Jennifer Blowdryer and Alvin Orloff
It’s unhip because the hip people from the Left – avant garde’s traditional partner in subversion – are scapegoating the Jews. Although sometimes beginning as justifiable opposition to certain Israeli policies, leftist anti-Zionism frequently slips into opposition of Israel’s right to exist, which then gets extended to Jews generally. If, as German socialist August Bebel once said, antisemitism is the socialism of fools, then the Left is now in serious danger of extreme foolishness. Legitimate criticism of Israel, on occasion, slides into Jewbaiting. Some examples:
- After the attacks of 9/11, literary relic Amira Baraka claimed that the Israelis were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center. This libel was not met with snorts of derisive laughter from his beatnik-era cohorts, but impassioned defenses of his inalienable right to self-expression and to be poet laureate of New Jersey. It was left to solid citizens and the state government to argue that racism was squaresville.
- Israel’s influence in American politics is also exaggerated to outlandish extents. Ralph Nader, for example, recently characterized Bush and the congress as “puppets” of Ariel Sharon. Why the largest and most powerful empire in the history of the world would take orders from the small, albeit feisty, nation of Israel would seem to pose quite a conundrum -- unless one believes in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or some watered-down contemporary alternative. When questioned, Nader claimed that he was only denouncing the influence of the American Israeli Political Action Committee, something commonly done in the pages of the New York Times. Nader’s statement was met with cheers from both his earnest progressive supporters and the neo-Nazis of the “National Stormfront.”
- Adbusters, a magazine popular amongst anti-capitalists, ran a list of prominent neo-conservatives with asterisks next to the names of the Jews. Why, oh why, the article asked, was it wrong to point out that the architects of the Bush administration’s Middle East policies were disproportionately Jewish? Of course, one might ask: Was there an accompanying list of anti-war leaders with asterisks next to the disproportionately high number of Jewish names? Nope.
- And recently, we walked into a bookstore in San Francisco and discovered a series of satiric anti-rightwing stickers (you know the ones, “Bush/Cheney, four more wars”) and found one that read “Palestinians out of Palestine, Jews for Genocide” implicating all Jews in a demonized Zionism. Of course it was supposed to be humorous overstatement. Ha, ha, ha. Unlike, say, witches or female to male transsexuals, Jews are now fair game in the uber-trendy Mission district. If these people are at the cutting edge of the culture, what is it that the culture is going to end up cutting?
In the future, this hipster antisemitism is only going to get worse. As the Middle East Crisis (or Middle East Culture, as one wag prefers to call it) gets bloodier and more apocalyptic, and memories of the Holocaust and general Jewish victimhood fade, those who instinctively side with the underdog will become less sympathetic, churning out worse and worse message stickers. How to respond?
Let them Eat Myth
Jennifer Blowdryer and Alvin Orloff
To Ohio and Back
Abba Kovner: The Warrior in Old Age
Men who Laughed
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From previous issues:
How can you be gay and Jewish?
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