Monday, March 08, 2004

A Genuine Question

It has become something of a commonplace to claim that a leftist variety of anti-Semitism is on the rise, especially in Europe; but what I mostly encounter is hostility to Likud-style Zionism. Now some versions of this critical attitude may or may not be warranted or even licit, but I don’t think I’ve heard any leftist attacks on Jews per se, though I’d hardly be surprised if there were some. What seems more likely is that the neocons are engaging in an extension of an old rhetorical move. Just as McCarthy and his cohorts lumped New Deal democrats in with authentic communists and the contemporary right has more recently floated the merely stupid notion of a Marxist Hilary Clinton, people like Victor Davis Hanson speak as if an attack on a particular nationalistic ideology amounted to an assault on a whole race or religion, despite the fact that many of the loudest critics of Israel’s policies are not only Jews but Israelis (Ze’ev Sternhell) or even Zionists (Noam Chomsky). If there is a groundswell of genuine anti-Semitism—and maybe there is—I wish somebody would identify the perpetrators and lay off with the facile name-calling.

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