“Anti-Semitic” Labels Used as Political Tools
Linda S. Heard - The Online Journal 08.26.03
Star of “Braveheart” Mel Gibson is the latest in the line of actors, writers and celebrities to be dealt a blow to his career: a label planted on anyone who dares to reflect Jews or Israel in anything other than a favourable light. Yes, you've guessed it, the dreaded term “anti-Semite.” His crime? Gibson directed, produced and financed “The Passion” — a movie based on the Christian Gospels, centering on the life and crucifixion of Jesus.
In an attempt to deflect the accusations of various Jewish interest groups, Gibson organised a series of private screenings so as to gauge the views of journalists, film critics and religious leaders, including Jews, none of whom perceived the movie as being anti-Semitic.
“Neither I, nor my film are anti-Semitic,” stressed Gibson. “Nor do I hate anyone, certainly not the Jews. They are my friends and associates, both in my work and social life.” If Gibson seeks prolongation of his Hollywood career, he may have to go a lot further with his protestations than that in order to shake off the anti-Semitic slur.
While there is no doubt that anti-Semitism has existed throughout the ages and should be condemned, as should all form of racism and bigotry, it is also true that the label is currently often misused and deliberately so.
What is “anti-Semitism?” Its etymology is confusing as it does not mean “hatred of Semites,” which would also include most Arabs. The term has come to mean solely “hatred of Jews” and implies an irrational hatred, hatred due to their religious, ethnic or cultural differences.
In other words, “anti-Semitism” is another way of saying “bigoted or racist attitudes towards Jews”...or it should be. It is true to say that the pogroms against Jews in Russia and the Nazi Holocaust were, indeed, horrific racist acts against a people, anti-Semitic mass murders, but it is also true that accusations of anti-Semitism are brandished by the Israeli government and Jewish groups as protective mantels deflecting not only anti-Jewish/Israel bigotry but also justified criticisms of Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.
Gretta Duisenberg, wife of the governor of the European Central Bank and chairperson of Stop the Occupation, was blacklisted by Israel as an anti-Semite for flying a Palestinian flag from the balcony of her home.
The writer A.N. Wilson metamorphosed into an “anti-Semite” in Zionist eyes for daring to compare the damage inflicted upon the Church of the Nativity by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) with the destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.
A French ambassador was deemed an anti-Semite for describing Israel as “a small shitty country,” a remark related to the aggressive policies of the Israeli government, rather than the Jews as a people.
Actor Marlon Brando blotted his copybook when he announced on Larry King Live, “Hollywood is run by Jews.
“It is owned by Jews and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of people who are suffering.” Even though this may technically be a reality, it is also considered an anti-Semitic statement because it is perceived to bolster that old canard used by genuine anti-Semites — that of a Jewish conspiracy to run the world.
Vanessa Redgrave is an actress who has spent her life as an advocate for the less fortunate. Yet she has been badly maligned by those who point the finger of anti-Semitism. Redgrave opposed the Vietnam War and championed freedom for Soviet Jews, receiving the Sakharov Medal for her efforts.
Despite her good works, in 1980, effigies of the actress were burned outside CBS studios in both Hollywood and Philadelphia all because she had been selected to play the role of a concentration camp inmate in “Playing for Time,” a movie made for television.
Jewish Defence League leader Irv Rubin said of the casting: “It's a horrible insult. Six million Jews will roll over in their graves.”
The Boston Symphony Orchestra went as far as to cancel a performance of Oedipus Rex narrated by Redgrave, concerned that her involvement would offend the Jewish community.
The cause of the outrage? Redgrave had previously financed and narrated “The Palestinian,” a documentary about the Palestinian struggle.
Nowadays, Zionist organisations and websites are targeting Arabs as so-called “anti-Semites,” citing political cartoons in the Arab press as well as programmes on Arabic channels as “evidence” of this.
Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism they say in a grotesque distortion of the essence of anti-Semitism, while conveniently forgetting the apartheid wall being constructed through Palestinian lands, the thousands of Palestinian youths languishing in Israeli prisons, the land grab of the illegal settlers and the extra-judicial assassinations regularly perpetrated by the IDF — in short, the evils of occupation.
The more “anti-Semitism” is used as a shield against political criticism, the more it is devalued and the less clout it will carry when attached to real haters of everything Jewish. There is even a label given to Jews who speak out against Israeli aggression: “self-hating.”
Those who deplore the treatment meted out by the Israeli authorities to the Palestinians are either one or the other, whereas activists against the policy of other governments are often perceived as humanitarian.
Truth Be Told
If the truth be told, the Semitic recipients of racism in today's world are not the Jews but the Arabs who in the U.S., and to a lesser extent in Europe, are having to unfairly defend themselves from slurs of religious extremism or even links to terrorism.
The Arabs are the ones who are today suffering from negative stereotyping as well as having to respond to insults piled on to their culture and religion.
Perhaps “anti-Semitism” should be expunged from our lexicon. Its blatant misuse has destroyed both lives and careers, often without foundation. Its interpretation is too broad and its definition shaded with historical connotation. Let's instead say it like it is.
People who hate Jews simply because they are Jews are either religious bigots or racists no different from those who hate Muslims, Arabs or any other religious group or ethnicity.
Turning once again to the issue of Mel Gibson, surely his film should be judged on its own merits. It's a portrayal of the Gospels as he sees them. If audiences adjudge it anti-Semitic, then this will reflect at the box office. If not, then Gibson will be vindicated.
The film's viewers should be the appraisers, not just the guardians of Zionist ideology waiting to cry foul on every occasion someone momentarily steps on their oh, so sensitive, and largely disingenuous toes.
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Original article: http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/082603Heard/082603heard.html
Courtesy Josh Kirby and the Dissidents Report
Last updated 01/09/2003