Some people never get the point. Some people once got the point, or claimed to, claimed to see it – there it is, over there – and then they got their hands on the point and stretched the point, to make a point, turned it inside out, inverted and perverted the point, developed a string theory of the point, and later conceived an alternate universe of the point.
This may be news to some, but what is today commonplace was once quite rare. I’m referring to anti-Semitism on the far Left — and am reminded of what some of us saw as a turning point back in 1972.
For a quarter of a century following the defeat of Nazi Germany, anti-Semites everywhere were laying low — especially in the West. The Soviet leadership was growing increasingly anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, and anti-Semitism was rife in the Arab world, but in countries like the USA, it was quite rare for Jew-hatred to be expressed openly. And certainly not on the Left.
Accusations of Jew-hatred are today greeted with a shrug.
What was so shocking 40 years ago — that a socialist organisation would identify somehow with a brutal terrorist attack on innocent people if those people happen to be Jewish — is commonplace now.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Hamas security forces of harassing elected officials of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) in Gaza. In a letter to Ismael Haniyeh, Prime Minister in the Hamas government, the IFJ President said that journalists’ leaders in Gaza have been subjected to a campaign of intimidation and threats designed to force them to stop their union work. Some of them are now facing charges of illegal activities and a travel ban after they refused to give in to pressure.
“We consider the accusations against our colleagues of illegal activity and theft of the union identity a malicious accusation which should be dropped immediately,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha in his letter. “They should be allowed to work without restrictions and the travel ban imposed on them must be lifted.”
The IFJ says that the campaign against the PJS board members in the Gaza strip started in March, after their election. It included the raid organised by supporters of Hamas who took over the PJS offices in Gaza with the help of security forces and evicted the staff and elected officials.
The harassment has recently escalated in targeting of individual members who were bullied into stopping union work. According to PJS, its Vice President Tahseen Al Astal and a colleague are being investigated by Hamas Attorney General and have been banned from travelling. The investigation was launched shortly after the two officials defied the order to cease their activities in the union, the PJS says.
The contrast could not be clearer: in Israel, independent trade unions that sometimes cooperate with, sometimes confront the government. In areas controlled by the pro-Iranian Hamas, unions under the thumb of an authoritarian regime.
And then there is the Death Star of of the lost point point, the inverted point, what’s the point pointlessness of “pinkwashing,” which combines the subversion of every pillar of human dignity: personal and political liberty and human and civil rights. From Jonathan Miller:
Israel’s commendable gay rights record should be a cause for the American Left to celebrate. But in the Orwellian dystopia that is our political discourse today, the Israel-is-always-wrong crowd has used Israeli publicity of its proud LGBT culture as yet another reason to criticize the Jewish State.
Borrowing a term coined by the breast cancer prevention community to describe companies that claim to care about the disease but at the same time sell carcinogenic products, the anti-Israel crowd has redefined “pinkwashing” as Israeli propaganda designed to hypnotize American liberals into ignoring Israel’s transgressions in the disputed territories.
The most quotable advocate of this terminology is CUNY English Professor Sarah Schulman, who described her objective as trying to frame the Palestinian cause with simpler language, “like in the kinds of magazines you read in the laundromat.” (Perhaps “pinkwashing” is supposed to remind laundromat users of the infuriating consequences of leaving a red shirt in a white washload?)
Schulman’s proof of Israel’s nefarious, designs? She quotes a Tel Aviv law professor who claims that “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.” A comment that’s about as probative and relevant as a “Yo Mama” joke.
Indeed, the explanation is so simple, it’s hard to imagine any alternative reasoning. It’s called capitalism, or more precisely, tourism promotion: Israel brags about its extraordinary LGBT culture in order to encourage gay and lesbian people from all over the world to visit the Jewish State and bring their tourist dollars. Considering the subject matter, it’s a remarkable and heartening development: I can only dream of a time when my home state of Kentucky would launch advertisement campaigns to encourage gay and lesbian people to visit our beautiful state parks.
And what’s the alternative? Should Israel hide its vibrant LGBT culture so as not to offend the senses of radical anti-Zionists? Doesn’t this call to the closet run precisely counter to the extraordinarily effective strategy launched by gay-rights martyr Harvey Milk, who presciently argued that when people learned that their family, friends, and neighbors were gay — that gay people too can do “heroic things” — they’d understand that homosexuality was not “abnormal sexual behavior”?
Some of the “pinkwashing” logic has been so stained by the BDS spin cycle that that it verges on parody. Professor Jasbir Puar, who teaches women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University, argued at an April 2012 New York forum that the Israeli occupation “is one of the most contentious issues in queer organizing today.” When questioned about the Gaza government’s treatment of gay and lesbian people, she retorted that “it doesn’t take away from the fact that there is an occupation. We can’t judge a country by its attitudes towards homosexuals.”
Get the point?
- Ahmadinejad’s ‘Most Anti-Semitic Speech Yet’ (israelnationalnews.com)
- Liberman: PA’s anti-Israel letter to EU reminiscent of Nazi rhetoric (timesofisrael.com)
- Palestinian women, silencing domestic abuse and unconscious antisemitism (majorkarnage.net)
- ADL: Anti-Semitism pervasive in TV programming during Ramadan (timesofisrael.com)
- The Mystery of Terrorism, Revealed (sadredearth.com)
- Alexander Cockburn: Remembering the Dead (sadredearth.com)
- J Street on Its Own Terms (sadredearth.com)
- The “Peace and Justice” Charade (sadredearth.com)
- Playing Politics with Jews (sadredearth.com)