Sunday, March 30, 2003

Not much time for writing today, but I have a brief thought on anti-semitism in the anti-war movement. There seems to be a big debate at the moment in the US Jewish community on whether the war is good for the Jews, due to the almost certainty that the war will cause increased anti-semitism on the part of those opposed to it. What no one seems to be saying is that if there is a rise of anti-semitism in the anti-war movement, this is a problem not with the Jews but with the anti-war movement. They are the ones who need to confront and deal with this hatred in an honest manner. Their failure to do so so far indicates to me two things, 1) the anti-war movement, at heart, does not see anything particularly wrong with being anti-semitic, so long as you sign off on the rest of the radical left-wing program; and 2) anti-semitism is now so integral to the anti-war ideology that to remove it would be a danger to the very foundations of the movement itself.
This final point is particularly relevant to the major personalities of the anti-war movement, men such as Edward Said or Noam Chomsky who, were anti-semites to be purged utterly from the movement, would likely find themselves out in the cold. All ideologies are built on ideologists, and the anti-war movement has more then its fair share of theorists whose opinions in regard to Jews cannot stand the type of scrutiny necessary for the movement to truly cleanse itself. Nor, in my opinion, does a movement which is fundamentally predicated on its moral superiority show any signs of seeing itself in need of such a cleansing. Rather, it seems to view the rest of us as very much in need of some sort of moral baptism, a washing away of sins without which we will remain residents of the great, government manipulated unwashed. There may be, as Michael Walzer has put it, a decent Left; but much energy will need to be expended to find it, and I see no indication of anyone willing to undertake the task anytime in the near future.


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