Monday, June 8, 2009

Manufacturing antisemitism: the "loyalty" issue

We have already talked about American filmmaker Max Blumenthal, an expert in exposing Zionist gut feelings through his acid camera lens. In his most recent production, Max records Jews in Jerusalem making the most crudely racist remarks against American president Barack Obama, who has garnered the wrath of the Zionist world for simply placing the words "settlement" and "freeze" next to each other in a couple of speeches. (Man, one wonders what the reaction will be the day he really takes any concrete action against the settlements; targetted assassination comes to mind.)

The video got over 100,000 views in its first two days on the web, sending a chill up the Zionist spine. The Hasbara brigade swiftly took to the virtual street to explain that when a few Jews are filmed spewing hate it means nothing (unlike when, say, a few Palestinians are filmed celebrating 9/11), and that in any event they were drunk and, thus, their remarks meant nothing (unlike when, say, a drunk Mel Gibson made antisemitic remarks to a Jewish cop). Over at Harry's Place, that British marketplace for ideas (where, however, your trading license may be revoked any time), a commenter named Joshua went further:

OK, instead of observing the ramblings of a group of young people who are really quite drunk, let’s look at some real racism and on a continent where the vast majority of people (including the British) either directly collaborated in the Holocaust or deliberately turned a blind eye to it:

From an opinion survey conducted for the ADL which was published in February of 2009...

Joshua goes on to transcribe some of the survey's blood-curdling findings, among them:

In responding “probably true” to the statement, “Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country,” the 2009 survey found:

Austria – 47%, down from 54% in 2007
France – 38%, down from 39% in 2007
Germany – 53%, up from 51% in 2007
Hungary – 40%, down from 50% in 2007
Poland – 63%, up from 59% in 2007
Spain – 64%, up from 60% in 2007
The United Kingdom – 37%, down from 50% in 2007

The poll is available on the web under the title "ADL Survey in Seven European Countries Finds Anti-Semitic Attitudes Steady; 31 Percent Blame Jews for Financial Crisis."

Some of the attitudes described in the report are indeed antisemitic, although it's not a hatred of the same kind as, for instance, the one expressed by the 68% of Israeli Jews who don't want to live next to an Arab neighbor.

However, I'm still puzzled by the continued appearance of the "loyalty" question in these polls. Is believing that someone is more loyal to one country than to another in itself a form of hate? It might be if the belief were completely baseless. Is it in the case of, say, British Jews?

To analyze this we must first take into account that democratically-organized groups are usually judged by their elected leaders' actions. If the leaders say or do something nasty and their constituencies don't vote them out, then it is assumed that the rank-and-file members of the group basically agree with the leadership. This belief may be right or wrong, but it's clearly not racist.

Next, we must consider that loyalty is tested in conflict situations. When peace and harmony reign, the issue of loyalty is irrelevant. It's when some sort of friction arises that one can determine where loyalties lie.

In the case of Britain and Israel, there does exist a conflict of historical narratives that remains unresolved to this day. The Israelis claim that when the King David hotel was blown up in Jerusalem by Jewish terrorists in 1946 (killing 22 Britons, 47 Arabs and 15 Jews), the British were warned and they failed to evacuate the building. The British claim they never got any warning. There's no conclusive proof for either claim, but the burden of proof falls on the side making an assertion.

One would expect the Board of Deputies of British Jews (i.e., the organization that purports to represent the whole community) to take the stance that, since the claim is disputed, Britain must be given the benefit of the doubt. They're British, and they can't accept their country to be gratuitously blamed for over 90 deaths.

But the BoD has never issued such a declaration, even when clear provocations were staged by the Israelis. Thus, in 2006 the Menachem Begin Center organized a celebration of the King David bombing in Jerusalem, with the presence of current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. A plaque to be dedicated at the restored building was prepared for the occasion, with a text that included the inflammatory remark, “For reasons known only to the British, the hotel was not evacuated.” The BoD's reaction? A deafening silence. Their country was outrageously insulted by a think tank from another country with the endorsement a top politician and they said nothing! Mind-boggling. Unless, of course, you are more loyal to that other country.

Only after the British embassy in Israel protested was the text ammended and the incendiary wording removed.

True, the Sri Lankan community in the UK didn't protest, either. But they don't charge against British institutions each time they take some action deemed prejudicial of Israel. The BoD does. In that imbalance (denouncing Britons when they perceivedly harm Israel, but not Israelis when they insult Britain) lies the strong case for labeling the British Jewish leadership as more loyal to the State of Israel than to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That anyone should find that logical conclusion antisemitic is further proof that the word antisemitism has been devoided of any credible meaning.


Ernie Halfdram said...

You may find this analysis of the previous iteration of the ADL poll of interest:

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

But, did you learn statistics only to refute that poll?

I prefer to point out that Kaplan and Small found that 44% of the most extreme critics of Israel are not antisemitic, and that anti-Zionists should be given the benefit of the doubt that they belong to that 44%.

Ernie Halfdram said...

No way! I do stats in my day job. I just wasn’t familiar with the software I used for that analysis.

You can point out that 25 of the 57 respondents who agreed with all four of the poll’s indicator questions for anti Israel sentiment also scored 5 or below on the anti-Semitism index. However, for one thing, just about anyone who isn’t completely in thrall to Hasbara would come up anti-Israel on three of those questions and the fourth just measures tolerance for suicide bombing of civilians. So the base population isn’t really ‘the most extreme critics of Israel’, because that’s not what the ADL survey measured, whatever they may report.

Secondly, what you call ‘not antisemitic’ is in reality a score of five or lower on the anti-Semitism index. Now I kind of agree that those questions do measure something like anti-Semitic attitudes, but I don’t necessarily agree that six and over is anti-Semitic and under six is not anti-Semitic. Indeed, I think anyone who agreed ‘Jews have lots of irritating faults’ alone would probably be an anti-Semite, regardless of how many other statements they agreed with.

Finally, even if the premises were not fatally conceptually flawed, the estimate of 44% ‘not antisemitic’ on the basis of those 57 observations is no more robust or credible than the 56% ‘antisemitic’.

In any case, Kaplan and Small do not emphasise that aspect of their findings and neither they nor any other hasbarista would ever consider giving an antizionist the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I’m rather confident they would insist that we are anti-Semites by definition.

Just another Cockroach, Habibi said...

Ibrahim, so essentially, your view is that the British Board of Jewish Deputies is required to make a statement denouncing Israel's celebration of the King David Hotel Bombing. Very nice, and possibly logical. I assume that every time any act of terrorism occurs anywhere in the world that is assumed to be Islamically linked, you believe every Islamic movement should deny it, otherwise, they prove they are for it?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

No, cockroach, that's clearly not my point.

My point is that the BoD is concerned with both Britain and Israel. It denounces British institutions when they try to boycott Israel. If they were equally loyal to both countries they would be expected to denounce Israeli institutions when they insult Britain as well. Since they don't, it's reasonable to conclude that they're more loyal to Israel.

Health Blog said...

This belief may be right or wrong, but it's clearly not racist.