General Antisemitism

On Mondoweiss, “progressive” Jewish enemies of Israel, and use of the Israel-Nazi analogy


This is a revised version of an essay which I had published by Elder of Ziyon.  The post was specifically about the anti-Zionist Jewish blog, Mondoweiss – and anti-Semitic tropes the site often engages in, such as the Israel = Nazi Germany narrative.  But as such accusations are leveled by Jewish writers and bloggers other than Phillip Weiss’s site, I wanted to expand on my original discourse.  I’m speaking of CiF contributors Tony Greenstein and Slavoj Zizek, as well as Richard Silverstein (of the Orwellian named blog, Tikkun Olam), Norman Finkelstein, UK Jewish MK Gerald Kaufman, and others.  It is worth noting that such grotesque analogies – between the Jewish state (the only free and democratic state in the Middle East), and the fascist Nazi regime which murdered one out of every three Jews in the Holocaust – are leveled by non-Jewish writers at the Guardian, and expressed in CiF’s reader comment section.

Nazi anti-Semitic caricatures during and preceding the Holocaust often portrayed Jews as an octopus-like creature, or some other beast – a category of anti-Semitism known as Zoomorphism. Such depictions would appear in official Nazi publications such as Der Sturmer. These cartoons would sometimes include images of a Jewish beast wrapping its tentacles around the world, representing the malicious control they were purported to exert on international affairs – consistent with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories codified in, among other sources, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Here is one such Nazi cartoon, circa 1938–An octopus with a Star of David over its head has its tentacles encompass the world.

Nazi, Soviet, and, more recently, Arab anti-Semitic caricatures often portray Jews as spiders, cockroaches, and Octopuses – dehumanizing Jews by turning them into animals that are destructive, inhuman and evil. The cartoon below, by the notorious anti-Zionist cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, was posted on the “progressive” Jewish anti-Zionist blog, Mondoweiss recently – by a frequent Mondoweiss blogger named Seham – in reference to the Gaza flotilla incident. (Here’s the link. Scroll to bottom to see cartoon link)

This ugly caricature of the Jewish state manages to both employ Nazi-like anti-Semitic imagery of a beastly and monstrous Jewish collective while simultaneously asserting that the Jewish state has become the new Nazi Germany. (Note the Jewish Magen David on the Israeli flag is morphed into a swastika) Such insidious depictions of Israel and Israelis are mostly seen on extremist websites, and is a phenomenon known as Holocaust inversion, or Abuse of Holocaust Memory.

No matter how often such charges are leveled against Israel, I’ll never grow numb to the obscenity of such an odious narrative.  Being asked to defend Israel from charges of Nazi-like behavior is not dissimilar from asking the United States to refute charges, by Iran, that’s its the “Great Satan”.  As its not an intellectually or morally serious charge, engaging in a rhetorical defense dignifies what amounts to nothing more than an incendiary and hateful invective – one which is clearly employed in the service of morally delegitimizing the accused.

Indeed, narratives which characterize the Jewish state as morally equivalent to Nazi Germany have been codified as anti-Semitic by both the European Union and the U.S. State Department.
And, as Manfred Gerstenfeld noted:

“The core motif of classic anti-Semitism was that Jews embody the most extreme malevolence. During the post-war era, the Nazi regime has become the paradigm for absolute evil. Comparing Israel’s conduct to its actions is a new mutation of this ancient theme.” As historian Robert Wistrich has observed, “Anti-Zionists who insist on comparing Zionism and the Jews with Hitler and the Third Reich appear unmistakably to be de facto anti-Semites, even if they vehemently deny the fact! This is largely because they knowingly exploit the reality that Nazism in the post-war world has become the defining metaphor of absolute evil. For, if Zionists are “Nazis” and if Sharon really is Hitler, then it becomes a moral [indeed, “progressive”] obligation to wage war against Israel.”
That such a cartoon would appear on the pages of Mondoweiss, funded by The Nation Institute, is, sadly, not particularly surprising to anyone familiar with the blog. Mondoweiss is an openly anti-Zionist Jewish blog and consistently advances, among other classical antisemitic tropes, the argument that Jews exercise too much power over U.S. policy and that Jewish “progressive” voices on the Middle East are censored by the organized Jewish community. The viciousness and hatred towards Israel, and the state’s Jewish supporters, can’t be overstated. The main blogger, Philip Weiss, has complained that the “suffering of Palestinians that has been perpetrated politically in large part by empowered American Jews who are all over the media and political establishment.” He has openly called for a quota on Jews who work in the media. Weiss refers to Zionism as an ideology of “apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”
Weiss, like fellow liberal, Glenn Greenwald, demonstrating a bizarre left-right anti-Zionist alliance, also has contributed to Pat Buchanan’s paleo-conservative magazine, The American Conservative. Weiss’s alliance with Pat Buchanan seems quite consistent with the blogger’s frequent tropes suggesting the existence of an organized Jewish community so powerful as to render the U.S. President impotent to confront its mendacity. In one post, Weiss complains that the U.S. President’s desire to oppose Israel “colonization” has been “nullified politically because of the Jewish presence in the power structure.” He goes on to warn darkly that:

“[One fifth] of [the U.S. Senate] are Jews, even though Jews are just 2 percent of the population. Over half of the money given to the Democratic Party comes from Jews. Obama’s top two political advisers are Jewish, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. The news lately has been dominated by Obama’s aides Kenneth Feinberg and Larry Summers. And what does it mean that the Treasury Secretary gets off the phone with Obama to confer immediately with Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman and Jamie Dimon of Morgan (Dimon’s Jewish; Blankfein would seem to be)? As I have frequently said, the biggest money game in town on the Republican side is Sheldon Adelson, a Zionist Jew.”
Such a passage would suggest that the hideously anti-Semitic cartoon posted by Mondoweiss blogger, Seham, isn’t an anomaly. Weiss genuinely seems to see Jewish tentacles wrapped around the Obama Administration.

Weiss has even taken positions which seem to flirt with the political dynamic known as the Red-Green Alliance, as exemplified by British politician George Galloway. In one post Weiss openly expressed support for the terrorist group, Hezbollah. In addition to the group’s open and repeated call for the destruction of Israel, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has a long and well-documented record of engaging in extreme expressions of anti-Semitism. He has stated, “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” He also said, “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew.” A few days before the Lebanese elections in 2009, Weiss said, “I hope Hezbollah wins….Nobody else seems to care for the poor people in Southern Lebanon.”

While Mondoweiss doesn’t have a fraction of the traffic of some of the more popular progressive blogs – such as Daily Kos and MyDD – it simply can’t be dismissed as a marginal voice within the progressive blogosphere. Its creators and contributors have posted on the most widely read blog in the U.S., The Huffington Post. Also, the influential Talking Points Memo (the 12th most popular political website, via its TPMCafe site, now syndicates Mondoweiss’s posts. The Nation Magazine, which funds Mondoweiss, has been one of the standard bearers of American liberal Democratic thought for years, and is the 24th most popular political website overall.

One of the most inaccurate characterizations of Jews, like the bloggers at Mondoweiss, who routinely express contempt for their fellow Jews and the Jewish state (and who even employ Israel-Nazi analogies), is that they are “self-hating.” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The bloggers at Mondoweiss and their fellow political travellers see themselves as upholding Jewish ethical standards that have been abandoned by the vast majority of Jews in favor of what they would likely characterize as a crude and unenlightened desire to maintain the Jewish nation-state – an antiquated particularism which stands in opposition to what they see as their more “universal” moral values. (Of course, no other national particularism other than Zionism seems to offend Mondoweiss’s belief in universalism – certainly not Muslim particularism, represented most clearly by the 57 nations who are members of the Organization of Islamic Conference – that is, 57 self-described Islamic states.)
Philip Weiss is not a self-hating Jew. Rather, he is a moraliser who has described his anti-Zionism as consistent with the “great idealistic Jewish tradition.” As Anthony Julius has stated:

“Moralisers have a good conscience and is satisfied by his own self-righteousness. He is not a self-hater; he is enfolded in self-admiration. He is in step with the best opinion. He holds that the truth is to be arrived at by inverting the “us = good” and “other = bad” binarism. He finds virtue in opposing his own community.  It is not enough for him to disagree, or even refute; he must expose the worst bad faith, the most ignoble motives, the grossest crimes.”
The “Halo Effect” is a term generally defined as a cognitive bias whereby the perception of a person or group is influenced by the perception of another trait. Halo effects happen especially if the perceiver does not have enough information about all traits, so that he makes assumptions based on one or two prominent traits. This phenomenon has been used by Professor Gerald Steinberg to explain the tendency by many to blindly assume the benevolent intentions of NGOs – many of whom “appropriate [the moral] rhetoric of universal human rights to pursue highly particularistic, political and ideological goals, [and thus avoid] serious analysis and accountability.”
For genuine progressives, and committed anti-racists, the tendency to overlook the clear and unambiguous record of visceral hatred towards Jews and Israel (including use of the Nazi analogy) routinely expressed by certain Jewish writers due to their Jewish identity – as well as their veneer of tolerance and universalism – represents another manifestation of the power of the “Halo Effect.”  The failure of otherwise thoughtful and sober minds to closely re-examine this political façade represents an utterly appalling intellectual and moral abdication.

45 replies »

  1. What this article is missing is a link to e.g. that horrid second cartoon on the Mondoweiss website. Or did they take it down?

    Is Silverstein (for all his many faults) involved in this?

  2. He has openly called for a quota on Jews who work in the media.

    Again: you really need a link for such a serious claim.

  3. Pretz – Your Google broken?

    “Phillip Weiss Jewish media quota”

    You’re looking for the HuffPoo article in which Weiss first denies he’s seeking any such quota, and then in the very next sentence demands the very same.

    Phillip Weiss is a 21st century kapo.

    POINTER,
    R

  4. Adam, I think it’s a mistake to conflate “liberal” with anti-Zionist. You state, “Weiss, like fellow liberal, Glenn Greenwald,…” Many people who would label themselves as liberals are supportive of Israel, though not all. Leftists can also be supportive of Israel, but increasingly are more likely to be anti-Israel. Progressives are also increasingly more likely to be anti-Israel.

    I think of liberals, esp. American Jewish liberals, as being solidly Democratic in voting, and while perhaps critical of certain Israeli policies (settlements, increasing leverage of Haredim, who is a Jew, etc.), are fundamentally supportive of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Weiss, Greenwald, The Nation magazine, among others, can hardly be classified as “liberal.”

  5. “[One fifth] of [the U.S. Senate] are Jews, even though Jews are just 2 percent of the population”.

    I have no idea if the percentage of Jewish Senators is really 20%. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that it is.

    What this seems to say, if you stop to think about it, is that 98% of the population of the USA has a strong preference for Jewish legislators since the 2% are hardly in a position to elect Jews to the Senate in such numbers that they would comprise 20% of the Senate..

    The Senators do not elect themselves – no matter how much money, how strong a lobby, how whatever mysterious force Weiss might want to ascribe to this over-representation, if the 98% did not want Jews in the Senate, they would not be there. This is simply an example of what Wisse calls “finger-pointing” – attempting to ascribe some kind of collective guilt to these Senators when in fact it is the general population that put them there.

  6. Indeed Akus, it is the voters who elect those who happen to be Jewish who have the influence and not the 2% of Jewish voters.

    If there is a Jewish influence on affairs such as that pictured in the octopus cartoon then there must be some means of coordinating power to exert that influence. I’m surprised then that Weiss, Silverstein and Greenstein — a very colourfully-named group, incidentally– have not revealed how they were as Jews invited to be in on the coordination or how they detected and rejected such coordination among their family or acquaintance in order to display their virtue. Perhaps their bile against Israel originated in suspecting that others were invited to join and they themselves were not and brooding on their unpopularity and exclusion from the club brought on their ill-informed and malicious attacks on Israel.

    It might make a fascinating study.

    Perhaps if they read this they will let us know.

  7. I agree with malloy. Being ‘liberal” is, among other things, believing in individual and collective freedom from discrimintion with equal rights for all. According to the quotes ascribed to Weiss, he fails the test miserably. Using the term liberal to describe Weiss or those who have a veneer of so-called left-leaning political attitudes is sloppy.

  8. As far as the 20% figure goes: the problem is that we assume somebody who makes factually unsupportable claims about current Middle-East politics and 20th century European history cares a whit for statistical accuracy:

    Jews in the United States Senate:

    Barbara Boxer (D-California), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Charles Schumer (D-New York), Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)

    That’s thirteen Jewish Senators. There are one-hundred seats in the Senate. That means 13%. Glenn Greenwald is either a liar, or some form of dyscalculia.

    I also wish to voice my agreement with Abtalyon and Terry Malloy regarding the use of the word “liberal”. Neither Weiss nor Greenwald nor Silverstein are liberals. The Senators whose names I just listed are, for the most part, liberals, and supporters of Israel’s legitimacy. While a real liberal may have valid- reason to criticize particular policies of the Israeli government, or criticize a specific Israeli political party, a real liberal also grasps that Israel is the only state founded on liberal principles in the entire middle-east.

  9. Adam,

    “Nazi, Soviet, and, more recently, Arab anti-Semitic caricatures often portray Jews as spiders, cockroaches, and Octopuses – dehumanizing Jews by turning them into animals that are destructive, inhuman and evil.”

    I have only one problem with the above statement.

    none of the creatures you mention are distructive, generaly speaking.

    The only evil creatures we are aware of on this earth are human beings.

  10. The disease that spiders, cockroaches, and octopi elicit in humans is that while they are recognizably animals, they are so very radically different than humans– not even being chordates and thus, difficult to anthropomorphize in the manner that even a fox or an eagle can be.

  11. If Phillip Weiss believes that there should be a quota on Jews who work in the media he should start by shutting himself and his fellow travelers down. Lead by example, put up or shut up.

  12. Jane, I think that his position is that “there should be a quota on Jews in the media who disagree with me.” He’s very subtle, that Philip Weiss.

  13. Abtalyon, Ian

    Come, now. Poll after poll shows the western centre-right (“conservatives”) far more supportive of the Jewish state than the centre-left (“liberals”).

    The phenomenon is starkly noticeable in political leaders, in print newspapers, in blogs, in the intelligentsia, and in the commentariat.

  14. “I’m surprised then that Weiss, Silverstein and Greenstein — a very colourfully-named group, incidentally– have not revealed how they were as Jews invited to be in on the coordination or how they detected and rejected such coordination among their family or acquaintance in order to display their virtue.”

    Maybe there is a sub-conspiracy within the Elders to keep “colourful” Jews out of the planning meetings.

    I’ll ask them at the next meeting, which is November 23.

    ;-}

  15. SR: the point that Abtaylon and I are making that while there are individuals who are labeled as or self-identify as “liberals”– there is also a political philosophy called “liberalism” and that the attacks on Israel from left-wing sources are ideologically anything but liberal.

    For instance, my understanding of liberal philosophy means that there is an imperative to support Israel’s right to exist unmolested. Using the definition of “liberal” that Abtaylon provides, it seems to me that there would be the added imperative of being strongly opposed to Israel’s enemies.

    The point is that you are using the words “liberal” and “supportive” vaguely. Am I less supportive if I don’t like a particular high-profile government official, or if I think a particular policy is misguided? After all, “more” and “less” are qualitative.

  16. pretzelberg

    Again: you really need a link for such a serious claim.
    ————————————————————————————

    You are so quick to hop up and down asking for links to be provided yet you, insist on spreading fallacies with regularity…..ahhhh that’s why you ask for links of others.

    I mean you continue to insist that what is today Jordan was never part of the Plaestine Mandate.

  17. What cifwatch says: “He has openly called for a quota on Jews who work in the media.”

    What Weiss said: “Do I think that Jews should be denied power? No! Do I think that there should be quotas on Jewish inclusion in elite institutions? No! Well: I would like Jewish participation in mainstream media roundtables on the Middle East held to 50 percent or lower. That is my quota.”

    He wants 50% or fewer participants in roundtable discussions to be Jewish, as he says in plain English. We can argue about whether that’s anti-semitic, but he clearly didn’t call for a quota on Jews working in the media.

    But what the hey. When Israel’s image is at stake little things like quoting someone correctly don’t really matter.

  18. Ian, you completely ignored my point by descending into the miasma of definitions and theory.

    Every poll of the issue in every western country shows the centre-right far more strongly in favour of Israel’s existence, Israel’s right to self-defense, Israel’s legitimacy, and Israel’s right to make its own decisions on behalf of its own citizens, without imperialist intimidation by foreigners.

    It would hardly be exaggerating to say that today it is the left (and its de facto alliance with Islam) which is the major threat to Jewish survival, not the right.

  19. Andrew, do you mean to claim that participants in such roundtable discussions don’t work in the media?

    Or that Weiss wasn’t calling for quotas?

    May I borrow the microscope you use to split hairs?

  20. Andrew r. I understand that you are in favour of counting the number of Jews who should be allowed to take part in an enterprise. Are you in favour of doing the same for Muzlims, for Americans, for blondes, for tall people, for those who lisp?

    Or is it just for Jews?

  21. peter1

    … you, insist on spreading fallacies with regularity… you continue to insist that what is today Jordan was never part of the Plaestine Mandate.

    Ridiculous.

    Why do you make up lies about me?

  22. ‘what is today Jordan was never part of the Plaestine Mandate’

    Technically I do not think it was. It was part of original British ruled Palestine, so designated. But it was lopped off in 1921 before the Mandate began in 1922.

  23. “Why do you make up lies about me?”

    Same old Pretzel. Takes a stand designed to screw the Jewish people, then denies he took the stand.

    It’s hard to tell whether the fellow is simly dishonest, or paranoid, or both.

  24. Andrew wrote: “He wants 50% or fewer participants in roundtable discussions to be Jewish, as he says in plain English. We can argue about whether that’s anti-semitic.”

    Now, we can’t. Only those with the morals of a Goebbels would fail to recognize Weiss’s proposition as virulently anti-Semitic.

  25. Goebbels would have banned Jews from the media altogether. Weiss wants Palestinians to have equal time discussing the mideast. He may have used a bad rhetorical device (Meaning, he gave elbow room to the armchair lynch mob) but 50% can’t be taken seriously as a quota.

  26. Only a neo-Nazi liike Weiss or Andrew would not understand that “There are too many Jews” is the moral equivalent of “Blacks are sub-human.”

    Given the Palestnian dedication to eradicating the Jewish state (and ethncally cleansing the Mideast of Jews), Weiss (and his poodle Andrew) have just called for “equal time” in the media for Jewish leaders and Nazi leaders.

    The only wonder is that Jews do not ostracise coprophages like Weiss.

  27. Right, every Palestinian is born a Nazi. Thing is, no one even says that about Germans circa 1933-45. And if every Palestinian is a Nazi, exterminating them is a moral task. So who’s calling who subhuman here?

  28. Andrew now must resort to straw men to hide his neo-Nazi anti-Semitism.

    It is quite simply evil to profess neutrality between the victim and the victmiser.

    The Arab world, including the Palestnians, have for 1,400 years treated the Jews as subhuman, to be suppressed, if not converted and ethnically cleansed from Arab lands.

    So long as the major institutions of the Arab world refuse acknowledgment of, remorse for, and obligation to recompense those 1,400 years, they are deserving of no civilised platform — not on the basis of race or religion, but on the basis of justice for Jews.

    Now, Andrew, go back to Stormfront.

  29. andrew r:

    Perhaps I could have worded the passage in question a bit better, but nothing changes the fact that Weiss is arguing that the number of Jews in the media should be limited. Fine, he was talking about media commentary on the Middle East, but, just to be clear: his suggestion doesn’t offend you? If that’s not anti-Semitism then the word has absolutely no meaning.

  30. So there’s the entire Arab world and white supremacists on one side against Jews and the rest of the world on the other. If you insist on treating the USA and Europe as separate civilizations from the Arab world (In the past 1400 years, Europe and the MENA overlapped more often than not), I am very confident a detailed comparison of the bloodshed in Europe and the mideast is going to find Europe a much bloodier place. So anytime a westerner pretends to be the arbiter of civilization, it rings pretty hollow.

    And I love how Nazis and Arabs are equated with each other because of course that’s what WWII was, the Nazis and the Arabs against the whole world.

  31. pretzelberg

    peter1

    … you, insist on spreading fallacies with regularity… you continue to insist that what is today Jordan was never part of the Plaestine Mandate.

    Ridiculous.

    Why do you make up lies about me?

    Lies?
    Hardly, you have stated the position repeatedly over at CiF.
    You refused to acknowledge any of the proofs supplied to you including ironically the electronic intifada.

    Then again so much of your postings are merely trolling, it isn’t surprising that you don’t know what you believe and what you just spout.

  32. Andrew, you’re stuck in a rut. Nobody here said the Arabs Nazis (though I think it likely you’re a neo-Nazi).

    What has been said, repeatedly, is that
    – limiting Jewish speech on grounds of their identity, is gross anti-Semitism
    – so long as the Palestinians insist upon non-recognition of Israel, their stance is a racist one which deserves no representation.

    Your argument and Weiss’, however, seems to be that (for example) US panels discussing race should limit the number of blacks present, and should be required to give 50% representation to the Ku Klux Klan.

  33. GZ, you err. Andrew has it right. Proportionality should always be respected.

    For example, Jordan has about 6.5m of population and about 90k sq km. Israel has 7.4m of population and about 22k sq km.

    Following andrew’s example, Israel should immediately be given possession of about 40% of Jordan.

  34. peter1

    Hardly, you have stated the position repeatedly over at CiF.

    Why do claim this when you know it’s complete BS?

    Of course Trans-Jordan was part of Mandate Palestine!

    Why the lies, peter1?

  35. Its nice to see that you have finally come around pretzelberg and recognize that the Palestine Mandate included what is today known as Jordan.

    This is an admirable leap from the positions that you have consistantly taken at CiF, where you steadily deny that a large part of plaestine was lopped off to form Jordan.

  36. peter1

    Its nice to see that you have finally come around pretzelberg and recognize that the Palestine Mandate included what is today known as Jordan.

    Why do you repeat the lies??? You know you’re talking complete piffle.

    Toko LeMoko

    Same old Pretzel. Takes a stand designed to screw the Jewish people, then denies he took the stand.

    Same old Toko – full of hate and deceit.

    Can we not have these trolls removed?

  37. Can we not have these trolls removed?-pretzelberg

    Wow you have some kind of fucking nerve!!!

    You are the epitome of a troll at CiF and over here.

    You never have anything to say that comes close to an opinion or some kind of factual information.
    You think that rising and calling for “links” “sources” constitutes some kind of contribution.

    For some reason the powers that be over here consider it useful to allow a putz like you to display your total lack of knowledge with such zest and zeal as you daily come up with your “aha” moment.

    Unfortunately, you never will understand that its the spoon.