Anti-semitism and the left…

Oliver Kamm believes that a nasty conflation persists on the left (and within the Respect coalition in particular) between anti Israeli rhetoric and pure anti-semitism. Which in turn begs the question, is it possible to be critical of Israel and not be seen as also being anti semitic?It’s a question that was raised a few years ago by Paul Gillespie in the Irish Times, who noted that:

Surveys by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and other pollsters show low and stable levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in most EU states (lower than in the US) and higher levels of anti-Muslim feeling. This is no cause for complacency, since historical amnesia on both left and right has affected sensitivities about older European anti-judaism. But in Europe highly-educated people are the most likely to consider Israel a threat to world peace, yet the least likely to be anti-Semitic.

Many centre-left Israelis are bewildered by the sharp increase of criticism from the same constituency in Europe, having previously relied on its sympathy. They believe European media criticise Israel far more than states which behave much worse. Disproportionate attention is related to growing EU reliance on Middle East oil and a desire to appease Muslim minorities.

Together with their pessimism about reaching a peace agreement after the second intifada that followed the breakdown of the Clinton-Barak-Arafat talks in 2000, it has encouraged the conviction that Palestinian terrorism is directed against the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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