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The Politics of Anti-Semitism Paperback – 11 Jan 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press; First Edition edition (11 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902593774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902593777
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 500,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Critics of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza have often been tarred with the epithet of anti-Semitism. In this series of 18 essays drawn from the print and online versions of the journal CounterPunch , writers such as journalist Robert Fisk and historian Norman Finklestein describe their own encounters with the phenomenon and dissect

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101 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Amigo Paulo on 7 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"There's no more explosive topic in American public life today than the issue of Israel, its treatment of the Palestinians and its influence on American politics. Yet the topic is one that is so hedged with anxiety, fury and fear that honest discussion is often impossible."
--Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair
There has been a concerted effort in the United States to block critical debate about what is happening in Israel-Palestine, and a pervasive last-ditch attempt to stifle criticism of Israel by smearing those who dare to raise their voices. This book is a collection of articles dealing with the means that the insidious slur of "anti-Semitism" has been used for political ends. The articles range from a philosophical examination of the term "anti-Semitism" to a survey of the topics that are not covered in US discourse because of self-censorship induced by fear, fear of being labeled an anti-Semite or fear of being targeted by pro-Israeli groups. The consequences of this are evident for all to see: an uncritical acceptance of interminable US wars, the generalized misery of the Palestinian people, bloated armaments budgets, and massive US resources siphoned off to Israel. To break the silence and allay fear over these topics requires critical appraisal of what anti-Semitism actually means and to tackle the taboo that it represents.
The philosopher Michael Neumann analyzes the term, discussing alternative definitions and examining the implications of these alternatives. Making the definition too broad cheapens the term, creating its own problems, while if the definition is too narrow, the accusation loses its political significance. Neumann points out: "... there is a choice to be made.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S Wood on 27 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've lost count of the amount of times I've been accused of being an anti-Semite when debating the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is the standard issue response so called "supporters" of Israel, no matter what, use against arguments and facts that are for them disturbing. There is some variety in how the abuse is delivered, ranging from it "pains me to say but my gut feeling is you are anti-Semitic" to the more frothy mouthed Zionists who accuse you of desiring a second holocaust, and wishing to drive every Israeli Jew into the Med without so much as a pair of water wings between them. The purpose is always the same: to head off legitimate criticism.

The charge of "anti-Semitism" relies on falsely conflating being Jewish with being Zionist in order to link the actions of Israel with a whole race and religion. Once that fallacious premise is accepted the illogical becomes "logical" (ie. legitimate criticism of the Israeli state becomes illegitimate criticism of Jewish people everywhere). That this tactic in actual fact devalues the horrors of centuries of real anti-Semitism including the monstrous, murderous barbarities of Nazi holocaust is of no concern, as long as the "supporters" of Israel can intimidate, marginalize, smear and defame those who are speaking in a rational and moral manner about the brutal realities of Israeli policies in annexed Golan and East Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, and blockaded Gaza. There is something morally repugnant about this abuse of past suffering of Jews in order to dismiss those who speak up about the current suffering of Palestinians.

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair has assembled this collection of 18 essays for the purpose of "lifting the embargo" on the discussion of the manner in which the casual charge of "Anti-Semitism" is used to deflect legitimate criticism of Israel in particular, and the Zionist enterprise in general. (Interestingly, my Microsoft spell checker indicates a misspelling unless I capitalize A-S). I've previously read some of the authors, such as Uri Avnery, Robert Fisk, Norman Finkelstein and Edward Said. Each has demonstrated strong moral character in addressing the immense wrongs that have been inflicted on the Palestinians by the State of Israeli, and its Jewish supporters, primarily in the United States. As for the other authors, it was a first-time experience. Overall the collection was nominally tied together by the title's theme, but the quality, perhaps of necessity, is variable. The collection was issued in 2003, as the neo-cons had finally achieved a cherished goal: using the 9-11 attacks as a pretext for invading Iraq.

The first essay is by Michael Neumann, who raises numerous "taboo" issues, including the most fundamental: Is Jewish identity fundamentally religious, racial, or a `cultural entity'? He addresses overall Jewish complicity in Israel's crimes against the Palestinians. In Cockburn's essay, I found an aside, concerning the application of moral standards, informative, and it had nothing to do with Israel. Billy Graham had apparently given his imprimatur to the killing of a million Vietnamese by bombing the dikes in northern Vietnam; for bombing the dikes in Holland in World War II, the German high commissioner in Holland, Seyss-Inquart, was sentenced to death at Nuremberg.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 41 reviews
187 of 242 people found the following review helpful
It is about time 7 April 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Excellent book that explores the differences between race based hatred of Jews and legitate criticism of Israel and Zionism. Half of the authors are Jewish, also known as "self hating Jews" to the Israel can do no wrong crowd who dismiss this book, and anyone who questions or criticizes Israel, as racist and anti-Semitic.
By refusing to differentiate between legitmate criticism of Israel's racist, apartheid policies (which are openly discussed in the mainstream Israeli press but not in the mainstream U.S. press)(...), these short sighted critics are giving a good name to anti-Semitism.
153 of 198 people found the following review helpful
Putting Things in Perspective 16 Dec. 2003
By Joanneva12a - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
18 various essays from astute writers explore the recent claim that Anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide. Without a doubt it is clear that most of the authors attribute the new claims of anti-Semitism in response to the heightened worldwide awareness and moral criticism of Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza, along with its special nation status the world's only superpower has bestowed upon it.
The essays are in no way meant to trivialize true anti-Semitism, and the book does not ignore that true anti-Semitism exists.The real thing is explored and deplored in this book, but the focus is on what should constitute true anti-Semitism with what is merely a convenient way to silence anyone who criticizes Israeli policy, thus threatening open debate and democracy.
This is not a book you will just breeze through. I had to read several of the essays multiple times because of the varying philosophical and moral perspectives offered. Some were better than others and made very sound arguments.
A Jewish professor of philosophy inflates the definition of anti-Semitism to include just about anything a philo-Semite could ever hope for, then through a brilliant moral narrative shows us that in doing so, only cheapens and trivializes the real thing.
A BBC journalist wants to know why a certain actor wants to kill him, and why numerous people who engage in factual journalism are suddenly the object of hate mail so vile it far exceeds any crime they are supposedly guilty of.
A SUNY upstate professor pulls the curtain away exposing the myth that the right-wing noise machine speaks for the majority of American Jews and writes that ever increasing Jewish organizations are forming to counter the vocal militant minority that manages to bully not only non-Jews, but moderate and left leaning Jews as well.
A Taayush member in Tel Aviv takes us into a refugee camp in Beit Jalla to remind us what all the fuss is about, lest we start believing that all this supposedly unwarranted and frivolous criticism for humanity's sake is after all true anti-Semitism.
One essay explores why philo-Semites are no better than anti-Semites, because they hold one group higher in esteem and value than the rest of humanity.
Perhaps the frivolous slur of anti-Semite aimed at legitimate moral criticism of Israeli policy, is no different than the unwarranted slur of "anti-American" or "unpatriotic" that are hurled at people in this country who either question, criticize, or oppose the morality or soundness of the current US administration's foreign policy. In either case, it is at worst, a blind nationalistic allegiance to a government - right or wrong... and at the very least a departure from thoughtful debate and a sad decline into two-dimensional thinking.
And finally, a former Israeli Knesset member points his finger squarely at the Sharon government calling it "a giant laboratory for growing the anti-Semitism virus" and claims, that with its crimes in the West Bank and Gaza, is the biggest generator of anti-Semitic feelings today, which implicates not only itself, but its entire Jewish population along with it.
78 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Useful stuff 1 Jun. 2005
By Chris - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book has some relatively brief instructive stuff about the history of anti-semitism, anti-semitism in Europe, the Israeli Disinvestment campaign and a moving article by Yigal Bronner about Palestinian suffering.

One of the longest essays is by Alexander Cockburn. The latter gentleman has been involved in plenty of combat over the years with Zionist intellectuals and their libels, from the Commentary crowd to the New Republic. He discusses an article about him in TNR by an individual named Frank Foer. Comrade Foer discussed Cockburn's recent discussion of various stories circulating around, including that of the Israel Spy Ring and the harassment of an Arab scientist by a Jewish scientist, Dr. Philip Zack. The latter has been suspected in the post 9-11 anthrax scare which he, the scientist, may have perpetrated in order to blame it on Arabs. Foer allowed that Cockburn didn't exactly endorse these stories but since there wasn't even any credibility to them, it proves Cockburn is an anti-Semite because he spread them. Foer claimed to have done a Lexus Nexus search about the allegations against Dr. Zack and found nothing. Cockburn notes that such a search actually reveals articles on the subject from the Hartford Courant, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Anthrax samples and other biological agents had gone missing, about the same time Zack was videotaped sneaking into the lab after hours. He and another scientist voluntarily left Fort Detrick after they constructed and sent a poem to the Arab Scientist, filled with racist stuff and a drawing of a camel with various sexual appendages on it. On the Israeli Spy ring, Foer implied that only the right wing libertarian site was spreading it, but in fact that story was covered in a four part series by Carl Cameron on FoxNews, also covered by Le Monde, and Jane's Defense Weekly. Cockburn makes an interesting point about the reaction to the 1989 revelations of Billy Graham's conversations with Richard Nixon. In one of them, the two men agree that Jews are bringing down the nation because they are producers of immoral tv shows and movies and incline towards the left. This sparked great outrage but in the same revelations Graham was quoted as arguing for the bombing of all the dikes in North Vietnam, which would completely obliterate the North Vietnamese economy and kill about a million. This advocacy of war crimes gained no outrage. Arthur Seys Inquart was hanged at Nuremburg for implementing such policies in Holland. Of course, Cockburn notes, the U.S. did such a thing during the Korean war, bombing dikes in order to flood rice fields in order to induce starvation.

Jeffery St. Clair writes about the U.S.S. Liberty attack by Israel, of June 8th 1967.. 34 U.S. sailors on that vessel were killed in the attack, and 170 plus wounded, many seriously. That attack was very notable in that Robert McNamara and his lieutenants blocked any plane from the U.S. sixth fleet from coming to defend the ship and it took about twelve or sixteen hours for any U.S. aid to come to the ship, some hours after a Soviet ship offered the crew assistance. James Ennes, one of the survivors in his 1980 memoir, pointed out the fact that the Israelis had jammed the ship's communication was classified as top secret by the initial Navy investigators-obviously the Israelis knew they were attacking an American vessel for one cannot jam the communications of someone of whose identity you are unaware. The initial Pentagon claim that it was all just an unfortunate accident but this caused some bureaucratic murming. The judge Advocate General of the navy and the navy's legal officer both reached the conclusion that Israel had purposely attacked the ship. The last two constructed a report about their conclusions but it was classified as were CIA, NSA, and other agency's reports that the attack had been ordered by Moshe Dayan. The co-leader of the Navy report that claimed it was all just an accident, admitted to the Navy Times in 2002, that he knew that the attack on the Liberty was intentional but that he had covered it up on orders from superiors. Ennes claims that the pilot of the first Israeli plane, Evan Toni, sent to attack the Liberty told him that he had recognized that the Liberty was an American vessel and had informed his superiors of this by radio. They had ordered him to go forward with the attack but he turned around and flew back to base where he was arrested for disobeying orders. Dayan had wanted to kill everyone on the ship and blame it on the Egyptians. Israel also probably didn't want the Liberty, an intelligence ship to discover its plans to break its cease fire and occupy Syria's Golan Heights. Also, in Al Arish on the Sinai Peninsula, the largest tower in which the Liberty was using to coordinate itself, Israel was in the process of executing about 1000 Egyptian and Palestinian POW's. The U.S. for its part already had a close alliance with Israel, and didn't want to offend them. Many powerful people wanted to remove the ban on arm sales to Israel and the Liberty affair was a nuisance. Since then the Pentagon has relentlessly persecuted the survivors of the attack and any effort to remember the victims has been smeared as anti-Semite.

Jeffery Blankfort has a rather clumsy essay where he tries to refute Noam Chomsky's thesis that the power of the Zionist lobby is greatly exaggerated. He implies that the U.S. would not support the oppression of the Palestinians if the Israeli lobby wasn't so vicious towards our politicians. He conveniently misses some of Chomsky's main evidence....He misses how Chomsky shows that both Labor and Likud support the subjugation of Palestinians while Israel controls the best part of the occupied territories. The only difference between them is tactics: Labor has the rational Allon Plan, where Jewish settlements take all the best land and maybe Palestinian population centers can elect their garbagemen; Likud despite its racist rhetoric thinks the same thing but has crazy schemes to build settlements in the most god forsaken places in the territories. The George H.W. Bush-Yitzhak Shamir combat of 1991 was simply about putting the boorish too blatant racist Shamir in his place. It was only about minor issues.. The labor party won the 1992 elections and put into effect the Allon Plan style Oslo accords-not dissimilar to the 1989 Shamir-Peres Plan that Bush supported.
70 of 94 people found the following review helpful
More then ever, a needed discussion of an important issue 20 Nov. 2003
By Hulka - Published on
Format: Paperback
Poor Howard Dean gets practically called an anti-semite by Joe Lieberman on National TV for daring to suggest America ought to have a 'even-handed' policy toward the Israel/Palestine conflict. And then he gets a nasty letter from Nancy Pelosi warning him NEVER to utter such a remark again. Such is the pathetic nature of the Democratic Party and the American Left.
This is in response to the review by the Jewish-American from New York City who claims he can support Israel without supporting the policies of Israel toward the Palestinans. Such whining hypocrisy is typicial of the double-speak that is really causing the problems.
Such attitudes carry over to the anti-war Left dominated disproportionately by ethnic (but not religious) Jewish "Left-overs". In this context, the 'war for oil' nonsense by the anti-war Left is merely another example of the political correctness of the Democratic Party/American Left (what's the difference?) that NO-ONE can criticise Israel under any circumstance.
In this time of Neo-Conservative control of the Republican Party that is leading us to war and disaster, the Left must break through the self delusion that support for Israel is different from support for Israel's policy of repression of the native people of the land now called "Israel".
Read this book and be armed to challenge the notion that a 'even-handed' policy toward the Israeli/Palestinan problem is 'anti-semitic'.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Honest, Varied, and a Must-Read 3 July 2007
By Beach Books and Music - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Finally an honest discussion about a controversial topic! Each chapter is written by a different contributor, and about half of the writers are Jewish - in fact, prominent Jews. There is so much misinformation and mudslinging regarding this word (anti-semiticism) that its refreshing to have some truth and reality come back to the debate. The problem is that there are essentially two kinds of people who say negative things about Israel - genuine crazy Jew-haters and normal, thoughtful people who care about injustice all over the world. Supporters of Israel, either through stupidity or more likely on purpose lump these two groups together as if they were one. If you speak up when Israel violates the Geneva Conventions, about 100 UN resolutions, agreements with the US on the use of cluster bombs, etc - it doesn't mean you hate all Jews. There is "right" and "wrong" no matter if the war criminal is Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other. And in the case of Israel, since its inception by terrorist thugs who killed British peacekeepers and Arab civilians, this has been going on for almost 60 years. Its actually in the interest of all Jews to stop this criminal behaviour by Israel because it casts a negative shadow on all Jews all over the world. When justice comes to Palestine, the world will be a better place for everyone - including Jews. The first step is to read this book, and get a balanced viewpoint.
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