Fine, Let’s

Mike Sevi ’02 responds to Emmett’s earlier posting on Harvard pres Larry Summer’s anti-antisemitism speech:

First, you completely take President Summers’ comments out of context (an easy way to start a debate). What he is talking about in that quote is the supposed decline of global anti-Semitism (which I believe can be more accurately termed anti-Jewishness or perhaps anti-Judaism) since the Holocaust. Without much thought, he had attributed it to the enlightenment of man and the progress of civilization only to be sadly mistaken when he finds that in the year 2002 Jewish synagogues are being vandalized, desecrated, and burnt to the ground in almost every major country in Europe. He then goes on to say that he’s been forced to reevaluate his earlier belief in the death of Jew-hating. In his own words, “[T]oday, I am less complacent. Less complacent and comfortable because there is disturbing evidence of an upturn in anti-Semitism globally, and also because of some developments closer to home.”

Second, I agree that crying “anti-Semitism” every time someone says something anti-Israel or harms a Jewish individual is ridiculous. But equally ridiculous is not recognizing as anti-Semitic what truly is, and when it comes to Israel, sadly, those who hate the Jewish State very often hate the Jewish people just as much.

Consider these words, which I initially wrote in response to a somewhat similar comment made by Desmond Tutu last year. A rougher form originally appeared in The Dartmouth on May 16, 2002:

“In his May 14 interview with The Dartmouth, ‘Tutu Tells of Apartheid Struggle,’ Desmond Tutu states that with regards to Israel, ‘The minute you say something critical, they say you are anti-Semitic.’

This is quite an exaggeration, but it is true that sometimes the label ‘anti-Semitic’ is inappropriately applied. Other times, however, an intelligent person cannot help but notice that anti-Israel sentiments are either conflated with or used to mask anti-Jewish sentiments.

Look at what happened at a recent rally at San Francisco State University. While Jewish students rallied in support of Israel, pro-Palestinian demonstrators encircled them and proceeded to shout racist comments at the Jewish students. Many of the comments I would never repeat, but the tamer ones included, �Go back to Russia, Jew!� and �Hitler did not finish the job!�

After the rally ended, the mob tightly ringed-in the Jewish students and continued shouting racist remarks at them. Luckily, the campus police were close by, and they quickly intervened to safely escort the Jewish students away from the mob. The president of SFSU’s official account of the incident includes many of the details I won’t repeat and underscores my point: being anti-Israel and hating Jewish people are often two wings of the same bird.

In another case of this unfortunately common phenomenon, I point to that bastion of liberal values and openness, U.C. Berkeley. After several pro-Palestinian rallies, a brick was thrown through the window of Berkeley’s Hillel, the center for Jewish life on campus. Later, the words �Hate Jews� were scrawled on the door of the Hillel. And finally, the son of the campus rabbi was beaten up on campus.

Next, let’s look at the international scene, where Europe has taken an anti-Israel line recently. Along with the increase in support for the Palestinians has come a plethora of anti-Jewish attacks. In France alone, in just the first five months of this year, over 400 attacks on Jewish citizens, synagogues, schools and businesses have been reported. Similarly, Great Britain, Belgium and Denmark have all witnessed renewed anti-Jewish attacks on their soil. Is it sill any wonder why the Jewish people are put on guard when anti-Israel protesters passionately vilify the Jewish state?

The truth is that both domestically and internationally anti-Jewish individuals often use anti-Israel activism to veil their racism behind seemingly legitimate political views. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that 250 neo-

Nazis and white supremacists rallied in support of the Palestinian people and against American aid to Israel. Do you really think these skinheads are simply concerned, pro- Palestinian citizens?

Though clearly not all pro-Palestinian demonstrators are anti-Jewish — and no one should think that I’m claiming that — Mr. Tutu [or in this case Mr. Hogan] would be wise to take note of the numerous examples I have illustrated here, and not portray the Jewish community as crying wolf. Time again, even on supposedly liberal American college campuses, we have seen that what starts out as anti-Israel ends up as blatantly, and even violently, anti-Jewish.