Archive | Anti-Semitism

John Mearsheimer Update

Lots of folks couldn’t believe that John Mearsheimer, distinguished international relations professor at the University of Chicago, would endorse an anti-Semitic book by fringe kook anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon. Perhaps he was misquoted, or simply blurbed the book without realizing what he was doing? Surely he would retract once a public controversy erupted?

Nope. Blogger Adam Holland:

I had trouble believing that a distinguished professor at one of the world’s greatest universities would link himself to a hatemonger like Atzmon. So I sent Professor Mearsheimer an email quoting the blurb and asking him to verify it’s accuracy. I also gave him an opportunity to amend it or add to it.

But Mearsheimer didn’t take the opportunity to save what’s left of his reputation. He wrote back: “The blurb below is the one I wrote for ‘The Wandering Who’ and I have no reason to amend it or embellish it, as it accurately reflects my view of the book.” [...]

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John Mearsheimer Endorses Book by a “Proud Self-Hating Jew”

according to the publisher’s his publicist’s website [and confirmed by a search on Google books.] The proud individual in question would be Gilad Atzmon, who has remarked

I’m not only a self-hating Jew, I’m a proud self-hating Jew! When you try to think of the biggest humanists ever, Spinoza Marx [sic: Marx was born and raised a Christian, albeit of Jewish descent] and Christ were basically proud self-hating Jews also. Why? Because of growing up in this kind of racist, nationalist, tribalist, chauvinist, supremacist society – and this is exactly what they stood up against.

If the book, The Wandering Who? was about Atzmon’s vocation, jazz, that wouldn’t be news, but in fact the book in question seems to be what one might call a meditation on Jewish identity–but an anti-Semitic, or, if you prefer, self-hating one. (Among other things, we learn that his hero and role model is one of modern history’s best-known Jewish anti-Semites, Otto Weininger.)

Mearsheimer’s take: “a fascinating and provocative book …. Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.” Says David Schraub: “we should recognize the tragedy of [Mearsheimer’s] fall. It has been swift, shocking, and very, very ugly.”

I wrote five years ago that “many of [Mearsheimer and co-author Stephen Walt’s] critics are erring in accusing the authors of anti-Semitism without supporting evidence.” That now seems hasty on my part, especially given that this isn’t Mearsheimer’s first foray into very questionable territory.

Added bonus: The Harry’s Place blog’s revelation of Mearsheimer’s endorsement of an anti-Semitic book by a self-described self-hating Jew came the same day that Glenn Greenwald wrote a post entitled The Mainstreaming of Walt and Mearsheimer, in particular expressing typical Greenwaldian sputtering outrage that some of their critics had accused them of [...]

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Delta Airlines complicit in Saudi discrimination?

In January, Delta Airlines announced that Saudi Arabian Airlines is joining Delta’s SkyTeam network of international airline partners. Yesterday, WorldNet Daily reported that Delta employees would be enforcing a no-Jews policy when checking in passengers on SAA flights from the United States to Saudi Arabia.

I looked around the web for verification, and found the following: In 2004, a Saudi government website, promoting visits to Saudi Arabia, did state a “no Jews” policy. Apparently in response to extensive U.S. criticism, that statement was removed. The visa required for entry to Saudi Arabia mandates that the applicant disclose his or her religion. The typical advice for American visitors is to write “non-Muslim” or “Christian.” However, a 2007 article in Commentary magazine by scholar Joshua Muravchik reports on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia; he wrote “Jewish” on his visa application, and was nevertheless granted a Saudi visa.

It does seem to be widely reported, without contradiction, that Saudi authorities will deny visas to anyone who has an Israel entrance or exit stamp on his passport. This category would include not only Jews who have visited Israel, but also the many Christians who visit the Holy Land, as well as business travelers to Israel. Several other African and Asian governments apparently have similar policies.

At airport check-in in the United States, a responsibility of the U.S. airline which is checking in travelers for an international partner airline is to verify that the travelers have the appropriate documentation required by U.S. law (e.g., a passport) and by the foreign airline (e.g., an entry visa from the Saudi government).

The WND article reprints two letters from Delta Airlines to a person who raised questions about the above. Essentially, Delta’s position is that they just enforce whatever the destination government requires, and if you don’t [...]

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Are the Proposed Circumcision Bans Motivated by Hostility to Jews (or Muslims)?

I’ve heard some people argue that the proposed circumcision bans (one of which is now on the ballot in San Francisco) is motivated by hostility to Jews. I quite doubt it, for a reason I mentioned in an earlier post: As of 2005, about 56% of newborn American boys, and about 31% of American boys in the Western states, were circumcised. (In the Midwest, the fraction was nearly 75%.) Since Jews and Muslims — the two groups that generally circumcise for religious reasons — make up about 3% or so of the population, it seems that over 90% of all circumcisions are not religiously motivated. The fraction might be lower in San Francisco proper (I know of no statistics limited to that city), but I suspect that even in San Francisco, the great majority of circumcisions aren’t religiously motivated; only about 5% of San Francisco residents are Jewish.

Now it’s true that circumcision bans are likely to affect Jews more deeply than others, because Jewish parents are more likely to feel strongly about circumcising their children. But it would still be the odd anti-Semite who so wants to hurt Jews that he’s willing to try to in the process forcibly change the practices of over 50% of the population — overwhelmingly non-Jews — and thus to incur the political opposition of that big chunk of the population.

Of course, it’s likely that some critics of circumcision have come to disapprove of Judaism, to the extent that Judaism mandates such circumcision, just as they disapprove of non-religious beliefs that support circumcision. But that’s not anti-Semitism, just as (say) disapproval of conservative Islamic restrictions on women isn’t bigotry against Islam: It’s opposition to behavior with tangible secular consequences, whether the behavior is religiously or secularly motivated.

Relatedly, some other people argue that [...]

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A Lesson for Israel Advocates from the OBL Reaction

The nonsense spewing from the various usual suspects–the European left, left-wing NGOs, leftist international law experts [update: here’s an excellent example from an Israeli commentator]–regarding the takedown of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces should provide an important lesson for advocates of Israel.

The hostility emanating to Israel emanating from these sources is not, primarily, a result of anti-Semitism or other Jewcentric mental maladies. Rather, it is a natural result of a cauldron of ideologies–pacifism, anti-liberalism, Third Worldism, hostility to the West, warmed-over Marxism, and so on, combined with a dash of naive human rights idealism–that dominates certain intellectual circles.

Israel receives more grief than almost anyone else from such circles for several reasons: (1) because of its precarious security situation, it uses military force more regularly than other potential targets; (2) because of its precarious political situation, it is far more vulnerable to such criticism than, say, the U.S. (which will studiously ignore criticism of the OBL operation); and (3) unlike in the U.S, Israel has a significant and influential domestic far left that encourages and magnifies such criticisms. Indeed, given universal military service among Jewish non-Haredi adults, Israel often faces criticism from its own leftist soldiers and reservists of the sort quite rare in the U.S.

That’s not to deny that some leftist critics of Israel are anti-Semites, and that an even greater number are content to play on anti-Semitic themes when they find it rhetorically useful. But let’s face it: if you can’t get the leftist Europeans, NGOs, etc. behind a surgical strike on Osama Bin Laden, they are hardly going to approve of much broader Israeli military action in Gaza or Lebanon.

Given that many Jewish supporters of Israel have left-wing tendencies themselves (though the hard leftist types have long abandoned Israel), it’s far more [...]

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Tyler Cowen on the Political Attitudes of Russian Jewish Immigrants

In this post, Tyler Cowen asks why Russian Jewish immigrants tend to overwhelmingly support the GOP rather than the Democrats. The reasons are actually no mystery. As I have previously explained here and here, Russian Jews are hawkish on foreign policy and their experience with communism leads them to be suspicious of domestic policies that seem socialistic. Also, they dislike the Democratic Party because it was relatively dovish during the Cold War. Immigrants from other communist countries, such as the Cubans and Vietnamese, tend to be Republican for much the same reasons. So Russian Jews are not unusual in this regard. They only seem so by comparison with native-born American Jews, who are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats.

Tyler asks why Russian Jews tend to be opposed to affirmative action and gay marriage. But the vast majority of all white Americans are opposed to affirmative action (64% in this 2009 poll). So Russian immigrant attitudes on this issue are not surprising. They only seem so by comparison with native-born American Jews, who are the only white ethnic group that tends to support affirmative action.

As for gay rights, Russian Jews are indeed far more opposed to them, on average, than native-born whites. The reason, unfortunately, is probably simple homophobia. Anti-gay prejudice is widespread in Russia, with 74% of Russians endorsing the view that gays and lesbians are “morally dissolute or mentally defective persons,” according to a 2010 poll. At least in my experience, Russian Jews are no exception to this general tendency, though younger, more assimilated immigrants are less likely to be anti-gay than those who were older when they arrived. Homophobia aside, most Russian Jews are not socially conservative generally. For example, the vast majority are secular and pro-choice.

Tyler is probably wrong to suggest that [...]

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It’s the Rorschach Test Joke Come to Life

“Me? Anti-Semitic? You’re the one who’s showing me the Jew pictures.” Here’s the statement, from the Iranian Students News Agency, a site backed by the Iranian government(emphasis added):

National Olympic Committee of Iran sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in opposition to the logo of 2012 London Olympic Games.

The letter calls for designing a new logo and confronting the symbol’s designers.

The letter which was signed by Head of Iranian Olympics Committee, Mohammad Ali Abadi and the Secretary General of Iran’s Olympic Committee Bahram Afsharzade addressed to the president of IOC Jacques Rogge.

“We appreciate the committee’s efforts in line with developing the spirit of Olympism all over the world. We ask for your consideration of the following issue which if neglected, may have destructive effects on the future of sport, especially London Olympic Games in 2012,” the letter said.

“Highlighting the values of Olympic, which ban any sorts of partiality, political, religious and racial measures in this field, may have a leading role to hold London Games better,” he added.

“We have two years ahead to the opening of the games and unfortunately we see the games face with a critical challenge at the beginning which is raised by the racial attitudes of some individuals.”

“As internet documents have proved, using the word Zion in the logo of 2012 Olympic Games is a disgracing action and against Olympic’s valuable mottos.”

“There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the games, especially Iran which abides by commitment to the values and principles.”

Iran is the first Islamic country which has officially expressed its opposition to the logo.

Soon after the logo was unveiled, some Muslim graphists objected to it, saying the logo reminds

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The Socialism of Fools


The head of the National Union of Students [Aaron Porter] had to be led to safety from a tuition fees rally he had been due to address after being surrounded by protesters chanting anti-semitic insults at him….

Mr Porter has faced growing opposition from more militant sections of the student protest movement, which have called on the NUS to take a more radical stance against Government education spending cuts and increases in tuition fees.

And evidence that the frequent anti-Semitism apparent in the British far-left’s anti-Zionist discourse is seeping into other contexts.

UPDATE: There is apparently some debate as to whether the protesters were chanting “you’re ****ing Tory Jew” or “you’re a ****ing Tory too.” Obviously, many hear the former, or they wouldn’t have responded with “no to racism.”

Meanwhile, the Harry’s Place blog reports that Mr. Porter confirms that “just before the march started, I was surrounded by a particularly vicious minority of protesters more intent on shouting threatening and racist abuse at me rather than focusing on the issues.” [...]

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The Jackson-Vanik Amendment and Jewish Emigration from the USSR

I agree with most of what co-blogger Sasha Volokh says in his post on Gal Beckerman’s important new book on the political struggle over Jewish emigration from the USSR.

For example, it is indeed true (and in retrospect, very interesting) that the campaign united many ideologically disparate groups in the US. When I worked for Action for Soviet Jewry in the late 1980s, we had important assistance from political leaders as disparate as Barney Frank and Jesse Helms. It is also true, and and already well-known, that Henry Kissinger was negative about the whole deal, as he was about human rights in general. Recent Nixon tapes revelations about Kissinger’s attitude confirm that.

At the same time, I do have a few disagreements with Sasha and Beckerman’s analysis. Sasha is correct to suggest that much of the more severe repression described in the book “might not have applied to Soviet Jews who kept their heads low and didn’t try to leave.” But of course such people still had to endure the serious ordinary oppression of life in the USSR, including (but far from limited to) widespread official anti-Semitism. I briefly described some of this in the first part of my own immigration memoir. The most important weakness of Beckerman’s book is that he gives very little description of the lives of ordinary Soviet Jews who were not activists or dissidents, and therefore doesn’t clearly explain why so many wanted to leave. The increased repression of the late Brezhnev and Andropov periods had a ripple effect on non-dissidents as well, since they had to be even more careful to avoid offending the authorities than before.

I also have some reservations about Sasha’s and Beckerman’s discussion of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. It is true that the amendment was never waived until 1990. [...]

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I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

but it’s really something to see various anti-Semitic blogs (I’m not going to link to them) trumpeting the fact that a Jewish alleged serial killer from Israel was caught today–even after the accused was revealed to have the obviously Arabic name Abu Elazam (sometimes rendered Abuelazam). I guess we can take comfort in the fact that these folks ain’t too bright.

(Needless to say, the fact that this individual happens to be an Arab is no reflection on Arabs in general, any more than if he were a Jew it would be a reflection on Jews). [...]

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Mel Gibson and Oliver Stone

Even before Mel Gibson made his infamous anti-Semitic remarks, Gibson became a very unpopular and disliked figure in Hollywood due to the controversy over The Passion of the Christ and his remarks that skirted close to Holocaust denial. After a drunk Gibson said, “Fucking Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” Ari Emanuel, undoubtedly reflecting broader sentiment, wrote, “People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.”

It will be interesting to see whether Oliver Stone, who has now expressed the classic anti-Semitic view that “Jews dominate the media,” will receive the same treatment. Stone, in the Sunday Times (original behind paywall):

“Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30m.”

Why such a focus on the Holocaust then? “The Jewish domination of the media,” he says. “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f***** up United States foreign policy for years.”

Gibson was an easy target for Hollywood liberals and leftists. A right-winger and a religious Catholic, Gibson was the perfect manifestation of Hollywood liberals’ stereotypes of anti-Semites.

Stone, by contrast, is a Buddhist leftist of partial Jewish descent, the kind of person the Hollywood left usually thinks of as “one of the good guys.” Stone even was clever enough to follow his anti-Semitic remark about Jewish domination of the media, noted in the context of Hitler and the Holocaust, with some pablum about the Jewish lobby, Israel, and American foreign policy. This [...]

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Genetic Evidence Shows Common Origins of Jews

N.Y. Times:

Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East share many genes inherited from the ancestral Jewish population that lived in the Middle East some 3,000 years ago, even though each community also carries genes from other sources — usually the country in which it lives.

That is the conclusion of two new genetic surveys, the first to use genome-wide scanning devices to compare many Jewish communities around the world.

A major surprise from both surveys is the genetic closeness of the two Jewish communities of Europe, the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim. The Ashkenazim thrived in North and Eastern Europe until their devastation by the Hitler regime, and now live mostly in the United States and Israel. The Sephardim were exiled from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497 and moved to the Ottoman Empire, North Africa and the Netherlands.

The two genome surveys extend earlier studies based just on the Y chromosome, the genetic element carried by all men. They refute the suggestion made last year by the historian Shlomo Sand in his book “The Invention of the Jewish People” that Jews have no common origin but are a miscellany of people in Europe and Central Asia who converted to Judaism at various times.

Of course, as I noted previously, the genetic evidence was already quite clear when Sand wrote his book. He’s aware of the evidence, but has so far chalked it up to a conspiracy of Zionist geneticists intent on obscuring the true Khazar origins of Ashkenazic Jews.

Sand’s book won a French journalism prize for the best non-fiction book of the year, which just does to show that in the anti-Zionist atmosphere of the European intelligentsia, no idea is too preposterous to embrace if it serves the cause. Nevertheless, if the French journalists [...]

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Did Anti-Semitism Prevent Hank Greenberg from Breaking Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record?

In this recent New York Times article, Howard Megdal revives the longstanding claim that anti-Semites on opposing teams tried to prevent Jewish Detroit Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg from breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1938 because of anti-Semitism:

Evidence has finally been published that seems to resolve a 72-year-old mystery. When Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers made a run at Babe Ruth’s season home run record, falling two short with 58 in 1938, was he pitched around because he was Jewish? …

Some members of Greenberg’s family and legions of his fans believed that anti-Semitic pitchers had walked Greenberg often to keep him from a fair shot at Ruth, who set the record in 1927….

Greenberg received many more walks as he chased Ruth in 1938 than he did in the rest of his career. Almost no other hitter going after the home run record had anything like Greenberg’s late-season spike in bases on balls. He had 119 walks to lead the A.L., the only time he did so, and they accounted for 17.5 percent of his 681 plate appearances.

But the way pitchers handled Greenberg early in the season was clearly different than the way they approached him as Ruth’s record came into view….

Over all, Greenberg walked in 15.9 percent of his plate appearances through the end of August 1938. In September, that rate jumped to 20.4 percent. His walk rate was 14.5 percent in 1937 and 15 percent in 1939.

Megdal points out that other hitters who threatened Ruth’s 1927 record of 60 HRs did not have a higher walk rate in September than earlier in the season. He concludes that opposing teams wanted to prevent Greenberg from breaking the record in 1938 because he was Jewish.

The idea that Greenberg was a victim [...]

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Why United States v. Miller was so badly written

Before District of Columbia v. Heller, the 1939 decision United States v. Miller was the Supreme Court’s leading decision on the Second Amendment. Miller was, to put it mildly, obliquely written. As Michael O’Shea has detailed, the opinion seems mainly concerned with whether the gun in question was a militia-type weapon, which would suggest that the decision is congruent with a well-established line of state right to arms cases (some of which were cited in Miller) that all persons had a right to arms, but that the right only encompasses militia-type arms (and not, therefore, Bowie knives or other arms associated with disreputable brawlers). However, Miller is not clearly written, and over the subsequent seven decades, there was much dispute about its meaning. The disputes were almost inevitable, in that Miller is terse and oblique, and, except for a history of the early American militia, provides almost no explication or analysis.

At the oral argument in Heller, Justice Kennedy noted that Miller “kind of ends abruptly.” In the Heller decision, the Court observed that Miller was “virtually unreasoned.” Many scholars have wondered what Justice McReynolds was trying to do by writing such an opinion.

The Heller Court pointed out that many lower courts had “overread” Miller. A recent post on the Legal History Blog provides some evidence that legal scholars may also have overread Miller, for Miller may not have been written to mean much at all, other than perfunctorily upholding the National Firearms Act against a facial challenge. The post highlights Barry Cushman’s 2003 University of Chicago Law Review article Clerking for Scrooge. Cushman’s article reviews the 2002 book The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR’s Washington.

Since high school, [...]

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Why is it Cool to Claim You’ve Been Called an Anti-Semite?

Three years ago, I wrote:

on the one hand, we have friends of Israel who are too quick to label others anti-Semitic, though I believe that this phenomenon is declining, as it has received increasing scrutiny and criticism. On the other hand, we have critics of Israel who try to portray anyone who defends Israel as a hysteric who sees anti-Semitism everywhere. This seems to be on the rise. And the most vociferous critics of the former phenomenon tend to be the most egregious participants in the latter.

Eric Fingerhut has an excellent post discussing the same phenomenon:

[T]he whole Wieseltier-Sullivan episode has served to illustrate an emerging trend among critics of Israel: Their eagerness to allege that they’ve been accused of being an anti-Semite. I do agree that some of Israel’s defenders are too quick to throw out charges of anti-Semitism or “self-hating Jew,” and that’s lamentable and a problem. But it seems that among many of Israel’s critics, claiming that you’ve been accused of being an anti-Semite has become some sort of bizarre badge of honor. And quite a few of those that have allegedly been accused of being an anti-Semite, according to Wieseltier’s critics, either were never smeared with such a term or were only accused of making a specific problematic remark and not tarred with some broad brush of disliking Jews, as they claim….
Why exactly has claiming you’ve been called an anti-Semite become so cool lately? Could it be that those claiming they’ve been called anti-Semites find it easier to do that that actually defend their positions with facts?

Read the whole thing, as they say.

As with other Israel-related posts, this one is likely to attract some very, uh, vigorous comments, and I’m too busy to moderate, so I’m keeping comments closed. [...]

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