Are Palestinians The Victims Of Anti-Semitism?
By Curt Day
Editorial" -- -Accusing someone of anti-Semitism
is a precarious action to consider. For the charge itself, is both
overused and underused.
Anti-Semitism is an overused claim when the intention is to deflect
thoughtful criticism of Zionism and Israeli policies. When the
questioning of inequitable policies is so discredited, then the
honorable memory of those who suffered in the past is tarnished.
At the same time we should consider whether accusations of
anti-Semitism have been AWOL. Definitions might help us determine
The definition of anti-Semitism must be based on the definition of
the words "Semite" and "Semitic." There are 3 dictionary definitions
for Semite one of which includes those living in Southwest Asia.
This would include Arabs. However, Wilhelm Marr, coined the term
anti-Semitism to target Jews--the second definition of the word. The
third definition consists of the descendents of Shem which would
refer to more than just the Jews.  Also, Semitic refers to a set
of languages or people who speak one of the languages.  Again,
this would include Arabs.
Despite the vagueness of the term, it carries an emotional
definition that is both useful and problematic. This definition is
helpful in reminding us of the horrific past we should prevent from
ever happening again. At the same time, this definition is
problematic because it is used to sound the alarm against only one
instance of bigotry. We should ask if Semites include Arabs, is our
restricted use of the term "anti-Semitism" racist?
This brings us to the U.S. House of Representatives and
Representative Anthony Weiner. His amendment banned aid to the
Palestinian Authority and he said about the Palestinian UN
delegation: "They should start packing their little Palestinian
terrorist bags."  How would we assess Mr. Weiner if Israeli
diplomats had been his target?
In addition, we should consider John Pilger's observations regarding
the legislation, passed by the House of Representatives, banning all
aid to NGOs helping Palestinians. He reports that the people who
will suffer both horribly and the most are the children . In the
light of their hardships, why not call the action of our House of
Representatives "anti-Semitic." For what would legislation that
would ban aid to Israel be rightfully named?
If we can call our policies that target Arabs "anti-Semitic," how
should we describe Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olhmert's vicious
assault on Gaza? Under his orders, Israel has destroyed the power
plant that provided electricity for half of Gaza(for 750,000
people). The absence of electricity brings the lack of water and
sewage treatment. Those who will suffer and risk the most are the
young, the old, and the weak.
What sparked this attack? It was the kidnapping of a soldier that
kindled Israel’s harsh response. Prime Minister Olhmert promised the
people of Gaza even more ruthless reprisals if the kidnapped soldier
is harmed. In addition, he called the kidnapping of and attack on
soldiers, terrorism. The problem is that attacking soldiers is not
terrorism. Attacking civilians in order to achieve a political ends
is. In the month of June, Israel killed over 40 civilians in Gaza
prior to the kidnapping. Many of the dead were women and children.
These killings were in response to Qassam rocket attacks which are
responsible for 8 deaths in the last 5 years.  Also, Israel
detains (euphemism for kidnap?) many Palestinian civilians without
due process . Is Prime Minister Olhmert fighting terrorism by
practicing it? Are the Prime Minister's double standards an
indication of hatred and bigotry?
We find ourselves caught in a tug of war. On the one hand, there is
both a noble desire to honor the memory of past Jewish victims of
anti-Semitism and the essential aspiration to fight all present and
future hatred of the Jews. One way by which we do both is to
restrict our use of the term anti-Semitism.
At the same time, we must realize that our exclusive use of this
expression allows other abhorrent bigotries to fly in under the
radar so that we become oblivious and even cold to the sufferings of
others. Thus, consistency is pulling us the other way. Consistency
is pushing us to call any bigotry against Semites anti-Semitism. Our
response to this consistency will reveal our commitment to equality.
Certainly there are some Israelis who hate the Palestinians just as
there are some Palestinians who hate Jews. The hatred of both groups
is bigotry and ensures that both groups will suffer from
anti-Semitism. In addition, perhaps those who have ignored suffering
when the victims are Palestinians are anti-Semites too.
 DemocracyNow Headlines for May 25, 2006
Curt Day is a religious flaming fundamentalist and a political
extreme moderate. He can be reached at email@example.com
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