Hysterical

1 03 2011

Don’t get me wrong: Glenn Beck is an ignorant fool. But nothing irritates me more than the vultures at the Anti-Defamation League, who sit around scratching themselves all day, until somebody uses the word “Jew” in a sentence and gives them something to shriek about. Now that Glenn Beck has made the appalling comparison (gasp!) between Reform Jews and “radicalised Islam”, the heroic ADL has leapt to the rescue of Jews everywhere. Never missing a beat (unless it’s a non-Jew taking the beating), the ADL has released an official statement to the effect that nothing can be more offensive than comparing good, honest people to Muslims.

Well, that’s not exactly what they said, but you can read it for yourself. Comparing Reform Jews to radical Islamists, well… that just hurts our feelings. And because antisemitism is so very frightening, it makes sense that those of us who devote our careers to hunting it down should begin to see it everywhere we look. This is a survival mechanism after all, and if Jews are going to survive in a country with the largest Jewish population, within which there is no history of organised antisemitism, where Jews have the ear of the president, top the nation’s rich list and run the entertainment industry, it’s clearly going to be by complaining as loudly as possible whenever a drunkard, a drug-user or a twit says something about Jews that falls short of adoration.

Who knows? Maybe one day we will rid the world of antisemitism, and our children can look back on our obsession with it and see it for what it was: a pathological disorder, no less rank than antisemitism itself.

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5 responses

2 03 2011
Michael

Maybe it’s just me but I see those 3 examples as genuine cases of anti-semitism that should be condemned. But maybe not in the way the ADL does it, I do cringe whenever I see any of their releases. For instance the Charlie Sheen thing was picked up by several blogs I read and I don’t think any of it was hysterical or anything — is it the style that bothers you more than the substance? Perhaps Beck’s is more general stupidity, but it is part of a larger pattern.

2 03 2011
Simon Holloway

Thanks, Michael. If the comments beneath a post on Facebook were anything to go by, I was rather surprised at just how passionate about this topic several people are. Although perhaps “surprised” is not entirely correct. I am not bothered at all by the rants of people like Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen (the second of whom is beginning to remind me of Bobby Fischer). I am, however, most perturbed at the ADL and their willingness to see antisemitism everywhere they look.

While it’s largely an academic distinction, I do not see casual hatred of Judaism (or individual Jewish institutions) to be indicative of antisemitism at all, and I think that the ADL’s time (and money) could be spent on far worthier causes than continually slapping petty celebrities on the wrist and making them apologise publicly. Indeed, doing so seems to generate more harm than good. Are we that neurotic?

(I actually didn’t see Charlie Sheen as so hysterical either. His is a calculated, intelligent madness; hysterical, to my mind, was the network’s response.)

3 03 2011
Michael

Do you think the ADL should not exist at all? Because if it does exist it would be pretty strange for them to miss these cases because they don’t consider them “important” (although of course even then they should be spending a lot less time on). For Gibson and Sheen, I don’t think anyone is threatened by them — but they were chastised and mocked widely which I think is the right reaction and doesn’t deserve a higher level of condemnation. Beck is another case though — scary as it is there are millions of people whose political opinions are based on a wholesale swallowing of his rants. Because of his political power I do think any bullshit he does (of which I admit the reform Jews thing was probably one of the least egregious) should be called out from as high-profile an institution as possible.

3 03 2011
Simon Holloway

No, I think the ADL is a little like the United Nations: “In theory, they serve a useful purpose”. I’m not advocating that they disband; just that they grow up. Imagine millions of people took Glenn Beck’s word for it that Reform Jews are like militant Muslims. Then what? Will they build a fence around their sunday schools? I see no harm possibly arising from this, except for the harm caused by people having to watch Glenn Beck apologise in his typically insipid manner, and to note that another powerful Jewish lobby has rapped somebody on the knuckles for being “antisemitic” again.

4 03 2011
John Hobbins

Simon,

Thanks for a discerning post. That’s the trouble with you; you are a bit too discerning for your own good.

ADL would be a more credible organization if, besides what it does in an often ham-handed way, it stood on side (1) of the following dichotomy:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2011/03/two-kinds-of-muslims.html

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