rethink the whole premise. My challenge to him still stands, by the way.

1 comment:

  1. Why even bother to de-legitimize term, when so many on the far left,especially on Huffpo in so far as I've read, are already playing Orwellian word games by pretending that Anti-Semitism covers all Middle Eastern peoples. As if having to put up with constant cries of Islamaphobia wasn't enough of a bludgeon for them, they now try to co-op this?


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